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Racing: Why?


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i've been mentally struggling with an issue...why do/did i want to race?

now that i'm recovering from a second somewhat serious injury, i find myself soulsearching and i can't find the answers. it's not as simple as 'the rush' or finding out where/how i stack up in the scheme of things...i don't know what it is. living? a need to feel alive?

 

the reason i'm looking for this answer is...how can i stop if i don't know why i do it? i feel, without the why's, the reason i come up with to stop won't be the right reason(s). that could lead to future soulsearching of why did i stop, if i do, in fact, end up making that decisipn.

 

i don't want to stop but, i'm 43, married with no kids, yet, and my wife has given much to support me. i definitely got the good end of the stick. i'm trying to balance one future against another and could use some insights or thought provoking profundity.

 

can anybody help a brother out?

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Excellent question! I think every racer with half a brain grapples with this one. The answer(s) are different for everyone.

 

The adrenalin is a byproduct for me. I'm drawn in ever deeper by the satisfaction derived from a VERY high level of focus preparing the bike, my body, and my mind. If I take care of the details, the racing is pure fun. If I neglect any part of this, it's so frustrating that I wonder why I do it. This has been a lesson for my career, my relationships, everything really.

 

I'm not trying to judge your situation, but two serious injuries as an amatuer may indicate that you're rushing this thing a bit. If you're not fastest today, at least make sure you're in one piece for tomorrow. Patience will take you a long way in this sport. I hate it when I see people get hurt.

 

Good luck with your search... There were some good articles in RoadRacingWorld about this stuff earlier this year. Try to get your hands on these for some good food for thought.

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Hi there, supportive wife here. If anything, Fred is over cautious...he doesn't want to go down and get hurt and his bike is too expensive (I don't care about the bike, as beautiful as it is, but he does)...first injury was one-off on a dirtbike in the AZ desert 3 years ago...plate, pins, screws...second, 7 weeks ago, was at the WERA GNF and as a result of getting hit by a riderless bike that came skidding across the track and hit him in the chest after he exited the track to avoid getting hit by the riders who checked up and went wide to avoid same bike and probably rider...wall kept him from getting "far enough away"...4 broken ribs...anyhoo...it's not a situation of too much too soon for him...but the fact remains that if you ride competitively, you're most likely going down and maybe getting hurt...maybe not often and maybe not badly, but maybe so. I've had people tell me that I should tell him to stop when we start a family, but I'll never do that...well, never say never, but without him articulating clearly what he loves about it, I can see for myself that he is more alive when he is within a 5 mile radius of a racetrack...heck, he gets fired up about wrenching on his toys in the garage...I have a hard time thinking I would be "responsible" for taking that away from him, what ever "that" is. Like most guys, Fred is not particularly introspective or articulate about what he discovers when he does make an inward journey...not a slam on guys, just my observation...I like men infinitely more than women and adore my honey. So, what is "that"? What drives you lunatics? :)

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You have ridden with me so I hope im not out of line here. I raced in the early 90s and was very competitive minded, and for me it took all the fun out it. I still wanted to race but my first daughter put a halt to my plans. It wasn't out of my blood yet though and just over two years ago I got a bike and went to the races. well the paint didn't even get a chance to dry and I was down out of third in my first race. I rolled way back and just tried to finish the next few races. anyway the point is for I just can't be serious about it, it sucks all the fun right out of it. I have to fight this urge to get serious every time I go to the track.

 

If it blows your skirt up to race, race. but at our age its not like your trying to get a factory ride, aint gona happen. So chill and do it for fun. And stay away from glory bound teens (GNF).

Will

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not at all out of line. you can even call me dirty names. :lol:

not a lot of race experience but, i can relate.

one problem i see, kinda like a catch-22, if i back off, then i'm in the midst of those teenies...and that wasn't fun at all. :D

so, then it gets serious and saps the fun right out of it. :blink:

of course, i have no chance of 'a ride' but, there is that pursuit of excellence. i never really did it for the fun factor, that's what track days are for. i imagine when my performance peaks, i'll have some answers. 'til then, i don't think the competitive aspect will ever be viewed as fun on my part.

i have wanted to do this for a long time...too bad the opportunities came so late...and that's another factor. i gotta get it while the gettin's good.

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FF, (and wife!)

 

I know what you are talking about, really we are into some philosophy of life here. One thing that I've gotten from Keith over the years, is where to put your attention. If it is put on trying to prevent something, one is going to get run over, and this applies to life in general. At the school we never tell people to "be careful" or "don't crash" as this puts their attention on what not to do, as opposed to doing something.

