I was just sitting here, thinking about the events at today's Isle of Man TT. With the tragic death of racer Daley Mathison and the lack of huge financial prizes for winners at the TT, it got me thinking. Now I'm not going to say these racers, both men and women are crazy adrenaline junkies. They're not. It may be a small aspect of it, but that isn't the main reason they road race on closed circuits. Any moron with a need for an adrenaline rush can jump on a motorcycle and twist their wrist, sending them rocketing down a public road like a maniac. Hell-bent for leather as they fly low over the roadway without a care or a brain in their head except going fast.
I know, I can still remember riding up and down the twisting two-lane highway of US101 along Hoods Canal on an old chopped BSA with an extended front end, and no rear suspension (and no front brakes for that matter) doing 110 mph or so. If a deer or God forbid, an elk, crossed the road in front of me, I'd have been toasted spam on the highway. But it didn't matter. I was flying, and just living in the moment. Where nothing else mattered, except that instant, and the next instant was whatever it would bring with it. I loved it, and still, get nostalgic thinking about those days sometimes.
But the road racers at the TT; they aren't like that. They do, truly love to go fast on the road circuit. But it's controlled. Or at least controlled to a fine degree that a simple adrenaline junkie wouldn't even stand for. Months of physical exercise and training to build stamina, and strength, and reflexes. They don't even practice on the closed road circuit if it's raining (Hell, they don't even bring rain gear or "wet" tires with them), let alone race in the rain anymore. They push their skills to the limit, and they push their machines. Knowing if either one breaks in practice, or even worse in a real race, they may die. But they have done everything possible to reduce that risk to an extreme degree. However, the fact is, that risk is real and remains a part of road racing. They've taken the safety as nearly far as it can go, and they accept the risk they are taking. For the love of it, and the competition of it. And yes, for the thrill of it too.
The road racers who participate in the Isle of Man TT aren't insane adrenaline junkies. They are motorcyclists who love to ride their bikes to their limit and enjoy the pleasure and freedom of doing so on the longest and most intensely challenging road circuit in the world. All 37.7 miles of it. Most motorcyclists can understand that feeling; that need, to ride and feel the road rushing past them. To some greater or lesser degree I think everyone who truly loves riding their motorcycle understands and knows this feeling at some deep level.
My heart goes out to the wife and young daughter of Daley Mathison. This sudden realization that the reaper awaits us all along our path and we know not when our number will come up. The risk and danger of death is a given to motorcycle road racers and their families. Still, it is always a tragedy when a motorcyclist dies doing what they love so deeply. A tragedy, and yet...I can't think of a better way to leave this life, than doing something I love so much.
I send my prayers for comfort and compassion for this young family now in the depths of sorrow. Prayers for healing and joy as well. But those prayers are no less than I say every night for those who ride, and sadly many have died while just riding their motorcycles and so deeply enjoying the life that God gave them. It's not just adrenaline junkies and professional road racers, but everyone who lives to ride these machines we love. I say a prayer for all of us, and still, I thrill to ride, and to watch the TT. I hope that I always will.
As the old adage used to go; "If I have to explain it, you'd never understand."
Ride In Peace Daley.
Catch you on the road sometime...