Training for Olympics just a drive

September 11, 2000

Training for Olympics just a drive

September is the month for the Summer Olympics.

I know they've got the lineup set for events in Australia, but I'd like to suggest a new challenge.

The driving Olympics.

I've been training for the driving event since late June, but I doubt if the International Olympic Committee is aware that Interstate 70 would be the perfect venue.

Although my daily commute is only 40 miles a day, the current construction on I-70 has me changing lanes more often than a race car on steroids.

I'll admit I cheat at the driving event.

When I can, I take the easy route.

Hopping in the car in Frederick in the daylight to head to work, I take U.S. 40 to Hagerstown, the old National Road. Talk about relaxation. It's much more scenic than I-70 and the traffic crush is less than the truck-dominated interstate. The hills are so high I can just about scrape the sky. Looking at the mountains in the distance gives me a chance to reflect and chill before it's time to earn a paycheck.


After work for the return trip I venture onto I-70. That's where the fun begins. It's the driving Olympics.

The events?

Try the truck pull, for one.

Pulling out on the interstate is a lesson in survival. You've got to avoid the big trucks or you die. Some truckers are kind and move their massive vehicles over one lane with their headlights on high beams so I can squeeze in. Other truckers, sensing fresh fodder for their bumpers, give me clear warning with their high beams that it's not my turn yet. It's their lane and they want all of it.

Having learned not to argue with tons of steel, I await their rush past and then zoom onto the road.

Driving I-70 east toward Frederick, another event comes to mind. The lane change. The highway workers recently set up a mental challenge for my feeble brain. They put the orange barrels right in the center lane and then installed a huge flashing signal that has arrows pointing both right and left. What they don't tell you is the lanes to either side are narrow and tight. I'm surprised trucks can squeeze through. I suspect the orange barrels, like me, move a little to one side when those big rigs come flying through at high speed.

After the pick-a-lane part of the highway, the orange barrels then are placed at the right, cutting off that lane. A few more miles down the road they are on the other side.

Apparently the Maryland Highway Administration wants to make sure that I don't take a nap between the Washington and Frederick county lines. Or, they just like changing the barrels, like one of those shell games at the carnival.

The final event I'd recommend to the IOC is the truck pass. The laws of physics note things about mass and weight and my brother Bill, who's got a master's degree in such things, could probably explain better.

All I know is trucks slow down going up hills and quicken their pace on the downslopes. It's not wise to try and pass a truck when it's rocketing down a hill.

Unless you're in the driving Olympics.

Wonder if I can get the gold?

Chuck Mason is the Tri-State Editor of The Morning Herald.

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