Monday, January 25, 2010

The Odyssey...

Here's how it went down...

West Knoxville to the Clinch River: Steady rain.
Clinch River to Jellico: Dripping fog.
Jellico to Lexington: Pouring buckets.
Lexington to Columbus: Spitting drizzle.
Columbus to Broad Ripple: Intermittent squalls.

The highlight of the trip occurred in the mountains just south of Corbin, Kentucky, when the rear end of the blue Pontiac G8 some seven car lengths ahead of me suddenly hip-faked to the right then back to the left as the whole car pirouetted across the left lane and into the median in a giant spray of red clay before coming to rest, ass-end-first, on the far side of the ditch. I don't know whether he was running his cruise control in the rain or if he got bored tailgating the pickup in front of him and booted his six-liter V8 a little too enthusiastically for the conditions, but it was pretty spectacular, especially as it happened more or less right in my lap.

A bit further on, after being passed by a fart-can-equipped Civic and a Pontiac Solstice who had apparently decided that standing water on the freeway was no reason to not engage in a little bout of "Yeehaw!" with each other, I passed an unhappy-looking young man whose mint-green Eclipse had backed into the concrete median wall. Johnny Law arrived about the same time I did. Apparently Junior found out that in a front-wheel drive car in the wet, if you are afraid you are going to overcook a corner and lift abruptly, you're headed for the wall, bumper stickers first. When Swedish rally car drivers do it on purpose in Saabs on dirt, it's cool; when you do it by accident in a Mitsu on I-75, it's not, okay Mr. Fast'N'Furious? Incidentally, shortly thereafter I passed the fart-can-equipped Civic, now driving in the right lane in a much more chastened fashion, having passed the same slightly crumpled object lesson.

It was about 380 miles on the odometer, about five-and-a-half hours, and I don't think my wipers were off for more than ten minutes, total, and the pavement looked dry enough to use the cruise control only on about a 20-mile stretch southeast of Louisville; the screw that sticks out the back of my shin rubs funny on the tendon when I have to keep my foot on the throttle for more than a couple hours, too. Ouch.

26 comments:

Scott said...

Glad you're home safe and happy birthday.



tyrin: Driving in sucky weather.

Boat Guy said...

The highway's one of the last places natural selection gets any chance to work on the general populace; though unfortunately the nerf cars most folks drive prove more hazardous to those of us who DO actually drive and not hazardous enough to them when they inevitably lose it.
So how many folks were on their cell phones or texting on your hegira?

GeorgeAtl said...

Fart Can. I love it!!

Anonymous said...

Many "drivers" operate in the credo of, "Stab it and steer, Hell ain't half-full."

Trade-off: When there's a bunch of rain and you're gonna do a long trip, over-inflate your tires. You'll lose some braking effectiveness, but you'll reduce the liklihood of hydro-planing. If you don't tail-gate, the loss of braking is less of a hazard.

Water is a lubricant for rubber, so you won't increase your tire wear in any notable amount.

Aside from the crowd with the strange growth in their ears, how about cruising past somebody--and they're reading a paperback? Or a trucker with a newspaper? That leads to instant "Hammer down!" to get way away from those doofi.

Art

Tam said...

Art,

"Trade-off: When there's a bunch of rain and you're gonna do a long trip, over-inflate your tires."

Yup, I used the free air at Pilot to shrink my contact patches before I set off. :)

The Raving Prophet said...

Too many people buy the cheap crappy Chinese tires because they have some kind of mental block when it comes to paying more than $50/tire, let alone the $100+ a quality one might run you.

The wife and I drove downhill into Chattanooga on I-24 in torrential rain. I was VERY glad I bucked up for some decent rubber; the new Goodyear Eagle GT is one heck of a good dry/wet tire. Not so much in light snow, hence the Continental ExtremeWinterContacts it wears now.

And if anybody needs a tire primer, I have a couple posts on them on my own blog- Not all rubber O rings are created equal.

perlhaqr said...

I think the circuitry must have gotten better since you bought the Zed. I just drove my new 2010 Jetta SportWagen back to Albuquerque from Fredricksburg, using cruise pretty much the whole time, sun, rain, or snow, and had no issues at all.

Lewis said...

Any long driving trip you can limp away from . . . .

Evyl Robot said...

One time, some n00b was tailgating me in a downpour. I found myself thinking, "I wish he would spin off into a ditch." And then, just like that, he did. I guess God throws us a bone sometimes.

Paul said...

Screw in Shin? what did I miss? We might have you beat as we have a new 1" of fluff on top of melted ice. Course I don't plan on running 380 miles in it either.

I wish people treated it like the 1st blizzard of the year and just stay home. The drive in is much nicer if they do.

And how did you manage to run a caliber in distance?

JohnMXL said...

Guess we can call you Indiana's own Rob McKenna!

randy said...

Lexington to Columbus

I'm a little confused, especially since you mentioned I75 and I assume, ended in Indiana.

Didn't you mean Lexington to Dayton?

