Just my thoughts ... about our club.
“Does racing improve the breed.”
Ok lads, I know you’ve been gagging for it, so here’s your weekly dose of Legends intellectual meanderings.
I’m not raising the familiar rant about whether or not racing improves the bikes we ride, or if racing improves the way we ride. I’m raising the idea that maybe ‘racing’ as such does not improve our motorcycling experience ….
It’s coming close to a year now since I joined up with you all. As the song goes .. ‘We’ve come a long way baby’. I would suspect that most of us have put more thought into whether to buy an Ohlins shock, or race fairings, than we have toward the direction we are going as a club, or the direction we are going as individuals.
I will never forget my first day on a track … Shag-a-Lamb following Tug. For those that have done it, I would bet you’ll still smile if you take a minute with your eyes closed to live it again. For those that have not …. don’t read anymore until you have booked yourself in for a track day. Everyone I have seen in the past 12 months, after their first foray on the twisty stuff have taken their helmets off with a grin so big you just know it’s going to still be there the next morning. It’s one of those rare moments in life, that you know will remain with you and not be eroded with time.
I know I have been searching for that feeling every time I go back out on the track, be it track days or race days. I try and push just that little bit harder through corners and twist just that little bit harder on the go stick … all to get that extra second, or to close the gap on that next rider…..and after watching most of you this year ….. I know this is all a pile of shit. It’s not the way to get that feeling again. It’s not even close.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am still having the greatest of times, otherwise I wouldn’t still be around, but after the end of the recent race session, I think it would be fair to say that some are a little jaded and bewildered with the experience, and most of these are people that have been doing all this longer than me, and going much faster …..
So then …. how does this relate to my point of discussion…..which for those with short attention spans (wake up Mojo ya carnt) …it was “Does racing improve the breed”.
If I go into the upcoming races this session, with the thoughts and hopes that going just that little bit quicker, or braking just that little bit earlier, will make the whole experience more enjoyable for me… I doubt it will work, for me, and by looking at the jaded others, it’s clearly not working for them either. It would seem the speed you go round, or the ‘pecking’ order you are in, does not translate to the amount of fun you are having.
There are of course other reasons to go ‘racing’, other than having fun. It could be for glory, it could be to improve your riding, it could be for all sorts of reasons. However, we are a club. There is no prize money of note. If it’s not for fun … then what the fark are we doing it for, and we should all think about this … more than how much we think about how to shave that next half a second of our PB’s. Why? Cause if we don’t we will sure as shit loose what’s making this club as special as it is. And if you don’t think we are at a turning point right now, you’ve got your head up your arse.
Case in point for me happened this weekend. It started when I asked Cameron Donald if he thought making racing a career reduced the fun of the experience. He told us a story about how early in his career there was a time when he was beating himself up about his progress and got quite down about the whole thing. His old man was his mechanic/ manager at the time and he simply reminded Cameron of what it had all cost, in money, hours and sweat, for him to get to where he was, and if he wasn’t enjoying it, then it made no sense at all to keep doing it.
It finished when Paul aka “Did anyone see my brake lever on the track…”, told me that “ I had just made his weekend”. Here’s a lad who as it turns out does not have a whole load of money (think we all can relate). He’s bought the best horse he could for him, with the money he had, and turns up to give it a go. In hindsight, I feel like a cant. Sure, when I first met him it was a race weekend, sure I had my mind on other things ....but then, on my first track day the same could have been said about Tug, but he still spent close to a third of his track time just taking me round the place and showing me what to do. I actually did the opposite. I thought, fark me, this lad is gonna cause some problems, best keep right out of his way, and I did … to the point where I kind of ignored him.
This weekend, he wanted to get an idea of his track times, so I agreed to follow him round for a few laps and let him know the times from my timer. I was really impressed with how he was riding, and when he came in I told him so. My exact words were ..” Bloody ell bro, you really are getting there. I was having a hard time keeping up ….”. You should have seen the grin. It was one of those full on, stuck in your face, it will still be there tomorrow types … and lads, they are infectious….
I woke up with mine still stuck to my face, and that is the point of all this. As it turns out, for me anyway, it’s not ‘racing’ per se that makes all this fun, it’s the lads and ladesses that you do it with.
We are a club full of a mixture of different cultures, characters, races and ages, and thank god for that. We are all in it for various reasons and each to there own I say so many may not be in it all for the same reasons as me and I have to respect this. But if you’re like me, and came into all of this in the first place to have fun and enjoy yourself, take some advice. Next time you’re at a track or race day, don’t spend all your time looking at your lap timers, wishing you had fitted new tyres and dreaming about Ohlins shocks. Go have a chat with Paul next time you see him.