Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pikes Peak 2016; Wrenching not racing

So there I was, sitting in the exact same spot that I had last seen Hot Carl alive one year prior. Instead of strapping on my helmet and gloves this year, I was checking tire pressure and taking the tire warmers off of a Ducati Multistrada that I had spent the last six weeks prepping for Paul Baleta with the Speed Therapy blog. As I watched him take off on the same upper practice section that last year had ended Carl's life. I could not help but feel some cold rocks in my gut. A few minutes after he left my sight the red flag came out. I kept my cool but on the inside I was burning metal on metal. Oscar, our Pirelli guy finally walked away from the marshal and then straight to me. His face was as sharp and cold as angle iron. "It's Baleta" he said, "He has gone off".  I kept composure but on the inside my pistons were siezing and I could feel a big end rod bearing start to knock. All the possible bolts I could have left loose danced in my brain. I waited more. Watching all the other mechanics watch me. Watching Jim, the director who scolded me for even showing up as crew after my banishment. I could feel eyes from all directions on me as I waited. And then there appeared my rider on the back of a sweep riders bike, safe and sound.   Racing is not for the faint of heart. Outcome: No crash: Good. Snapped crankshaft: Bad. We sourced a replacement engine. Imperial was on the ball about getting it done and making magic happen. In the mean time we dusted off my ol 450 2012 winning record setter junk yard beauty and gave paul his first experience on a supermoto for the Ws practice day. He was setting times faster than all but two of the other supermotos. The new engine back in the Big Red Duck ran good for Paul on his second day practicing the upper section. It was Thursday. And again it was very hard to not dwell on what gone down last year on Thursday practice near the summit. With out loss it is hard to appreciate gain. The smile on Paul's face, the new and welcome camaraderie, and the whole experience of racing on Pikes Peak kept me positive and some how an understanding of why I value my lifestyle more than any other I could imagine. Friday's qualifying/ bottom section of practice went well. It was a bit frustrating to see the lack of runs the riders were allowed but again, just seeing how much fun Paul, as a rookie was having more than made up for any bitter feelings I had towards the race and put things into perspective. Paul raced to a respectable 11:21 earning himself 4th in the Heavy Weight class. As soon as I watched his transponder cross the finish line I jumped on my borrowed street bike and booked it off the mountain. I really don't know if I will ever be back. If only I could find another patch of race track that pulls on my throttle cable so and affords my wallet... I reckon the future is what we make it to be. Thanks Paul, It was a huge honor to put together and prep your bike and a lot of fun being on the race week crew!!


Paul said...

Yo Travis! It's been an absolute privilege for me to experience it with you on my side. Thank you so much for all your time, hard work, help, support, coaching, company, humor, patience... sorry that I caused concern. It's been a truly memorable life experience. THANK YOU!!!!

Khloe said...

Sick photos, thanks for the post.