California Superbike School

Here it is at last. My write up about Superbike School, long awaited by some of you (you know who you are). :P


Some of you might recall that I was signed up to do the two day camp of California Superbike School last June, but I did the idiot thing and signed up for a NESBA trackday weekend at Pacific Raceways in early June, just so that I would have a bit of track experience that year before I went out to learn from the pros. As it turns out, I crashed in the last five minutes of the first day partly because a control rider cut me off and mostly because I target fixated, did the squidly thing, panicked, gave in to my survival reaction, used up my $10 of survival time, whatever you want to call it. I went down with the bike on me, still holding on to the handlebars because I’d never learned how to crash, and ended up with a broken finger, two torn ligaments, a busted right knee and a badly bruised shin. Two surgeries fixed the finger and the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), staying off of the leg helped heal the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), months of physiotherapy helped heal some of the scars, but I still have the busted knee and what they say is permanent nerve damage to my shin. Needless to say, I couldn’t do the school last year and had to cancel my spot, because the surgeons looked at me like I was mad when I asked them what dates I could sign up for that year. “You’re going to get back on that death machine again?”

And as a corollary, a couple of months after my surgeries, while I still had splints on both hands, I crashed my car when I failed to yield at a green light and turned left in front of an oncoming car – that old classic that kills thousands of my kind every year, now I had upon my head.

Last year is long gone, it’ll be almost a year since the day I first crashed, but while time has cured some of the physical injuries, my mental trauma refused to go away no matter what I tried. I’ve never talked or written about it much, because bikers aren’t supposed to be afraid, or if they are, nobody talks about it. If you’re scared, just park the fucking bike and walk, right? And for a while there, I even wondered to myself… why not? Park it, and you’ll be free of it. Maybe then all the nightmare scenarios that go on in your head every time you ride will finally go away. There’s other things you could do to find meaning in your life, like collect newts or something. People do it all the time.

For most of this year, all the riding plans I’d made have been less than half-hearted. I made them because they were things I was meant to do last year, but never got to do. Everything that I planned was more because I wanted to make up for the year I had lost rather than it being driven by any real desire or motivation. Even Superbike School I signed up for partly because I was meant to do it last year.