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John Taylor and Alex Deborgorski (Lorraine Sommerfeld for The Globe and Mail)
John Taylor and Alex Deborgorski (Lorraine Sommerfeld for The Globe and Mail)

Drive, she said

Hypermiling across Canada: Tricks of the trade Add to ...

Lorraine Sommerfeld is hypermiling her way across Canada: aiming to drive across the country on six tanks of gas. Get the full story here and follow her progress with daily updates on this site and via Twitter @Globe_Drive

Drive Day Three 454 km

After a down day in Ottawa yesterday, it was time to hit the road again. Doesn’t matter how long the drive is planned to be, we hit the trail at 6am. It’s the best way to avoid rush hour traffic, which wreaks havoc with fuel efficiency. Nobody seems concerned that it wreaks havoc with my sleep patterns...

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While many of the Taylor’s rules may seem obvious – not speeding, anticipating conditions before they occur, keeping your vision high – some things were new to me. If they’re going to be stopped at a long light for more than ten seconds, they turn off the engine. The decision to do this was, like everything else, mine. What did I learn? Some lights take forever, and it’s an easy thing to do. I live on a court, and I bet I’ve spent five years of my life waiting for the light at the corner. It takes ages. And I’ve never given the gas it’s consuming a thought. If nothing else, this trip is making me see everything I do in a car (and everything everyone else does, too) in a new way. At some construction in northern Quebec, I had the engine off for ten minutes. And I remembered my father used to do this when the lift bridge was up going to Hamilton. Everyone used to turn their cars off. Now, nobody does it. Maybe everything old is new again.

Any downside? Sure. This takes more concentration than I imagined it would. I love driving, and am happy to be behind the wheel for long, long stretches. We are scheduled for three hour shifts during this cross-Canada jaunt, and believe me, I’m more than happy to hand the wheel over. I did a four-hour gig through Quebec, and I realized it was a bit much. It also made me aware that it’s easy to zone out, relax and get sloppy when you’re letting the car do all the work. Will I still love driving long distances? Absolutely. But I don’t think I’ll look at it the same way in the future.

The two main drivers on this trip are me and Alex Deborgorski. He’s the Ice Road Trucker guy, and it’s hilarious to see people lose their minds when they recognize him. He’s a hell of a character, in the best sense of the word. Central casting couldn’t have done this better. He’s King of the Road. Except I am apparently posting the best stats. Ahem. Queen of the Road?

As we headed into Toronto today on the 401, I knew it would be a test of sorts. We’d come through a pretty lousy rush hour in Montreal in driving rain – Montreal, rush hour, rain; three things that are never good – while trying to maintain some kind of efficiency. In some ways, it just means everybody is going slowly. But the constant stop and start is a stat killer.

Today heading into Toronto, it was busy but moving. Really, really moving. This would be a test of a different sort. No way am I going to poke along and be a sitting duck for some transport; we’ve found as we acclimate ourselves to the Taylor Doctrine, Alex and I are able to get our speeds up. It’s a gradual thing as you adjust to the best methods, and the car adjusts to you. We’re driving a VW Passat; it’s a midsized, four-door car with our luggage in the trunk. It’s not a diesel, so we’re truly testing out something that will give us reasonable comparisons for anyone playing along at home. How are our numbers? While the final numbers will be held for the end, at our first scheduled fuel stop (this is Shell’s party, so the stops are predicated on locations rather than emptying out the tank), we had a third of a tank of fuel. And over 1,000 km on the clock. Wow.

We’ll all be at the Eco Wheels Show in the Distillery District in Toronto on Saturday. Come down and say hi. We hit the road for the intense driving on Sunday morning as we head north, then west. Start time is 5am. I might need a few wake-up calls.

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