By Dennis Dumapias
2018 had a rough start to the year.
By the time the month of March rolled around I was mentally, emotionally, and physically reeling from the most trying time of my life that I can remember to date.
I remember sleepless nights. And when I did finally fall asleep, cold sweats would eventually drench me awake again. I remember just walking unaware through my daily regimen. I remember stepping on a scale and seeing a number flash that I haven’t seen since I was a teenager, the physiological toll to my physical self. So it was still the furthest thing from my mind to even look forward to hitting the track on my bike again. I didn’t even know if I’d still fit properly into my trusted racing suit; that alone was legitimately worrisome.
Our first official event at Z2 Trackdays for the year was our annual Easter Sunday event at Sonoma on April 1st, which is probably the latest start to a track season we’ve had that I can remember. Still, even if the first quarter of the year was already done, I still wasn’t sure if I was ready to finally be out on track. In fact, I was supposed to start the season a lot sooner than this. I was going to help a friend who organized a private trackday down at Buttonwillow Raceway in February by staffing his event, but with the month of February being the brunt of the turbulent start to my year, I apologetically excused myself when I simply did not feel safe enough to be operating a bike around a track at high speeds and high-intensity intervals.
But I knew I had to get back on the track eventually, much like I had to find a way to get back to my day-to-day living. I was hesitant as our Sonoma event rolled closer, but at least no longer apprehensive or feeling like it was still ill-advised. There was a risk of being distracted, maybe. Perhaps just a little. But not enough to not hop back on the saddle.
And that’s the funny thing about being back behind the windscreen, the world flying past me again.
It reminds me of the order in the chaos I don’t sometimes see.
It didn’t take long for me to feel at ease on the bike out on track again, maybe all of half the lap it took for me to warm up my well-used tires. Call it muscle memory, call it survival instinct, or simply that which has become second nature to me, slow-dancing with my R1 around Sonoma Raceway’s intricacy. The visceral feedback from the experience of being out on track on my machine, thoughts rushed into me along with the wind to remind me of just how to gain control again of the world around me.
Slow it all down, and move with intent. A racetrack itself – much like life – may change in time with its cracks and ruts and bumps, all of which may have gotten worse and unbearable that they force you to change your lines just so you can continue to navigate your way around. But that’s road racing; that’s life. You know you still need to keep moving forward and though it can get so rough, you can’t just stop. You just need to keep going. And while you may need to adjust yourself as the years keep changing the challenges within the same track, you’ll find a way to do it. As you have already done in the past to get to where you find yourself now.
How ironic that I was so reluctant to get back on the track, when it was all I needed to get myself back on track.