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Pen Your Pride

Elijah Deville in Coasting to Death (Chapter 2 excerpt)

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The coaster was more magnificent than anybody could have ever imagined.  Colossus was, from the outside, what might be considered a regular rollercoaster.  The red tracks piped in blue dazzled the eyes as it glistened in the summer sunlight.  The ride consisted of five cars in a set, with each car seating four people.  The seats were painted according to the row of the ride. Red cars were at the front, followed by orange, yellow, green and blue. The idea behind the colours was to show how intense the ride was going to feel to the rider, with red being the most intense and blue being the least intense, relatively speaking.  What set Colossus apart from other roller coasters was the extreme height of the ride, as well as the blistering speed with which you sped around the track.  At its highest point, Colossus reached a soaring 50 meters into the air and if you were lucky, you could see the CN Tower for a split second from the peak.  Altogether Colossus had four inversions, one cobra roll, and three corkscrews and reached a maximum speed of 95 km/hr.  Despite that being the normal highway speed, the riders feel as if they're going twice that speed due to the lack of the comforts that car manufacturers build into the modern day automobile.  Running at full capacity, three sets of cars or 60 people can be out on the track at once, hopefully keeping lines short.  If the ride proved successful, Colossus would become the crown jewel of the park, boosting the slumping attendance of the two previous summers.

After Scott and his family had traveled to the back of the park and arrived at the Colossus, they were met by the Park's System manager, and operator for the inaugural ride, Kevin Craig.  Craig was average height and had a rather heavy physique, but what he lacked in stature he made up for in genius, for he had been the chief designer of the entire computer system for the coaster.

"Good morning, Mr. Taylor and welcome to 'Colossus'," said Craig.  "I trust that you're ready to ride?"

"Well actually, I'm not much of a rollercoaster enthusiast,” Scott explained, “though my 12 year old daughter Katie certainly is.  I'm more of a down to earth, remain alive kind of guy if you know what I mean."

"Of course sir," Craig replied, “Would you rather your daughter be the first to ride instead?"

"No, no.  Even though I hate riding them, I also don't want to look like a coward in front of my family and all of these people.  I'll ride it and then you can let the real coaster fanatics have a crack at it," Scott said pointing to the scores of people already lined up waiting for their turn to ride Colossus.

"Well sir, I can assure you that this ride is completely safe.  It has been tested numerous times before the launch here this morning.  It had a complete and final inspection today and the ride's computer system was even upgraded yesterday morning. It also has numerous fail-safes built in, so, should something unexpectedly go wrong, the ride would quickly come to a complete stop so the problem can be fixed.  If you'd just step this way and I'll give you a run-through of what you should expect to experience during the ride," Craig said, leading Scott and himself onto the ride's platform.

"After being strapped into the shoulder harness," Craig continued, "the computer will give me a "go" or "no-go" for "launch".  Should I get a "go", you will be launched straight up the first hill accelerating to a speed of 50 km/hr while reaching a height of 50 meters.  We call this the 'The 50 at 50'.  Upon reaching the crest of the hill, you speed down the track, accelerating to the top speed of 95 km/hr. Once at the bottom of the hill, you will enter one of two consecutive inversions.  After the second inversion you will immediately enter the first corkscrew followed by two minor hills.  By this point, you will have slowed down to a brisk 80 km/hr.  Following the hills, you will enter what is known as a cobra roll followed closely by one of two consecutive inversions. These inversions will be smaller than the 1st two. The last thrill you will get will come after the second inversion when you go through the final two corkscrews.  After that point, the "fun" part of the ride is basically over, and all that is left are a few minor hills before returning to the platform.  Overall the ride should take around two minutes and 15 seconds to make one complete circuit of the track.  Should you 'survive' the ride, there should be no permanent brain damage, maybe a little dizziness, but nothing serious," Craig said with a laugh.  "Are you ready?"

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