In the eyes of many, I would have been considered old the first time I rode a motorcycle on a race track. Track day organizations require you to display a number on your bike in case they need to identify you on the radio, so to commemorate the event I chose the number 52. I was not the fastest guy out there that day, or any other day for that matter, but man was it fun!
I have been riding motorcycles most of my life. When I was about 12 years old my dad brought one home for my brother and I. It was a late 1960s model Bridgestone 175cc two-stroke, twin cylinder, street bike. Dad got it for $50. We lived on a farm in western Pennsylvania back then and my brother and I rode that bike up and down the hillsides on our farm until it just wouldn’t go any more. We learned a lot about motorcycle maintenance and repair and may have learned something about sharing. Of course, if you ask my brother he would probably tell you that I wasn’t very good at that part.
That first motorcycle sparked a love of riding that has not faded (much). Including that old Bridgestone, I have owned about 17 motorcycles so far. I have ridden from central Virginia to Key West, Florida, Bar Harbor, Maine, Cheyenne, Wyoming, and many other destinations. I have owned dirt bikes, cruisers, sport bikes, and even a chopper once. Riding has been part of my life longer and more consistently than any other pastime.
That first track day on bike #52 stands out as one of the most memorable things I have ever done on a motorcycle. I rode many more track days and attended numerous California Superbike School sessions after that. I had a blast at every single one. Even the one where I crashed. That first day, though, will live in my memory for the rest of my life.
Riding a road racing course is an experience like no other. The opportunity to just ride, with no worry about oncoming traffic, intersections, loose gravel, police radar or any of the myriad distractions that your brain has to deal with on a typical street ride, allows you to focus totally on what you and your bike are doing. I would describe it as the purest form of riding I have ever engaged in. I sold off my track bike several years ago to help fund a house purchase, but I consider myself lucky to have participated.
Nowadays I go to the track with a camera instead of a bike and I know exactly the kind of photos I am hoping to capture. I think my time riding on the track gives me a perspective that many photographers do not have. There are always lots of people taking pictures at the track. Many of them have never ridden a motorcycle. I am not always successful at capturing what I envisioned, but I do always enjoy it!