Friday, April 13, 2007

The Strange World of Motorcycle Racers

Motorcycle racers have a "unique" view of the world. Only at the track can you hear the following conversation.

"I heard that Troy had a nasty crash off in turn 4."

"Yeah, he had a nasty highside."

"Is the bike okay?"

"They just brought it in on the truck and its fine. Just some scratches."

"Good. Oh, how's Troy."

"Nothing serious. When the bike snapped back it speared him in the nuts so they took him to the hospital to make sure he's okay. Oh, and his hand got caught under the bike and smashed his hand."

"Anything break?"

"Well, it mangled his pinky pretty good. They had to amputate at the second knuckle, but he should be fine for the next race. Nothing serious."

And sure enough, three weeks later Troy showed up at the track and was the fastest rider in the first practice and qualifying session despite losing 2/3 of the pinky finger on the hand that has to support his weight during braking, hang on during acceleration, and control the throttle. Here's a picture of his stumpy finger and his custom altered glove.

I assure you that this isn't a phenomenon unique to professional racers making millions of dollars. I've raced with a partially healed collar bone. A friend race with his pinky finger pinned in place and went around the entire weekend with his racing glove on because once he got it on he couldn't get it back off. Another racer in my club showed up at a race 3 weeks after breaking his thumb with a pin sticking out of the knuckle and proceeded to pull the pin out with vice grips so that he could get his glove on and race.

Injuries are a part of life when you race motorcycles at the limit and "serious" is generally defined among racers as a permanent inability to race. Most veteran racers have broken many bones and many have suffered some kind of permanent alteration to their anatomy such as missing fingers and toes. One racer lost his right thumb and had his big toe amputated and grafted on to replace the thumb. It's all about priorities. You can race without a big toe, but you have to have a thumb to hold onto the handle bar.

You know that the there must be something to it if people are willing to go to such lengths to get back out on the track.


AZ Awakening said...

Hi Bull, great post. I knew a racer in college and he was just nuts.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Sounds like a fun conversation to overhear. I'd be enjoying myself immensely.