What makes the perfect driving road?
Some years ago I attempted to start a blog that documented the various roads outside the city in which I lived. It was inspired mostly by an episode of Top Gear where the hosts chose their vehicles and ventured off into the world in search of that perfect road - in this specific episode I'm citing, ultimately deciding on the Stelvio Pass between Italy and Switzerland.
(Author note: Thanks to Sebastian Deac in the comments below to outline that the best road was determined to be the Transfăgărășan Highway.)
My blog ultimately fell away into the void, for reasons myriad. Time. Effort. Other priorities.
Yesterday I ventured out into the Adelaide Hills, relishing a brief moment in time in where I could wrap myself in my car and hit the road. There were a few moments of experiencing the G-forces of left-right darting, and road crests and falls that revealed superb panoramas of the Barossa Valley, or as I returned, an overview of the old Holden plant.
The former Holden plant, assembly point for the Holden Commodore, Monaro, Chevrolet SS, Fifth Generation Pontiac GTO.
The drive was an enjoyable one, with sharp turns, sweeping bends, surprise switches, and a lovely sensation of speed. There were many episodes in where I experienced that joy I once described before of claiming that time on the road as yours, and just driving aimlessly. If I had to critique the drive, it would be that there was little in the way of scenery. It was an odd observation, I knew, considering that I should have been focusing solely on the road ahead.
When I look at photos of the Stelvio Pass, the road that was then considered "best", I see a series of hairpins with perhaps the odd simple bend. But that view. Oh, that view.
Photo by Graziano De Maio on Unsplash
Switzerland truly bewitched me when I visited, with high mountains and incredible lakes, but I confess to having never experienced the drive. Reviewing what little I know of the Stelvio Pass, driving on a series of hairpins strikes me as initially quite thrilling, but that feeling may eventually fade into a patterned series of "Drive, sharp turn left. Drive, sharp turn right. Drive, sharp turn left. Again."
And I say that knowing full well that I haven't driven the Clarkson-described, "Spaghetti on an alp", and am basing my opinion on photos and video alone.
I could sit on the fence, and indicate that the "perfect" road is dependent largely on the mood of the driver at the time of the journey. Some days people might want a long stretch of nothing. Other days they want to be wrenching their monster through a gorge or through the Dales while their partner battles with their nausea beside them.
But perhaps a perfect road would allow for all moods. It would be everything that the driver needs. Perhaps a balance of all features; good and bad camber, vomit comets of up and down, as well as stretches of flat. There would be sharp turns mixed with long straightaways and sweeping bends. Even some broad panoramas of scenery before the environment shrinks around the car, crowding the edges of the road like irresponsible spectators, and adding to the sensation of speed.
Perhaps there is no perfect road for all occasions. Perhaps it is the exploration for that road that is the fun in it, and just simply stumbling onto that right road on that right day.
Or perhaps it's worth just going for a drive, just for a pie at the end. Perfect.
What is it about your favourite road that you like? What do you look for in a great drive?