A quick bit of good news before the puzzle.  The Apple ipad launches today in the UK and 59 Seconds has been chosen as one of the very first featured ebooks!  Congratulations to everyone at MacMillan for working so hard and making that happen.

OK, on with the puzzle.

The other day I went for a bike ride.  My favourite route has signs every meter saying how far you have travelled.  I came across the sign saying ‘15951 meters’ and thought ‘Oh, that’s interesting, it is a number palindrome because it reads the same from left to right as right to left’.  Then I rode on.  Two hours later I came across the next palindromic number sign.  How fast was I going?

As ever, please do NOT post your answers, but do say if you think you have solved it and how long it took.  Solution on Monday!

124 comments

    1. No, it cannot be km. If it is km, 15951 km long road would cover two third of the globe even at equator.

    1. @Jane …now that’s an odd bike route and might explain a few things….lol….his bike is on a boat without sail nor motor….

  1. At that speed, if you’d started at the beginning it takes days to get to 15951!!
    Luckily to find a solution took a lot less….

  2. Well, this is more a mathematical puzzle than a logic or lateral thinking one. And yes, I think he was going really slow 😀

  3. I am extremely impressed with your balancing skills – most people would fall over at this speed! (Few seconds to get the solution).

  4. 10s or less for answer—really hard to cycle that slow. Spent a couple of minutes trying to work out what might have been intended. Baffled.

  5. Er. are you going in the direction of increasing or decreasing w.r.t. the signs because the next palindromic number is a different number of meters away depending?

    Oh, and either way you’d be faster walking!

    1. It takes 2 hours. Either way (walking or biking) will take exactly two hours.

      Which is heavier, a ton of feathers or a ton of bricks? =>

    2. Impossiblly Stupid …And a silent breakage of wind {pass gas, fart, spontaneous flatulence} indeed can be smelled……which leads to one handed clapping…..oh maybe that has another purpose….lol…..

  6. Got very quickly – less than a minute but had to write number down as I get numbers mixed up in my head and that took the time.

    That’s a lot of signs if they are every metre.

    15951 signs and there’s more? – whew!

  7. How fast were you going? Not fast at all… stopped for lunch somewhere nice? m = km in this case? Took me 5 sec.

  8. I’m rubbish with numbers but I think 30 seconds was all it took. What an odd route, Richard. I’ve never seen a route with a sign every meter – you can’t see much scenery on that one. Maybe it was a static exercise bike with a video feed 😉 (that would explain why you didn’t fall off going so slow).

  9. A route with a sign every meter? Is that some art project, or did the city council have too much money left at the end of the year? 🙂

    Anyway, I’m in line with the others…

    1. If Mr. Wisemans favorite route is a circle and 15951 m long, he travelled 0,5m per hour 😉

  10. Tried this whilst waiting for my iPad from UPS deliveryman. At first I thought “that’s fast cycling”, then realised it was meters and so it is really slow

  11. A few seconds. And then a few more to realize the solution is ambiguous. And then a bit more to realize that I got the first possible value wrong… Does not change the ambiguity though.

  12. I don’t see what problem people have about the actual speed: Richard uses ‘meter’ which is not a recognised unit of measurement and could, for example be equal to 500 ‘metres’. The spelling matters, as the term metre is French in origin, as are all of the SI [Systeme International – aka Metric] units.

    A meter is an instrument used for measuring and recording something [eg. Gas Meter]; metre is a basic unit of length equal to about 1.094 yards (100 centimetres) OR rhythm of poetry [irrelevant in this case]. – Definitions from the Collins English Dictionary.

    As for the solution, it took me less that the time taken to travel 1 ‘meter’.

    1. Ahem. You should consult more than one dictionary. Both spellings are correct. And I think it is clear from the context that the SI unit is meant.

    2. I use an English dictionary, published in the United Kingdom, the home of the language where words which sound the same are differentiated by their spelling. I reject US English as it is a sloppy way of spelling, and does not even follow the intended rule – ie to spell as spoken, because colour would be spelled cuhluh not color if the rule was followed.

