Reader Story: If You Want to Test Your Limits

Take it to the track

By Faye Coker, Britton, Michigan

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How many of you are braggin of draggin the Dragon? Doing a buck forty on the interstate? Best wheelie? While lane-splitting? Timing the lights just right? Why are you still riding on the street? We have all found ourselves in a foolish situation on a street bike. The danger of being stalked by a crazed, sleep-deprived semi-driver swerving to miss granny on her meds. Dropping a knee in the corner to discover the corner is full of gravel. Sliding sideways on wet leaves at a stop sign. I can’t imagine wasting time on a street bike. All I want is to go from track to track – in any kind of weather.

Faye on the track, looking into the turn.

Im a gypsy of the tracks, a racer wannabee. Sleeping under the stars, waiting for the sun to rise and burn the dew off the track. Starting with a prayer, a fresh set of tires and a new dose of adrenaline. Keep in mind as I paint this idyllic picture that I camp in hotels, still have the OEM Bridgestone tires my 2007 Suzuki GSXR 600 came with, and drink Low Carb Monster Energy Drinks to pass as adrenaline until my own wakes up.

Tracks are also dangerous. It is an extreme sport. Equipment failure and rider error can be devastating and fatal. We all know of several people who died as a result of their injuries this past year or who will never walk or ride again. The difference to me is the support available, the ability to choose your level of riding and racing, and to be able to concentrate on the same fixed parameters lap after lap. Smoother and faster each time around. You cannot do that on the street. You cant find out where your limits are or what you’re capable of doing because there are too many changing variables. Too many things nibbling away at your attention, distracting you from how the bike is responding, how the person in front of you is riding, whether the car ahead will make that turn in front of you or go straight. Is there an on-coming vehicle around the corner of that spectacular view will they be on your side of the yellow line? The surprise of crossing county lines and having a smooth, paved, gorgeous road turn into something blasted by asteroids.

Faye at right at the line on race day.

Ive never been the cause of or involved in a red flag incident at the track. Ive high-sided and cracked up a collarbone. Ive low-sided and cracked up the fiberglass. Each time there was someone right there, right away to help me. I didnt have to wait 30 minutes for emergency support. After a day at the track I am totally satisfied, totally stoked and totally exhausted. Its awesome.

If I hurt myself at the track or the weather turns bad, I go to my car to decide what to do next. I can have a friend drive me home if I’m really shaky. I cant do that in rural West Virginia, sport-touring the back roads.

When winter sets in and ice and salt cover the roads, I begin my yearly descent into self-doubt and skepticism about my ability to move my butt around on a bike, let alone a track. Forget about competing in Fasttrax next year! The track days and knee-dragging of the past summer were obviously a series of fortunate flukes; anomalies not to be repeated or enjoyed ever again. Clearly it is time to return to my staid and more appropriate dreams of sport-touring across the Smokies and riding the back-road twisties of West Virginia. Enjoy the endless autumn of perfect temperatures and beautiful scenery, the camaraderie of my sport bike buddies and the serenity of the open road, the trucks, cars, animals, potholes, near-misses and gravel-edged, unfamiliar, rain-slicked roads. A day on the streets can be fun, but it’s also stressful and kind of lonely. Even with friends.

I love to ride. I love to ride really fast. I love to have my picture taken while riding really fast. Priorities are supposed to be faith, family then work. Motorcycles put me on this side of Heaven between me and my family. Its just the way it is. Sometimes my family understands. I give thanks to God because I know He understands my heart. And the heart I have for other motorcyclists. If youre like me, take it to the track.

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