About two weeks ago, I received an email from Tony Clark that my entry into the #ThisForkIsForSV contest had won a spot at Media Day. I found out later that my coaster/photography enthusiast colleagues Jon (www.instagram.com/coaster_bean), Aaron (www.instagram.com/PursuitofThrills) and Jantzen (www.instagram.com/jantzen73) had also won spots with their entries. If you didn't see my entry, I wrote a tale of adultery in the old west where Fork cheated on his wife with Spoon producing Spork. Never did I thought it would catch the eye of the people it needed to, but it did, and I couldn't be happier.
The four of us and my friend Nick (www.instagram.com/cp_guest1870) all met up at the Thirsty Pony the night before, just to shoot the breeze and get ready to ride. We were all unbelievably anxious and excited. Nick, Jon and I went over to Castaway Bay and none of us slept more than 3 hours, but it didn't matter. Come 4am, we were ready to go.
We headed over to the park right around 4:30am, parked back by Cedar Point Shores and headed in. We received our lanyard and credentials and walked through the park over to the new entrance plaza. The new rock work looks GREAT. Whoever is responsible for the design of the logo and all of the signage and whatnot did a FANTASTIC job. Although this is my first media day, one of my initial observations were that Tony and his crew kept the invite to a very small, select group of media, the contest winners and a few others that he trusts. I think its a great idea. I don't like the idea of inviting tons of coaster club riders and things like that. If you want to have an event for them, great! but not media day itself.
Just after 5am, they started letting riders into line. Now, what you have to understand is that there was a dense fog to the point where you couldn't see clearly halfway up the lift hill. Nick, Jon, Aaron and I got in to rows 6 and 7 on the first train of the morning. However, Nick's lapbar wouldn't lock, so we had to leave the first train and they closed off that row. That was a bit annoying, but we went to the back row, where we were second in line and thus on the third train. So my first ride on SV came in the back row, which, while it didn't spoil the other rows whatsoever, was by far the best row to ride in (like most RMCs are for me).
The POV had been released the day before to the media, so many had seen what we were about to witness. First off, you have no idea how LOUD the anti-rollback device is. I've heard they quiet down a bit over time, but it is so deafening that even while standing hear the lift hill in the queue, it is hard to hear anyone talk. The station did have some music playing here and there during the event, but I'm sure it wasn't the official Steel Vengeance music because it would typically go off whenever media were doing any kind of reporting.
We pulled out of the station, made our quick right hand turn and hit the two bunny hills prior to the lift, which really do give you a quick pop of airtime. As you climb the lift hill, you get a great view of the park and Lake Erie (when the fog eventually dissipated at least). You climb pretty quickly and then from there, all hell breaks loose. The drop isn't nearly as good as I anticipated. I only got some floater airtime in the very back and the very front, and that's when I wasn't stapled (probably 3 times out of 12). At the bottom of the drop, you hit that little bunny hill and let me tell you, they weren't lying when they said that would be something special. That little thing tosses you hard out of your seat. You quickly go over the second hill - just as fast as the leaked offride footage appears to show and then you hit that third hill, the outward bank. Let me tell you something: first off, I've had some weird sideways floater air before on a few coasters (Fury 325 being the prime example), but nothing like this. You are literally floating sideways for 2-3 seconds before you head down towards the plaza and up into a quick airtime moment and then the first two inversions. Even when you know those inversions are coming, they're still surprisingly forceful. The ride on a whole is quiet disorienting at times, which makes it even that much cooler. You come out of the structure and down and back up into a quick couple airtime moments before you hit the midcourse brake run. Now, during our rides, only Chess was running and the MCBR was not slowing us down. I'm not sure how much it will affect the trains when two or three are running. The moment you bank left and come out of the MCBR is surprisingly forceful. You head down and into a couple more airtime moments before you hit my favorite part of the ride other than the outward banked hill, which are the elements in the back half hidden within the structure. After a small outward banked turn outside the structure, you drop underneath into a hard overbank to the left before hitting the third inversion. Coming out of the third inversion is where the camera is and it took me 4 rides before I realized that trying to keep my hands up through the inversion caused me to block my face from the camera every single time. Note to you: keep your hands down for that part of the ride only! After a couple of airtime moments outside of the structure, you dive back underneath and repeat the overbank/inversion combo before another quick overbank, which takes you into the final bunny hills before the brake run. I've included the official POV from Cedar Point below, as well as Nick and my reverse POV.
Official POV courtesy of Cedar Point's Youtube Channel
I took about 4 rides before I grabbed my camera and walked throughout the queue and exit areas to take many many pictures. Since this was probably my only opportunity to do so, I wanted to take advantage of it. Looking back, I wish I had snapped even more pictures but only the Chess train was running, so it was 4-5 minutes between trains most of the day. You can see some of my pictures below.
Media Day was a wonderful experience and I can't thank the people that allowed us to come and experience it. It was pretty cool not only to ride this monster over and over again, but also to be able to walk back into the queue to take pictures (which won't be allowed during normal operation). Seeing how the events played out and listening to the newscasters describe their experiences was such a different feeling from a normal day of riding at the park. I had the chance to talk briefly to Alan Schilke and Fred Grubb, the designers of the coaster, who also signed my media day credentials and signed a shirt and credentials for Jantzen as well. Not to mention, they are two of the nicest, most personable guys I've met in a long time.
The breakfast provided was pretty light, just some pastries and toasted things, but the lunch was excellent. Pulled pork and pulled brisket, fries, salad and a bunch of different deserts were available.
The entrance plaza with the new sign is AWESOME. It was so well done and will be a great place for those non-riders to gather to watch their friends, family and strangers go by several times at extremely high speeds. The far end to the right as you come down the outward banked hill will be a great (and overused) place for photographers to get shots of riders.
To all you internet trolls -- THERE AREN'T AND WON'T BE ANY PACING ISSUES, SO JUST STOP.
I almost got interviewed by Detroit media but their satellite was having issues. Nick talked to a Massillon station and Jantzen rode with who I believe was the Detroit reporter that failed to interview me earlier. I didn't recognize much of the media except Kenny Crumpton from Fox 8 Cleveland.
There was also this group of Japanese media members following around a small Japanese woman with giant eyebrows that appeared to be painted on by sharpie. I have no idea what was going on in most of their filming, but I would really like to find it online to see what the context was. It was wildly entertaining (and bizarre) to watch them film and interact with one another.
Another thing that was interesting was seeing Maverick testing. It nearly valleyed several times as it crawled through its inversions at extremely slow speed.
I was ecstatic to win the contest and I can't thank Tony, Jason and their team for the opportunity as well as for rolling out the red carpet for all of us. It was an absolutely wonderful event and something I will never forget.