Oct 232008
Authors: Virginia Singarayar

My hands were shaking a little bit as we pulled up to racecourse. I had never raced a soapbox before; I’m almost certain I didn’t even know exactly what one was.

I was excited and a little nervous that in less than 20 minutes I would get to ride in a soapbox on the course built for Red Bull’s Soapbox Race at Red Rock Park in Morrison, Colo. The actual event is not until Saturday, but the Red Bull event staff thought it would be fun to hold what they called a “reporter’s race” the day before. And of course, the Collegian was up to the challenge.

I walked uphill alongside the course, lined with golden-yellow hay bails, passing by cameras set up for Saturday’s event. It took no longer than five minutes to reach the top where a blue ramp was set up for the starting point of the race. As I stood at the top, the event workers inflated a giant red and blue arch that towered over the ramp and platform.

On top of the platform sat a five-foot long soapbox shaped like a Red Bull can. The reporters began taking their turns one by one to ride down a 100-yard stretch of the course.

When it was my turn, I walked up the platform over to the little soapbox, wondering if I would even fit in it — but it turned out to be surprisingly spacious and comfortable. I actually had to scoot forward in the seat so I could reach the steering wheel, without stretching.

As I was getting situated, one of the workers gave me a brief rundown of the controls — the steering wheel and the brake — and hardly waited five seconds before asking, “OK, ready?”

The first thought that ran through my mind was, “Really?” I guess racing a soapbox isn’t exactly rocket science, but I definitely did not feel prepared. Nevertheless, I said I was ready to go and the Red Bull employee and Collegian Editorials Editor Sean Reed gave the soapbox a push start before letting me go at the top of the ramp.

As I started down the course, the wind pushed against my face and I started gaining speed surprisingly fast. I wanted to pull on the brake a little, but I resisted.

The soapbox pulled to the left and right as it flew down the course, and I didn’t really feel like I was in control until I pulled on the brake as I reached the end of the course.

I felt better as soon as I climbed out of the soapbox. It was an awesome feeling and I was happy to hear that my time was exactly nine seconds, but I wanted another go at it before I could feel completely satisfied.

The second time around, I felt more ready. I got the push start — this time with the assist of Collegian Senior Reporter Jim Sojourner — and I immediately knew that I was taking off at a faster speed. The soapbox didn’t pull from side to side as much, and I felt in control the entire way. This time, I wasn’t as nervous and was able to enjoy the ride. I felt like a champion when I came to a stop.

I clocked in at 7.3 seconds, a tremendous improvement from the first time, and I was pleased to hear that I beat the reporter from CU-Boulder, who recorded a time of 8 seconds. A win against the Buffs is all it takes to call it a good day in my books.

Victorious, the Collegian crew decided to call it a day and packed up to head back to Fort Collins. Ram fans, we did you proud.

Chief Designer Virginia Singarayar is a junior technical journalism major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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