Miller Motorsports Park… Heaven on earth for me. The one place that I can go to have all of my worries washed away. Back to the track we went this past Friday, and it was so needed. It’s been an interesting last couple of months. I’m not sure how else to describe it besides that. I’ve been in quite the funk.
As June ended and July began I slowly began to lose myself. The first couple days of July I got really sick. I couldn’t go very long sitting up and was in too much pain to ride. If I did ride, it was pretty miserable and never very long. I slowly started to feel better just in time for a big group ride through Wolf Creek. The anticipation of getting out on the bike again and feeling better had put me in high spirits.
The ride was going along great, then the worst possible thing happened. A rider went down. I was a first responder. There was no cell reception in the canyon we were in and it took nearly an hour to get EMS to the rider. The rider lost his life. It is still too hard to put into words. It brings back awful visions that I have placed in the back of my mind to hopefully never be brought back to the surface.
This rocked my world. I’m no stranger to critical situations as I spent the better part of 3 years in a very busy ER. But to have it be this personal, this up close and in my face, was a very different experience. I had nightmares for several weeks, waking up and seeing the riders face. It was awful. I cried all the time and was emotionally unstable. To begin with, I didn’t believe that this would affect my want to ride. I thought it was just an emotional time that would pass. But two months passed with barely any riding. I would try to go out for a ride, but caught myself in tunnel vision and target fixation over and over again. I was emotionally wrecked.
I began to think what my future of riding would look like. I thought quite seriously about never owning a street legal bike again and dedicating my riding to the track. I didn’t know what to do, what to think, or who I was. I was once so passionate about riding and then after the accident, the fire burned out. I felt confused and angry. How could anything make me be feeling the way that I was, when I once felt so strongly about it. Between July and August, I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I got out and went for a ride.
We planned for a track day the first weekend in September even though I had some hesitancy. I hadn’t been on the track since June, and even though I hadn’t felt connected with my bike for a while, I was eager to get out and ride and apply all that I had learned with the ART class in June and track day from April. We packed up, prepped and were ready to get out to Miller Thursday night.
Friday morning came quickly and as we drove out to Miller, I wasn’t sure how I was feeling. A little bit of anxiety, little bit of nervousness, a lot of excitement. By the end of the riders meeting and into getting suited up and ready, I had already forgotten all that had happened in the months before. I was ready to shred some tires, get my lean on and open the throttle.
As we lined up for the first session, I cleared my mind and only allowed positive thoughts between my ears. I pulled out the mantra from the ART class, “Nothing I do today is worth falling down for.” Moving from the hot pit to the track, visor down, gopro running, I was ready. As I lapped around the track easing into the turns, all of my worries, fears and negative feelings seemed to disappear. As the first twenty minute session ended and I headed back to our little area, all I could think about was pushing it a little bit harder next time. Bringing up my speed, working on my trail braking, getting my body positioning just right…
Every session I pushed it a little more, and every bit harder then my two previous track experiences. I’d never felt so one with my bike. This track day was so different then my very first track day back in April. The anxiety was nonexistent. The worry of not being fast enough didn’t matter. The application of trail braking as opposed to coasting through the turns like last time made a 1000% difference. I didn’t even feel like the same person. I felt stronger, more confident and happier in every way.
The last session of the day is always bitter sweet. You’re completely exhausted, all energy sources depleted, but you know that this is it until the next time. As we packed up and got ready to leave, I knew that I was leaving with a feeling of peace. The fire was burning brighter than ever and I knew at that time that no matter what experiences life hands us, whether through riding or just life in general, we can look past it and carry on. Every experience is a lesson, not a draw back. But life is precious and we can’t ever forget it.
I’m eager to get out to the track again. Hoping for October if the crazy Utah weather holds out, and if not many track days to come in 2016. Sometimes it feels silly to me to say that the track has changed my life, but it really has. I am so thankful for it and look forward to a long future of track riding :).
“Figure out what lights your fire, then chase the match.”
p.s. Here’s a video from the track day on Friday!