Contrary to the current lifestyle rage of quitting your blood sucking job for a life of adventure, after (and actually during) college, I pursued and accomplished all my dreams of adventure before the age of 25-I swam with wild dolphins, climbed glaciers, spent a year surfing the south pacific, show jumped horses, snowboarded all over the world, lived in three different countries, learned a foreign language (German) and supported it all by living a total minimalist lifestyle working on boats and ships, in restaurants, in youth hostels, as a SCUBA diver, as a dressage instructor or whatever worked at the time and fit into my travel schedule to support myself. I read a ton of books and never had a TV–to this day I have never seen an episode of Friends–nonetheless, after a while I felt like my brain was disintegrating.
So in a really backward move, in view of others’ dreams of chucking it all and moving to an island, I moved from the island I was living on at the time (Maui) back to my roots (California) to pursue more difficult ventures than vagabonding around the world on nearly nothing: I went to graduate school and pursued a professional life, something I had never had. I had never even worked in an office before. The usual stuff followed-I bought a house, adopted pets, had a successful career, and got married. Which were all dreams of mine (actually the marriage thing was optional), and gave me more purpose than just trying to live an easy and carefree and sometimes meaningless life.
But also during that time, and this is kind of where this long story begins, I started racing motorcycles. And this changed my life more than anything–More than home ownership or money or marriage.
Racing became the center of my and my husband John-Mark’s life. All of our goals, travel, money,
focus, effort, sweat and tears went into racing. It brought me the highest highs and lowest lows I had ever felt in my life. Even spectating was exciting I discovered- being up close to the bikes and the noise and the competition was something surprisingly moving and emotional, with an added bonus of it being something I could share with my dad. He and I attended every World Superbike and later MotoGP race at Laguna every year for ten years.
I even attribute racing to pulling me out of the fog of shock and trauma I was in for months–after racing took the life of my husband. Somehow, two months after his death, I landed a gig at the annual MotoGP round at Laguna Seca in 2008, working as a tire and fuel tester in the Fiat Yamaha garage of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. The bikes and the excitment and the newness of the experience pulled me out of my autopilot survival mode and into the moment. I did it again at the Indianapolis GP, in the same garages, and again – I felt totally alive.
I had already been forced to see that very, very few problems or stresses in life truly matter, and so in a move that also allowed me to escape dealing with others who would not, or more probably did not know how to, acknowledge my loss and sadness, I left the US to pursue my new dream career–to work in MotoGP.
After several false starts, flash forward to last year when I was offered a job as a journalist at the MotoGP headquaters in Barcelona, my home for the last three and a half years. It was my second try for the job, so of course I took it. And it has been exciting and interesting and also a lot of hard work with some very long days and nights in the office. But I have gotten to experience things like today–Participating in a dirttrack race with Jorge Lorenzo, fans, journalists and pro riders at the ex-Kenny Roberts track after my cameraman and I first interviewed him for a story. Awesome opportunity and great experience–which may, though I hope it won’t be, be my last like it.
This is my final week at Dorna. It was a tough decision and I’m quite sad about it, but I am leaving. After learning there would be almost no work at the races for me this year, and the fact that I am already burning out on office hours and a daily commute, I gave notice. (Missing the first race in ten years in 2011 because I was working in the office in Spain didn’t sway me the side of staying either. I don’t want to miss another year of being with my father and brother and friends for our annual summer ride together to and from the races in Monterey.)
I am so grateful to have had this experience, though I have now come full circle and want to leave office life, even if it means leaving the most popular, exciting and pretigious motorcycle racing organization in the world. Though I’m not leaving my dream job to laze around on beaches or travel the world-I’ve already done that. What this move means is that I can go back to being directly involved with what I love and not just writing about it from an office. And that is the thing that has turned my life around so many times- racing.