Besides racing motorcycles professionally, I work part time and I’m a student. This semester I’m taking a public speaking course for transfer credits and recently we were given kind of an odd prompt: Deliver a speech about your best moment ending with the line “…and that’s when I knew I was at my best”. Weird. I really can’t think of a time where I can look back and think “Yeah, that’s when I was at my best”. And of course your perspective changes as time goes on. Maybe it’s just me being too hard on myself, but I’m not a little kid anymore and my threshold for greatness, if you will, is set pretty high.
Most things in my life happen around motorcycle racing. That’s my world. Motorcycle racing, to quote Michael Welch, is “the least rewarding sport in the universe”. Again, that’s a matter of perspective, but it’s true for someone who’s serious about the sport. Racing, at its core, is about getting the machine around the track as fast as is physically possible. That’s the goal, but the implication there is perfection. And that’s an unreasonable expectation because things don’t usually work out perfect.
Even if things go well, even if you win in road racing, the feeling of accomplishment is often tainted by the pursuit of perfection. Obviously winning is all that matters and even if you had to struggle it was still good enough. But good enough, that’s not what you’re after. If you had been perfect, maybe you wouldn’t have had to fight for that win. If you hadn’t made that mistake, if the setup was better suited to the conditions, or any number of things. Always striving for perfection.
There are plenty of times when I’ve felt accomplishment in racing, but there’s not a single time that I would say I was at my best. Ive been close though, and to put it in that perspective gives it justification. I think that at any moment I’m in a position to strive for perfection is when I’m at my best.