June 24, 2012

I'm baaaaaack!

Not that you guys needed me. Usually when the teacher leaves the room everyone throws spitballs. You guys throw car reviews.

I just got up after being asleep for 12 straight hours. We've been getting 4 or 5 hours sleep a night on the road, and I was starting to look like one of the little apple doll women. All crabby and shriveled looking. Good to be home.

But my, what a blast we had. I just drove with the Shell team all the way from Halifax to Vancouver. I looooove that drive, I love any road trip, and this was truly great. We happened to hit the Saskatchewan border the day after my column on my Dad ran for Father's Day, and his birthday was a few days later. I didn't even pick the driver switchover spot; it was random, but right at the Welcome to Saskatchewan sign. In I hopped, and along with my coach Helen Taylor (what an awesome lady; she was my copilot the whole way) we laughed and cried our way across the province. We hit incredible headwinds, rolling black skies, blasts of sunshine, spectacular fields unrolling beneath us, and curious little tailwinds that propelled me forward. I decided Dad was in the backseat the whole way, seeing his home for the last time. Helen agreed.

If you've been following my blog in the Globe & Mail Drive section (or trying to; wifi is erratic and crazymaking in so many spots, my filing was as irregular as a kid who just ate an entire block of cheese), you'll know we were attempting to set a world record for fuel efficiency.

We were doing something many call hypermiling, though the Taylors hate the word. Don't blame them; it's associated with the idiots on the road who toss a thimble full of gas into their tank and take off for the coast, creeping down the highway, drafting trucks, sailing through red lights and all manner of dangerous stunts to save gas.

We don't. 'Hypermiling' is still a useful word, though I will always pair it with the Taylor's sigh of being lumped in with the whackos. They do do extreme things to establish records, but safety is first. I refused to drive too slow. I was on board with no speeding, which produced some interesting results at times, but I warned them I would not be a nuisance on the roads. My numbers? Excellent. It can be done.

We had a curious cast of characters, though Ice Road Trucker Alex Debogorski might just have reinvented the word 'character'. Tower of a guy with a huge booming laugh that reverberates through, well, wherever he happens to be, is a hoot. It was immediately established that, as the two drivers who would be along for the whole journey, there would be a little competition between us. Just a little. I do believe the words "I shall kick his ass" may have been mentioned. I thought the using the word 'shall' lent it a little class. As if.

I am writing like a writing demon. Washing machine is going non-stop, and groceries need to happen. Cats are giving me the 'oh sure, now you want to be friends' look. The boys are good. Ari and I hit the road first thing Tuesday morning for a Georgian Bay trek for a few days that looks awesome. There will be a shiny Land Rover LR4 in the driveway that will be our chariot.

But first, laundry.

That pic is with Alex, somewhere near the Quebec border with Ontario. In Halifax, I got to drive first. Of course I did.

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Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

I will be the first to welcome you back. Just getting ready to start my own journey... 4,700 miles in 10 hours 40 minutes. Hypermiling may be a slight (oh so very slight) exageration. We will burn about 52 metric tonnes of fuel. I´m reasonably confident the Taylors would not be impressed.

Can´t wait to hear how the mileage stacked up.

June 24, 2012 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Carmine said...

Welcome back and yes, we need you!

June 24, 2012 2:38 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

A sign you've been gone too long:

Ari comes into the kitchen, asks what I'm doing. I say I'm making dinner. He says 'is there enough for me?'

This is the conversation he has with his brother when I'm away. Good thing when I leave on Tuesday, he's coming with me.

June 24, 2012 5:50 PM  
Anonymous PJ said...

So, are you allowed to divulge where on Georgian Bay you're heading? Coming up to Port McNicholl to see the S.S. Keewatin? Couldn't go but would have loved to have witnessed the old girl towed into port.

Going to Barrie tomorrow to witness the arrival of the participants of the Great Race, a time speed endurance rally for vinatge cars.

Oh yeah! Welcome back!

June 24, 2012 7:52 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

I've met you, and you are close to 6 feet (without the leather go-go boots) so that puts Alex at what? 6'4"? 6'5"?
Funny, he doesn't look that tall on TV sitting in the truck seat.
And did he say anything about IRT India?


Oh yeah, we missed you.

BTW, I'll be screwing up traffic near you for a month.

June 24, 2012 9:23 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

I am 5'7and a half. I cherish the half. Alex is about 6'2" or 3. Even though he's recently lost a bunch of weight, he's still a big bear of a guy.

We were teasing him about India. Actually, I was teasing him about everything. Thought he was going to drown me in either the Atlantic or the Pacific.

June 24, 2012 9:27 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

Just returned and I did some calculations on the way home. 68,000 litres to travel 7670 km carrying 250 people (plus about 5 tonnes of freight) works out to 3.9 litres per 100km per person. Plus the 5 tons of freight gets a free ride.

Better than I thought.