 

100% my opinion here: From my observation, the people that really go out and attack life, pretty much don't get run over by it. The other factor seems to be how "clean" they are in their dealings with their fellow man. I'm constantly amazed and inspired by a few friends of mine that are really successful in life and how moral and ethical they are in their dealiings with their fellows. They don't copy computer programs or music, they treat others with good manners and courtesy, they don't steal anything, they do not do anytihng they wouldn't tell their wives, etc. And these guys have the most amazing "good luck"!

 

Best,

CF

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Being a very late starter to road racing. I'm doing it while I can. I know I'll regret it if I was to stop, now, or maybe before I get it out of my system.

 

Plus I've never seen so much camaraderie in any other sport. Everyone helps everyone else in the pits, regardless of race class or rider ability. Whilst sharing knowledge, tools, parts and time. Family and partners also turn up sharing the experience on the pit wall, making coffee, sandwhiches and reminding us when we're due out next :huh:

 

Formula 400 doesn't have any glory bound teens, so we tend to give each other enough racing room (well enough to move your elbows) :D

 

I've got a few photos of me riding (on the wall at work). Looking at the photos, the rush kicks in. That pre-race nervous twitch kicks in the gut and the heart pounds in response. A slow deep breath puts it away. Looking at the calendar, there is only another 7 weeks to the first race of the session, 3 weeks to the next track day. Guess what and where I'll be? And with leathers on!! :lol:

 

Guess I'll keep going until I don't enjoy it anymore, and the passion has faded.

 

Cheers!

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I tried to quit a couple of years ago. It lasted about 8 weeks. It was miserable. I decided to just take it one day/one race weekend/one track day at a time. That year, I raced when I wanted and when it was convenient. I did track days when they fit into my schedule. But I decided I wouldn't chase championships, because that, for me, seemed to suck the fun out of it.

 

I gotta agree on the formula 40 too. Fast guys, but no one's going to do anything stupid just to get the $5 piece of wood. The racing is close and fast. Most of them have been doing this a very long time.

 

I've come back to just riding for fun again. And it is fun again.

 

You'll know when you're ready to hang it up.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I some what know what you talking about. Last year I broke my back and knowing how dumb it was I was back on a bike in 2 weeks and racing after about six months. Before every race the thought of hurting my back, if I ball it up, is all that's in my head. But as soon as i'm on the track, all I think about is winning. My back be damned, but I've come to terms with it and if I meet my maker on a bike, I can't think of a better way to go out. So the moral of my story is if you ain't dead, RACE!!!

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This has been an intriguing thread for me as I am fascinated by guys struggling with the question of WHY they race or SHOULD they continue to race while I am confronting the question of CAN I race?

As an older rider who is new to the track, can I ask the racers on this list how far they have to go to race, and how ofter they race and how do they "practice" when they can't get to the track?

 

Thanks,

Kevin Kane

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of course you can race!!!

As an older rider who is new to the track, can I ask the racers on this list how far they have to go to race

you mean like, do we go w/o and eat pb and j sandwiches? hmmm. i've heard that some even go as far as being delinquent on their bills! :o seriously, if you do a full series, you'll have to travel.

searching the net for your local/regional trackday, race or school orgs will provide info on schedules and locations.

i didn't jump right into racing last year...i spent a very productive previous year doing trackdays, schools and assisting css with cornerworking. all told, about 4000 track miles and 18+? travel/road days. compare that to @ 1500 track miles in my 10 event race series and 30+ travel days(gotta get there well rested...solo effort).

i was well prepared for the racing and the results are the 'proof in the pudding'.

 

...and how ofter they race and how do they "practice" when they can't get to the track?

 

Thanks,

Kevin Kane

for me, it revolves solely around my ability to find the time and means. i was able to do, at least, one full series of my choice...about 10 scheduled weekends.

there is no physical off-track 'practice' for me...it's all mental. i watch taped races, i read, i envision...i talk with other riders. on track, i go to trackdays, i take riding schools, i participate in trackday instruction, i go to race-oriented open track days, etc.

 

one thing i don't do...ride on the street. it's too dangerous, imho. also, i feel it's not conducive to keeping a honed edge. certainly, i can practice smooth brake off/throttle on transitions, knee-to-knee, all the css drills and techniques, etc. BUT...i'm spending mucho dinero on what everyone else is doing and not enough on what i'm doing to make it, for me, worthwhile.

