We Can’t Drive 55 – Even Though 75 (or Faster) is Legal Again

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Americans’ love affair with the car may be headed for divorce court, according to a survey done by the Pew Research Center. It found that the number of people who still enjoy just going for a drive has dropped from eight out of ten back in 1990 to just under seven out of ten today. Increasingly inescapable traffic – and the rudeness and/or general incompetence of other drivers – were cited as causative factors.

With more cars than licensed drivers out there – something like 200 million of them at last count – and with residents of some major urban areas like LA, Atlanta or DC spending the equivalent of almost an entire week per year stuck in traffic jams – it’s no wonder the bloom’s begun to fall off the rose a little.

People are feeling boxed in – literally.

Driving, after all, is as much about freedom of movement as it about freedom of expression – and if you can’t move, there’s not much freedom. And the expression on your face will be a grimace, not a smile of contentment. What good is a 300 horsepower sports sedan capable of 150 mph when it’s literally impossible to drive it faster than 60-ish most of the time?

It’s not mentioned in the Pew study or the news coverage of the study, but it’s an interesting (and cruel) irony that cars have never been more powerful, quicker or faster than they are today. Even middle-of-the-road family sedans like the Toyota Camry V-6 and Honda Accord can get to 60 more quickly than most of the V-8 muscle cars of the 1960s and ’70s – and have higher top speeds, too. A Prius hybrid will do 115 or so, all out – which is almost exactly as fast as my ’76 Trans-Am (with a 12 MPG 455 cubic inch V-8) was when it was new. And today’s V-8 sport coupes – models like the Mustang GT, Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro – can deliver what was once six-figure exotic-car performance for around $30k.

Yet as the power/capability of cars has tracked ever higher, they are more and more throttled by external realities. Endless traffic jams; Left Lane Clovers (idiot drivers who refuse to yield to faster moving – or trying to move faster – traffic) function as de facto speed limiters.

We might as well go back to Drive 55. 

Before Congress finally repealed it back in 1995,  the 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit was the law of the land. But the upside was you could violate it with impunity, especially  if you had a good radar detector, the guts to use it and an indifference to the authority of Roscoe P. Coltrane. Fast driving was very possible. It was just a matter of putting your foot down. Mostly, the highways were still wide open. Even in the DC area where I grew up. Once you got about 30 miles out, the traffic dissipated and the only limit was how far you were willing to push down the gas pedal.

Today, the 55 MPH max is history and most state highways have lawful maximums of 65, 70 or even 80 mph. But it’s getting harder and harder to actually drive that fast for any length of time.  The DC Beltway, for example, slows to a crippled crawl for several hours every day. Ditto the I-95/395 corridor that runs from Richmond to Alexandria, Va.

Similar stories – and worse – can be told by the unlucky denizens of Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

Drivers of ancient rust-mottled Subarus jockey for position with brand-new BMWs – neither of them able to do much more than 47 mph. The minute a hole opens up and you put the pedal down, a minivan plastered with soccer ball decals and those stupid stick figure family icons appears in your path – ending the epiphany.

It’s far from fun.

After not very long, it begins to get on your nerves too. You paid all this money for a car with more built-in capability than all-out race cars had just a few decades ago – but you might as well be driving a primered and rust-pocked Ford Festiva with 257,000 miles. The sole bennie – the one usable thing you do get for your $30,000 or $50,000 (or more) that you didn’t get in a clapped-out 70-hp Festiva – is a better radio, maybe GPS and, of course, your cell phone with Bluetooth hook-up. Electronic soporifics to keep you distracted – to keep your mind off the mobile Skinner Box in which you spend 2-3 hours or more of your life each day. Two to three hours of your life going short distances, very very slowly.

Back in the ’80s, rock crooner Sammy Hagar cut his signature track, “I Can’t Drive 55” – which contained the lament, “… what used to take two hours now takes all day… it took me 16 hours to get to LA!” 

Sammy may not have realized how prescient he was being – just from an entirely different angle. The Drive 55 crowd may ultimately win the battle for a slow-mo society by dint of sheer numbers. The Clovers grow more numerous each year. Eventually, an army of ants can take down even the mightiest elephant. 

Throw it in the Woods?

