Monthly Archives: May, 2013

Tortoise and the Hare

Wednesday arrived, and with it the final leg of the 1000 miles of this year’s Copperstate.  We had almost made it out of the hotel car park before the mechanical cousin realized he’d left his cell phone happily charging in the breakfast room.  Fortunately I have excellent turning and reversing skills, so we returned, retrieved…and headed off again.

Through Sedona, only to be met with extremely bad traffic.  Living in LA, this is not an unusual experience; unfortunately we soon discovered the cause was not regular congestion, but an accident involving one of the Copperstate Highway Patrol.   All emergency services had come out to help one of their own, a reassuring but still worrying sight.  We later discovered what had happened – turning into a forecourt to check on another entrant, the Patrol officer was hit by a driver who decided to pull straight into traffic without stopping to look first.  There was no time to take any avoiding action, and serious injuries were sustained. A situation I’ll revisit later.

Our ultimate destination was Scottsdale, and the morning route took us out to and through Prescott, and with it more stunning scenery, charming old towns and happy waving people as we drove through.  The weather couldn’t have been better if we’d special ordered it.  Moderate temperatures meant the Egg’s “two windows down” air conditioner was all we needed, as we meandered along small single track roads with only other Copperstaters for company.  It was difficult to believe we’d already covered almost 800 miles in a 49 year old car, she was literally singing like Maria as we cornered every bend; and everything about the performance continued to improve the further we drove.  We kept pushing the distance between gas stops, for no other reason than she was running more and more efficiently; maintaining a speed of anything from 65 – 80 mph was simple, because that’s where the car wanted to be.  “She’ll be bulletproof”, the Egg Doctor  told me, and he was absolutely correct!

The last stretch of the morning took us up and down and through switchbacks coming into Bagdad.  As this section had been included last year, I was delighted to see it again, and just as happy to let my mechanical cousin drive, and enjoy watching him enjoy the experience.  He smiles a great deal anyway, but by the time we reached our lunch spot, I was sharing the car with a human equivalent of the Cheshire Cat.  Good times.

There are some great cars, and some really great drivers on this event. One of which was a professional Porsche racing instructor/racer; who very generously offered to let Harry ride shotgun for the afternoon in his exquisite Jaguar XK150 OTS.  The remainder of the route was easy enough for me to navigate and drive, so I reassured him that I’d be fine.  He left, I continued chatting with friends…but there was just something that didn’t feel quite right.  Sipping coffee, I replayed the late morning….switchbacks, happy cousin, pull into car park, get out of passenger seat…happy cousin locks car and we walk into restaurant…happy cousin has my car keys.  Happy cousin has gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In less time than it takes to shout “get out of my way”; I left my seat, sprinted (much to my amazement, had absolutely no idea I could move that fast) and found the Jag literally about to disappear into the wild blue yonder.  One “oops” later from the family member, before they disappeared in a roar of engine, and normal service was resumed.

The final leg from Bagdad to Scottsdale was a great combination of open scenery that stretched for low desert miles in either direction, with occasional bursts of small towns.  At one point it was just me and the Egg, cruising happily along a route that was so quiet, I wondered if maybe I’d accidentally taken a wrong turning and stumbled into somewhere the world had forgotten about.  Time has a different meaning in this situation.  No radio, no need or desire to be glued to some electronic device, a watch that I inevitably forget to wind most mornings…all I could do was just enjoy the moment and the environment.  Through Wickenberg, every speed limit was fastidiously observed – as the local constabulary had politely alerted us that any decision not to do that would be dealt with appropriately.  The Copperstate isn’t a race, it’s a rally – but when you’re presented with perfect driving conditions, and long inviting roads, it’s easy to forget that there are limits we’re expected to maintain!

One final section before reaching the outskirts of Scottsdale included another change of scenery; driving through Peoria and the tall pines were back. A few miles that reminded me again of Europe, before coming back into the early afternoon heat and sunshine that everyone associates with AZ.  I pulled into the car park, and was quickly amused to discover that I’d beaten the XK150….which explained the stationary flash of red I’d spotted on the way out of Wickenberg!!  My tortoise to their hare, clearly benefitting from the classic F1 move of the when to fuel.  How often it all comes down to time spent (or not) in the pits 🙂

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