track days

Watching the dark morning sky lighten while packing last-minute almost forgotten items into the car. Driving to the track early in the morning before church-goers, while the late-night partiers sleep… It is often cold on those mornings and staying snuggly in bed might seem like a more comfortable alternative, but we have a disease that compels us out of the warmth into the brisk morning.

There is fog rising from the road today as I turn off the main road to the racetrack. It is beautiful swirling low and cloudy thick. I haven’t seen fog since I left Illinois and even though it means the air is cold, it makes me a little giddy with delight.

I pull into the pit area and scan around for a space to park and set up. I’m late and the pits are already pretty parked up. I drive through and find a perfect spot sandwiched between two friends.

One of the draws to this life is the camaraderie. I pull out my canopy and without a word suddenly there are three people helping me unfold it and set it up. A mug of hot coffee appears in my hands as a welcome warmup.

I sit in my little set up watching bikes ride by. People wave, friends stop by to chat. It’s social with a purpose.

The sky is clear and it has finally warmed up to the point where we can no longer see our breath. The ever-present squeak of race boots and the stiff leather-clad walk of riders walking by are familiar and always make me feel a little like I’m home.

inspiration

“Inspiration” definition includes breathing, creativity, illumination.

I went for a ride yesterday. Clouds spotted the sky, but it was not overcast and the temperatures weren’t above 100F. It was lovely. When I woke up at 06:40 I had little feeling except an awareness that I wanted to be out of my house and on my bike. I put on my leathers and locked the door at 07:10. I knew I needed to eat, but the impulse over-rode my hunger. By 07:15 I was on the highway.

There are days when riding is not for pleasure or for practice, but sheer necessity. Only other motorcyclists understand how helpful being on the bike can be.

I rode north for an hour and a half up curvy mountainy roads. It was beautiful. My head cleared somewhat, but the low rumbling note of the exhaust pipe was conferring no answers.

Inspiration is that unique feeling of a lock and key fitting together, and click… something opens and you draw what feels like the first real breath you have felt in years.

I want to breathe again.

memories of texas

We were in a 1971 Volkswagen Squareback heading west through the hot, dry Texas panhandle. There was no air conditioning in that old car and it had a tendency to overheat, so every so often we’d find some roadside diner in which we refreshed our bedraggled bodies and let the motor cool down.

We would sit in a booth located near the window so had visual on our car that contained all our worldly goods. We were only nineteen and twenty-two, so all our worldly goods still fit into the back of a hatchback car.

The temperature outside was more intense than either of us had ever experienced. We looked out the large glass windows to a barren bending and shape-shifting feverish landscape. We spent our time in the diner drinking iced teas and writing post cards. Since neither of us wanted to venture outside, we took turns running to the blue mailbox that inevitably perched at least fifty feet from the diner’s front door.

It was getting towards dusk and we were approaching Amarillo. The VW was not happy and needed a break. It told us by shutting down. We pushed it into the parking lot of a sad little diner just off the highway. I tried to offer a suggestion as to how we could fix the problem. He got mad at me, at the situation, at the whole damn thing and stomped across the street to a small honky-tonk bar. Since I wasn’t of legal drinking age yet, I couldn’t go. And he took our money with him.

I sat on a concrete parking curb next to our little blue car. We were both in poor shape. The sunset was beautiful over the outline of a distant Amarillo. By the time he returned it was long dark and he was happy on whiskey sours and cheap beer. The car started and we limped to a close-by motel. He fell asleep right away. I lit my ‘nth cigarette in the dark room and wondered why I was still there.