Ruka had to learn cycling in a day (or maybe less, given that she had already wasted quite a few hours), and she needed a place big enough (and most importantly, without Maria’s vegetable garden) for her to practice. Chiharu suggested to go to Hakuou at night, as the school would be reasonably deserted at night.
As they entered the school campus, Hayate exclaimed that it had been a while since he last visited Hakuou at night. Chiharu was surprised that he had ever been to school at night, and Hayate answered that he had – once in a while – but nothing good had ever happened.
When was the last time he visited Hakuou at night, anyway? To be honest, I can’t recall anything beyond the Old Campus adventure and Hinamatsuri Matsuri. The Old Campus was haunted and the floor collapsed under his feet, while he was forced to run across the campus in bunny suits. It is no doubt that to him, “nothing good had ever happened”.
Are we forgetting something? Well, if Hayate was forgetting things, why should we remind him of any missing details? If he did not forget things, it means he did not think that those details were good either. In any case, let’s just save the trouble.
What is important in this chapter is Ruka’s training. She needed some hours of sleep before shooting, so there were only four left for training. As the fastest bike-rider in the bicycle courier industry, Hayate had too many skills and tricks to teach her, even though Chiharu doubted if excess skills were necessary for the night. To the horror of everyone (including you and me), Hayate “transformed” into a troll, and asked Ruka whether she wanted the kind lesson or the harsh one.
We could almost bet our lives on what Ruka would choose. Given that Hayate had been stressing on the urgency and seriousness of the matter, Ruka’s own desire to learn cycling quickly, and a mental toughness Ruka had shown to us already, we know that she would choose the harsh way. We just know.
So, what is the “harsh” lesson? How “harsh” could the always-nice-but-sometimes-trolling Hayate be?
The “harsh” way began with Hayate pulling out a water gun and giving Ruka an in-your-face (very literally) shot, which signaled that Hayate would punish her mercilessly if she disobeyed his instructions. He then ordered Ruka to call him “coach” instead of “Hayate-kun”, implying authority over her. If Ruka ever thought that Hayate was a nice boy, then this night he clearly told her that he was not.
The above had nothing to do with learning cycling yet – a harsh coach isn’t necessarily a good coach. Hayate tied Ruka’s hands tightly on the grips of the bicycle (not quadricycle, as the training wheels were already removed), and told her to ride all the way down a steep slope…
Every bike-rider (and non-rider, as a matter of fact) knows that the bicycle would gather so much speed that it becomes an uncontrollable monster, and more likely than not you would get hurt by falling off or crashing into things. Hayate had created a dead-or-alive (literally!!) situation for a complete amateur, and it really was harsh.
Ruka begged with tears for Hayate not to treat her so harshly, but he was having none of it. After a “final warning” – another in-your-face shot of the water gun – he gave a slight push at Ruka’s back and… she was off!!!
What Ruka wasn’t able to do next was unforgivable: she could not apply brakes as her fingers could not reach them, and the bicycle ran without any speed-control. Now, there is a valid argument that, if Ruka braked too hard it was very likely she would lose balance and fall. However, there is no guarantee that she would not fall if she did not apply brakes. If she would fall in any case, the faster the bike, the more serious her injuries would be.
My advise as a bike-rider for 20 years is that, you simply have to (be allowed to) apply brakes when going down a slope – never brake too hard, but always brake. If the slope is too steep, get off the bike and walk along with it down the slope until you reach the bottom of it. It looks stupid, but it is a safety measure. It would be even more stupid if you get hurt or killed simply because you want some fun with cycling at top speed.
Speaking of safety measures, Ruka did not wear a helmet either. While other protective gears could affect your movements, there should be no excuse for not wearing a helmet, especially when you are riding down such a steep slope at top speed.
Well, with such a dangerous cycling behaviour, Ruka (or Hayate, as he was the “coach”, after all) was inviting accidents, and it came in no time. For at least the third time in the series, a character – Ayumu in the first two incidents, and Ruka the third – rode her bike over a small rock, and the bike went flying into the air. Then, for at least the third time in the series, Hayate saved the said character from falling – the first two times in front of the bike, and the third time at the back of it.
So that was the “harsh” lesson from Hayate. We could easily say that he had been trolling Ruka, but we do see some senses with his methodology. Tying her hands to the grips did not give Ruka the sense of oneness with the
Force bicycle, but it also prevented Ruka from losing her grips when she freaked out, which would be far too dangerous. Forcing her to ride down a steep slope exposed her to the great fear of falling, and if she could survive it, then she would not be afraid of falling anymore. If she was not afraid of falling, then she would pedal with more confidence, and as such she would not be falling down.
In fact, while we all see the cruel side of Hayate, his course of action was – sort of – in line with the “mother-bird theory”. Some mother-birds do force their chicks to fly by pushing them off a cliff. To be honest I have forgotten whether those mother-birds would pick their chicks up should it becomes too dangerous, but at least Hayate did. He gave Ruka a seemingly impossible task, but he also stayed with her to make sure she was safe. Was he being cruel? Well, maybe not.
But it doesn’t mean that Ruka did not think he treated her harshly. She grabbed Hayate’s water gun and shot him in the head. Yet she was smiling, indicating that she wasn’t really that mad at him. Hayate was also smiling, indicating that he knew that there was no wrath from Ruka which he had to worry about.
Chiharu stood and watched them. She had suspected, but wasn’t really sure, that Ruka had a crush on Hayate, but what she had seen tonight made her a little more certain that, Ruka did have a crush on Hayate, after all.
At the breakfast table, Nagi asked about the cycling lesson. As she did not know how to ride a bike, she wanted to learn it as well. This is a little surprising, given how much she hated sports.
Hayate asked her exactly the same question he had asked Ruka: The kind lesson or the harsh lesson? Nagi saw his smile and sensed danger, so she chose the kind lesson. Hopefully it would at least be the better of two evils.
Well, in any case…