Four years ago, my mother took my friend and me to Six Flags America in Maryland. It was the year I decided to brave Superman: Ride of Steel, the tallest, most imposing roller coaster in the park.
Rising twenty stories high at its peak, the Superman was clearly visible from the parking lot. It towered over the theme park like an Everest of red steel. I’d never been a roller coaster fan, and the thought of riding the Superman chilled me to the core.
I spent the first part of my visit enjoying the milder rides. These included the Falling Star and the Cyclone, located in the Southwest Territory and Nantucket sections of the park. But as the hours passed, my time to face the Superman drew nearer.
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I entered Gotham City, home to such rides as Batwing and The Joker’s Jinx. Gathering my courage, I made my way to the long line in front of the Superman. From here I was able to get a closer look at the coaster. The drop was almost perpendicular to the ground, the roar of its descent drowning out the screams of those aboard. I immediately regretted my decision, but it was too late to turn back.
As I waited in line, I entertained myself with the notion that the ride wouldn’t be so scary. My hopes were dashed when I saw the faces of the people getting off. A girl’s cheeks were glistening with tears. A boy’s face was frozen in shock. My fear began to intensify as the line slowly moved forward. Soon, I found myself at the front of the line, clutching the gate. My heart thudded quickly with each passing moment.
Before I knew it, I found myself sitting in the ride. Quickly, I fastened my seatbelt and prayed it would hold. To my surprise, the people waiting in line began to wave at me and the other riders, as if wishing us farewell. Then the roller coaster jerked forward. I gasped and closed my eyes, grabbing the bar in front of me with trembling hands. There was a second jerk, and the Superman began to climb up into the sky. Looking down, I could see the entire park laid out before me. I tried not to think about the 200 foot drop ahead.
All too soon, we reached the top. In the final moments before the fateful plunge, I thought that if I could survive this, I could survive anything.
The roller coaster car snuck over the edge…and plummeted toward earth.
It was so steep, I felt like I was standing up. The wind slapped against my face and tried to pluck me from my seat. Frantically, I held on tighter to the bar, planted my feet as firmly as I could, and screamed. Then I stopped abruptly. Be brave, I thought. I clamped my teeth together and waited for the terrifying drop to end. When it did, I relaxed; the scariest part was over. The following loops and twists on the track seemed mild compared to the sheer drop I’d left behind. A few seconds later, the ride was over. I could hardly wait to go home and tell my family and friends that I’d just ridden the Superman!
Unlike the people before me, I stepped off the ride grinning.
Here's a look at my ride on the roller coaster:
This trip will always stand out for me. Not only did my fear of roller coasters slip away, but I learned that it takes only a little bit of courage to conquer great things…even a super hero.
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