Spending the weekend doing something that Domenico loves was amazing. As I said yesterday, spending time immersing yourself in someone else’s passion shows you more about the person than you may even understand. When I met him, I immediately heard about the moto hobby. Hobby is such the wrong word, but it is the best I can do.
He rode. He rode on track days. He instructed. He rode on track days. He built motos. He helped others with their motos. He got his wife into motos. Motos are significant in his life. I knew that.
But, I didn’t really know that.
The week leading up to the trip out into the middle of nowhere to a track literally in the middle of nowhere was this combinations of building excitement mixed with anxiety. He was bouncy….which is interesting to see given he is not the kind of man who you would describe as bouncy. Our text messages and IMs were sprinkled with the to-do list to get ready for the weekend. Motos to fine tune. Motorhome to go get and ready for the weekend. Food to buy. Gear to find. And even as the list built, his excitement seemed to build with it.
So Friday, after a delay due to a last minute “emergency” request of him at work, we piled into the motorhome and began our trip to the track. Otherwise known as sailing in the motorhome as to say our trip was windy would not be fair to the wind. It was a tad bit gusty on our drive – more so than usual. But we made it with only a minor issue when the motorhome decided to sail by unfurling its outside canopy during a huge gust.
We made it there just in time for the sunset and moon rise behind the silhouettes of Mt Hood and Mt Adams. Gorgeous.
As we are sitting there eating, someone pulled in next to us. The joke directed at Domenico as they drove by made me realize they were friends of his.
“Where’s Lili?” was the first question they asked.
Excuses were made, introductions were made, and the conflict began. The conflict they were clearly having over wanting to know what is really going on with Lili. A different girl, her kids, and Domenico – no wife in sight….there was clearly confusion with regards to everything. Domenico and I simply chuckled at it.
This was not the first time this happened. Over the course of the couple of days we were there, I was called Lili a few times by people who knew the name, knew she was his wife and assumed that must make me her. A few people they both knew were definitely confused by the relationship and the story. I definitely think we could have fun with this if I get to tag along in the future when Lili attends too.
Sitting there looking at the stars and talking while under a blanket, I couldn’t help but chuckle over the men gathered around their motos, shining them up, displaying them for all to see. Total guy thing. Ooo, ahh, and try to make other jealous of the machine they will have between their legs the next day.
Bed time arrangements created an interesting response with the kids. There are two single beds and the one big bed. We put the girls in the singles. They assumed they would be sleeping together. Nope. The single beds are tiny. Adults don’t fit well. We would share a bed. The kids didn’t bat an eyelash. We all agreed afterward that our kids must have it figured out or have just accepted we all are affectionate with each other and don’t care.
Lili often speaks dreamily of mornings at the track. The sound of the moto engines, the smell of the race fuel, the hot cup of coffee on the cool morning.
I get it. I totally do. We woke up, made coffee, and sat outside taking in the sights and sounds on the cool morning. The excitement was in the air. You could feel the energy.
And Domenico was like a kid on Christmas morning getting to play with his toy.
It was awesome to see.
He unloaded his moto, we got everything else unloaded and the pop-up shade up. He headed off for tech check of the bike and the riders’ meeting.
“I’ll check to see where you can go take pictures,” he commented as he headed out.
He came back with an orange vest and a walkie talkie – “You get free rein of the entire track. Stay out of the impact zones. You know what an impact zone is, right?”
Holy crap! I was in heaven. I got to go wherever I wanted to go. And I have listened to Domenico’s stories enough that I had a pretty good idea of where the impact zones were. A couple of quick questions, and I affirmed I knew.
By this point, the track was hot meaning there were people out there riding. I could have gotten across if I had tried, but I figured I would wait until lunch to do it.
I had hoped to take some photos – but now I got to really take photos. I was thankful I had charged both batteries and brought my laptop.
I was unhappy I did not bring closed toe shoes as there are rattle snake warnings in that area. And lots of tall grass in spots. I made do. I’m cautious but not someone who is going to be let it deter me at the chance to take photos.
Domenico went out for his session – 20 minutes in the advanced group each hour. I learned quickly you could tell the different ability groups. The learning group is slow and working on identifying the twists and turns – finding their lines – on the 2.25 mile track. The control riders (aka instructors) were taking them around giving them advice in the form of hand signals. Each ability group had a different set of rules around passing and such to keep the riders safe. His group can pass away – close in – if they want. While the intermediate group needed to keep a certain distances between bikes.
It was fun watching him out there. Being close enough where you can see him finding his lines through the curves. Seeing him leaning into the curves more and more – leaning the bike at angles that don’t seem right, but is what the bike and tires were made to do. Seeing him shift over on his bike quick, so he could get into position to fly down the straight away.
Riding around the track on a motorcycle isn’t an easy ride as I would learn. The mental fortitude – the focus it requires – is not for the easily distracted or the faint of heart. You lose focus, and you crash. And hopefully it is only you that crashes.
Physically, they are not sitting on the seat very much. They are shifting off the seat getting the motorcycle into the turns, only to come out of the turn, get back on the seat and down into a position to go fast. In parts of the track, they go from one extreme to another. Lean over on one side through one turn, just to quickly shift to the other side to take on the opposite turn. The physical – the mental – you can only think about your ride. Nothing else can creep into the mind.
Crashes happened – but nothing bad. Usually someone missing at turn and landing in a field. They are outfitted in the gear – helmets, leathers, armor, boots and gloves. Everyone that went down got back up, got back onto their bikes, and got back on the track. Only one person could not do it. But more because he fucked up his bike. The worst crash was a guy who tumbled 6-7 times before coming to a stop. He was sore, but fine.
Between his sessions, Domenico and I would talk about how he was feeling about his ride. We talked about the bikes I had seen, or I asked questions. He had some bike issues, but all were fixable – and fix them he did. He was giddy. He was happy. The grin on his face was ever present. And as he got off the track each time, he was a happy boy. He was doing what he loved. It was a great thing to witness and experience first hand.
After the last run of the day, the gear came off, the beer came out – and the stories began. Some were going to stay for day two when they change the direction of the track. Some were packing up and going home. We walked around with our beers in hand checking out the bikes we had seen – and hearing stories about the scrapes and scuffs on the motos from track days past or racing.
We ate, we relaxed, we had the kids racing around on their bicycles. We went and walked the track at dusk as the girls rode ahead on their bikes. He talked through the lines for the next day – getting a read on how to go the counter clockwise direction. And as he did it, his eyes sparkled – his voice was excited – and his pace quickened as he was mentally riding his moto through the twists and turns.
We didn’t walk the entire track, but headed back to sleep. We both slept hard. The next day was short. He was tired. His head wasn’t in it. The course was more technical backwards, and his reactions were not where they needed to be.
I took more photos. And as he passed me going into the pit, he made it clear he was done.
We relaxed, drank a beer out of travel mug as we ate lunch, packed up and headed for home.
We were both relaxed. We were both happy. He got to ride. I got to take photos. And we got to mess with people as to who I was and exactly what our relationship was.
It was a great weekend. A great chance to experience something I had not experienced before.
“Thank you for letting me tag along and share this weekend with you” was my comment as we were driving back home. I genuinely enjoyed seeing that side of him.
So…..who wants to guess how many photos I took over the two days? Let’s just say, I have run out of hard drive space loading them onto my computer. Your hint – I had two CF cards in the camera, and emptied them twice.
There will be a prize to the person who gets it right.