Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Design flaw

What with the rising price of gas, Mrs. Gerbil and I decided it was high time to get new bicycles. My old beloved purple bike had died a valiant death of rust before our move from Ohio to California, and Mrs. Gerbil's black one was sacrificed for our move from California to Massachusetts. Mrs. Gerbil had promised me a new bike for Hanukkah a few years ago, and we'd gone to a bike shop of good repute in Berkeley to check out the stock; but the very nice employee wasn't able to identify the right bike for my overall size (not very big) and posture needs (weird).

So a few weeks ago, on recommendation from one of Mrs. Gerbil's co-workers, we went to Joe's Bike Garage. Joe's Garage is a tiny little place whose website, as far as I can tell, only has an index page; but Joe had the perfect bike for us. We each got a Redline R510, and dang, am I in love with my bike.

The other day I went on an extended little jaunt in search of a prescription and some ingredients for dinner. As I was unchaining my beautiful bike from the trash can at Big Y (note to local businesses: please provide bike racks!), an older man in a boater hat approached me. "Can I ask you a question about your hat?" he asked.

"My helmet?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"Sure," I replied.

"Why is it shaped like that?" he asked.

Assuming he was referring to its fairly typical contour, I said, "It's more aerodynamic this way."

"It doesn't cover the side of your face," he said. "Why isn't it shaped like a football helmet?"

"There are some helmets like that," I said, "but I guess this one is just made to protect your brain. If you fall on the side of your face and break your jaw, they can wire it back, but if you hit the top of your head and get a brain injury, you're pretty much screwed."

Dammit, I thought, I shouldn't use words like "screwed" when conversing with nice 80-year-old men.

"Oh, okay," he replied. "But me, if I fell off a bike, I would probably fall on the side of my face. Bye!"

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