Life can be as exciting as you want it to be. Today, I took a big gulp of excitement. My experience of riding my motorcycle at the racetrack was exhilarating.
I rode faster than I ever did before. I rode harder than I ever did before. Most importantly, I rode better than I ever did before. The track allows you to push your skills to their limit and, while you're out there, you improve quickly and dramatically. I learned so much and came away from the long day a much better rider.
On the track, you can go as fast as you have the power and courage. But there is more to riding than that. For example, on the straightaway, you nail the throttle and hit triple-digits. My bike reached 140 mph on that stretch. But at the end of that straight line, there are two sharp right-hand turns which cannot be made at high speed. See this diagram of the track:
What you need to learn is how to carry maximum speed around numerous turns of varying radius and direction. This is where racing-skills come in. You set up for a curve by moving to the outside of the track, selecting the right pace, picking a "line" (path) through the turn, hitting the apex of the turn on the inner edge of the track, and then accelerating out of the turn as the bike straightens up. What assists the effort is moving your butt off the seat onto the side of the bike, throwing your knee out and leaning your body into the turn as far as you have the nerve to go. With practice, you actually drag your knee on the track at the apex, which is why racing-leathers have detachable "pucks" to protect your kneecap as it scrapes the pavement.
You'll notice, on my bike, that all lights and glass have been taped. You do this so that, if you crash, your bike doesn't litter the track with debris. During the day today, there were five crashes. Fortunately, only two of them required ambulances.
The most common cause of a crash is going into a turn too "hot" (fast) and being unable to stay on the track. This is a completely preventable situation. Sportbikes have amazing ability to lean and it is the rider's loss of confidence, not the motorcycle, that causes the crash. It's very scary to be in this situation and the second someone loses faith in their ability to complete the turn, they fly off the track.
I faced this predicament squarely today when, entering a sharp turn very hot, the only way to avoid crashing was to lean my bike deeper than I ever have before. It would have been easy to crash but -- DAMN IT! -- I decided I was not going to end my day that way. I kept my head, mustered every ounce of courage in me and pulled the bike down until it was scraping its side. The bike performed as it's designed to and I narrowly completed the turn. Willpower is potent and can overcome even extreme danger.
The day was certainly thrilling. Wildly exciting, occasionally terrifying and constantly challenging. Racers say that riding on a track is demanding mentally as well as physically. I agree. You attack the track like a chess-game, trying to figure out how to handle the 13 curves with maximum speed and smooth, fluid technique. Every second out there requires total focus and intense concentration. At 100+ mph, things happen very fast.
My friend Jim took video of my riding and a professional photographer took phenomenal pictures of me traveling around the track. Both will take a few days to get; as soon as they arrive, I'll share them with you. You'll see, in both, my intense concentration and total commitment to the endeavor.
Friends tell me that racing at the track is addictive. Now I see why!
Sounds like such a thrilling day! Wow! I can't even imagine the rush of riding like that. I'm so glad you've found something in life that is so amazing for you. We all need that!ReplyDelete
What a truly incredible experience. My heart actually gave a fearfilled thud while reading. I'm glad you enjoyed your day at the track and came home safely.ReplyDelete
"During the day today, there were five crashes. Fortunately, only two of them required ambulances." This makes me want to faint like some swooning lady in an old-timey movie. :(ReplyDelete
Wowee, I can't even comprehend what it would be like to race at 140 mph! This sounds like an incredible day. I'm sure your heart was beating out of your chest the whole time. I can't wait to see the video.
I'm so glad you had an enjoyable experience + even happier that you weren't injured! When are you going back to the track! :)ReplyDelete
But Ally dear, you didn't wear your pink tutu! ;-)ReplyDelete
Glad you had such a grand time and totally understand the addiciton to speed. If anything, besides the adrenalin rush, every biker I know says the same thing when asked - its that they feel alive when they're rushing down the road with the wind in their hair (of course that's not possible since with any sense you'd wear a helmet), dipping their bikes into the corners and seeing the tar coming oh so close .. such an amazing rush.
Looking forward to seeing your photos and video.
That sounds so exciting! I can "hear" the thrill in your voice, Ally!ReplyDelete
I love riding on a motorcycle - my dad owned several when I was growing up, and it's a very fond memory I have of riding with him.
I'm so happy for you that you're fulfilling this dream! Live it!
Wow. Sounds like it was all you expected. Except no women, as you commented on my blog. The way you describe it, maybe it is something I should aspire to do one day. But I would feel silly out there on my GS. It's not exactly a sport bike. Can't wait to see pics and video!ReplyDelete
Yes, the complete absence of women saddened me. There's no reason why women can't ride at the track.Delete
There are some track-schools that offer introductory training for the racetrack -- including to riders (like you) who don't own a sportbike. Since improving one's riding-skills helps everyone on any kind of bike, I'd encourage you to try that. You would not regret it. Plus, it's fun!
Honestly, I'm terrified of motorcycles but I have to say this sounds REALLY cool. Its so great to have a closed track where you can test your skills and push the limits, and even take risks, in a controlled way.ReplyDelete
That's a big part of the appeal -- no SUVs, no distracted motorists, no intersections for cars to unexpectedly dart out and, most important, no cops!Delete
WOW, congratulations! What an amazing accomplishment!ReplyDelete
"Fortunately, only two of them required ambulances." Yes, just another, typical day...WAIT WHAT?! I had no idea what you were doing was this serious. That being said, I totally understand why you did it and why it thrills you. Do you think you'll do it again?ReplyDelete
Yes, I will definitely do this again. The more you get into something like this, the more you enjoy it and that prompts you to go further. Today, I bought some track-specific gear to use in the future instead of the street-gear I made do with yesterday. I was holding off on buying that stuff until I saw if I enjoyed this as much as I expected I would.Delete
With regard to this being "serious" -- when you hurl through space at triple-digit speed without a metal coccoon around you, it's serious. The consequences are potentially fatal. Every year, several pro racers die. I personally know a few people who crashed badly.
I'm glad you made it out of this unscathed. I totally get the "thrill" of doing stuff like this. It sounds amazing. You are amazing. That is all.ReplyDelete
That is so great. I am so happy you are able to follow your passion.ReplyDelete
Life is too short and it is great you do things that make you happy.
I am so glad that you lived to tell the tale and that you reached these speeds! Were you on the track with other riders at the same time?ReplyDelete
Yes, they sent groups of 25 of us out at the same time.Delete
Wow, so cool!ReplyDelete
I can't even imagine going that fast, you must know what you are doing. Awesome photos by the way :)
I can't wait to see those pics and video!! This is so exciting...congratulations on a successful day at the track. Motorcycles are amazing machines.ReplyDelete
This is totally awesome. Congrats on your accomplishment, very cool.ReplyDelete
Been a while since I read your blog and responded. Of all the stories, I think this is the most genuine of them all. Facing a challenge, exploring something new, pushing yourself beyond anything, and riding that line. The way you describe pushing aside your fears when you had to lean in more on the turns...This is an amazing story. This has nothing to do with the feminine masculine battle, in fact in this respect its not about gender, but it is about the personal discovery and accomplishment that you have suceeded. You may have found an alternate to experience your drug of riding. Love it, Feel it, Explore it, and keep it up...You go Girl..I am so happy for you...ReplyDelete