Surviving My Non-Car Chores: Mow-Toring Fantasies

Easter weekend. Four days away from the stresses and rigours of the office… which inevitably end up being used to do all the things I’ve been trying to put off so far this year. You know, interior decorating, bits of home maintenance and, yes, mowing the lawn.
Unlike my American friends, the plot on which The Towers Of Rust stand is somewhat less than prarie-sized.  I have to make do with an electric hover-mower and not the kind of V8-propelled, air conditioned lawn tractors that everybody uses in the ‘states. Still, that doesn’t stop me from turning the chore of hacking my way through grass (which has been abandoned since last autumn) into something approaching hoonworthy.
So the garden becomes a circuit. There’s a sweeping curve south, turn one leads into a tricky chicane then turn three tightens past the garden shed with a double apex before the straightaway which takes me past the swing hammock. After that it’s a drift past the patio doors and ready for the second lap, which takes the same course but on the inside of the track I’ve just carved. Then I continue in an anticlockwise spiral until there’s no more mowing left to do. I’m victorious, and can recline on a deckchair sipping from my magnum.
I need to grow up. Or do I?

Turning mundane duties into driving fantasies renders the most tedious of tasks, those usually mandated by your contract of cohabitation, enjoyable.
Similarly, I know I’m not alone in my supermarket exploits. Go out for the weekly shop and there’s a purpose-built racetrack just waiting for you. With a 360° caster at each corner, four-wheel-drifts are easy and my local Co-Op has organised the chilled meat, fruit and veg aisle in such a way as to have free-standing displays ready for a bit of Ken-Block style oversteer practice. Need bread and milk? It’s gymkhana time.
In those stores where the barrows only have steering at the front, achieving low supermarket lap-times requires a different discipline. Taking that corner from deli into housewares would be easy with a drift, but to get around it fast with fixed rear wheels might well need an inside rear to lift off the deck, 205 GTi style. Weight distribution is key; it pays to get the heavy items in first, the beer, the bottles of wine and the Pepsi before adding lighter goods like biscuits, coffee and toiletries. A low centre of gravity is essential to avoid a groceries-overboard scenario.
There’s an added advantage in all this tomfoolery; keep it up and your significant other may grow tired of your trolley-toting antics and force you to stay at home.
It’s a win win. In what totally non-car situations do you find yourselves making broom-broom noises?
(Images of highly tuned Mistley 0.24hr Race Flymo and Supermarket Sprint 500 copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)

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19 responses to “Surviving My Non-Car Chores: Mow-Toring Fantasies”

  1. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Get your butt over to the Heart of America and you can have a go on the Gravely zero-turn around our 1/2 acre. The elevation changes will Blow. Your. Mind.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I’m SO up for that. I’ll pop over. You can sit indoor drinking elderflower cordial and your lawn will look after itself.

  2. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    Supermarkets are an excellent venue to practice drifting, until the cart gets too heavy. I have teenagers, that happens fast.

  3. Hatchtopia Avatar

    I’ll be mowing my lawn on Two Wheel Tuesday. I have to say, the move to non-internal-combustion mowing has been a revelation. It’s almost a zen experience now. With the added benefit that the dog and child can play nearby.

  4. Maymar Avatar

    My first job was in a supermarket – when I started, we had the traditional shopping carts, just a giant wire bin with two castors up front and two fixed rear wheels. As they’d been in use for a few years, they were starting to show a bit of age, and didn’t have the most grip, so inevitably if I was ever sent with one to restock the shelves, that tail end would be out on every corner, like a Top Gear highlight reel.
    Sadly, shortly after, they brought in new, heavy multi-level carts that couldn’t drift at all.

  5. gord Avatar

    how about this? (i have one, offered by canadian tire for short time… i am sure it is unsafe!!
    not sure still how to ad pix

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I’ll bet that’s what Ralph Nader used to mow his lawn.

  6. Sjalabais Avatar

    For my part, cutting race tracks into tall grass is no more. I killed two used mowers by not knowing that simple mowers lack an oil pump, thus being dependent on “throwing” oil around at an even degree. Additionally, the spark plug sits up front: So mowing in any direction but upwards on our little plot here will suck the life out of these small engines. We have a hilly property with grades that occasionally exceed 30°. So much for Fjordnorway. Last year, we bought our first new mower and we didn’t really go for a cream product – a simple McCulloch M51-125m will do.

    1. mzszsm Avatar

      When that one dies in ten years, electric mowers should be readily available, they don’t have oil slingers, so you should be good to go on the odd grades.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Agreed. We had a look at them, but price and performance did not match yet. We also have one of those hoovermowers with a cord. At a grade, this is too much for my back.

  7. crank_case Avatar

    I noticed with some dismay that my local supermarket has a new trolley design without any lower frame/crossmember so that you put your feet on and ride them anymore. The world is slowly getting less and less fun.

  8. William Robinson Avatar
    William Robinson

    The lawn at our old place was somewhat huge being just under an acre and a half of mowing. I used to call it the mow touring grand prix. My new place has much less lawn but a much nicer ocean view. Three guys come every Wednesday and attack it with a zero turn and two weed wackers, they are done in twenty minutes and I’m only $30 poorer..

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Pretty efficient – selfemployed guys?

      1. William Robinson Avatar
        William Robinson

        Yep. It’s a buddy of mines brother and two of his friends. They pretty much have it down to a science.

  9. neight428 Avatar

    One can lift the front tires at launch with an injudicious sidestepping of the clutch/brake on a lawn tractor if one manages his weight distribution just so, or at least you could with the models sold in the 80’s. Understeer at the limits of traction remained an unsorted chassis issue.

  10. Guest Avatar

    “not the kind of V8-propelled, air conditioned lawn tractors that everybody uses in the ‘states”

    …Damn… I want one. Hear in Canada we just have open Kubota diesels. Oh, well for the farm we have an International swather powered by a 4.2L AMC/Jeep/Chrysler inline six, so I guess that kinda counts… Oh, and sometimes the A/C works…

  11. 7FIAT's Later Avatar
    7FIAT’s Later

    I have a couple acres to mow, my lawn tractor even though sporting a 24 HP V-Twin is stupidly slow and has a fatal design flaw, the beer holder is on the same side as the discharge, so you get grass clippings in the top of the can among other things (I have a dozen chickens running around).

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      You should get in touch with Consumer Reports on that one. They’ll have a field day.