Wednesday, 27 June 2012

My first flat track race for 32 years

From Mark in Arizona.

Hello my name is Mark and I would like to share a true (in my mind, anyway) story. 
Last year I did it! My first flattrack race in 32 years [Mark in his heyday, in 1976, above].The day did not start out well. 
6:00 am Sunday - Loading up the bike, I already had butterflies. The next thing I knew, I had to take a crap REALLY BAD! Started for the can and didn't make it! Really, no s%#t. Threw my underwear away and took another shower. 
I drive about an hour to the track, fighting another crap brought on by my butterflies. I really destroyed the port-a-can when I got there. I think they will have to throw it away. I'm 54 years old now, can't wait until I get really old. 
The fun begins Before practice on a run to the port-a can, AGAIN, I notice that the MX boots that I don't normally use while riding this pig, is making shifting very hard. 
Back at the pits, I move the shift lever up one position on the spline. I see that the time for practice has arrived and nobody is on the track. WTF? 
I ride up to the official and ask if I can go out and get a thumbs up. Out I go on my big ugly daily commuter trail bike and I can't shift into second gear! The shift lever is hitting the sprocket cover. Damn! I make two laps with everybody looking at me, going from first gear to neutral, over and over again. My face was red going into the pits. Back at the truck, I removed the counter-shaft sprocket cover. Problem solved. 
My race had 10 bikes in it. They call it the Amateur class... There were only four classes. Mini, Amateur, Vintage, and Pro. 
The track was great. Nice cushion. Every bike there was set up for flat track, 19" wheels with race tires, Champion frames, Rotax, Yam TTs, Knight framed Yam 360, CRF450 Hon, YZF450 Yam. They all had steel shoes too. Bastards! 

Heat race I am on the start line with my TALL bike, looking down at my competitors from my Honda XR650L, 21" front wheel, luggage rack, desert tank with 4 gallons of fuel (filled it up a week ago - wasn't expecting to race the big red pig), cheap dual-sport tires, turn signals, license plate, tape over the headlight, MX boots, etc... I know that they thought that I was a goon. 
Some guys were not very friendly in the pits. 
The flag drops and I get into turn one in about fifth place. This sucks, so I go wide and ride around them on the outside into first down the back straight going into turn three. This bike was a handful on the track but the racing hours of my youth came back like it was yesterday. I was able to hold the lead for three laps. Then this "hotshoe" passes me on the inside. Old guy like me, he was really fast (He won the Vintage class main too). He starts to leave me, and there nothing that I could do about him. 
I finished second place. Honked my horn when I crossed the line. I forgot to turn on my left turn signal during the race. I would have given my left nut for a steel shoe and a 19" front tire at this time in my life. 

Main Got a okay start, fourth into turn one, second place out of turn four. The "hotshoe" got the hole-shot and was pulling away. Oh well. Battle with a few guys then it calms down for a while and I am running a steady second place in a 15 lap main. Then the ghost of my youth takes a vacation... start to get tired... really tired. I held second place until three laps to go. A guy shoves his Yamaha 450 under me, hard! Yelling his head off. (later learning that he thought he was going down and taking me with him)! Hell, he can have it if he wants it that bad. I really can't afford to get busted up. Damn 20 year olds! I kept on him, hoping for a mistake. No luck with that plan. I finished third and got a trophy! 
Yeah! After all these years I really thought I was done being excited about getting a trophy. Nope! It felt good. The guys warmed up to me after the race though. Gained a bit of respect me thinks... maybe not. 
If I ever do this again, I will remove the brake light so they won't when I am slowing... or should I leave it on and just ride the brakes a little early into the corners? 
Cheers, Mark


Guy@GK said...

Good story.

Nick said...

Holy hit, more power to your elbow, let us know if you have another go

LC8fan said...

Good on ya mate- class!!

Paul Baleta said...

Love it! Go race again and come back with another story... Well done on the 3rd !

Simon Whitworth said...

Great Story...

wouldn`t it be a good idea to prep a bike, I think flat track is a sport where experience can definately compete with youth..

WhitelinePsycho said...

Mega yarn, go the fossils, lovin your work !!!

Sideburn Magazine said...

maybe pack some diapers next time? It would be a load off your mind, you could just get on with more serious business.

capnsimo said...

Hey thats great, sounds like me at Dirt Quake, well the first bit, I just stayed last all day getting progressively laster and lapped more each session, and I had a 19" front wheel.......mindyou I can't wait to have another go......keep it up, top man you're my inspiration

Hairy Larry said...

So, you say there's hope for us over 50-somethings...and the old youthful instincts come back...out to the shed to conjure up something slide-worthy...

Mick P said...

Brilliant. Had me belly-laughing from the start, and completely inspirational.