Canyon Racing at its Extreme
The adrenaline is picking up as I enter my playground of Canyon Racing. I am driving at Larch Mountain Highway in green old western Oregon. A twisty highway surrounded by a gigantic pine tree rainforest. The trees are so high; the sun does not make it to the road half the time. The fun begins after I pass the last few country houses. After that I rarely see a car. Like a deserted road. The speed picks up as my red 80’s Porsche accelerates. I feel my heart starting to beat harder as I try to remain calm pushing the gas pedal. I reposition myself in the seat relaxing. As I hear the old Porsche engine revving through the RPM, I can’t help it but be nervous, because I don’t know what to expect next. The first few turns I take it easy while keeping the transmission in third gear with my sweaty palm on the warm vibrating shift knob. I remember some of the turns that lie ahead.
I enter a smooth right, my foot lightly shaking as I hold the gas pedal halfway. With all the trees, I could not see the other side of the turn. There are so many of them, it’s like a tall and dark castle wall. I finish the turn into a short straight away. And there it is, the dangerously fun S-curve. I could see it a few car lengths away. It’s a quick right, then left, then back to the right again. The best thing about it, there is no wall of trees blocking my view of all three corners. Because of that, I realize I can drive faster through this one. A quick decision to slam the gas, gives me the tingles already. I grab the shifter, down gear into second. The adrenaline kicks up a thousand notches with tingles running through my body like ants. I punch the gas pedal with my right foot to the floor, and I feel like I sweated a bucket already. The exhaust screams as I am pushed back into the seats black slippery leather.
The German machine is trying to out accelerate my body, like being inside an airplane when it is taking off the runway. The stiff suspension vibrates the steering wheel even over the smallest bumps, holding it feels like shooting an AK-47 machine gun. For a short moment, the sun glares on the windshield peaking through some trees like a bright flashlight directly in your eyes at night. I try to peak through the glare, focusing my vision on the start of turn one.
The Porsche racing in to the turn at 50 MPH. I’m still thinking I can go faster toward the second turn. The adrenaline is so high, I’m not so sure about the speed anymore. But I still keep the gas pedal super glued to the floor, and I’m not letting go. A quick twist of the wheels to the left for turn number two, the Porsche stiff like a bench, barely leans on one side. As I reach the apex of turn two, I feel a light drift on the back wheels, a quick moment where I feel like I am floating on air. The RPM of the engine is almost maxed out at 6500 screaming, two more seconds and turn number three begins, I realize I am going way too fast for this one.
And this is where I make my mistake.
Completely let go of the gas pedal, the back drive wheels almost lock as if I pulled the e-brakes. Something every professional driver knows not to do. The whole world revolves around me as my Porsche is sent in to a 180 spin. I feel like I am in a roller coaster losing my sense of direction, not knowing where I am flying. It happens so fast, all I can see outside the car is a big blur similar to a bad photo shot of a moving photo-camera.
The feeling of helplessness is terrifying, but it’s too late, there is nothing I can do but just wait. Wait for only a couple seconds that feel like eternity. The spin is over, but the car slides backwards and comes to a stop. I don’t move for three seconds, frozen like ice, my heart pounding like a boom-box in a low-rider truck.
Now all I can see is white tire smoke ahead of me filling the forest like a thick fog. Some smoke came through the gaps in the doors smelling like burned rubber. I am excited with relief that I am not hurt, and the car is still on the road, not in a tree. And what a relief it is, almost like seeing death, and then being alive again. Feeling secure after the action, I realize I want to live so I casually drive home relaxing with joy. Being in a few car wrecks, and getting in trouble with the law, I learned this kind of excitement is very expensive and not worth the life threatening risk.