Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cannonball Run

Most of the following entry was written in the car. For reasons that will become obvious shortly, the final section was added later.

The Setup:
My girlfriend and I have made a number of trips between Atlanta and DC this year, most of them by car. The Penrocks, having lived in Atlanta longer, have even more experience with this trek. They have a favorite route which they insist is the fastest way to make the trip. We're not so sure. It certainly appears to be the most direct, but it involves Route 29 and, in so doing, many stoplights. Sarah got a tip from a friend at work about another route that just might beat it. It's more circuitous than the Penrock's route of choice, but possesses fewer stoplights and higher speed limits. In the past we have tried the 95 to 85 route and while it suffices, we believe there is room for improvement. The Penrocks use a 29 to 85 variant. Today, Sarah and I are testing something else - 81 to 75. Which truly is the fastest? There's only one way to find out: have a contest.

The Race:
We both started in Northern Virginia, although the Penrocks start a little south and west of our position. They are travelling west on 66, then south on 29. In North Carolina, they will get on 85 and take that all the way to Atlanta. Sarah and I are using Rt 7 to get to 81, and then following 81 all the way through Virginia to Tennessee where we pick up 75 to Atlanta.
We're both timing our trips from start to finish, including any and all breaks for food, fuel, or "other." The loser, the couple with the greatest total time, owes the winner a bottle of wine. So there's more than just bragging rights involved.

Penrocks - Fewer miles, possibly less traffic
Drawbacks - Rummy is with them and he requires stops of greater duration and more frequent occurrence.
Added Bonuses - 29 can be very pretty. Also they get to pass the giant peach in Gaffney, South Carolina.

Sarah and I - Higher speed limits, no stop lights
Drawbacks - Lots of trucks.
Added Bonuses - The Shenandoah valley

The Results:
The Penrocks pulled in after approximately 10 hours, 10 minutes. Sarah and I arrived at 10 hours, 30 minutes. The Penrocks win by 20 minutes. Close, but not close enough to call it a tie. We owe them one bottle of wine. Well played, Penrocks, well played.

Now, I think we need to have a word with Sarah's informant...