The Reason Why I Am Not A MotoGP Racer
Hello to you my Friends and fellow Riders!
I know that many non-professional motorcycle Riders and Racers live vicariously through other Riders. Believe me when I say, I can understand why this happens. I speak of this through personal experience (more about that later.) Some people see the televised and big print magazine pages or social media versions of their favorite Rider or top level MotoGP Racer enough times to get sucked into the vortex of living their own personal fantasy lives, through someone else's life. Trust me when I say that if you believe you "know" a person [or what they have been through in life] because you've followed their published statements, their antics, images and sound bites - but yet you haven't spent at least 30 days seeing them every day for 15 or 16 hours of each day... you don't "know" them. It is impossible to [actually] know someone who you don't have a personal history with.
Down through the years during my time as a television Sports News Reporter and Editor, I have seen this mistake made time and time again. People "think" they know about a person and what that person does to earn a living because they have read [extensively] about someone whom they follow closely. Nothing could be further from the truth. What makes this type of thing especially tough for some Sport Motorcyclists is the fact that they actually have "something in common" with the Professional Racer - there is a shared passion for being on two wheels and both people wear a helmet and leather. It's somewhere around this point where the similarities between the two start to rapidly come to an end.
Yet the street Rossi's and Marquez's abound, there seem to be no shortages to the, "...hold my beer while I show you how it's done..." crowd.
*** It's A Physical Thing...
Although I was making money as a NHRA [automobile] Drag Racer, I am certain I could easily list at least 50 reasons as to why I never continued the NHRA drag racing or actually became a Motorcycle Racer... and I am also equally certain that I can list 50 reasons as to why I will continue to go to the racetrack with my motorcycles. My goal at the track is not found in trying to imitate the Riders I am most impressed with. My goal in doing track days and track drills is to equip and improve my body and mind to further enjoy my sport and personal hobby. I want to develop and define my OWN riding style.
*** So What Has Stopped Me?
Fear didn't stop me because "fear" can be managed. Lack of bike control didn't stop me because "control" can be learned. Skill didn't stop me because "skill" can be developed. The ability to see faster on the track didn't stop me because learning how to develop a "rhythm" on any track will reveal its secrets over time. Physical fitness didn't stop me because I have always been willing to exercise and eat properly. The ability to concentrate didn't stop me because I am capable of great mental focus. Even pain or physical discomfort didn't stop me because I have learned and experienced the fact that the concept of pain is a manageable and often, a temporary thing.
So... if it wasn't fear and it wasn't a lack of desire that stopped me from becoming a MotoGP Racer, what was it? The answer is found with one word and that word is... "time."
*** Time Stand Still...
I am a former professional road touring and studio musician. I worked for a major record label and their associated artists. I can't actually tell you how many large venue concerts, radio and television shows, recording sessions and public appearances I've had to do. They easily combine into the thousands. I've played to crowds that were so big, I couldn't distinguish their faces. Yet somehow, almost without fail there would always be someone who knew details about my life and were convinced that they knew me - and were disappointed if I didn't act like we were old friends. So it was at this point in my life when I was first subjected to the meeting of strangers who were living vicariously through me and the groups I performed with - it was a very weird and strange experience. Honestly(?) until you've lived through this type of thing - first hand - you will never know what the vicarious experience is all about.
One of my favorite groups to listen to is a band called Rush. They have a song called, "Time Stand Still." The song is about life. Here are some of the lyrics:
[Time stands still...
I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
See more of the people
And the places that surround me now
Time stands still...
Summer's going fast
Nights growing colder
Children growing up
Old friends growing older
Freeze this moment
A little bit longer
Make each sensation
A little bit stronger
Experience slips away
Experience slips away
The innocence slips away]
(end of song)
I would have to say that "time" waits for no one. Time is relentless and unforgiving. Time is not capable of pity or passion. Time has no reason or capacity to offer apologies to anyone for its existence. Time is beautiful and consistent, fair and accurate. Time challenges us to be better; to make our efforts worthwhile and to make us worthy.
*** Each Of Our Days Are Different...
For a Racer, I say that "time" is the [true] origin of the "love / hate" relationship. Time challenges us to be better; to make our efforts worthwhile and to make us worthy of some type of reward; a trophy, a plaque or special recognition for something we've achieved. A Racer loves having the lowest elapsed time - but a Racer hates the fact that they can't seem to shave one tenth or one hundredth of a second off of their personal best track record. And why is this? This is because as a Racer on the day you set your personal best lap - time had permitted it to be - and time [being perfectly impartial] recorded your efforts that day - at THAT point in time. Maybe it was your best because you were at the top of your physical and mental performance peak for that day. Tomorrow may not be the same for your body or eyesight or the environment that surrounds you. The more days a Racer lives are more days that time will pass. A Racer's reputation relies on their [perceived] ability to defy time and give the outward appearance of consistently controlling their space in time.
*** It's Not A Trick, It's A Relationship...
Owning this time bending, physics defying relationship with a high performance motorcycle and the relationship between man and machine is not a trick; at least not in the sense of something like a magic show. To give the appearance of the control of a Racer's movement through time we use a lap timer. Proof and development of skill and abilities is provided by a lap timer displaying consistent lap times. To do so requires a multi-faceted relationship between man, motorcycle, the physical environment and time.
Two of the four things I just mentioned are not controllable by any Racer which leaves the remaining two in the hands of the Rider.
*** Why I Will Continue To Ride On A Race Track...
As I write this, the year is 2022. Let's say I had been born in 2012 or 2014... only with me as a Parent. I can promise you that I would raise and groom me to become a television and social media friendly MotoGP Racer. All joking aside, with my current personality I can easily say that I'd have a racetrack I.Q. mixture of Jorge Lorenzo #99, Valentino Rossi #46, and Casey Stoner #27, with a little of Nicky Hayden's #69, determination sprinkled on top for seasoning. The funny thing is, I've just described the actual riding style combination that is in my mind today.
I admire the [apparent] calmness of Lorenzo and Rossi combined with the take no prisoners/flying down hill with your hair on fire attitude of Hayden and Stoner.
(What about Marquez #93...? Well he deserves a perpetual lifetime achievement award for, the best flying down hill with your hair on fire riding style!)
Yes absolutely, if the person I am today had been born in a different time and a different place [with me as my Father] by now at 10 or 12 years of age, I would be blasting my way through the motorcycle racing ranks with sponsors fighting for my attention - promising me lifetime contracts that would only be revocable due to a prison sentence!
Now you might ask, "How can I say these things?" The answer is an easy one for me; you see, I got my motorcycle road racing license when I was 60 years of age. Everyone was stunned (everyone that is with the exception of the Race Director and Staff.)
So... in lieu of such stellar and incredible contracts and salaries and such... I step out of fantasy land, and back into the year 2022 at my home - in my garage and I will humbly and happily continue to work on building and prepping my 2006 CBR600RR for the track and keep my mind and body ready to thoroughly enjoy my life as I also build my own very real relationship with Time.
Your Friend and fellow Rider,