“I knew someone who was in really good shape. She couldn’t move her neck for three days after riding the bobsled,” my new acquaintance told me.
I was talking with a group of Park City locals about the Comet Bobsled ride at Utah Olympic Park. For a fee, which goes to support the U.S. Olympic Bobsled team, mere mortals can take a take a ride where previously only highly trained Olympians dared to slide.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” another person chimed in. “I know plenty of people who’ve done it, but they only did it once.”
Finally, someone with first-hand experience spoke up. “I’ve done it. It’s wild. And I know a woman at Deer Valley who loved it. She did it six times before she had to give it up.”
“Thanks,” I thought to myself. “Is this encouragement or not?”
The Olympic Dream
Here on the eve of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, I’m excited for the upcoming Winter Games.
Say what you will about the evolution of the Olympic movement from a cadre of devoted amateurs to a showcase for the most talented professional athletes in the world; I remain a Winter Olympic devotee.
So given the opportunity to ride in an Olympic bobsled, on the Olympic course, from the Olympic start was like a dream come true.
But after talking to these locals, I wasn’t so sure.
Then I remembered my son’s parting words to me as I left for Utah. “If you don’t ride the bobsled, there is no way you can call yourself brave.”
A Ride of a Lifetime
So I did it.
I signed up. I went to the orientation. I got my helmet. I rode the sled. I LOVED it! I couldn’t move my neck for three days.
Utah Olympic Park provides this representative helmet-cam video. This is pretty much what the Comet Bobsled ride looks and sounds like.
The Comet Bobsled covers 8/10ths of a mile in just 54 seconds (about 5 seconds slower than a winning Olympic time), with a top speed of over 80 miles per hour.
Take the sled and prepare for adrenalin and endorphin overload. It’s a breathtaking, crazy, fear-inducing, emotional extravaganza, which goes so fast that you literally cannot think.
When I got out of the sled, all I wanted to do was ride it again.
Then, almost exactly 12 hours after my 54 second ride, my neck stiffened up, thanks to the 5 Gs pulled on one big, sweeping corner. I’d been warned. But until I did it, I didn’t realize what 5 Gs really felt like — it’s like having someone five times your weight sitting on your shoulders.
So would I do it again? I am not sure.
Before my neck started hurting, I most certainly would have. Now, I am just really, really happy that I have done it at least once in my lifetime.
It was worth the three days of a stiff neck.
It’s the closest I’ll ever come to being an Olympian.
If you’re ready for your personal Olympic minute, it’s time to go to Park City!
Originally posted in 2012, this remains one of the best experiences I’ve ever had! I still say it’s worth the sore neck.
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