Just like the first time I rode on the back of a motorcycle, it’s not so much that I want to be around people who have them, but that I want one for myself. Same goes for the TT, even though I’m here for the first time. I’m going as a tourist and journalist, to witness the electric bikes make history, and help my brother celebrate his birthday. But I’d rather be flying through the air, 200 ponies between my legs, slamming back down to earth only to tip the bike into a sharp bend up ahead, then to fly along the Mountain as fast as I possibly dare. This all-out speed on the world’s deadliest racetrack is my idea of a good time.
But that’s not gonna happen this year, and honestly, I’ll probably never be fast enough to qualify for a TT race. Someday I will ride the TT course, but likely not in competition. This really shouldn’t be the year for that even, as my collarbone persists in being detached and the doc persists in forcing me to use this infernal cane. Because I’d rather be a gimp a little longer than suffer crippling arthritis the rest of my days, I’m following doctors orders. Well, as best I can…
Its a good thing this trip is to the UK and not Spain. I’d have been robbed blind by now if I were in Spain, hobbling around on a cane. The British (and Welsh) are so wonderfully helpful and kind. They’ve made this trip possible, although nothing would’ve stopped me, really. When the taxi made it to the Promenade, it all seemed so familiar, even though it didn’t look precisely like my dream. This really is a magical place, and I’m sorry I won’t be able to visit the Fairy Bridge until Tuesday. I remember when I worked for Betsey Johnson back in the mid 90’s, it was the most fast-paced company I’d ever worked for, and I would often walk up to this arcade near ESPN Zone in Times Square to ride the Isle of Man as my afternoon pick-me-up. I got really good at that game, even though the bike doesn’t corner properly. It was still deliciously fun and gave me enough adrenaline to crank through the afternoon. Here, there is a TT Experience ride, but they have room for 19, and they sit in chairs. Yawn. How is that possibly supposed to replicate the experience?
Following doctors orders…
I did have to do a tiny little road trip Memorial day weekend with my homegirls. I finally have two female friends who are as obsessed with racing as I am, child free, single, and close to my age. So the 3 of us jumped in my car and spent all of Saturday driving to Miller Motorsports park in Utah near Salt Lake City. We had a blast at the track and I managed to find enough helpful track employees (and a willing piggyback driver) so I didn’t have to push my walker around too much.
The Virtuous Road to Vegas
We had to skip the after party, though, because Christina & I had to be back in LA by 6pm on Tuesday for George’s memorial. So the most virtuous thing we could do was skip the after party and head to Vegas. Rarely is “go to Vegas for the night” the more virtuous choice, but there it is. We got a sweet deal at the Hard Rock and their plush down beds were a welcome change after the cheap dive I chose for SLC. We were up early the next morning for breakfast with Josh from Hollywood Electrics and a couple of new friends we’d made at the track. We hit the road and made it back to LA just in time. George’s memorial was casual, but one I think he’d have enjoyed being at- just a BBQ out back of Ducati Beverly Hills with his friends.
Although I’m bummed that none of my friends could make this trip, and I’d greatly benefit from a second opinion on some of the decisions I’ve made, I’m especially sad that George isn’t with me. That’s him in 2009, with his bike featured on Ducati Island, covered in bugs because he rode it there, as he did with me every year until 2011. We’ve traveled together to almost every major race I’ve gone to in the past decade. In fact, the closest I’ve come to knowing what it’s like to race the TT (aside from that little ride with Mark Miller) was that time George and I were en route to Laguna Seca for the GP. On a certain road which shall remain nameless there are a series of massive “whoopses” as they call them in motocross. The person who introduced me to this road back in 2002 warned me that one of them, he never could recall which one, could send you flying if you hit it at speeds in excess of 120mph.
Knowing this, and having been careful to keep my R1 below 120mph for these hills on every previous ride, I was bored. I wanted to go faster. So I did, and discovered which hill would launch an R1 into the air at speed. I don’t recall what speed exactly, but I sure was grateful for that steering damper as the bike’s front end hit the ground hard and she bucked like a bronco for a second while the damper did its job. George said he saw about a foot of daylight beneath my rear tire. For all of you who tell me the TT is on your “bucket list”, think of George, who would’ve loved it here, and will never experience the most ultimate motorcycle racing experience of them all. We all have our priorities, mine is going to the races, yours may be taking care of the family you chose to create, or making enough money to pay for the nice house you’ve always wanted. There’s nothing wrong with that, but acknowledge what your true priorities are and be true to yourself.
As seen at IOM TT 2012: The guy attached to it was quite attractive too, but I was in no state to flirt. The past 3 days have been non-stop traveling and logistic issues, as I missed my flight and had to fly out of Liverpool instead of Cardiff. But I got to see a lot more of the UK than I ever have, and discovered I can indeed drive a lefty car without ruining anything, even on almost no sleep. It’s been kind of refreshing traveling alone for a change, but I’m looking forward to Gary & Colleen arriving. I met a lovely couple in their 70’s at the ice cream shop who’ve been coming to this race (and their local NW200) for years and years. That might not have happened if I wasn’t alone. More from the TT coming soon…