That sounds like a fantastic ride! I'm trying to visualize it in my mind. Being from Pennsylvania, where there is no such thing as a flat, straight road without potholes and deer hazards, it's hard to imagine but it sounds like a whole bunch of fun.
From: Kenyon Wills <imperialist1960@xxxxxxxxx>
To: IML <mailing-list@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Fri, 14 Mar 2008 1:56 am
Subject: IML: Handling Run
Just got back home with a big smile on my face. I have a side job that I go to Thursday evenings. Coming back, I go from South San Francisco down the 280 freeway and then west across the San Mateo Bridge. 280 is interesting because it was designed in the late 1960's, at the later portion of the big freeway building boom. It's called "america's most beautiful freeway" and goes along a pretty coastal range of hills with a pretty reservoir alongside it. The story that I heard was that the designers figured that cars were just going to get faster and faster, and so they deisgned the freeway for 90 miles per hour, with wide, sweeping curves, 5 lanes, and very few straight sections. This is possibly one of the best driving freeways I've ever been on, and I've done it at 3am in the mid 100's on a sportbike and it's incredibly smooth and well designed for high speed work when nobody else is around. Anyway, I took the 72 GT tonight. It's seemed to stabilize and not be cranky on the shorter errand drives I've been on recently, so I felt confident enough to take it out on a 100 mile journey this evening. Coming back at 9:30 yeilded a freeway that was relatively devoid of cars, a willing engine, and my newly installed tachometer showing that the 440 was running smoothly and confidently. Coming away from the SF Airport, I took the 90 degree banked turn from 380 to 280 south on a flying overpass at a good clip, and as I entered the turn, I passed the pickup truck in the slow lane and popped on my high-beams. The car is outfitted with H4 bulbs that are 100w on high beam. 55w is the legal limit, so these headlights are BRIGHT and incredibly well focused with a flat, low pattern and a cool whiteness that is a huge difference from stock 1970's lighting technology. Hitting the highs instantly illuminated the dark, unilluminated overpass and made the pavement almost glow. I proceeded out of the curve having left the truck I'd passed at least 20 car lengths behind and dropped down onto the gently sloping uphill section pointed straight at Crystal Springs Reservoir a mile ahead. Traffic was light and I firmly accelerated as I confidently moved the car over into the fast lane after dropping the lights back to low beams so as not to annoy or be rude. As I crested the hill and turned left heading south, the freeway straightened out and I picked up another 20 miles per hour or so and the car really started to hum, the tachometer indicating a solid 3500 RPM with all gauges reading nominal, happy readings. After being delayed in a clump of traffic where 5 cars decided to drive abreast and at almost the same speed on an otherwise empty freeway, I was able to wiggle through. This was by the golf course and as I crested the hill for the 4 mile downhill run to the Crystal Springs Bridge, I was presented with an empty freeway. Hit the high beams and instantly get to see every lane reflector for 2 miles ahead and the far-off overhead signs as they jump into sharp relief. Rolled the car on to 4000 RPM and felt it settle in to a steady thrum as the wheels ate up the distance in a way that was almost eager. Bottom of the hill and there is a left hand sweeper. Car is probably at 120 or so, but the speedo has the wrong pinion gear in the trans, so it gets buried when the car hits 80 or so... No police around to inform me what I'm doing, but it feels good, so I keep going. I come up on light traffic and drop the headlights again, lining myself up for the transition to westbound 92, again a sweeping 90 degree banked, elevated flyway. Ease off the gas and hit it at about 85, with the car leaning a bit but the wide, soft tires I've chosen grip the pavement without complaint and the car pulls nicely all the way around the curve. Drop into the merge where three different flows of traffic join into two lanes, sidestep the idiot that's not watching his mirrors and relying on blinkers and not his mirrors, and a quick glance to the rear-view mirror reveals the presence of a like-minded individual in a 5-series BMW that has decided to step up and join in. The car rises on a climb and it's into a long, sweeping mile-long curve first left and then right, a mile long flat straight by College of San Mateo, and then a swooping, curving cambered drop 3 miles down to El Camino Real, all the while with the BMW close but not insistent in the rear view mirror at 90 or so. The bottom presents the only real challenge of the evening. Brake or float through the whoopdie-doo where the cement overpass goes flat followed by an immediate drop during a right hand jink. BMW isn't interested in slowing down, and neither am I. He's not in the passing mood, and that's good. Glance to make certain he's not going to try to take me and then jink the car into the slow lane. Car goes onto the tip-toes of its suspension as the bottom drops out of the road, followed by an annoying lump back upwards that compresses the car's suspension. We're OK so far, but payback for the compression of that suspension is a bitch. This is the one place where the car shows it's 1970's luxury roots, rebounding like a marshmallow and popping the car laterally to the left as the car hops back up and the weight leaves the tires for a moment. The car Pops back into the fast lane from the slow lane. Good call on the BMW's part not to pass, and who thankfully isn't there and is probably glad to have lifted his right foot at the same time that I did. The car was pretty unsettled for a moment, but it is now composed again and I wonder what my road companion thought about the large car squirming around in two lanes. I'll probably not hit that one so fast next time... He winks his high beams and flips off onto 101 south as I proceed across the elevated skyway headed for home across the San Mateo Bridge, another haven from speed enforcement and thus a place to stretch one's legs when there's space. It's a 9 mile blast over an elevated ramp that climbs 300 feet and then drops to a few feet, straight and flat above the bay for an 8 mile, three lane shot into landfall at Hayward. The car eats up space and traffic all the way across. Confident in it's size and solidity. Easy does it around the cloverleaf onto 880 north and a quick ride in heavier traffic at the speed limit to my offramp and home. The Imperial GT has arrived, and the rest is all detail work. Kenyon Wills ____________________________________________________________________________________ Looking for last minute shopping deals? Find them fast with Yahoo! 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