What is it about a road trip that revs your engine? Is it the music? (Colleague Jeff Wilson thinks so…) Is it the camaraderie? The romance? Is it the car? Is it the road? What about the sights along the way?
Or is it all of these things?
In the case of a recent burn through south-central British Columbia it was all of them, and more.
“More” in this case, however, can pretty much be summed up by this: the realization of a dream. I’m sure I’m not the only car person – or travel person, for that matter – that has wanted to tackle the bendiest of bendy roads, preferably in a knife-edged car. For me, though, it was the surprise that I didn’t have to travel all the way to Italy, France, or – for Top Gear fans, Romania – to find the requisite serpentine road.
In fact, I hardly had to travel much further than my own back yard.
Highway 99 starts out of Vancouver as a pretty good road in the first place, albeit one that was neutered a little in the name of safety and ease-of-passage for several thousand people during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It’s the main artery between Vancouver – where the hockey and speed skating events took place – and Whistler Village, the host of the lion’s share of the Games’ alpine competitions.
It’s after Whistler, however, that the 99 rips off its traffic warden uniform, and throws on its worn leather jacket and Blundstone boots. For the next 216 kilometres between Whistler and Cache Creek, the good ol’ 99 becomes one of the most addictive ribbons of tarmac I’ve ever experienced this side of a racetrack or the Highway 129 bootlegger route through North Carolina and Tennessee.
That wouldn’t be the end of our journey, however; over the next three days, we’d be making our way to Vernon in the North Okanagan, then back again by way of the spectacular Coquihalla Pass along Highway 5 to Vancouver, a distance of 1,061 kilometres.
Of course, a trip like this requires some serious driving machinery; a 400 horsepower, 325 lb-ft Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, then, would likely do the trick. I’d been assigned to participate in the fantastic Porsche Performance Tour, and it doesn’t get much sweeter for a car guy – especially one who knew that the “K” in “Porsche 917K” stood for “Kurzheck” before he knew that the Martini logo on the flanks was that of a vermouth brand.
Right. The Porsche Performance Tour. Picture, if you will, 16 people split into pairs; some of them Porsche owners, some of them Porsche dealers, some of them having never driven an example of Stuttgart’s finest before. Each pair is then given the keys to a brace of hi-po Porkers, and told to “have at it.” As long, of course, that they stayed with the instructors (in my case, one of whom was retired Porsche factory race driver, Kees Nierop – stories aplenty) who would be leading two separate groups.
If that sounds like a pretty good deal, it is.