Every serious Ultimate player can also be considered a hardened road warrior. Road trips are as much a part of ultimate as trucker hats, or an innate ability for being late. They can be long, grueling journeys that test the mettle of even the most finely tuned Honda Civic. Choosing what car may seem the most important, but what is paramount is being selective with who you drive with. You can go to a tournament in an air conditioned Cadillac and still be miserable if your co-passengers are unlikeable. So what’s to be done? Follow these simple guidelines to determine who should accompany you on these arduous journeys.
This refined process did not happen overnight. My first tournaments as a freshman we simply got together to discuss rides and I would jump on the first available spot. Having to drive more than seven hours with people you hardly knew was somewhat difficult, considering some of the passengers were also a bit terse and argumentative. Over the next couple of years I became more selective, picking at least someone I was friendly with to drive somewhere, but I learned that friendly does not necessarily correlate to good driving buddy. After three years of trial and error, my senior year I actually hand-picked who I wanted in my car for a 20 plus hour road trip.
Rule 1: an amiable personality is a must for a long road trip. It’s an easy enough answer, have people in your car you like to be around, but also make sure they are willing to talk. I think we all know somebody who is nice, but is as tight lipped as a CUT guy at a Hodag party. You definitely want somebody willing to talk. I have found that interesting conversation is the best deterrent to falling asleep. Keeping your mind engaged in thoughtful discussion is not only fun, but can also be very informative. Sometimes you answer very important questions, like who would be best on O-line, or more importantly who would win in a fight, a Jedi or Superman (you’re a fool if you think it’s superman).
Rule 2: Trust your passengers. Trust is key for a team to be successful, but it’s even more important when you have somebody in your car. You want somebody who won’t skip out on the gas bill or mooch off you. I think we’ve all known somebody in our ultimate career that are miserly and complains about pennies on the gas bill. My college team once had to deal with someone who would jump from car to car during a road trip to avoid paying for gas on a 2000 plus mile roundtrip. Not cool.
Rule 3: Good drivers are pretty essential. You want to ensure they don’t have a lead foot and like to drive your 1999 Minivan like a Maserati. The van may be able go 95 mph, but if it shakes like a wet puppy in the cold, that’s a good indicator to slow down.
Rule 4: Vigilance from your travel companions is a must. We have all had the co-pilot who has fallen asleep right next to you, making it that much harder to grasp onto your slipping consciousness. If your sleepy sidekick can’t keep you awake, what chances do you have? On one road trip my car was driving next to a teammates only to discover every person in the car was asleep. After several honks we successfully woke them up. Moral of the story, don’t pick somebody who has a proclivity towards narcolepsy, especially if they are gung-ho on calling shotgun.
Like the pirates code, these are simple guidelines for a successful road trip; unfortunately there are so many more intangibles that go into road trips. Obviously it will be hard to find people that possess all of the desirable qualities, so you will have to be a bit utilitarian when picking. For me, good conversation and trust are the most important. Driving is a major part of the entire trip, so you want to make it as enjoyable as possible.
Almost forgot one of the most important rules: never pick someone who loves to listen to Josh Groban. Never.