Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dwelling on the obvious...

It's sometimes helpful to revisit old hurts, because sometimes in hindsight it's obvious how to think about them, whereas at the time emotions were strong and it wasn't obvious.

In the strange case of the bashed bike, the event that occurred, on which the story depends, was that a 14-year-old boy made a left turn at an inopportune moment. This was a mistake. In our culture, the way we deal with mistakes like this is to attempt to assign blame, and then force the guilty party to pay. But the question that pops into my mind now that I look at this in hindsight is: is that really the correct way to deal with a situation like this?

If you stop thinking about English common law for a minute and just look at what happened, the situation isn't really ethically different from the situation where a boulder drops in front of my bike at an inopportune moment and causes the same damage. The kid didn't set out to trash my bike. So why is it his problem to repair it? I'm the idiot who owns the bike, after all. If I'd just been a little smarter and not owned a bike, there would have been no chance of my seeing the bike get trashed, either by a kid or a boulder.

Anyway, that's what popped into my head upon reflection on last night's posting. Your milage may, of course, vary.


Blogger Mark said...

I still don't get the countersteering thing...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 3:33:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

The way countersteering works is that you turn your wheel, for example, to the right, and this moves the contact patch (the place where the rubber meets the road) to the right. The bike rotates around its center of gravity, which is above the contact patch, and this leaves the bike leaning to the left. At this point the bike begins to turn to the left, the wheel turns to the left to catch up with it, and you are now turning left and the wheel is pointing left. But to initiate the left turn, you actually turned the wheel to the right. That's countersteering. If you don't know how to countersteer, you will have real trouble accurately controlling your motorcycle.

You don't need to know about countersteering to ride a bicycle, because you can steer pretty well just by shifting your body weight. However, countersteering is still a very helpful thing to know about when you are doing descents, because at higher speeds it's much easier to turn the bike by countersteering than by throwing your weight around. So anybody that you see riding their bike downhill through a corner in a steep lean probably knows how to countersteer, either intellectually or just kinesthetically.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 9:08:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Ah, right! I understand now. It's about how you begin the steer... Makes sense now. :)

Not to nag, but I was worrying--did my mails bounce, or did you get them?

Thursday, September 22, 2005 1:45:00 AM  

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