Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Local man of mystery
Where did I get the bike and the bike gear, you ask? From a loyal reader and occasional commenter, that’s where! That’s what blogs are for: bringing people together . . . in such a way that they do me favors like lending me bicycles and inviting me to watch The Sopranos.
I’ve decided that I’m a great deal less likely to damage other Fellows’ cars if I stick to biking along the Tobacco Trail. So far, so good: I have not struck any other bicycles on my seven-mile journey from downtown Durham to the Center. I did send a few hapless pedestrians into the ditch, but they mostly deserved it for moving so slowly.
There was only one catch: after my first day on wheels, I remarked to my benefactor that I was unable to find the gear-shift mechanism. There seemed to be gears, all right, but how could one change them? “Oh, I should have told you,” replied the benefactor, inexplicably forgetting that I am less than ideally adept on these vehicles. “It’s an index shift.”
“An index shift,” I repeated. “That means the bicycle goes up or down in accordance with the Consumer Price Index?”
“No, fool,” said my increasingly exasperated benefactor, who had given me a helmet and a yellow jacket and a pair of gloves only to learn that I needed a lesson in what makes the wheels go round. “You just push this lever with your index finger.” And lo! Yesterday I made it to the Center in about forty minutes. Today, thirty-five—and that included a five-minute wait for a freight train crossing Cornwallis Road. It seems that this “index shift” thing really works!
Today I also learned that the bicycle has “calipers” or “forceps” or something, and that they need to be in the right “position” or the front brake will not “work.” Don’t ask how I learned this! Just close your eyes and imagine.