I was heading west on University Parkway, the stretch of US-29, a four-lane divided highway, between Athens and Atlanta, GA. It was late afternoon on a Friday and a thunderstorm was threatening overhead. People don’t mess around that time of the week. They are ready to get home to start their weekends or, like me, are already on their way to the party and are in a hurry to get there. Time is of the essence when the workweek is done. The average speed on the west-bound side was between 70-75 miles per hour. The east-bound side had been shut down due to a traffic accident and was backed up for miles. I gave quick thanks to the God of Speed for not being stuck in that mess.
Traffic was medium-heavy and I was averaging about 80 mph, making sure that I wasn’t the fastest vehicle on the road but keeping up with the faster cars of the crowd. I noticed a white sedan that had passed me, but then settled down to about my pace a little distance ahead. I eventually caught up and passed the car again. No big deal, it happens, I paid the car no mind as I continued to fling myself westward toward the horizon, bouncing around in my seat, tapping out the rhythm to some Lady Gaga tune with my right foot; I think it was “Bad Romance”. My thoughts were already occupied with playing in the twisties that were scheduled for the following day. The car eventually picked its way back through traffic and got ahead yet again.
Now it’s getting a little weird! After a while boredom and curiosity get the better of me and I am in hot pursuit of my highway stalker. It doesn’t take me long to catch up with my target. The car is still hanging out in the left lane, so I scoot over and slowly pass them on the right. I see what looks to be four college-aged kids bouncing around in their seats, hair flying, talking animatedly and obviously checking me out. Oh, shit! A carload of cheerleaders! They point and wave at me and I smile, — even though they can’t see through my darkly tinted face shield — I nod and give them a peace sign with my outstretched clutch hand. Then I grab a fistful of throttle, twist it quickly to the stop and treat them to a completely “unnecessary display of horsepower”. Gratuitous. I can’t help myself. I have no excuse. I pull triple digits for a few seconds, pass another vehicle by executing two acute lane changes to get a little high-speed lean for effect and then let the engine slow me back down to the speed of traffic.
It doesn’t take very long for them to catch up. Two songs, maybe. I’m astonished to see them again. When they pass me on the left, I see one of them is holding a sheet of notebook paper up to the passenger side window. It reads in bold-red Sharpie print:
I prop open my visor so I can make eye contact as I pace them. I smile and give them a thumbs up and a fist pump with my free hand. I yell: “Hell yeah!” even though they can’t hear me. I speed up and they stay directly behind me as my wing women until we part ways at a red light a few miles up the road. I turned right and they kept going straight. Each of us heading towards weekend adventure. I wish I could have taken a picture of this or had the video camera going. It’s the little things like these that make even a bored and hurried flight down a two-lane seemingly never-ending straight worth it. For one little instant my path merged with that of four strangers and life was just good.
That’s one of the reasons I ride.
Riding a motorcycle connects you intimately, even if only for a short moment, with others and the world around you. You become part of that world, rather than being isolated and distanced from it like you are when sitting in a car. This is one of those reasons why bikers refer to cars as “cages”. I’m sure of it.
It has finally arrived: the moment of truth. I had to, defeatedly I might add, admit to myself, that maybe I need to step up to the beauty counter, flash the plastic and ramp up my game in the skin deep sector. All my preparations and focus have been with my skill development and my bike’s setup. I have never wasted much thought on the “public image” side of things. Yes, it’s easier for girls in motorcycle racing to get sponsorship. There aren’t really a lot of us out there; hence we have an advantage over the boys. And apparently there is nothing that sells bike parts and performance upgrades better than a hot chick wrapped around a motorcycle. If she rides too? Oh hell! The boys won’t be able to keep it in their pants (motorcycles and the wallet, respectively).
It’s about time, I’d say. I’m used to having to prove myself thrice (yes, that is a word ;)) over just to get the same credit as a man does. In the military it was this way, at least in my unit. In corporate America it is this way, at least at my company. And it is like that on the track, too. Sorry, I have to say this, but the majority of men don’t take you seriously until you blow past them in the curves, and then some of these fellas still want to critique your technique. Find fault not with themselves but with you. “You weren’t using the proper line.” or “You’re just making up for your lack of skill with your horsepower.” Say what? Ok, whatever. I just hope that this is just another case of the “squeaky wheel”, that the perception is skewed due to the guys who know better keeping out of it, maybe snicker under their breath at the more verbose idiots of the crowd.
I’ve gotten used to it. I don’t mind it. I just do my own thing. I listen. I observe. I keep my trap shut, my ears open, and I learn. If they underestimate me, then the element of surprise is on my side later when I need it to be. I like it that way. I like it that way in business, too. Go ahead and think I’m a nobody and a little on the daft side, too; dull enough not to get it or too insecure to do something about it. It’s all good in the great scheme of things, even if it bugs the piss out of me occasionally and I want to blow a gasket and set things straight in a manner that is the only way some of these people will understand. But I digress.
Maybe it is my self-confidence that had me cruising along without thought about my apparent lack of girlyness. Maybe it is the fact that I am lazy and when it’s time to get up in the morning to do stuff, I want to roll out of bed and hit the ground running, after I had my two cups of coffee, of course. My skin has always been sensitive, and makeup makes me break out, so I gave up trying eventually. I also can’t stand stuff on my skin that makes it feel icky. Oils, lotions, sun screen, bug spray, I won’t use it. I refuse, until of course the ickiness factor is overshadowed by the benefits the application of said substance would provide. Yuck! Maybe I’m just too much of a tomboy. I’ve gotten away with it, and still do; but as I’m getting older, I realize that maybe I need to start “helping it along” a little.
