Cycling and the fourth state of matter

The ionised gas stuff, not the bloody stuff

One of the most surprising things I stumbled across when researching Cycling Science was the potential application of plasma to cycling. As has been frequent in recent year, I have to thank Bob Jones (names changed to protect the innocent) for not only pointing me in the right direction but also giving me a good shove to get me there sooner.

Plasma is the fourth state of matter. Most of our bikes are made of solid matter and our riding would be very uncomfortable without being able to put gaseous matter into our tyres. Liquid matter is becoming more common on bikes as hydraulic brakes are being fitted to off-road, commuter and road bikes.

But plasma, well, I’d thought that was only for oversized TV sets or blood transfusions (which, incidentally, are mentioned elsewhere in the book). Then I went for a ride along the seafront with Bob.

I’d known Bob for 25 years. Well, I’d known him for about six years, when he was a keen young racer. He stayed in the sport and I didn’t so I lost contact. Some 15 years later he tracked me down and hauled me back into writing about bikes once more. Yes, the book is his fault.

But this is a no-blame blog and Bob’s idea that day on the seafront was to lend me a small-wheeled e-bike that gave me the acceleration and speed of a sleeping donkey.

Then he mentioned plasma. He said he didn’t understand it. He said it sounded quite fantastic.

He gave me a name and a number. I rang it and asked about plasma. The man explained. I understood it. It was fantastic.

The explanation is in the book. Plasma could make you ride faster.

Of course, it’s still a concept and hasn’t even been taken to the prototype stage.

But the theory’s good and the technology is part-way there.

So it’ll only be a matter of time before the UCI bans it.

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