He's a Dynamo


I look down at my computer which tells me I am doing eighteen, nineteen miles per hour; my legs tell me I am doing it comfortably. That is still respectable range for this point in a ride I silently say. "This point in a ride" sounds like some kind of consolation, but not too many miles have been spun on the road bike recently, so it is actually more like victory to me.

So why the hell am I not closing down on this bmx bandit. That was almost the opposite of silent, almost came a little too close to escaping from my mouth. Frustration? Not really, more like amazement, surprise. At the last overpass the kid on the loud bmx bike had quickly come up from behind me and passed, a backpack with fishing pole stuck out the top like a finger wagging back and forth. Oh no you don't. He had come onto the path from the street up above, so it was the sprint and downhill momentum that carried him past as I cruised along. It went on like that for a short distance, maybe the length of a football field - me just keeping up a steady pace, he six, seven, eight rotations of the cranks and then a long coast. 

I had seen bmx riders make quick sprints which would better this pace. Nothing extraordinary, then, about him sprinting past. But the gap should have closed during those long coasts, and it wasn't. 

That's when it hit me - the few quick, high cadence spins of the cranks, followed by the decibel rise from that rear hub while he coasted - just like winding one of those cheap, gear driven toys that were set in motion, but only for as long as you could wind them up. His rear hub was a dynamo. Funny, in this day and age of higher-tech, electric-assist bikes and hidden motors tucked into tubing, I had almost forgot about one of the oldest of pedal-assist methods.

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