Monday, January 25, 2010

Road Etiquette Tip #471:

I know you are frustrated being stuck behind the Kenworth reefer full of frozen pig innards climbing the grade at 49.8 MPH when you know that your Mack hauling a containerload of My Pretty Ponies could easily pull the hill at 49.9 MPH, but that is no reason to swing into the left lane to perform what could only be called a "pass" because the vehicles end up in a different order after eight miles of tedious crawling.

The dozen annoyed motorists behind you.


GeorgeAtl said...

Eight Miles?? I can only imagine the frustration!!
Too bad you didn't have Channel 19 on board to vent...but that might have brought on some real road rage!

OA said...

Did you see Chuck Arnoldi in the back of a pickup talking to the Rubber Duck?

Tam said...


I might be exaggerating a bit. But only a bit.

Stranger said...

"Drag racing" is a sign of an amateur truck jockey. Some carriers tolerate such idiocy but most do not. It will catch up with them.


refumbo - fumbo again, I suppose.

Johnnyreb™ said...

To the annoyed motorists,

You have my sincerest apology, for the temporary inconvenience caused by my driving maneuvers. That move is repeated literally dozens of times per day resulting in, at the very least, saving one hour of my very long day. In the end tho' ... i'm glad i'm not following myself ;-)

Totally Exhausted Mack Driver

Anonymous said...

There is a section of I-65 between E-town and Cave City that always jams up because of that behavior.

My dad said the trucks were powered by Rolls Canhadly engines.

Rolls down one hill, can hardly make it up the next.


perlhaqr said...

In my years of driving long long distances, I've probably spent hours in this position, behind some jerkoff trucker whose speed differential from the guy in the right lane is measurable only in angstroms per hour, daydreaming of a harpoon gun that delivers parachutes.

"Here buddy, have an airbrake! Now you'll have to get out of my way!"

Unknown said...

One of my good friends is a truck driver. I asked him about this behavior. He explained that it's not a matter of trying to pass the other guy. It's a matter of maintaining you own momentum so that you can pull that hill.

Bram said...

Not many NJ laws I like but - No trucks in the far left lane is my favorite.

fast richard said...

When I was driving OTR what really frustrated me was the people who passed my truck on every uphill grade and then stayed 5MPH under the speed limit on the downhill. This meant I had to either lose whatever momentum I had, costing lots more fuel in hilly country, or attempt to pass them before the next hill, thus prolonging the cycle. This was usually done by small economy cars, never by BMWs.

If another truck was trying to get past me, I would back off the cruise control by a couple of mph, but if it was an upgrade there was no way I was going to back off the throttle and have to down shift just to let them by.

NotClauswitz said...

It's a particularly scary maneuver up on Hwy 80 going over the Sierras to Reno that can result in a Sierra Sandwich if you don't watch out and keep an eye on your own passing opportunities. Some places it's only two lanes and the lanes aren't very wide.

Kristophr said...

Everyone who goes faster than me is crazy ... and everyone who goes slower than me is an idiot.

( I think I stole that from George Carlin )

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Here's another vote for "no trucks in left lane". That law should go national.

(Somewhat OT, I've always loved the signs some jurisdictions put up that say, "SPEED ENFORCED FROM AIRCRAFT". I keep expecting to see an A-10 Warthog making a pass and taking out the speeders...)

Anonymous said...

It usedtabe that truckers were the best and most courteous drivers on the road...not so much anymore.

Johnnyreb and Fastrichard may try to justify their behavior but that would never wash with the oldtimers.

You are irritated that the fourwheelers are locked on sixty and pissed that they pass you when you lug up a hill at fifty and rocket down at eighty? Yeah, that's their fault, right?

And of course you're the Only Ones that had a long tough day.

I'm down with the no-trucks-or-trailers in the left lane thing, and yes I know that extra time and fuel will be reflected in the cost of delivering the items that I buy. But when all is said and done, it's a business like any other and the truckers are workers like any other; no better, no worse, and certainly not deserving of special or preferential treatment.

Anonymous said...

