Monday, October 5, 2015

Mind Games

I overheard chatter in the Roebling Road paddock earlier this year regarding Turn One.  Racers are talking about going into it "wide open" and "no brakes" as well as "using the front tire to scrub off speed".  Most of what you hear off track can be taken with a grain of salt, and while I have found that motorcycle racing pits tend to be a little bit friendlier and more good-natured than some of the dirt car short-track racing pits I have been present in, there is still a lot of rumor, hearsay and unadulterated bullshit.  Unless someone is stomping the whole class and winning on a regular basis, everything they have to say is suspect, and if they are winning, then doubly so.

Mind-games start early in the weekend, sometimes well before the first practice, many are birthed in the primordial cesspool of the internet.  Guys will bring up your past mechanical issues, crashes and poor finishes, under the guise of friendly banter.  Surely much is well intended, but it also serves the purpose to get under your skin and into your head.  Ask a competitor in any sport and they will tell you if you can mess with your opponent's mind, he's already half beaten.

Many a racer has lost before lining up on the starting grid or passing under the green flag.  You can hear it in their voices as they talk about all the reasons why they are slow, and there are a million of them.  Very rarely does anyone simply own up to the fact that they just couldn't do it that day.  It works the other way as well, many races are won by sheer confidence.  A guy may not have the best equipment or even be the best rider, but if he knows he can win, he can.  The future may be unwritten, but your attitude towards it is definitely the rough draft.

I've always found the best way to shake an opponent's confidence is to simply ride better than them.  Beat a guy a few times and they learn to expect it.  Pre-race shit talking is the purview of those concerned they can't get it done on track.  If guys spent the time working on riding better or improving their bikes that they do running their mouths, they would probably be a hell of a lot faster. 

No excuses here, that is an orange-shirted novice on a dirt bike with a turkey pan strapped to the bottom in front of me.  He beat me.  Of course it turns out he had been a flat track racer for 30 years and the bike was super trick and he stuffed me and and and......... 

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