Mountain roads, or ghats, are something a lot of us encounter when driving long distances. Even though driving on the twisty ghat roads has a certain element of danger as opposed to driving on straight highways, if done correctly, it can be a lot of fun. The key thing to remember is to keep it smooth. Smoothen out your inputs - steering, throttle, brakes, gear changes - the works. Any sudden inputs can upset the car and at worst, can put you in another vehicles path. Even if you’d like to have a bit of fun in the twisties, don’t try to enter corners carrying a lot of speed. Remember the old adage about corners - slow in, fast out.
A real head-turner
One of the most important things to do while driving in the ghats is to turn your head into the corners as you’re going around them. Not only does this give you clearer visibility of any on-coming traffic, it also helps steer the car better. They say you go where you look, and this is especially true while cornering. You’ll automatically find your steering inputs becoming better as you turn you head into the corner and it’ll definitely give a boost to your confidence on the road.
Staying in the right gear is absolutely paramount when not just climbing ghats, but descending them as well. Don’t be in a hurry to upshift. Staying in a lower gear will make it easier to keep the engine in its torque band and will ensure that you’ll carry better momentum through the in the uphill and reduce your reliance on the brakes when going down. This will help you get better mileage and will ensure that your car has enough power on reserve if you need to get out of a tight situation.
Take a brake
Correct braking is a crucial technique when negotiating twisty mountain roads. First off all, don’t be jumpy on the brakes. Sudden braking really upsets a car’s weight balance and can have disastrous effects. If you see a corner coming up in the distance, plan your braking well in advance to shed your speed gradually and finish braking before you actually steer the car into the corner. This ensures that you’ll be smooth through the turn without imbalancing the car.
Correct line of thought
The ghat isn’t a race track, so do not try to take racing lines through the corners and kiss the apex on every turn. Stick to your own lane until there is no other option. If you find yourself going into the other lane while taking corners, it means you’re too fast for the corner. Slow down a little until you can maintain your lane while entering and exiting the turn. This not only keeps you safer from oncoming traffic, but it also increases your visibility into turns in some cases.
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28 Apr 2017
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