Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fast on a Motorcycle

"Some people will tell you that slow is good - and it may be, on some days - but I am here to tell you that fast is better." - Hunter S. Thompson

(Times are approximate)

Second Zero - Thought becomes action, and you open the throttle.

Second One - The front wheel lifts and you instinctively lean forward to keep it down. The motor howls.

Second Two - You shift up. Your butt pushes hard into the seat. You grab more throttle. The world begins to sparkle a bit.

Second Three - You want to cry "Wahoo!" but your tongue is locked against the roof of your mouth. You shift up.

Second Four - The bike comes alive - you and the machine are one. Thoughts become action and movement. You shift up.

Second Five - The speedometer indicates that your forward velocity is in excess of the speed limit. If you were smart, you'd stop accelerating and just shift up the last two gears and cruise at a reasonable and legal speed.

You aren't smart. You shift up, and urge the motor on, faster, faster!

Second Ten - You shift into top gear. Your field of vision becomes a narrow tunnel with blurry edges. Your world is the howling motor, the roaring wind, and distant objects flying by seconds after you spot them.

Second 15 - God gives you his phone number and tells you to call when you're in the neighborhood. You are a madman hugging a comet.*

Second 20 - The bike won't go any faster. You've gone from rider to physics demonstration.

Fast on a bike is different from fast in any other vehicle. Sure, cars go fast, but a fast car is a crude assault, a heavy hammer bashing its way through the air, desperately clutching for traction through turns. On a motorcycle, physics work for the pilot, instead of against him/her. Compare leaning gracefully into curves with getting thrown around inside a car going through the same curves. There's a reason auto racers wear five-point harnesses. A twisty section of road leaves a rider exhilarated, and a driver bruised and battered.

At a certain speed, bikes come alive. The piece of machinery below the rider suddenly becomes intensely responsive, but still entirely controllable.

Any rider can tell you how thrilling it is to feel the combination of forces at work when carving through a turn. Going fast in a straight line has it's pleasures, but going fast through a curve is a joy unto itself.

Note that fast doesn't always equal reckless or illegal. 30 miles per hour can be plenty fast and perfectly legal. 190 miles per hour, in the proper environment, can be responsible or even cautious. With care, fast is always fun.

Regardless of whether the motorcycle is travelling at 15 mph or 150 mph, there is little in life that gives the same visceral rush as a fast bike.

Well, that wraps up this post. Ride hard, Ride safe.

*This is not my own clever turn of phrase. Unfortunately, I don't know who to attribute it to.


gary said...

Very nice.

You could have done this all on your own, without the quotes, and it would have been even better.

Ride well,

gary said...

I'm sorry Dale. Not riding is making me very cranky.

Please send some of that Arizona sunshine up this way? We're looking at double-digits below zero for Sunday night.

Ride well,

Bill Sommers said...

Thats the funnest ride that I've ever taken from my desk chair. Second fifteen spooks me a bit though.

Have fun,

Lucky said...

Gary - Thanks... and mellow.

We haven't had much sunshine for the last couple of days, but if I get some to spare I'll send it on up.

Bill - Thanks. That one spooks me too. I can never remember a phone number...