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49 COMMENTS

  1. 1. From the frequency of my getting tailgated I researched Forester speedometer and confirmed a 55 reading is really around 53.
    2. A NYS tropper told me he routinely pulls over drivers doing the speed limit on limited access roads after 10PM – they’re probably drunk.
    3. Too many people in power enjoy restricting our behavior for our own good because we don’t know what’s good for us.

  2. Eric sez: “Rather than treat everyone as presumptively incompetent, why not focus on the specific people who are demonstrably bad drivers – that is, on the people who cause accidents?”

    Part of the route from my house to town is a big 4-laner, wide median, fast, well-maintained, a pleasure to drive so long as everybody drives with some sense and follows the pattern.

    Yesterday I was behind a woman doing 55, which was okay with me; I was in no hurry, enjoying the 60-degree day, Clapton’s “Cocaine” on the radio, feelin groovy. About a mile from town she suddenly decelerates sharply. I’m like, WTH …? Wreck? Orange cones? Deer? Then all became clear: She had spied the approaching-town 35 mph sign! Sign sez 35, she’s gonna obey even if it means standing the car on its nose.

    Good thing I was paying attention or me and the Queen would have completed the trip in her back seat.

    And it would have been adjudged my fault.

  3. i think the left lane should b a much higher speed like 80. if ur a skiddish soccer mom with those stupid stickers on ur car then stay in the right or middle lane. cops should b pulling over slow people in the fast lane than the people going 10 over. and baltimore is just depressing to drive in. they put up orange cones n call it a construction zone, drop the speed limit to 50 n take ur picture if ur going 60 or over. i propose that we get a mob of drivers together n drive, like a clogged artery, 55 around the beltways to show how slow 55 really is. we should write on the back of our cars like picket signs demanding traffic reform while obeying the slow speed limit. im tired of driving 65, as fast as most people, n being the unlucky one who is pulled over. i want speeds raised.

  4. Christmas leave from the Navy in Orlando, FL in 1979 driving a ’72 Mach I with 3 passengers and all their gear piled on top of them. I hooked up with a buddy and we headed North on I-95.

    Somewhere in the deep South we had been cruising at just over 100MPH for a good long stretch when he signaled for the exit. I followed him off and suddenly realized the throttle was stuck. I gave it all the brake I could manage, slid it sideways and turned off the ignition. We managed to stop safely, whew! I popped the hood to find a huge dome of ice encasing the throttle body. After 5 minutes it melted away and everything was fine.

    I’d never heard of that happening before or since. Anyone else ever seen that?
    -Jahfre

    • Carburetor icing. It’s killed a lot of general aviation pilots. Air entering the venturi speeds up and cools at the same time; any moisture in the air can turn to ice. It can form at temperatures as high as 70 degrees when there is visible moisture or even just high enough humidity, but I’ve never heard of it happening on a car before because I always thought the carburetor would be warmed enough by the engine to prevent it. Carburetors are mounted on the bottom of aircraft engines so they don’t get this benefit, and have a gate that can be opened to allow in air warmed in a shroud over the exhaust manifold.

      Maybe the prolonged speed made a difference? I’m just throwing that out there I have no idea if it’s the reason or not. Did you notice a decrease in performance? That’s the key they teach you to look out for in pilot school.

  5. Driver education should be where it’s at. Unfortunately, if it were made as difficult as it should be to become licensed, then the ACLU or some similar organization would scream ‘unconstitutional to stupid people!’ or something.
    Heck, my last citation was from a CHP, on a two-lane highway. I was doing 70, while he was doing (by his admission) over 70 in the opposite direction. He U-turned, caught up, and cited me for exactly what he was doing!
    Why was it so dangerous for me, but somehow safe and okay for him to travel at that speed? Ridiculous.

    • Completely agree!

      We have a system based on entitlement – even though we are told driving is a “privilege” and subjected to endless overbearing nannyism, not to mention obnoxious taxes, fees, fines, etc.

      The cops (and judges) know it’s bullshit – and some will even tell you so, off the record. But they have a job to do. And their job is making sure the county/state gets as much money out of motorists as possible.

      The idea that it’s “all about safety” is maybe the dumbest – and most naive – thing since the “war” on drugs!

      • saw a brand new yellow v8 camaro doing over 100 on 695 (a 55 mph zone) with a fop(fraternal order of police) liscense plate. whats wrong with this picture.

