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The Zip Line

Riding a Zip LineWhat's a zip line? A zip line is a means of moving people or equipment over rough or pristine terrain using a cable and special zip line trolley system. There are many variations and uses. The most common use of the term is that of a ride. As an adventure ride, the zip line usually traverses over beautiful landscape or dense rainforest or desert canyons. The rider fastens into a harness or seat and launches out over the expanse. It is a thrilling ride, moving quickly and covering rugged terrain. Zip line rides slow to a landing speed as the line levels out naturally at the other end. Often there will be a platform or ground features that meet the rider just at the end. This occurs naturally because of the sag in the cable. The designer ensures the cable tension is not too tight and not too loose. Tight zip line cables will tend to keep the ride at a relatively constant speed, while a line with less tension will start fast and slow down near the end.

How big are they? Zip line rides can be short and low to the ground. This type of zip line usually does not fasten the rider into a harness...just hold on! The zip line handlebar is most commonly used in playgrounds or backyard zip lines and glides over a soft landing zone or swimming hole where the rider just drops off at the end. Long, high and fast zip lines are for thrill seekers and usually operated by professional adventure companies. A few zip lines around the world are known to reach speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, and some are more than 1,000 feet above the ground.

Uses of zip lines: Zip lines are used in remote locations for delivering equipment, supplies, tools or anything else. The payload rides on a pulley suspended over rough terrain. They are used by military, construction, scientists, explorers, and mountaineers. The most popular use of zip lines today is as a fun, fast and exciting ride. A type of zip line for people and cargo is also called the bosons chair. The notable difference is that the start and end points are nearly the same height, and the cargo is moved with a circular line on a pulley. There are many pulley and trolley systems available for anything from heavy duty construction to backyard fun.

Ziplines in sports: A zip line is used in a range of sports from mountaineering, to sport climbing, technical tree climbing, and water crossings. In rock climbing a Tyrolean traverse is most often used to return to the main part of a wall after climbing a separate rock column or pillar. Adventure challenge or ropes courses have zip lines as part of their high ropes elements.

Home-made zip line: A simple zip line can be made by using one of the do-it-yourself zip line kits. If you want to set up an extended ride, you can build a zip line using your own zip line design and zip line construction process.

Professional rides: Professional versions of a zip line are most typically used as an outdoor adventure activity. They are operated at higher speeds covering longer distances and sometimes at considerable heights. Zip line locations are worldwide. Customers are physically attached to the cable by a harness. The harness connects to a rolling assembly called the trolley which rolls on top of the cable. Usually a rider will be launched from a specially built zip line platform over an extreme drop or spectacular view of a rainforest canopy. Zip line courses have become very popular as vacation activities, and are also integrated into ropes courses or adventure camps. Ski resorts are well suited to host a zip line course due to their angle of descent and existing structures which provide excellent zip line anchors.