I had a hankering for McDonalds the other day, so I went out into the dangerous, COVID filled world to buy a burger. It was a good excuse for me to get my car running and driving anyway, if it sits too long I get antsy since the last time I left it alone the engine flooded... that’s no good.
But as I sat there, eating my meal and destroying my kidneys, I thought about the last time I actually went on a good drive. It was in Maryland, a state full of beautiful rural back roads that wind through the woods and cast shadows over my car on a bright, sunny day. I could list every good driving road by name back home, but I can’t here in Florida. I decided I wanted to embark on a quest to find a good (or at least decent) driving road, not too far from my apartment. Something secluded and with a low volume of traffic. But I didn’t know of any off the top my head, so I couldn’t really go the journey alone.
After a minutes worth of Google searching I stumbled upon Roads by Porsche, an app where people drive certain routes, record them, and upload them for any and all to experience. It’s an awesome idea, making it so that I don’t have to use Google Maps (or blind luck) to try and find a potentially nice road. I decided to download it and give it a go (and because I want to practice writing articles about automotive related things I’m taking you all with me).
This app is meant to be a hybrid of navigation and social media, kind of like Waze, except for people who like to drive. The first thing you’ll see on the bottom is a bar with Community, Destinations, Roads, Map, and Profile. I didn’t get into the Community tab, nor did I look at my profile since that required you to log in through Apple or Porsche, which I simply didn’t feel like doing.
The image above shows the Map tab, and each of those red lines represent a different route. They each start at the white circles (not sure what the numbers mean), and if you tap them it’ll show you the full route. One of them even ended really close to my apartment, and I would’ve taken it if the route wasn’t over 100 miles long (it doesn’t look it, but I had to zoom the map way out in order to see these routes. I live half an hour from Orlando if that helps scale things for you).
Destinations is the apps very own magazine, showcasing different roads around the world. I took a peak at one of the articles and it’s essentially a travel guide for if you, as a driving enthusiast, ever end up somewhere. In my case, it was Taiwan.
The article discussed the different ways to experience the Taroko Gorge, whether it’s on the Zhongbu Cross-Island Highway that carries you to the Taroko Gorge road, or the various trails such as the one pictured above. It talked about different things you’ll see and give you reasons why you may want to pull over and actually get out of the car (impossible). The Eternal Spring Shrine is the selling point in this article, a lovely temple that rests atop a small, but strong waterfall that pours into the gorge. It’s highly informational, well written, and fairly short, so it’s not exactly a hassle to read these either.
There’s even a recommended route that winds through the city of Taipei and then cuts through the mountains. That one, long, slightly windy piece of road looks like an incredible ride from the map alone, all I need is a ticket to Taiwan... however I just gave my last dollars to a burger selling clown, so this was out of the price range. So, I took a peek at the local roads.
The Roads tab brings up a big list of different routes right in your backyard. The Maytown-Space Coast route looked awful tempting, but I couldn’t bring myself to drive 149 miles south and then 149 miles north again. I had the gas for it, I certainly had the time, but I didn’t have the mental capacity/energy to do so. The Disney Firework Drive seems genuinely useful though, especially since I don’t want to commit suicide by going into the park, which will be a total COVID breeding ground upon reopening. Just drive along the route at a certain time and watch the fireworks from your car. It’s cheaper, and safer than the alternative. But there weren’t any fireworks tonight, so I tapped the route on the very top. Oviedo Circuit, a 14 mile route only 11 miles away, that’s less than 50 miles in total, which sounded just right.
The description claimed it was a nice road for practicing racing lines or for barrelling down the straights. It was sorted as an “Action” road, the other category being “Scenic.” The “detours” that stick out from the actual circuit are glitches in the navigation/recording system, all I had to do was work around it... but before I could even do that...
...I had to get to it, which would take a while, but as it turned out wasn’t a real hassle. The route there was a road, a highway, and then another road, lot’s of straight lines that would eventually lead me to the prophesied corners.
The map interface is eerily similar to Google Maps, which is what I typically use whenever I need a GPS (so much Google). The only drawback is it didn’t avoid tolls, so this app review cost me a dollar... thank me later.
As for the drive itself, it started right here:
The Hitching Post Bar and Grille, a small little shack right on 419 (which was the road I spent the most time on getting to the circuit and back home). Didn’t go in, of course, I already had Mickey D’s, but it was open for dine in seating... for better or worse...
There’s a little bit of DOTS for you in this pic, the Impala was quite nice (could’ve been a Malibu too... I’ll let you, the Oppo experts decide, but I think it’s an Impala). I did spot a Volkswagen Microbus dart by as I was taking this picture, but I wasn’t fast enough to capture it. A bundle of other cool cars/odd passed me by on the roads, such as a slammed Honda C-RV and a Monte Carlo Super Sport. Would’ve snapped photos of them too but... well... I saw them while driving, so that made it tricky.
Regardless, now it was time to go on the drive itself, and because I can’t take pictures while driving I used the next best thing to grab photos of the road... Google StreetView (I swear I don’t work for Google or anything, no sponsorships here... though I wouldn’t be opposed).
As you can probably work out by these three images, the amount of “racing lines” in this circuit was a bit exaggerated. It also wasn’t this sunny... at all. Halfway through the drive it looked pitch black, and on my way home it was pouring rain, but I wouldn’t say it was a bad drive at all.
This turn right here was the crème de la crème. It’s hard to tell, but this turn was perfectly banked, which was surprising. I’d never actually been on a banked road before, and if I had I certainly wasn’t paying attention enough to notice, but accelerating on this one corner pushed me down into my seat. There’s no other word for it, it was radical. And there’s nothing wrong with good ol’ fashioned straightaways, I did my fair share of pedal stomping. I had a clear, lovely view of the sky the entire time, which is something I’d consider to be scenic too.
This was a photo I took. I was stopped at a left turn into a random neighborhood the route cut through, no traffic in front of or behind me either which was nice. And while it doesn’t look like it’s about to rain, just wait. Florida’s infamous and sudden rain storms are sudden indeed.
This photo was taken at a stoplight, maybe 20 minutes later.
And this was taken just 10 minutes after. Florida is crazy. And before you call me a hypocrite for saying:
I can’t take pictures while driving
Florida red lights are long enough to play Wii Bowling... That’s not a joke either.
The point being, I wasn’t endangering the general public by taking 7 seconds to flip from Google Maps to my camera, then back again.
But I’m glad I took those photos, and I’m glad I had to wait at all those awful red lights. It gave me a deeper appreciation for the roads I’d driven and the open air I saw. Sure, it smelled like Florida swamps the entire time, and the roads were more straight than advertised, but that has nothing to do with the Roads by Porsche app itself.
At the end of the day, I wouldn’t have gone on a drive had it not been for this little circuit and this little app. And I didn’t even scratch the surface with this one, singular drive. There are a bundle of other routes to explore, all across the country, and if I get bored of those I can make one myself.
So would I suggest this app? Sure. There’s no ads or anything, it’s completely free, it’s easy to use, it’s a novel idea, and I’m excited to use it again.
Now if you’d excuse me, I have to figure out how to change my windshield wiper. It’s squeaking with every sweep and is quite distracting... distracting while I listen to music that is. Can’t stand how off tempo it is.