    3. @safc4ever you might want to brush up on your history a wee bit to understand why our cousins prefer Webster’s alternatives in the same way they preferred their own alternative to culturally retarded King George’s.

      The English way is to forgive affectionately the peccadilloes of spelling in return for forgetting the abuses the colonies suffered at the hands of our great country. Anything else is football logic, an oxymoron if ever there was one.

    4. Don’t get me started on football (and whether on not it is logical). That is for another time and place…

      (…and a lot depends on which form of football you mean, as I may just agree with the ‘oxymoron’ statement for certain variations).

      I wonder if Richard reads all these comments and sees how much debate goes into the finer points of his puzzles, rather than concentrating on the basic puzzle itself.

    5. I’m sure Richard does and don’t get ME started on those shenanigans….. now just because this Fridays puzzle isn’t all that challenging doesn’t mean anyone should start kicking sand at each other while playing in this international playground/sandbox…..so play nice or you may have to take a time out in the corner…where we will take turns reading dictionaries from countries all over the world…..lol……cheers!

    6. Cuneiform: the only country that spells ‘metre’ ‘meter’ is the USA, but if the signs were there… they’d be in yards. Er…

      In any case, Richard lives in the UK.

    7. Baz…you mean there are people who do not know where Richard lives? Wow! Why I sneak across the pond every Thursday night and sneak in while he is a sleep…and move his stuff around…and 30 minutes later…. as quiet as a church mouse put everything right back just as it was……hehe….then sneak back across the pond and he never knows it…lol…..but doesn’t every one?

    8. @Baz: The American spelling seems to be mildly popular in Canada (where they have meters/metres) too, or at least a quick Google check indicates so.

      In any case, it has always been my motto: “Americans are people too!”

    9. Cuneiform: yeah, but they only do that to wind up the Quebecers!

      lilabyrd: did you notice when you were rearranging his room, that there was a gorilla standing behind you the whole time?

    10. Don’t blame Americans that the Victorian British were obsessed with the French. We spell it the way the Brit’s used to before the fad of going Francophile.

      My source:
      Peters, Pam (2004). The Cambridge Guide to English Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-62181-X, pp. 34 and 511.

    11. ….and if I had noticed the Gorilla I sure would of asked for advice. Some times when I would try and pick something up to move it…suddenly it would disappear and reappear on the other side of the room and then I wasn’t sure when it was time to move it back just where should I move it….back to where it was before it moved by its self or to the place it was after it moved its self….see I don’t know if things normally just move around on their own whilst he slumbers….do you know?

    12. Oh hi, what’s going on in this comment thread? Are we arguing about America? How about that healthcare reform, huh?

  13. Congratulations to you for 59 Seconds being chosen as one of the very first featured ebooks on the Apple ipad! Amazing accomplishment.

  14. I got the answer quite quickly, but am guessing that you were riding you bike backwards to be going that slowly! Never mind my brain is awake now!

  15. If it takes you two hours to came across the next palindromic number sign, it is what kind of bike that you are riding?

  16. I think this should have been ‘miles’ not meters then it makes sense, otherwise u should defo get a new bike!

  17. The original puzzle is slightly different, but only then it makes sense:
    The mileage on a car shows 15951, which is a palindromic number. Two hours later another palindromic number appears on the milometer. What is that number? What speed was the driver travelling at?
    And the answer is 55 miles per hour.

    1. Robert: READ THE RULES! You DO NOT post your answer on this page. It matters not whether you are right or wrong. This page (Friday Puzzle, on Friday) is for discussing the problem, NOT the solution(s). Please feel free to add your answer to ‘Answer to the Friday Puzzle’ which will be published by Richard on a fresh page on Monday.

  18. I was really confused reading all the comments about how short a distance it was, and how soon the next sign was… mostly because I thought the markers were KM not M… Making that change, two hours to travel that distance must have included a 119 minute nap.

