Friday, September 16, 2022

The Evolution Of My Schwinn Fixed Gear Bike

 Last month I picked up what my lovely wife would call "yet another bike" and while I've typed various pages about it over on my other, more active blog at I figure it makes sense to post the full story of the bike's evolution here.

Now I should be clear, I didn't strictly need this bike. I'm retired, I have three perfectly good bikes and to be honest, one would really do just fine for the riding I'm doing these days. But here's what happened.

Christine and I get around town by biking and walking and in walking and biking around I'd seen this old Schwinn World Sport locked to a lightpost a half a block from our house. The bike had been locked to the post for at least a month. Now I should note that this is something that make Superior, Wisconsin different from Seattle or Portland or Eugene. Here in Superior, you can leave a bike locked to a lightpost with a flimsy lock and it will stay untouched for a month. In those other cities I mentioned, the bike would be stolen or stripped within hours.

Anyhow, after about a month I happened to walk past the bike in a course different from my usual direction and I saw this sign on the lightpost:

Holy crap! Fifteen dollars! A bargain I could not pass up. Even so, I ran the purchase past Christine and she said OK. It was a nice bike. I called the guy up, met him at the corner, took the bike for a test ride and bought it. I didn't even try to dicker on the price because $15 is a screaming deal.

This is how the bike looked when I bought it:

It was basically in working shape. The shifters and brakes worked and the (worn) tires held air.

The Schwinn World Sport was a not fancy but decent sport touring bike of it's day. The lugged frame was made in Taiwan for Schwinn and the main triangle is 4130 ChromeMoly tubing. The internet help me decode the bike's serial number and told me that it was made in 1984. The dealer sticker told me that the bike had originally been sold by Stewart's Wheel Goods, just over the bridge in Duluth.

I pretty much always wind up modifying my bikes to suit me and I have a big pile of bike parts and tools and I can usually do the modifications without having to buy much in terms of new parts. Since I'd gotten this bike for so little I wanted to keep that frugal trend going and see how little I could spend.

I knew I wanted to change the handlebars around and my first attempt was something I'd done with bikes in the past, chopping off the lower portion of the drop bars and then inverting them to make cowhorn bars, an operation known as the "clip and flip"

The two pictures above show my first cut at customisation. The mirror, the bell, the light, the yellow cable housing, the bar tape and the Jandd frame bag were all things I had in my bike shed. I really wanted to make the bike into a fixed gear, but it turned out the one thing I didn't have in my parts stash was a fixed cog. But when I posted about my initial conversion on my blog, my pal Steve in Minneapolis dug through his parts stash, found a 16 tooth Surly fixed cog and dropped it in the mail to me.

My initial riding with the bike still in its 12 speed configuration told me that I'm no longer as young as I once was and the cowhorns had me too stretched out. The bike handled great, however, very stable and I could go no-handed for blocks if I wanted to. One upgrade from my parts stash that's not obvious from the photos is that I upgraded the 40 year old brakepads to an unused set of Scott-Mathauser salmon-colored brakepads that had been sitting in one of my parts drawers for the past decade. I knew they'd come in handy some day!

I did have the proper freewheel puller in my tool kit to remove the freewheel, but I didnt have a bench vise for leverage. I did, however, have a big wrench and the seatmast from my Bike Friday Pakit that worked great as a cheater bar. A casual observer of the work in progress would think that I was building a unicycle.

Steve's gift cog came in the mail and I mounted it to the wheel using loctite. I'm not one of those hipster kid fixie riders who run no brakes and skid stop so the loctite should be sufficient. I have both front and rear brakes with really good brake pads and I use them PLUS my legs to slow down and stop.

I did have to swap a big spacer on the rear wheel from the drive to non-drive side and re-dish the wheel. There were just enough threads on the spokes to do this. I also replaced the flimsy rubber rim strip with a double layer of gorilla tape and I repacked both the front and rear hubs and trued both wheels.

