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3:33pm on Wednesday, 23rd December, 2009:

Lacking Traction


I don't know about Metaplace's problems with traction, as mentioned yesterday, but I had some of my own this morning.

The snow is finally starting to melt, so we decided to go to Sainsbury's today via Argent's Lane. This road is so narrow that no gritter could have got up it, so we knew there was no point in going there earlier, but the entrance to it was clear today so we chanced it.

It wasn't so bad most of the way. The road was covered in snow, but there were tracks from four-wheel drive vehicles and tractors so it was easy enough to get up. That was true until we stopped, though.

We stopped because the blue car four in front of us had stopped. It had stopped to get past a string of cars in the other direction. Not just cars, either: there were transit vans in the line too. As I waited, an ASDA delivery van drove up behind me (so close as to cut off my turn-around-and-go-via-the-level-crossing option). The blue car was at a very narrow, bendy part of the road. It couldn't go back (cars behind it) and it couldn't wait for traffic to go past it (road too narrow) so it had to go forward. However, robbed of its forward momentum from having stopped, it couldn't go forward. It was on a slight incline, and its wheels span.

Eventually, some council workers from a truck that was really too wide to be down Argent's Lane got out and pushed. The next car had a shot at it, and it got wheel spin too. The council labourers helped them out as well. The next two cars were four-wheel drive, and although they struggled they did get up the hill without running into difficulty.

Then it was our turn.

As I approached, I could see the problem. Snowmelt from off the fields had frozen on top of old snow and turned the road into polished glass. I switched to the right-hand side, trying to get some grip from the tracks left there, but it didn't help. The wheels were spinning and I was going nowhere.

I did have an old towel in the boot that I keep so I can use it for grip in such situations, but the council guys came over and pushed me up. If they hadn't been there, it would have been a lot worse, and I'm very grateful to them. With a clear run at the hill, I would have got up it; without the momentum to keep me going with the wheels spinning, though, it was bad news.

As we proceeded, we noticed a lot of wider vehicles waiting patiently to come the other way. One was a Tesco delivery van. There's no way that was going to get past the ASDA van — it couldn't have done it even without the snow at that part of the lane. I did stop and warn another 3 vehicles I saw approaching that they should turn round, not that this was itself an enticing prospect.

We came back over the level crossing...

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).