Sunday, April 24, 2011

48 Days Until the Great Race: Like Riding a Bike

There's something weird about driving a car with a manual transmission.

I can remember learning how to drive stick all those years ago.  I was so frustrated with the entire process.  I wondered why every car wasn't produced in automatic.  Stick was such a nuisance to me back then.  However, Dad insisted to teach me and persisted when I wouldn't get it right.  "It's like learning how to ride a bike, once you learn you never forget" was what he would tell me.

Eventually, I came to love driving stick.  It puts you in touch with the cars soul.  It allows you to truly become one with the car.  Generally, those who drive stick are exponentially better at driving then those who cannot.  It makes you pay attention to driving that much more.  You can't play with the radio, you can't eat breakfast, you can't talk on the phone, and god forbid you try texting.

Today, the manual transmission is on the automotive endangered species list.  Flappy-paddle gearboxes have progressed to a point where they can out shift the fastest human drivers alive.  Why change gears yourself when you can make a computer do it for you in 100 milliseconds?  100 milliseconds is too slow you say?  Well, Porsche's seven-speed Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK for short) will do it instantly.  At least they still offer a stick shift as standard in most of their models.  Ferrari's iconic gated shifters have gone the way of the dodo.  Don't get me started on what they've been doing lately, I'm sure that "il Commendatore" is rolling over in his grave right now.

Anyways, I stepped into Joan's Corvette this afternoon to drive back to Franklin & Marshall with Dad, I had a chance to remind myself that driving stick is in fact like riding a bike.  I didn't have a period of stalling and jittery starts right after I got back in.  It really is something that you can't forget how to do.  It was great to finally be back in the drivers seat going through the gears once more.  We had a great drive back along Routes 33, 78, and 501.  Quite a good mix of highway and b-roads.  The car performed great.  It cruised very well at highway speeds and was pretty smooth off the highway as well.  I was actually sad by the time we got to F&M.  I wanted to keep driving.  I would have been content to drive home, and then back again if I realized that I forgot my running shoes.  The car didn't miss a beat for the whole trip and I'm confident that it'll get us through the entirety of the Great Race (and the trip to Chattanooga and back from Bennington).
This is a picture of my cousin's kids.  We stopped at their house on the way to F&M and the boys were eager to show us their new go kart that they got for Easter.

James (7 years old) was very eager to take me for a ride.  I loved it.  I really wish that I had enough space to make that work at my house.

We stopped at Old Main once we got to F&M to take a picture of it with the car.  Dad was an F&M grad ('72) and I'm currently attending ('13).

I'll be back home in two weeks after I'm done with my last week of classes and a week of exams.  I'm really looking forward to spending more time driving the car.


  1. Great pics! James and Palmer seem to be having fun and Natalie is striking a fierce pose. Wish I could have stopped by the Townsends' as well. The old main pic is great too. Happy easter!

  2. @Allison! We hope to see you here this summer! We'll be waiting! :)

    And great pics Greg. Might need to steal those for my FB page! Great seeing you yesterday. Hope to do it again soon!