I reached the point where I had to spend some more money on this project so I rode my Allant over the bridge to Duluth. The Schwinn has old style 27" wheels which are no longer a common size, but Twin Ports Cyclery had a variety of tires in stock because they know some folks like to keep the old things going. I got a nice pair of kind of knobby cyclocrossish tires for $20 each. I also needed a 1/8" single speed chain, but the ones at Twin Ports were a bit fancier (and fancier priced) than I wanted, so I rolled over to Stewart's where I got a chain and a spare tube for a total of $18.

Back at home I installed the tires and chain. I had already removed the derailleurs and shifters and they are now in my parts boxes waiting for some other project or to be traded away. The bike now looked like this:

I tipped the bars up a bit more and trimmed off a bit more of the cowhorn, but things still didn't feel right.

Then I got an idea:

I really liked the way the brake levers worked in this position, I can apply them with either my index or middle fingers or both, and with the bars swung back towards me I was in a more comfortable upright riding position. I was getting closer to having things dialed in.

Now things were really starting to come together. At the Goodwill store I found a perfect little blue bag for two dollars and I knew what to do with it, I made it into a handlebar bag.

I also found my Orp in my parts pile. The Orp is an electronic horn & light combo that I used to think was too loud but given how distracted everybody is these days I've decided it is damn handy.

I made the mount for the handlebar bag out of coroplast and zip-ties. I have a big stash of coroplast and zipties in my bike shed and I also made a set of mudguards for my bike. The rear is a full coverage fender and the front is a splash guard that runs along the downtube together with a small bit that extends over the front brake


I figured out that I wanted the portion of the handlebars that swung back towards me to be a bit longer and in my eclectic parts pile I had just what I needed to make that happen: an oak wood dowel and some JB-Weld.

I let the JB-Weld set for 24 hours and then re-wrapped the bars with innertube rubber for padding and then cork tape.

I was also chagrined to find that while I had various water bottles in my stash of parts, I had no bottle cages. Naturally I made one from coroplast, zipties, and a bit of plastic tubing I had left over from my backyard pond project.

I also figured out that the front bag would sag too much when loaded with my bike tools, but I fixed that with small support cords running from the front fender to the stem.

The last bit I added to the bike was a rear rack. I found this in the Bike Cave, a non-profit DIY free bike shop over in Duluth. I donated some of my extra bike lights and tools to them (I had way too many lights!) and I took this nifty rack home.

It mounted quite nicely to the bike with some p-clamps and rubber spacers. The toe-strap running to the straddle rails helps take some of the stress off the p-clamps.

The fixie Schwinn is currently my favorite bike to ride, For those of you who care about such things the gear ratio is 40*16 which seems just about perfect to me. And yes, I'm running stupid flat heavy rubber block pedals on it with no toe clips or straps and no my feet don't fly off the pedals and yes I can go up and down hills without dying.

I have a weird accounting method in that I don't count the cost of anything I already owned when tallying up what I've spent on a bike. So I don't count my bike lights and coroplast and zipties and other bits I had laying around. So by my accounting this what the Schwinn cost me:

The bike itself:            $15
Two new tires:              $40
Singlespeed chain:          $10
Spare innertube:            $ 8
Handlebar bag               $ 2

I think it turned out to be a pretty good deal. And oh yeah, the bike has a fair amount of what Grant Petersen calls beausage. It's a nice looking bike, but I don't have to worry about getting it dinged up.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Inexpensive Biomotion Taillighting

The other day I read an article on BikeRumor! about a Kickstarter project for a biomotion taillight. Basically, studies have shown that if you highlight the motion of a cyclist's leg motion, drivers identify the object ahead of them and register it as human faster than if they are just seeing a conventional bike taillight. This makes sense to me, and for years companies have made pedal reflectors and reflective ankle bands with this idea in mind. The new element is active illumination of the cyclist's legs.

While I am in favor of any innovation that will decrease my chance of being run over, the Kickstarter light is a bit beyond my price range and it won't ship until September/October of 2023. "I bet I could build something," I thought.

It turns out that I didn't have to build anything, I already had what I needed in my pile of parts. Back in March I'd seen a really good deal on USB rechargeable bike taillights on Amazon. I've gradually been replacing my lights that use disposable batteries with USB rechargeable ones. and these lights were very inexpensive in a batch of six:

They can be toggled to either flash or constant lighting of red or white LEDs and they come with a little rubber mounting strap. They are quite small and I mounted one on the back of my helmet and a couple of more on the back of a couple of my bikes. And I still had a couple left over.

