A couple of weeks ago, and in collaboration with Gloria Chik of Urbanebloc and Rogue Stories, I was invited to attend the Bridgestone Winter Driving School, in beautiful Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
My recent trip to Colorado marked many firsts for me; including but not limited to my first time traveling to the mid-western region of the United States, my first time traveling to the Rocky Mountains, and my first time attending a winter driving school.
As we flew across the Rocky Mountains from Chicago, not only was I blown away by the breathtaking views below, but I also experienced an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the opportunities and experiences ahead of me (in Colorado, in 2016, and beyond).
Upon landing, we were greeted by the sun, and picturesque mountain landscapes leading towards Steamboat Springs. Soon after, I realized that the Colorado Rocky Mountain winter that we would be experiencing would be far more mild in comparison to Toronto’s weather at the time.
By the time that we arrived at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, and after a short and pleasant stay at the local airport, I quickly learned that the town’s people were incredibly friendly.
Generally-speaking, Torontonians are courteous, polite, and empathetic, but because of the fast-pace and socio-economic stressors of living in a major city, I found that the people of Steamboat Springs were far more friendly, and more present-minded when I spoke to them. In many ways, I envied their comparatively slow pace of life.
Furthermore, I got the sense that any one of the Steamboat Springs people that I interacted with would have given me the shirt off of their back, had I needed it.
After briefly relaxing in my awesome room at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, and enjoying the beautiful sights and sounds of one of Colorado’s most revered ski resorts, we attended an introductory dinner and brief, wherein we spent time meeting other participants of the particular Bridgestone Winter Driving School project that we were about to be involved in.
The food was simply amazing, and so was the ambience. But, what I appreciated the most about our first dinner was the fact that five-time Olympic gold medalist, Bonnie Blair was in attendance, due to her partnership with Bridgestone Tires and the company’s commitment to cultivating sports and wellness on a global scale.
As a former competitive athlete, and as entrepreneur with an avid interest in life hacking and effectiveness within the areas of my life that are important to me, having the opportunity to chat with one of the most successful athletes in history was exciting .
I asked Blair how she managed the fear that she inevitably felt prior to her competitions, and how she avoided burnouts and over-training. Her answers were surprisingly simple and intuitive, and she taught me that treating all opportunities as equal in their importance, that avoiding the urge to do more after an extended period of hard work, and that truly cherishing fun moments and playful spontaneity are all key performance indicators.
The following morning, we attended a stunning and well-timed breakfast, wherein we were educated on the history of Bridgestone Tires, the company’s values, Bridgestone’s impressive research and development, and what was in store for us.
Some of the things that I learned through our morning brief, and throughout my Bridgestone Winter Driving School experience, was the fact that a car’s performance heavily relies on its tires, that great tires have a point of contact that is less than the thickness of a sheet of paper, and that the inner working of a tire is profoundly complicated and involves a multitude of components.
Due to the nature of Bridgestone Winter Driving School, the majority of our brief involved information on the Blizzak WS80 tires, which are modern winter tires that have been designed for flexibility and durability in the coldest of winters.
Flexibility equals more grip, control, stability, and ultimately, greater safety. Furthermore, Bridgestone’s Blizzak WS80 tires employ special grooves to drain water, ZigZag sipes which increase traction, and a Multi-Cell Compound that removes surface level water and improves grip.
The Blizzak WS80 tires are a strong example of the fact that Bridgestone owns over 10,000 patents, through more than a billion dollars worth of research and development.
After breakfast, and due to the brightness of the Bridgestone Winter Driving School track, everyone involved put on their sunglasses, and we quickly packed up our Bridgestone swag and other winter gear, to head to the track.
The Bridgestone Winter Driving School instructors were profoundly informative, and at times, I found it challenging to keep up with all of the information that they communicated to us.
We drove various Lexus SUVs and sports cars throughout the day, and I soon learned that 80% of accidents could be prevented if we had an additional second to react, and that the most rental cars do not come equipped with proper winter tires.
I soon realized that I had a lot of room for improvement, and some of the drills that did not involve ABS breaks were particularly challenging.
However, after a day of driving through the best winter driving track in the world, being involved in braking exercises, icy turns, and over-steering situations, I left the Bridgestone Winter Driving School with far more confidence (as a winter driver).
Our trip ended with an amazing steak dinner at the E3 Chophouse, and some great conversations with our colleagues, the Bridgestone team, and the incredible people at PadillaCRT.
Overall, our trip was fantastic, and I will undoubtedly return to Steamboat Springs, to experience the Winter Driving School, the amazing people, the food, and the world class skiing and snowboarding.
a j a n i photography: digital image solutions