Number T(h)ree

Ooh, clever title, huh?

I would like to ask my reader(s) to pardon the tardiness of my posts here, as I have been engaged in all sorts of exciting activities, all of which I am proud to say are either directly or indirectly related to trees. However, my time is valuable, so I will only recount one such thrilling adventure.

I had to get a new set of tires for my bike, as my summertime-steed had languished in the dank, dismal basement for far longer than I care to admit. While you may believe that this is the point at which I tenuously link bicycles to trees by making a morally convincing (yet unsourced) silvicultural argument describing just how the usage of bicycles as an alternate form of transportation has an immense and incredibly profound effect on the number of trees saved per year, you would be wrong. For, the clear link between trees and the changing of my tires (aside from some rearranging of letters and swapping an ‘e’ for an ‘i’) is the Hevea Brasiliensis, or Rubber Tree.

While the Olmec people of Mesoamerica may have used these trees to obtain rubber as early as 3600 years ago, it was not until the discovery of the vulcanization process in 1839 that the true value of the Rubber Tree was realized. The vulcanization process takes the milky latex that is collected from trees (through a process called rubber-tapping), and converts it into a usable, resilient rubber–usually through appropriate application of adequately high temperature/pressure and perhaps the addition of some sulfur. This improved rubber is much sturdier, and is used in many common items, including (but not limited to): hoses, galoshes, hockey-pucks, and, yes, bicycle tires.

So, as you can clearly see, bike tires are in fact deeply connected with trees.

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