Saturday, August 22, 2009

Some Old Racing Moments

I had a good time racing off road when I was younger. I raced motorcycles from age 20 to 34. I raced competitively from age 25 to 31. These are the years that I literally ate, slept and breathed motorcycles. I have collected lots of memories, trophies and ... yes, injuries. I have broken 14 bones, sustained 3 concussions, knocked a front tooth out. Actually the tooth is not due to racing, I broke the tooth out playing HS football. I actually just broke the crown racing.

To an outsider, this sounds completely crazy putting your body through this kind of torture. I, nor anyone else in racing, thought twice about the danger of it. It's hard to explain to someone who has never been involved in racing. The excitement starts about one hour before the race as you're double checking your bike prep. Then it builds more a half hour before the start as you put all of your gear ( knee pads, hip pads, leathers, heavy socks, boots, jersey, elbow pads, chest protector) on. Again, after you have all of your gear on you do a third check on your bike prep as you top off the gas tank and take your gas can to the emergency gas truck. Off road races often do not run back through camp so to complete 100 miles through the woods, you need extra gas. Now it is about 15 minutes from the start and you have this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. That's ok, it just means your competitive, you're not actually going to throw up, at least I never did. Now it's time to start the bike and let it warm up. As the bike is warming up you put your helmet, gloves and goggles on, then ride up to the start line. Big time butterflies now, you are checking out who you are riding with and against, zero your odometer out and get your computer out of sleep mode for the start.

As you blast off of the starting line, everyone is fighting for the same piece of real estate, a narrow opening at the edge of the woods that all of us are rushing toward. As you run through a couple of turns, sometimes maybe just a slight dogleg, you are handlebar to handlebar with your competition, sometimes you get a handlebar in the elbow or the side as you hit the first turn a little too fast. You don't even think about that, just about inching ahead of this guy riding next to me. You are running on pure adrenaline right now. It takes about 2 miles into the race to calm down and start racing without the all of the butterflies and adrenaline, now it's just me and my bike.

I miss dearly all of the road trips, friendships and rivalries you develop with other racers, but most of all, I miss the racing. The butterflies and excitement before a race, the thrill of being caught up in the start and just the pure competition. Ahh, to be young and healthy again.

The two photos above are from off road races. The first photo is flat out in mud, most of you don't know what this feels like ... pure adrenaline rush. The back end is moving around on you with throttle pinned at 70 +mph. The second one, you really don't want to hit a deep water crossing and get soaked just starting a race ... that's why clubs put water crossings at the start. LOL


RA Guy said...

Ha! You just reminded me of one of my favorite movies/books as a child: Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. I still have my childhood copy, all taped up and all (my baby brother once took some scissors to a whole set of pages.)

Thanks for sharing!

tharr said...

LOL. CB is cool. I could take that as a compliment you know. And besides, if I remember correctly, Snoopy rode a motorcycle in that one didn't he?