What happens if I let go while I’m bobsledding?

I actually didn’t want to find out, though I almost had to because my death grip on the two lengths of rope I was holding on to kept slipping as we went around corners at the Lake Placid Bobsled track. In my head, as we sped down the track, I was trying to work out whether gravity and centrifugal forces would keep me inside the bobsled even if I let go…this is a real-life application of what I learned years ago in Physics class (but that I’ve long since forgotten).

How could I go to Lake Placid and NOT do the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience!? It’s $80 (not cheap) but it’s also something that I’ve wanted to try for a long time, ever since I saw bobsledders in the Olympics (because when else do you see bobsledding!?) years ago. We were given a pager and sent upstairs to a seating area that I’m sure is more bustling in the middle of winter or the summer, but was absolutely dead when we were there. Once the pager beeped, vibrated, and blinked red (were pagers always this obnoxious??), we were to walk outside, across a bridge above the old bobsled track, and into a black suburban that would drive us to our starting point. Mysterious eh? Once at the starting point, we were hooked up with some heavy duty helmets and taken outside to sit down in the bobsled. I was thinking to myself, we only get helmets…no other protective gear?

We were told to hold onto two straps, one on either side of us, that ran the length of the bobsled. Keep your arms and head inside the bobsled at all times (why would I stick my arm out!?) and enjoy the ride. The driver and the brakesman pushed us off and down we went, around 10 curves. My ride went something like this:

  • this is not so bad…kinda comfortable.
  • aw we aren’t going that fast….
  • my grip is starting to give; I wonder if I can let go without falling out?
  • okay I can’t see where we’re going, my shoulders are banging against the sides of the bobsled with every turn, and oh my gosh when are we going to stop!
  • (feels the brakes being applied) phew, that was freakin’ awesome but I’m so glad I can let go of these straps!
  • my legs are a bit wobbly (trying to get up and out of the bobsled).
  • woohoo! That was so cool!

And 48 seconds later, we were out of the bobsled and taking a commemorative photo with our driver, brakesman, and bobsled. Unfortunately, neither the Skeleton Experience nor the Be a Biathlete Experience was available when we were visiting the area…but bobsledding was awesome.


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