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I was home visiting my folks this weekend and was excited to find the following article in the Sunday Albany Times Union! featuring our own XCEL (Wayne). I'm even more bummed that I couldn't make it to the event (esp. as it was in my own home town) but I guess old friends weddings have to be attended...

I have a paper copy of the article and can scan and email to someone if they're interested - is there a place on the forums/insight central where articles/press can be uploaded?

all that said, I took the slow way home from albany to beat anticipated memorial day traffic on I-87 south and while it took me 1 1/2 hours longer than usual, driving normally (at the speed limit) on 2 lane country highways got me a trip mileage of 75 mpg easily with no mods, a couple of big hills, and stops for lights, coin drops, and some minor traffic. Proof that my tendency to drive 65-75 mph really DOES jack down the fuel efficiency - I usually get between 60-65 mpg per tank! ... yID=486538

To win this race, step off the gas
Chicago pair wrings the most out of every mile to clinch fuel-efficiency title

By COLIN McDONALD, Staff writer
First published: Sunday, May 28, 2006

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The drive from Chicago to Albany is 800 miles. Wayne Gerdes can make the trip on less than 10 gallons of gas in a Honda Insight, a gasoline-electric hybrid car. His driving practices are not always legal, but with gas hovering around $3 a gallon, he saves quite a bit of cash.

Gerdes and co-pilot Dan Kroushl, both of Chicago, took first place in the fuel-efficiency competition at this year's Tour de Sol in Saratoga Springs on May 13.

They averaged 96 miles per gallon on the trip east from the Windy City, and 87 mpg on the competition's hilly course from Saratoga Spa State Park to Cooperstown and back.

Gerdes usually tops 100 mpg in competition and holds an efficiency record with 109 mpg while driving more than 1,500 miles. He once drove a car for eight hours with the fuel gauge on empty to see just how far he could go.

"It's more of an art," Gerdes said of his driving methods. "You have to use them months on end to make them really work."

Gerdes, whose day job is controller at a nuclear power plant, is usually a calm man, but his voice rises and accelerates when the subject of gasoline efficiency comes up.

He is part of a small group of "hyper milers" spread across the country, who are dedicated to reaching the highest fuel economy possible. When members meet, they discuss not the miles per gallon on a particular tank of gas but the average over every mile their cars have traveled.

Gerdes called the drive from Chicago an epic journey. During the first nine miles he and Kroushl reached over 100 mpg. Then they hit traffic. Then it started to rain. With Kroushl getting weather reports every hour, they did their best to avoid the storm. But the rain took its toll, pushing their mpg numbers down into the double digits. Then a headwind kicked up, and they abandoned the elevated roadway of Interstate 90 to seek shelter along the back roads.

After two days, they arrived in Saratoga, with an average speed of 45 mph.

"It was a battle royale," Gerdes said.

To get his best mileage, Gerdes "surfs" the drafts of big trucks and passing cars. He rolls through parking lots with the engine shut off and parks facing downhill. His tires are inflated well above the recommended pressure to reduce friction and he carefully chooses his routes to avoid steep hills, traffic signals and stop-and-go traffic.

He makes his best mileage by driving with the engine shut off, a technique known as pulse-and-glide driving. Even in the Honda Accord that he now drives, he can get up to 80 miles per gallon when he goes "pg."

"You have to be careful," he said. "It is illegal to drive in neutral with your engine off in some places."

When he is driving on quiet roads with little or no traffic, Gerdes gradually increases his speed. Once he gets to about 50 mph, he shifts to neutral and cuts the engine, letting the car coast for as long as possible, depending on road conditions. Then he restarts the engine, carefully shifts back into drive, and starts the process over again.

"If you do it right, it won't hurt a thing," he said. "If you do it wrong, you are going to have transmission parts all over the road."

Gerdes started pursuing better gas mileage after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "I got kind of tired of how we were using our fuels," he said.

First, he experimented with driving the speed limit. Then he started expanding his techniques for attaining maximum mileage, to the annoyance of his wife.

On family trips, the two reached a compromise. She wants to get where they are going as quickly as possible, so to pass the time she watches DVDs in the back with their son.

"Put in some good CDs and enjoy the drive," Gerdes said. "That is what it's about."
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