Yesterday I blew off work and joined my buddy Chris for some roller coaster action. We decided weeks ago that we wanted to go out to our local theme park, Six Flags over Georgia, and ride some coasters this summer. Chris manages his schedule with ruthless efficiency, so he put it on the schedule for yesterday and planned accordingly.
I manage my schedule with feckless buffoonery, so I wrote it down and immediately forgot about it.
I’m thinking about when the last time I went and rode the coasters was. I know I was with Cheryl, so that would mean it had to be… let’s see — carry the one, divided by pi, plus four equals — whenever that was.
Anyway I do remember clearly riding a coaster named the Georgia Cyclone on that trip. It’s a big wooden coaster, a mirror image of the famous Coney Island Cyclone. I also remember saying when I got off it that I had been in more comfortable bar fights. I swore I would never give it another chance to abuse my skeletal system.
But Chris wanted to ride it, and we were right there, and it had been a while since the last time, and I’m in much improved physical condition than I was then. I am an Ironman finisher after all. How bad can it be?
Answer: Pretty bad.
It remains an excellent way to test the rebounding ability — or lack thereof — of a man’s spine, much in the same way that a croquet mallet could be used to test the sturdiness of his kneecaps. I’m fairly certain I am at least 1/4 of an inch shorter than I was yesterday, and my height is one of my favorite things about myself. As such, I believe that Six Flags should build and staff a chiropractor’s clinic immediately to the right of the exit. Mind you, I have never visited a chiropractor, but if there were one at the exit of the Georgia Cyclone, I would have tried it out.
It still has the moments of floating, and the riding down hills at terrific speed, which are a lot of fun, but at the bottoms of the hills my body was subjected to such a pounding I thought we must certainly have left the tracks and headed over a pile of boulders instead. I would liken this elation interspersed with abject spinal distress to making out with the prom queen for two seconds, then being set upon by an alligator for two, then repeating the process again and again.
Certainly there is an ingredient of age here that is making the experience less enjoyable. Many years ago I rode the Cyclone as a child and thought it was great fun, but in the intervening decades there has been some hardening, some cracking, some fading of colors. Perhaps some parts are creakier now than they were back then, and let’s not forget that the coaster itself is also getting older.
If you’re wondering whether or not you should try it out, you probably should. Perhaps you are younger and more supple than I, or you have had your spine replaced with a piece of steel reinforcing bar. Or, perhaps you are drunk out of your mind.
Whatever the case, I wish you a glorious experience and a speedy recovery from the Georgia Cyclone.