I’m Too Old For This!

We’ve all heard the expression: “I’m too old for this shit!” A few of us loudly proclaim our belief in the principle on occasion, but keep on keeping on. Some of us think it and quietly give up. Then there are some who use it as an excuse not to even start.

The subject of wether or not I’m too old to pound my body into submission and shape myself into an athlete by brute-force methodology has crossed my mind on more than a few occasions. My body is threatening mutiny, or so it seems. However, my mind has been known for its propensity of cracking the whip to quell the whining and the whimpering when the mission is deemed critical and worthy.

My husband’s view on the way I approach things? He just shakes his head and exclaims:

“Damn, baby! You never do anything half-assed, do you? You can’t help yourself!”

Even though my fervor must get on his nerves on occasion, I do believe he is sitting back, smugly, big shit-eating grin on his overly satisfied face, arms crossed at the chest, nodding and thinking to himself:

“Yeah, that’s my baby!”

He brags to his friends and co-workers. I know he does. Where others whip out their wallets (mobile phones) in one smooth and snappy movement to accost you with an array of baby pics and family portraits, he whips out his track photography. I think he has more pictures of me dragging knee on his phone than I do. That’s pretty bad. Where the wives (girlfriends) of others are gorgeous in their perfect hair and flawless makeup, he runs around flashing people with my sweaty helmet hair and unpainted countenance in dirty leathers.

He says I’m not like most 40 year-olds. But I don’t buy it. I feel too old for my own good on most days; and where I used to look ten years younger, frequent exposure to the elements and a high-stress work environment have finally taken their toll. I now am starting to look about as old as I feel. My crow’s feet alone could probably get me some premature social security benefits, if they didn’t check their paperwork. 😉

At least we don’t get the “so nice of you to take your daughter out” comments anymore. That was always a hoot, since hubby usually responded to those remarks with laying a fat slobbery kiss on me a few minutes later, after failing to correct the erroneous assumption. What a nut job! That’s why I don’t take him out in public very often… *giggles*

But there are a few individuals who defy the “life is over after 40” rule and they give me the drive to keep on going. Because a midlife crisis, after all, is a terrible thing to waste. =D

I almost didn’t start racing when I first got the notion and excitedly and very loudly exclaimed, while my nose was buried in Keith Code’s book A Twist of the Wrist: “Hell yeah! I wanna do THAT!” I’m glad I was on weekend duty and alone in the office. After the initial excitement wore off and my brain had time to process all of the information, it responded with an unkindly “I’m too old for this shit!” and that was the end of it for about a year or so.

A guy at work, who is a few years my junior, found out that I had crashed on my second race weekend and ended my first season prematurely, decided that he should save me from myself and told me the following: “I know you don’t want to hear this, but you’re too old to race. You crash and your body takes forever to heal and your injuries are probably going to be more severe. That’s probably also why you’re slow. You’re afraid to go fast.”

[Note: I only sustained minor injuries to my left hand due to my glove failing. The season ended prematurely because it took a little over three months and most of my saved up money to repair my bike, and it was decided it was best to prepare to race a full season in 2012, with a dedicated race bike and a lot more cash saved up.]

Excuse me?!? Dude, you better thank your lucky stars that we’re at work, because if you had said that to me anywhere else, I would have put you in your place, you presumptuous little prick! And then raced your cruiser riding ass for pinks. In first gear, with one hand. Asshole!

He stopped riding sport bikes (“crotch rockets” is the term he actually used) because he, by his own admission, was “too old for this shit” and had crashed and it took him forever to heal.

The reason I started racing, despite my misgivings about starting so late in life and only having been riding motorcycles on the street for a little over two years? Burt Munro. The old fart showed Bonneville how old timers roll, and he didn’t even pre-register. 😉 He bet “the farm” on his dream and it paid off. Against all odds, with plenty of obstacles and no sponsors. Yeah! He’s still my hero.

Read up on him sometime or watch the movie ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’. Very inspiring story, even if you are not into racing. His story transcends the sport. It’s a testament to the fact that “I’m too old for this shit!” is just another fallacy we’ve been brainwashed with by the media, societal norms and rate-of-return expectations. Youth is wasted on the young. Whoever said that, they have it pegged.

I ran into a man of the “over-the-hill type” at my inaugural WERA race. He’s freaking awesome. I think he said he started racing when he was 67 and that was a few years back. But don’t quote me on his exact age. The man is my hero. He doesn’t know it, but I secretly look up to him. He’s having fun doing what he does, has a wicked sense of humor, and he’s fast.

My “sister in speed”, whom I met during a racing school we both attended, just shrugged when she first heard how old I was and said: “You’re just a baby.” She doesn’t look it, but she’s ten years my senior. And crashing does not slow her down a bit. She’s having fun, too.

