Well, I was up early this morning and a little bored. Decided to head up the mountain and have a little fun. There's a section of road called the Woodford Bends which is about a 2km section of double laned esses. You pick the straightest line and have a hoot trying to stick to it. Terrific fun and of course frowned upon by the nanny state at the moment.
I enjoy driving and enjoy driving enthusiatically even more. At 6am when I shot up, daylight was just approaching. The coppers were changing shift and the roads were almost empty. A good change to open the old girl up and try out some of those glorious left and right hand sweepers. I may have been speeding a little but not much.
I know about understeer, oversteer and how to get out of a skid after learning to drive on pebbly gravel roads. I've done driving courses on closed roads with skid pans and traffic cones. Raced for a little bit in some pretty scary pine forests and on mud tracks. My car is cared for and in top notch condition.
So I can get out of trouble.
The purchase of the new house has seen people ask at work, "But isn't that too far away?" .....if you love driving and have a good bit of road and a half decent car. The trip home becomes a joy.
And if driving is a hassle in peak hour, load up your i-pod or stereo with your favourite music and r-e-l-a-x.
magazine. I've had this saved since January 2005 and never got around to putting it up or write to Michael praising him for a great bit of motoring journalism. He describes this enthusiasm so much better than I have.
Saw a remarkable thing a couple of weeks ago: a Volkswagen. A real Volkswagen, I mean, a little-'b' beetle. This vee-wee was mildly modified. It was subtly slammed and knockkneed with negative camber, a couple of skatewear stickers on the back window. Alone inside was a mid-twentyish guy at the wheel.
It was bucketing with rain, not much traffic on the road; I was tucked in behind him as we rumbled along a broad, three-lane arterial. We approached a long, armco-bordered, constant radius left that I knew was there. Something told me that he knew it, too; we were going 60 or so, quickly enough that you'd need to have a clue.
Dak-dak(volkswagen) dude merely blipped it back a cog, drifted out a little on the entry, loaded it up nice and gentle, and turned in.
And here's the even more remarkable thing :because this was a young guy in a preened and cared-for car, I stayed with him, admittedly hanging back a couple of
car lengths. Had this been your average cardigan-wearing, motorists' association member in his six-cylinder shitter, I'd have flicked on my hazard lights, set up a
reflective triangle, banana-chair and phoned the nearest newspaper to pre-sell photos of the impending accident.
Instead, I watched the Volksy's rear end ooze ever so slightly outwards, skate-dude smoothly and quickly feeding on the opposite lock, calmly holding a constant throttle, the car drifting just-so through the entire length of the corner. The guy had it nailed beautifully.
My heart sang. I don't know how long it had been since (outside of a Wheels comparison test) I last saw somebody driving enthusiastically - let alone well - on an Australian road. Here was somebody who clearly knew his car, and was calmly in control.
Sure, it's not totally cool opposite-locking in the 'burbs, but this wasn't luck; this was practice.
Gee, or maybe it was all down to something that I remember reading in the traffic authority's handbook; something about steering into the direction of the skid. There you go, then: it works.
It got me to thinking about all the things one is required to do when driving a car, and how (to quote the handbook), "because learning is a gradual process for everyone, it takes time for a new driver's confidence to build". Practice, as they say, makes perfect. Unless you want to practise something that might one day save your life.
Umm, reverse parking, seems like there's a technique to be learned. Should I practise that? "Oh, yes, most definitely."
And, uhh, this lane-changing, looking in the interior mirror, then exterior, then a glance over the shoulder ... Sounds like I need to be conscious of that, keep doing it until it becomes a habit? "Why, yes, certainly."
Well, gee, this panic-stop scenario; sounds like it could actually be life-threatening. You reckon I ought to find somewhere safe and supervised, even the Police Driver Training School, and ... "Don't even think it."