When you think about, it the concept of motorcycling is fairly crazy. If I told you to get on your bicycle and find the steepest hill you could, point it straight, and go for it you d likely say I am crazy. You'd also likely top out at 40 mph.
Given that, you can imagine how insane it must be to get on a race-prepped motorcycle, twist the grip as far as it will go counter-clockwise, and point for the first corner you see. Now while I have never raced a motorcycle I can tell you that there is a thrill that comes from just being at a race. An electricity fills that air that you can neither ignore or describe: you just have to be there.
Each year since moving to the South my Dad and I have made an annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis for the Red Bull MotoGP. It's 880 miles from Jacksonville to Indianapolis and no small investment to go, but each year I take away a little more from the trip than I had expected.
Motorcycling is more than a sport to most. What I mean is to the people who really understand it and can getpast brand loyalty, chrome, and tee shirts. To those people it is something that courses through your veins. And while it's completely capable of hibernating it never dies or disappears.
In the fall of 2009, just shortly after attending the MotoGP race in Indianapolis an event occurred that would forever change my life. On the way home from work one night I was in a motorcycle accident that to this day I can t explain. It left me with a badly crushed hand and some serious decisions to be made.
Although I can't explain the event I think God likely had something to do with it. I think he was saying, I told you to get your shit together, and apparently he had been telling me for some time. No longer able to work I was unsure what to do, and to make a long story short he led me to Florida where I met my wife and started a business.
People always say that hindsight is 20/20, and in this case it certainly is. I can look back and honestly say that the accident was for the better. My life is an amazing place now.
But even though the change was a positive thing you'd say I was crazy for hopping back on a motorcycle after that, and that's exactly what I did. I couldn t shake the fear of riding for quite some time. I had moved to Florida and was serious about work; not about toys. It wasn't long though until I gave in to the need and again had a motorcycle.
You see, there's something inherent about motorcycling that you can t explain to people who don t have a motorcycle. I can t tell you exactly why I love it, but you can tell when I am looking at a bike that there is something there that goes beyond hobby.
When you're on a motorcycle, a real one without a stereo and cup holder, the world is reduced to essentially three things: road noise, mechanical noise, and internal noise.
Road noise is everything that s occurring off the bike. A low flying crop duster coming overhead in rural Kentucky, or a car back firing as it passes you in the opposite direction. These are cues to where you are in the world and they largely go unnoticed when you travel by car.
The next is mechanical noise and is one of my favorites. Mechanical noise is the sound of your exhaust as it courses off of exposed rock walls in middle Tennessee. The sound the bikes valve train makes against a brick building in a rural town, and so on. These are the noises that make you smile when you ride.
Internal noise is much more complex and possibly the most dangerous. When you re riding you re required to focus solely on the road and the task at hand which is getting safely from point A to point B. In this space that is devoid from the distractions of everyday life you find that this internal noise comes up during times of intense focus and it throws you off track. You begin to ask yourself am I making good decisions? What do my decisions say about the kind of life I am trying to live? What does this all mean in the big picture?
It's really easy to ignore this noise when you re in your car. Simply plug your iPod in and turn it up, and voila, instantly it disappears. I passed plenty of Volvo s filled with CPA's, lawyers, and airbags who had chosen this route and while it's certainly safer it's a lot less thrilling.
When you ask yourself these big questions it s how you begin to make big changes. It's how we go from the everyday to extraordinary, and for me, it s a place I can find only while riding. So while it s certainly more comfortable to drive somewhere or trailer your bike to an event I find that I'd rather watch as newly formed blisters turn to calusses and I sort these things out on the road.
My Dad likely contemplating what predicting the race winner while still in Kentucky might have cost him.