Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Pavlovian Experiment

In the spirit of Ivan Pavlov I will soon be embarking on an important scientific journey: To see if I can make Cactus-Eyed Joe go postal on an upcoming ride by simply "dinging" the simple bell you see below. It was purchased online last night and is on its way to my house as we speak.

The story behind the bell:

It must be back in 2001 that this took place, but it makes me laugh and Joe cuss at the same time. Therefore, it's relevance is still there.

Siouxland Cyclists club from Sioux City used to host a ride that started at the Buffalo Run Winery here in Vermillion before our club was really up and running well, and before any of us were as strong a cyclist as we are now. We helped them plan a fifty mile route that looped to Burbank and then over the new Vermillion/Newcastle bridge to Newcastle. We really encouraged a bunch of our club to join in and that we would look after them. One happened to be my neighbor. This is where the story begins.

The reason we did a loop around Burbank and then to Newcastle is that it would offer a shorter ride (16ish miles) for those who were not ready for fifty. My neighbor was one of those not ready. Although she would race walk marathons, biking wasn't necessarily her forte. When we left Vermillion, the pace was moderate to strong, so some of our cyclists fell off the back. A few miles from Burbank Joe noticed that my neighbor was nowhere to be seen. He circled back to check up on her. Keeping the story short, he almost went all the way back to Vermillion as she decided to just turn around and go back to the coffee shop!

Needless to say, the pace was pretty strong up front and it was headed most of the time by two guys on a tandem (the original Man Tandem). They had a bell like the one in the picture above. Every time they decided to pick up the pace, they would ding the bell a couple times: "ding ding, ding ding" followed by an increase in speed of 2-4 mph at least. I held on to the pack and made it to Newcastle where we took an extended break there, somewhere in the area of a half hour.

Joe came pulling in, telling of his plight of looking for my neighbor and then busting butt trying to catch up to us. Unfortunately his rest in Newcastle was going to be short lived as everybody started to mount up for the last 15 miles back to Vermillion. Joe decided to stay with us so he mounted up too.

When you leave Newcastle for Vermillion, you start climbing right away. About 3/4 up the hill the tandem started the Pavlovian experiment for Joe: "ding ding, ding ding"...ZOOM. Joe fell off the back end almost immediately as he was tired from riding hard solo to Newcastle. Joe rode hard enough to catch up to the back of the pack. Of course, he caught up just in time to hear "ding ding, ding ding" and away we went again, leaving Joe to solo the rest of the way back to Vermillion. Joe cussed that tandem for a long time to come.

The ongoing joke from then on was always a spoken "ding ding, ding ding" when we were going to pick up the pace on a ride. This was always following by grumbling, and an occasional cuss word, and a hearty "I hate you guys" from Joe.

In the spirit of keeping the experiment alive, how could I NOT put a bell on the tandem? I may have to be careful of the timing of my use of the bell around Joe as he could become slightly volatile if the bell is used improperly or in a taunting mode. However, if you see Joe on the road and have a bell, by all means "ding away" and smile and say hello. After all, it's for science...


Letsche said...
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Anonymous said...

I share an office with Joe. I just said ding ding after reading this (and after Kevin told me to do so). Joe cracked a small smile, but I'd say the chances of him going postal are pretty good. :)

The Old Bag said... very cruel

Cactus Eyed Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cactus Eyed Joe said...

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

SD_pedalpower said...

I used to be annoyed by bells until creme puff came with one and now I abuse the power.