Fun in the Snow

Okay, I admit it, I’m a sucker for snow – especially when there’s lots of it.

I dropped off Amanda at the YMCA (gym) today around 1pm, and then I decided to go for a “drive.” At this point, there’s like 5 inches of snow in most places – give or take 1 or 2 inches – and the roads are pretty bad because it’s coming down so fast that the plows can’t keep up with it. Perfect conditions for some joy riding!

After driving up (and down) most of the big hills in Fitchburg (my street being one of them), I headed up route 12 towards Ashburnham. The roads were slick, but I never noticed. Along the way, in West Fitchburg, I came across an accident that had just taken place. The police were there, and the tow truck was just arriving, so the road was blocked for a few minutes, and I had plenty of time to observe.

A middle-aged guy driving a Chevy Suburban had smashed into a telephone pole at a corner – interestingly, he hit the pole on the inside of the corner. (How he did this I’m not sure, but I’m certain that “bad driving” had something to do with it.) So I watched this with some amusement until they moved the truck to the side of the road where the flat-bed tow truck could get to it.

After reaching Ashburnham, I turned onto 110 (I think it’s 110, maybe 101? I forget.) This was a fun road, because out this far the plows are scarce compared to Fitchburg – and there’s more snow up there, too. Eventually this merged with Rindge Road – which leads back to Fitchburg. THIS was a challenge. It had NOT been plowed AT ALL. All I had to go on were a pair of tire-tracks on my side of the road, with snow piled 6″ deep everywhere else. Even with AWD and snow tires, it was a bit tough. Especially since I was traveling at between 35 and 40 MPH. However, as most regular readers of this blog will know, I’m an excelent driver. Some concentration, both hands on the wheel, and judicious use of engine braking allowed me to remain in control the entire way. But it was FUN. 🙂

Back in Fitchburg, the main roads had improved somewhat, and it was almost time to pick up Amanda from the YMCA. So, I went home to wait out the last half hour (and obviously, to write this entry) and once again, found the only problem I have in the snow. Ironically, it occurs when I’m turning a sharp corner that’s got a lot of snow on it. My speed is usually like 3 MPH (yes, 3), and the Keithmobile just kind of… slips. Sideways. Sometimes the front doesn’t turn (understeer), and sometimes the back end whips out a bit (oversteer). It’s a little annoying; but what can you do? Snow tires give less traction side to side (as opposed to forwards & backwards), and let’s face it, at only 3,500 lbs., the Keithmobile isn’t that heavy. So it slides from time to time, if you’re not careful (or if conditions are nasty). Still, all it takes is some quick steering input to correct (for oversteer), or, alternatively, a light jab to the throttle (for understeer). So it’s all good. (I love my car!)

Well, I gotta get to the YMCA now – drive safely everyone, and enjoy the snow, if you can!

By Keith Survell

A geek, programmer, amateur photographer, anime fan and crazy rabbit person.