I briefly cried in the shower last night. We were home late from a rough racing weekend. I don’t know if it was exhaustion or defeat of parenting or maybe just resilience trying to take root inside my weary heart.
I stood, my brightly colored head pressed against the cool wall, with warmth washing away the remnants of dirt and dust. The water melding with the quiet tears as they trickled down my cheeks. I kept my chin pressed upwards, feeling the patter of liquid as it bounced off my face as I remembered the last 48 hours.
Race day was a hard day. MotoKid didn’t seem to care, lackadaisical in his effort on the track. MotoDad was beyond frustrated. Saturday’s practice had been nixed by a gully-washer storm. I had been up earlier than I would normally choose to be loading clothes and food and the kitchen sink into the race hauler as precipitation fell. The cancellation actually gave me some pause, and I pumped the brakes. I despise rushing, literally running with my arms overfilled to get the everything for the everybody plus their actual dog and don’t-I-dare-forget-a-single-thing. As it turns out, while I spent $250 at the local MegaLo-Mart the day before, I still missed the meat for MotoDad’s fancy smoker grill. It never fails; remembering one thing means missing two others.
We pulled into the track as the humidity was starting to build, with grey skies still blanketing the horizons. MotoDad asked for help parking.
Now if you have ever tried to assist a MotoDad in backing a 40ft plus trailer into a 15’ wide pit space (or have ever attempted to help your spouse trailer a boat from the ramp) you know this horror. Hand signals abound as if you’re speaking a language foreign, cuss words floating in the air like some mystic hymn and the exasperated looks of the parker and the assistant backer-upper are sure signs that no matter how long the travel to the track was, they’re all ready to be out of the car and out of each other’s space.
I loathe helping to park. “You have to tell me which way to swing,” I’m told, as MotoDad motions false wheel turns. At this point I decide that “Right” and “Left” are no longer action verbs to explain direction but are just words that I say to fill the purse of my lips. My right and his right don’t match. “How much farther?” I’m asked. I want to say two feet, but I feel as though I might be best understood if I say the distance of a big-wheel supermini swing arm.
You have to speak their language, which is primarily comprised of "Brrapp, WhaaPow, Kasshhuu” and “RaaRaaRaaRaaaaaah.” 26 years of this sport and I’m still not fluent enough for conversation.
After the super fun parking experience (insert eye-roll) both MotoKids big and small plus the two four-legged animals everyone in the family but me just HAD. TO. HAVE. Bounded out of truck, I was set to work in setting up the pit. Thankfully my job now is mostly to make sure beer is cold, the AC works and that something edible is in the works.
Saturday moved swiftly and without much discord. Our new pals parked next to us, and at one point I looked into the back bunks to try counting dirty socked-feet dangling from the loft as giggles melodically filled the camper. I counted 11, twice. Do that math and something wasn’t quite right, but there were six pit bikes on my camp rug out front.
Between a flat on the pitter, a gaggle of MotoDads doing their best pit crew work to change it and enough Mexican cervezas, the afternoon turned to evening and evening to dusk. For the first time since well before the quarantine I heard live music. Good, bad, technical difficulties be damned, that was the highlight of the weekend. My big MotoKid ran around with a dozen other little track rats. The littles on electric rippers with squirt guns had dirt smeared faces. All was right with the world.
Ever notice that? When Earth spins just a little slower? You can feel the smiles and laughter sear into your heart. Happiness lives in those moments. Watching a big, bad, tattooed MotoDad do a twirl and jig with his princess and the littlest MotoSis. Or a brief moment to reach out and hold the hand of your MotoWife as the evening dew settles into the clay, hazing the skies crimson and pink, while you sit in your favorite ratty race day chair. You can revel in the sublime scents of race fuel and the throaty purr of last minute bike jetting adjustments.
This is motocross at it’s best - the hours before and after the racing and angst and adrenaline galore. Being a motocross family is often hard, but to have those moments together is priceless; a grilled steak (even though I forgot the first time, we stopped at a store on the way down!), a pit bike race, a water truck keeping the dust of teen driven golf carts at bay. This is what keeps us going.
These are the things we want to remember after a craptastic day of racing - “Did you even listen to anything I said!? Did you try AT ALL!? Son, if you aren’t going to go out and TRY you don’t need to be on the track for a RACE!” - after all of those sharp words and slams of trailer doors, crappy rides back home and hastily packed gear bags, after a mediocre or full-on “We should have stayed at the house” weekend, we find a reason to come back.
So I had tears in the shower, until I finally chuckled to myself. Because I remembered riding on the back of the 110 with MotoKid in control. I had a drink clutched in my grip, my other arm around his chest with a hand on his heart - the one that grew inside me over 10 years ago - I remembered the sound of his laugh after he asked “Mom!? Are you having fun?” I didn’t need to peer through his helmet to know he had a smile curling over his teeth.
Yes son, I really was. And we will all have fun again soon. When's the next one?
See you Sunday,