Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Always Cooler on a Scooter

When I'm on the scooter, going anywhere is much like one of those Family Circus strips in the Sunday comics when one of the kids is told to go somewhere to get something, and said kid takes a long, round about way of getting there and back. What was supposed to be a quick run to the bank to check the balance and make a withdrawal turned into a forty mile or so jaunt that took me out to the boonies.

I meandered along a favorite road on the far side of the mountain across the river, running mostly in full sunlight and slowing a bit when I hit the shady spots. I pretended that it was cooler there, in the shade, but I think it was mostly psychological relief if any that I felt as I rolled through the shadows of the trees. Summer finally arrived here - with a vengeance!

I remembered the summer of '89, exactly 20 years ago. The daughter who's getting married in October was three years old then, and every Thursday we walked the mile or so to the farmers' market downtown. I remembered as I rode today how she used to race ahead of me to the shade under the trees and chuckle with glee as she'd wait for me to catch up to her. It was one of those memories I wish I could bottle to save for when I might come to a time when she'll come to visit me and I won't remember who she is.

Somewhere on today's ride it occurred to me that in spite of moving at around 55 miles per hour the wind chill was negligible. In fact, I couldn't perceive a wind chill effect at all. We all know what the wind chill feels like in the winter, so why wasn't my moving through the air at 55 MPH having the same effect of cooling me?

I got back here, baited my hook, and trolled the Google pond for a wind chill calculator. I found this one quickly enough, glanced at the thermometer reading in the shade outside my window beside the computer and typed it in. 96ºF. Then I added the 55 MPH and hit the Calculate button. The wind "chill" - 105ºF! I couldn't believe my eyes. The ambient temperature actually rose nine degrees. The skeptic in me kicked in and I figured there had to be an error in the formula. Guess again.

I researched some more and found this article. In it one reads, "...windy HOT air is effectively hotter than calm hot air because it more effectively deluges us with hot air which we cannot cool with our bodies (i.e., blowing hot air on cold water heats it faster than calm hot air, hence the convection oven)." I still find it hard to believe, but it makes a sensible and tempting argument toward taking the air conditioned car in the summer rather than the scooter. Then again, logic only goes so far because one is always "cool" on a scooter regardless of the temperature!


cpa3485 said...

You are definately cooler on a scooter, regardless of the temperature. I did not realize the effect of hot air, but have experienced it and it makes sense. And your Family Circus analogy is what my wife accuses me of all the time.
Great post!!

irondad said...

Interesting. The science is beyond me, though. Suddenly I have this urge to open the vents on my jacket. It feels like a convection oven in here!

Lance said...

That must explain why on really hot days you are much better off wearing a mesh jacket than no jacket at all. Again, contrary to my limited wisdom.

bobskoot said...


Lance is correct. Wearing Mesh is cooler than just having your skin "exposed" to the sun. When the sun beats down on your skin you get hot and sweat beads turn into little magnifying glasses making you hotter. Mesh stops most of the rays from hitting you, then when you are moving, having mesh is like not wearing anything at all. The air has a greater cooling effect.

Joe, also you could try this experiment I learned from science classes. Take luke warm water and colder water, place them both in ice trays. The luke warm water will freeze faster than the cold water.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Just Plane Jayne said...

holy moly - no wonder we need to stop and drink so frequently!