The day I thought I might die
We spent two days of our vacation enjoying the sights and rides of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Matt, my brother, my nephews and I are all big roller coaster fans, so we were excited to try the five big coasters in the park. We were excited, that is, until we saw this…
Meet Sheikra. Or, as we came to refer to it, Shriekra.
All day we eyed this bad boy. All day it taunted us as it towered above the lesser rides. All day we alternated between giddy excitement and terrified respect. All day we tried to work ourselves up for the ride.
When the time came to suck it up or go home all four of us decided to throw caution to the wind and climb aboard.
Now, let’s get a bit of perspective that might be missed when seeing this beast in pictures and not in person.
First, there’s this:
and from a different angle:
a ninety degree (that’s straight down) vertical drop of 200 feet.
Then there’s this:
what’s known as an Immelmann loop, or, in layman’s terms, a loop where you go upside down.
Then, there’s this:
a second vertical drop.
Also notable about this ride are the facts that: 1. it reaches a maximum speed of 70 mph; 2. there is no floor to the coaster “car”; and 3. at the top of the 200 foot drop the coaster pauses to dangle you – yes, dangle you – over the edge before letting the car plunge down the track.
Let me just tell you, that plunge was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before!
So, here’s how it played out…
The four of us boarded the car, pulled our safety harnesses as tight as possible, and set off to see if we’d live to walk off the ride.
Up the ascent. clack. clack. clack. All the time seeing nothing but the clouds.
Around the bend. brake. release. brake. Ease forward until we are hanging over the edge of the precipice. pause. pause. pause. RELEASE!
Into the descent that pushes you out of your seat up into the seat restraints; forces that require you to think about breathing; an adrenaline rush that makes you question whether or not your heart just stopped.
Quickly into the Immelmann loop, around to the second vertical drop, skidding across water, and back into the coaster station.
My brother left the park with a tee-shirt that said “I survived the five”. After riding Sheikra, he deserved it.