We've all seen them; the mountain roads where you can't carry more than 30 km/h through them. Lots of motorsports/driving enthusiasts swear by them. But, are they really right?
I use Facebook a lot. I'm well aware of the rubbish quality of the average viral media marketing page. They're great at finding things people want to see and tag their friends in, but they're horrible at actually giving credit/letting people see the content from its rightful owner. The reason I embed videos on my website, is that this way, the content creators (or, at least, the people who uploaded the stuff) can get their ad revenue money.
With that said, I won't be posting the exact photo of what I'm describing, but, rather, just a simple explanation. Any of the mountain roads you'd see in a place like Switzerland, Romania, France, Italy or Austria, with the limp spaghetti roads, layered down the mountain with perfect 180 degree hairpins all the way down are the roads I'm discussing. If you've watched Top Gear's episodes about trying to find the Best Driving Road in the World, you've seen the roads I'm talking about. If you've seen the Facebook content stealers' posts about picking a car, you've seen the roads I'm talking about. If you've seen an amateur skier going down a hill, doing that zig-zag to keep their speed down, you know what I'm talking about. Consecutive hairpins, really, are somehow associated with the best driving roads ever.
Well, that's where people are wrong. Sorry to say it, but, it's true.
These switchback hairpins might seem fun, but, all they really do is just wear out your brake pads, and permit you to run your engine and gearbox through the paces. But, outside of that, these sorts of roads aren't particularly exciting. (Unless it's closed-course, and there is no oncoming traffic.) If there is any oncoming traffic, you really shouldn't even be going as fast as 10 km/h around the hairpins. That's simply not fun. It's like a parking lot, only, with giant cliffs that punish even the smallest mistakes.
Instead of trying to go quickly on these exceptionally dangerous roads, where visibility of oncoming traffic means bending your neck like an owl every minute, why not just slow down and enjoy the scenery? Roads like these just don't work for performance driving, sadly. Instead, here's the type of road I'd prefer:
You see, the thing I find interesting is the conservation of momentum. Those hairpin roads don't allow you to conserve momentum. They're a great workout for the car. The roads I like? They're mentally stimulating, because they're a workout for the drivers. Look at this glorious sweeper (above,) with its mixed surface of snow, gravel, and ice. The slip angles, the drifts, the acceptable width (in contrast to the unending hairpins described above, this road is three car-widths wide, meaning that there is some room for playing around, getting the car sideways and so forth. The constant sweepers with elevation changes going up and down, causing the car to lose and gain grip... This all leads to the ability of the driver to have incredible showmanship.
Slides like the one above just don't happen on the exceptionally twisty, tight, and narrow mountain passes of Italy. I'd prefer a Canadian road over the ones in Italy any day, and that's not because I haven't experienced the Italian alps style of road, but rather, because I have experienced both and I know my preference.
Drew Geier is a Canadian petrolhead whose main mission is to make motoring accessible, enjoyable, and affordable well into the future, by improving the art, hobby and lifestyle of motoring. He builds cars, and he writes about other builds. He's built a Subaru WRX and is building a Honda Civic EK.