All I had to do was cut a small rubber shim and I mounted one of these lights on each of my fixies two seat stays, pointing forward and just under the brake. It looks like this:

The white lights shine forward and down, illuminating my rotating calves and reflective ankle bands. I think the effect is quite eye-catching.

Kent Peterson

Superior WI USA

P.S. My typed posts on a wide range of subjects show up daily on my blog at

Monday, August 01, 2022

2010 Tour Divide Call-Ins

Back in 2010, I was a rider in the Tour Divide Mountain Bike Race. I blogged about it extensively at the time and you can read my blog entries on this blog from June of 2010, you can pretty much get the whole story. The story actually starts in 2005 with The Way of the Mountain Turtle and concludes with The Return of the Mountain Turtle which I wrote at the end of 2011.

While the blog posts, write-ups, and pictures captured much of the experience, another part of the story was told in the racer call-ins, which, through link-rot have disappeared from the internet. I was unaware that all the audio was lost until yesterday, when prompted by a query from someone who had been quite moved by my final race call in and was looking for the audio, I started hunting around and realised that I didn't have those files either.

But, I am very fortunate to have a meticulous friend in Mark Canizaro who, together with my wife Christine, served as "Mission Control" for my 2010 ride. And Mark did still have audio copies of my ride call-ins and he sent them to me.

Blogger doesn't like MP3 files, so I spent this morning converting them to MP4 files, which appear below as seven pictureless videos. So now, in the interest of historical completeness, you can here a younger me dispensing advice I still stand by: Get out there and ride.

Kent "still answers to Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Superior WI USA


Thursday, July 23, 2020

One Typed Page

Along with bicycles, one of my interests is old typewriters. I have several friends I trade typed letters with and for the past couple of months I've been contributing to the One Typed Page website at:

It's an eclectic mix of things posted by various folks and my daily postings there sometimes include bicycles.

If you've been wondering what's the latest with me or what I'm thinking about on a given day, One Typed Page is a good place to check. I have basically given up on social media but One Typed Page is just social enough for me.

Kent Peterson
Eugene, OR USA

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

E-bike Range: How far can I go?

One of the most common questions anyone asks about an e-bike is "How far can I go on a single charge?" While this sound like a simple question, a variety of factors go into this calculation and the most accurate response anyone can give is "it depends".

Micah Toll is an e-bike writer and rider and he dives into the various considerations in detail in an article at:

Now Micah is a very experienced e-bike enthusiast and he is a fan of going fast, powerful motors and throttles. As he admits, he's not a fit cyclist but he does a pretty good job in his article of trying to get into the fit cyclist perspective. But that is fundamentally not the perspective he comes from when it comes to e-bikes.

Alan Scholz, Bike Friday's founder, and myself do come from the fit cyclist perspective. We're both in our sixties now and have been lifelong cyclists. Our approach to e-bikes, and hence Bike Friday's approach, is to keep things as light as possible. We figure that the motor is there to be an assist to human muscle power, not a replacement for it. Therefore, Bike Friday builds Class 1 e-bikes (with no throttle).

Now much of the e-Bike industry has a "weight be damned, you've got a motor" philosophy and in the industry one quick rule of thumb is that they will quote an ebike as using about 20 WattHours per mile. Micah ups that number to 25 for his style of riding but in his article he does an experiment of riding at a very low assist level, laying off the throttle and putting in a lot of human power into his ride. Doing this he was able to only use 3.1 WattHours per mile on a 29 mile ride. But he admits he was exhausted at the end of that ride and doesn't recommend riding at that level every day.

Now Alan and I do ride pretty much every day we're nerds so we've used recording Watt meters to tell us how many WattHours per mile we are using. Alan and I have remarkably similar results. On a recent moderately hilly ride, with my e-assist set to levels 2 or 3 (out of 5), I used 214.7 WattHours to go 37.7 miles. My arage speed was not super fast but not turtle slow either, I averaged 13.6 mph. My bike has a modest 250 Watt motor and a 12.5 AmpHour 36 Volt battery. On my ride the maximum peak power the motor put out was 151.9 Watts (for a short time on the steepest climb).