I need some promo shots for my racer profile and web site and various other projects. And I have a feeling it’s best if I don’t look like I just came rolling in from a track session in 90-degree weather, and had previously changed my tires and flushed a radiator. My skin needs better care, since I spend way more time outside now and my hands are torn up from all the mechanical work I’m doing. I hate wearing mechanic’s gloves. I can’t feel enough through them, so they end up getting tossed eventually.
I stopped by the mall on my way home from work. I walked straight into Sephora, did a little window shopping, got a little sticker shock, almost walked the hell back out. When a lady approached me to ask if I needed help, in a sheer move of spontaneous desperation, I answered: “Yes, I am lost. I have a photo shoot soon, and I need to hook myself up with some skin care and makeup. I have combination skin, yellow undertones, am allergic and don’t like gunky, sticky stuff on my skin. But please take it easy on the bank.”
So she went around the store, me following behind like a lost kitten. Listening to her, trying stuff, picking colors. At one point I must have made the decision to do what I always do in life and go all out, balls to the wall.
An hour later and only $200 short of a full set of racing glass for my S1000RR, I left the store with beautification loot and a promise to let Pat, the lady who helped me, know how it goes and give her a photo for her locker.
“I thought you were going to take it easy on me.”
“I did, girl.”
I rode home and wanted to cry. I could have gotten a Power Commander V with auto-tuning or a GPS lap timer/data acquisition unit or a full set of front-rear sprocket combos for the amount of coin I just blew on “selling out to enhancing my chances of sponsorship”.
I need to incorporate Team PLD Racing. This has the smell of total loss tax deduction about it…
…think about it.
I’m tired of setbacks. I really am. Setbacks are the stuff failures are made of. Failures that usually happen on the way to success or yet the ultimate fail. One of those premature kind of failures that prevent even more failures by making its subject quit. “Stop! Can’t take it no more,” that is just one of the conniving thoughts that follow. They bury themselves deep within one’s psyche to torment when the time is right. This type of failure wants to ensure its own success. This type of failure will not take no for an answer… well, it won’t take a yes. It is expecting a no.
Funny how this creeps up, silently reaches around and slaps you across the face when you least expect it. Maybe the different types of failures can communicate with each other?
“Hey, listen up! Subject is experiencing unrelated setback. The time is now. Take it if you can. Strike, do your thing, but you better remember me when the time comes!”
I’m sitting in front of my sewing machine, a massive pile of snuggle flannel on my lap, being poked by stick pins randomly as I move the pile of material around to allow me to continue my work, with the clock running backwards. Yes. Time has actually reversed itself. I am going backwards. What should have been a completed project by now, or close to being done, has literally taken a 90-degree turn for the worse. I am deeply in thought, thoughts required to undo the damage that had been done by failing to read the proper measurement off the pattern chart I had meticulously drawn on my iPad. The road map to finding my way through territory I know almost nothing about. I’m shooting from the hip, learning as I go. I jump every time I prick myself and as I suck on one of my assaulted fingers, I notice that I have tears running down my cheeks and I just feel awful. Depressed would probably be the proper term to use. What the hell? I don’t know what and I don’t know how, but it seems that I am running the risk of dissolving into snot and water. I finally get up, toss the cursed pile of 100% cotton on my desk and have myself a good girl moment.
Another setback. Yeah. Didn’t pay attention, didn’t double-check, and here I am having wasted three hours already, have pricked myself so many times that I gave up on pinning my work altogether; and somehow have realized — through some weird associative moment — that I am maxed out on setbacks. I can’t take them anymore. I want to quit. I really do. I want to quit all this nonsense and not worry about it anymore.
I cannot operate without proper motivation. I haven’t been to the gym in over five months. Ever since I had a cold and felt weak for a few weeks. I hadn’t bothered going back, because subconsciously I knew that the reason for me working out in the first place is pretty stupid.
What the hell was I thinking?!?
I also found something out about myself: Although I despise absolutes, I need definity. Yes, I know it’s not a proper word, but I’m using it anyway. “Definitive” doesn’t fit, even though it can be used as a noun. I like “definity”. Infinity is a word, so why can’t definity? Oh well. It should be pretty clear as to what I’m getting at: I hate doing stuff that’s “just in case” or preparing myself for something that may never happen. I don’t like doing shit for no reason, in other words. That’s why I hate endless drills and training (learned that one in the military: all worked up and nobody to kill and nothing to blow up). That’s why I hate working out. Stepping on a treadmill and running in place for 45 minutes isn’t my idea of a good time, neither does it seem very beneficial (at that moment) and it damn sure is boring as hell. Now give me some focus and I’ll have the thing smokin’ by the time I get off of it. I have lost my focus, because every time it seems that I take a step in the right direction, I’ll end up two steps back.
The question: how do you overcome this dilemma? How do you keep on keeping on, even though you have no clue if it’ll ever pay off in the end, or if you are putting yourself, your family, your wallet, your own sanity through the wringer for it.
How do you tell the person, who tells you that you’ve gone way too far… no, correction: have come way too far to throw in the towel now? How do you tell them that you don’t want to do it anymore. Even though they have sacrificed more than expected or required of their own dream to make yours a reality? How do you quit when you really don’t want to, but believe you have to for your own sanity’s sake? I’ve tried quitting before, and I was told that failure was not an option. That we are a team and I am not quitting, because I don’t really want to. Quitting is the equivalent of not being patient. But it’s more than that. I can’t see how it is even possible.
Maybe I’m asking the wrong question here…
How in the hell do you work through setback after setback and keep on going???
If anybody knows the secret, please let me know. Because, I am freakin’ tired and I can see myself totally doing the proverbial face-plant inches before the proverbial finish line after just having run the proverbial marathon.
What the hell was I thinking?!?
Q: And what are you talking about anyway? WTF?!?
A: I void warranties.