I treated myself to a bobsled ride at the Nordic and Sliding Center in Lake Placid for no particular reason, and it was amazing.
Yet the notion of barreling down Mt. Van Hoevenberg in a pocket rocket was never part of my original bucket list…although it should have been. So I added it, just so I could cross it off my list.
True, there’s another bobsled run in Park City, but I’m not schlepping to Utah for another sliding track if I’m already here. Besides, Olympic history was made at Lake Placid, when the Americans defeated the Soviets in the men’s hockey finale.
Leah had less than zero interest in joining me, so I was on my own. Unfortunately, she was nursing a bad lower back the past few days, and missing out on a world of world-class activities–
while I was anticipating the thrill of winding through a dozen curves in a rumbling sled, and wondering how I would capture it all without dropping my phone. Carpe diem, all the way!
I filled out a “hold harmless” waiver online; showed the attendant my drivers license (although I wasn’t driving); and booked a 1pm run-time for $125. I thought it a bit pricey for a 55 second experience, compared to the “value” of free-falling from an airplane (Free Fallin’ Off My Bucket List),
or riding Class 4 and 5 rapids on the New River (New River Gorge), but at least I’d have bragging rights among friends.
Leah was willing and able to join me on the Legacy Tour, where we previewed the Olympic Center’s newest facility–the first of its kind, indoor push-track for bobsled and skeleton in the United States–
where athletes can practice start gate techniques for skeletons, and bobsleds. But they’ll need to dress for winter, because it was like a mammoth refrigerator inside!
We warmed up while examining the 1980 track, which is built atop the 1932 track, which runs parallel to the Cliffside Coaster, North America’s longest coaster.
Next, we boarded a bus that drove us to the 1st of 4 start gates of the Combined Track, completed in 2000…
for a look at what $50K to $100K will buy these days.
Then we walked the upper course…
past Curve 1…
to Start Gate 3…
with a distant view of the Ski Jump Center.
I shared my downhill ride with an anonymous coed, who took the first position behind the driver. I squeezed in behind her, with my butt planted on a quilted foam pad. Definitely, not the best position for a bad back, so Leah was right to sit this one out. Instructions were simple: hold onto the inside bars with both hands.
“But how will I video this?” I asked.
The attendant picked his words carefully: “You didn’t hear this from me, but if you hold your phone near the edge of the sled and brace your arm against the roll bar, your phone should fall into the sled if it slips out-ta your hand.”
We got a push and we were ready to roll…
We posted a respectable 52.25 seconds over the 1500 meter run. Olympian athletes can reach speeds of 90mph barreling down the same course.
While not the fastest run at 48mph, it was quick enough to earn me a moment on the gold medal podium.