Curtis Cantwell and the Keep It Rolling crew have been working hard on their big video project “440 Volts”. In conjunction with the video’s release, I sat down with Curtis to talk about his epic roof roll-in attempt to ambulance ride.
Was it a questionable judgement call? Of course. The difference is that you and I would have climbed down off of that roof. Curtis was dropping in. No matter what.
What we can all take away from Curtis plowing himself into the ground that day is that sometimes, in BMX and in life, you just have to fly your “Fuck It” flag, let go of the brakes, and roll in.
Well, Curtis. What happened out there?
You want me to just explain the whole thing start to finish?
Yeah, let’s hear it.
I first noticed the arches on this building in June of 2016 when I was on the Virginia Tech campus riding one day. I kinda pointed it out as a joke like “How crazy would it be to ride down that?’ I took a couple pictures of it and left thinking maybe I would come back to it some day. I ended up looking at the pictures I took almost every day for a few months till I convinced myself I had to do it next time I was in the area.
Fast forward to the first weekend in November, I ended up riding in Roanoke with the Leeper bros, Kaleb Bolton, Taco, and Donnie Allen. We all made plans to ride the Va Tech campus on the last day of the trip. After obsessing about this spot for the past five months i just had to do it. I even bought a spool of rope the day before so i could tie it to my bike to pull it up the building.
After riding a few spots I convinced everyone to come over to the stadium and help me film this clip. They had all heard me talking about riding down this arch but I don’t think anyone really believed I was gonna do it till I pulled the camera out.
After we got all the cameras set up i realized I had forgot my rope in the van that we parked a couple miles away so Dillon and Donnie somehow were able to carry my bike up to me using each other for support climbing up the arch.
I remember sitting on top of this building and being too scared to move. By the time Donnie got up to me with my bike I was really freaking out. I kinda new I had made a mistake at this point but I was in too deep not to do it. Donnie was slowly sliding back down the arch and I yelled down to him to hurry up and get down to film. Thinking about it now I probably sounded like an asshole but I knew if I was up there too long I wouldn’t come down.
I was almost paralyzed with fear standing over my bike up there. I didn’t even want to ride down it at this point but I was too scared to climb back down. In my mind, my choices were either ride down, or sit up there and wait till someone could get me down on a ladder.
Once I saw Donnie had got down to his camera and everyone was ready, I looked around and saw a group of students had noticed me and were running across a field to come see what was happening. I didn’t want a big crowd watching me so I yelled down “this is it!” Put my feet on the pedals and took my finger off the brake lever.
I later found out everyone with me had expected me to ride down with my brakes and go as slow as possible, but that was never my plan. I knew I would go down fast but I didn’t have any idea how fast it would actually be. About halfway down I could see how fast the ground was getting closer and I got this horrible feeling. I don’t think I can accurately describe it, but I just knew that I was screwed. For that second riding down I 100% believed that I was about to die and I just regretted so much.
Then everything was dark. I opened my eyes and I was in a hospital bed in a neck brace with Donnie sitting beside me. I turned to him and said “I guess I didn’t land it huh?”. I forget exactly what Donnie said but then he handed me his phone and told me I had to call my mom. He said he hadn’t called her because he didn’t want her to hate him for letting me do something so dumb.
“I 100% believed that I was about to die and I just regretted so much.”
How did that phone call go? Was she pissed?
Uhh I don’t remember exactly. I do remember thinking she might freak out but she stayed pretty chill. I think she just wanted to make sure someone else drove me home hahaha . After I talked to my mom, a nurse came in and told us to leave. Kaleb took this photo in the hospital parking lot right before Dillon drove me home in my van.
I later found out that I had woken up multiple times before getting to the hospital and had been trying to get up and walk away while Dillon had been holding me still waiting for the ambulance. They told me that the police showed up and asked them what had happened and they said I flipped over in the parking lot from a pot hole or something, and as they were loading me into the ambulance I went “what!? I thought I rode down the building!? “I don’t remember any of that though.
What was the extent of your injuries?
I had a pretty serious concussion but overall I was super lucky especially considering my bars had smacked and broken the strap of my helmet during the fall so it fell off before my head ever hit the ground. I’m lucky my frame took all the damage from the fall. None of the welds fully broke but my downtube actually wrinkled and my frame pretty much bent in half. If all that energy had gone to my spine I would have been so screwed.
So I ended up getting the best case scenario for this going as bad as it did. Although I did end up getting a brain MRI almost a year after the accident and the doctor showed me spots on my brain where it had been bleeding and said there was still evidence of a major concussion in my past.
I think that’s pretty much it, sorry if that was way too much detail haha.
No way dude, that was amazing. So do you have to keep going to the brain doctor for follow ups?
No he said it was healed
I mix up first letters of words some still though
Everybody does that sometimes. It’s no dig beal.
Yeah I definitely had a hard time for a about a month afterwards forgetting names and stuff but that mostly got better.
Do you still have the frame?
Yeah, I still have the frame. It was only a couple weeks old so there are only a couple scratches on it and the paint still feels brand new. Such a shame it’s bent in half.
That’s a wall hanger for sure.
Another funny thing is they said it was gonna be a $12,000 hospital bill. But someone at the hospital filed it as a workplace injury so they wanted my employer to pay for it. I have no idea how that happened but we have never gotten the bill.
Are you going to get redemption on this thing or what? Does it count if you put a board at the bottom?
I thought about maybe trying it again for a while but i just don’t want to go through that again. I think it is possible if there is some transition built at the bottom. I don’t know if it’s possible to land it without extra transition because it is very steep at the bottom.
It’d be cool to land it, but i feel like the potential for a bad outcome is much higher than landing it.
I just remembered I saved this link. Someone caught me on their twitter (click Here!)…
(Ed Note: The Tweet Link is worth pursuing for the comments alone)
The legit angles are going to be used in the new KIR dvd this spring
Imagine being like a normal college kid minding your own business, on your way to Starbucks, and seeing this lunatic ride off of the building.
So what’s up with the KIR dvd? You have a full part?
I have a six minute part. Hopefully people don’t get too bored of watching me fall for that long.
Somehow I doubt it.
Check out the premiere of “440 Volts” at Powers Bike Shop on Saturday, June 16th at 6pm.
Interview By Kitt West photos by Kaleb Bolton!