This Saturday was the annual OMRRA Vintage Days at Portland International Raceway. All kinds of mayhem occurred all day, most of which, between racing and fretting about racing, I missed. My class is 250 Vintage [corrected!], and in that class, for some reason, the Vintage Days tradition is to do a Le Mans start.
( LE MANS TYPE START MOTORCYCLE RACE )
In a normal race, you just form a grid, bikes running, everybody alert and pointed toward the first turn, and when the green flag drops you take off. But Le Mans is more complicated, and much more comical. Someone holds your bike, engine dead, at the inside wall of the track, and you line up across from it on the other side of the track. A gun goes off, you run to the bike, hop on, bump start it and go.
In practice, if you're me, you kind of stumble toward the bike, only belatedly realizing how hard it is to run in tight leather pants, motorcycle boots and a helmet. You take a moment to grin at your awesome bike holder, then struggle to throw a leg over the seat and start duck-walking as fast as you can with the clutch pulled in, bike in second gear. You have short legs, so this looks ridiculous and doesn't work very well. Eventually you reach a speed that seems promising. You let out the clutch. Nothing happens. You do this three times, until everyone else in the race has safely gone ahead, and then at last when you let out the clutch the bike roars to life and you go.
(Actually, on the second race of the day I got a really good start, first try. But that's rare, for me. Some people can run along beside the bike to get it up to speed, then hop onto it while moving, with a fluid grace I've never approached in any endeavor and am damned sure not going to try in front of a crowd.)
A novel thing about the Saturday morning race is that I had someone to chase. Usually I'm at the back all by myself, just trying to catch sight of the second-to-last guy, hoping the race leaders don't pass me until the whole thing's almost over, so I get to see how it ends. (Have I mentioned that I'm extremely slow? Smooth! But terribly, tragically slow.) But this time, there was a guy whose bike maybe wasn't running too well, or maybe he was just taking it easy, enjoying the scenery (we have ospreys!), and at some point during the race, to my surprise, I passed him. Fun! (Pretty sure he passed me right back, but I only remember the fun part.)
In the afternoon race I was even slower than I'd been in the morning. But as every single living human I've encountered at the racetrack has said to me, Hey, at least I'm out there. (I don't really know what this means. Good try? I think it's a nice thing to say, but I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense if you think about it.)
Anyway. Things that fell off my bike include:
* the bellypan;
* the bolt in the middle of this photo (glamour shot by Scott Elder), directly beneath the SeeSee smiley face.
(I can't help but wonder how it fell off without my noticing. It's a large bolt. Surely I would've noticed a large bolt hitting me in the face at speed. Maybe, as Patrick has suggested, it was never really there at all.)
Things that did not fall off my bike on Saturday include: me, so that's nice.
I did walk away with a massively uncool sunburn, the short-sleeve farmer's-tan variety, and a brand-new hideous burn scar on my forearm, from the tailpipe. Which is great, because the old scar from the first time I burned my forearm on the tailpipe in the exact same place had just faded. I do enjoy continuity.
(I was going to post a photo of the disgusting blister that blobbed up over the tailpipe burn, but it's too gross. I have standards. I'll wait until it pops.)
Here's a rare shot of me near a fellow racer. I can't remember if I was passing him or he was passing me, but the smart money's on the latter.
And another just for fun:
Still not looking cool enough to actually buy the photos.
Also, I think I need a fairing.
Well, I probably won't have another race until August, so those of you bored to tears by all this nonsense but too polite to say so are in for a reprieve. Enjoy!