Chapter 2
Phun with Photoshop Corporate letters Bear Notch Road Emails from Heck

 

Chapter the Second: In which our feckless hero desperately tries to remain unfecked

 

In chapter one, as both of my astute readers know (those same kind folk who haven't yet figured out what pgdn means; bless your sweet ignorance.), I was following an extremely well driven 2002tii in my E30 m3 up Bear Notch Road in Bartlett NH. But a bit more background is in order...

 

Bear Notch road climbs sharply up through Bear Notch (duh) before descending just as sharply down to meet the Kancamangus Highway. It is primarily used as a forest worker, hiker and lost tourist road during the summer. During the winter it is closed, largely due to the gradient and the fact that nobody in their right mind wants to plow it. Thus there are no access roads, driveways or anything interrupting the majority of it. It also means that it suffers from a distinct lack of maintenance, which yields tarmac that is uneven, broken, swollen and unpredictable. Since the traffic usage is so light there are very few guard rails; rather those time tested safety devices known as drainage ditches, conifers and the occasionaly hardwood. Fortunately, the time of year I had chosen for this sojourn was well after the leaves had departed the trees so visibility was excellent. However, the clearest vision will not save you from a drainage pipe that has risen three inches from the surrounding road around a blind corner at speed. At least not when you have a semi trailing arm rear end on a lowered and firmly suspended car. With that in mind let us return to our drive just after the author (that would be me) has taken the lead.

 

So I'm figuring at this point that I have the power, brakes and handling to run away from my friend. What I do not have is either the knowledge of the road or his consummate driving skill. It was fairly easy to stay with him while following his precise cornering lines and braking points. With me leading he would probably keep up just as easily except for when his vision was clouded from laughing at my inept attempts at choosing the proper line. I was hoping to be able to challenge him but I did not think that I'd be able walk, let alone run away. What I did not count on was the sheer boneheaded foolishness of a man in a fast BMW being overcome by the dread red mist.

 

The section after the short passing straight was a couple of easily visible cutbacks and sweepers. The road was rather steep at this point so keeping the motor well up in the rev range was vitally important, especially for an S14.  I was able to put the power down well and choose good lines through this area and I was pulling steadily away from my friend, although not for lack of trying on his part. By god he was putting up a good fight but I just don't think he had the horses to keep up, lighter car or no. I was watching him in the mirrors and he was definitely having a time of it. A few corners he would come around just all adrift and he'd catch that little bugger and send it scuttling towards the next just as sweetly as could be. Meanwhile I'm just sitting there with my car starting to push at the limits of adhesion but never really going over it like he was.  I'm not sure what was more fun, hustling through the corners or glimpsing him in my mirrors on the short straights as he came out of the corners all crossed up.

 

Then we came to the S curves. A wonderful series of five or six corners on a downhill lie with open visibility all the way through. Then it becomes a tight blind sweeper that then switches back into a tight open sweeper. The first esses were just a matter of flicking the wheel back and forth while keeping the throttle opened to settle the weight rearward. No brakes were really necessary, although I am sure the many of you of the extra jumbo cojones out there might think otherwise. The '02 kept with me merrily through that section but before I got into the sweeper he curiously kind of backed off a bit. Make that kind of a lot. Enough to capture my attention, which was mistake number one. Mistake number two was my backing off the gas. Mistake number three wasn't really a mistake at all.  Remember that drainage pipe mentioned in the second paragraph? You got it. Right in the middle of the corner. A nice big honking mogul all the way across the road. Lord knows I tried to unwind the car and hit it straight but there was only so much room to do anything. By letting off the gas I had that rear end nice and light, too. Just in time for that lump to take what adhesion I had left and throw it sharply to one side. It felt just like a giant had come along and kicked the rear end of my car straight towards the outside of the corner. The inside of the corner, which I got a very long and studious view of, was merely a ditch leading into a sharp embankment. Not being especially entranced with the idea of plowing my M3 into said ditch and subsequent banking, I did what any good Bimwad worth his salt would do.  I screamed just like a little girl.

 

Next: Chapter the third - In which our zero tries to get a little something straight.