My bike commute to work is a lovely ride. My path takes me along the Charles River. I have seen the beauty of the New England autumn unfold, the crews one their morning rows, the Boston city skyline, the hustle and bustle of Harvard Square. Oh, and yes, Boston drivers really do suck. But when my head is down, I have noticed a few other things, too. Tire pressure, for example.
There are a surprisingly large number of cars riding around on under-inflated tires. I learned after my third week of riding a bike how important proper tire inflation is: I got a foot pump with a pressure gauge and pumped my tires up — the ride the next day was much, much easier. And so too, for a car.
People who drink fine wines regularly can discern different types, makers and even vintages of the wines they drink without even seeing the label. I cannot do this, but I am getting to feel as though I can tell which vehicle has passed me. Ah, the low throaty rumble of the V8, combined with the rhythmic patter/whine of knobby tires makes a big, American 4WD truck an easy call, but the balance of carbon ash with the aromatic volatiles of unburnt gasoline tells me a truck is made by Chevrolet.
And yes, I can also smell when a car’s driver hits the gas, lunging forward after a light turns green. How pointless is this? I know it takes a lot of energy: if I need to accelerate on my bike, my legs hurt. I am guessing a similar analog is true with a car.