Last year I started riding a motorcycle as a simple practical matter. They get great gas mileage, are fairly cheap to insure, and if handled responsibly are reasonably safe. The original idea of the bike was to allow my EVO to be dedicated to autocross and track days. The bike was going to be used exclusively for commuting: can’t beat 55mpg.
Well, as things turned out the EVO ended up being traded for a pick up and I have ended up racing the bike instead. I’ve attended two track schools now and have a third one in November.
A little after starting to ride I also started watching the races. AMA, World Superbike, MotoGP. Great stuff! My wife and kids even got me some DVDs for Christmas and on my birthday they got me the Xbox MotoGP game. Through all of this my wife has been along for the ride. She doesn’t actually ride, which I’m getting around to, but she has grown to like it.
I think what got here started was going with me to Mid-Ohio in August to watch the AMA races. Actually, we sat in the rain for a long time and got to watch one race. Then she got to watch me learn how to ride on the track while I took 2 days of California Superbike School. Now she gets ticked off if I watch a race without her. It’s even worse if I watch it and then erase it!
While we watch the races I will often point out things that are happening. The body positions the riders take while hanging off. The way Rossi will take his inside foot off the peg just before flicking in to a turn. There are a little quirks each rider has if you look closely. It is really amazing. The thing that fascinates me and my wife though is the way the riders will slide their bikes through turns.
On the entrance to a turn some riders will slide their rear tire. This is called backing it in. Its pretty cool to see. But the amazing piece to me is slide after the apex as they exit the turn. The riders get hard on the gas and the rear tire spins up causing the bike’s line to tighten up. Done properly the rider blasts out of the turn and has a great drive down the track. Doing it incorrectly is called a high side and involved some aerial acrobatics and possibly a trip to the hospital. Luckily these guys are great and that rarely happens.
There are also the battles between the riders. Seeing one rider blow by another as they enter a turn only to lose the spot on the exit because the other rider had a better line. Or seeing Ben Spies pass Mat Maldin through the Cork Screw at Laguna Seca. Things like that make watching Motorcycle racing better than anything else on TV.
Next year we plan to go to Barber to watch the AMA races again and I plan to do levels 3 & 4 afterward. This time we plan to take the kids. As you can see things are progressing very well. However, last night happened.
Sunday was a pretty lazy day for us. I was recovering from a glorious day at the track (any day at the track is a glorious day. As long as EMTs are not involved). We watched the pilot for Bionic woman (great), Moonlight (good). Then we watched the season closer for AMA Superbike. Great race, I was disappointed that both Hayden and Hacking didn’t finish, but Matt and Ben’s battle was greatness especially the pass through the Cork Screw. And then as luck would have it the Speed Report was on when the DVR switched back. We got to see some cuts of a WSB race and some great demonstrations of the sliding I was talking about before.
Anyway, I’m getting to it, later that night I was messing around on the computer and my wife came in. We talked about a few things; I’ve forgotten most of it except for the last bit. My wife talked about how neat it was seeing the riders backing their bikes in to the turns and sliding them out on exit. Then she dropped the bombshell: “I know this sounds crazy, but I’d like to do that too”. I was stunned. I mean seriously. I’d love for my wife to experience the joy and terror that track riding delivers. But it has never crossed my mind that she would ever actually consider doing it. The nature of it is so different from what I thought of as her nature.
Don’t think for a second this is a sexist thing. Being fast has nothing to do with having a Y chromosome. There are some seriously fast rider that I know who happen to be women (we won’t dwell on the fact that they fact get around the track faster than me). One is an instructor for CSS and rides a ZX10 in AMA SuperStock. The others do CMRA endurance races here in Texas. The fact is: being fast has more to do with your belief structures than anything else. Athletic ability is also an ingredient, but without the correct beliefs – you cannot be fast.
So what happens next? It’s up to her. If she decides to turn the thought in to action she’ll have my full support. If she doesn’t – she’ll have my full support.