I went white water rafting with my company today (they paid..woo hoo!) on the Arkansas River north of Buena Vista, CO. First off, if you've never done it, DO. It's a rush, and a hell of a good work out.
Anyway, back on subject.
This was going to be my Pro-78's first big test, crossing El Paso, Teller, Park, and Chaffee counties, all on US Hwy 24. It was also my first time taking my 6 in the mountains (it handles like a dream on those twisty roads, zoom zoom!).
The trip out was going uneventfully until I got to the twisty-turns north of Manitou Springs. I was humming along, passing people, enjoying the S-curves. No alerts, no falses. Doing PSL +8. As I watched a Durango disappear around the corner ahead of me, and got ready to accelerate through a straightaway, I got a Ka band alert. Ramped from 3 to 5, then went away. I thought, "hmmmmm...wonder who could be around that bend." Sure enough, CO State Trooper sitting there. He didn't radar me -- I was going PSL by then -- but I didn't see a radar antenna in his back window, so he must have been shooting forward, using receding target mode. That ONLY turned out to be a .1 mile alert, but given the terrain, the fact that he was using I/O, and the fact that I had 5-6 seconds to slow before I was in sight of the LEO, it was PLENTY of warning. Prevented me from taking that corner at PSL +10 or more. Fines saved: $120.
Had what I THOUGHT was a long-lasting false that ramped up to a full 9 bars in Woodland Park, but that turned out to NOT be a false. I'll explain that on the return leg.
No other alerts except one false Ka off an X50 near Buena Vista. I LOVE how quiet this RD is, but I was still having trouble trusting it. Its silence, coupled with the problems folks have had, made me doubt it a bit.
The return trip was not NEARLY so uneventful.
The first encounter came as I passed a car JUST outside the San Isabel National FOrest. I had just slid back into traffic when I got a K-band alert. Ramped up to 7 quickly, then disappeared as I passed a State Forest Ranger pickup entering the highway, going the other direction. I was out of his jurisdiction, but managed to get down to PSL + 5 by the time his truck was pointed at me anyway. Probably not truly a save, since he didn't look too interested in me.
Then came the big save. This one made me lose my doubts about the Pro-78.
I had just crossed what we call the "Bowl Valley," that starts at Hartsel in the West and ends just west of Lake George. You head up this long, curvy slope, then ride through a straightaway that's atop a plateau. Just before the straightaway, I got a Ka-band hit. Lasted maybe 3 seconds, 2 bars in strength. Then went away. So I assumed it was a false, passed the slow-poke in front of me, got back in my lane, and promptly got another Ka hit. This one was higher in strength, but again went away quickly.
I started thinking, "man, this thing is falsing in the middle of NOWHERE. Maybe it's not that good." And I passed the next slow-poke, falling in behind a Subaru outback. Again, as soon as I did, I got ANOTHER Ka hit this time at 6 bars. Even though it went away this time, I could see a line of cars cresting a hill ahead of me. I thought about passing the Subaru in front of me, but decided that maybe I'd better listen to the Pro-78.
Good decision. The next alert started at 7 and ramped to 9 as I passed a Park County Sheriff in a White, Marked Dodge Durango. He was second in the line of cars, shooting I/O as he drove. I passed him 2.1 miles from the first Ka band alert. The line of cars was going the PSL (65--the poor dude ahead of the Durango was stuck having to do that), but since I was, at times, going WELL over that, I don;t think doubling the distance is the right way to go. Plus, the terrain doesn't support a 4.2 mile detect. So I put this detect at 3.5-3.9 miles, depending on the speed of opposing traffic. I would probably have been 20 over had I passed that Subie. So fines saved: $220.
The final encounter was going back through Woodland Park again. I got K-band ramping up at that same spot. Turned out to be a K-band Your Speed sign (permanently affixed, I might add) on the eastbound side of traffic. Detection during the eastbound part of my trip was .3 miles around a corner. But I had .2 miles around a corner on the way west, with the beam pointing away from me. In both cases, it was basically as soon as there weren't buildings between me and the sign, so that's pretty good.
I had another Ka false a little closer to home, and there was another X50 nearby. Switched from Filter1 to Filter2 and the issue went away.
I will not ignore Ka on my Pro-78 again. That Park County guy would have nailed me if I'd made that last passing attempt instead of paying heed to the RD. Fortunately, during my earlier passing attempts, there were still rabbits galore between me and him. And a hill.
1. Rabbits are my heroes.
2. NEVER IGNORE KA BAND ALERTS!!!!!!!!!!
3. The Pro-78 is a damn good RD when working well. I have yet to experience the difficulties others have had with their 78s and 690s, and I'm hoping there are more like mine out there and fewer like those others.
4. Do NOT speed around curves in the mountains of Colorado. The state patrol uses them for terrain masking. Tricky devils.
5. The guy in the safety kayak who pulled a 60-year-old woman out of the rive during rafting is also my hero, but rafting is a kick in the pants.