The Crossroads: Knowing when to let it go
This isn't so much a post relating to current pro racing as it is a subject that probably, most who read this site have either had to ponder or at least dreamt about at some point in their racing history.
We all get into racing for the love of two wheels, competition, adrenaline and if we are exceptional, that addictive taste of winning. Therein lies one of the most cruel aspects of this sport. The carrot dangling in front of our noses, always teasing us with the prospect of continued success and that possible rise to stardom and a future built on racing.
The odds are against us, it's easy to see. We see it every weekend at our local tracks, the stakes and chance for failure are even higher at the Amateur Nationals, where a handful of dreams are prolonged but dumptrucks full of dreams are crushed and families left to reconcile their efforts and future endeavors.
Even for the few who show promise and results at the top of the amateur ranks, the road beyond offers no guarantee of success. The inherint danger brought with the speeds, unpredictability of tracks, bike setup, others' actions and the biggest confidence killer, those opponents are simply faster; this sport is always an uphill battle.
Knowing when to move on is difficult. That .0023% chance of success and progress is inexplicably more magnetic to us than the writing on the wall. Commiting yourself to racing requires relinquishment of so many aspects of a "normal" childhood that the longer you chase the dream, the more you set yourself up for failure in a life away from moto. It takes a strong person to admit defeat and take the steps necessary to ensure a failed career in moto doesn't extend to a troubled and disappointing life thereafter.
The building blocks for this little stream-of-conscious came from a comment left on the recent story Matthes wrote on PulpMX. First, check out that story here.
Below is the comment which I found inspirational in the sense that out of his ultimately failed attempt at a life of racing, he had the mental fortitude to accept it and find success beyond it.
Submitted by hunter
Yeah, but...Dude, I am so glad I decided to hang it up. I'll tell you a little story about me, I'll keep it somewhat brief. I was a top north east 80 rider, I was top 10 at lorettas a bunch of times on minis and ran in the top 5 pretty regularly. My nemesis was Paul Carpenter and we were pretty even locally. I even won a moto at Lorettas in the B class ( finished 2nd overall) and rode for Al Cordner at MHR the year after bradshaw in 98'. I smashed my ankle really bad in 99 riding with Pastrana in Axton at Gary Bailey School. That was the first time I quit, just gave it up. I thank my parents for making me goto regular high school and take the SAT's and not fuck that all up. I went to PITT for a year or two and decided that I missed racing a lot. Decided to give it another go. Ended up racing the 2002 season in Am's and finished 6th in 125A at Lorettas, won a bunch locally and finished top 5 at Ponca and Mini-Os. But I'm 21 years old going into 2003 and I'm shall we say, aging out. Which is a crappy feeling when your 21. Anyways, I nearly won a moto at Lorettas, finished 2nd to Hepler, but led 8 laps. My personal point of pride is that I qualified for all 7 pro nationals that I attempted:http://vault.racerxonline.com/rider/chris-d-hunter/races
But that's not my point. I honestly think back, and the worst possible thing that could have happened, is I got picked up by some fledgling pro moto outfit and tried to make a go at it again. That would have delayed me, put me further into debt, and probably landed me a terrible injury. Instead I went back to community college, then transfered and finished my 4 year degree. Now I've been a software engineer nearly 5 years already and I make more than Josh Grant, and I get PTO days and get to travel to places like Amsterdam for work. I wouldn't go back for anything, I love watching the sport, and I honor those guys to the highest degree, but fuuuuuuuck that shit.