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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Kumryung Mountain, 1st Attempt

The visit to the bike shop went well. It cost me $20 to replace the shift cable. I decided that the other shift cable and the brake cables looked just fine as they were, and didn't need to be replaced. Before I left, I applied some WD-40 to my pedals, and was amazed at the difference it made. Very smooth. Very nice.

While there, the bike shop guy noticed that I had a broken spoke, so he replaced it for free! In spite of our communication difficulties (see Bike Annoyance Day) I am going to miss him.

I was feeling pretty jazzed about taking care of two problems in one shot, and figured that with three problems solved in the past two days, today might be a good day to try for new heights.

Kumryung San (Mt.). As difficult as it is to pronounce, it is even more difficult to ride a bicycle up it.

I reset my odometer at the base of the hill, across the street from McDonalds, because from there on it is all and only up. I made it just over one kilometer, panting all the way. My legs are still sort of tingling, and will probably be delivering less pleasant sensations by tomorrow, but I now have a benchmark.

Perhaps I should elucidate on the bicycle pedal thing. You may have noticed that when you see pro bikers on t.v. they are wearing very futuristic-looking shoes. These shoes are not only aerodynamic, they are made to fit the pedals.
My shoes are bottom-end biking shoes. They set me back around $70.
The pedals are also special.
They are the same on both sides. The metal piece on the bottom of the shoes actually came with the pedals. Bicycle shoes have standardized fittings for the clips that come with fancy pedals.

The advantage is that your shoe stays in the correct place on the pedal, maximizing the return on your leg power. You don't have to focus at all on where to put your foot when you start, or where it moves to while you are pedaling.
The first time I tried them, I was amazed at the difference they make.
Going up hill is much, much easier.

The disadvantages are:

1. These shoes are not one bit comfortable to walk in. One way they maximize the return on your leg power is by being very, very stiff. However, if you are messing around with equipment on this level, you are hardly likely to ride your bike to the park to go play with the other kids. I usually don't take more than a dozen steps in these shoes.

2. When it's time to stop, you want to take your feet off the pedals so you don't fall over. The shoes decouple from the pedals by simply twisting. If I push my heel out an inch or so, the pedal releases my shoe and I can put my foot down instead of collapsing like Enron.

I knew this would be a problem from the beginning, because Earl suggested that when I first get the pedals I should ride around someplace grassy, for when I fall. He made sure to stress that he meant when, not if. This being Pusan, there is not a lot of grass growing anywhere, so I was forced to practice on the next best thing: the pavement. I focused on the action to get my feet released while standing still, with just one foot clicked in. After spending five minutes or so doing that, I took some very short rides, focusing on clicking out before braking. Within a couple of days, it started to come naturally, and I've only fallen once for not being able to get my feet off of the pedals.

I have used this as a concrete example of how practicing something enough can make it second nature, and suggested that my students try similar tricks with their problem points in English. However, most of them continue to metaphorically fall over. I believe that the reason they don't improve is that they don't get scrapes and bruises when they fail.

Which suggests a new method for teaching English: the Big Stick Method! Make a mistake and you get corrected. Make it twice and you get whacked. I think I could make some serious money off of this one. Too bad I'm leaving Korea soon.

Yeah. Too bad.

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A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.