Cycling Conversations

Anne remarked that it seemed that her bike was making a political statement. Her left-hand brake worked fine and didn’t complain about doing its job. Meanwhile, her right-hand break didn’t work as well and squealed and complained whenever it was asked to do its job. She went on to compare her right-hand/rear brake to Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. From then on, she began calling her right-hand brake the Scott Walker of bicycle brakes. At the end of our ride, she got an opportunity to demonstrate this.

A neighborhood dog had gotten loose and decided to chase the bicyclists. It ran at Anne who in panic and surprise squeezed and throttled both her brake levers. The Scott Walker brake screamed and squealed mightily, but after sufficient pressure was applied to it, it was made to do its job correctly.

Next this errant hound chased after me, but it was content to pass me, then cut me off and then duck in-between two parked cars. As it passed before me, I could see that it was an old and rather overweight pooch and really of no threat. It had had its fun; it was tired now and was content to run away, if only to be able to chase cyclists on another day.

During our ride, Anne asked, “What are the English temperature units that are to Fahrenheit as Kelvin is to Celsius in Metric units?” “Rankine”, I told her. “Like the technical institute”, she asked? “No, it has an e at the end”, I said. “When is American engineering going to switch from English units to the Metric system? After all we’re teaching Metric in school, not English”, she asked. I thought about this for a while. Conversations aboard bikes often have these interludes. Usually the demands of navigating traffic interject these natural pauses, but this time I need time to think about it.

The auto industry converted to metric, it’s just the aircraft industry that hasn’t. You know, maybe that is why the American automobile industry has had so much trouble and the American aerospace industry is still flying high. Anne interjected, “I don’t think that switching to the metric system led to the decline of the auto industry.” Maybe not, but switching to the metric system certainly didn’t hurt its internationalization.

Aircraft are measured in inches. We use mils to make sure that all of the parts will fit together. A mil is a thousandth of an inch. Planes are weighed in pounds. We also use feet, miles and even nautical miles and of course we measure temperatures in Fahrenheit and Rankine. We never use metric units.

We got 15 miles, but now I have to exorcise Scott Walker from Anne’s bike. Time to logon to Performance Bike again and then in a couple of days that nice FedEx man will stopping by again. Anne posed for the pop art picture with this post. She posed with moose muse antlers displayed. This photograph demonstrates another new feature in PhotoShop 9. I’m helping Anne to channel her Annie Warhol period.

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