Saturday, April 25, 2009

Holy Moses, What A Ride!

Half a dozen years ago, when I was in my early 40's, I did something out of the ordinary...for me, anyway. I've never had much love for roller-coasters, mainly because they make me want to hurl. Motion sickness just isn't my thing. But for some reason, after I had turned 40 I felt I had to prove something to myself.

I didn't even realize I had this need until after we arrived at Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando. When you arrive at the park you can see and hear the Hulk Roller-Coaster well before you enter the gate. It has a loud growling/roaring kind of noise that it produces. Right away I was mesmerized by the whole thing but I had no intention of getting on it. When we came into the park we stood and watched it for a while and then got on about our business of having fun for the day.

Eventually my oldest and her dad rode the Hulk. My youngest was, well, too young and I was too chicken. I wasn't afraid of the speed or the height or anything like that. I just don't like to be sick and dizzy (go figure!) because once I get motion-sick the feeling can last the rest of the day. Eventually, though, I found myself standing below the ride watching it go around again and again. That's when I began to feel the need to ride. The need to prove to myself that I could (and should) ride the Hulk. Somehow, I felt that if I left the park that day without conquering the Hulk I would not be able to look myself in the mirror - like I would really be letting myself down. It was like some right of passage that I had to complete.

At some point I left the girls with their dad and wandered back to the Hulk. I bet I stood there for an hour getting my nerve up, convincing myself I could do it without fainting or losing my lunch. After I had psyched myself into going, it took me about half an hour to get through the line to the top. It seemed like forever but then suddenly I came around a corner and there I was - next in line to board. Which I did. The contraption (photo from Mr. Noded, Flickr) closed around me, and then the ride began. For a couple of seconds you move along slowly and then you suddenly accelerate and get shot out like a canon ball, whereupon you immediately get turned upside down and dropped.

I found a good description of the ride on line:

"....riders are shot (they're not kidding!)out within 2 seconds at 40 mph and are sent through a zero-g roll, down a 105-foot drop (zoiks!!)and through a cobra roll. Riders complete a vertical loop, then enter a tunnel full of mist. At this point of the ride, the train's speed has reached approximately 60-67 mph (it was pretty much a blur when I could force my eyes open). The train encircles the gamma tube and is sent into the back area via corkscrew (there was a lot of upside down time). After another vertical loop and two over-banked turns, the coaster is slowed down by a brake run before being sent down another hill to a corkscrew and turn-around. Riders then travel sideways through a camera area (yeah, I looked mortified!)and then to the ride's closing after a helix.

Now, while I had stood below watching the ride for an hour (mentally preparing and all) I hadn't taken into account the fact that I had not yet seen the back half of the ride. Had I noticed the spaghetti-knot portion on the back half I'm not so sure I would have gotten on! I tried to keep my eyes open- it took a concerted effort! I also had to keep telling myself to breath. After the first corkscrew I thought I would lose it but somehow when you are going so fast and flipping around so much - well, maybe it's impossible to throw up when 'up' keeps changing?? Looking back on it now it's a wonder I didn't have a stroke.

When I got off the ride I couldn't believe I hadn't fainted or gotten sick. My legs however felt like jelly and it was quite a knock-kneed walk down. I did get to see a picture of my face from when we traveled through the camera area but I didn't want to spend money on a picture of me looking mortified! I found this video on you-tube that almost does the ride justice. Oh, and if you're wondering - no, I don't think I'll try something like this again!

Really, I guess roller-coasters are just a metaphor for life, aren't they?
Q: What's a metaphor?
A: It's where you keep your sheep....


ElderSisSpaceMountainRider said...

Jesus H. Christ, you've got stones!

I haven't been on any roller coaster since the last time I rode space mountain. But, there IS (or was) a heck of a coaster at King's Dominion called "Rebel Yell" that I remember fondly...

Lucy said...

Nope....not in a zillion years could anyone get me to ride it. I'm a real poor sport with roller coasters and I think this one qualifies for a few grades above...'just a rollercoaster'. But it was fun going by youtube. :)

RisibleGirl said...

When I was younger, I used to *love* anything and everything scary, but now? huh uh- no way.

Although I'm proud to say that I did the bungee jump ride on top of the stratosphere in my 40's. Twice.

Since I'm almost done with my 40's I think it's highly likely that my 40's have seen the last of the scary rides.

EldersisLavaWalker said...

I don't do roller coasters any more. I walk on lava.

Jerry in Indiana said...

Wow. That was a LONG ride!

Great camera work, whoever filmed that.