Bobsleigh in Latvia – extreme action on ice

Making the most of a bobsled experience vs Drugstore visit and a ride home Just about half an hour away from Riga (Latvia) there is the small town of Sigulda. Locals call it the Switzerland of Latvia. That is because, unusually for Latvia, it is rather hilly there and very green in the summer and white in winter time if you are at least a little bit lucky. As a professional addict for experiences I had been waiting for the right moment to try a real Olympic Bobsled for quite some time. A full size Olympic concrete tube is like a massive cannelloni and is an impressive sight just for a visit alone. They use cooling systems, so there is guaranteed ice and rides take place from mid November till mid April each year even above zero Celsius temperatures. Track is 850 meters (2789 feet) long and the bobsled reaches a maximum speed of 120kmh (90mph), which means you can complete the ride in under a minute. I know what you are thinking, 59 seconds and thats it? Believe me that will be your longest one minute for a long long time.

After a few instructions and couple papers signed I am there standing with a helmet and all of my winter gear to keep me warm. We sit in while final instructions cover where and how to hold my feet and arms. I am going to be a passenger today and that is very good idea. I doubt there would be any volunteers to pay money and throw themselves into a curved half-pipe of concrete covered in thick ice.

We are off. And you will not believe how quick the Bobsled feels on those corners. After a moment we pick up the maximum speed I thought was possible; entering a massive curve at a speed of 120kmh (90mph) is very very demanding. I wish I listened better to my instructor or I had taken a private lesson on how to sit and how to behave as you fly about in this concrete tube. I did not listen well enough and had to learn the painful way. On each corner I tried to hold my head straight with my muscles and you may think that it is normal. Well, I have to admit (now) that this was very painful mistake. What I had to do was to let my head go side to side and touch the Bob sides, instead, I tried to hold my head straight up as you would in a car. Stupidly I did not appreciate that at the corners I was experiencing up to 4Gs and simply put, my head was 4 times heavier than it actually is, which for a non-trained person is rather a lot. It was way too much for my neck. A visit to a Pharmacy and cancelled romantic weekend in Riga was the only way since I could not even sit straight, my neck was killing me and bed was my following dream.

If only I had listened to the instructors better it would had been much different. Now I have a very strong memory of how even smallest details are important at the extreme sports (even if you are just a passenger). Anyway a Bobsleigh ride is a very very highly recommended once in a lifetime experience. I have tried it again later.