Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Get Your Mind Right

"You could end up seriously dead..." -Kenny Roberts Sr. 

Pavement or woods, road course or rutted single track, racing a motorcycle requires you to operate within a certain head space, nearly all the time, on track or off.  Step outside of that, lose focus for an instant and bad things can happen.  There is no room for your insecurities, daydreams or personal bullshit.  There is only the now.  You and the motorcycle and what you must make it do.  Moto-GP contender or weekend privateer, it's the same.  Like an unwavering law of nature.

Many choose to dabble, dip in a toe, play at it.  They don't last long.  They don't win.  Which is fine, some are content merely to say they have done a thing, cross it off some arbitrary list before dying.  Then there are those who want to do it as long, as fast and as well as possible.  The racer soul finding contentment nowhere else.

The best can get into the mindset with ease, I believe this is a major factor in what we would call "talent".  Some competitors have an express elevator to the zone, while the rest of us struggle to locate the fucking door.  Make no mistake, it is a huge advantage, because at the end of the day, racing is truly a mental game.  The fanciest equipment doesn't mean shit if you can't get your neurons firing properly.  To win a race, you have to know you are going to win, because it doesn't ever just fall into your lap.  A racetrack is no place for doubt.  Doubt costs time.  And lives.

Personally I have always found ritual helps me get to that place, or at least in the neighborhood.  Putting my gloves, boots, helmet and equipment on the same way every time, left foot first, left hand first.  Doing the same set of stretches in the same order, crouching down on the left side of the bike to get the leathers in place.  These things all tell my brain and my body what is to come, and what will be expected of them.

You have to do whatever it takes to get your mind right.

Because if it ain't right, it's wrong.

This is not the place to be thinking about work, or a fight you had with your woman.

Neither is this.

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