Monday, September 12, 2005

Apocryphal tale from the Utah desert

Somebody once told me a FOAF story of two motorcyclists in the Utah desert. On a straightaway that stretched from horizon to horizon, they approached each other for what must have seemed like an eternity, faint headlight gradually strengthening through the hot, quavering desert air.

Each was doing easily twice the speed limit, for the road was open, visibility was perfect, and the desert road without end. They were probably enjoying each other's company vicariously, for rare is the motorcyclist who doesn't see kinship in that single distant headlight.

Minds tend to wander on roads like that, yet both riders were alert and focused as the approached each other, closing at 250 miles an hour, tucked behind their respective fairings to escape the ferocious windstream.

The force of the wind is a function of the cube of the velocity. At speeds over 100 miles an hour, it is not something to be trifled with. In the brief instant of their passing, one rider, safely encapsulated in his bubble of quiet air, made the casual gesture so familiar to riders—a gentle toss of the hand, a wave of acknowledgement and friendship—

Outside the bubble of still air—

Into the windstream—

—and broke his wrist.

(...At least, that's what I was told)

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