Now let's do some math. 214.7 WattHours  total divided by 37.7 miles tells me that I used an average of 5.69 WattHours per mile. This was not at a "grind myself into the ground" pace effort. This is my standard, "I'm going on a bike ride" pace. My battery has total capacity of 36 Volts times 12.5 AmpHours which equals 450 WattHours. Therefore based on this sample ride I would estimate my e-bike's range to be 450 WattHours divided by 5.69 Watt Hours per mile which equals just a bit over 79 miles.

Now again, I can't stress enough that your mileage will vary. Going up hills takes much more power than riding on flat terrain. Heavier bikes and riders use more power than lighter folks.

Our Bike Friday travel bikes use airline legal LiGo batteries from Grin Technologies. Each LiGo holds 99 Watt Hours. Our bikes typically ship with 3 or 4 LiGo batteries. So let's say I have a customer who uses 10 Watt Hours for each mile they travel. That person would have a range of just under 30 miles for a 3 LiGo system or 40 miles if they opted for 4 LiGos. And some of our customers buy multiple sets of LiGos to increase their range.

The "How Far Can I Go?" question is a complicated one. A lot of folks trying to sell you something will give you an easy, optimistic and probably wrong answer. The longer answer is "it depends" and I hope Micah's article and this one give you the information you need to determine what the true answer is for you.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent Peterson
Eugene, OR USA

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Galvanic Velocipede

Please note the following is a work of fiction. Before you write me pointing out some factual or historical error in the tale, allow me to preempt your action by recounting this anecdote that the great Ray Bradbury often told:

A few years back, one dreadful boy ran up to me and said, “Mr. Bradbury?”
“Yes?” I said.
“That book of yours, The Martian Chronicles?” he said.
“Yes?” I said.
“On page 92 where you have the moons of Mars rising in the east?” 
“Yeah,” I said. 
“Nah,” he said. 
So I hit him. I’ll be damned if I’ll be bullied by bright children.

The Galvanic Velocipede

copyright (c) 2020 by Kent Peterson

I’d just returned from riding my wheel over to Fitchburg when my lovely wife Elizabeth said “Oh, you missed your friend Harris. He was just here looking for you.”

“I didn’t miss him at all,” I replied as I dismounted the machine, “and he’s really not my friend. He’s more of an irritating acquaintance.”

Elizabeth laughed and shook her head. “You grumble about Harris, but you must admit that he is always up to something interesting.”

I held my position, “I am NOT his friend. Harris once said to me ‘I have no friends because I’m always right.’ I tried to point out to him that there are far more reasons than that, but he would have none of it.”

“Well,” Elizabeth countered, “you may not count Harris as a friend, but it is well known in town that you are, in fact, his best friend.”

“No!” I exclaimed, shocked at this assertion.

“It’s true,” Elizabeth said. “It’s because you’re civil to him. Everyone else is either openly hostile or better at avoiding him than you. Waldo has banished him from his house. Henry moved into that cabin in the woods just to escape him. But you…”

Elizabeth was unable to completely tell me exactly what it is I do because at that moment Harris came bounding up the path to our house.

“Ah, there you are,” he wheezed. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”

“I took my wheel over to Fitchburg,” I explained as the portly Harris caught his breath. “The machine has been a bit sluggish of late, so I had Mr. Scott over there examine the bearings. It seems I’ve been negligent regarding their lubrication.”

“I bet he charged you a pretty penny for his work and advice, too,” Harris said. “You should have let me take a look at it. I have a complete workshop, you know.”

I was, in fact, quite aware of his extensive workshop. Harris’s
grandfather had designed and patented a particularly clever machine for weaving cloth which made his family fortune. First his father and now his brother supervised the operation of various mills and other acquisitions. Harris had declared himself to be the inheritor of his grandfather’s design genius, although each of his “improvements” to his grandfather’s original machines either decreased their efficiency or led to catastrophic consequences. After the “unfortunate incident” in which the Manchester mill burned down, Harris’s brother, a shrewd businessman but also a loving brother with finite patience, suggested that Harris needed “a place far from the distractions and bustle of daily commerce, somewhere that would give him the uninterrupted time to pursue his research.” Thus Harris decamped to our peaceful village with a generous stipend from the family business to establish his “laboratory of mechanical invention.”

