Once to the track I began the process of unloading and the dark shadow had followed. I always unload by myself, which after 30 years I have mastered. But this time as I was backing the bike toward the narrow aluminum ramp, the rear tire nudged the ramp off of the tailgate and down to the ground. “Shit.” I could have hollered for help, but instead I hopped down and held my bike up with my fingertips on the rear knobbies. Then I used a soccer-style maneuver to kick the ramp up into my free hand. It actually worked, but the moment I admired my slick move the bike began to fall and the strength in my fingertips began to fail. I didn’t want to drop the ramp again so I went for a re-grip on the rear wheel and pulled every muscle from my forearm to my lower back trying to keep the bike from caving the bedside of my truck in. I was somehow pouring sweat on a 70-degree day without even getting the bike unloaded. Wow.
Making it back safely to the driveway is what it's all about.
My next struggle began while inserting the baffle into my new muffler. The instructions are simple, “Insert baffle and use circlip to hold in.” Everything was going great until I went for the last tiny push with my flat head screw driver and “FWWIING!” I heard the clip sail past my left ear. It flew so far away that I couldn’t see where it landed. Damn. The FMF guys are smart because when I looked back in the package they had sent second clip which I applied with ease on the second try.
I reset from there and was stoked about the lighter and quieter exhaust system as I warmed up the machine. I began to put my gear on, then something happened with my knee braces that I’m still confused about. I always pull the velcro from left to right to attach the brace. Always, left to right. But somehow the velcro had come undone in my gear bag and I was going to have to attach right to left. How could this be? This is like when you fly south of the equator and you see the toilet bowl flush counter clockwise for the first time. I was almost ready to load back up and go home it spun me out so badly. I thought to myself, “Right to left? Maybe it’s a bad omen?” I finally figured out how to re-connect the strap to the brace so I could once again pull it together left to right. Ah, all was well in the world again.
Now things were looking up. All I needed to do was put some gas in and I was ready to shred. Then I remembered that I was day-dreaming at the gas pump and filled my can to the brim with 5.1 gallons of 92 octane. That’s enough gas to last me a month. Lifting the can I felt my new muscle pain from the unloading incident and remembered why I usually only fill it halfway It’s heavy! But, no worries, I just gritted my teeth and used my hip to raise the can to proper filling height. Two things stood in my way; the nozzle going into the tank, which I aimed into the hole like a boss, then secondly I forgot to open the vent so the gas would flow nicely. Instead of putting the can down I tried to stretch my thumb over into a “hang loose” gesture and open the vent. Fail. The can slipped from my hands and the nozzle slipped out and totally soaked my goggles (and three fresh tear offs) hanging on my handlebars. I didn’t cuss, instead I let out a high l pitched scream that sounded like a mountain lion that had just been kicked in the balls.
I sat down in my lawn chair, pushed the reset button again and grabbed my spare goggles. I thought to myself, “No worries. I have all of the bad mojo out of the way, and I’m going to have a great session.” I was wrong. Through three trips to the track I pushed my front wheel in just about every other corner, OJ’d (over jumped) the triple jamming my wrist and managed to ball up the palm of my throttle-side glove through the whoops and reinvented the term Whiskey Throttle. I saved it, but pulled off the track and had a moment. That was about all there was left to do. I closed my sweat stung eyes and cleaned the acid in my throat (again) to realize I had kept it on two wheels. The 77-degree air felt amazing, and my bike sounded badass as I sat there idling. I had enough energy left for another session, but there was a slight sting in the back of my head telling me, “Load it up. Now.”
The muffler was great, but the ride day was one to forget.
So, I pulled into the pits and loaded up in slight defeat. As I was driving home with sweaty boxers under my cargo shorts (you all know that feeling) I suddenly began to laugh hysterically. I laughed for 30 miles in fact. The saying goes, laughter cures all and I’m a believer in that notion because all of the sudden the pulled muscles were gone. I guided my truck into my driveway and put it in park safe and sound. As I glanced back in my mirror, that new muffler still looked badass.
An hour later I had fought through the blister pain in the shower and plopped myself on the couch to watch my Tivo’d rendition of Sons of Anarchy. In that moment my lady came home and asked me how my ride went. With a cold beverage in hand and a fresh tobacco pouch in my lip I replied, “It was great as always my love.”
Thanks for reading, see you next week.