[Biturbos4] Crazy Snow driving! [long]

Keman keman at interwolf.net
Mon Jan 12 21:42:25 EST 2004

Last night summed up every ounce of wet weather open track road racing,
adolescent crap box highly illegal wreckless abuse, red eyed road rage,
panic stricken deadline surpassed tardyness, closeup slow-motion chase
scenes like from the film "Ronin", lecture after boring lecture on how to
regain control of a vehicle when control has been lost.... that I have ever
experienced in my life.

4:30PM EST 01/12/04 (Sunday)
Commute distance: 280 miles
Departure: Toronto, Canada
Arrival: Howell, Michigan

My usual route is QEW/403 to 401 to 402 west and vice versa. I take the blue
water bridge in port huron to avoid the more strict customs officers in
Windsor (I've found, anyways).

QEW started out great. Easy 95 mph cruising speed, those canadians sure do
drive fast.

Then it began to snow.

And I mean SNOW. Snowflakes so big you hear them hit your windshield and not
because they're made of ice. It turned into a blizzard so quickly I drove
for several minutes before realizing my headlights weren't on. Not that it
made much difference. It was pitch black halfway up the 403 and my
windshield squirters had a warning light on indicating I'd used them too
many times to clean the blazing HID from the smothering layer of snow
constantly coating them. Those headlights were for the first time
appreciated by me for their excellent lighting, they lit the ground like a
small sun. Cars are vanishing .. either kicking on their hazard flashers and
calling it quits, or just... pulling off the road. Hiding in cracks. Turning
around, running home.

Whatever. I continued ... fresh Michelin Alpin Pilots eager to please in the
snow, especially at high speed where the snow gets flung out of the tread
gaining surprising traction.

Passing people. Zoom. Zoom. Woosh. Hey, out of the way. I've got 200 more
miles to go and I gotta get up at 5:15AM .. oh look, a Mustang with summer
tires facing the wrong direction after kissing a guardrail.. and a cop
lecturing him on how to drive. Buh bye. There's an SUV .. yeah, the 4x4
switch is somewhere you can't remember which is why only the rear tires are
spinning and you aren't going anywhere out of that ditch. Oh look, a honda
with it's front tires spinning and he's not going anywhere. Nor is the
towtruck trying to pull him out. Zoom. Zoom. Woosh.

No idea what the traction levels of these tires are in this surface. Going
to have to find out. *slam on brakes, sound of objects thrown forward,
change jingling out of my holder onto the floormats* OK .. braking is good!
This is surprising. fresh snow really does offer some levels of traction.
What's that sound? Guess I've never heard 4th gear before ... wow it's
quiet. Turn off the radio. Kick seat up as high as it will go, I need the
furthest distance I can see now. Geeze it's quiet .... no road noise. Just
the sound of snow, turbos, soft gear whine, and intense concentration and a
loud quick heartbeat. No tracks to drive in anymore. I start getting used to
the feeling of the car drifting slightly. Occasionally I find tracks to
drive in, but I start to avoid them. It makes passing vehicles who are
CRAWLING in the snow difficult, as each time I pull into lanes which I can't
see full of snow I'm suddenly not used to driving in .. a disturbing
experience. The tracks pull at the tires, making a lane change hard. Fresh
snow on the other hand offers no limitations.

Dump onto the 401. Oh god. Here's where everyone is. Looks like this area
has been plowed. Parking lot. I crawl. And crawl. I get off at the first
exit. Time to cure the windshield solvent problem and get a full tank of gas
along with some food, flashlight batterys, do a quick check on my emergency
kit, flares, etc.

Leaving the parking lot, I notice a huge truck stop area that's empty and
full of snow with no obstacles I can see. Time to see what these tires can
do. After a couple of spinouts and donuts, high speed stops and turns I've
made quite a mess. But I do know the limits of these tires now, and they are
damn good so long as they are spinning. At less than 10 mph you can just
forget about turning if your foot isn't on the gas. I can't find the tube of
pringles anymore and that diet coke is going to need to wait a while before
I open it again. Lets get outa here before the cops arrest me..

