I didn’t mean for it to become a game. It’s just that I couldn’t be bothered to stop for a bun and to refuel the Ford Fiesta ST.
Instead, I carried on driving, and then carried on a bit longer, and a bit longer, and now I’m only 89 miles from Calais, in a stupid game of my own making that I didn’t want to play in the first place, wondering if I can drive from the Frankfurt motor show to the Channel tunnel without refuelling.
The trip computer says I’ll run out of fuel in 109 miles, so at least I’m winning.
Except I’m not, am I? I’m driving behind a lorry – close enough to get some slipstream, but not so close that its driver is annoyed, and I’m doing maths.
Sure, the trip computer says I have 20 miles in hand, but I’m a long way from winning. I’d filled the Fiesta – into which we usually squeeze around 45 litres of unleaded when the trip computer gets tetchy – on the way into Frankfurt, so I’m asking for a range of more than 450 miles. And that means, if I don’t fill up until I roll into a filling station in Folkestone, I have to better 45mpg. Under more normal circumstances, the Fiesta gives 38mpg.
That’s why I’m behind a truck, see, wondering when, or if, I can make a break for it. I’d like the journey to be over as quickly as possible, and a stop in France could make me miss a train, costing more than half an hour; the stop in Folkestone will only cost me a stop.
Really, then, I should drive faster. But as soon as I leave the tranquillity of a Kögel trailer’s vacuum, I won’t get 45mpg, the fuel gauge will head south, and if it goes down too quickly – which it will if I break out now – I’ll have to stop for fuel. That’ll take 10 minutes, during which time the lorry will hunt me down like a cycle peloton chasing a lone breakaway rider, so I might as well stay here, though it feels very slow and perhaps if I eased out and… argh, my head hurts.
This is the slowest, most compelling and stupidest race in the world.
And even though, in the end, it turns out I can happily make it to Folkestone, I’m still not even sure if I won it. I’ve long believed that the quickest way to drive somewhere is to stop as infrequently as possible. Today, I’m not so sure. Stop for the bun.