 

in a nutshell? get on the track, take some schools, get on the track, take some schools...you'll be more than prepared to try racing. good luck. B)

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Kevin, I think an analogy is the answer to the age old question, "Why do you climb mountains?" I never strapped myself to a sport bike until I was 57 years old. It was an instant addiction. I'm nowhere near as fast as Freddie, but I'm learning. I'm sure he has several years more experience on the track than I do, and he is fast. For me, this is the essence of racing: My first trackday (after 2 months of street riding) was the first "hit" of an incredible addiction. Crack cocaine can't be any more addicting than a trackday/race. It's an addiction that is reinforced looking at trailers, big diesel trucks, slicks, warmers, VP, Pit Bulls, Baxleys, etc, etc ad nauseum. It's the glassy look in your eyes when you view the trackday photo on your desk,........ the look of amazement in the eyes of others when you tell them what you do for fun. The nagging pain of watching the snow fall, knowing that Jennings GP has a track day this weekend and the bike(s) are languishing in the garage, with the heat set low and water wetter still in the radiators. Surfing the WERA & CCS BBS's every day at work when you should be actually working. Wistfully daydreaming and longing to re-learn the feel of your first darkie on a hard drive out of a tight corner at half-lean. Wishing you could afford to do this 30 years ago, if you'd even had the nerve to try it then.

Yep, you can do this if you dare. I say go for it. Read, study, do the track schools and then do them all over again. It is information overload at first, but, WOW what a rush. I'm now 58 and I'm going to do a full schedule this year in my division. The only thing I can add is:

"Hello, my name is Doug............ and I'm a trackaholic" [in unison] "Hi, Doug" [/in unison]

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I would have to agree with Doug. Right now it is below 30 dregrees with threat of snow and rain. The weather kills me. I hate the cold, but I ride in it any way. Each morning it takes me longer to get dressed than it does my wife. I double up on the thermals. Get the scarfs and debate for 5 minutes which pair of gloves to take. The thin ones which offer better throttle and lever control or the thick ones which make it difficult to grip the clip ons, but keep my fingers from going numb for an extra 10 minutes.

Why do you race? Might as well ask the question why do you ride. I went through this a number of years ago. Had a wreck that should have killed me and the guy that got me on my first bike moved. Even before I could fully walk again I went out and got another bike. Took me 5 minutes to get my leg over the seat. I was sweating terribly from the effort. I got the bike home and it sat for 3 months. I was physically able to ride by that time, but I didn't know why I would want to or why I wouldn't. It took a lot of soul searching. Finally I realized that I had no reason to ride. None what so ever in my mind. I did not even remember why I bought the bike in the first place. This of course troubled me. I decided I had to find out why. Why ride? Why a bike? Did I even like motorcycles?

I was a little scared and worried when I finally suited up and went out to wrestle with the demons. I realized how much of a novice I felt like climbing back on to the bike. I then realized I was a novice, only a year of riding, somehow missing the fact before. I went out for about two hours and just rode. No racing, no stunts, no peers to influence my riding style. I realized a few things on that ride. I had no riding style. I was an extreme novice, but I loved the feel of the bike, of the whole experience. Simply I feel more alive on a bike than in a car. For a large part it is about being outside and free vice stuck in a box cutting you off from the outside world. I also learned that I had a lot to learn about motorcycling and riding. Thank goodness for Keith Code and others like him.

I have never officially raced let alone been to a track. I get my race fix from the speed channel, magazines, and websites and yes from stupid group rides out on the back roads around town. Over the years I have learned something though. For me it isn't about being at the front of the pack. It isn't about bragging rights about who got to point "B" from point "A" in less time. It is about the ride itself. Maybe this is the same for you.

I understand having to ride at a certain pace on the track to stay away from the "novice pack" with something to prove. My pace changes to keep me in front of or behind the show off extremers. My advice to you would be to do some track days. No racing. No pressure. Just you, the bike, and a good track. Don't bother with how fast your lap times are. Just ride the track and figure out what it is that lures yor there.

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I understand having to ride at a certain pace on the track to stay away from the "novice pack" with something to prove. My pace changes to keep me in front of or behind the show off extremers. My advice to you would be to do some track days. No racing. No pressure. Just you, the bike, and a good track. Don't bother with how fast your lap times are. Just ride the track and figure out what it is that lures yor there.

