Extreme Adrenaline Rushes

If you've got a bit of cash and a lot of nerve, put your money where your mouth is on these extreme adrenaline rushes.
By: Erica Walsh

Photo by: ORDA


When the 9-to-5 has got you down, engage in some big thrill, adrenaline-pumping exploits. If you've got a bit of cash and a lot of nerve, put your money where your mouth is on these extreme adrenaline rushes.

Biplane Thrill Rides
 Ventura, California
When it comes to adrenaline rushes, rolling, spinning, diving and hammerheading at 4,000 feet off the ground is hard to beat. You can take flight in an air-show biplane piloted by professional adrenaline-junkie pilots. On this rollercoaster without tracks, you have to squeeze your stomach during the daredevil aerial maneuvers; if you don't, blood flow will stop, causing you to pass out -- missing one hell of a show.

The Olympic Luge
Lake Placid, New York
Home of the 1980 Olympics and the Miracle on Ice, Lake Placid, New York, is no stranger to thrill-seekers. Now these Olympic facilities are open to the average adrenaline junkie -- and the fastest ride on ice is the luge. You'll reach speeds up to 90 mph careening down this icy track -- and you'll be doing it in the dark. After a half-hour safety lecture you'll be handed a helmet and the track is yours, with the guidance of an instructor. Be advised the public can only use the track only when the U.S. Olympic team isn't practicing. 

Dale Jarrett Racing Adventures
Talladega, Alabama
Ninety mph down a mountain of ice is one thing, but how about circling a Nascar racetrack at over 180 mph? At Dale Jarrett Racing Adventures, amateur drivers circle the fastest and largest racetrack in America at professional speeds. Gear up in the same fire-resistant jumpsuits worn by the pros in addition to a helmet and ultra-secure 5-point harness. Since opening in 1998, about 25,000 amateur riders have slipped behind the wheel and around the track, living out their Nascar fantasies for the thrill of a lifetime.

Extreme Seal Experience
Chesapeake, Virginia
For an adventure that makes riding in a plane or car look like child's play, head to Virginia for the Extreme Seal Experience. At this amped-up boot camp, average Joes will undergo 2 years of hardcore Navy Seals training -- in two grueling weeks. You'll eat, sleep and breathe the life of a real soldier and anyone crazy enough to enlist (and pay for) this experience better be in peak physical condition. During the 100-yard dash, you'll carry a "wounded" buddy on your back and slide into freezing swamp water filled with poisonous snakes.

The pinnacle of the extreme Seal experience is called Hell Night. It's simulated ground combat where you'll need every skill that's been drilled into you for the past 2 weeks.

Zero G
Las Vegas, Nevada
Zero G in Las Vegas offers an out-of-this-world extreme adventure: total weightlessness. Founded in 1993 by a former astronaut, it took over 10 years to get the FAA approval needed to open Zero G for business. Now wannabe astronauts can climb aboard the modified 727 and take a 90-minute ride on G-Force One. The parabolic flight has been endorsed by none other than former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, so if you've got the cash, this is one flight you won't want to miss.

Air Combat USA
Fullerton, California
Air Combat USA provides a completely different extreme aerial experience and feeds your need for speed. Here ordinary people can play Top Gun like real fighter pilots -- and you don't even need a pilot's license. The state-of-the-art planes are million dollar Italian Marchetti light aircrafts and once in the air, gravity pressure can hit your body at forces equal to 6 times your body weight -- enough pressure to make you immediately black out. Again, you're taught to tighten your stomach muscles to prevent this from happening -- but rest assured, if you do black out, the instructor will take control of the plane.

The flight instructors who ride shotgun with you simulate some serious air combat including stomach-dropping nosedives if your plane gets "hit." Bring a friend, and you can take to the skies together -- like Maverick versus Iceman. They will even teach you how to abandon plane and parachute to safety.

Canyon Swing
Queenstown, New Zealand
Perhaps the purest form of adrenaline rush is standing at the edge of a 350-foot cliff and asking yourself if you have the nerve to jump. At Canyon Swing in New Zealand, that's the exact blood-pumping, soul-searching moment you'll experience. You won't actually be asked to jump without a safety measure; the swing is a system of climbing ropes and a body harness allowing you to freefall over 200 feet at speeds reaching over 90 miles an hour. If you don't have the nerve to jump on your own, the sadistic staff will give you a helping push -- when you least expect it. After your 3-second drop, they'll allow you a 2-minute recovery as you swing over the lazy rapids of the river below. However, we guarantee that the rush of adrenaline, endorphins and testosterone will last a good 30 minutes -- and bragging rights last a lifetime.

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