On Biking

Mount Nebo, Madaba, Jordan

From Mount Nebo to Wadi Mujib

Much to my surprise, though perhaps not surprisingly given both my nature and nurture, I’ve got a competitive streak and a need for speed!

I mean, with the exception of that first trip in Wadi Musa, I’ve been very pleased to find that I’m usually ahead of the middle of the pack. And I have a practical reason for passing people along the way: I know that my reaction time is not very fast, and I’m afraid that if I get stuck behind someone else, I’ll wipe us both out. Even moreso on a precipitous downhill like the road down from Mount Nebo. At least four people did have wipe-outs, and while that may have been because there were more people with less experience than usual, it still made me want to get ahead of anyone I got too close to. And yet, every time I pass someone, I hear Dad’s Goose and Maverick impression in the back of my head….

“I’ve got a neeeeeed … a neeeeeed … for speeeeeed!”

Maybe it has something to do with Dad’s mantra I grew up with on the sailboat: Any two vessels on a similar tack is a race. Ergo, any two bikes going to the same destination is a race.

In fact, I learned a lot more than just sailing from Dad. I learned a surprising amount about bikes! On this trip and the last one, I found myself handing out all kinds of instruction and advice on bikes. Your seat should be high enough that your knee is straight when the pedal’s at its lowest point; you get more power that way. When you start to go uphill, downshift so that you’re never pedaling either too hard or too fast; use your mechanical advantage. Your helmet’s on backwards; it’s more aerodynamic the other way around. It was maybe the sixth time I’d said, “It’s all physics!” in just four hours that I realized how much I sounded like my father. So, you see, Dad, I really was listening to you all these years, even when I was rolling my eyes!

From Mount Nebo to Wadi Mujib

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