I'm Back. Let's get it on.
It's time. Time to stop riding, and start writing. These are some of my first thoughts outside of California.
My break is over, and after three days in Barcelona, I'm ready to take up the challenge of racing in the World Championship again. It's about time, because after roughly two weeks since the Red Bull USGP at Laguna Seca, I was starting to forget what it was like to be a part of this crazy whirlwind. The Team is coming back as strong as can be, and we've scheduled two additional days of testing after the Brno race this upcoming Sunday. That's five days on-track, and a lot can happen in five days.
There's so much I want to write about, and the last two race weeks were amazing. Sachsenring was full of highs and lows, and Laguna Seca was a another back-to-back up and downer. Actually, Laguna was a bit of a disaster, but we all did our jobs and hung in there, and the record will show another top ten performance by Barros and a stellar debut in the category by Chaz Davies, subbing for the injured Alex Hofmann, who was taken out by an errant Frenchman. The Hoff has been recovering from THIS with the help of Dr. Ting, and I'm hopeful that he can make a comeback at Misano in a few weeks.
While I'd like to start talking about the last races, I'd really rather catch up with how I've been feeling lately, what it was like to ride through the Bay Area again (and on a DUCATI!), and go through a bit more of what it's like. Maybe this should be Part 2, but there's no time now to clearly separate things. One thing is for sure, the weeks away were wild, bold, and beautiful.
I left Barcelona on July 10th for Germany, and I finally returned to Barcelona on the afternoon of August 10th. That meant a month out, and I packed accordingly. The big rig ( my Alpinestars 747 gear bag) and my smaller carry-on made it all the way through, laden with keepsakes for my friends back home and clothes aplenty. It was a rough trip, though, as the big bag was torn upon arriving to Dresden in (former) East Germany. Not a problem, because the on-track Alpinestars folks hooked me up and repaired it at the racetrack so I would be good for the journey home. I won't get fully into Germany right now, except to say that I had one of the busiest weeks of my life - until Laguna, that was. I was exhausted when I left for California, ultra early on Monday morning. Mentally, I was worried about both my riders, who each had suffered hand injuries that week, and also I was concerned about the bikes, because the distance to Laguna meant that emergency supplies from Ducati Corse in Bologna were not going to be there for me if anything serious went down in California. I should have had more faith, but my job is to plan for the worst, and worry the rest of the time. It was pointless to stress about it though, I had what I felt the Team needed and I knew that everything would work out in the end. It always does.
As soon as we were airborne, I knew I was coming down with a serious sickness, enough that I had chills the entire flight and slept with a blanket over my head the whole time. Like a body in the morgue. We touched down on Monday afternoon, thanks to a nine hour time difference between California and Central Europe, and I immediately took the boys to get some authentic Mexican Taco Truck food. We ate in the grass, sat the sun, and watched all the big flashy cars driving around Burlingame. Seemed like everyone had rims on their ride, and like almost everything, the exterior flash didn't match the true value within. I passed off the driving duties to Andrea when I was too tired to make it out to Monterey, and promptly passed out in the backseat. I would sleep for virtually the next two days. Wednesday brought us to the racetrack, and the work week began in earnest. I was so pumped, but still weak, and some trick vitamins from the Fujii clan slowly brought me back to the land of the ass-kickers. Skip past the race weekend, all the people I met, the photos that were taken, the nightmare for the Hoff, and everything else, and I was driving back to San Francisco with my friend Brad on Monday. Just in time for lunch at Foster's Freeze in Santa Cruz. I was still on the brink, tired, alert, but mostly tired. The adrenalin of being with my friends again kept me from sleeping, and after stashing my gear at Brad's place, we drove south down the 101 to Ducati North America's corporate headquarters, in sunny Cupertino. I was there to pick up a Sport 1000 S, which John Canton had made available to me for the duration of my stay. It was something I have difficulty explaining, because it meant so much to me to be able to ride again - and not just by borrowing a friend's bike. I'd have this one every day I was home, "like" it was mine. And this is where it got complicated. I loved riding it, and when I switched to a 999S in race colors, I loved ridiing that even more. I hadn't realized how much I missed the solitude of riding, the purity of being out there, all alone, me and the wheels. Popping out of the bubble for a high speed sweeper, lifting a wheel, and commuting. Yes! Commuting. What I had taken for granted so many times before was beautiful once again. I am a commuting monster. I love reading the traffic patterns, watching the wheels, the people's heads, the applying of make-up, the cel phones, the nose-picking, the endless procession of slow moving cars in line - I passed them all.
The keys to the bikes were yet another blessing and a curse. Another chance for me to show the split in my life - the personal, the private, the work related, the MotoLiam related, etc (it never stops). I know I will probably alienate some of you by saying this, but sometimes I felt like I was on the run. Always running. Running to a meeting here, a beer there, lunch over that way, running away from people, running to see people, running to check my email, and just running, running, running. My friends have all gotten married, or had children, or are about to be married, and these are huge steps that I envy. I wanted to see them all, laugh with the children, let parents vent, rejoin and participate, reconnect and talk about everything I'd missed. Seeing some of the domestic issues, I felt like I'd been sleeping these past two years. I honestly don't think about things like that when I'm on the move. It's always about the next race, the next event. There's planning to be done, preparations. People in my life fall by the wayside - they fall out of my head. I become so single-minded, so focused, I lose sight of my friends. I stayed in California to eat, which is what I tell myself, but really, I was there to see all my friends and just hang out, no races, no drama (HA! Impossible!), nothing but a chance to relax. I did and I didn't.
I tell you, it's so easy in America. I see with different eyes now. You want something? Want to buy something, do something, eat something, ANYTHING, and you can. I've never seen a place brimming with so much possibility and potential. I hope that is not lost on anyone living and working in the USA.
Anyway. I rode up and down the peninsula, and when I could, I'd sit at my favorite cafe, Fantasia, near 280 and Wolfe, have a boba tea, use the phone constantly, and just people watch. It happened three times, and they were all good times. I would ask myself the same questions, and I checked in on my commitment and desire to race. The fire burns as brightly as ever, but the longer I'm out, the more I look at my friend's lives, the more I wonder about who I would be if I'd stuck around. I'm not writing now to express anything negative, I just hope that everyone can take a moment and think about why we do certain things and make certain choices.
I love racing, which is why I'm here.
Almost forgot - here's a Song for Brno! Now let's race!