That said, though, it would never do for me to drive an 18-wheeler...the urge to flatten some of the stupid morons in cars would just be too great, and that would probably have consequences...

Butch_S said...

I have a 24' ex-ryder box truck that offends both cars and pro truckers equally. ;-)

RC said...

We call those "slow races."

Being from a part of the country that has lots and lots of mountains, I have an unfortunate amount of experience with them...

benEzra said...

"Everyone who goes faster than me is crazy ... and everyone who goes slower than me is an idiot."

Anyone who goes slower in the left lane than the people behind him trying to pass IS an idiot, IMO.

I live in NC, one of only a tiny handful of states in which it is not illegal to squat in the left lane and block passing traffic. Half the time, the *right* lane turns out to be the fast lane, as all the clueless dolts who think the left lane is the VIP lane (or the SUV lane, or the cell phone lane, or the all-around wanker lane) cluster on the left and leave the right lane clear. Erg.

I have to admit sometimes letting the left-lane squatter hear some supercharger whine when I finally get a clear right lane to pass...

Rignerd said...

The trucker courtesy of history is still there, it's just been blunted by the discourtesy of a lot of four wheelers. In Texas old timers will often drive on the broad shoulder to let a faster car pass. But it only happens 50 or more miles away from a town over 75,000.
My theory is that the city dwellers flew in to the state and missed the big "Drive Friendly, the Texas way" signs.

Will said...

I had the same problem with slow vehicles when I drove a Mazda pickup with a little diesel engine. Back off 5mph for a slower car, drop off the torque curve, downshift, and lose another 5 or so. With only 5 gears, it had speed ranges on hills, not a linear speed capability. Had to learn to drive like the big rigs did. In fact, they were the only vehicles I could normally pass on hills. Great mileage, though. 34mpg commuting, 42mpg cruising at 65mph, and 28mpg thrashing it through the hills and screaming 80 down I-5 when heading for Willow Springs Raceway with two bikes and trailer. Downhill in neutral would peg that 85mph speedo. Great little trailer!

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the clowns in Kentucky, who ride the left lane for miles, 2-3 car lengths behind. ~Until~ I start overtaking someone in the right lane. Then they decide to draft/pass me like it is NASCAR wannabe night on the Western KY parkway. Then it is either drop out of cruise, or stomp on the go peddle and put some distance between us. So I cruise well over the limit for a few miles, back down to the sedate cruise speed just 7 mph over and a few miles down the road, Billy-Bob is back, just hanging back there, slackjawed at my Yankee-carpetbagger license plate and NRA stickers. ~Until another occasion for me to pass someone approaches, then the Kabuki Dance starts again.

Only on the Wendell H Ford Western KY Parkway, not on Pennyrile, or north of Elizabethtown - or hell - any part of KY with indoor plumbing. I see it again on the trips when every damn fool with a WV license plate around Wheeling, West-bugawd-Virginnie will do it, sometime stacking 3 and 4 across on the wide parts of I-70 and/or I-470.
I make the drive from Pgh to Dover, TN at least quarterly, been doing since 98 and It seems like a force of nature, it is so reliable.
The only time I see the sedate Semi waltz is in the hills of WVA, and that seems to be sheer pissiness on the trucker's part, not waiting those two extra seconds for me to zip past them before they start the long slow copulation rituals.

Ken said...

I get your frustration.

On the other hand, that there are trucks on the road moving goods at all....

ibex said...

A German comedian once hypothesized that truck drivers' brains are mechanical and equipped with a gyroscope. When it detects a slight uphill climb, the gyroscope throws a switch that makes the driver think "MUST. PASS. NOW!"

Anonymous said...

This situation + rain + My Car + being a little younger and impulsive = At one point not only flipping the finger at death but calling his mother a tramp for good measure.

On reflection, what was done was not a good idea.


Anonymous said...

Will -

What years did you make the trek down to Willow Springs Raceway, and from where?


Anonymous said...

