Dear Diary... A glimpse into the pages of a journal written by a woman rider.
August 1, 2009
What a ride! I actually rode my Glide around one of the fastest tracks on the Nascar circuit... Talladega Super Speedway! What a rush!
Our good friend D, came up early this morning from PC and joined us for a run up to the track so we could participate in the March of Dimes Bikers For Babies fund raising event. The day turned out beautiful, with an overcast sky and temps in the high 80's. The three of us are big Nascar fans so we were pretty psyched to get there and run this ride. We've discussed the subject before... of getting on this track and having our way with her and today was our opportunity.
My ride getting there was full of anxious anticipation and I could hardly contain my excitement as the miles clicked off and brought us closer and closer to Talladega. Once we arrived, registration requirements were met and dollars donated, then we went right to the staging area and placed ourselves in line.
While we waited in the line-up to enter the speedway, my stomach was fluttering with a thousand butterflies. I didn't know what to expect, but I was eager to get out there and really see and feel this track... up close and personal. The closer we got to the front, the more frantic those butterflies got. Watching the man at the front of the line, I felt my smile grow wide when I saw him raise his right hand high in the air and give our group the "let 'em roll!" signal. Woo Hoo... here we go!
The lead bike was going take us around for three laps and maintain a speed of around 65 mph. We were not allowed to pass him or go above the yellow line (I must have missed that part) but otherwise, the track was ours. The formation left the pit area and as we approached the first turn I turned my head and had to look almost straight up. Boy, was it steep! It was like looking up the side of a giant concrete irrigation ditch. We were all still on the bottom flat part of the track as we got up to speed and tried to get ourselves spaced out a bit so we could take the track at our own pace. Coming out of turn two and heading down the back stretch gave us the opportunity to fan out a little bit and one of the volunteer track riders rolled up next to us and gave us the "speed up" signal. Hell... you don't have to tell me twice!
As I came into turn three I was just above the yellow line in the first lane on the track, but because I was only going about 65 mph., it felt a little unstable. I remembered at that moment, while talking to a track volunteer during our lunch, that when you ride into the turns at this track, you have to maintain a higher speed because of the steepness. I rolled on the throttle a little more and even though it felt better, I came back down to the flat because I was catching up the rider in front of me pretty fast.
Finding myself back around on the front stretch, my first lap gone, I'm thinking... okay, let's do this right! I fan out to the right, this time lagging a little so the lead rider could get further ahead of me. As I approached the first turn for the second time, I lined myself up in the first lane on the track and as the flatness of the front stretch started to slope into the turn, I gave it more throttle. I'm probably doing about 75 mph in the turn this time and it felt much more stable while riding on the severe slant of the track. I was able to maintain my speed coming down the back stretch and turns three and four also proved to be a lot more fun at the higher speed. Lap two gone!
At this point, I'm feeling nothing but the need for more speed and I'm having a blast! During my first two laps around, I noticed other riders take their machines high in the turns, just for the thrill of doing so. As I was in the middle of turn three during this second lap, a rider passed me riding the third lane on the track, right up next to the wall. I had to look almost straight up to see him and he had to be doing 90 mph or better! I could see the entire underneath surface of his wheels as he was literally riding on his sidewalls! It reminded me of the rabbit on the dog track... I just couldn't see the bar that was holding him up there!
H and I slowed down just a little bit and rode side by side for a few seconds on the front stretch as we readied ourselves for turn one again. He hollered over to me, "Did you see that guy point at us and tell us to get down below the line?" I'm shaking my head no thinking, what guy? He just grinned and shook his head.
Okay... last lap, let's make it count! Now, bigger circles means more distance... more distance means faster speeds before you catch up to someone. I decided right then and there, I'm taking the turns in the second lane this time. I get my self positioned and as I approach the turn I'm giving it more throttle. Being in the second lane looks a bit more scary cause it feels and looks like your riding on the side of a wall.
My ride into turns three and four for the last time was my climatic moment! The last time I looked at the speedometer as I entered turn three it read 86 mph. I gave it just a little more throttle as I held firm in my lane riding fast and steady. I found myself feeling giddy as a school girl at the reality that I'm actually covering the same ground as some of my Nascar favorites like Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and my all time racing hero, Bill Elliott. I was having the time of my life! As I rode out of turn four and the track started to flatten out again, I saw a track volunteer come up to the right of me and waved to me that my three laps were up. I gave him a nod accompanied with a shit eatin' grin and slowed my bike so I could enter the pit area with the rest of the riders. Woo Hoo... it was awesome!!
I've always wanted to participate in a driving school and run this track, but the fact that I tackled the super speedway with my Glide first, was euphoric! It wasn't until we were sharing a beer at the Indian Hills Motorcycle resort in Rockford about an hour later, that H, D, and I talked about our exciting experience. They gave me a hard time for getting scolded... twice, but I don't seem to remember that. I thought that dude was just giving me a friendly wave... I guess I was having too much fun to realize I was getting in trouble.
I have till next time to find out what is required of me to become a track volunteer. I want to be the one that cruises the track all day and tells everyone else to stay below the yellow line. Haha! If I have my way, I'll be riding high in Talladega... again!