Ruby and the Chaffey’s Locks Road

January 11, 2017

Those who have driven the Chaffey’s Locks Road from Perth Road to Hwy 15 over the years don’t need any convincing that it is one of the best scenic drives in Eastern Ontario. Regular improvements have turned the rough cottage track into a fine hard surface through the original twists and climbs around Upper Rock and Opinicon Lakes in this section of the Canadian Shield.  The wider eastern stretch from Chaffey’s Locks to Hwy 15 also received a superb paving job two summers ago.

Of course the county fathers clapped a 40 km speed limit on the whole thing lest there be a Miata wrapped around every tree.  The many bicyclists in summer no doubt appreciate this.

After an errand in Kingston on a snowy morning last week I came home by Perth Road, but then turned toward Chaffey’s, partly to escape the deluge of salt and sand on the more heavily-travelled route to Westport.

Ruby discovered twenty miles of packed snow with a light dusting of sand down the middle.  This could be interesting.  At 5380 pounds empty, the Porsche Cayenne plants its winter tires quite firmly on the surface below, so I expected a smooth and controlled drive around the many dips and turns.

But I hadn’t taken the traction control into account.  After a while I began to wonder why the car felt so rooted to the road, so I tried to induce a little bit of slippage on a sweeper around an open field.

No.  Ruby just slowed down to a reasonable pace and continued on her way.

What?

I tried again when I found another good sightline.  As soon as the computer detected any slippage, on came brakes in a couple of wheels and she resumed the correct line.

You mean I could drive this road without braking for turns?  But that would be crazy! There are far too many blind spots for that.

So behave, you old coot!

And so I did.  Ruby and her computer/nanny guided me on an amazingly smooth passage to Chaffey’s Locks.  The ride was as serene as an illegal golf cart tour on a back road on a fine summer day.  It offered about the same sensation of motion, but it wasn’t long until Ruby pulled up to the stop sign at Hwy 15.

We ducked across the sandy main road and followed a series of other snow-covered by-ways back to Young’s Hill.  Only at the hairpin on an unused road around Forfar Station was I able to confuse Ruby.  I guess German programmers didn’t anticipate a 25 mph hairpin turn on virgin snow over gravel.  The left rear lost traction, all four brakes instantly burped that machine-gun rattle, and Ruby collected herself and proceeded at a resolute ten miles per hour regardless of my efforts on the throttle.

Two thoughts collided:  I certainly wouldn’t want a teenager to learn to drive on this thing. If the computer ever failed with the bad habits it had engendered, he’d crash.  But then I thought how great this car would be in the kind of slush on a crowded highway which turns light front-wheel drives into aquaplaning death traps.

There’s no doubt that a smart tank like Ruby is the right conveyance for my new grand-daughter.

 

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