Some racing around town

There is a famous 24 hour race that happens just outside of Barcelona in a village called Lliça D’Amunt. This race has been going on for 32 years and it has put this little village on the map. I’ve been meaning to check this race out for four years. This year, I finally went.

What’s unique about this 24 hour race is that it is an offroad race on 50cc MX bikes, primarily single speed two strokes though a few with gears and 4Ts thrown in, and a course is built every year because there is no track in the town. Teams of four riders begin the race at 7pm on Saturday and end at 7pm on Sunday and are required to switch riders every hour. It’s approached as a “fun” race, and indeed the atmosphere is that of a big party and there is lots of drinking and live music…hence the Saturday evening start. But what happens in between is pretty heavy duty stuff.

Racing is taken pretty seriously here. Sure they have a lot of fun and there is the camaraderie you find in any paddock, but it’s always full of professionals and teams who put it all on the line. This race is no exception, and for as lighthearted and crazy as the race sounds, it is seriously tough. There were 41 teams from all over Europe and a few heavy hitters in the ranks, including  the Spanish MX Championship multi, times champion Javi Garcia Vico, MotoGP (and Gabri’s former) rider Aleix Espargaró and other famous Catalan Motocross and Enduro riders. There was a conspicuous lack of media, (what I thought to be a news helicopter circling at the start was in fact present to give helicopter rides to attendees) which could be explained by saying that a race like this is unique but racing events like this are common.

I did nothing more than spectate, but that in itself was an experience. Here is a little pictorial for you all, enjoy.

24 hours lliça d'Amunt

A quarter of the pit lane.

GP’s rider Aleix from last year was raced it for the first time. And probably the last. He could barely speak on Sunday at the finish.

Team Italia’s camp.

 

Team Italia crew and riders. They quit at noon on Sunday due to fatigue.

Some of the team camp area.

View of the course from the pits. This is normally a flat field and part of a park.

Riders waiting for the start

Did I mention it was a Le Mans start?

First lap.

First lap mud pit.

Long shadows in the first hour.

Hay bale tree bumpers.

Advertisements

I’ve come full circle-I’m leaving my job.

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.

interview with Jorge Lorenzo

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.

DIY motocross races

It’s a crisp cold autumn day in Northern Italy. Summer is over, the fields have been cleared of all the corn, it isn’t raining nor snowing yet, and everyone wants a last hurrah before the motorcycle season is over and the cold winter arrives.

Why not throw an impromptu neighborhood motocross race in one of the neighborhood fields? If you get the word out soon enough, a few volunteers will step forward and before you know it, you’ll have everyone in the neighborhood racing. Just follow these simple guidelines:

  • Erect signs so that people will know where to find the race.

  • Tape off areas for spectators, or find a natural barrier to separate spectators from the track.

  • Tape off a starting grid near the main spectator area for maximum impact.

  • Make sure your volunteer race director wears a timer around his neck to look professional.

  • Hire a food truck for hungry participants.

  • Put a few seats out so elderly spectators can enjoy the races comfortably.

  • Tape off a course tight enough to create some racing action.

  • Provide a jump or two, even if you need to build them by hand.

  • Don’t forget the kiddie class.