Saturday, December 12, 2009

So Fine, Yet So Treacherous

Winter 69-70, Eastbound I94, somewhere East of Belleville. In those days it was two lanes each way until you get closer to Detroit. (Is it still? ["Yes" says Ed])

It started snowing before I left home. The interstate's road surface was clear due to the traffic.

I came up behind an 18 wheeler in the passing lane and forced to follow a bit slower than I liked. And then came the transition from 2 to 3 lanes.

There was snow on the new passing lane, but it looked to be less than an inch thick. So I started passing the truck.

Halfway past the truck my car starts to skid a bit (drifting really), in the rear and towards the right. Towards the truck. Oh-oh!

So I naturally try to steer in the direction of the skid. Unfortunately this is taking me closer to the truck. And I can feel the wobbliness in the rear -- this car had a very big engine with a high torque rear wheel drive (with posi-traction, THANK GOD!),  but virtually no weight in the rear. So it kept wanting to wiggle to the left as I jostled ever so gently my steering to the right and back again.

And I had no choice but to continue and try to pass. Pumping the brakes at that point almost certainly would not have been a good thing as locking up in the front wheels when trying to stabilize a skid seems a bit counter-productive.

I think I shall always retain a great deal of gratitude for that truck driver, because I'm certain he slowed his speed. Good thing too. He gave me the break I desperately needed.

For no sooner did I clear his front end than my steering to the right caused the car to straighten and then, under the slick conditions, to over-correct and really start skidding rear-left.

So I corrected again, and it started skidding right, but more violently.

One more correction, and she broke loose in the rear, and started ham-boning across 3 lanes of traffic. (All traffic behind me had apparently STOPPED -- Thanks to God AGAIN!)

I came to rest on the right shoulder guard rail with only a slight dent in the rear trunk lid as the consequence for my stupidity. (God must truly look out for small children and for at least one imbecile.)

I kept that dent in the trunk up to the day the car was retired.

I've not thought of that incident in years until this morning when I read of Ed's Thrill Ride, which seems to have occurred not far from the site of my incident.

Angel hair fine, newly fallen snow -- wet snow -- even though barely thick enough to cover the road surface, can build up in wheel-wells FAST. Be more cautious than I was in my youth.

No comments:

Post a Comment

View My Stats