Sure, it's frustrating to get caught behind a rolling roadblock like that. It's also frustrating to other truckers, too, who won't be able to accelerate up the incline once they've lost their speed. Most of the time these situations come about as a result of mistake, not intention. I may overtake a truck on the first quarter of a hill with a +5mph speed differential, but not be able to complete the pass because of a difference in loaded weight or engine performance. The sweet thing to do would be to slow and fall in behind the other truck, but decelerating on an incline costs precious inertia, and can easily cause the 49.9mph in Tam's example to drop to perhaps 39mph. Thus I'm left crawling up the mountain watching everyone else - the other truck in the example included- go on their merry way. Once clear of the hill, it may take me a mile or more to get back up to cruising speed.
Drive a truck for a month, and you come to abhor losing inertia on an incline. Staying out of the left lane on a hill might well be polite, but I'm just not always up to the levels of angelic virtue it sometimes requires. Oh, and 'Polite' isn't exactly the word I would first think of when contemplating the driving habits of the average motorist. I could write volumes upon the dangerous, idiotic things four wheelers do around trucks.

As to lane restrictions, you know, I can think of lots of laws I'd like passed to make my life more convenient, though perhaps onerous for some minority of my fellow citizens. And my laws would at least make sense. But people just love these lane restrictions, especially in cities. A tractor trailer rig is typically over 70 feet long, weighing as much as twenty times more than the average car and takes twice the distance to stop. Once slowed, for example by merging traffic, they require much longer to regain speed. So, we make it a law that the trucks, mostly through-traffic, all ride in the outside lanes with all the merging traffic, so that we can keep one or two inside lanes pristine and clear. Many speeding four wheelers prefer to weave in and out of traffic on the right, because they fear the speedcops might see them in the inside lane. Most cars traveling near the speed limit prefer the outside lanes, because the inside lanes are for speeders. The trucks stay in the outside lanes by law, and the merging traffic occupies those lanes by necessity. So, you end up with little traffic jams and tension fraught merges so that a handful of brave souls can run 80mph and speedcops be damned. I won't even comment on the irony of a law requiring trucks keep right so that another law, the speed limit, can be more conveniently broken.
I drive somewhere around 3000 miles every week, and I am certain that some of my maneuvers cause frustration in my fellow motorists. Heck, I might've been one of the trucks that used to so irritate Tam outside the truckstop in K-town. I do wish, though, that the average four wheeler knew enough about big trucks to realize that I might have a reason beyond being an insensitive dolt for doing something that pisses them off.


OA said...

Hey Anonymous at 9:05 PM, can you explain why you're not a bigot?

Will said...

'83-'86, IIRC. Raced a Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans in AFM Open Twins, and a couple other classes it fit into. Ran AMA Heavyweight Twins, but not at Willow Springs for some unremembered reason, just at Sears Point and Laguna Seca.
Lived in the south bay. Cruising, that little red truck would go round trip on one tank, about 760 miles.
That second bike was a guy running an RD 350 Yamaha.
That south track was intimidating, with the blind apex at #9. Still, with the Guzzi's stability, I could catch faster bikes in turn #8. That sweeper with the tighter turn at the end had most riders rolling off the throttle, but I ran with it pinned all the way from that cresting turn at the top of the hillside until I stood it up for a stab at the brakes before pitching it into #9.

Probably the most memorable thing about those trips, was the time I got home about midnite, and a roommate's drunken visitor tried to stab me. Bike tried to spit me off all day long, bad traffic with lots of wrecks on I5, and then top it off with that! sheeesh...
Long chat with officers, who decided to 5150 her. Large pool of blood to clean up, and I went to work without sleep.

Anonymous said...


We may or may not have crossed paths. '83 was my last season, and I did all the AFM south races at Willow and Riverside. I always went out in open practice, so we *might* have even been on the track at the same time. You would have seen me as AFM #737, riding a painfully box stock Honda 400 Hawk (silver) in both 450 stock and production classes till about mid season, when I finally broke down and bought a 450 Hawk (also silver) to at least get me back to displacement parity with the rest of the class.