Harris’s laboratory is by far the most striking building in our village and it contains the most advanced machinery our 19th century has to offer. Harris had a channel dug which diverted a portion of the river to spin a massive mill wheel, and he also erected an enormous Dutch-style windmill atop the three storey structure. Finally, he installed a massive furnace connected to a brass steam engine. An elaborate series of belts, cogs, springs and levers convert these various sources of mechanical motion to spin lathes, saws, looms and machines whose purposes that I confess I am ill-equipped to guess.

Harris also subscribes to a wide range of scientific journals and maintains a far flung correspondence with various keen minds of our day. Our postmaster, Mr. Davis, tells me that Harris gets more letters and parcels in a single day than most of the rest of us receive in a month. And at least once a week you can be certain that some large crate with machinery or supplies will arrive at the train station addressed to our enterprising Mr. Harris.

“I know that you’re a rather keen wheelman,” Harris said, “so you will have the honor of getting the first look at my latest invention. I’m unveiling it publicly tomorrow, but I’d like you to come to my laboratory now to help me figure out the placement of some final components. It’s a bit of a puzzle and I could use another brain on the problem.”

It is so out of character for Harris to ask for help with anything that I was momentarily struck speechless. “I, umm….promised Elizabeth…” I looked to my wife for help.

“That you’d be back from Fitchburg in time for supper. And you are, but the roast has at least another hour to cook, so you and Harris go off and work on your whatever it is. Make certain that you’re back here by six. Mr. Harris, of course, you are welcome to join us.”

Harris beamed at this suggestion, “That would be lovely. I shan't keep him long.”

When we arrived at the workshop I saw that Harris had added an additional level of complexity to the machines therein. Harris, of course, was his usual professorial self and proceeded to explain the workings with only the occasional “uhm”, “er”, or “of course” from me.

“You’re familiar, of course, with Galvini’s work on animal electricity?” Harris began.

“Of course,” I echoed, “Frog twitching and so forth…”

“Quite,” Harris said, “Well then I’m sure you know that Volta’s work diverged from Galvini’s when it came to the origin of the electrical fluid, Galvini believing it to be a function of the muscle and Volta believing it to be a metallic property.”

“And you…” I prompted.

“Well, obviously I think Volta is correct and his work developing batteries is quite impressive, but it seems to me that he’s become so enamored of the physical nature of electricity that he’s neglected to fully explore the biomechanical applications of such power. That’s what I’ve been working on.”

Harris went on to explain, in more detail than I can adequately convey here, exactly how each of the various machines in his laboratory connected together. As best as I could follow, the mechanical motion of the mill wheel, steam engine and windmill were all connected together to spin two large counter-rotating disks. The disks were partially covered in copper and metallic fingers brushed the plates as they spun. Wires ran from the fingers to two metal spheres while miniature lightning bolts sparked between them. Harris informed me that such a device is called a Wimhurst Machine.

Harris harvested the electrical fluid in Leyden jars, which he also called batteries. He tried to explain some advanced storage principle he was using  but by this point I could merely nod and say things like “I see.” This was a true statement. I did see. I did not understand, but I did see.

“But,” I asked, “what do you intend to do with all this stored electrical fluid?”

“Well,” Harris said with obvious delight, “that is where I have made my breakthrough. I can convert the fluid back into mechanical motion!”

“So you’ve made some kind of electrical motor, like a steam engine that runs on the electrical fluid?” I asked.

“Not directly,” said Harris, “although that is an interesting notion. See here, how do you propel your wheel?”

“By the force of my legs, of course, but..”

“But your legs only have your own strength, your own will,” said Harris. “Galvini first observed muscles reacting to electrical stimulation but he didn’t follow through. I have.”

“You have what?” I asked.

“I have built a Galvanic Velocipede!”