There are many other people to whom I look up to, who defy the norm. People who do in spite of it all. Did you know there is a dude who races motorcycles and only has one arm?!? I didn’t know it was possible. I saw him at Barber, while I was walking to the race control building he was making his way onto pit road to go on track. I did a double take, shaking my head because I thought I was hallucinating, and then did a triumphant fist pump in his direction. He didn’t see me, because he had already passed the spot where I was standing to let traffic through. Yeah, get a load of THAT. That’s what I call passion! That’s what I call drive and determination. Freakin’ awesome. I still don’t know who he is, but there are a number of amputees still riding and racing motorcycles. Still think you’re too old, too disabled, too whatever?

Today I am researching a few topics of interest on running and come across an article that talks about fears first time road racers have. One of which is also a very real fear for first time motorcycle road racers: the fear of coming in last. It takes one race to get over that silliness. 🙂 But I digress. One of the items listed was the fear of being too old to run, let alone enter an official road race. The article ended with:

“You’re never too old to start running, and it’s definitely never too late to start road racing.”

And that is the truth.

Obstacles are placed in our way to test our resolve, our determination, our passion, and our will to succeed. I can’t do nothing about my chronological age; but I can work on being in the best shape of my life and not let my age stop me from achieving my goals. My age also can’t keep me from dreaming!

And as the clock keeps ticking away, forcing me to grow even older than “too old for this shit”, I still try and retain my inner peace and happiness while I’m waiting for my turn again.

Three basic ingredients are needed for sustained happiness:

  1. Something to do.
  2. Something to look forward to.
  3. Somebody to love.

I have lost my main “to do” four months ago, but I am keeping busy with my marathon training and writing, to keep the depression and anxiety at bay.

I am looking forward to racing my motorcycle again, which will happen once I have secured re-employment and have regained a positive cash flow and met my other financial responsibilities. 2013 could be my year and I have to be ready, mentally and physically.

I have the third item covered in spades. No, make that hearts, even though it is not the trump suit, it works better in a literary sense.


Chicken Soup for the Motorcycle Soul

Light Reading For The WeekendI haven’t touched a book in quite some time. I used to be an avid reader. I would devour chapter after chapter, until the wee hours of the morning called me to rest and get a little sleep; get up and spend the entire day looking forward to getting back home to find out what my favorite protagonist and antihero was going to get himself into next. My escape from the mundane shades of bleh that colored my reality. That is another pastime that fell victim to the excessive need to ride my motorcycle. Not too long ago, I tried to read “War of the Worlds” on my iPad and made it as far as London falling under attack and our unwilling hero trying to make his way back to the town where he had left his wife. Maybe that is not where he was going… he wasn’t alone… and I really couldn’t make myself care about his world. I gave up. Left him lying wounded by the roadside, never to return.

The only kind of reading I do anymore is of the reference book variety. If it doesn’t help improve my riding or isn’t teaching me how to work on my machine, I really don’t care about it. TV? Nah. Poetry? Sometimes, but it has to do with the experience of being on two wheels. News? Who cares. Too sad anyway. I used to design graphics, elaborate ones, in Photoshop. Not the kind of stuff I crank out now. My creations, which were mainly photo montages with added textures, text and hand-drawn bits thrown in, showed more passion, more emotional depth. Learning Latin? Not anymore. Japanese? No, thank you. I’m over it. I used to crochet, cross-stich, tried my hand at quilting, draw crappy anime characters, conceptualize video game character design, dance, play video games and PC games more than the average teenager (and still sucked at Halo!). My life seemingly has become a bore.

I wouldn’t change a thing. Maybe I’d start sooner if I could. But an awesomely smart man once told me that if I had started sooner, I’d probably would have killed myself already. He is probably right. The past two years have just flown by; and looking back at myself learning on my Hog, being scared to ride in traffic, hoping that the light wouldn’t turn red before I got there, so I didn’t have to stop. That doesn’t seem like it was me. It’s almost disconnected. Like it is someone else I am looking at, but not quite. A twin sister, perhaps. A sister I haven’t known and didn’t grow up with. I’m a single child, what do I know? There is, however, a distinct dissociation there. That is where my saying originated: 1 year. 2 bikes. Thousands of miles and worlds apart. I knew it then. It’s even worse now. My S1000RR Present Self is looking at the Hayabusa Self the way the Hayabusa Self looked at the Harley Self over a year ago.

Good gawd! Where is this coming from…? I’m getting way too philosophical here. If I continue down this road… I really don’t want to know the reasons. It seems to be a measure of skill progression and theoretical knowledge of the subject. Like comparing a character from the seventh season of some TV drama to the same character in the third season and then to the one in the first. They are worlds apart. The actor grows into their role and the character becomes more “there”, more realistic, more believable. They had six seasons of practice to get it right. I am more “there” now, after two seasons, but I have plenty of seasons left.

