8.03.2006,9:50 PM
The 'F' Factor
'F' suggests many things. I discovered a few the other night.

A typical hot Texas evening, sweat running down my chest and back inside my gear, I searched for a gas station in the city. I wanted to fill up the tank before meeting a group of riders for pizza rather than do so in the dark afterwards. Spotting one before the entrance to the busy highway, I pulled in and carefully approached the pump. The bent right handlebar has thrown off the balance and altered the throttle and brake handling. Negotiating stops and turns required significant attention and control.

After filling the tank, I looked at the exits from the station and noticed that I had ridden down a fairly steep decline to the pumps. I wondered how I hadn't noted that. Then I realized that I was a bit stressed and tired from spending an hour and 1/2 in a sweltering welding shop while the bike's sidestand was shortened. I know I was dehydrated despite the liter of water I drank in the shop. When your lips stick to your teeth, that's dehydration. I just wanted to get on the highway away from the stop-and-gos, get to the pizza place to sit and relax with a cold iced tea.

But I had to get out of this station first.

The road was a main arterial feeding heavy traffic onto the highway entrance. It was also the tail end of rush hour. Approaching the highway and stopping was not an option on that steep incline. I had to ride up and out without stopping.

I positioned the bike where I could get a straight shot onto the road with a slight angle; I had to negotiate a right turn to enter one of the two lanes. Careful not to angle too much, but just enough to avoid a sharp right turn, I readied myself to bolt out at the first opening in traffic.

Watching down the road, I waited until there was a large enough gap in both lanes, leaned forward and rolled hard on the throttle. Whee took off like lightening and my feet were on the pegs with all my weight in a split second. We flew over that incline, airborn, out of the saddle and landed almost in the second lane. I turned my head to the right even before landing and immediately dropped my right shoulder upon touchdown. The bike dipped and cut that curve like it was on ice skates. Rolling off the throttle and before settling down in the seat, a very loud "WOOOHOOO!!!!!!!!!!" emitted from my mouth the same time my pucker power realized it could relax.

We did it! Our first airborne jump.

It was Fun, Frightening, and Freakin' Fantastic!!!

The residual adrenaline carried us forward on the highway, the breeze evaporating my sweat and Whee were the first to arrive; I had my pick of the parking lot. Stripping off my gear on the way into the pizza joint, I made a beehive for the restroom, washed my hands and dunked my head under the faucet. I needed that.

Shaking my wet hair on the way out of the restroom, I ordered an iced tea, sat waiting for the rest of the group and relaxed with a smile.
posted by Macrobe
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