On Saturday night, I went to an outdoor wine tasting at a local doctor friend's home. It was a great event with about 50 people, a live band, and strung party lights on the enormous porte cochere (that's a big driveway, not a portable WC or something like that). I'd played cards with this guy before and as things were winding down, a group of us made arrangements to play a cash game this coming Friday.
Someone changed the subject from going out to the rifle range to try out so-and-so's 50 caliber semi-auto rifle to the subject of betting on car racing (you know, typical Texas chit chat). The esteemed doctor host then said 'Hey, you all should check out my son's four wheeler ATV, maybe we can race that?'
His neighbor and coworker at the hospital was in, and then reluctantly, all of us were. I don't know if it was the thirty bottles of previously bagged and numbered wine talking, maybe the tequilla shots after, or even the expensive cigars, but we all made our way out to the street following the host pushing the gasoline-powered knobby wheeled ATV out to the street.
It was kind of late (1 AM) and the crowd had thinned out, so four of us stood there, ready to impress the women of the party who still remained safely listening to music in aforementioned porte cochere (Note to self for future reference: impressing the women after drinking is precisely how all kinds of jack-assed things happen). It was dark, of course there was no helmet, because, hey you didn't want to be labled a pu$$y.
The objective was to race from a starting point at the curb around the block in a rectangle about .75 mile or a bit over 1km. The doctors fired up the IPhones with timer apps down to the millisecond. The first guy pulled down to the curb with the engine sputtering. Apparently he knew everything about ATVs so he was going for the quick intimidation win.
At the mark, he was off! At the first left turn about 80 meters / 250 feet, he almost fell off the danged thing with a sharp turn. We stood there for a while and didn't hear or see a trace of him, then we heard the lawn-mowerish engine whine of the ATV and between some houses we caught sight of the headlight and a crouched silhouette on the ATV. After a few more seconds he came back into view and the doctors clicked off the timers at one minute and three seconds. Everyone was duly impressed.
Unfortunately, my turn was next to follow the speed demon. It had been forever since I'd been on one of these, I think the last time being a bonfire / drinking party in the small oil town west of Fort Worth where I went to high school.
After some embarrasing searching, I finally found the thumb throttle (it wasn't a throttle like on a motorcycle), everyone shouted go, and I 'floored' it. Halfway down to the first turn, I stood up on it as I was racing along (so if I had fallen, at least people would have had a good laugh about all of my trial). Then I quickly crouched down for the first turn. I remembered from way back that extra stabilization on the turns was beneficial, so I put down my right leg and my foot was out to the side scraping the ground as I made the left 90 degree turn.
I did this a few more times barely reducing the throttle on the turns and going all out full throttle on the straightaways. Everyone said I clocked in at 58 seconds, and at first I didn't believe them. But then I watched everyone in sequence trying to beat my time, the doctor who owned the ATV, even the first guy with a second try, but my record stands until this day (of course, it's only been three days).
The Empire’s Ghost by Isabelle Steiger
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