Sunday, March 26, 2006

$200 for 53 seconds

Park City is conveniently located near Salt Lake City.  Indeed, it is so conveniently located to Salt Lake City that it hosted some of the Olympic events back in 2002.  Like the ski jumping.  And the bobsled.

And if you go on over to the Olympic Park and pay them $200, they'll give you a bobsled ride on the real live actual Olympic bobsled track, in a specially modified four-person sled that takes passengers. 

We are told this is WAY BETTER than the bobsled rides you can get at Lake Placid -- 'cause there, they'll only take you on the second half of the track and you don't reach speeds greater than 45 miles per hour.  This was the whole competitive track -- all 15 (or was it 14?) turns of it, with top speeds pushing 80 mph. 

Having not met a real bobsled up-close and person-like, I couldn't tell you all the modifications made to our sled.  I can tell you that we didn't have to push it and jump in, and the driver controlled both the driving and the brakes.  We also had a small amount of padding to sit on and handles to grab onto (which, believe me, we did).  But, basically (after watching a short video, being fitted with a helmet, and signing the ever-so-important release) they tossed us in a sled with a driver, and sent us screaming (figuratively and, in the case of the woman behind me, literally) down the bobsled track.

Extremely nifty experience.  We'd been warned that, when you go into the curves where the sled is sideways, you're gonna experience up to 4 or 4 1/2 G's of force on your person.  Also warned that "after turn 4, you pretty much turn into a bobblehead."  This was true.  From inside the sled, it did pretty much look like one of those films you've seen "from the sled's point of view" in which the camera is bouncing a lot.  The difference is, it is YOU that's doing the bouncing as the world flies by at 75 miles per hour.  And feeling the forces pull on you as you go through the different turns.  It was absolutely amazing -- and an experience I doubt you can get anyplace else.

I can't IMAGINE how our driver was actually DRIVING the thing.  I mean, the turns were coming up so fast, and he was just expertly keeping us on a straight course right through them.  I barely had time to register "oh, that's turn 4, the first 'G-force' turn coming up" when we were feeling the forces push us into the sled, and it was all I could do to just count the next four turns as we went through them fast and furious.

For all everyone says about 53 seconds being a short amount of time (in light of the cost), I can honestly say that I totally got my money's worth.  It isn't like the ride was so fast I couldn't pay attention and enjoy the experience.  And, by the end, I was pretty much bobble-d out and ready to get back on solid ground. 

In the taxi on the way back to our condo, the driver asked how long we'd been in Park City.  It had been about 24 hours.  The guy asked what we'd done with our time, and I said, "Oh, learned to ski; rode a bobsled."  Not bad for the first day.  :)

1 comment:

hewasolddog299 said...

A wise investment. I am SO jealous. I've always wanted to bobsled (and luge, too), but never had the opportunity. You ROCK!

wil