At this point Harris dramatically unveiled his modified machine. It was much like my own wheel, a front wheel approximately as tall as Harris’s shoulder, with a dinner plate sized wheel in the rear, the design the English call a penny-farthing. But Harris had added a clockwork mechanism behind the saddle and some sort of holsters behind the clock. Wires ran forward to the steering bar and below the bars hung what looked to be brass spoons with leather straps. A lever on the bar was connected via mechanical linkage to the clock in the back.

“What…” I began but quickly amended, “How does it work?”

“Let me show you,” said Harris. “Hand me one of those batteries, will you?”

As I reached for the battery, I heard Harris shout “No! Not like that!” but my fingers were already too close to the terminals of the Leyden jar. A small bolt of lightning leapt from the jar to my hand and my arm, independent of my own volition, snapped backwards. My outstretched and thoroughly surprised hand collided with Harris’s jaw at a high rate of speed. The Leyden jar crashed to the floor.

Harris and I both said some rather un-Christian and intemperate things, but after a moment to regain our composure and ascertain that neither of us had sustained permanent injury, said “Sorry” simultaneously and laughed in the way gentlemen do when they have recently escaped disaster. “Well,” Harris chuckled, “you’ve experienced first hand the problem I’m having. A fully charged Leyden jar is a dangerous thing. I need to have them mounted on my machine in such a way that they won’t jostle and discharge prematurely.”

His original scheme involved the holsters which were supposed to hold a grand total of six Leyden jars, but this seemed precarious at best. When going over a bump, the leather holster could flex and the cells either contact the metal frame of the velocipede or each other.

“A basket.” I said, “You need a basket. With individual compartments, like what Potter uses to ship eggs.” 

“Brilliant,” said Harris. “We can mount it on the back, on springs. But isn’t it getting near time for us to return to your home for dinner?”

I consulted my watch, which seemed to have stopped. Harris explained: “An unfortunate consequence of your brush with the electrical fluid, I’m afraid. I’ll buy you a replacement, of course.”

At dinner Harris explained the operation of his machine. The clockwork mechanism released pulses of the electrical fluid at a rate that was controlled by the lever on the steering bar of the velocipede. The tighter the grip on the lever, the more frequent the pulses.

“But where do the pulses of electrical fluid go?” asked Elizabeth.

“Why directly into my legs, of course.” Harris replied. “That’s what the brass spoons are for. Strapped to my quadriceps and buttocks, they channel the electrical energy straight to my body’s largest muscles.”

“Do you mean to say you voluntarily apply the lightning I experienced to your own body?” I asked incredulously.

“You yourself experienced the force a small spark gave to your arm,” Harris noted.

“As did you,” I reminded him.

“Yes,” he said, rubbing his jaw, “and if a small spark can provide that much power to your puny arm, imagine what it can do to larger muscles.”

Harris went on to explain that he had challenged Waldo to a race, at noon tomorrow, in the town square. “I’d like you to be my second,” he added, making it sound more like a duel than a race.

“I wouldn’t miss it for all the lobsters in Maine,” I assured him.

Harris and I worked late into the night preparing the Galvanic Velocipede. The rear basket seemed solid. The next morning we did some low-speed tests, which seemed promising. Harris would grimace each time the clock-pulse of power would course through his legs but the velocipede was clearly accelerating quicker and moving faster than I had ever seen any machine move.

Just before noon, we, along with most of the town, gathered in the square. Waldo was there, not with a velocipede but rather his horse, Lightning. Lightning, it was generally agreed, was the fastest horse in the state. Waldo’s previous horse, a docile old bay, had perished when it unfortunately twisted its ankle in a groundhog hole. Waldo had been down south on a speaking tour at the time. He returned from Kentucky with Lightning, an all black stallion with a white blaze on his forehead. Lightning was named not only for the jagged white mark, but for his remarkable speed.

Harris and I had spent the latter part of the morning charging a dozen Leyden jars. Six were mounted on the velocipede and six I held in reserve in case the race required a second heat to be decisive. Based on how fast Harris’s machine had gone in our early quarter-speed tests, we doubted a second heat would be required, but we felt it best to be prepared.

A few minutes before noon, I helped Harris onto his machine and strapped his feet to the pedals. The pedal straps were another of Harris’s innovations, ensuring his feet would not fly free of the pedals at high speed. I also carefully strapped the brass spoons to Harris’s skin, much to the amusement of the crowd.

