The Dance

Wooshy, Going Postal
Peugeot GTI, the definitive 1990’s Hot Hatch

Some of you may not get this at all, some may find driving a laborious task. But as many of you know I love it. The sense of freedom (I imagine bikers might feel the same) at speed. When you and machine communicate perfectly, the car tells you where it is below you. You can feel it in the pit of your tummy, in the tips of your fingers the feeling through the steering, listening to the sounds of the tyres screeching, the feedback in your toes from the pedals. I love it.

When I was younger I was fairly wreckless, I had an Ford Fiesta XR2i 16v at 19. I would spend many evenings hooning around. I remember once going over a mountain road between Byrnamman and Llangadog hounding a BMW, I had no right to be near him but somehow the car told me how to drive. I have once overtaken a friend around a blind corner in the middle of the night, near Half Penny Green airport. I turned my lights off and saw through the hedgerow, I shat my friend up. I remember the disappointment in their face. I had risked my life to prove I’m top dog.

I have been late for work or not turned upto job interviews simply because I couldn’t let go of racing someone. I had to win. As I got older I realised I wasn’t just risking my life by driving on the edge. Others too, I quickly learned not to drive fast with passengers in the car, not after the grilling my Mother gave me picking her up from the train station. Or the time I was showing off to a girl and ending up face first in a bush. And not the type of bush I was hoping for either! But also other road users who like me obviously had nothing too loose. Years later in a different Fiesta someone tried to race me over Clee Hill. I didn’t realise it at the time, but they crashed trying to keep up.

Wooshy, Going Postal
Effects of understeer. (note BMW they tend to be oversteer happy)

I found myself in lots of trouble with the plod , and even a run in with our armed forces. Going over the Brecon Beacons in a Ford Fiesta. I had changed the engine, put an exhuast manifold and cams into it. I had heard of some great roads, military roads and such near Sennybridge. I went when they had live ammunition training, (flags where up at check points) it never bothered me I had driven from the edge of Birmingham, I was going to drive fast over those roads and HM forces wasn’t going to stop me. I have never so felt alive as being chased by a bunch of (what I presume were) Marines in a Land Rover Defender. My exhaust firing flames on the over-run and sounds of bowls of Rice Krisppies as my exhaust went Snap, Crackling & Pop due to unburnt fuel in the hot manifold. I like to think it was my metaphoric rifle keeping them at bay, fortunately I out ran them somewhere near Llanwrtyd Wells.

I was trying to impress a girl once when, I found she had a boyfriend and he got a little jealous and said he could beat me in a race. We tested his theory early one morning over the mountain roads from Rhayader to Aberystwyth via the beautiful Elan Valley. I had finished my Golden Arches breakfast as he was pulling into the car park in Aberystwyth. The look of defeat on his face said everything I needed to know. I felt notoriety and elation, I never did see the girl again.

Wooshy, Going Postal
Snow at the beautiful Elan Valley Reservoirs, Top driving roads over the “Welsh Desert”.

I guess having over 20 operations and having to learn to walk again all before I was 18 gave me a nonchalant attitude to my own life. After a 15 hour operation and a few sleepless nights I couldn’t get comfortable with an epidural in, so I pulled it out. I’ve never really cared I guess. Unless it’s about the dance, I care about that.

The sounds of a petrol engine spinning to 8,000rpm or more. The smell of burning petrol and fresh laid rubber on tarmac. Dancing with the car through corners, pirouetting the car around your hips, listening to the pitch of the tyres when they are squeeling so you know how far you are on the edge of grip. The brake pedal pushing back as your clearly asking alot. Anyone who has had a French hot hatch will know what I mean here:- There is a great moment when you go into a corner too quickly and you have to turn in as there is little black stuff left. You lift off the throttle pedal and the back end comes around, apply opposite lock as needed and back on the power. Tyres squeeling louder and louder. You begin to feel the car “bounce” around the corner. It’s a great feeling when you’re on the edge of control. Call me a little crazy but I love to drive in the snow, it sorts the men from the boys. Even when its slush and the car slides, using that momentum (fuck you Maodonnell!) to go from one corner to the next. Turn in, lift off, opposite lock, handbrake, unwind the lock, lightly press the accelerator, left foot brake to help with traction. The snow teaches you so much about car control, really its just inertia, simple physics!

Wooshy, Going Postal
Lift off oversteer. (Note having fun on track here)

Now I am in my early 30’s due to my career I require my lisence to earn my bread I try to slow down. But no matter how slow I go, I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated with people who can’t drive and struggle with cognitive thinking on the road. Drivings one thing that exercises the mind and the body all at the same time. Reading traffic with your eyes as your feet and hands work the machine. It’s why I despise autonomy and driverless cars. It’s the beginning of the end for free thinking humans. Government are pushing it for safety and the manufacturers are complicit in this. But its bogus, a scam, a fraudulent deception. Even if you tot up all the deaths on the road (1,713 in 2013, the latest figure I could find but if anyone has a newer figure please let me know). It’s a drop in the ocean compared to how many road users safely complete their journeys (In 2014 there were 311 billion miles driven in the UK by road users Cars, Bikes, Buses, HGVs the lot adding upto around 35 million vehicles. Again if anyone has more upto date data please let me know*). It’s a painful thing to say but I believe these crashes are “nature at work” or natural selection if you will. I believe that crashes will continue to go on regardless of autonomy. I dont understand the reason of wanting to give up control. Long live congetive thinking, freedom and what I call “The Dance”.

*This doesnt included how many foriegn vehicles used our road network.

© Wooshy 2017