Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.
November 16, 2012 7:45 AM   Subscribe

"I thought the matter over, and concluded I could do it. So I went down and bought a barrel of Pond's Extract and a bicycle." "Taming The Bicycle" by Mark Twain.
posted by nowhere man (12 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I'm getting a "Forbidden" on the first link, but the second (which I imagine is the main link) is wonderful. Thanks.
posted by koeselitz at 7:58 AM on November 16, 2012

[fixed the link, carry on]
posted by jessamyn at 8:01 AM on November 16, 2012

In place of that link to Pond's Extract try this.
posted by fredludd at 8:01 AM on November 16, 2012

Or that.
posted by fredludd at 8:02 AM on November 16, 2012

Pond's Extract appears to have been mostly witch hazel extract, which is pretty legit, compared to most contemporary quack medicine.
posted by zamboni at 8:13 AM on November 16, 2012

And now you come to the voluntary dismount... It certainly does sound exceedingly easy; but it isn't. I don't know why it isn't, but it isn't. Try as you may, you don't get down as you would from a horse, you get down as you would from a house afire. You make a spectacle of yourself every time.

Mark Twain, early proponent of the Idaho Stop.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:32 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

[I meant for the second link to be the main one -- the Pond's link is just for explanatory purposes. The vintage Pond's ad can be viewed on the jessamyn corrected page. Sorry for any confusion.]
posted by nowhere man at 8:34 AM on November 16, 2012

We examined the machine, but it was not in the least injured. This was hardly believable. Yet the Expert assured me that it was true; in fact, the examination proved it. I was partly to realize, then, how admirably these things are constructed.

When I had my bike accident a few years back (braking to avoid a car that turned in front of me and going endo), I separated a shoulder, broke two ribs, and had huge bruises the color of psychedelic sand paintings. Oh, and the side of my helmet had a divot the size of a hard-boiled egg.

My steel and aluminum bike on the other hand was none the worse for wear, apart from some paint scrapes and a lost plastic reflector.

He was full of surprised admiration; said it was abnormal. She was all right, not a scratch on her, not a timber started anywhere. I said it was wonderful, while we were greasing up, but he said that when I came to know these steel spider-webs I would realize that nothing but dynamite could cripple them.

And of course my first action weeks later when cleared by my doctor was to ride back to the scene of the accident to get over the fear. I lived and do not regret it. ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was thrown once by a rotundus quadrupes bestia that I thought to be a friend. My shattered wrist told a different story. Luckily once the painkillers wore off it stopped talking.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:42 AM on November 16, 2012

The steps of one's progress are distinctly marked. At the end of each lesson he knows he has acquired something, and he also knows what that something is, and likewise that it will stay with him. It is not like studying German, where you mull along, in a groping, uncertain way, for thirty years; and at last, just as you think you've got it, they spring the subjunctive on you, and there you are. No -- and I see now, plainly enough, that the great pity about the German language is, that you can't fall off it and hurt yourself.

This is great!
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:58 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just in case anyone else wanted a visual, here is a photo of a man standing next to a 48" ordinary. (Article here.)

Also, here is a video of somebody riding an ordinary, demonstrating a dismount method that seems significantly easier than what Twain was attempting -- though at some risk, it would seem, of castrating yourself on the mounting pegs if you do it wrong or fall forwards in the process of jumping off.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:44 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is great!

If you liked that, check out Twain's "The Awful German Language", which contains the wonderful phrase "he would rather decline two drinks than one German adjective".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:09 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

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