Harris and Waldo were exchanging heated predictions as to the outcome of the race. Harris asserted that a man, plus the mechanical advantage of the wheel, plus the Galvanic power of the Leyden jars, would prove to be double that of even the fastest horse. Waldo countered that at best Harris and his contraption would prove to be equal to half a horse and not, he noted, the half where a horse kept his sense. The crowd roared their appreciation at this quip.

It was at this moment when things went awry. Instead of the measured “One, Two, Three, Go” we had all agreed to, there was a high-pitched whistle. It took a fraction of a second before I identified the source of the whistle, a woodchuck running in terror at a high rate of speed. The woodchuck was being rapidly pursued by Henry, who was wielding a hoe like an axe and yelling something about the woodchuck having eaten his last bean.

At the sight of the woodchuck, Lightning bolted, perhaps recalling his predecessor’s unfortunate rodent-related demise. Waldo could do nothing to calm the frightened beast and was looking rather nervous himself.

Seeing Lightning and Waldo take flight, Harris jammed the lever of the Galvanic Velocipede to its maximal point of engagement and he and the velocipede took off in pursuit.

I have never seen such frantic acceleration. In those few seconds Harris and his machine resembled nothing so much as a meteor streaking across a summer sky. The Galvanic Velocipede flew past Waldo and Lightning as if they were a stone statue in the square instead of a pair of breathing, fleeing creatures.

Just past edge of the town square, the road turns, to run along the west edge of the pond. The road turns. Harris did not. Harris and his machine flew directly into the pond. There was a great flash as the Leyden jars hit the water.

Two seconds later, Lightning, being possessed of horse sense, skidded to a halt at the pond’s edge. Waldo, being possessed of momentum, did not.

Waldo can swim. Harris, strapped to his machine, cannot.

Possessed with a courage I did not know I had, I rushed to the pond’s edge and dove in. At the center of the rapidly expanding ripples indicating Harris’s entry point to his potential watery grave, I took a deep breath and dove under the surface.

The water was murky, but by feel and providence I somehow managed to find and free Harris. I pulled him to the surface with me and dragged him to shore.

I was coughing water out of my lungs and Elizabeth was doing her best to revive Harris. He looked like a beached whale. Waldo, who had dragged himself out of the pond, had the presence of mind to flop Harris on his stomach and use his bulk to force the water from his lungs.

Harris was blue and not breathing. “He’s gone,” Waldo said.

“Wait,” I said, “Elizabeth, go fetch the spare basket.”

She was back in a flash with the second basket that Harris and I had made just the night before. Having learned my lesson, I carefully extracted one of the Leyden jars.

“Flip him on his back, and open his shirt.” Waldo did this quickly.

I took the Leyden jar and touched the contacts to Harris’s bare chest, just above his heart. A spark flew, his body convulsed, his eyes fluttered open and he coughed.

All I remember after that is the crowd cheering and Elizabeth throwing her arms about me. And then I passed out.

I caught a fever and spent several days recuperating. Elizabeth never left my bedside. Waldo called in Boston’s best doctor to supervise both Harris's and my recovery. The doctor was fascinated with the Leyden jars and took one back with him to the city when he left.

Harris recovered a bit quicker than I did and he came to visit me and offer his sincere thanks. True to his word, he gave me a beautiful watch to replace my broken one. He kept saying “I can’t thank you enough.”

“It’s nothing,” I said. “I couldn’t very well let my best friend drown, now could I?”

At this Elizabeth gave me one of her sweetest smiles.

“There is one thing you can do,” I said.

“Anything,” Harris said.

“How about if you leave the Galvanic Velocipede at the bottom of the pond?”

“Certainly,” Harris said. “It was a flawed design after all. Under full power, the jolts caused all my muscles to spasm. Including the muscles in my hand. I couldn’t back off the power and believe me, I tried.”

He continued, “I don’t think direct muscle stimulation is the future of transportation. I’m thinking about what you said about an electrical engine. Perhaps something involving magnets…”

“Later,” Elizabeth said, “You men should rest up tonight. Tomorrow will be soon enough for you to start building the world of tomorrow.”