For some people, life has its ups and downs. And sideways. And then maybe a double loop and a pitch-black tunnel or two. “Roller coasters have always been an adrenaline rush to me,” says Michael Burkes, president of the Great Ohio Coaster Club and a man who’s ridden more than 250 coasters in 25 states, Canada, England and Wales. “Other kids were into sports,” adds the 40-year-old. “Me? Coasters all the way.”
So how do I know you’ve really ridden that many?
I have several photo albums of all the coasters I’ve been on.
You have roller coaster photo albums?
I have a Cedar Point album, a Geauga Lake album and a Kings Island album. Then I have several other albums that are broken down by states.
Are you sure you want this published?
Sometimes during the winter, I’ll look at them and they get me in the mood.
Other people listen to Barry White to get in the mood.
That’s a whole other kind of mood.
Your first ride.
The Blue Streak at Cedar Point. I was 8 years old and scared to death. I swore I’d never go on another roller coaster again. Now look at me.
The best ride ever.
Well, they’re all different. It’s all about finding the perfect combination of drops, speed, changes in direction and negative and positive G-forces.
Time out. No science allowed.
Sorry, I just love talking about coasters.
The farthest you’ve ever traveled to ride?
A group of us went to England and Wales. We rode about 35 different coasters. It was a great experience.
The No. 1, all-time amusement park food is:
No-brainer: Fries with chili and cheese.
How many hours have you wasted standing in line for roller coasters?
Never thought about it. I’m always too excited to ride.
The most times you’ve ever ridden one ride in a single day.
The Mean Streak at Cedar Point. Twenty-five times.
You work, right?
Yes, I do.
Your favorite car to sit in?
I like to sit in the middle or the back of the ride. You get more of a whipping action.
A good tip for us amateurs.
Let the coaster do the work. Sit back and relax. It’s less stress on the body.
For the record, even less stress would be sitting at home.
It’s not as much fun, though.
Unless you’re listening to Barry White.