If I could do that I would have a lot more money, but then I would have to find a new hobbie to spend it on.......

Will

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Last year was my first full season, and by the end, I was in need of a winter break. As mentioned in this thread, the "why" will vary. Not just speaking of injuries, but cost. Tires, hotel, gas, entry fee's, and of course bike repairs can make you ask "why" a bit louder.

 

I personally race because I have always been one to enjoy a good battle... Be it football, baseball, or cycling, I need competition to keep me motivated. This is often the only way I can enjoy the sport to it's fullest. A "sportbike" is a tool, and that tool is best used on a track. I enjoy riding them, so I race and attend trackdays. Knowing that on a race weekend I will be tested, makes that time focused and intense. I guess some of us need some type of extreme goal to feel we are getting the most out of life.

 

My two cents?? Ride, accept you're going to crash, and focus on having fun. If you start focusing on crashing, stop riding. You will get hurt. I always fall back on what an old AMA racer told me several years ago. He never feared the big crash, because he always seemed to walk away from those. It was the small ones that scared him. He always walked (limped) away with an injury. It just goes to show, you can't control everything. All you can do is enjoy every minute, as they happen.

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Will, I know what you are saying about cost. I am lucky enough to own a bike let alone have money for track days. That is the real reason why I have never been on a track or even to a live race. I would love to try my hand at racing, but I just don't care for PB and Jelly all that much.

The major point was to just drop all the baggage. Go ride for riding's sake and figure out what makes it enjoyable. That is where the focus should be, not neccesarily the racing if it complicates things to much to the point of destroying the fun of it all.

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  • 1 month later...

whew...well, it's done.

i packed in the program...no racing this year. after a long season of doin' it myself, i was longing for the relaxed atmosphere i enjoyed at track days. i was preparing an endurance effort in conjunction with my sprint effort when i saw last year's bills. :o

bottom line? it would cost another 50% or so to run this year. i'm too young to have a coronary. :P

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whew...well, it's done.

i packed in the program...no racing this year. after a long season of doin' it myself, i was longing for the relaxed atmosphere i enjoyed at track days. i was preparing an endurance effort in conjunction with my sprint effort when i saw last year's bills. :o

bottom line? it would cost another 50% or so to run this year. i'm too young to have a coronary. :P

So then we should see you at a lot of schools this year?

Will

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Money is a good answer to that question. I am in the middle of a tough decision in letting something else go to continue racing-being an officer in our local bike club. Time and money are short. I know you have already made the decision but I have one question for you pertaining to this; I am wondering if you figured out why you started racing and did a realization there have to do with your answer?

I started because I knew I wanted more after doing Level 1 w/ Keith and the crew at Road America. That day on their Kawi's was my first day on a sport bike. Hope you make it back out.

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i love riding, to the extent of nearing the envelope. the street, being what it is, is not the place for me to explore that envelope. i guess that's what got me started...along with a ysr that cost relatively nothing to race. it was years before i could afford 'big bike' racing. when i was in a position to go there, i did...and it sucked me in. next thing i knew, i had way too much stuff and not enough space to haul it all. so, here i sit...

to answer your question, no realizations about my starting/ending racing...my initial thoughts didn't have money as an issue. silly me. turns out that money broke the camels back. i could spend it and continue racing(defined as a season long commitment) but, i get a good enough dose of riding at trackdays without the stress. the extra money i'm talking about to continue isn't included in the 50% increase i mentioned, it's needed for a transporter capable of making a racing endeavor less stressful, i.e., big, dependable diesel duelly with a 34'+ living/cargo gooseneck. i could do it like that no questions asked. however, that more than doubles the expenses and it's not currently worth it to me. i haven't completely packed it in...just not ready for the level of commitment i'd like to attack it with.

i will say this. if you enjoy doing what you're doing, keep doing it.

many times during last season, i wished i was at a trackday and not at the races. some people will tell you racing is fun while others will tell you it's a job. i guess it depends on where you finish and whether you accept your placement as satisfying. my opinion is, only winning is satisfying. anything else is too much like work for nothin', even tho' it is fun at the time. with that said, many club racers know they're not gonna even come close to winning but, they have a race for 10th, or last for that matter, and have a blast. i, on the other hand, wasn't willing to admit anyone was faster than me when i was out there and i worked hard to keep that my fantasy/reality. the 'commitment' wasn't fun but i didn't expect it to be. next time, i'm gonna have fun. hopefully, i'll win a few.

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