Important Questions

As I’m biking along, idle questions often pop into my head. Usually, the question is just interesting enough that I’ll consider it for about ten seconds before moving on, distracted by the next shiny object.

For example, I’ve often looked down at the shoulder of the road I’m riding on and noticed a lone rivet-ish looking object punched into the pavement. That is, it’s a doughnut-shaped metal disc that’s been pressed into the asphalt, with a nail driven through the center. What is that “road rivet” (as I call them) for? It’s not securing anything down, is it? It’s way too small to be structural, right? Maybe it’s a marker for something?

And then I lose interest and forget about it.

Yesterday, though, I actually found out what those road rivets are for. As I rode along, there were a couple of surveyors at the side of the road — one holding a pole, another several yards down the roadlooking through the eyepiece and taking measurements. I looked at the base of the pole, and — sure enough — it was seated in one of those road rivets, minus the nail that’s usually driven there.


Important Questions

This made me think: there are many other questions that frequently occur to me while I’m riding. Sometimes I have a pretty good idea of the answer, but still like to ask because I’m a rhetorical blowhard. Other times, I genuinely don’t have an answer.

Such as:

  • Why do people toss their cigarette butts on the road? My working theory is that smokers think that the cigarette butts are so small that they don’t count. This is, of course, stupid. Perhaps they think the cigarette butts are biodegradable? Maybe, but I think it takes a while, as in a decade or so.
  • Who’s tossing trash these days? I don’t know anyone who throws their bottles or McDonalds bags out on the side of the road, yet the trash is still there. Didn’t those guys see that “Crying Indian” commercial back in the 70’s?
  • What are all those bungie cords doing on the ground? It’s a scientific fact: you can’t ride a bike more than 15 miles without seeing at least one bungie cord on the side of the road. My working theory is that these bungie cords disembungified en route. This isn’t a particularly innovative theory, but it is worrying, because I use bungie cords all the time. When will it be my turn to disembungify?
  • If someone passes me and says “How’s it going?” as they blow by, what is the likelihood they really want to know how it’s going? Am I within my rights, if I manage to catch her wheel, hang on for a minute, and successfully attack and drop her, to answer as I go by, “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”
  • Which is better, road biking or mountain biking? Any time I’m on the road, I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite. Any time I’m on the dirt, I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite.
  • How fat do I look? As people drive by in their cars, do they say to themselves, “Wow, that cyclist certainly has a paunch?” Or are my bib shorts doing their job (ie, compressing and containing said paunch)? From time to time, I look down, trying to see what my gut looks like, but it’s hard to tell. I know for sure it doesn’t look as bad to me as when I see photos of me on my bike. Yeeuch.
  • How far I can ride between breaths? Occasionally I take a deep breath and then see how far I can ride before I have to inhale again. I have no reason for doing this other than curiosity. When riding this way, I always go fast, but I wonder: could I go farther by exerting very little effort and trying to not burn oxygen so fast?
  • What percentage of people in cars are envious? Whenever I’m driving and see someone on a bike, I get a twinge of envy. I’ve got to assume other cyclists are the same way. So, for every 100 cars that pass me (or, during rush hour, that I pass), how many wish they were riding their bike instead?

The Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway Question

This week, you’ve got a choice. Either ask a question that’s occurred to you on your bike, or answer one of the questions I’ve asked.

What can you win? A cool seat bag.

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