Bicycling across the Atlantic

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Anonymous's picture

Hi, my name is Chris Shrdlu. I’m Etoain Shrdlu’s son. Dad asked me to get on his computer before I leave for California and let you know he’s going to be out of touch for a while because he’s bicycling to Europe.

He’s already out at sea, pedaling his way East. Just as he passed the southern tip of Manhattan, he found himself in a hot wi-fi zone, given off by some Wall Street firm, and he sent me this e-mail message, which I’ve pasted into this note to everyone at the NYCC.

Oh, please don't get mad at me for Dad's message. I know he uses strong language sometimes. I'm just passing this along.

>>I am bicycling to Europe. A lot of skeptical idiots at the NYCC will no doubt ask how this is possible. If you had the brains to think about it, you’d see how simple it is.

>> I’m aboard my sail-and-pedal/paddle-powered catamaran, the Shrdlu Player. Most of the time, I sit atop my Colnago, to which I’ve connected, through an elaborate system of gears, pulleys, and chains, a system that enables my pedaling to turn the paddlewheel.

>>It was the great Irv Weisman himself, who worked this out for me, along with the gear formulas needed to overcome the tremendous force of waves and currents, and still provide enough power input to move the boat along.

>>Irv also gave me an Atlantic Ocean route to Europe, which I’ve decided, after due consideration, not to use. It had 147 turns in it, typical of an Irv route, but I’ve just decided to head in a straight line across the Atlantic, from New York to Gibraltar, and from there into the Mediterranean and eventually home to my ancestral land of Montenegro.

.>>Again, I can hear the skeptics snickering, and that Limey whatzisname calling me a phony again, and muttering effete English expletives like “ballocks!” and declaring that nobody could have the stamina to pedal across the Atlantic, but once again, this only shows why he was worthy of my great curse on his bicycle.

>> It just so happens that like any Catamaran, the Shrdlu Player has a big set of sails, but no, I am not sailing per se to Europe. I am actually bicycling. I am merely drafting the sails, just as you would draft a large rider in front of you, thus further increasing the power I give to my paddles.

>>I’m not sure how long it will take me to get across the Atlantic this way, because I’ve never done it before. However, since it may take some time, I thought I would give some peace of mind to the 17 people who e-mailed me privately, pleading with me to remove the curse from them, and giving me a bunch of hard luck stories.

>>First of all, I want to make this clear. I didn’t curse a single human being. I cursed their bicycles, or bicycle components. The fact that they themselves will feel the impact of the curse, of course follows. Were you expecting a free ride?. Further, the curse only applies to those who criticized me over a specific political matter, and those who insist on riding with them.

>>If you don’t want your bicycle subject to the curse, don’t ride with those people. If you never ride with those people and didn’t criticize me, there is no Shrdlu curse on you, got it? And if you are a person who is covered by the Shrdlu curse, you can still cure yourself of its effects by spitting three times on your bicycle, putting it out in the trash, and getting another. If you merely store your bicycle in a basement or garage and get another, or give it to someone who might give it back to you, the curse is still on. You’ve got to throw your bicycle in the garbage, get it?

>>Okay, that’s it. A crosswind just started blowing up and it needs my attention. Happy pedaling to most of you. I’ll send you a bulletin the next time I get near an Internet connection. Meanwhile, I’ll send this note to my son Chris via e-mail for passing along to you. Oh, and one last thing. Screw Chase Manhattan Bank and the New York Road Runners for co-opting the park for the

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

"Ahoy there!

Race Across The Atlantic, ... well, not a race.

Tell your Dad ""bon voyage"" for us. Colnago, eh! Not a Shark?!? Does Gu come in fish flavors?

Good luck and oh no, not another curse. I'm afraid to go out as it is, despite my neutrality.

Well, what's the curse.??? I want to knw so I can avoid its victims.

Stop by the Vuelta, OK!?! You shoulkd be there by then, maybe sooner."

Anonymous's picture
don montalvo (not verified)
small ring sailing

"Christopher Shrdlu said:
It was the great Irv Weisman himself, who worked this out for me, along with the gear formulas needed to overcome the tremendous force of waves and currents, and still provide enough power input to move the boat along. that you have the ""proper gearing"", it should only take you 14, maybe 15 years to get there.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
It's peak hurricane season

Oh what a shame, the daft fool has set sail into the Atlantic right at the start of peak hurricane season. No sane sailor, letalone cyclist, would attempt such a crossing at this time of year, especially in a La Nina year when hurricane activity in the Atlantic is higher than normal.