      • I would be more okay with (but still against it) if it were MERELY a matter of speeding tickets, but in most states, a certain number of citations prompts “points” on your driver’s license and if you accumulate enough of these points you are considered too dangerous to drive on public roads and your license is revoked. Brings to mind that song, “My Maserati does 185. I lost my license now I don’t drive.”

        That being said, if you just suck it up and seethe when you get pulled over and act polite enough to make the officer feel important, you will almost always be able to get off with a warning of some kind. I’ve never had a ticket, but I’ve gotten 10 verbal warnings and 1 written warning simply because I keep my hands on the wheel and I answer “yes sir, no sir” and pretend to understand the gravity of my actions LOL.

        • Agreed, Mark.

          If they just took our money – as in Mexico, for instance – it would be honest theft. So to speak!

          But the absurd conflation of “speeding” with “unsafe driving” is insufferable. By that standard, every cop (armed government worker) I have ever encountered is an “unsafe” driver… and yet, they are allowed to drive “unsafely” with impunity!

    • agreed. in fact i was pulled over in md bu a cop going the opposite direction as me while shooting his radar multiplying my speed. i know for a fact i was going between 45 n 50 on a 40 and he insisted that i was doing 66. there is a turn prior to the spot he got me with his radar that is a sharp turn that no vw rabbit can take pushing 70 without going off the road. is md that desperate for my money?

    • i got pulled over by a cop last week who was shooting radar while traveling in the opposite lane as me. i know for a fact that i was doing between 45 n 50 in a 40. the cop insisted that i was doing 66. in fact there is a sharp turn prior to the spot he clocked me that no vw rabbit, especially mine with an expired suspension system, can do pushing 70 without going off my road. is md really that desperate for my money?

      • MD was notoriously bad as far as traffic enforcement (revenue collection) when I lived in the area.

        Get you a good radar detector – don’t leave home without it!

  6. One problem is that on a three-lane highway, if you stay in the right lane doing 60 mph, you’ll always come up behind a slowpoke doing 40 and have to pass — over and over again.

    So you try the center lane at 70 mph. There you’ll find a bunch of a-holes tailgating you about a foot from your bumper, who eventually whip-around pass on your left. So you end up a little wired, going left-lane, right-lane, etc., etc., etc. So much for a nice cruise to wherever you’re heading.

    So you decide to man up and do 80 in the left lane, faster than you want to go, but you only live once, right? But here you get lunatics doing 90 mph on your tail, so you get chased back into the center lane. Now you’re really wired and it’s left-lane, center-lane, etc., etc., etc.

    You just can’t win.

    • Naw you can’t win. I find the best thing to do in that case is sit in the center lane and chill. If you get a tailgater just adjust the rear view mirrors a bit to reduce the annoyance as much as possible. Personally, I like to cruise between 65-70mph. The gas mileage is good and the car feels comfortable there.

    • Tailgating is as much a problem (maybe more so) than Clovers who won’t move over. And like refusing to yield, tailgating is enforced sporadically, if at all. Even though both are objectively dangerous – every time – unlike “speeding,” which is merely driving faster than a number on a sign and may be perfectly reasonable/safe.

      The underlying problem – across the board – is that we don’t do much to educate and train drivers before licensing them.

      I think if we had a more intensive education/training – and testing – procedure in place for first-time drivers (and remedial courses for the licensed ones who demonstrate either incompetence or recklessness – not by “speeding” but by inept/careless driving) then most of these problems would go away…

      Thoughts?

      • If I had millions to spend, the number one thing I’d do is start a nationwide advertising campaign to enforce lane discipline: stay right, pass left.

        That one simple piece of education would alleviate so much highway congestion, avoid so much road rage, eliminate tailgating (mostly)…

        No matter how slow or fast you’re going, it’s idiotic and arrogant to prevent faster traffic from passing. If I’m on a good run going 90, and someone behind me approaches, I move over briefly even if I have to brake to merge right.

        Who am I to impede their progress? And besides, they might clear the road of pigs for me…though I’m usually nice enough to flash my lights to warn them if my Valentine signals pork ahead.

      • Commercial airline pilots with tens of thousands of hours flight time still have to do a check flight with an instructor every two years. I agree wholeheartedly that the bar should be set much higher for drivers than it is now.

