Saturday, January 28, 2006

Privacy, Cars (Bought one), training

Privacy: Dd sends this--frightening only because it's not far from the truth already...

Cars: Thanks to everyone who sent suggestions and comments on cars and car shopping, some funny stuff for sure. In the end we went with the Matrix. Better fuel economy than the Subaru, cheaper to buy, own and operate in the short and long run. If this link works it’s pretty cool to check out ownership costs, basically my spreadsheet but smarter.

Suddenly I'm seeing these cars everywhere--met a friend while getting lunch today, she had one, another couple of friends emailed to say they have 'em, it's an epidemic of Matrix/Vibe owners. I also liked the people at Charlesglen Toyota--the Subaru salesman might have been able to get me fired up on a Subaru, but I disliked the feel of the dealership and Subaru's pricing tactics. I was half expecting to get worked at the closing of the Matrix deal ("Oh, we under-coated the car and did out standard 602-point inspection, that's an additional $1100, " I've had that happen in the past), but it was again straight up and friendly. The car actually ended up costing a hundred bucks less 'cause I forgot about the GST credit on the Saab. So, all in all a good experience, I'd recommend Charlesglen to anyone looking for a Toyota.

Quick Review: just drove the Matrix up to Shark Mountain (about 45 minutes of iced-up dirt each way) to go skate skiing, it did very well, much more solid on the snow and dirt than I expected despite the “all season” stock tires. The big thing with the Matrix is that each gear is about one gear "higher" than I'm used to with a truck. Fifth gear on the Matrix is basically only useful for driving along a flat highway. If you encounter a steep hill in 5th it's often better to shift straight to third to keep the RPMs up--if the RPMs aren't over about 3,300 the car has no torque. But keep the revs over about 3,600 and there's lots there. We've put 250K onto the car in the last 24 hours, and the gas gauge is still well above half, and that's with the engine still breaking in. I haven't really driven the engine yet as you're not supposed to hammer on it during the first 1000K, but it sure does feel solid and smooth so far. I haven’t driven a high-revving four-cylinder in a few years so it’s going to take some time to get used to, but I like working with the engine, it’s a much more “connected” feeling than just relying on a V6 to pull.

The braking is very good and balanced—one problem I’ve had lately with cars is that the front wheels seem to loose traction well before the rear wheels, that’s disconcerting on snowy roads. The Matrix braking feels well-balanced.

Buying a smaller, more fuel-efficient car makes a lot of sense, especially with gas prices over $3/gallon (85 cents per liter). Ninety nine percent of the time I'm just driving to Calgary or to go climbing on the Parkway or somewhere, there's no point in spending twice the money on gas (and polluting the planet) by driving my truck. That's probably not a popular view here in oil-mad Alberta, but I've spent enough time in Europe where people just make smaller cars work. We had enough $ to basically buy whatever car or truck we wanted to without it breaking the bank, buying a smaller car is a choice. Yeah, we could have gone hybrid, but hybrids cost a lot more at this point and I live in Alberta where not using some gas is a provincial crime punishable by exile to Toronto... Diesel was another option, but diesel can be nasty on the environment. When bio-diesel becomes more plentiful that will be a good choice, I expect my next vehicle will be a diesel (the town of Canmore runs all their trucks on a bio diesel mix already), especially if it's a truck. Europeans can never get their heads around the fact that our trucks and SUVs run on gas, it just makes no sense. We had a diesel motorhome last year in Europe, it got better fuel economy than my smaller gas trucks ever did. There's probably a conspiracy theory about US manufacturers and diesel engines in there somewhere.

Workouts:

Friday: Good skate ski session at Shark (well, only 50 minutes, but slow going with the new snow and Sara Renner I’m not), nothing beats skate skiing for aerobic death, all four limbs going at once up a hill, boom, one aerobic death unit served up. Then quick yoga and a good session at the Vsion. Really hard mixed climbing is likely over for me this season, I want to develop some better cardio and focus more on a longer new routes. I still want to be able to climb hard mixed, just not bleeding edge. Fell off while doing my usual drytool circuit and landed flat on my back on the padded carpet, like a pancake, splat. It hurt and my ice tool ripped up my elbow a bit. Finished the lap once I could breathe again. Almost didn’t go and train because I didn’t want to push it after the Ouray crud, but I think I’m back up to speed, feel great this morning finally.

Thursday: yoga and an easy 30-minute run. I don't want to push too hard with the remnants of the Ouray crud in my system.

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