"Haha! You're scared!"
This was the conversation I had with my little cousin multiple times as we would walk past the Silver Bullet. I will mention that he was 11 at the time, almost a full decade younger than me. To this day I am curious as to what was going on inside of his head that made him crave the thrill of riding this roller coaster. Growing up, roller coasters hadn't been my favorite. The state fair that came to my hometown every year always had a handful of thrill rides I was peer-pressured to get on, but I kept my eyes closed the entire time. Maybe it was how high the lifts were, or the screams I would hear, probably even my lack of trust of the employees who put together such monsters in only a few hours. Whatever the reason, I was always filled with anxiety as I walked past the tracks that seemed to pierce the sky. But the roller coasters at Knott's Berry Farm made my state fair's rides look like a children's play place. The night before we went, my brother and I had watched YouTube videos on the fastest coasters in the entire park —the Silver Bullet is ranked fourth. So already I was aware of what my little cousin was expecting me to endure.
The Silver Bullet runs 3125 feet of coaster track, with a 146 foot lift, 6 inversions (the most of any ride), 1 vertical loop, a cobra roll, a zero gravity roll, two corkscrews, and a 146 foot drop. You don't have to be an expert on amusement park rides to infer just how intense this beast was. The ride itself lasts a little more than 2 minutes — just enough time for my soul to leave my body.
I only agreed to accompany my little cousin because my parents wanted to leave and he looked bummed out that he didn't get to ride anything "fun". If you would have seen the look on his face … it made me feel guilty as an older cousin. When I said we could give it a shot his face lit up like the Christmas tree in the center of the park. He dragged me by the hand and the two of us ran to get in line.
Once we arrived I noticed my little sister was also following us, now I had no excuse to back out. I never took my little sister to be an adrenaline junkie, but at least I felt more relieved knowing she would experience the same thrill I would. The line was pretty long, but moved rather quickly. The staff ushered us to the front, and as we reached the final steps the roaring of the coaster seemed to be advising me to turn around. The screams became louder, the park seemed to look smaller, and my nerves were only getting worse. I had to convince myself that I would be okay because backing out now would make me look like a fool.
I mean, I'm sure the staff knows what they're doing right? This ride has been running for decades and hasn't malfunctioned (that I know of). Plus, if my younger cousin AND little sister could be fearless, so could I. These were the thoughts that were going through my head as I was strapped in the seat. The body belts were very secure, which gave me comfort. As the flooring below us retracted our feet dangled in the air and I thought "This is it. Two minutes. That's it."
Of course, with my luck, there was a malfunction with one of the straps, and we were delayed about 5 minutes until the employees figured out what the problem was. During that time, I guess fate was helping my nerves ease up and focus on sitting in place. I told myself I wasn't going to close my eyes, and I didn't. My little cousin looked over at me with a bright smile, and I think that's what erased my fear. Here we were, two different people encountering what many only avoid because of fear. Those people who are scared like I am, upon seeing these monsters have all the right to be afraid. However, those who crave the thrill should encourage us scary souls to live out the experiences that keep us from enjoying a different perspective. In the final moments, I guess I was able to calm myself by thinking "It's like flying, you're becoming a bullet and reaching a point in space that not many are able to experience."
I gave him a thumbs up with a nervous grin, and we were shot into the sky.