A maths teacher from my school, for the purpose of this story we shall call him Dave, was telling my class how he spent a lot of time in Northern India, China, Nepal, and Tibet in his youth. On one particular occasion Dave wanted to get to Lhasa, in Tibet, from India, but the border between India and Nepal was closed. The only option appeared to be a lengthy trip around Nepal.

However he would not be limited by details as petty and small as border control, so being a fit sort of guy he decided to cycle over the Himalayas through Nepal and into Tibet. Now to many of us this may not seem like a great plan, and in hindsight he admitted himself that it had some flaws. Nevertheless he obtained a bicycle and set off into the mountains with some provisions.

After three days his provisions ran out but no plucky young adventurer is phased by such minor mishaps so he continued. Another three days later, three days without food, he was feeling decidedly peckish. Fortunately a large truck came trundling by and he was able to flag it down.

Having placed his bike in the back and explained to the driver his predicament, Dave is fluent in both Tibetan and Hindi, he discovered that the truck was carrying beer. Dave was, by now, extremely hungry and so his reasoning went as follows:

Beer has calories
Food has calories
Beer is a substitute for food

He and the driver continued on their merry way, a way which was now considerably merrier thanks to attempts to replace three days worth of food with beer.

Unfortunately the bumpy mountain road was not in very good shape and so the truck got a puncture. Now this was no ordinary truck, it was very large so that it could cope with the demanding local terrain and the heavy loads that it had to carry. This meant that changing the wheel was a prodigious feat.

They extracted a huge spanner from the tool kit and attempted to prise the wheel nuts lose. However they refused to budge. This is when Dave's mathematical brain kicked in and he dug around in the cab and found a long metal tube. They were able to attach the tube to the end of the spanner and so increase the leverage on the nut. Success was swift with this efficient tool and they managed to change the wheel.

And so it was that my class was introduced to the Principles of Leverage, via a Pedal Powered Himalayan Jaunt.

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