Muskegon Summer Luge

June 30th, 2013

Nestled incongruously in the Muskegon State Park, a wheeled luge track sits at the “bottom” of a world-class winter training run.

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Our summer vacation didn’t have enough adrenaline mixed in. Sure, sunsets are beautiful, but they don’t really get your heart pounding. Eating too much ice cream can get your heart pounding, but in totally the wrong way. The same thing’s true with bread pudding, cherry turnovers or those incredible homemade caramels we bought again and again at the local farm market. We needed some exercise. We needed it badly. So it was only fitting that a quiet week at a rented cottage on Lake Michigan turned into an Olympic luge time trial. Spoiler Alert: I didn’t win.

My cousins and brothers and I turn everything into a competition. Chris — pictured above — is famous for constructing makeshift championship brackets on vacation and subsequently filling them in with a strange series of “teams” playing each other. We’ve had “Who’s Next to Marry” brackets filled in at family weddings, “Best Experience” brackets during mini reunions or, my favorite, “What Was Our Best Meal?” bracket. Spoiler Alert: Sonic breakfast burrito lost in the finals to a fancy schmancy steak house.

I found the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex online and instantly knew it would be our next conquest. Only four winter luge tracks exist in the United States. But you can’t really practice luging during the heat of the summer. Sun and ice don’t especially go together. So the friendly team in Muskegon built the only accessible wheeled luge track in North America. Using sleds just like Olympians practice with — except with wheels instead of blades — you can fly down their training track for a modest $10 fee.


My brother Scott got the bright idea of timing us to see who smacked into the giant pillow at the bottom first. By the way, the sleds have no brakes. Now that a stopwatch was involved, we were no longer content to be just push-started by the nine-year-old twins at the top. “What are those handles in the starting block,” we asked.

“Oh, we can push start ourselves!”

Did I mention the sleds don’t have any brakes?

10.8 seconds down the track was the time to beat. It stood for what seemed like an ice age. Then the record was 10.4 seconds. Finally, cousin Chris clocked in at a staggering 10.1 from peak to pillow. No one could beat that. Besides, we were all too tired from lugging the luges back up the hill to the top.

Skye came in third; Chris came in first and I pulled a solid second.

Not pictured in this blog: Taylor who won the ribbon for the loudest, longest scream of the summer.

Puns not used in this blog: Slippery slope, I’m on a roll, my particular slant — and last, but not least — it’s all downhill from here.

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