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Monday, August 12, 2013

THE RACER Chapter 23



Comfort and Fast
courtesy photobucket.com
         
Lucas managed to find time to ride the racing bike around the property at the plant.  He had begun to get the feel of riding on the edge all the time which is what a rider tries to attain.

The cycle performed up to all their expectations and should be marketable. After a few more changes almost daily, Lucas took the bike and an engineer to the oval track where he would put the bike through its paces each day.  

After exhaustive testing they were satisfied that the cycle was as good as it could be.

Marley had the frame, wheels and comfort of the rider under the stresses a rider might face under racing conditions in view during the designing process.

He said anyone can build a powerful engine but not everyone can build a safe and comfortable bike.  

Because of the heavy schedule Lucas spent less and less time with Jo and she gravitated more and more toward the friends she made at the track.

To his surprise he found out that she had up and married one of the riders who raced around the circuit.

She was a little younger than Lucas just seventeen and had not finished High school. As far as Lucas knew her husband was a nice guy and a good rider but he didn’t think her getting married was a good idea.

Her husband had just started racing on the northern circuit and didn't come south anymore.

Lucas never saw her again although he heard they were doing fine with her working at a department store and him working at a parts store. Lucas knew he would miss her for they had been very close for several years.

There had never been a romantic connection between them but they were close and could talk about everything between themselves.

As for Lucas there were girls around the track hanging onto him but at this stage of his life he wasn't interested in a full time girl friend.

He had finished his high school requirements early and at Marley's insistence was taking engineering studies locally.  This included more math studies for Marley repeatedly said it's all about math, everything!

Marley had sold the special car he build for Lucas for it had become too small for him, so he would from time to time would take one of the new models to the track and just have fun with it.

His smug song, "I'm a racer," was long ago shot down by Marley saying, “You will never race these cars for you are going to be an engineer.”

Lucas finally accepted this to be true for there was far more pleasure in creating something than just using it.  Marley received a government contract to engineer, develop, and build a rugged motorcycle as a prototype.

This brought a lot of excitement to Marley's shop. They were to compete with two more shops but felt pretty good about being able to prevail over the other companies.

Keeping everything they were doing under wraps had always been Marley's method of operating, but now the government installed their protocol of security alone with badges and everything.

It seemed to attach a higher sense of importance to their work.  The requirements for the bike were pretty well straight forward.  It had to be rugged, reliable, and versatile with side car adaptability.

This started with the engineering of the frame. All of the guys had their input with some developing and others challenging the design which led to some lively discussions.

As it turned out everything was the product of compromise.  Weight verses strength. Power verses durability and comfort of the rider over being streamlined.  

They envisioned a work horse, with interchangeable parts and lastly easy to service and ride.

There were a lot of surprises going forth, one of which stood out.  It was how many mistakes that could be avoided by working through them while still in the designing stage.

It took longer but sped up the fabrication stage.

Then one day there it stood. The fast single rider model, the sidecar attachment, and a model built for reliability over speed.

Marley brooded over the design up to the last minute of the allotted time and then he chose Lucas to demonstrate and explain the bike in question to the government purchasing agents.

He didn't know if he had done a through job explaining everything or they weren't interested in their build because they had almost no questions about their designs.

The words; "we'll be in touch" added little to their comfort zone.

To be continued

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