I was trying to think of the advantages of getting older the other day and the only real positive outcome was that I know better now about doing some tasks in life that will leave a mark if you do them. When I was younger I did not have this wisdom and ended up with a lot of marks, bruises, broken bones and on occasion a bent nose. That being said, and hopefully a very positive attribute off setting the sagging body parts and shortage of breath, what I did not realize with this discovered plus to aging was the subtle and often times not noticed cloud of vagueness that sits as a blanket over all of your other facilities. It emerges with lower levels of fatigue and dehydration than years past. I think I am going to call it “Dazing off”. Look for it in the new version of Webster’s Dictionaries coming out this June with sadly as you shall see, no credit being shown to me.
So to put this new discovery into the context of my life’s events, we were at Sears doing a CLASS School the end of April May, 2017. First day was like clock work expressing once again the need of being in the “moment” when riding a motorcycle with passionate riders and students, fully focused, hydrated, paying attention not only to the track and your bike but also what was going on inside of you. Focus, planning, hydration, the smooth operation of the bike’s controls all the while working the quirks of Sears’s off camber blind corners, sweeping downhill changing camber turns while calculating and watching other riders in and around you. The 2005 Suzuki GSXR1000 that I have been slowly fine tuning the set up on for 3 years was a master piece. It was on rails, the brakes unearthly, the front end accurate and easily lifted a few inches off the ground at will. It and I had come to the “moment”.
Tuesday was tough getting the eyes open, getting energized for the day after an evening shared with Andy and his harmonic, sleep induced, rusty chain saw eruptions of breathing. The poor woman he shares his bed with, bless her sleep deprived soul. Off to the track, falling into the well rehearsed pattern of greeting, doing tech and getting geared up by 9 for the coming day. Tire warmers on at 8, set at 174 degrees, full tank of fuel, clean windscreen, gear fitted where it was meant to be, all robotic functions without to much original thinking going on. Off to the day!
About 11:30 the bike was out of fuel, so in we went for a tank up. Filled it with fuel, closed the gas cap and instead of going right out while the tires were still at a good operating temperature, I sat down. And fell asleep. Instantly. Without wrapping the tires with their warmers. The fog of “Daze” had started without me, but all around.
I woke with a start, stood up and slugged my helmet on the roof of the trailer. I looked at my phone, it has been 30 minutes. Shit! I walked out to the bike and got on it, hit the starter and rolled towards the pit out. The track was clear, I rolled out to the top of Turn 2 gingerly, leaned left to 3 and saw a gaggle of bikes in my mirror. The Fog was slowly clearing, but not sharp yet. Top of 3A I looked back and then down the right fog line, trying to not cause an issue to coming traffic. BOOM! The rest can be seen on the video. Not pretty, not graceful, not painless. Gary ended up following me down, landing on top of me. It must have been like riding a bag of marshmallows down the track, not a mark on his leathers.
It has taken me a bit to fully realize what I ignored. I am older, I get worn down sooner, my focus is not what it was and most of all, I have gotten a little arrogant about my skill set. That was the tough pill to swallow. I have limits and they are constantly changing according to factors that were never of consequence in years past. I am mortal, I am flawed and yet smart enough to recognize the changes and make them a positive factor in my life. In fact, observing these changes has been almost a relief, an acceptance of the changing limits in life and the excitement of having the insight to recognize and embrace them. Experiences feel richer, my appreciation for what I have been capable and involved with exhilarating. It has been a hell of a ride so far and I am going to make sure I stay around to see the rest of it to the fullest. And I am going to pay better attention to myself.
I ain’t what I used to be, thank goodness!