For AGES, the adrenaline activity that was right at the top of my bucket list was to be a passenger in a bobsleigh. I love the Cool Runnings disney film, I visited the Whistler (Canada) track, but in the summer, and I watch the Bobsleigh World Cup every winter (I support Steve Holcomb in USA1…sorry UK!). In 2013 I finally ticked it off the list and it didn’t disappoint, I was like a kid at Christmas! I even kissed my hard boiled egg at breakfast, just like Sanka in Cool Runnings!
There are only a few locations in the world that offer passenger rides, being up in ski resorts, they aren’t the easiest of places to reach, especially if you’re trying to squeeze it into only a couple of days that you have off work! After a bit of research, I settled on the Latvian track located in Sigulda, an hours direct train ride away from the Capitol, Riga.
Top Speed: 125km/h
Due to the build of the track, they are unable to hold the professional 4-man bobsleigh events, so the track is used mainly for the luge competitions and practise. Passenger rides start from slightly lower down the track…and they don’t expect you to run and jump in like the professionals, you just sit back, get given a shove and enjoy the ride!
Unlike professional bobsleighs, these ones aren’t built for speed and aerodynamics. BUT just like the real things, they definitely are not made for comfort! Sitting on the metal floor (an inch from the ice!) and holding on for dear life to the two metal bars either side of you, you catapult down 1km of the track, reaching speeds of 105km/h! Thankfully it’s piloted by a member of the Latvian Luge team, all responsibility of steering and braking is all in their hands! It’s pretty hard to stay sitting upright, in some of the curves nearer the bottom on the course, you experience G-force 5! Putting that into perspective, imagine having a concrete block pushing down on your head and being close to blacking out! Ok so that may sound a little extreme, but it was amazing!! It’s like being on a rollercoaster but with no harness or safety bar, the adrenaline kick is huge! In the 46.1 seconds it took to complete the run, the thought of “if I let go, will I fly out??” possibly passed through my head about 15 times!
The track is on a hill, the finishing line is obviously at the bottom, everyone gets bundled into the back of a truck, along with the bob and taken back to the top! There is a choice to walk if you’re feeling fit, after our rides, we took a walk back down to check out the track from different angles. The track workers were riding down on SHOVELS between the bob rides! Made for some fun viewing!
Me, being an absolute bobsleigh nerd, also paid to go down the track using the other two options that were offered too. The ‘Soft Bob’ which is basically a big sponge bath tub that’s wide enough for it to pilot itself down the track…I got to sit right at the front and pretend I was driving, yay!
And ‘The Frog’, a big sponge box that you lay in on your front and get a head first view of the track from behind a plastic window. Now that was cool! As it’s enclosed, cameras are allowed too! So I was taking photos and filming on my phone simultaneously!
Rather shaky phone video footage!
My passenger ride was booked through Makars.lv (please note, they only accept cash payments. The bobsleigh ride is currently 50Euros, the Frog and Soft Bob are 20Euros each)
I fell in love with Latvia after this trip, it wasn’t a country I’d ever thought to visit, so I’m glad I found this track!