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by Dave Mason of ISPhotographic

Years ago I participated in the SCCA SoloII program in Indiana. Affordable, grassroots racing that primarily featured street cars with some basic track preparation. Special tires, shock absorbers and exhaust systems were the norm. A sense of family, friendly competition and fun were some of the reasons I returned season after season. My SoloII “career” lasted from the year 2000 until 2005.

I’ve always enjoyed going fast – cars, roller coasters, and now motorcycles. I attended MSF motorcycle safety classes in July 2010 and have ridden about 7,000 total miles on a few different motorcycles. In August 2011 I attended as a spectator the MotoGP in Indianapolis – the big motorcycle road race – with my son Aaron and my friend Paul. I ‘d been thinking about riding in some motorcycle track events, and the deal was sealed when I came across a half-price set of leathers at the racetrack. I used the great deal on new leathers as an excuse to take the plunge and “do a track day.”

As with the car racing programs, some preparation was necessary. Along with the leathers I needed new gloves, boots, back protector and more. The bike also needed some prep, which included removing the lights and indicators and taping several items securely to the bike.

What about me though? What would be necessary to prepare my body? I had aspirations of emulating the racers from MotoGP, hanging off the sides of their bikes, with one knee and nearly an elbow dragging the ground. Unlike the car racing I’d done, which placed a low priority on driver fitness, this activity promised to be considerably more physically strenuous.

Fortunately I’d begun a training program with Dan Ritchie of Miracles Fitness a little more than a year prior. As a wedding photographer who sometimes works 15 hour days on my feet, and is quickly approaching 40 years old, I definitely had concerns about my health and fitness. I ached badly after each wedding shoot, and I was also more – ahem – sweatythan I cared for throughout the day. Something needed to be done.

Miracles put me on a serious exercise and diet program, educating me about the benefits of the changes I was making to my routine. The results came reasonably quickly. I saw a few pounds slip away in just a couple of weeks, and by the eight week mark I was shopping for smaller jeans. I’ve since gone on to lose close to 40 pounds and six inches from my waist.

Just in time as it turned out!

I attended my first track event on October 2nd, 2011 in New Haven, Michigan. Gingerman Raceway is a challenging road course set near a quaint tourist area on Lake Michigan. The club I was riding with, Sport Bike Track Time, is very welcoming to novices like myself, with an emphasis on safety and education… and of course FUN! What could be more fun than an entire day on track on the motorcycle?!!

As it turned out, it WAS an enormously enjoyable experience. One thing I did not stop and think about, however, was just how much time would actually be spent in those AGGRESSIVE riding positions. Look closely at a photo of a Grand Prix racer in action. Does the stance look familiar? If you’ve ever done squats at the gym it sure does! Unlike gliding down the road on a cruiser, comfortable on a big, plush seat, riding a sport bike is a much more physically demanding activity. One supports oneself with the feet, then calves, then thighs and finally the core area. Little to no time is spent actually resting on the seat of the bike, or so it seems after each 20 minute on-track session.

As each session would end and the riders would return to be briefed by coaches, some recovery was inevitably needed by many. I was pleased at how well I was enduring the physical demands of riding on track. I was comfortable, relaxed and confident. My preparations were paying off, both with the bike and myself. Reflecting upon the shape I was in just 18 months earlier, I can definitely say that I would not even be able to participate in such an activity, let alone thrive from the challenge, without the physical training I’d been doing at Miracles. I’d done a fair amount of running in preparation, even competing in my first 5k earlier in the year. This from someone who couldn’t manage to run for 60 seconds the first time I stepped on that treadmill at Miracles. I can literally say I am a new man.

As it turned out, just like a good session at the gym I was SORE the day after my track activities. As the following day wore on, my thighs, calves and abs were definitely letting me know they’d gotten a workout. It was nice to be able to rest up.

That leads me to my second on-track adventure. The big difference this time will be that instead of a one day event, I will be riding in a two day event! No day of rest, I will need to be seriously prepared for that second day of activity. I’ve been running, lifting weights and doing what seem to be endless squats and lunges in preparation for my weekend at Barber Motorsports Park. I’ve also been fortunate to have the support of several sponsors in my efforts, including Miracles Fitness, allowing me to setup my first track-only motorcycle. Stay tuned!”

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