All I really sat down to convey is that I consider a little light reading what you see in the picture above. That is the Chicken Soup for the Motorcycle Soul. If it hasn’t to do with riding bikes, the physics and dynamics of bikes, or the maintenance of bikes, I don’t waste my time on it. I work. I ride. I sleep. And, hopefully, soon I’ll be adding “I race.” to that statement.


Why Race It If You Can Roll It?

Suzuki GSX-R600 (BMP)

Miss Busa rocking "The Wedding Cake"

What is so damn important about racing that I spent most every waking minute thinking about it? And it’s worse than just thinking about it, everything I do anymore is in line with racing. Before, I modded mainly for bling. Well, I have to amend that statement, since I have never just put something on my bike for looks alone, but it had to add functionality or performance in addition to just looking good. If it was ugly, it wouldn’t go on my bike no matter the benefit. During research, if two parts were essentially the same in any other aspect, I would spend more to get the part that looked better. However, the main reason I would want to add something was to make my bike look different and stand out from the crowd. That seemed to have changed. Everything I do to my bike now has an additional underlying condition, before it is approved and the order button is clicked: Is this going to put me in a different class? How is this going to affect the overall performance? How is it going to affect my riding?

I tweet about motorcycles. I talk about them, my life has become centered around them. My living room currently reeks of gasoline, and a lot of the time it looks like a garage with tools and parts laying around everywhere. I write about motorcycles and ever since I’ve decided that I don’t care about the remainder of my bike’s warranty, I openly blog about wanting to race it.

When did my thought process change from just wanting to be the best street rider that I could possibly be to wanting to be a racer? I really have no idea. Maybe it is some subconscious attempt to prove to myself that indeed I have found something (finally) that I’m not just mediocre at. Something that has always been bugging me, all my life. I am mediocre in a lot of things (and I mean a LOT of things), but excel at none. I always envied people with talent. Musicians, artists, dancers, singers, strippers,… I had a lot of friends who had “their one thing” that they made look like it came so easily to them, with hardly any effort. Truth be known, that’s probably all they spent their mental focus on, even when they weren’t outwardly engaged in their craft.

Is racing some sort of measurement for me? A way to find where I stand in my development as a rider? Is it the scientific experiment that will prove some sort of hypothesis of mine and turn it into theory and hopefully, with repeated reproduction will become fact? Maybe. I have always wanted to know where I stand with things. I need to know; I suppose that is part of my competitive nature. I really don’t know why, maybe it is to ease my insecurities or maybe it’s an attempt at shock therapy. Get out there, be visible, get all that unwanted attention (whether it be good or bad) and prove that you can cope and won’t drop dead from it.

It’s definitely not for the money (that’s a laugh there) and it isn’t for the fame (yeah, that’s another good one), and it isn’t because I’m being pushed in that direction, although Mr. Slow has prevented me from quitting twice already, telling me in no uncertain terms that this is a team venture and it would be selfish of me, not to mention that he knows better, I wouldn’t really want to quit. He is spot on right, I suppose he knows me better than I know myself in a lot of ways.

I do not have high aspirations either, nor any expectations aside from that one minor detail: I don’t want to get lapped EVER and I would like to not come in DFL. However, I could probably live with the latter, since someone has got to play that position, but I’d rather it not be me. Seriously.

Comes to thinking about it, I do better when I don’t have any people around me on the track. I have a tendency to want to focus on the bikes in front of me rather than my reference markers, and I get slightly annoyed when someone’s way too slow for my tastes and I can’t get an opportunity to pass and make them eat my dust. So, what does she do? She wants to go racing… yeah.

I really don’t get it. I thought about sticking to just track days, but it doesn’t seem enough. It doesn’t scratch that weird itch I have developed. That rash that requires the kind of medicine that drains the bank accounts and leaves not much for anything else. But I seem to be cool with that.

Maybe I have finally realized that my lack of talent isn’t due to me not being blessed with one; that maybe it is due to my getting bored fairly easily with stuff and moving on to “the next thing” when I have reached a certain degree of sufficiency. When growing up I drove my Dad crazy with this tendency. Every time I asked him to let me join some club or wanted him to buy me this or that, he just threw his arms up and reprimanded: “Mädchen, Du fängst alles mögliche an und machst überhaupt nichts fertig!” (“Girl, you start all sorts of things and finish none of them.”) But eventually he succumbed to my insistent begging and pleading and I got what I wanted and end up doing exactly what he was afraid of: not sticking with it past mediocrity.

Maybe the answer will come to me when I’m sitting on the pre-grid with Mr. Slow holding the bucket for me. That’s right. I won’t be needing an umbrella girl, I need a bucket dude. =D