There was a romantic comedy called Fever Pitch with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon where Drew Barrymore’s character, Lindsey meets and falls in love with Jimmy Fallon’s character, Ben until the baseball season starts when Ben becomes an absentee boyfriend and Lindsey becomes a baseball widow. I become a track widow during the summer because my boyfriend, Pretty Boy’s time is almost complete consumed by dirt bikes. When in good health, he races practically every Sunday from April or May to October. But just like baseball, it isn’t just watching the games. There is all the other stuff that is involved with racing just like being a baseball fan. Pretty Boy is either doing bike work on his bike or a family member’s bike; or he’s on his way to get a part or gear or various bike fluids; or he’s getting himself and the camper ready to go to the track; or he’s on his way to the track; or he’s practicing. And then there’s the actual racing.
It can be hard sometimes, but just like Ben and Lindsey in Fever Pitch, Pretty Boy and I are finding a pretty good compromise between doing what we love, supporting each other’s interesting, being involved in each other’s lives, and having separate hobbies and activities we each do. One big part of this compromise has been me getting a crash course in the Motocross world and getting thrown into a culture and community I am unfamiliar and rather uncomfortable with. I have learned a lot in a relatively short time from facts about basic bike mechanics to which Pro riders are leading in points to which rider wins if one finishes 1-2 and the other finishes 2-1 (the one who finished 2-1 gets the over all race win but on the pro level they both get the same amount of points in the series) to the difference between a whip and scrubbing a jump and why scrubbing makes you go faster to learning how to ride a dirt bike.
There are a lot of things about Motocross that most Motocross girlfriends know, like that a rider races two motos or Carey Hart is hot or that all girls wear jean shorts at dirt bike tracks. Knowing how to ride a dirt bike is not usually one of those things. I know that a rider races two motos per class, I don’t know about Carey Hart (maybe he’d be attractive if he cut his damn hair and shaved his damn face), and I definitely don’t wear jean short at the track or ever. What I am learning is how to ride a dirt bike.
Now I drive a manual transmission, and occasionally I am a commuting street biker, so riding a motorcycle felt within my capabilities. And the first time I got on Pretty Boy’s Kawasaki KX250F, I was able to make it go and even ride around a little bit. Pretty Boy was so excited about the prospect of me learning to ride a dirt bike that he offered to fix up one of his family’s old bikes for me to ride. So the only yellow bike in the garage of green ones, a little Suzuki RM85 was dug out of its corner and fixed up.
The first time I rode the 85 was earlier this summer on a tiny backyard track in Le Sueur, MN. It is the perfect size for me because it is small enough I can kick the bike started, pick it up if I fall over, and get it up on the stand all by myself. The tiny track was a good place to get a feel for the bike and get used to a 2-stroke engine.
Fast-forward to last Saturday when Pretty Boy convinced me to ride at open practice at the track in Kellogg, MN. It began in a typical fashion when we met Bear Face for a second take at Lucia’s To-Go except with Pretty Boy’s truck parked out front with the little Suzuki strapped in the bed. We ate a ham and cheese biscuit; an egg panini with ham, arugula, and cheese; a slice of zucchini bread; a chocolate almond croissant; a lemon blueberry muffin; a chocolate brownie; Bear Face and I had our usually coffees; and Pretty Boy had a latte. No popovers! (I asked to counter barista when the popovers had been made and she said not more than half an hour previous but they still looked deflated and soggy. She offered to toast them for us, but I declined… I’m still disappointed about the popover vs. donut non-showdown.)
Bear Face and I had tried the ham and cheese biscuit before, and it was just as good this time as the last. It is this sandwich that is making me rethinking my disapproval of biscuits. They have always struck me as overly simple and unrefined: like what people did instead having the skill and putting in the extra effort to make yeast bread. But sometimes a simple biscuit can be quite delicious: light and fluffy with a good crunch on the top. Mmm, Lucia’s might have turned me into a biscuit convert. The latte and zucchini bread with a nice crust on top were other highlights.
The panini, chocolate brownie, and muffin were tasty but unremarkable. The chocolate almond croissant was a chocolate dough croissant, cut in half with almond deliciousness slathered on the inside. It echoed the double chocolate croissant we tried the last time: it was just too much and something about the chocolate in the dough of the croissant just doesn’t work. Even Pretty Boy remarked that it would have been better with just the almond, no chocolate. I couldn’t agree more.
Crumbles and coffees finished, we climbed in the truck and headed for the track. I was nervous and excited and told Pretty Boy to just tell me what to do and when to put my gear on and where to go. Lots of direction. Everything I had was second-hand but I still had it all: gear and riding boots and a helmet and goggles and riding gloves and a bike. Throughout the day, it was rotating practice for different classes based on bike size and rider speed. I went out with every “little bike” practice that came up in the rotation. It was one of the best time’s I’ve ever had at the track and the first time I really felt like I was riding a motorcycle. And there were other kids on 85’s and 65’s flying all over the place while I was on the track! I handled it and I rode and I had a great time.
I still ride completely in second gear and just rely on letting off the gas to slow me down, instead of braking. I ended up getting off the ground going over a few of the jumps but completely accidentally. I only fell once when the bike got away from me in a corner and almost went over the berm, but I picked it back up, started it, and kept going anyway.
I think most importantly, learning to ride has given me better insight into Motocross. Pretty Boy wants to try to get a pro Motocross license next year which will mean getting in really good shape and lots of training and lots of practice and lots of time: just like being a pro athlete in any sport. I want to support him in this in whatever way I constructively can. The more I know about riding myself, the better I can help him. And the more I enjoy riding myself, the more I am going to want to spend time at the track with him and not be a track widow.