Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Cyclone

Clackety-clack, clackety-clack. The noisy chain drew the three-car train up the narrow tracks that climbed practically straight up the first tall hill made out of wooden crossbeams and supporting struts. The open-air cars shivered and shook. The people ensconced in the twelve rows of double seats had a magnificent view of Astroland Amusement Park eighty-five feet below them, filled with people. Further out, beyond the boardwalk and beach, the sun dappled Atlantic Ocean glinted as it stretched to the horizon.
This was the Cyclone on Coney Island, the world famous granddaddy of all wooden roller coasters, built in 1927 and now a New York City Landmark. At the end of the season Astroland will be torn down, the land having been sold to developers. The Cyclone will remain, but will it stay open? I had never ridden the Cyclone and I wasn't going to miss my chance.

I traveled to Brooklyn on Saturday and now I was in a roller coaster car, perched atop the first steep hill of the one-minute and fifty-second ride. The car stopped for a fraction of a second, then plunged over the edge and went straight down. Everybody screamed as we roared towards the ground at 60 MPH. Suddenly the car jerked left. Everybody’s head snapped to the right. Up another hill. Down the other side. Sharp right turn this time. Our heads snapped to the left. We shot up another hill, slighter than before, and endured another dizzying descent. Up and over again. Straight up. Straight down. The hills were diminishing in height but the turns remained as fast and tight as ever. Then we were thundering into the loading area and rapidly decelerating. The car stopped.

A sign there read, "Ride Again $4." Quite a deal, since the first ride had cost $6. As I walked out, a hawker said, "Ride again? Three bucks." "Nahh," I murmured. My clacking, careening ride on the Cyclone was already stored in my memory, in the "terrific" section.

I don’t like riding modern metal roller coasters with their excessive speed, nauseating corkscrew turns and smooth vibration-free transitions. But the clattering, lurching, shaking ride aboard this compact wood twister had been the perfect length, speed and thrill. I headed towards the boardwalk in search of the original Nathan’s so I could sample an authentic Coney Island Dog.

Running update. I want to thank Susan for her generous support of my intention to run Chicago in the fall for a charity, A Running Start. My training is on hold right now. The day after my July 4th race, I ran a mile at an eight minute pace to see how my injured left leg was feeling. Not good. I have decided to rest it. I haven’t run for five days now and it's driving me crazy.


Mia said...

Oh no re: your knee! Hang in there...in fact, my low mileage is kinda driving me nuts but definitely get better!

And roller coasters?! WOO HOOOOO

susie said...

sorry to hear about your injury. I've been there...it's no fun, but hey, coming back to it always makes me appreciate running more.

Dori said...

Way to seize the moment! What a great description of a roller coaster ride. My husband and I rode a wooden roller-coaster in Santa Cruz once. And the Minnesota State Fair has one, but it's pretty tame compared to the Cyclone.

I'll ride modern roller-coasters. The one at NewYork, NewYork in Las Vegas is pretty fun. But too short and way too expensive.

Sorry about your leg. Maybe you need to cut back to 99 miles a week. :-)

Glad you liked my photo tour. If you come visit your sister, let me know and maybe we can run together. I know some great running trails.