So now Christopher gets the house all to himself? Plus the cats of course. Hmmmm.

June 25, 2012 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find that as long as you keep the RPM around 2m, you can usually get good mileage. At least I did with teh 06 Avalon and the 03 Marrauder.
Glad you're back.

June 25, 2012 1:31 PM  
Anonymous Padraig said...

My Geo tracker, with the RPM counter at 2000, mostly in 5th gear, would make it from Sudbury to Port Hope on one tank - although running on fumes for the last couple of clicks.

June 25, 2012 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got a Jetta TDI.

You dont want to know my milage and range.

June 26, 2012 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hybrids anyone? Test drove a couple of them yesterday. Premium price for it but I do a LOT of city driving and they say that is where you get your payback on it. Ruled out the Highlander, it is just too big, but have to say the Lexus RX350 is a beauty. Or, do I go with the Santa Fe at half the price? Pay me now, or pay me later it seems.
Sometimes I hate being a grown-up.

June 27, 2012 8:48 AM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

I have never understood the whole Land Rover thing. Most of them look like someone welded two boxes together and stuck wheels on the combined mess. Although the Evoque evokes a small stirring in my loins. We had a neighbour who had an LR4 and it was in the garage more often than not and they ended up selling it a year after buying it. They couldn't afford the time spent fixing it. They got divorced two years after that and I blame the Rover.

And besides, I could buy 3 Kia Sportages for the same price as an LR4. And probably insure them all for less.

But I'm sure yours was just a dream.

June 27, 2012 3:49 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

Sorry... one last comment and then I'll shut up. I noticed in the globe article on Monday that you managed to squeeze 75 litres into a 70 litre tank. Sounds like our marvelous gas stations are over-reading on the pumps. Why does that not surprise me? Yes, I realize that you can fill the neck of the tank up, and all. But five extra litres? That's not possible.

Congrats on the numbers!! I never EVER would have guessed that a gas-fired Passat would make 6,300 km on 4.69 tanks of gas. Unbelievable!!! That works out to around 5.5 l/100km. If you were really stuffing 75 litres into each tank. If it was only 70 litres then it's 5.2!!

June 27, 2012 4:55 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

The Land Rover Defender 110 and 90 looks like boxes welded together with wheels on them because they actually are boxes bolted together with strategic welds here and there. They were designed to be taken apart in primitive conditions for service. The interior is your classic rubber and vinyl puke and power wash deal, the fans are caged squirrel jobs like in a school bus. The engines are brutal, low grunting mills some designed for fjording with upstream exhaust. The genius who conned er, convinced yuppies to buy these things swathed in leather with a fancier name deserves an award. They are tough buggers, but I'll take a plain old fashioned Land Rover 90 from 1968. Honest metal from Solihull.

June 27, 2012 9:24 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

I bought a Santa Fe. Still love it.

I love Land Rovers. Greater, I don't have to pay for them, but....awesome rock crawlers that nobody uses to climb rocks. Pity, that.

I'm home. Me 'n Ari have finished our fantastic 3 day Georgian Bay trek. I call it fantastic. . He may be thinking of a different f word....

June 28, 2012 9:02 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

On, and VW tank is sposed to be 70 litres, but John got 75 into it. He's the master of this stuff. I just watched and learned.

It took him awhile. There is some strange gas guru stuff going on, but that is the honest truth.

June 28, 2012 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can always get more into the tank, than what the car calls for. Didn't think it was 5 litre's, but I do believe it.
Love the Santa Fe, Get to drive all Toyota and Lexus. I do like the Hylander Hybrid, I do like the RX350, but wouldn't buy one.

June 29, 2012 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lorraine -

Enjoyed this series - thanks.

Question for you about the term "hypermiling". I know that strictly speaking, it just means using various driving techniques to beat a vehicle's government fuel economy rating.

But I agree that it has come to be "associated with idiots", so I'm curious what utility you saw in using it? (You seemed pretty adamant.) Obviously your hosts/instructors, the Taylors, won't touch it with the proverbial 10-foot pole.

But you say it "is still a useful word". In what sense?

I imagine it's useful in the sense that using a controversial term throug the series would stir the pot and get more reader response. But is there more to it than that?


July 10, 2012 10:10 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Editors picked the headline for the series, calling it Hypermiling across Canada, which you have to admit rolls off the tongue more readily than Attempting a Cross Canada Journey to Devise Ways to Attain The Greatest Fuel Efficiency Possible.

Helen hates the term, but the fact remains that most people call it that, and most people relate to that. Better to face it head on.

I figure the word has been hijacked by extreme morons who do all the stupid things you read about, but that doesn't mean the word is wrong, or doesn't have merit.

I told Helen better to claim it back than surrender it to fools. What they do is consistently safer, smarter and cheaper. They've been doing it all over the world for 30 years, why be worried about a negative connotation when you're in the perfect position to create a positive one?

July 10, 2012 10:26 AM  

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