|The Ride Home
By Martin Hackworth
been said that something lost leads to something gained.
true too. Recently it
has dawned on me that over time I’ve come to neglect
one of the best
parts of any adventure – those you share the adventure with.
single-minded focus on records,
accomplishments and content I’ve forgotten that the
best part of any
fun-hog activity isn’t necessarily the scenery, the
adrenaline, the fear or the
massive endorphin buzz. It’s other people.
I am normally a pretty focused individual and about as easily distracted from the task at hand as a ball-peen hammer. So when it’s time to load up and take off I am all about business. It is a well known fact that I am basically the worst person in the world to be around 90 minutes before an event – at least if human interaction is important to you. Right before a race or a ride I’m compiling my checklist of what needs to be done and have little time for distractions. As a professional I would award myself an “F” in warm and fuzzy in pre-event decorum and that only because a “Z”, though richly merited, wouldn’t make any sense.
The high-water mark of all this
was probably the period in which I road raced motorcycles with a team
My bike was kept in a trackside garage and all I had to do each race
was hop on an airplane and meet my ride to the track at LAX. But when
you are fortunate enough to score some success, even very
success, in an activity with about a million people who’d
love take your place
there are expectations. Sponsors want success; magazines want their
not look like schmucks. If aversion to embarrassment is an instinct you
to possess you’d better get your game on. After a while even
the most fun, the
most absurd, the least important activity in the grand scheme of things
to adopt the feel of serious business. Fun isn’t really part
of the mix.
As my son JR has developed his own interest in fun-hog adventures he has demonstrated some parallel curiosity about his old man’s career. We’ve gone through all of the photos and old magazines and as we’ve perused professional shots, magazine articles and the rest it’s occurred to me how distant a lot of it appears. Even though
those photos I don't have a strong visceral connection with a lot of
what is going on. It's almost as if I am looking at photographs in a
magazine - admiring the quality of the image and imagining how cool it
all must be to be there. Go Figure.
One day we found a box of old Kodachrome climbing slides from way back and in those images I found something that is often lacking in their glossy descendants – a genuine sense of unbridled fun. These were shot at a time when my friends and I were in absolutely no danger of impressing anyone with an overabundance of professional skill. Any great success occurred in spite of rather than because of skill, dedication or any other impressive personal attributes. I remembered that the best part of all these adventures was not the accomplishment, but the laughter, the mayhem, the jokes, the smackdowns and the unpretentious fun.
A little later I was talking with my friend Chris Hymas (a motorcyclist of
skill who, along with his wife Sarah, is raising three sons who are not
only impossibly well-mannered but ride like the
future professionals they are probably destined to be). Chris and his
very helpful in getting JR going in his own fledgling riding career and
thinks that they are the last word. I asked Chris what had kept him and
boys going for well over a decade of racing – which is time
expensive - and he told me “The ride home. The time I spend
talking with my
boys about what we just did.” I think now that I get it.
These days with the help of JR and my long-suffering friends I’m learning how to relax and get back to the time when fun-hog activities were all about fun and actually accomplishing anything came a distant second. After having come full circle it’s now more about the ride home. I like now better.