® Doing my corner

I have never been a really skilled rider. I do alright, but in the few times I could have been badly hurt street-riding, it was less skill and more God that kept me in one piece. Of that I am certain. Nonetheless, as a career motorcycle tech I naturally had some testosterone-charged thinking about my abilities. I tended to view myself as pretty capable street-wise, especially since I worked and lived in So Cal and was steeped in its performance street-riding culture, even to working at metro L.A. motorcycle shops, one of them backing up to infamous Mullholland Drive and none of them very far from seductive asphalt. I had a bike that was fairly modified for serious street work, and I probably thought it was my inheritance as part of the powersports industry to be capable. So I was, I guess, in a limited way.

I worked at a shop that could be approached only by a one-way street. It wasn't long before every afternoon going home I would go all the way down the block, make the necessary u-turn, then with that beautiful long underused industrial-area street in front of me before the corner leading to the freeway, I would wind the rpm way up, my aftermarket four-cylinder exhaust announcing my intentions, blast by the body shop and literally strafe the heck out of that corner, powering out of it for the stretch to the onramp. Glorious! Each time I did it I explored the angle of attack, leaning more boldly, feeling out the optimum combination of speed, timing and dive. Searching for that telltale loss of grip, guided by the engine's tone. I never found the limit. Thus I was spurred on and rewarded in my foolishness, each run a new exploration of the exact mix of the various elements that went into a perfect corner. Intense visual focus on the approach, listening for the correct rpm and gear, then eyes almost closed as body input took over and I drifted through the apex. Sometimes my SOHC Honda Four glided through the air, seemingly leaving the ground altogether as it somehow, with no determined steering input, navigated the radius as if it were a timewarp. Surreal. Moto ballet. Bordering on the ethereal. Awesome!

Every day I did this. I seldom thought about who may be watching. One day a motor officer was, though, and I got the not-unexpected ticket. Didn't matter. What I remember most was a that one of the other guys at the shop, an accomplished amateur roadracer, proposed a match. We would race from the shop to the freeway. He had apparently witnessed my love affair with that corner. Though I agreed, I didn't care about his race. I had my own personal race with that bit of real estate every day. I was in its groove and I was going to keep doing that, no matter who was there to witness it or ride it with me. This dance was my daily catharsis, my squaring up the sum of the day; my instant, deserved transition from slave to sovereign.

With that moment rehearsed so many times, the race was a blur. I owned that corner. I remember being certain I would collide with him as we challenged the same space. But I really didn't care. I almost laughed as the next thing I knew, I was halfway to the onramp and he was several car lengths behind. Once on the freeway I let him pass me as I slowed to a legal, sane pace, waving him off. Just another day "doing" my corner. Been a very long time since I have done anything like that, though I remember it, and that corner, like it was yesterday.

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