Back onto the 401. Well. More parking lot. Hey, why are we down to 1 lane?
C'mon people... stop crowding into one lane. That's it, I'm outa here.
Woosh. Woosh. Zoom. Buh bye. Oh hey.. it's a snowplow. Buh bye!

Emptyness. No cars. Lets see... gentle left hand turn... gentle right hand
turn... steady 70 mph... I'm realizing this is the longest I've gone without
the radio on. That's ok. Wrists sore from grip on wheel. Continuing...

Slowing to 60 mph. Hard to see. I hit the washers and can see better .. but
when the snow starts blowing towards me, I have near 100% whiteout and can
barely make out some thin tracks from some brave soul whom I hope isn't
leading me off the road.. because I can't see anything, 4 snowplows merging
onto highway... ZOOM! not in front of me you don't.. continuing... 402. Yes!
There it is.

Cop driving at 10 mph. Sorry cop. ZOOM. Sweat forms on my brow. I've never
passed a cop like that before. I sure hope he doesn't put on his lights. Not
even 10 seconds goes by and I can't even see his headlights anymore. Rear
foglight on... seat heater two notches warmer.. set to manual defrost and
heater airflow, god I love the functionality of this car.

Hey snow lifted some, I can see more... 70 mph resumed. What's that up
ahead? Hm... 1.8 A4 quattro. Hey you don't have to drive that slow dude...
follow me if you want. He doesn't. Come up on long line of cars. Bye. Bye.
See ya. Don't hug the shoulder too much there dude. Where are the lanes
again? Who cares. Zoom.

Hmm. Temperature gauge starting to rise. Uh oh. Oil temps at 245. Hmm. Time
to pull over.

Holy shit! The front grill is _packed_ ... there is no airflow. I use the
long bristles of my snow brush to knock it all out. Wow I've never seen this
before. I pause. Silence. Dead silence. So quiet I can hear snowflakes
landing on my hat. I don't want to get stuck out here!!! Start back up.
<evil grin> I leave a long roostertail of snow marking my spot as I gain
speed damn quick.

What's that noise? Hm. There it is again. An odd crunching sound under the
car. Oh shit. I'm bottoming out. There's no tracks to drive in. I've not
seen another car in a half hour, and I guess there is more than 6" of snow
on the ground. If I stop now I might never start again. I lean on the
accelerator a bit and hold 100 millibars of vacuum for a steady cruising
speed. Just slightly out of boost. So much for gas mileage.

Time ticks on. The blizzard gets worse and better, far worse and better. So
bad sometimes I slow to 20 mph, too scared to go faster, too frustrated to
stop. I've never concentrated like this for so long, on the road track
sessions don't last more than an hour at the max. I wonder how long I can
keep this up. More time. I start wondering if this will be the last time I
ever drive my S4 before wrecking it in a ditch or worse. I push on. More

Distance: 180 miles traveled. Sarnia.... 45 km. YES! I can do it!

35 km.

25 km. Snowplow. Bye.

15 km. Wow, fresh plowed passage .... I just need to make it home. Survive
the rest of the way so I can write about this.

5 km.

Border. Empty. Usual questions. No. Yes. US. Howell. Mechanic. No. No. No.
Sure. What? Oh. Sure, my license plate is K92PLAY. Oh. (They couldn't read
it. My hatch was caked with snow). Thanks. Bye.

94 South/West. Salted streets. Zoom! WOW that's loud! Holy shit that's loud!
.... wow... was driving on pavement always this loud? Guess so. Whee... the
steering wheel is super responsive. This feels so weird!


Home. Open garage door. Get out. Tick, tick, tick, hiss, hiss, tick, tick...

I look at my car.

My savior.

- Keman

Time: 9:30PM. 5 hours total. 60mph average. 6-10 inches of snow, near
white-out conditions. It took me till this evening that I could even gather
my thoughts together well enough to write it all. I was exhausted all day
after all that. This is all absolutely true and happened last night.

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