The whole ride, as it were, takes three to four minutes from start to finish. After you drop, you bounce for a bit, and are eventually hauled back up (a process that actually looks much more dignified than with bungy jumping, which requires an upside-down you to reach up and release a clip that sets you right-side-up, failure to do so meaning that you are simply hauled up feet-first flopping like a salmon).
“The experience is exhilarating,” cofounder Henry van Asch told me. “Up to 3Gs of force and acceleration of around [62 miles] in 1.5 seconds is not your typical experience -- and I think people are going to get a pretty big kick out of it. For me, the most exciting part of it is how surprising it is -- the speed, the height, and the sudden drop. You don’t know exactly when you’re going to go either and that adds to the fun.
“I did my first version of the catapult more than 30 years ago,” van Asch continues. “We were kicking around France at the time, jumping off bridges, and after seeing a guy skydiving out of a plane with his bike, we wanted to try our bungy version of that. We found the perfect site on Pont de la Caille, near Annecy, where there was a [492-foot deep] river spanned by two bridges around [328 feet] apart. We attached one end of the bungy cord to the suspension bridge and the other to me and my mountain bike on the adjacent concrete bridge -- and then I went for it. I felt this crazy impression that I wasn’t moving at all but the other bridge was rushing toward me at an incredible speed. Ever since I did that first catapult, I wanted to create some kind of catapult-style experience here [in New Zealand.]”