        The problem is driving has been sucked up in the great American tornado of egalitarianism. It’s now a right, not a privilege. It’s inevitable that such nefarious bogeymen as racism and sexism will rear their ugly heads if it’s found that certain races or genders don’t drive as well as others and lose their privileges disproportionately.

        • I support better driving – but not more government testing. I prefer a liberty-minded alternative that rewards competence and punishes incompetence. Rather than treat everyone as presumptively incompetent, why not focus on the specific people who are demonstrably bad drivers – that is, on the people who cause accidents? Leave “speeders” alone – but come down hard on people who wreck because they drove too fast for conditions or their abilities. Stop having cops sit hidden near endless red lights at empty intersections in the middle of the night, waiting for some poor schlub to get exasperated and make his right on red. Go after the sail fawn-addled shithead who blows through a red at a crowded intersection and T-bones someone else. Etc.

          Put the responsibility for driving back on the driver. The individual driver. Stop spewing dumbed down laws for all drivers based on the last common denominator drivers.

          Etc.

      • After reading about progressives and training my view is becoming more refined. There’s learning and then there is training. Those who are trained are generally clovers. Those who learn are the rest of us. If people could be brought to a condition of learning and thinking the problems would solve themselves.

        More training doesn’t work anywhere else because even if the subjects are covered it’s just training, and driving well requires thought and evaluation. I signaled a trained driver to complete his pass and move right the other night. He nearly took the fender off the BMW next to him.

        As to KRETP, I would just remove the speed limits from most limited access highways or set them at no less than the 85th percentile and thus kill the primary reasoning of the left lane blocker, that he’s going the speed limit or speed limit + n.

        • This – learning vs. training – is the nut of it. Or at least, 80 percent of the nut. Notice the sloppiness of Clover’s “thinking.” Really, his spouting. It’s characterized by generalizations, emoting and straw man arguments. Appeals to reason, to concepts and principles, don’t reach him because he’s never learned to think in terms of concepts and principles.

          The remaining 10 percent, in my opinion, is native intelligence. A bright person can be reached by appealing to reason, even if he’s been trained. A light will come on. But a trained person of lower intelligence who has been trained is lost to us.

      • I completely agree on the education aspect. I also think that both driving sideways, and knowing how to correct a drift in rain/snow should be a universal part of driver education– at least insofar as that state is capable of such weather conditions. It is so important to know how to regain control of your vehicle once you’ve lost it. This would prevent drivers from being overly squeemish in poor conditions to the point that their overly cautious driving puts other drivers in danger. If your driving mannerisms are hard for other drivers to predict/recognize, then you become a danger to other drivers.

        • Hi Mark,

          Yes, amen! The trouble is that the system has decided it is preferable to not train drivers or expect much from them. Quite the opposite. To presume they are inept if not imbeciles – and so control them more effectively.

  7. I am so happy I found this website of libertarian auto review/car culture madness. Woo-hoo! You see I am a person of a certain age who has also owned a vintage GTO (like the previous respondent), an early Z28, a Porsche 944 and several Japanese sport bikes.

    At one time I even made my living by driving an 18-wheeler in one of the best truck driving gigs that ever was. I transported motorcycles for delivery in 49 U.S. states. I hauled everything from museum show pieces by Vincent, Norton and BSA; to collectibles by Indian, Harley, Moto Guzzi, BMW, Bimota and Ducati; to Suzukis and Hondas that people were trading on eBay. I was racking up 125,000 miles a year and participating in an American sub-culture of some of the most independent people you’ll find anywhere (over-the-road truck drivers and motorcycle diehards). I feel like I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari, Tahachapi to Tonapa (and) I’ve driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made (hey isn’t that a line from a song by Little Feat!).

    I vividly remember the freedom of the open road back in the day when many of us held multiple driver’s licenses and states didn’t keep good records or trade much information on drivers or records of tickets issued. Of course you could open a bank account in those days without a social security number and near strangers would cash your checks without an ID just because they’d seen you around before.

    Much has changed, but I am happy to report that here in southeastern Wisconsin we’ve got plenty of rural roads that are well paved and lightly patrolled.

