Scotty was always berating Captain Kirk about the laws of Physics when Captain Kirk demanded that the he needed more power from the warp drive. He was also apt to say, “She cannae take any more!” Or “I’m giving it all she’s got!” I have always found the Chief Engineer’s advice to be to be worth remembering when applied to life in general and classic scrambling in particular.
So in summary
Never thrash an engine (or yourself) beyond designed capabilities or permitted levels of power output.
Always give it ‘all she’s got’.
-Wise words indeed, and worthy of Voltaire himself.
…But back to Scotty.
It seemed all the Chief Engineer had to do was align his dilithium crystals and it was ‘Job done!’
For ‘align’- read ‘twiddle with’
Trouble is … if today he was to admit to ‘twiddling with’ or even just ‘aligning’ his dilithium crystals in a public place he may well have found himself adding his signature to The Sex Offenders Register.
Twiddling in general has got a bad press. It is a much maligned activity. Yet there are definitive calming psychological benefits to having a good twiddle.
There should be classes and university courses on twiddling/fiddling.
After an afternoon of fiddling on my bike Raymond and I were discussing our racing injuries over a cup of tea. (Well to be truthful he was rebuilding, and I was handing him stuff, chatting and generally holding him back). He casually mentioned one memorable occasion when he had broken his ankle.
Ray never lacked confidence. In fact the term ‘confidence lacking’ shouldn’t be in a sentence concerning Ray. Innate confidence in his own ability had allowed him to take a hacksaw and welding apparatus to a ‘works’ frame that he had acquired because ‘the factory didn’t know what they were doing’.
… To the uninitiated this may seem a trifle rash, but after knowing him for many years, and if I had to bet, my money would have been on Ray.
Nevertheless, a broken bone is a broken bone, no matter the level of confidence. As a consequence Ray was therefore unusually hesitant and unsteady on the bike after the cast had been removed.
As was his way, Ray attacked rough tracks in the same way a starving man would attack a fish supper. His riding style was more ‘Ming the Merciless’ than delicate Ming vase as he and his mighty CCM bowled their way across the countryside, flattening anything and anybody that had the temerity to stand in their way. I hated it (when on the rare occasions I got a good start) and he came up behind me. You could hear him coming from way, way back. The ground shook and the noise from his bike’s open megaphone overcame the pathetic flimsy whine emanating from my exhaust. And then the inevitable front wheel would appear always just inside my line…and just inches from my outstretched leg. To be honest it was a relief when under the pressure of such intimidatory tactics I caved, did the honourable thing, fell off and got out of his way.
These techniques had served him well in the past but in retrospect were unsuitable when he was trying not to stand on his dodgy ankle whilst attacking a particularly rough section of track.
Newton’s third law of motion states that ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’. I don’t think Ray ever thought much about Sir Isaac Newton as he rode along. In fact, for those of a nervous disposition it probably is best not to contemplate what Ray was thinking about as he raced. Nonetheless, as he hit a particularly vicious rut and his bodyweight was thrown forward onto the tank, Sir Isaac had had worked out many years ago that the tank would in turn apply an equal and opposite force to Raymundo’s gentlemanly bits as his forward momentum was curtailed.
Physically speaking, Ray could very well be accurately described as being a ‘big unit.’ This is important in that Force (expressed in Newtons) equals mass (in kilograms) x acceleration (in meters per second per second). In layman’s terms that means the greater the mass and acceleration the greater the force. As a rule of thumb you really don’t want a lot of Newtons acting on a place that Newtons have no business accessing. It’s also worth mentioning this was obviously long before the advent of padded seats running seamlessly onto rounded tanks, so generally speaking this was not a good thing.
Ray was many things, but he was not a quitter. So he wobbled his way back to the paddock, where upon self- examination he discovered, (in his own words) an alarming amount of swelling. The words ‘small grapefruits’ were used, I believe.
So as quickly as possible he presented himself to his local GP. His worst fears were confirmed as the doctor agreed that it was indeed cause for some concern. He told him that in the immediate case it would be best to go home and rest until the swelling went down, and then they would take it from there.
Thankfully the swelling had eased somewhat when he received an appointment card through the mail instructing him to go to the local hospital .As it happened he needed to get parts for some bikes, so he decided to kill two birds with one stone and do both.
-It would be an understatement to say that Ray (like most of us) didn’t particularly like wasting time.
However, on arrival at the hospital reception he was told that (for today) students would accompany the doctor, and would he mind being examined in their presence? He replied that he wasn’t in the least bit worried and as far as he was concerned ‘the more the merrier’.
It would be an equal understatement to say that Raymond was not a wallflower.
Anyhow, he was shown to a cubicle where there was a hospital gown waiting.
He duly stripped and put on the gown.
…Then he waited.
…Then he waited some more.
Those of you familiar with hospitals will recognise the significance of this process
It increases irritation
It makes you aware of all the other things you could be doing, (like getting bike spares), especially if you are feeling a bit better.
…And so it was that, like Baldric, he formulated a cunning plan.
Again, as understatements go, Raymond (as we say here) ‘wasn’t a bit backward in coming forward’.
…The time came when he was eventually called to go into a room where the doctors and students were waiting. The students were poised, clipboards in hands, shiny faced and eager to learn.
Ray’s plan was to avoid any perceived embarrassment on both sides, and to speed up the whole process.
… To that end he walked confidently up to the assembled group of professionals, pulled the gown aside, stood there legs akimbo, proud and as nature intended in the well-lit (but suddenly surprisingly chilly) room, and waited…
The first indication that something was very, very wrong was the barely suppressed giggle that ran around the room.
This seemed at the very least to be fairly unprofessional, so he enquired of the senior doctor as to what appeared to be the matter?
The doctor was slightly taken aback, but to his credit quickly composed himself and replied that he indeed was sorry, but this was highly unusual in that they were here to assess how well his ankle had healed!
It was at this point that I choked on my tea.
There are of course some lessons to be learned from this
Always, but always, read an appointment card.
Just because there is a hospital gown waiting, don’t put it on unless told to do so, and
Never, (and this is worth repeating), never voluntarily expose yourself in the presence of a crowd.
Up until this point in my life I had always assumed this last point was so obvious as not to be worth mentioning.
Somewhere out there in the world, there are currently working doctors who undoubtedly tell their children about this incident. You never know, you may be lucky enough one day to come across one such practitioner.
Take this mental picture of students clutching X-rays and watching as a seemingly deranged bear of a man walks purposefully in and flashes them. Jealously treasure it.
Swaddle it in cotton wool to keep it safe and warm.
Place it carefully somewhere within your neural pathways where it is easily accessible.
…then it will always be at hand when you need it most.
Another light-hearted musing from our in-house writer, John.
This exciting instalment is titled “Ye cannae change the laws of Physics”
(Scotty from Star Trek the original series)