delara newsDelaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH VOL 37 NUMBER 3
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Buckle your seatbelts, empty your pockets of loose items, grab the restraining rail
Our Olympic edition wouldn’t be complete without a firsthand report from one of the world’s top sledding masters - our own (are you surprised??) Bob Dixon. Here’s his account. (First recorded in March 2010 DELARA News)
Bob Rides the Luge
Our net on Feb 22 discussed the recent Olympics, and I mentioned that I had ridden the Olympic luge once. So Editor Stan asked me to write this article describing my experience.In 1988 the winter Olympics were held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. After the Olympics, the site was converted to a park, and some of the infrastructure was retained, such as the ski jump and the luge track. In 1999 my wife and I, accompanied by my good friend Bill and his wife, visited the Olympic park. We discovered that you can ride the luge, so Bill and I decided after considerable discussion to go for it. First they make you PAY for this privilege, and then you have to sign a very long document that gives away any rights you may have ever had. See the SMALL EXCERPT below. Note especially the “death” part.At this point a rational person might have reconsidered, but we plunged on regardless. They provide you with a helmet, arm guards, gloves and some SKIMPY instructions on how to ride the luge.After you get on the luge, you have passed the point of no return.They grab you by the legs and fling you down the track as fast as they can. Immediately you realize the idiocy of what you have gotten yourself into. The ice flies by at a very alarming rate, and it keeps getting faster and faster. The ice is very rough, so your entire body is shaking from the severe bumps and vibration. There is no headrest, so you have to hold your head straight out. If you let it sag, it bounces off the ice. You try to raise you head up so you can look ahead at your impending doom, and all you can see is more ice. The sides of the track are so high that you see nothing but the track. Steering is very limited, especially with no previous experience, so you swerve from side to side out of control. You are in terror that you will miss a turn and fly over the top edge of the track (as unfortunately happened at the recent Olympics). If you fly out, you either hit a post, or else you sail off between the posts into the sky for who knows how high and how far, and what you might land on. And nobody would see it, because there is nobody anywhere along the track except at the start and end (unlike the actual Olympics). So you could lie there a long time until they came looking for you when you did not reach the bottom. There is no escape, and you have no idea how long you will be trapped in this hurtling ice tube (the Olympians know every turn by heart). There are no brakes. You might think you could stick out a leg (and lose all steering), or an arm (and risk losing your vice grip on the sled) to try and slow down, but those all seem like bad ideas. So basically you just grit your teeth and hang on and hope that the people who designed the track knew what they were doing. Whereas the Olympians are striving for maximum speed, you are striving for mere survival.I cannot tell you what joy it was to FINALLY see some people along the track at the bottom, and they all cheer you on and congratulate you on making it down successfully. They radio up to the top that the course is clear, so the next person can come down. I got on the radio and told our wives NOT to try it.We got this little certificate to prove that we made it.Bill and I have reminisced many times about this since then, and we always say NEVER AGAIN !!!