    1. But your answer implies Richard’s answer, since only the units are different. Still not cool.

    2. Sorry, I don’t get it. If Richards is riding a bike, there are meters not miles, and there is a “2 hours” period – my answer doesn’t imply anything as you cannot go so slow as in Richards puzzle. So, maybe THERE IS SOMETHING MORE in that puzzle and the answer is different ???????

  19. just took a few moments. As others posted, you must have a broken bike or stopped for a nap along the way!

  20. Richard, maybe you meant two MINUTES later, instead of “two hours later”?

    It would still be a slow ride, but at least you’d be able to remain seated on your bike.

  21. I imagine you had a large picnic on the bike and stopped for a baguette, a bottle of wine, there are maybe some onions and stripped jumper.

  22. uhm I would wonder what he did for one hour and 58 minutes. I kinda feel like there is something wrong with this puzzle

    1. Even if he stopped at EVERY one and was blind and had to feel the sign for the letters, running his trained fingers on the immeasurable ridges formed by the slight variation of the paint versus the background of the sign to recognize the symbols, it would still be too slow 🙂 (I still love you Richard and your blog, no bad feelings)

  23. At that speed (or lack thereof) you must either have amazing balance or still be using training wheels on your bike.

    A garden snail traveling at top speed would actually give you a run for your money. 🙂

  24. Richard,

    Maybe you meant something like, “…after two hours he came across another palindromic number,” rather than “…after two hours he came across the next palindromic number.”

  25. Got it pretty quickly for once. I like this one, a nice little puzzler. As always, reading other posts is the most enjoyable part of these. There are some very bright and funny people here. Thanks for the wit and wisdom!

    It’s also hilarious how some people justify things they blurt out, or quibble about!

    (or is the spelling quibbel? I’m not sure. I only have a dictionary that allows rejected words in it)

  26. whether you was going forward or backward (ie next signpost is higher number or lower number) you is, as they all say, going very slow. Get that bike checked!

  27. OK, that took all of 20 seconds and yes, you’re going veeeery slow.

    In fact, you could’ve ridden 30.56 cm in the time it took me…

  28. It took me not more than 10 seconds and maybe you were so slow because you were tired.
    The speed is a palindrome too.

  29. He is cycling in a spiral…

    Richard may possibly have used the alternate spelling to indicate a different unit…

    If it is supposed to be in miles, then it is a steep downhill and he is a professional cyclist.I doubt anyone else could maintain that average speed.

    I also doubt an error would go uncorrected by Richard, so I conclude that most likely he intended it to be metres and the cyclist is just really slow for humorous reasons, you know, like a joke? Ha ha ha? He is an expert in comedy, after all…

    For the record, I thought it was funny.

  30. I wrote an equation in Excel to help me find (all!) the palindromic numbers from 15951 on down, then ran it forward for another 15000 numbers.

    Boy Richard is slow! If he started at the beginning of the trail it would take almost a fortnight to get to this point!

    Must be LOTS of pubs on this trail!

  31. I do believe I have an answer. And it took me about 10 seconds to do it. Which is fine and dandy, but only if I used the right numbers. =)

  32. Whassup, guys? I bet we’re all going to feel dumb on Monday when it turns out we’re wrong. Anyway, I have two answers, which means I had TWICE THE FUN!
    Also, the thought of riding a bike impossibly slowly makes me think of those nightmares where you try to run but you can’t. Did anyone stop to consider that this may have been a Freddy Krueger attack? I, for one, am worried.

    1. PS- One must ride slowly to read all those distance markers that are set 1 meter apart. Otherwise it’s just a picket-fence blur.

  33. All I can think about is the poor carpenter who had to create these f^&*(ing signs every meter. And the unnecessary destruction of forestry.

    But yeah, it’s too easy. A slightly more interesting version might say that their are signposts every 25 meters, and a starting palindrome of 5775, for example, so only palindromes that are multiples of 25 would feature.

  34. This is more a maths problem but I think 15 seconds…to be honest I’m not great at Maths but loved this problem at this site to be honest…looking forward to seeing more of your posts 😉

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