That Bend in the Line

These days of timing chips and finish line cameras it is easy to forget that not so long ago we relied upon simple eyesight to determine the winners of races. We had to put great faith that the person painting a white stripe across the road, or laying down a piece of tape, could do so with unwavering precision, even engineered exactness. The line had to be perfectly perpendicular and arrow straight. The line had to be impartial in application, granting no chance favor to any one rider. The line has always been the one sacrosanct part of any race course.

Often times there is a clear advantage when choosing a line (path of travel) during a sprint finish. Usually that involves seeking any little shelter from a prevailing wind to minimize resistance and maximize speed. Usually, the choice of line has nothing to do with "the line", if you know what I mean. I have taken a few shots of this particular painted line, this single white stripe across eastbound Puddingstone Drive, marking the finish to the weekly Bud's Ride. In none of those other shots did I notice the subtle, yet clear bend to it.

If I ever find myself charging along that quarter mile dragstrip of roadway when it matters, I know where my line will be, I know where it will take me, and I know that all things being equal, my front wheel will break that painted plane a fraction of a second sooner than the rider who took a slightly different line - not because I might be faster, but because I know where, and which way, the line bends.


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