Are you scared?”
It’s a fair question to ask someone who’s about to ride a tandem 2,800 foot long zip line that’s 160 feet up in the air at its peak. It’s also not particularly helpful.
“A little,” I yell back over the roaring wind at my guide Brittany. It’s a sunny day in Santa Margarita on Thursday, May 19, but the wind has my teeth chattering as I prepare to ride Margarita Adventure’s newest zip line, the Double Barrel (which sadly appears to have no affiliation with Firestone Walker’s Double Barrel Ale).
- PHOTO BY RYAH COOLEY
- DOUBLE THE FUN: You can’t hold hands while you ride side by side on Margarita Adventure’s tandem zip line, but you can race!
As an aerialist and former gymnast, I’m not afraid of heights, but I’m also not stupid enough to have zero fear as I contemplate hanging more than 100 feet above ground.
It’s simple enough, Brittany tells me. Grab on to the handlebars, get a running start before jumping off the platform, and then tuck my legs up towards my body. You can get even more momentum if you turn around and ride backwards, but I’m not feeling quite that brave.
The Double Barrel is a tandem zip line, which means you can ride side by side with a friend or special someone. But don’t think that means it’s the perfect site for romantic escapades. Safety first, people.
“You can’t hold hands,” Amanda, one of the owners of Margarita Adventures/Ancient Peaks (the two businesses are owned jointly by several families), told me at the office before a tan safari-style jeep took us up the hill. “But you can race while you ride side by side.” Fair enough.
- PHOTO BY RYAH COOLEY
- HERE WE GO: New Times Arts Editor Ryah Cooley prepares to ride the Double Barrel, Margarita Adventure’s newest and longest zip line at 2,800 feet.
Word also has it that the Double Barrel is one of the longest zip lines in California.
So here I am all decked out in a harness and hard helmet, shuffling about on the concrete platform nestled between two oak trees to stay warm while I wait for the green light from Brittany to take a flying leap. The cold from the wind is momentarily annoying, but Brittany tells us we’re lucky to be riding on a windy day as it helps to get you all the way to the end of the line. Most of the time riders get stuck mid-zip line and robot devices have to pull them the remaining distance. I silently pray that I won’t be the dweeb who gets stuck in the middle of the zip line, waiting for some robotic knight to save me.
Brittany finishes checking my harness and carabiners and tells me I’m good to go. I take a deep breath for courage as some last-minute butterflies fill my tummy. I grip the handlebars. A few quick steps and leap later I’m flying high over the land that makes up Margarita Adventures and Ancient Peaks Vineyards (where the grapes for the tasty Renegade blend are grown). It’s nothing but green vineyards, rolling golden hills, oaks trees, and blue sky as far as the eye can see. I steel myself as I take a peek to look down. I’m a long way up, but I find myself fascinated, not scared, by the literal change in perspective.
I feel myself starting to slow down and I anxiously swivel my hips to the side to avoid being stranded. This seems to help kick up my momentum as I glide all the way to the end of the line where two helpful zip line guides catch me to slow my fall. Another rider asks if we can go again and I eagerly nod in agreement.
Ryah Cooley is looking for thrills and chills at firstname.lastname@example.org.