Or did you just do the I71-70 loop through Columbus just to add to your already fun day? ;-)

Tam said...

"I'm a little confused, especially since you mentioned I75 and I assume, ended in Indiana."

I-75/40 to I-640 to I-75 to I-64 to I-65. This replaces my old route of I-75/40 to I-640 to I-75 to I-275 to I-74 to I-465 to I-70. It has the advantage of being a couple miles shorter, plus my toter's permit is good for the whole trip.

Jeff said...

@ The Raving Prophet
Too many people buy the cheap crappy Chinese tires because they have some kind of mental block when it comes to paying more than $50/tire, let alone the $100+ a quality one might run you.

Heh. I can't even get the cheap tires for $100 each. My low end is around $150.

BMW's seem to like the rain, it reminds them of the perpetual overcast and drizzle in the Vaterland.

Lergnom said...

When I went to replace the tires on my '93 Taurus, they had to order them special. I opined that it was good that I wasn't still driving my dad's car. Counter guy politely inquired, I said '51 Buick Super, took 7.60 x 15's.
Dropped jaws on all the whippersnappers.
Never cared for loud exhaust - had a '65 Galaxie with duals that rusted out way too soon, causing me to have to drive 75 miles without mufflers to get them replaced.
Loud.

Will said...

Tam,
FWD cars will do the same spin even on dry roads. Especially when they think they are going to miss their off ramp from one of the left lanes. Probably chop throttle, tap brakes, whip steering wheel. And they're off! A slight cresting of the road (which hid the approach of the exit) really exacerbates the process. Rain pretty much guaranteed it. Saw this many times while patrolling freeways here. Only had one fatality from this, and injuries were very rare. It's why I prefer my AWD turbo Talon to the FWD cars. Had a turbo FWD Colt. That was entertaining in the rain!

You might consider putting spacers under the seat mounts to change the angle, if yours doesn't have tilt/up/down capability. Might help the leg.

BUFF_dragon said...

dang.... you were right by my place.... wish I had've known, we could've throw some lead on my range (sucks shooting by yourself all the time)

oh well....
yea, there are TONS of idiot kids with fart pipes on their ricers around Lexington.... I thoroughly enjoy my smoking diesel when they get stupid with their windows down....

Anonymous said...

"A slight cresting of the road (which hid the approach of the exit) really exacerbates the process."

Sounds like Turn 2 at Road Atlanta. The crest of a hill and the apex of the turn occupy the same territory. It has been known to get a wee tad exciting as the car suddenly gets much lighter. It's not the place to prove you have 500 hp in your hip pocket.

Paul said...

So Tam, can I assume the Bimmer's top did not leak?

wv: "itantist" One who believes in the magical powers of tanning salons.

Ritchie said...

Long ago and far, far, away, I was waiting to pull out of a side road onto Rt. 20 in Marlborough Ma. in pouring rain.Approaching traffic was a full sized sedan of the '70s pulling a good sized rooster tail. Just as I was thinking that this was a little drastic, he did a 720 right in front of me, straightened out and proceeded down the hill toward Northborough. No visual available on eyewhites.

JimB said...

fart-can-equipped Civic.... And I thought that I was the only one using that discription.

Jeff said...

@ JimB:

Just about everyone uses that expression except for the civic/toyota/focus/rice owners. For the 1 car out of every 1000 that actually needs them, they are called bullet mufflers, pretty much a japanese interpretation of the glass pack. Of course, I can't say too much, I have a 3" sewer pipe exhaust from the turbo out on my Neon

BUFF_dragon said...

jeff, there's a difference.... you have a turbo that can use (and could need, depending on turbo size) that size of exhaust....
I have 2' of 5" pipe comin off my bottom turbo on the truck.... dumps under the passenger door.... but my turbo's keep it full...
when you put 3" exhaust on a stock NA 4cyl, you just spent WAY too much money to loose trq on an already anemic engine....

Mike W. said...

Heh. I can't even get the cheap tires for $100 each. My low end is around $150.

Very true Jeff, the low end of my price range for tires on the 6 is $100-125.

People really skimp on tires. They buy the cheapest crap they can, then underinflate, run em' bald and then act surprised when they get in an accident.

Dixie said...

Too many people buy the cheap crappy Chinese tires because they have some kind of mental block when it comes to paying more than $50/tire, let alone the $100+ a quality one might run you.

Oh, so true. I just had a set of Michelin HydroEdge tires put on, to replace a set of Symmetry tires that were on their way out. I had intended to put on TripleTreds, but I would've had to wait another 6 weeks.

FWD cars will do the same spin even on dry roads.

Or on muddy roads. Lack of throttle and brake control + clay mud + Buick = why most people no longer ride with my mother.

Ian Argent said...

Still swear I'd rather have my RWD Ranger (RIP) than any of the FWD sedans I've had to drive since. Throw a couple bags of sand in the back for snow, and I'd get that thing through weather that had the yuppie SUV drivers in the median waiting for someone to tell them which way was up.

(The Smart I'm using for a commuter may be a tad underpowered, but it will go where I point it)