  8. I once chased a cowboy driving a big Cadillac, air conditioner on, reading the newspaper, and smoking a big cigar from El Paso to Dallas. I was driving my new 1969 GTO (400 HP, hood teach, close ratio 4 speed, performance rear end, and heavy duty rear axels, no air and no frills). I had just left El Paso and was taking it easy at about 80 mph, in case they had speed traps, when this guy flew around me like a flash. I thought if he can do it so can I. I eased down on the gas to catch up to him and was doing 110 before I finally caught him. I stayed back about ¼ mile just keeping pace.
    We stopped about every 200 miles to fill up, he at the full service pump me at the self-service. He looked at me a bit curious but neither of us ever said anything. As I filled up I could hear my headers popping and pinging from the heat but the goat was having fun that day. As soon as we filled up it back on the road and peddle to the metal with me about ¼ mile back. As we got to Dallas he turned off one of the exits and that ended one of my best driving experiences ever. Many stretches we drove at 100 or better. I can still hear my GTO rumbling, what a thrill.

    • Sweet story! I remember one night I decided to do a midnight run from northern Virginia to Virgina Beach (150 miles) to see my girlfriend. I was doing about 125 mph down 64 East with my headlights off (lots of moon light that night). I was the only car on the road and figured by the time a cop with a gun clocked me I would be gone. Anyhow, I noticed some headlights about a mile or so back, so I turned my lights back on and backed off the throttle a tad. Looked in my rear view again and realized the guy had gained on me obnoxiously fast. I glanced a third time and he was right on me. Then like a jet fighter he flew past me! The engine sounded sick! All I saw was a mean streak of red, two fat ass tires, and a Ferrari emblem. At that moment I stood on the gas pedal, but he was loooong gone! I was doing about 125 mph and he came past me like I was parked and he was doing 125 mph. It was completely awesome. He must have been doing in the neighborhood of 200 mph! Completely surreal.

      • No unfortunately. At the time (I was stationed at Holloman AFB) I did win a couple trophies at the Roswell NHRA drag strip in the ET class with it but by 1973 I was married and could see gas prices rising so I traded it in on a Dotsun station wagon. God help me but that’s the truth. Before I bought the 1969 GTO I had owned a 1966 GTO, red convertible white top and white interior. 389 4 speed I actually liked this GTO better than the 69 but the 69 did have more HP.

        • Sorry to hear that – bit still, I envy you having been around (and in a GTO) during the muscle car era. I was too young to catch that wave but I have managed to hold onto my ’76 Trans Am, which sleeps under cover in our garage, waiting for summer… !

    • My wife and I did a banzai run from Pensacola FL to Houston TX a couple years back. The M5 was fresh off a service and really pulling well; these cars respond to a good thrashing, it cleans them out and the adaptive engine computers decide it’s time to really unleash the beast.

      Very light traffic, sunny and cool. A Maserati Quatroporte pulled up beside me at about 80, so I dropped down to fourth and nailed the gas. He did the same and for the few yards he managed to keep up, we were treated to that exotic wailing that only Italian V-8’s can make…GLORIOUS! Sadly, he wasn’t a match for the M5 and I had to leave him behind.

      A while later a Mercedes S63 AMG and I emerged from a hairball of traffic–one of those rolling clover road-blocks consisting of some mindless and heedless idiots thoughtlessly driving three abreast at 5 over the limit.

      We both poured on everything we had; I dropped to third at 60 to get the jump, but that 6.2 liter AMG motor is just ferocious and it sounds like a NASCAR racer coming off the line. But I held on…80 into fourth gear…90…110…125 and into fifth…I’ve pulled ahead a couple car lengths but we’re both just buried in throttle…

      …150 and I’m a good five lengths ahead…and finally at 170, with about ten cars between us, we both back off as the highway narrows to two lanes again. The sound of the BMW V8 howling at 6600 rpm–just at its peak horsepower–is orgasmic.

      And you’ve never seen a guy in an AMG with a smile that big. Didn’t matter that he’d lost; he’d been able for once to really exercise that beautiful car the way it was MEANT to be used.

      Took six hours, fifteen minutes to traverse the entire 507 mile trip door-to-door, including two gas stops…the M5 has a bit of a drinking problem when it’s being used well!

      • I was once humbled quite thoroughly by an M5 while driving my ’99 Mustang Cobra. I thought that car was FAST! Well it was, relatively speaking…

        I drove it once up to Ross Lake on the North Cascades Highway, about 40 miles south of the Canadian border. This was on a weekday and traffic that far out in the boonies was pretty sparse so I decided to have some fun on the way back down the twisties. Traction control off, of course. It was always the first thing I did after turning the key. I was impressed with the IRS setup as I’d driven my cousin’s ’94 GT rather often and loved the bottom end of that 5.0 as much as I feared that solid rear axle that was only too ready to get the rear end out in front of you.

