01/30/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Flight School: Snow Gets in Your Tires

Snow gets in your tires
They asked me how I knew my black bike was true,
I of course replied, something here inside cannot be denied.
They said someday you'll find all who ride are blind,
When your legs're on fire, you must realize,
Snow gets in your tires.
So I chaffed and then I gaily laughed,
To think that they could doubt my skill,
Yet today, my gears have slipped astray,
I am without my bike.
Now laughing friends deride tears I cannot hide,
So I smile and say when a lovely frost dies,
Snow gets in your tires.

to the tune of "Smoke gets in your eyes"

Of course, the moment I wrote that nice post about Richard's bike, something started going wrong with the gears. I don't know if it's age, or just a short-term thing due to too much slush. The temperature is now just about freezing, and each revolution of my wheels slaps a stream of slush onto the frame...and the gears. ( say nothing of my hardy Sorel boots, which fortunately are designed for just such abuse.) Of course, I have never much liked gears. As my father the scientist says: "The fewer the buttons on the toaster, the less chance it will break down." The same goes for bikes.

Whatever! Contrary to the poem above, I still do have the bike, and I will oil the gears gently once everything has melted and dried. This bike is something like a Patek Philippe watch: Richard Garriott left it behind and asserts no claim to it. And I should likewise pass it on to the next careless cosmonaut who dares to risk limb and flight.

As far as I know, there are certain restrictions on people who have suffered broken bones. There used to be a strict prohibition against anyone who had ever broken a bone going into space. Now, well, it will certainly give you trouble with the medical commission, especially in the months just before launch. But I take care to go slowly, and the slush and snow slow me down anyway). Moreover, the ability to get around on my own at reasonable speed gives me a sense of control that I treasure.