Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Not Terribly Interesting Motorcycle Story

Homesteading Neophyte is doing a blogathon to support a good cause. I don't have anything to donate, but at least I can point you in her direction. Meanwhile, I'm going to be a moocher and write a post as an entry into one of her drawings. Should I chance to win the lottery before her blogathon, I'll do the right thing...

I've spent some twenty years working turns at more than one track in the Southeast. We work all kinds of races - vintage cars, club racing, enduros, international races, and bikes.

For the most part, we have a few minutes between sessions, and then a five minute warning is given to tell us the next group is coming out. Now, five minutes is five minutes, right? Umm...not so much, not with vintage cars or bikes.

A vintage five means we have time to make a sandwich, go potty, maybe read War and Peace. A bike five means they're already coming around and if you haven't cleared the course you'd best see how fast you can run the hundred.

I've worked quite a few bike races, back when the AMA was still the AMA and not the nonsense it's turned into lately. Never mind why I feel that way...it's personal.

I loved working bikes, especially at turn one when they did the standing starts - dozens of bikes stampeding down the front straight, all trying to make it through turn one first. Turn one at Road Atlanta isn't meant to be a four-wide turn, even for bikes...but on occasion they managed it.

On one such an occasion, the five minute warning was give, and moments later the race was on! I watched them head toward us, braced to grab a flag, call for emergency vehicles, or run and respond when if things went wrong. The pack made it around the corner and up the hill to turn two just fine...we thought.

Until we realized there was a biker standing in the middle of our track. It's hard to explain his position without visual aids, but I'll try. He was partly crouched as though he was still on a bike, hands in front of him as though he were holding the handlebars. He looked neither left nor right. I was on communications for that session, so I called him in. My responder ran to get the rider off the course. Meanwhile, turn two was calling in an incident of their own. It sounded a bit more urgent than our oddity, so I opted to hold the rest of my call (my worker, via hand signals, told me the rider was unhurt, so I didn't need EV).

Turn two was having some trouble up their way - they had three bikes down but only two riders. A missing rider is a problem - sometimes they slide off into the hay bales or end up in, under, or behind tire walls...or, Gods forbid, one had gone airborne enough to clear the catch-fencing!

I had the opportunity to help them.

When all those bikes came around our corner, they were packed rather closely together. Our rider was towards the front, jockeying for position in the top five. It seems his foot got caught in the spokes of another rider's wheel, and he was pulled off his bike. Somehow he landed on his feet, still in the "rider" position! His bike, being crammed in with all the other racers, stayed up and forward moving, at least until it was time to corner turn two. The bike had ideas about straightening the turn. The riders around it had ideas about taking a more traditional route. Things went a bit pear shaped, and two riders and our fellow's bike all went down, sliding into the bales and giving the crowd something to cheer.

The workers at turn two did yeoman's duty cleaning up the mess so we didn't have to stop the race (they hate stopping televised races!), and we got our rider a trip to the Quack Shack via the infield to get checked out.

It wasn't the most spectacular incident I ever worked (bikes or cars), but it may well have been the oddest.

Go check out Homesteading Neophyte - she's cool, and her blog is chock full of useful information and stories about critters almost as cussedly stubborn as she is!


Momlady said...

I remember that race.

Phelan said...

Stories about wrecks always make me cringe. Glad everyone walked away from it.

And of course it is worth something! ~eye rolling~ "for what it's worth"

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

From standing on a track rescue to critters...

Y'lost me-- and what I'm smokin' aint that good...

Susan said...

You were on tv??????

Kyddryn said...

Mum, I bet you do! We've had some fun at that track...

Phelan, I had a strict "Nobody dies on my turn or at my race policy", and so far it's held...some of the incidents have been spectacular looking, but the worst injuries I've seen at the track happened to specttors who were drunk and stupid.

Silly Swan...

Mizz Susan, I was never very visible, just a blur on the screen as the cameras followed bikes or cars around the turn.

Shade and Sweetwater,