        I eventuall caught up with a GT of the same vintage as my Cobra and it felt like he was towing me all the way down the mountain; there was nothing he could do to get away through those sharp turns. He finally moved over and let me pass in Rockport where the highway drops down into the Skagit River valley and links with SR 530, which after crossing the river is pancake-flat and stick-straight for almost 2 miles.

        You know what happened next. That 4.6 wasn’t very impressive off the line but unwound like a Slinky from Hell if you kept the revs up. Hit 135 on that road in no time with plenty of pedal left when I realized it wouldn’t take a very large rock to send me careening into the mature second-growth forest that was less than 20 feet from the edge of the pavement and probably hiding all number of furry creatures vying to be roadkill. I was a little younger and a lot stupider then.

        Now back to the M5. Just a few weeks later I was driving in the HOV lane on SR 167 with my wife in one of those situations we all know and love, three cars driving abreast at 59 mph. Shockingly the car blocking me in sped up and moved to the right, revealing a straight strip of asphalt that I couldn’t even see the end of. Blip the throttle, drop the gear, gone.

        Only I wasn’t gone. I was now the one towing a white M5 that stuck like glue close enough for me to see the bored and unimpressed expressions of the faces of the two occupants in my rear-view. I moved to the right at 100 and they were gone. By the time I rounded the next bend in the road about 20 seconds later I couldn’t even see it anymore.

        There is definitely a pecking order.

        • “There is definitely a pecking order.”

          Great story! And, so true.

          Last year, I was on my bike, coming up “the mountain” (this is a fantastic 3 mile stretch of sweeping S turns) and really working it. Not much can keep up with a sport bike here, except maybe another sport bike with a faster rider. I started the ascent alone, but about two-thirds of the way up, I caught a flash of headlight in my rearview. It was another guy on something fast – and that guy was fast, too. I mean, through the corners fast. Any idiot can point a bike down the (straight) road and twist the throttle until the bike’s doing 150. But it takes skill to lean the bike over at 70 in a corner posted 35, right on the knife-edge of balance and available traction. I’m pretty good. This dude was better. Next corner – seconds later – he caught me. I waved him past – and he was gone. I’ve ridden with a few WERA semi-pro/pro racers and this guy was at that level.

          Much respect!

          • That takes more nerve than I have, Eric. Motorcycles have always scared the hell out of me.

            People always ask me how I can fly a plane but am afraid to get on a motorcycle. That’s easy…an airplane has more wheels.

          • Back in the day, I’d just put a new set of Fox rear shocks, installed progressive rate springs and an equalized the front forks on my ’75 RD350. I spent quite a bit time getting my suspension tuned to where I could at least try to emulate Kenny Roberts in the twisties. I was leaving the base one evening when another rider on an Orange RD like mine all but crawled up my ass. His bike was apparently “just like mine” minus the beefed up suspension & soft comp tires.

            He was hanging right with me until we got to this sweeping 90 deg. turn posted 30MPH. I knew I could take it at 60 and come out of it at 70 without scuffing my knee. As we came into the curve, I could hear him downshifting over my own engine noise! I laid it over and nailed it. When I came out of the turn and looked back (I’d stripped off mirrors along with turn signals and even speedo to cut weight) he was no where to be seen. I figured he’d turned at Red Horse squadron right before we hit the curve. I didn’t think anything more about it.

            The next day I was cruising across base when I saw this Orange RD sitting in the main hangar parking lot; handlebars all twisted up, clutch lever broken, tank and sideplate scuffed up. I went in the hangar, asked around and found the dude, his left arm in a sling. I asked if that was him following me off base the night before on that RD. His response: “F*@& you man, F*@& you!”. I didn’t hang around…..

            On the way home I saw the gouge clear across the right lane in that curve from (presumably) his footpeg mount or maybe the kickstand and the gravel torn up on ht shoulder. Ouch! Lessons learned: Don’t assume that just because you see someone else doing something that you can get away with it too. Furthermore, just because another bike “looks just like mine” doesn’t mean it’s capabilities are even close. And don’t ever scrimp on tires or suspension on a crotch rocket if you actually intend to ride it like you stole it. 😉

            • “His response: “F*@& you man, F*@& you!”. I didn’t hang around….. ”

              Incredible! As if you made him go into that turn carrying more speed than he (or his bike) could handle!

