After arriving in Mt Tremblant, and snowboarding a few hours, I confirmed that anything not groomed was sheer ice, so I figured I might as well try some snowmobiling instead while waiting for the incoming ft+ storm.
I had to drive 20mn to a nearby town and rent for a local store. They just gave me a 2mn briefing on what button does what, a crappy map showing me where to go (this included crossing multiple roads). Sadly, I ended up missing a turn that was not obvious at all and had to ride on the street only to figure out that a snowmobile cannot turn at all on asphalt, making things very hard.
Eventually I got help and directions back towards the trail and had a great 70km 2h30 ride across cold canadian wilderness.
I could have flipped the thing multiple times and hurt myself easily. I did top out at 100kph and caught air at least once, as well as scared myself a few times but managed not to understeer into a river or a half frozen lake :)
This probably wouldn't last more than a few days if they allowed americans to rent those things with no guidance, or a proper map (I had to use my GPS more than once to find breadcrumbs back), or over drive off the trail into a tree, or a lake :)
Either way, definitely had fun, and this probably beat any speed limited guided tour available anywhere else.
yeah, the planes were unexpected
I eventually reached a place that had dog sleigh rides, and turned back there
Circuit Mecaglisse is 1.5h north of Montréal, and I was lucky enough to be accepted in their level 2 course thanks to the training I got at Dirtfish learning the basics of rally driving. As expected, my almost 20 years of track driving was mostly worthless :)
They had a professional photographer who obviously took better shots than I did :)
The busy photographer (40 drivers) got a few shots of me, along with my talented co-driver Alain. Alain was a great guy as well as one of the best snow/ice drivers in the group, which definitely made me feel self-conscious. He showed me what I should have been doing :)
for a short while I was also driving with Mark, the other star in our group
Anyway, here are my pictures. The drive from Montréal was actually "interesting", a passing storm yielded some ice on the road and driving 20mph wasn't even safe anymore. Eventually it turned to snow, which was easier to drive on with the snow tires on the 2WD rental car I got:
the nice hotel where we were hosted, but it was 45mn away from the track
they fed us well :)
Every morning, we got a bus ride to the track, which is specifically designed to have a layer of ice in the winter:
when I say ice, it really is ice
Kees Nerop, the head instructor we were lucky to end up with
we drove both 4WD and 2WD 911s
they had studded tires, but the studs were pretty short
A few driving pictures:
Alain, showing me how it's done :)
I didn't expect things to be easy, and they weren't. The biggest problem is if you go in a bit too deep, there is mostly nothing you can do to fix it. In this oversteer turn exercise, I turned a bit too late and while I did mostly the right things, I was just a bit too late and smacked the snow wall with the car:
sigh. this was not a proud moment
This is when I need to really recognize Porsche for offering this class at all and allowing students to make mistakes. Basically unless they deem that you were driving like an idiot, you aren't liable for damage. They apparently have a full supply of body panels and bumpers, are quite used to fixing/changing them.
seeing the cars eating snow as people hit snow banks, was also pretty common. At least the intercooler was cool :)
that one wasn't me, but another cracked bumper
The driving was a both fun and very hard. It definitely kicked my butt. Honestly, I sucked when I showed up. I couldn't even properly drift in a circle. By day 3, I was far from being an expert, but my proudest accomplishment was managing a 4mn power drift when I wasn't even able to manage a single turn without spinning when I started:
Now, this is nothing compared to the better students who could not only drift but even fit between cones, which I can't quite do yet:
By day 3, we were driving around most of the track. It was still hard as hell as there was very little recovery possible if you went too fast, but if you went too slow, it was hard to not possible to induce necessary oversteers for most turns, so the balance was quite hard to keep.
The last day, we finished with 2WD cars on a super icy track with killer downhill off camber turns. I managed to get one right a couple of times, like at the 1:45 offset and then smacked into the snow wall by getting my timing wrong the 2nd time (offset 3:10). What's terrible is that we knew what was going to happen before it did, but by then there is no recovery possible with a 2WD car (a 4WD has a small chance of pulling out with power):
The day ended with us getting a hotlap from one of our coaches to show us what we could have done if we didn't suck :) I lucked out and got a lap with our chief instructor (forgive the non optimal camera placement):
And just like that, it was over. We had a farewall dinner with prices for the best drivers in each group (i.e. not me :) ):
Thanks to all the instructors, also to Porsche for letting us drive their cars and make mistakes, and the great codrivers in our group (blue group is #1 !) :)