Sept. 16, 2007

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    In the outskirts of a small town nestled in Indiana near the Illinois border lives a man with a passion for roller coasters. A passion so great that he built one in his backyard using scrap metal he got from work. With his welding know-how and some ingenuity, John Ivers pieced together a 20-foot-tall blue coaster in his backyard. He named it The Blue Flash.

    My friend Doug and I got to John's place a little before 11 a.m. We introduced ourselves and talked for a bit as he showed us his two coasters, The Blue Flash and Blue Too, which he just finished this year. He showed us how they work as got his keys and unlocked the rides. He fired up Blue Too first and sent a train around the track. He has a skid brake set up before the lift hill that catches on the back car. Well, sometimes it does, he told us.

    He took the tarp off Blue Flash's car, which is basically a car seat attached to wheels. We decided to do Blue Too first to work our way up to Blue Flash because, honestly, it's a bit intimidating. John test-rode Blue Flash for us. This coaster only goes about 20 mph, but it takes the loop really quickly. He said it was running a little slow, and he rode twice.

    Now it was time for Blue Too. Its two cars have seat belts in them for restraint. Doug rode first. Blue Too has a train of two cars, which is something John was experimenting with. He didn't let us ride together, but he let us try both seats. Doug overshot the brake by a little, but he was able to get off and hop in the back seat. He said it was pretty fun.

    I was next. I put my glasses strap on because I didn't know what these rides would do. I rode in the front seat first, which was cool. The ride has a drop that slightly turns to the right, then it's followed by a small turning hill and some turns. I overshot the brake and engaged the lift hill again. I got off and sat in the back seat. The back is pretty wild down the first drop. The turns are fun and are sort of like trick track. John grabbed the back car so it would stop in the brake, even though he adjusted the brake a little after Doug's ride.

    We signed his log book, which he keeps as a record of everyone who's ridden the ride. We were the 229th and 230th people to ride Blue Flash, and we were the third and fourth to ride Blue Too.

    Now we were ready for Blue Flash. Doug went first. He sat down and buckled the seat belt, which John told us is from a bulldozer. It's big and secures you in pretty well. John and I pushed the car to the lift hill. Doug climbed the lift hill and flew down the drop. It seems really fast, and you really feel the G's in the loop. Doug climbed over the hill after the loop and down the helix. The car coasted down the track before the lift hill and engaged the chain again. He went twice.

    It was my turn. The lift hill is really steep. John estimates it about 50 degrees. The first drop curves to the left and levels out quickly into the loop. The loop is crazy, and you have to lean into the direction it turns. It throws you around a bit, but it's over quickly. The hill afterward is taken at a decent speed, though there's no airtime. The helix has a good headchopper in it as you pass under Blue Too's lift hill. It's insane. I coasted to the lift hill and engaged the chain. I was better prepared for my second ride and leaned into the elements a bit better.

    Blue Flash is a crazy coaster, and Blue Too is fun. John Ivers is a man mad enough to actually go through with something so many of us dream of. He saw his vision through to the end and got some pretty good results out of it. If you're ever near Vincennes, Ind., look John up and give him a call. You may get to check out the craziest little coaster around.

    Thanks to John Ivers for letting us ride your creation. Keep up the dream.

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