When something is easy to do once you learn it, people say “it’s like riding a bike.” They probably didn’t mean doing quadruple flips on a bike, though. Turning even one somersault in the air on a bike is crazy enough. But daredevils like Jed Mildon wouldn’t stop there. He was sure he could do 4 full flips before landing on the ground, so he practiced for months to become the first person to do it. He and his buddies built and tested 15 different ramps: it needed to be long enough to give him time to pick up speed. They ended up with a 21-foot tall ramp, which might be as tall as your own house. As we see in the video, he then lands on a ramp slanting down, and it “counts” as a true quadruple flip only if he lands right side up! Jed also broke 10 ribs during all those practices, so we’re glad that in the end he succeeded.
Wee ones: What shape is a bicycle wheel?
Little kids: If you rode off that 21-foot ramp and jumped just 1 foot above that, how high off the ground would you be? Bonus: People have 14 “true” ribs (connected to the sternum). If Jed broke 10 of his, how many ribs did he not break?
Big kids: Jed started practicing these jumps 9 months before his July stunt. In what month and year did he start? Bonus: Jed knew that he could do a triple flip (3 turns) off an 8-foot ramp. If he had had to triple that ramp height for this new trick, would that have been taller or shorter than 21 feet?
Wee ones: A circle (and in 3D, the tire is actually called a “torus”).
Little kids: 22 feet. Bonus: 4 ribs.
Big kids: In October 2014. Bonus: It would have been taller, at 24 feet.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.