Days of Thunder(hill)

This past week has been a whirlwind.

First, a weekend trip to Las Vegas, which is always like cramming in an entire week in the space of mere hours. James and I had a great time, probably the best trip to Vegas, we collectively agreed. Plenty of relaxation, fun, laughs, and gambling.

But what awaited was much more interesting and eye-opening.

I accompanied James to his very first motorcycle Novice Track School with Keigwins. Back in March, thinking of what a good birthday present might be, I remember thinking that I wanted to do something with regard to his motorcycle, and his constant desire to learn. After surfing a few sites, I realized that perhaps a track day might be the perfect gift.

Wait.

Keigwins offered a comprehensive two-day Novice Track School at a track located about 2 1/2 hours northeast  at Thunderhill Raceway. I decided to email the company, see if it was something that might fit the bill.

It sounded absolutely perfect.

Done.

Fast-forward to this past Sunday night. We travelled along with the Daytona in tow, and we were both excited. I was excited to see James try something completely new, yet something I knew he was completely capable of achieving. James was excited and anxious because this would be his first foray onto a real racetrack. Even with the excitement building, we both knew the danger was real. Very real. While I’m sure the danger was foremost in James’ mind, I actually felt better about him flying around a racetrack at 100+ mph. Why? Well, there are no cars, pedestrians, traffic lights and other distractions found on the street. His motorcycle was built for this. He was built for this. Seemed a perfect fit.

I do sometimes laugh at the irony of it all: I’m a nurse, encouraging my boyfriend to ride FASTER and FASTER around a track.

The morning arrived, bright and crisp. Seemed the day was going to be beautiful for tackling this new endeavor. I remember clearly looking at James as he prepped his bike among the other riders. He was nervous. He was anxious. But, most of all, he looked ready. Ready to push his comfort zone in a controlled and monitored environment.

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I mean, when can you ride your motorcycle at 100+ mph and NOT get a citation?

Soon, he found himself suited up, ready to go. I squeezed his hand, told him to have fun, and off he rode in the direction of other riders.

I made my way near the starter’s stand and watched as all the riders lined up. They were heading out on ‘sighting laps’, which allowed them to familiarize themselves with the track, and more importantly, get out all the jitters and butterflies that undoubtedly resided in many a gut.

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It was at that moment, I began to cry. Hot tears of absolute pride rolled down my face. Here was the man I loved more than anything in this world, heading out to challenge himself in a new and exciting way. He looked good. He looked ready. He looked focused. And I loved him for all of it.

And he was off.

I practically squealed with delight as his bike accelerated through the straightaway.

HE WAS DOING IT! HE WAS DOING IT!

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As the morning progressed, he looked more and more relaxed on his bike. Working with the bike, rather than fighting against it. He looked strong and confident and safe. He was riding within his limits, yet he was safely pushing the envelope.

So beautiful. A rider and their machine. An intricate dance. I was mesmerized.

Around and around they rode. Morning turned into early afternoon. In between 45-minute riding sessions, there were classes offered to not only provide further instructions, but perhaps more importantly this time allowed them a chance to debrief, take a collective deep breath, reflect on what they had just accomplished.

I was blown away. Each time James took the track, I found myself more and more like a soccer mom and less like a girlfriend. I was cheering. I was jumping up and down in the small grandstand. I was rooting for him. I was beyond excited. Many times I caught myself with a lump in my throat and tears filling my eyes.

So. Fucking. Proud.

Here was something that others may find crazy, scary, and/or terrifying, and James was tackling this new endeavor with vigor and enthusiasm.

This is just one of the many qualities I love about him.

This post is less about a motorcycle track school and more about pushing personal boundaries. This post is about LIVING life, rather than simply EXISTING. Life is meant to be lived and should be marked by certain milestones that remind us why we wake up each morning and go to bed each night.

And this was a huge milestone.

I was intensely proud with which James tackled this new challenge. Being there watching allowed me an opportunity to witness it all. I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.

I love this man for a myriad of reasons, only one of which is his intense sense of determination and drive. He reminds me to be humble, to be appreciative, to be open-minded, and most of all to live a life filled with new experiences and refuse to allow life to become a spectator sport.

As the two days progressed, I began to see a new side of James. This new man was excited about a possible new hobby. A new hobby that will undoubtedly make him a better street rider on his motorcycle, and in turn, a better track rider.

I couldn’t be happier.

Or prouder.

Love you, baby.

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One thought on “Days of Thunder(hill)

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