Easy Peddler

A couple of years ago my wife bought a bicycle. It’s been sitting in the garage ever since. I know better than to make any type of comment on the situation so I have never questioned the acquisition, Then a few weeks ago she said to me ‘Do you know why I never ride that bicycle?’ Yes I do but here again, I know better than to share that information. ‘I don’t ride it’ she went on, ‘because you don’t have one. If you had a bike we could go riding together.’ Okay so all of a sudden I’m the problem. Again. I don’t like to lie so I just stay quiet but here’s the thing – I’m not a bicycle guy. I’m a car guy. I could be a motorcycle guy if I had to but I am certainly not a bicycle guy. Sadly that point of view is not regarded as an acceptable defense in my local courthouse/family room.

So I went to WalMart and bought a bicycle. But I didn’t want it assembled. I asked them to deliver it in a box. Then I went online and found a company in Alabama that makes small gas engines for bicycles. I ordered one and it arrived a few days later. There was an engine with a gearbox mounted on it and a whole bunch of nuts and bolts and a hub with a sprocket on each side and other stuff. But no instructions. I called the company and was told they don’t provide instructions. Instead I was to go the Photo Gallery on their website, find a bike that looks like mine and do that. About twenty-seven trips to Lowes later, I had the engine mounted on the bike:

I didn’t do the whole job myself. You have to remove all the spokes from the back wheel, take off the old hub and replace it with this new hub that has sprockets on each side. One for the pedals and one for the engine.

I got a bicycle shop to swap the hubs. To my surprise the removal of the old hub meant I no longer had brakes. The process of adding an engine while removing the brakes didn’t seem like an ideal plan to me. So I installed hand brakes but I was concerned about slamming on the brakes and cartwheeling forward over the handlebars so I put both brakes on the rear wheel.

As you see I had to also remove the rear fender to make the engine fit. I made a mental note not to ever ride through puddles. The next issue was that the added weight of the engine moved the centre of gravity so far back that the kickstand was ineffective. Rather than replace it, I just added another one closer to the rear hub.

Now it was time for a test drive. I fired up the engine and away I went. With the gear ratio I ordered, I had to pedal to get the bike moving and then I could open the throttle and the engine would take over. Everything worked well but I was curious about how fast I was going and how far I could travel on a tank of gas so I installed a little wireless gizmo that would give me that info.

It was like a mini-computer or something. You had to program in your age and weight for some reason. Once I got it working I went for a ride around my neighbourhood. When I got back I pressed the buttons and got the report. I had travelled 3.58 miles at an average speed of 15 mph and a top speed of 23 mph and here’s the best part, I had burned 375 calories. The gizmo didn’t know I wasn’t pedaling. I went in the house and had a piece of pie. Later that week my wife gave her bike to a friend. I’ve still got mine.

All Natural

ALL NATURAL

California has always been regarded as the hub of logic and rational thinking and they’ve proven it once again with their recent discovery of the benefits of ‘raw water’. This is bottled water that comes straight from a pond or a river or a spring and gets bottled without the benefit of any chemical treatments. The important aspect of that statement is that I‘m not kidding. People are now giving testimonials about how drinking raw water enhances their health and sense of well-being. They will never drink treated water again. Probably because they won’t live long enough to.

I know most people would prefer to not drink chemicals, just like most people would prefer to not take medication, but they should. Let’s try a little reverse engineering on tap water to try to understand the rationale behind water treatment. By the time it comes to your house it’s been filtered and treated with alum to remove the particulate and socked with chlorine to kill the bacteria and maybe even given a splash of fluoride so your teeth don’t fall out. Why do they do that? Is the city in bed with the chemical companies? Do they like wasting money? Are they just stupid? If raw water is so great, why doesn’t the city just stick a big pipe into the nearest river and pump that straight into your house?

It’s not because they’re wasteful, it’s because they don’t want you to die. Or at least they don’t want to be responsible for killing you. It’s a big part of their job. They’ve looked at the evidence and have decided that sticking your head into a pond and taking a big gulp is probably not all that good for you. They’re convinced that there is bad stuff in raw water. And so am I. Mosquito larvae and spider webs and tree roots and rotting fish. And the main offender – poop. Lots of poop. Nature is a wonderful place but it does not have restrooms. Animals that live in the water, poop in the water. There’s a reason fish don’t swim on the bottom. And not just fish poop. Turtle poop and muskrat poop and weasel poop and the biggest treat of all – bear poop. So if somebody pours you a glass of raw water, hold it up to the light, look at the little specs floating around in it and try to guess which one is gonna put you in the hospital.

Of course the raw water thing is just an extension of the movement towards all natural, organic meat and vegetables. There are a lot of people who want to take the chemicals out of the farming process. The logic is that whatever they spray on the vegetables to give higher crop yields or feed to the cattle to make them grow faster, is going to end up in peoples’ bodies and hurt them. Or even kill them. Nobody wants that. If you thought processed food was dangerous, you wouldn’t eat it. And neither would I. But I do eat processed food because I don’t believe it’s dangerous. I haven’t done any research. I really don’t know anything about it. If I googled ‘the evils of processed food’, I’d probably be paranoid too. Instead I just bumble along with my approach to life. I have a pretty simple way of looking at things, including all-natural organic food, based on four premises:

Premise #1 – I am not immortal. I will eventually die of something, even if it’s boredom.

Premise #2 – I trust people. I don’t believe the food industry is trying to kill their customers.

Premise #3 – I like value. Until somebody convinces me that organic food is going to make me immortal, I’m not willing to pay double for a head of lettuce that has a two-day shelflife.

Premise #4 – Historical evidence. Four hundred years ago there were no chemicals sprayed on crops and no hormones injected in cattle. Everything they ate was all-natural organic and the average life span was 37 years. Why would we want to go back to that?

I don’t run marathons either but that’s a whole other blog.