600 miles in 2 days and a total of 1200 over the next week.
The traffic is as bad as you expect for the week before Christmas. That particularly British habit of roadworks and poor driving ensuring that the handbrake was applied often in the fast lane on the first day. In the last few years, I’ve done this journey more times than I would care to admit in a variety of vehicles from Holly the camper than to a £120 pound VW TDI MK Golf via the Peugeot 406 estate. Apart from the Holly, the little Suzuki Vitara must be the slowest and arguably the silliest.
I will admit that I tend to drive quickly, not overly so. At a guess, my average speed on the motorway in good conditions is about 80 MPH. With speedo error taken into account, it is more like 75. That speed allows progress yet does not attract attention from the those few remaining traffic officers. I will also admit to being completely focused and looking a long way in front and behind me. Oddly doing that often allows me to filter through traffic more quickly and safely.
The little Vitara will not sit in the fast lane at 80 mph, or even slightly higher for hours on end and even if it could I would not want to drive it like that. To be honest it would scare the crap out me. So yesterday on the parts of the motorway that actually flowed I sat bang on the speed limit at 70, well at guess it was more like 65 when compared to the lorries I crawled past. There is a real advantage to sitting a little higher when in heavy moving traffic and that is being able to see a lot further ahead. Like a motorcycle, you can drive quickly in a 4×4, but you do need to plan a long way ahead.
Every vehicle has a natural cruising speed. For instance, when I owned my Kawasaki GTR1000 motorcycle the speed was 100 mph. Despite my very best intentions, every time I relaxed the speed would creep back. Both Golfs seemed to like about 80 to 85 on the open road. Anything much slower and it felt like they wanted to take off, much faster and I could feel them straining. The van when not near a hill sits at 65, that is the sweet spot. When it comes to hills… Well, that is very different matter, being overtaken by fully ladened lorries when going up the Pennies was more than a little embarrassing.
It is possible to drive what most would consider unsuitable vehicles long distances. All it takes is a change in the mindset and a little mechanical sympathy. I should also say that having something interesting to drive help’s and Tugg is very always that.
On my second day, due to an accident blocking the M1 a little further south, the traffic flowed. It was busy, but at no point did I use the handbrake on the motorway. Which is really unusual for any journey in this country, especially so when so close to Christmas. Tugg was a little tail happy carrying so much weight, not helped with gale-force crosswinds.
We arrived just as it finally got dark and yes, I was very impressed with the little truck.