Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Nano Cycling - the New Frontier

From early days, engineers sat at their desks and contemplated shrinking bicycles and riders down to microscopic levels, hoping to set off and explore new frontiers. (And escape from bosses, supervisors, tax collectors, tedium, and other ills.)

Early attempts at reducing the size of cyclists were encouraging, but not always successful. Shortly after this image was recorded, the cycling couple rode off and were never seen again. It was decided that perhaps it was best to concentrate on producing nano bikes first, and cyclists later.

After much effort, engineers began to make significant progress. Fully functional bicycles of incredibly small sizes began to appear.

Unlike the camels of old, these bikes could pass through the eye of a needle (if you turned the handlebars). Still there was a long way to go in terms of reduction.

Finally, a significant breakthrough involving proximity to a critical mass of Reifenabrieb (rubber tire dandruff) allowed the transformation of cyclists into true nano cyclists, and the jubilant engineers were on their way.

Understandably perhaps, the engineers first tested out nano cyclists in the repair and maintenance of bicycle inner tubes while in actual use, installed on rims. It was thought that teams of nano cyclists could forestall flats before they happened, by servicing and repairing weaknesses in tubes, such as the nano snakebite in Photo 2 above.

Brilliant in principle, but difficult in practice as the distances inside a standard 700c bike tube are enormous on a nano level. Here one the nano cycling scouts has located a minor leak and is awaiting the arrival of the patch crew. Fortunately it is a very slow leak. Once patched, the team can proceed on to the next leak - after stopping for ice cream, perhaps. Of course, they may just decide to let the lazy engineers patch their own tubes, and set off instead on a transcontinental trip across the engineer's mouse pad. In nano cycling, the possibilities - and the distances - are endless.

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