          • It’s pricey for sure, that’s why I always talk about it in the past tense. Most people can’t have a wife, house, AND expensive hobbies.

            I’m an airplane nut like you guys are car-crazy. When I was training I flew a lot around NAS Whidbey Island; my FBO learned the hard way not to let rookies fly over the mountains and to the south there are artillery ranges and other restricted areas around Joint Base Lewis-McChord as well as Sea-Tac Class B airspace which is off-limits to VFR so I stayed to the north quite a bit.

            So I was puttering along in a Cessna 172 which cruises about 100-120. It was kind of a lazy flight because it was a weekday and I decided to try radar service that time so my guard was down a little bit. Suddenly I got a call over the radio: “be advised, traffic is a Prowler two o’clock, four miles, opposide your direction of travel.”

            Four miles closes to zero fairly quickly at 350-400 kts closing speed. Took a little bit to find that speck that was rapidly growing in the windscreen and before I had the chance to key the mic and say “traffic in sight” I was looking at the planform view of an EA-6B well inside 100 yards, close enough to see 4 little specks under the canopies looking up at me. It was one of those ear-to-ear-grin moments.

            But nothing lasts long up there; I then got my first real experience with wake turbulence. WHAM, charts and pencils and flight computers flying all over the place, but that was only because it was all on my lap and it startled me so much I tossed the whole bundle across the cockpit.

            The hardest part of being a recovering Republican statist has been to come to grips with the reality of military aviation. Its tough when the government represents the cutting edge of something that seizes your interest. I still can’t pass up seeing the Blue Angels every year they come to Seattle.

            • Fun!

              I also still wrestle with an affection for military aviation…

              A story: We live nearby what must be a training area because low-level fly-bys are pretty routine. Every few months, an Osprey will clear our house, near the ridgeline, at no more than 300 feet. Whum whump whump … you can feel them right before you see them… we also get the occasional F/A 18/Super Hornet (I think that’s them), though not quite so low!

          • Yeah you’re within probably 300 miles of the cradle of Navy and Marine tactical aviation on the East Coast. Disconcerting if you’re afraid they’ll decide to fix your website with a JDAM:)

            Obama was in town last summer or the one before, don’t recall specifically, and some Canadians at Lake Chelan who had little experience with the police state decided to take a detour in their floatplane to see the Seattle sights before going home.

            But they got too close to the Emperor and Oregon ANG F-15s were vectored to intercept. It took them nine minutes to fly from just north of Portland to Seattle. That’s about 100 miles. The sonic boom was heard all over the state and the 911 switchboard in Pierce County near where they went supersonic crashed from all the calls.

            How’d you like to be flying a 180 on floats and get buzzed by a pair of F-15s flying at transonic speeds or faster?

            I’ll quit now I could go on about this shit all day and I don’t want to jam up your site with my tall tales:)

    • When I was younger and a little more reckless, I once had a cop pass me on i465 in the middle of the night. I was doing 70, he was going way faster (without police lights on). So, I thought same as you, if he can so can I. Over the course of a few miles, I gradually caught up with him, eventually staying only about 25 yards back and one lane over. We were going about 115 together for about 5 miles before he got off. This was a 55 limit zone too! There are some good ones out there.

  9. To the drivers with no respect for a properly-tuned Mustang V8 blazing up behind you: Get out of the way, and make for a happy day. This country was built upon the freedom to be where you want to be, and to get there as fast as possible. We do not need your aging Chevette blocking the speed lane from us. Follow the advice of my local traffic reporter and get the hell out of my way! Pull over to the curb so you can watch me blaze by, in fact.

    • I am picturing the scene in the Transporter 2 where Jason Stratham blows by the cops and the high speed runner in the Lamborghini as if the police and runner are standing still.

      James Best was always fun as Roscoe.

      @Kevin
      Things would nice if people kept right except when passing. Unfortunately, during rush hour in some places all the lanes are full with cars.

      Sometimes when I would visit my parents, if I did not get on the road by 4pm, I would not leave till 7pm to let most of the traffic leave the road.

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