Jun 18, 2007

Smoother riding: The make soup method

Soup Ladle from zeiselmostly.comMaking soup these days is a cinch. Put the requisite amout of water in a saucepan (usually four cups or 600 ml), add the soup powder (whole pack) and stir briskly to a boil. Once it starts boiling, stir and simmer for 5-6 minutes and you're all set. Garnish as you like (freshly-ground pepper's a fave with me) and pour into the soup bowls for instant, refreshing consumption.

Yesterday, it was raining through the day. The Wife took a long stroll in the gathering, dripping darkness. When we returned to the house, she asked if I would make some soup for her. She loves the idea of hot soup supped on a cold balcony with a hint of water in the air. So off I went to the kitchen.

>>OCD warning>>> Those who object my OCD, please leave now.
So, while I was stirring briskly, I as usual started daydreaming. And here's what I noticed. Brisk stirring can be done in a number of ways (motorcyclists, brace and stay with me here). You can flick the wrist artfully, letting the relatively fragile thing take the weight of the ladle. Or you can use you who fore/arm, distributing the muscles that need to work for the stirring. However, whatever you do, when you cross a certain speed, the soup becomes turbulent and eventually, will splash right out of the pot.

There's a lesson in this, I think.

Most of the texts, treatises, tomes and bibles on the subject of smoother riding, say slow your hands down. However, they never quite get around to giving good examples. Well, the soup's a good example, I think. You can only stir a soup so briskly in a given pot. If you think of the pot as a motorcycle, the taller the pot – the more forgiving/capable the motorcycle is. However, the artists in the kitchen (read riding gods) understand (instinctively or otherwise) what the briskness limit really is. No matter how sharply you open the throttle, there is a finite speed with which the accelerator cable will stretch, drag the slide up and the let more fuel into the engine. So, while you could open the throttle all the way from shut to wide open in say 0.2 seconds (or some such) it isn't of any use if the carb can only feed the engine in (say) 0.6 seconds. That also means, that you can afford to spend 0.6 seconds opening the throttle all the way.

Why should this matter? Well, for one, when we go fast, we tend to start moving faster on the bike. This is great when the chicane approaches faster and you need to hang off first on one side and then the other. But grabbing, stabbing and pummeling the controls doesn't help. Smoothness suffers, and eventually you'll go slower than what is possible simply because, yes, you were stirring the soup too briskly.

Of course soup's not motorcycles or vice versa. See, if you stir a motorcycle up harder, it usually takes less time. Soup will take 6 minutes no matter how hard you stir the damn thing!

Related posts: Braking: Exercise One - Smoothness | Lazy Fingers | Pro grip!

Image fromwww.zeiselmostly.com


tburman said...

Quite timely, this post. In my recent riding during the most-recent engine run-in, I have been following my tuner's advice and letting the engine catch up with my wrist. You understand that this is a non-issue for an RD350. Or so I thought.

Small throttle openings done in a smooth manner, coupled with a self-limited 60kmph have proved to make my trips faster and smoother, burning the clutch less and clutch cable lesser. It's called the racer's paradox, I believe. I am a convert to smoother riding, especially since it seems to have bumped up my mileage by 50% :)

Good show with the soup. I measure the recommended amount of water exactly, and often stir counter-clockwise, since Coriolis force dictates that water likes to go clockwise in the northern hemisphere. I imagine that it will mix better that way.

rearset said...

Coriolis force? You're nuttier than I am. Congratulations. Do you remember to stir the other way when you visit the southern hemisphere? 8-D

The time to twist versus time to actually go really bugs me... but it applies to everything. Including the latest R1s, 'Blades etc.

Hrishi said...

All the while i thought that you were kidding when you mentioned OCD, but now i really believe you!


People who dont understand my love(obsession) fo r bikes should read this...might make *my* life a little easier

;) :)

PS: Its a myth that water goes anticlockwise in the SH.

Anonymous said...

< OCD >
1. heavy bowl.
2. boil water
3. in another small bowl, [a] add about 1/4 of your **orr soup powder, add small amount of 2. cream with spoon. once satisfied no lumps then back to [a] till powder finished in exactly 4 steps.
4. add to 1.
5. finish soup
< /OCD >

tburman said...

I also hate soggy, wet Maggi. Read the instructions, measure the water, cook as instructed. Yummy.

Kautilya said...

Wait - you make soup from a packet????!!!! YIKES! After all these years this is what it has come to?!

(wait while I go and pour a packet of Knorr into my eyes).

And as for stirring, check this baby out:

Yes, it is obscenely expensive but you of all people will appreciate the pleasure of a 2HP motor on your kitchen counter.

End of OCD.

Nikolai said...

an utterly delightful piece of writing :)

Tandilwali said...

Beautiful example, Rearset.
Really, I myself am a major practitioner-advocate of smooth riding, but I never could get around to making the funda clear to lesser mortals. Now I know. I'll just tell them to go make soup!