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A lap bar between life and death


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The slow click, click, click as you are pulled toward the sky. The feeling of your stomach jumps into your throat as you plummet back toward the ground, getting disoriented as you fly through the cork screw, not really knowing if you’re going up or down.

Most people know all about riding roller coasters and the feelings associated with these thrill rides before they reach the age of 25. However, until just a few days ago, I had never ridden a real roller coaster.

Let me just say, I am not a roller coaster person. I usually stick to the water and kiddie rides. That being said, when my husband and our good friend asked me to just try at least one roller coaster, I agreed.

As we got closer to Six Flags, I could see the coasters rising into the clouds. I started to worry that my little amount of courage was waning. Once we entered the park, I was quickly directed to the Boss.

A wooden roller coaster, the Boss boasts a 5,051 foot long ride including a 15-story drop and reaches speeds of over 66 mph. I’m really glad I didn’t know these specs before I got on the thing.

There is super long walk to even reach the line waiting to ride the Boss and, based on its twisting and turning path, I knew I was in for a wild ride. As we waited to take our seats, I got to listen to the poor souls ahead of us screaming, witnessing their knees shaking as they disembarked the train. This only added to my anxiety.

Only seconds before I took my seat, I thought to myself, “This is a really bad idea. You shouldn’t do this.”

Then, I listened to the lap bars clicking into place in the cars in front of us – click, click, click, click. When it was my turn, my lap bar only clicked twice and several words not fit for printing ran through my mind.

In July, a woman fell to her death from a roller coaster at Six Flags in Texas. Her family claimed she had mentioned her restraint didn’t lock properly (it didn’t click enough) before the coaster took off.

I knew my husband was really excited for me to ride this coaster. He wanted me to enjoy it as much as he does. So, I told myself to suck it up, that it would over soon, and that it couldn’t be that bad if people ride it all the time without dying.

It didn’t go well.

I was okay on the way up. I even looked over the side and didn’t freak out. What really got me though, was watching the cars ahead of us disappearing over the hill. When it was our turn, I lost it.

When my butt left the seat and the only thing keeping me from plummeting to my death was a lap bar that only clicked TWICE, my eyes clamped shut. I couldn’t decide whether to hold my husband’s hand or the car, so I held both as tight as I possibly could.

With the second drop, my glasses almost flew right off my face. I had to hold those with one hand while hoping and praying that the other holding the car would be enough if that darn lap bar gave.

I started hyperventilating and kept repeating, “I can’t do this.” My husband put his arm around me and kept telling me that I was okay but I could tell my panic attack was wrecking his nerves.

The ride seemed to last forever. In all actuality, it was over in seconds. I think it took longer for my legs to stop shaking so I could walk off the train than the ride itself. After about five minutes, I said something that shocked everyone.

It wasn’t that bad and I kind of liked it. That’s right, I’m crazy but not crazy enough to ride any more roller coasters the rest of the day. One was enough excitement for me.

While I am still not a huge fan of roller coasters or the accompanying panic attack, I have promised not to give up. I am going to ride at least one different coaster with each visit to Six Flags, hopefully even two.

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Award winning, student run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield..
A lap bar between life and death