Sunday, November 16, 2014
An Everest To Climb
How succinctly Mr. McQueen summed up the racer's drive in those few lines. If I knew any better I would leave it at that, but I have never been able to resist running off at the mouth, keyboard, whatever.
Racing can be the test of a man. In a world that fosters, even rewards mediocrity, the sport demands excellence. At race's end, there is no question who was the best that day. An absurdly simple concept on the outside that becomes mindbogglingly complicated when explored. As I write this I realize that I have bitten off too much in a fumble fingers attempt at explaining it. What follow are the romanticized musings of one adherent.
Racing motorcycles is vicious, savage, violent, beautiful, sophisticated, soulful and often misunderstood. It suffers no fools while gleefully breeding pain, heartache and financial ruin, then begrudgingly doling out triumph in the tiniest doses to a worthy and lucky handful. It remains not for the faint of heart, weak of will or light of wallet. So why do it?
Easy answers are elusive, to my knowledge no one has written a Cliff's Notes version that would squelch the naysayers. Many cannot understand the brazen act of riding on two wheels, let alone the Sisyphus barefoot on a razor's edge feat of competing on them. There are those for whom "birth, school, work, death" is not enough. Such restless men have always existed, taking to the seas, then the skies and stars never once saying, "Geez, that's dangerous." Willing to roll the dice, wager skill, experience and luck against whatever fate could hurl. Only by blowing casual kisses up the skirt of Death is the true fullness of life realized for these uncommon few whom are only at peace on the limits of control. We should not fear for those willing to engage their passions but rather pity those who will not. Without the ones that cannot be easily categorized or stereotyped humanity would boil down to a dull grey and flavorless gristled prime-time TV lineup.
The racer believes he is going to live forever, no matter how many times he takes the whole screeching, quivering mass to the brink he can finesse it back by his own mastery, knowing there is always more time to be found, more speed to be had. Some call this denial, I prefer to think of it as "self-faith". Faith can often be wrong, but it persists, allowing continuance. If he should fall down he brushes the dirt off and remounts, promising to himself to 'get it right next time'. There is no quit within the racer, regardless of circumstances. As long as the motor is running and the wheels turning the fight is on. These are not simple-minded adrenaline junkies seeking a fix, but calculating competitors hurtling forth on their chess pieces seeking checkmate at the speed of light. They do not line up on the grid for the thrill of danger, they line up in spite of it.
Imagine reality distilled into just the next few moments, 10 laps. Yesterday a memory and tomorrow a dream. The race is an event that occurs in real time, demanding immediate action not committees, meetings, 4 to 6 weeks delivery and $9.99 shipping and processing. Everything, right here, right now, give it all or get the fuck out. Not the purview of effete half-assed men. Cutting the crap straight to the marrow, in your face, alone with only the strength of will you yourself can muster. It is an everlasting quest, only as insurmountable as it is ephemeral. A journey to understand the depth of your own measure. You cannot win every race, but you sure as hell can try. That sounds a lot like life to me.
(Shannonville 2002: someone else gets it wrong and no, he didn't fall down)