Originally, I thought Jason would try to get back into riding, realize it was tiring, dirty, expensive, and that he wasn’t in the same shape that he was at 17 or even 24. However, in true Jason fashion, he has surprised me. Every weekend we aren’t working or driving back to Iowa, we’ve been out riding and racing. I haven’t been doing the physical racing (yet!) but I am his crew chief, his life/race day organizer, and his cheerleader.
So when I found out Jason was headed to Pavilion MX in Pavilion, New York, I was thrilled. Until I found out I had to work at the hotel both nights. The drive was just over 7 hours so there was no chance of me attending Jason’s first far away race.
Luckily, I was able to do some rearranging with one of my sweet co-workers at the hotel (the day before Jason planned to leave) and got the chance to surprise Jason before he left. I told my dad of my plans (so that he would take our dog for the weekend since he was heading to Iowa and she loved riding in the car) and Jason’s right hand man, Kent. Kent was so kind to let me crash the boys’ weekend AND keep it a secret the whole time. I managed to sneak in a trip to Walmart to get a few new things for the moto van (i.e. a new outdoor 50ft. extension cord after I accidentally cut ours during my hedge trimming experience) and pack before he came home from work Friday night.
The drive to New York was pretty uneventful. I had taken some Zzzquil before we left so I could sleep in case they needed me to drive in the morning. (This is a rare treat because anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to drive, especially our giant van). The boys listened to terrible 90’s and early 2000’s tunes and drank their way through a case of Redbull.
In the morning, practice started at 11am. If you’re doing the math, that means that we arrived at 8am, slept for 2.5 hours, and got the bike ready while setting up camp in a half hour. The track was completely different than any other track we have other been to. The bathrooms were super clean, the grounds weren’t muddy, and there were so many people! The concession stands had a canopy and picnic tables under it so you could watch the races while we ate. One of the neat things about Pavilion were the Fly Bucks, Dunlop tires, and Scott giveaways they had throughout the weekend. Another big reason to support Pavilion? They do an annual JDRF weekend with a raffle, tons of prizes, live entertainment, and monetary support for JDRF (the owner is a T1D)! Jason hadn’t told me earlier, (to avoid a complete meltdown on my part I’m sure), but Kelly, Allan, and Taylor were also at Pavilion! These are the great people we met when we first started riding in the winter at RamJam and then tagged along with to Florida! I hadn’t seen them since the end of winter and was sooo looking forward to supporting them!
Our friends convinced me to practice in the beginner class with Jason. My first time out, I killed it a few times (especially on the big hill) but Kelly talked me through it and the next time I went out, I was able to make it all the way around with no issues. After we were done practicing for the day, we hung out and made hot dogs and hung our with our friends. We went to sleep at 7pm and woke up around 10pm. I know, we are weird for napping at that hour.
The next morning, Taylor and Kelly convinced me to enter my very first race. They said we could all ride together in the women’s class. I hadn’t signed up yet and missed my practice time while waiting in line. I knew that I would have to practice with the late bikes which was the group of people that missed their only practice and rode at all levels. I have really bad anxiety so I was already heavy breathing when Jason saw me at the end of his practice. Poor guy, he deals with all my uncontrollable emotions. He talked me off the ledge and I took off. I made it around okay, but I could feel bikes grazing my helmet with my tire (aka FLYING OVER ME). I am only barely exaggerating.
We waited for Jason’s first moto as the sky got darker and darker. Finally, he rode up to the starting gate and we went to watch him. He got a good start and was fourth out of the gate. He only had one lap left when he went down in the corner. We saw him come off the track but couldn’t tell why. I went running (like a psycho) to make sure he was okay. He told me he broke his front brake lever off when he crashed so he couldn’t finish the race. We went on the hunt for a new one when it started to rain. The rain didn’t let up for hours and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through the track in the muddy conditions. I got Kelly’s permission to bow out and she and Taylor ended up doing the same. About 3 hours after Jason’s first moto, they announced they would be canceling the second moto due to the track’s conditions. At this point, we were soaking wet, tired, and ready to go to our next adventure: Niagara Falls!
Lesson Learned: Sometimes peer pressure is just others pushing you out of your comfort zone.