hans groen *17 09 1959 - †11 08 2022

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natural laws of cycling

Whatever one might think of human freedom, all human acts are determined by natural laws — about this is how Immanuel Kant starts out his “Idea for a Universal History”. Bicycling just affirms this thesis.

1st natural law: gravity
You are binking on a bikepath. Ahead of you is an elderly man, about 70+. The moment you are going to overtake him, he will move to the left of the path so you have to brake suddenly. Elderly women, up till they cannot bike anymore, do not suffer from this disease.

2nd natural law: left-right ambiguity
You are biking on a trail, also used by pedestrians. Ahead of you, there are two people walking, in the same direction you are going. The trail is too small to pass them, so you signal. At first they do not react. After the second ring, they will look around, and then the person walking on the right of the trail will pass to the left, and the person walking on the left will pass to the right.

3rd natural law: head wind
It is claimed that one always has head wind on the bike. That cannot be true — when I was living in Diemen and commuting westwards to the VU University in Amsterdam, I seldom had a day where in the morning the wind was from the west, and in the afternoon the wind had turned around, coming form the east. What does happen is that on, for example, an east-west trip with northerly or southerly winds, one experiences a head wind even with slight tail winds: a mathematical effect, being the resultant of the actual wind and the wind you make yourself as you are biking

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