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Thirty-gallon racer 

Ask any weather geek: It's hard to predict the likelihood of snowfall anytime, but particularly around Christmas, when Tin Pan Alley has led us ingrained it in our dreams.

So consider this a form of holiday preparedness.

click to enlarge Step right up - DEREK ANDERSON

I am recently returned from the snowy, near Arctic Circle town where I was born. (OK, that's a stretch, but Fort Wayne is about as close to Admiral Perry as I want to get.) There, or more accurately driving away from it in the white-out of a lake-effect snowstorm on Interstate 69, I was reminded why it is that I long ago traded the joy of such things as sledding for the mix of dry, sunny days and ugly, cold drizzle that passes for winter in North Carolina.

Occasionally, though, and possibly soon, we may be faced with an opportunity to enjoy a downhill ride on a snow-covered slope. That was the case a couple of years ago, and true to my roots, I was able to fashion a backyard run and provide a handful of adults an exhilarating and all-too-rare experience. It was during this event that the virtue of a very cold, plastic 30-gallon trash-can lid came to light. Few snowfall and ice conditions in the Piedmont allow for the use of actual sleds with runners. Around here, the Flexible Flyer, although a romantic sledding icon, is almost useless save on a few colder, snowier days. Discs, toboggans and flat-bottom rides are really the way to go. But who has one handy when the time is right? Remember, this is the Triangle--one flake and they're sending sled dogs out for the kids.

This is where the trash can lid can be an invaluable tool. A few tips: Obviously, you need the kind that doesn't have a handle on top. When flipped, the side handle models provide you with a crude steering/hold-on-for-dear-life mechanism. Extensive testing has found that a Rubbermaid model with a grooved, indented center works best. Good luck, and remember to share your trash-can lid with others.

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