Willow was my Alma Mater, and I loved that track. I know that even 450s were supposed to roll off for turn 9, but during an endurance race at the end of 1982, I figured out to get through it pretty much wide open (do NOT try this at home!). Late in the day, there was always a tail wind going through turn 8, which on a 400/450 is just plain flat out, so I'd late apex 8 just a few inches from the outside of the track and hold it out there, pretty close to dragging hardware, then late apex turn 9 dragging every bit of hardware on the bike. I'm pretty short, so I'd hang off so far that my left arm would be straight, almost parallel with the bars, and my left toe extending down as far as I could get it to (think pointing your toes) just barely kissing the left footpeg. I had this odd thing going through my mind that I had to have that toe at least superficially in contact with the peg, even if it wasn't really - funny, now that I look back on it. Anyway, at the end of the apex of 9 there was a slight dip, and I'd know how far the bike was going to drift across the track on the exit based on how loud the 'GROUNCH' was when everything grounded there. Big 'GROUNCH' and I'd be stirring up dirt dust devils at the very edge of the track on the left side of the straitaway. Small 'GROUNCH', and I'd have eight to twelve inches of track left on the exit.

I still have the footpegs from those bikes. They're ground down at an extreme angle, and only about an inch and a half long, and even some of the mounting hardware was ground off on the right side, which was why safety wire was important there :-). The brake lever, which was routed UNDER the right hand exhaust was also ground quite thin, probably about 2/3 through. Top speed on a good Hawk was about 112 on a really good day, but because turn 8 was down hill with a tail wind, and I wasn't actually backing off in 9, I'd pick the bike up from full lean at the exit of 9 (at the top of the straight) doing about 115 to 117, and be able to carry most of it all the way down the straightaway, which was nominally 'downhill' until the start/finsh line. Woe unto any Kawasaki GPZ-550 that presented itself to me, as I could actually draft-pass them and pull most of them down the straightaway (IF I got through 9 properly).

LOTS of respectful tongue-in-cheek comments about my '600cc Hawk', always tendered with a smile, of course. Makes a guy feel all warm and fuzzy inside it does. :-)

Do you happen to remember the race number of your compadre with the 350 Yamaha, and if it was a US model air-cooled 350, or one of the Canadian water-pumpers, and if he ran it in Stock, Production, or Superstreet? I might possibly have known the guy, although since I only came up over Highway 14 from LA (Bellflower to be specific), and never went up north, I didn't know that many of the guys from up north, except for the others running Honda Hawks.

All My Best,


Will said...

Sorry, don't remember much about him or his bike. Aircooled, with the stock, wrap under the pipes footpeg setup. I think he only went with me once, and they were having a record heatwave at the track. Came in after a Saturday practice, staggered over to that water hose near the building, and filled my leathers up to my neck. Did a modified version between races. For some unkown reason, AFM always ran two of the classes I raced back to back. I would have someone waiting at the wall with a Gateraide and a jug of water after the first race. Water down the neck, leave it unzipped a few inches (all black), drink, and out to the line. At the end of the race, 8 laps plus warmup, I would be dry.
A northern racer who showed me the racing line (not always the same for a shaft drive) was running a 900GPZ. Down the hill, he would pull a big gap, but I was always on his tail by the time he got to #9.
Sounds like you were going thru 9 faster than I was. Guzzi's had a trash front end, which kept one from running really sticky rubber at both ends. I chose to use a rain tire (PZ2(?) Michelin) on the front, but the package made for some interesting handling quirks. After I got really good at pushing hard, corner workers would think I was crashing, (front chattering, rear drifting, peg grinding) judging by their expressions and actions.

wv: doomo...yep, thought that a few times out there

Anonymous said...


"doomo" LMAO :-)

I got nerfed off of turn 8 at 110+ mph by a nationally known rider who did something stupid and should have known better, and 'doomo' is definitely appropriate. I had a friend that died in turn 8/9 when ARRA ran the track backward one race. He ran off in 9 (turn 1, running the track backwards), thought he could save it, and tried to ride it out. To keep race cars more or less on the track, and not out chasing spectators around, the insurance company had forced the track to dig a ditch and put a big berm on the other side of the ditch, the combination of which was too close to the track, not leaving enough run-off. He sailed across the ditch and ran head-on into the berm, killing him instantly. When above-mentioned nationally-known rider nerfed me off, I came within ten feet of that berm, but I saw it coming long before that, and had the presence of mind to ditch the bike way before I got there (the bike always goes 2 to 3 times farther than the rider). The bike wound up as definition of the term "Smoking Heap", and I broke my thumb.

