Come calm

The crowd is the gathering place of the weakest; true creation is a solitary act. – Charles Bukowski

 

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A 1987 New York Times article – “The Racer’s Edge: A Strong Psyche” quoted an issue of Psychology Today magazine: “There seems to be no slowing down our on-going love affair with the car,” and it’s the same way for me and dirt bikes. I’ve had “an enchantment” with motorcycles ever since I can remember; it’s how I was drawn to my profession and one of the many reasons for so many miles on my truck.

The article quotes study after study of what it takes to be a champion “things far greater than time, money and desire … and much more than a lucky break,” and the distinct psychological strengths necessary to drive competitively: “a champion driver is easily distinguished by his mental and personal characteristics, testing higher in such categories as self-sufficiency, calmness, intelligence and emotional stability.”

Another study compared the mental differences between novice drivers and nationally licensed sports car racing drivers at the Sports Car Club of America driving school – “The licensed drivers had higher abstract ability, more emotional stability, more highly developed consciences, more boldness, more self-assurance, more tough-mindedness, more resistance to emotional stress, more creativity and higher leadership potential. These differences are all the more remarkable because the novice driver trainees possessed an almost identical profile, differing only in terms of degree on each of the traits.”

You don’t need a study to tell you that championship enduro racing does not appeal to most people, (mainly just the 800 riders who pre-enter every race months in advance.) Enduros are long and tiring with unpredictable conditions and a huge amount of alone time, which is precisely why it suits my nature.

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Lately, I’ve found myself opting out of group rides in favor of a solo session. After all, I don’t need anyone to ride my dirt bike for me anymore (except in Colorado); I know where I’m going, and I’m in complete control when I’m by myself as far as speed and distance are concerned – sometimes, riding with others becomes more of a burden, especially when I only get one on-the-bike training day per week; either I’m in the underdog situation, or I’m barely breaking a sweat.

In Florida, the pros of riding by myself in the woods outweigh the cons. Unlike in the mountains where I won’t ride solo for fear of falling off of a mountain never to be seen again, the biggest problem with riding the Florida sand by myself is having to pick my own lines while avoiding the four-foot-deep whooped out quad trails. This search for the smoothest, fastest line, I’ve noticed, makes me feel like I’m in race mode when I don’t know what to expect around each corner. When I’m training behind someone faster than me, I can naturally settle in and let my focus be on my line choice behind the leader without wasting energy determining our direction. Out front, I’m forced to lead (and believe in) myself.

“…many are probably wondering if they could do it. No doubt some of them could. And no doubt they are special and few.

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