Some Useful Cycling Devices
As a touring cyclist,
I am well acquainted with the fact that almost all cycling advice and almost
all cycling equipment is made for the high-tech, high-speed, ultra-light,
streamlined cyclist. We hear of the need for cyclometers, cadence monitors,
altimeters, heart-rate monitors, and combination devices that can record
and print back the entire trip. But did you know that touring cyclists
have their own high-tech devices? Here are some of them:
was invented by H. Thoreau (a former pencil manufacturer) and is designed
to measure the truth behind appearances. In 1968, Postman and Weingartner
called this "an instant, built-in, crap detector." This device is useful
for measuring the truths of statements such as the following: "This back
road here's too dangerous, but that main road over there is very safe."
"My dog snarls, but he don't bite." "It's downhill the rest of the way."
"Turn left at the second light, go several blocks, and turn right. You
can't miss it."
Just as you can
conveniently record your speed, cadence, altitude, and resting, pacing,
climbing, and maximum heart rates, now, with the Meteorological Max Kit,
you can record all the meteorological data at the same time, maximum and
minimum temperature, precipitation, barometric pressure, and solar intensity.
The company will even sell a program to allow you to statistically correlate
all these events. Does a hot sun really slow you down or speed you up?
The Sunrise, Sunset,
and Rainbow Recorder was designed to measure and record daylight phenomena
the cadence-conscious cyclist can now without guilt ignore. The same company
produces a Moonbeam, Starlight, and Falling-Star Recorder that measures
and records evening phenomena the same way. Soon to be marketed is a wild
animal counter for the Nature lover as well. This last device will keep
up with the individual species for you, so you don't have to bother. It
even has a roadkill switch allowing you the option of counting or not counting
these animals (some people consider counting roadkill to be cheating; with
others, that's all they've got).
The Automatic Panorama
Device detects any scenes that could be described as beautiful, scenic,
or panoramic. This device has three switchable options: Alarm sets
off a buzzer, so you can lift your eyes off the cyclometer and glance around;
Record does not disturb you, but makes a record of the occurrence
for a later trip report; Camera will work with an attached wide-angle
camera or video recorder to capture the scene without disturbing your concentration.
The Blood, Guts,
and Awful Flames Detector will set off a loud buzzer whenever you near
a fatal traffic wreck, burning gasoline truck, or spilled train tank car.
This was the one device I found to be unsatisfactory. I found I could pass
two or three cadavers before it would finally go off. Definitely, the device
needs to work before you get to the accident.
The Instant Poetic
Inspiration Device is not as instant as the makers claim. Before it will
produce a single poem, you have to hook it up to a PC or a Mac,
and you must have a 233 processor and 32 megabytes of RAM. Nonetheless,
the device did produce poetry that was judged as good and as understandable
as anyone else's and did so without requiring one moment's reflection. [Note: the software in this device has recently been updated to make it compatable with Windows 98 and Windows 2000; it now requires a Pentium III and 128 megabytes of RAM and works nearly as well as it did before; a Macintosh version is no longer available.]
The final device
is the Prevaricator. Certainly, no device was ever needed more
by a cyclist. This device helps you expand your mind set, so you are equal
to cyclists who are older and more experienced than you. If one says, "I
have ridden to the top of Mt. Evans (14,100 ft.) in the summer," you can
reply, "Well, I have ridden to the top of Mt. McKinley (20,300 ft.) in
the winter," and what is he going to say to top that?