Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Long Distance Solo Driving or Playing Chicken with Suicide

For many years now, I have been researching ways to dramatically increase your range of travel by avoiding sleep. As early as 1992, I attempted to drive from Port Huron to Tampa, nonstop solo. In 1999 or so, an ex-wife and I "rescued" a niece from Wyoming. Elkhart, IN to Caspar, WY and back in a weekend.

Recently, I have conducted extensive research while driving a semi and have concluded that is possible to push yourself well beyond previously insurmountable limits. The key is to gently but continuously feed the body and mind while pressing ahead. This leads to the potential of driving great distances with reasonable safety. The corollary is that if something terrible did happen, you will either be so strung out on sugar and caffeine that you won't feel a thing or that you'll just be thankful that it's finally over.

The first critical supplies are a big sugary snack and a large energy drink. Energy Drinks have been popular for several years in the refrigerated section of your local convenience store or truckstop. A new alternative is Energy Coffee, a coffee brewed with the addition of the go-juice chemicals found in common energy drinks. Last night, I chose both.

The sugary snack should not be pure sugar like candy. This will tend to make you feel badly before the maximum benefits are achieved. I recommend something with flour and sugar, like Ding Dongs or Coconut Crunch Donettes. The strategy is to prompt a sugar buzz with the snack and then drink copious amounts of the Energy Drink so that it will kick in before the Sugar Crash which typically follows the Buzz.

Two more critical supplies are more caffeine drinks and carbs. It is important to continue to imbibe in some slightly milder caffeine drink. I chose Pepsi Max as it has ginseng as well. While consuming the caffeine, you should also eat something heavy in carbohydrates. Not too much pure sugar, but more snacks with flour and sugar; perhaps increasing the relative proportion of flour. Pretzels work well, but have little or no sugar. Something like Oreos is probably too much sugar. Choose oatmeal cookies or frosted animal cookies. If you are in the Plains States, look for Banana Planks, an banana flavored iced sugar cookie, par excellence! Last night, I had two.

Essentially, you are playing with your blood sugar levels. It is NOT recommended that you ask your Doctor or even mention this program. The key is to get to the point where you think you are about to have the shakes. Slack your intake slightly to prevent a full onset. Once you are starting to feel better, restart the program until you start to almost feel badly begin again.

If you get too far along and are feeling shaky or unwell, a bit of protein can help. It is important to avoid eating very much protein or anything greasy or with significant fat content. A small package of almonds or some beef jerky can help stem the tide. If you can combine a little bit of protein with more carbs, so much the better. Try a small package of peanut butter and cheese crackers or some honey roasted peanuts. In Illinois, pull into a rest area on the freeway or a toll plaza, and look for the Coconut Toffee Peanuts; Beernuts were never this good to you!!

It is important to avoid large amounts of protein, fat or grease. If you must, a c-store wedge sandwich will not do too much damage, but even the small prepackaged subs can slow you down. Take it from me, a McDouble with all that meat and cheese and grease, can make you practically narcoleptic. If you are pushing 36 or 40 hours awake, you will fall asleep in mid-stride half way back to your vehicle.

Protein and Grease, however, is the perfect way to end your run. The hardest thing to estimate is when to stop the program and wind yourself down. Typically, you will arrive, or decide to stop, abruptly. Perhaps it only seems abrupt because your brain is swimming in sugar and caffeine. When you are ready to stop, the solution is to seek out protein, fat and grease. Nothing beats a McDouble and fries with a Whole by-god-and-Texas Vitamin D milk. You will sleep like a baby.

My most important bit of advice is don't try this at home or anywhere else. In fact, forget I said anything.

PS: I arrived at my destination and got my truck in for service; 646 miles on 1.5 hours of sleep.

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