Day 1 of Supercross. This is the course where last year, like a terribly misguided farmer, I attempted to plant my nipples in the cement. Myles Romanow, the course designer, has a gift. And it’s a real one. This course, on the same grounds as Westwood, raced earlier this year, LOOKS pretty much the same. Same dirt, same bumpy bits… But different. You say you’re redlined? How ’bout lets double down on that with a super technical turn. Oh, look, a downhill! Well, yeah, but there’s a wee ‘lil transition lurking there, as comforting as a scorpion in a sleeping bag.
That downhill got me.
Add a bit of a chill in the air to all of the above, and the bits that connect you to the bike (hands, feet… brain) get a bit iffy.
To my mind, the best way to hit a downhill, tech-y or otherwise, is in the drops. Positive contact on the bars, great access to the brakes, committed, un-Schleck-y posture. Win-win-win! I chose to make the tops-to-drops switch RIGHT at that transition from grass to macadam at the apex of the juke-y ‘lil left hander. Turned out I needed to have my hands SOMEWHERE on the bars to make that work. Hello scorpion.
After collecting my Glass Menagerie from the ground, I got out of the way of the other lycra salmon and took a moment to wonder what the fuck I doing out there.
My knee looks like I let a weasel eat chorizo off it. Again. My hip is a big, painful poofy mess. Again. My bike has been used like an awl. Again.
And I will line up tomorrow. Again.
Because I love this. It makes no sense. It eats more money than a one-armed bandit in a Vegas bus station. It demands an ENORMOUS amount of time. It breaks the folks who do it into tiny pieces every weekend. And we come back.
Because it’s awesome when it goes right.
Hell, it’s even awesome when it goes wrong – when the dust settles and I’ve retrieved my bike from the briar-patch I chucked it into. Even then, when your race feels like a lost chapter of the Book of Job, it’s worth it. Is it a variation of Stockholm Syndrome, where, like Patti Hearst, you start to sympathize with your captors? (Team SLA anyone? You’d do it, if they covered race entrance fees.) Or Groundhog Day, where if you do it again and again ju-u-u-u-u-ust right things’ll come together? Because it will come together. For a turn, a straight-away, a whole race, a series. Repetition and will and idiotic love will make it happen.
So I jumped back on and charged. And 30 minutes later, Travis took my limping ‘Ol Yeller behind the barn.
Yeller’ll be back.