The final part of the story behind how I got to ride on the Salt Flats during Speed Week 2019. Part 3 can be found here
Tired and emotional
We needed to move fast now, really fast. The Hayabusa had failed tech inspection because the tire valve stems had to be metal, not rubber. But the good news was, that was the only failure. So, we hastily rolled the bike back onto the trailer and quickly researched local tire and motorbike workshops. Although Wendover the town just off the speedway was not right next door, it wasn't a long drive away so 30 minutes later and we had managed to find what we needed. Next stop the tire fitting shop.
We pulled up to S&R Auto on Wendover Boulevard to find a hive of activity in the oily workshop. Eventually we tracked down the frazzled owner who scratched his head with a greasy finger and said it'd be a couple of hours before they could sort it. There must have been a horrified look on our faces because he quickly followed up apologetically telling us the reason - tbe fire chief's truck was being seen to and it was an emergency and nothing, just nothing and no-one, could jump the queue.
The continuation of the story behind how I got to ride on the Salt Flats during Speed Week. Part 1 can be found here
Back to Pendine Beach in Wales to meet up with some friends and try my luck at some landspeed records. As you do.
It all boiled down to a single moment, as so many things in my life have. I sat there cooking in leathers at the start line on the five mile long course on the Salt Flats at Bonneville, ready to pull back the throttle hand and put fear aside for just a minute or so. I was willing and ready to risk my life for this moment in a distant land, on unfamiliar ground. I would have done whatever it took to do what I had to do. I imagine a similar feeling of total conviction probably descends upon a mother or father when they see a car on fire and their child inside.
I would not let anything get in my way that day - so woe betide anything that tried to stop me! All the events that had led to this, the life changing moments, the pain, the doubt, the chance meetings, all the people I'd met, all the twists and turns of my recent life meant me to be at that start line. At that point in time. It was a certainty I still feel in my very core.
"Do you need any help?" Was the first thing I asked to the Women Rider's World Relay contact button on Facebook. It all then snowballed like crazy and led to some of the most incredible experiences and opportunities of my life. I had no idea that within four weeks I'd be taking a major role in planning and executing a ride across Italy with a bunch of beautiful, crazy, wild girls and having meetings that would change my life forever and launch me into a motor racing career.
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? It might well be because what I'm about to tell you feels utterly unreal.
I have just been accepted on to a race team as a pilot in a land speed world record attempt at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in August during Speed Week. Yep. Me. Who only took up proper biking two years ago after becoming a grandmother. Who was afraid to go over 50mph on the motorway. Who nearly gave up in the pouring rain in Germany. How absurdly fantastical is that? Just like Burt Munro, immortalised in The World's Fastest Indian, whose land speed record still stands today, no-one would have believed two years ago the turn of events that would take me, of all people, to Bonneville with the big boys of racing. Yet, here I am and, as much as anything else can be real, this is my reality.
The ride is a beauty. A red-lipstick coloured, partially streamlined, 1000cc LPG powered bike (only LPG racer in the world), built by the great Dino Romano, one of Italy's foremost bike customisers, as part of the Eyes Open Dream Racing Team. Things like this don't happen to ordinary people like me, do they? It seems they do. How did this happen? Did I trip and fall into a vat of dream fluid?
The Welsh gods decided to give the mountains a break over the bank holiday and allowed the sun to shine on one of the most exciting weekends in the Welsh trail rider's calendar - the Taffy Drwg. Yes, I know it's an unpronounceable word and means nothing to those outside of the village but there's a reason for that. The all-weather trail-riding weekend in the Brecon Beacons used to be called the Taffy Dakar but some French lawyers for some reason thought that was confusing the orienteering event with it's beer-swilling, hog roast munching, bucking bronco antics for a rather more serious deal held in South America. If only they had bothered to come to Wales they may have been convinced otherwise. Drwg is of course pronounced 'Droog' and it's said this is a tongue in cheek reference to some strange weed that makes your head go all funny. But that's just hearsay, I've not had that confirmed by any Welshfolk to date. So what's this 'Droog' all about?
I love life and I love riding. No matter how much I love the latter, I love the former more. That's why I bought an air bag jacket, why I took my IAM and RosPA exams and why I continually give a shit about improving my riding and taking only those risks I'm comfortable with. I often check out riders much better than me and I ask myself, what makes them better and how can I be like them? How can they ride so fast yet so safe? Turns out they have harnessed their subconscious to do most of the work.