This past week one of the greatest people I’ve met through vintage racing passed away. Bob was the current +70 Intermediate champ. Yeah, that’s right, at least 70 years old and still racing dirtscooters. He rode many different disciplines, I was fortunate enough to be on the gate with him more than once. I know he always looked forward to that…and I did as well. He crashed while racing his vintage bike recently and passed away from the injuries sustained. And here’s where my personal dilemma comes in to play. I’ve known people, riders, great riders that have crashed and died while riding, but it was always on modern bikes. I’d somehow convinced myself that vintage racing is safer because we’re not going as fast, not jumping as far or as high. Right? I mean, it makes sense to me. So when this happens to a fellow racer, competitor and friend.. well, it makes me question what I do. I hope that’s the natural process of things. And I would guess it is. After a talk with a good friend… my travelling partner, my sponsor I’ve come to this conclusion….
I race because I enjoy it. I love the competition, the sound of the bikes, the smell of that two stroke exhaust. The way that I still get those butterflies in my stomach on race morning, the excited nervousness I feel while sitting on the gate and the way the whole world slows down when the gate drops. I love the way it all happens in slow motion as I try to focus on keeping the throttle twisted, slipping the clutch out to try and find that perfect balance between throttle and clutch that delivers the most traction…. hopefully hooking up well enough to get to the first turn in front of everyone else. And on the occasions I do get the holeshot, I’m always so excited..often feeling like I could just pull over and get off the bike there. Except, I’m a racer at heart. I can’t do it. I have to finish.
And, I race because it has allowed me the opportunity to meet people like Bob Adams. A retired professor from Kentucky, someone who had fought cancer and won. Someone who enjoyed racing for all the same reasons I do. Someone who you meet and you know, you just know he’s one of the good ones. RIP Bob.. I’ll miss that smile. I’ll miss seeing you on the gate or riding around the pits with your cup of scotch. I’m not a scotch drinker, but we will toast you at Unadilla and wish you were there… but somehow I know you will be.
I was a little disappointed in myself to sort through pictures and not find any of Bob. But I guess, well, I have pictures in my head. So I’ll share a couple of from EZ Jim’s race last September. Bob was there, of course… and we had a great time visiting.