Sunday, December 16, 2007

Like Night and Day

The Last Run

3 pm. Our hero looks ponderously through the windshield. He is at the base of Heartbreak Hill, the steep ascent at his apartment complex. It is the final run for the summer stickies on Rowdy, his black Honda.

Grimacing, he grips the wheel. And guns 'er. He knows from past experience that the ice & snow cover on this hill is treacherous. He has seen dozens of vehicles lose their momentum and merely polish their tires at the midway point.

However, Rowdy is front-wheel drive: this car requires more care. One cannot simply gun 'er, for if grip is lost, then so too is steering. And many cars are parked along the hill. A dangerous game.

Our hero zooms along the base, running a faux stop sign, hitting 12 mph. Any faster would be reckless. Any slower would be pointless. He guides the car into the curve and begins to climb.

The car loses grip immediately. Shifting into higher gears, the car gains a bit of speed and yet reduces torque. The speedo clocks in at 30 mph but the car is barely climbing the hill.

After a long 2 minutes, our hero crests the grade. Miraculously, he has done it.

He may be an absent-minded philosopher without mechanical skill or a sense of winter planning, but so too: he is a driver.

The First Run

5 pm. After a pleasant visit to the local NTB store, Rowdy and our hero sit again the base. Now, Rowdy is shoed with high performance all-season tires. Also, the alignment has been corrected. They both grin wickedly at this litmus test for the new rubber.

Without fanfare, our hero kicks Rowdy into gear. Intentionally, there are no momentum games and no exotic gear-shifts. This is is an honest test.

They come off the base at 7 mph... the tires bite into the snowpack. Slowly, and without wheelspin, the car climbs the hill with a sense of purpose and calm, almost as though being pulled by a tow-line at a ski hill.

Both runs had a sense of inevitability: however the latter is based on sound engineering principles, rather than clever skill and megalomania. It's less fun, but a lot more promising for the winter ahead.

ps. NTB = National Tire and Battery. I think I like them better than Dobbs. And certainly better than Sears re: Jennifer's experience. I miss Canadian Tire (separate post).

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