Stickers, vectors, bikes, and trucks

I have an amazing bike. And ever since my friend Matt came home from Europe with the news that people in Italy use their bikes as canvases of self-expression, it’s housed my sticker collection:

My bike!


Just from my bike, you can tell that I

  1. canoe,
  2. would have voted for Clinton Obama in 2008 if I were 18 and a citizen,
  3. ♥ anything related to MIT,
  4. support state parks,
  5. can’t resist putting random (from slalom race sponsors, so not quite random) stickers on my bike,
  6. and really like stickers.

Unfortunately my dad wouldn’t let me similarly plaster our truck—likely because apparently the resell value of a car doesn’t increase with the amount of opinion I express with it, but more likely because if the old ladies in flower-print dresses who give me mean looks on the outskirts of town decide to take action, I’d rather it not be on my truck.

Speaking of the truck, I’m finally at the point in my driving education where I can drive to the dairy farm and back and only stall at one four-lane intersection. I can release the gas pedal, hit the clutch, switch to neutral, release the clutch, hit the turn signal, slowly apply the brakes, check my mirrors, realize I’m not stopping fast enough, start turning, really hit the brakes, hit the clutch, switch to second, laugh at the cool noise my tires just made, continue turning, slowly apply the gas while releasing the clutch, finish turning, really hit the gas pedal, hit the clutch, switch to third, check the speedometer, release the clutch, apply the gas, and check my mirrors for angry fellow drivers, all within six seconds. Changing gears has become more or less intuitive, and driving the truck has become sort of like driving my bike—only my bike can’t accelerate to 45 miles an hour (or, at least, I don’t think I can make it do that without biking off a cliff, which I will hopefully never investigate, at least not while on it) and doesn’t weigh 2,857 pounds. My bike also doesn’t leave me shaking, clenching the steering wheel (because bikes, you know, don’t have steering wheels), and wishing I’d considered buying a car with air bags a year ago. I hope to get my license by the end of the summer, by the way.

But I wasn’t always this, um, confident. Here’s a clip of a rant from last year, a few weeks after I habituated steering:

Just as coordinates are central to college life, vectors are important in driving. The gas pedal points forward, signifying forward acceleration; the brake pedal points backward. The clutch is a scalar by which the gas pedal is multiplied.

Only it doesn’t work that way.

A few nights ago I tried parking—and driving in reverse—for the first time:

I’m close enough to my parking spot so I switch to neutral, braking gently. I’m between the lines but I could be closer to the curb: clutch, first, release the clutch gently and slide forward. I bump the curb, but that’s okay—I drive a truck, after all.

Time to get out: clutch, switch to reverse, and slowly release the clutch. I slide backward, out of the parking spot, but I’m going too fast. I need to decrease the weight of the backward vector. How can I do this? By adding a forward vector, of course! So naturally, logically, I hit the gas.

Well, that was a lovely idea.

For some reason, slamming on the gas, even when the car is in reverse, does not slow the car down. Darn.


~ by science cow on July 8, 2010.

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