Can spirited driving be considered as exercise?
After what transpired this past Saturday, I certainly think so.
It was a glorious post-rain afternoon basking in sunshine, on a long stretch of winding tarmac where nary a car could be found (we were out in the middle of nowhere); I had the first opportunity to really explore the lofty limits of the 911 GT3 since I bought it back in January. For a word to sum up the experience, it would be ‘sweaty’.
Perhaps an empty parking lot might have been the more ideal proving ground to start off with, because for the first quarter stretch of the road I was super hesitant with my inputs, not daring to upset the car. Admittedly I had yet to break the GT3’s backend loose even once, so I had zero idea what its dynamics were like. All I knew at the time was the Porsche has tremendous power and grip, and it’s up to me to find the edge where either of those begin to falter.
That is, if my body is up to the task.
For the first proper go on a twisty mountain road in anger, I can say I handled myself fairly well: my friend who was following behind told me afterwards that I got noticeably quicker the deeper we got into the route. That said I simply could not keep up with the driver in front of me in a Chevrolet SS; he’s had 60,000 miles of familiarity with that car, and in his capable hands the SS disappeared from my windshield in short order. No doubt the GT3 is capable of going much faster - a 475 horsepower sports car ought to be quicker than a 4,000lb sports sedan; the problem is obviously not the car, but rather me.
Nevertheless, I was absolutely hustling the car to my (not so great) abilities, and it was indeed quite the workout. Even with the automatic climate control set at the standard 72 degrees, my back was perspiring heavily, and my palms needed periodic wipes on my shirt. I had to take off my hat because sweat was forming on my head as well. A leisure weekend drive it certainly was not.
And I felt the affects the following morning: I must have gripped the steering wheel too hard because my fingers were sore, and due to the countless shuffling of the right foot between braking and acceleration, the calve muscles were barking. I guess I never appreciated - until now - how much of an athlete a racing driver has to be, and how sorely lacking my own conditioning is.
Looking forward to improving on both fronts: mastering the GT3, and making sure my body is up to the task of doing it.