Two trucks and a deck fly over bridge

Professional skateboarder Jean-Marc Johannes turned a bridge across the Liesbeek River in Carlisle Road in Paarden Eiland into his own private skate park on Tuesday as he attempted a stunt of ramping from a halfpipe onto the bridge, crossing it on his deck and flying off the other end to land on a wooden ramp platform.

His latest antic saw him halfpiping onto a bridge, crossing the Liesbeek River and after plummeting off the six foot drop on the other side onto a landing ramp he couldn’t see from the elevation of the bridge, it is safe to say that moniker isn’t disappearing anytime soon.

A pensive Johannes rolled gingerly across the one-metre-wide bridge early on Tuesday morning in Paarden Eiland, stopping every so often to take in the exact magnitude of a fall into the shallow waters flowing across the cement floor some metres below.

As the ramps were being set up on either side, one could only wonder what exactly was going through his mind.

“I just love turning something that most people wouldn’t consider a skate spot into something skateable.

“The most challenging thing was that I have never skated here before. I mean, just skating on this bridge is a challenge in itself but once I was up there it all came to life.

“The test was getting used to something you’re doing for the first time as quickly as possible. Going into that last trick, the fact that I haven’t practiced this bridge before, I had to take a little piece of advice I carry with me into competitions and when I’m trying something new that I call the first-time mindset.

“Something you don’t want to do is talk yourself out of doing it and have to go back and do it again so you just go out there and get it done the first time. That way you won’t have to live with the regret.

“I will admit that I was nervous, mostly about the wind coming up, just because I have skated spots in wind before and it usually doesn’t end well. Thankfully, the weather held out and we could make it happen,” he said.

With safety officers standing by, the ramp building crew giving the thumbs up and all camera lenses aimed at the gap between the bridge and the landing ramp, it was time to launch.

Johannes swooped down the halfpipe, landing smoothly atop the concrete bridge, then proceeded to wheel along its top. All hearts stood still as he ollied off the far end, flitted through the air and landed with a smile on the platform.

“Usually the spots I use as stunt locations are places I’ve discovered in the moment. Something I’ve skated by or seen from the road. If it’s something I had to talk myself out of more than once then I know that’s the next big thing I want to tackle.

“There was a lot of planning that went into this and it actually turned out pretty much exactly how I imagined it in my head.

“Leading up to the jump I would imagine what it would be like to do the tricks. Once you get to the spot, though, it’s a whole different story, but I believe that by visualising it, you’ve done half the job already.

“This is one of the craziest tricks I’ve done but this is the way I love to live – out of the box and out of any comfort zones. For me, this bridge was definitely out of my comfort zone,” he said.

Of course, there was more to the feat than simply getting the adrenaline spiked. The trick was part of the Red Heart Rum #livewithheart challenge, where Johannes, as an ambassador, chose to tackle the challenge of trying something for the first time in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same.

Also, the young skater doesn’t shy away from making his voice heard when it comes to issues affecting the city he calls home, be they social, economic or, with the current water crisis being what it is, even climatic.

“A few weeks ago I made a post on social media about the water crisis. I was concerned about it as someone who lives in Cape Town and I was surprised how many people were actually talking about it as if it wasn’t a problem.

“In the build-up to doing this stunt I was going through some old pics of tricks we did and when I came across one of the first stunts we did, across a canal in Athlone, I saw how low the water was in the picture and it really got me thinking that I wanted to get a message across.

“I know some people might think it’s not my place to do so but if no one else is doing it I just wanted to make that statement that it is everyone’s responsibility to conserve water.

“I hope that by doing something like this young skaters will get the message to never be afraid to skate something new, whether it be a set of stairs, a rail or skating in a contest, whatever it may be, they must go at it with everything that they have,” he said.