I can't imagine racing a shaftie - roll off the throttle, lose ground clearance, roll on, gain ground clearance. Never understood how Mssr Baldwin won all those races on that Guzzi, and how entertaining it must have been for Pridmore et al on those mono-shock Beemers. I can see how your lines would have to be very different. You'd have to accelerate most of the way through the corner to keep the bike from settling. Or so it seems to me, but then I've never had to do it.

Corner workers - I chased the corner workers out of their little barricade up on the little hill between 5 and 6 at Willow on one of my off track excursions - they went every which direction! :-)

All My Best,


Will said...

On those old style shaft drives, you have two choices for shocks/springs.

Stiff, so it doesn't squat when you back off, but this tends to dance on rough pavement(contributes to tank slappers, which is no big deal on the Guzzi, just flick the throttle off/on and it stops instantly- mid corner is VERY entertaining to spectators I'm told). Problem is, when running hard, the jacking effect turns the rear into a close simulation of a hardtail.

Soft, so it can handle bumps, but you lose ground clearance without heavy throttle. Both require slightly different riding styles at certain parts of a track. Getting shocks re-valved for a shaft drive is a problem, as it tends to be the reverse of the typical chain drive setup.

I had a radical porting job done that REALLY made it run strong. Guy said it was the latest F1 car style. LOTS of aluminum welded into the head. Afterwards, he refused to do any more of them, it was such a bitch of a job. Humongous jetting increase. So I get to Willow S, and the bike now has a high speed weave. Didn't connect it to the port job. Funny, the chain guys were afraid of tankslappers, and not bothered by weaving, and I had the opposite problem. Few days later, watching a GP race tape, I see them weaving out of turns. There fix was to yank the front wheel up. An experienced racer explained it was due to horsepower causing tire flex and frame flex. Aha! The light dawns! Eventually, I had Megacycle do my camshaft, and with all the guts cut out of my production racer pipes, it made more hp than a 1000cc twin Yamaha that finished about 5th in my last AMA race at Laguna Seca '86. That was with the stock displacement of 844cc. Unfortunately, I didn't do the pipes until a week after that race. Couldn't get the cam back until the day before leaving for the track. You wouldn't believe how I worked the pistons for valve clearance. Left me no time to check jetting with open exhaust, so I left it alone for the race. If a twin isn't making noise, it's not making power. With the pipes open to a reverse cone megaphone, it would lite up the tire in third gear. I tried several times to buy the bike back (sold it to finance a business attempt), but new owner refused, and eventually gave it to his son. Ah, well, memories.

Windy w said...

I once had the misfortune to drive a Dodge Caravan with a 4 cylinder engine, four BIG people and a Sears S-Cargo box on top (the really blocky ones with less aerodynamics than a cube) from LA to Jasper Alberta and back. It was ok (just) on 4 lane interstates, but on the two land state highways I had to be on the bumper of the car in front like a trailer in order to be able to pass in the length of a passing lane. I've been prejudiced against small engines for the vehicle ever since.

Windy Wilson said...

That's Wilson, Windy Wilson.
This mouse substitute on the laptop is touchy.

Justthisguy said...

Oh, so much to say! First, to Will: Both of my street bikes were two-strokes; one a Yamaha 250 DS-7, the other a Yamaha RD-400.

On the big trucks: Back when I first had my very own car, back aroung 1970, I asked a slightly more knowledgeable guy why the guys in the big tractor-semis were accelerating so hard and slowly against each other at the stoplight in front of us.

He told me that they drag-raced like that to determine which could accelerate more, and thus which one should stay behind the other one, so as not to have to do long agonizing uphill overtakings which piss everybody off.