Going Down Fast!
RAY: I thought I did an admirable job of obfuscating this. Here's the answer: When you shift your car into low gear, you are using the inertia - the mass of the engine to slow the car down. So when you're in first gear for example, you are asking gravity to pull the car down the hill, and you're asking that gravity to turn the pistons and the crankshaft and all of that stuff. And that's more likely to slow the car down, better than being in second, or third or fourth gear.
RAY: However, that will not work with all vehicles. Like bicycles. So if you are riding a bicycle, it makes no difference what gear you're in going down the hill because there are no pistons or crankshaft. You are the engine and you are coasting and the only thing that can slow you down going down the hill --
TOM: Is the brakes.
RAY: Or a tree! A tree works really well. So who's our winner?
TOM: The winner this week is Beverly Levine from Greensboro, North Carolina. And for having her answer selected at random from among the pile of correct answers that we got, Beverly's going to get a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at cartalk.com, with which Beverly can get a copy of our brand-new four-CD set called Car Talk's Field Guide to the North American Wacko.
RAY: Congrats, Beverly!
[ Car Talk Puzzler ]