Last week, I got to feel what it’s like to be a bullet for a short time. In a black Olympic 4-person bobsleigh, my fiancee, another woman, and I raced down a 1500-meter ice course at almost 120 km/h with our driver, Canadian Olympic silver medalist Helen Upperton.
It felt very strange. It was also a hard one. Outside, it was a cold -25 degrees Celsius, and most people were inside with a cup of hot chocolate.
We, on the other hand, were getting ready to pull 5 G-forces of pressure while trying to keep our heads tucked into our shoulders like turtles.
BECOMING A SPEEDING BULLET
We got there at about 1:00 p.m. to fill out the paperwork and get fitted for a helmet. When traveling faster than 100 km/h, wind gusts are annoying, so I made sure to choose one with a protection.
We walked out to the starting line of the track when it was finally our turn to go. My heart was beating fast because I was excited and looking forward to something.
We listened to our driver Helen’s advice, sat close together in the sled, grabbed the rope inside the bullet, and shrugged our shoulders to get ready for huge pressures to be put on our bodies.
If you think going 120 km/h is fast, think about how much force our bodies were putting out: 5 Gs. What a crazy plan! When a space shuttle takes off, it only goes through three Gs. I had to sit in the back because I was much bigger than the three women who were coming with me.
I was told that this is where most of the energy is felt, so I knew we were in for a wild time. I tried to picture how it would feel as the bobsleigh team rushed us toward the ice waterslide.
Is it really going to be hard? Would I see white streaks as we went through the tunnels, like a Star Wars ship going into warp drive?
I was right about something, at least. It wasn’t easy.
At first, the pace is slow enough and pleasant enough that you might look around and want to smile. As we went around the second turn, the pace picked up.
We were going very fast when we got to the third turn. I’m more worried about keeping my head in the sled right now. After a turn, we’ll take another, and sometimes a left turn will be followed by a right one.
This caused my head to start bobbing up and down, but I stopped it and shrugged my shoulders again. I had to act pretty much like a turtle. It makes sense that a Turtle would be good at bobsleigh.
I saw myself as a bullet going through a gun’s barrel. We were actually flying. I didn’t have to worry about anything because an Olympic driver was driving, and the time went by so quickly that all I could think about was how fast we were going.
We went 122 km/h at our fastest and finished the run in just over a minute. To me, it was more like ten.
Even though I was wearing a good helmet and a plastic visor to protect my eyes, the speeds we reached made me cry. It was, at the very least, exciting, and it changed the way I thought about bobsleigh and what it must be like to go as fast as light.
EXPERIENCING THE OLYMPIC BOBSLEIGH AT CANADA OLYMPIC PARK
Even though it was a little hard, I wish I could do it again. Like bungee jumping or skydiving, the rush only lasts for a short time, leaving you wanting more. Calgary, Alberta, is one of the few places in the world with an Olympic bobsleigh track.
Canada Olympic Park is in the western part of the city, near the trans-Canada highway and the beautiful drive to Banff. Locals call it C.O.P., and it was built for the 1988 Winter Olympics.
It has a lot of fun things to do, like the fastest zip line in North America and an Olympic bobsled that can fit four riders. At $190 (update: currently $170) per person, it is a bit pricey. But you should expect to pay for the excitement you’re getting.
I thought I had “felt” everything after I jumped off a bridge with a bungee cord around my ankles.
This, on the other hand, was a new and welcome pleasure. If you are nearby, go to Canada Olympic Park and ride the bobsleds. If you can’t go there, see if you can find something similar where you live.
Then, why not plan a trip to Calgary, meet up with me, ride the bobsled, and ski some of the best runs in the world while seeing the beautiful Canadian Rockies?
UPDATE 2018 for the Calgary Olympic Park Bobsleigh Experience
The original track has gotten faster and rougher, which has changed what it’s like to ride a bobsled. The track has been cut down a bit, making it slower and easier to ride. People like it better that way. The second time was just as exciting as the first, but there wasn’t nearly as much danger.
It’s a big step up from pulling 3–4 Gs instead of 5 Gs and averaging 100–110 mph instead of 120 mph. I promise, your neck will thank you.
Your driver, who used to cost you $20 less, is now an Olympic athlete. Visit our channel on YOUTUBE to watch our movie about the trip and look at more Canadian videos.