All Hail

I don’t understand physics.  That is, I don’t get the math part.  I sort of get the idea of relative speed and the other super-basic concepts, but my “higher math” is all about making change in my head.  But whatever.  If I run into a problem like that, I can always just ask my wife.  She’s like Google, except I don’t need to have good keywords.

I love riding.  I have a new (for me) GSXR-600 Alstare with 3k miles on it at the moment.  I ride every chance I get.  Sometimes, it gets pretty wet and wild.  During the Colorado Monsoon last year, it rained for a solid week.  I rode for five of the seven days.  My riding gear included a snorkel.

Here’s where things come together…  A few Saturdays ago, I got off work at 1500.  I fucked around a little as I donned my pants, my SIDIs, and my spine protector.  I poked my head out of the door and was greeted with a darkening sky.  I had no desire to get caught unprepared in the rain, but no one ever wants to stay at work when they’re off.  I squeezed on my helmet and dashed out the door.  I’d gotten wet before but I still hoped to be faster than the rain.  

Tick.  

Tick.

Tick – splat.

The sound of raindrops on my visor.  I was halfway home.  Nuts.  That’d teach me not to pack my jacket.  

I have often said the world doesn’t punish me properly for my mistakes.  This time, I think the world heard me.  Six miles from home, the clouds opened up.  It wasn’t a torrential downpour, but I was soaked in half a mile.  I hunched closer to the windscreen.  The raindrops splattered against my visor and crawled to either side.  My arms grew cold.  The rain started to sting.  Four miles to go.  

CRACK!

CRACK!

THWACK!

Flecks of white in the sky and bouncing off the street.  Traffic slowed.  More stings on my arms, like I was caught in a swarm of angry wasps.  I watched hailstones pelt the cars in front of me.  No cover in sight.  Nothing to do but keep going.  Three miles to go.  The hail grew bigger.  The water got deeper.  My pants and boots were soaked through.  I idly wondered if I was bleeding.  I couldn’t check.  You could always count on drivers to get worse in inclement weather.  I kept my eyes on the road.  A mile and a half left.  The hail intensified.  The pounding on my helmet was deafening.  My arms – I hadn’t taken hits to the arms like that since Duke Maelgwyn was a regular at the Thursday practices.  Visibility dropped to nil.  I popped my visor up, but the haze was too thick.  The hailstones were golfball-sized.   I slapped it closed again.  The car in front of me stopped short.  I abandoned my lane, cutting around cars, fighting my way  to the side of the road.  

One mile left, and I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t see well enough to cut through the now-stationary cars on the road.  The water was deep enough to swallow the rim of my wheels.  I put feet down, dropped the kick stand, and yanked my key and my tank bag.  There was no shelter but the gas station a quarter mile up the road.  I ran.  I could feel the icy water squishing out of my socks with every step.  My breath began to fog my visor.  Cold water trickled down the inside of my vest.  I came to the gas pumps.  There were cars crammed in at every angle, owners trying to keep their cars from being dented.  I wove between the cars, safe at last from the hail.  I dropped my tank bag and popped my helmet off.  A bald guy in riding leathers approached.  “Are you okay?” He asked.  His concern made me inexplicably happy.  I told him I was fine, and that I hoped my phone was okay – I needed to let my wife know I was safe!  I spent about 15 minutes before the road was clear-ish and I felt good about riding.  I backtracked to my bike and mounted up.  My arms were swollen and stinging.  The bruises would last for a week.  

Anyway, I was sitting on my ass tonight, trying to remember what it’s like to have a day off.  I wondered (not for the first time) just how fast the hail and I were colliding.  So I started looking at math on the internet as “Adventure Time” played in the background.

The final answer was probably about 70 miles an hour.  My wife said that my guesstimate was right, but not for the reasons I thought it was.  Good enough.

 

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