Peak season is usually August through until the end of October, with the absolute peak being in the second and third weeks of September.

If he manages to hold a straight line course, he will end up making European landfall on the Portuguese coast, just south of Oporto. But if he does manage to find Gibraltar, it is only 3,184 nautical miles from New York, but only if he follows a circular route.

If he did take the circular route and averaged 7kts (11 statute miles per hour), it should take him around 19 days to make the crossing, assuming he can keep the average up for a 24 hour day.

Then again, maybe he will be rammed by the QE2 on its next New York-bound crossing and end up ship-wrecked and probably back in New York.

I'm rather sad to see our resident court jester go. I was hoping that this venture might end up with him qualifying for a Darwin award but, given his message was posted by his son, it would appear that he has contributed to the human gene pool, which would disqualify him for the prize.

Anonymous's picture
Peter Hochstein (not verified)
I suspect Shrdlu is hurricane-proof

Nice theorizing about Shrdlu, hurricanes and the Darwin Award, but I fear he will fall victim to none of those. (Why do I say ""he?"" How do I know Shrdlu isn't a ""she?"")

At any rate, Etoain Shrdlu is a figment of his or her own imagination. As is, I assume, the trip to Europe. So hurricanes need not be a problem. Shrdlu will simply not imagine running into them.

As for the Darwin Award, isn't it usually given out to some fool who improves the species by getting himself killed? Since Shrdlu isn't dead yet, he would be ineligble even if he had not sired children -- assuming that he or she actually has any children.

Best to wait and see what ""news"" he or she sends us of his or her ""bicycle trip"" across the Atlantic. I must say, it is a novel concept, as is the rig Shrdlu describes."

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Would have been a dead cert'

I was assuming that his trip would end in the ultimate failure of all, his untimely death through doing something really stupid, which would have qualified him for a Darwin award had he not have contributed to the human gene pool.

Anonymous's picture
John Doe (not verified)
Etaoin Shrdlu's id revealed

A nonsense phrase; an absurd or unintelligible utterance.
With the idea of speeding up the setting of type, the old Linotype keyboards had their letters arranged in decreasing order of the frequency with which they appear in the language, making the first two rows ETAOIN SHRDLU. This curious phrase is recorded both in the Oxford English Dictionary and also in the Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. Linotype operators who made a typing error would often run their fingers down the keyboard to cast nonsense to fill out the line. The resulting cast slug was usually put back in the pot to be melted down and reused, but sometimes, in the heat of composition, the mistake was missed and ended up being printed.
Each half, and the complete phrase, has occasionally been borrowed to mean something that is nonsense or absurd; the first part is recorded in a story by James Thurber from 1931, and the whole thing appeared in 1942 as the title of a short story by Fredric Brown about a sentient Linotype machine. Jake Loddington has told me about The Naughty Princess by Anthony Armstrong, written in 1945, in which there is a whimsical short story called Etaoin and Shrdlu which ends “And Sir Etaoin and Shrdlu married and lived so happily ever after that whenever you come across Etaoin’s name even today it’s generally followed by Shrdlu’s”. Andrew Stiller mentioned a once-famous play, The Adding Machine, in which Etaoin Shrdlu was a character. The second half of the phrase was used in 1972 by Terry Winograd as the name for an early artificial-intelligence system.
With computerised typesetting the machines have gone and the associations are almost lost, but the phrase remains a useful mnemonic for the most-used letters in English.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
He's already debunked this theory

He debunked this theory several weeks ago by pointing out that his first name was spelled 'Etoain' as opposed to the one you refer to, which is 'Etaoin'. Either way, I still think this person is a total fake, and probably somebody we know very well.

Anonymous's picture
don montalvo (not verified)
well, he did say he's crossing the atlantic ;)

(hint, hint, hint)

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
and who...

is going to PBP?

Anonymous's picture
Clay Heydorn (not verified)
Mr. S

Did you notice the original e-mail address? Chris spells his father's name differently?

What a gas!

Anonymous's picture
Tom Laskey (not verified)
Easy does it

Now that Mr. Shrdlu has taken to providing us with good humored fun, who are we to speculate about his identity.

Farewell Etoain. Keep your sails trim and your musket dry.

cycling trips