Today I was working on chapter 7 of the manuscript of ” To Drink the Wild Air” to finish the last round of editing.
All human actions have one or more of these seven causes:
chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion and desire
~ Aristotle ~
In my case it was passion and desire. Here is an excerpt from a story of early 1984. I was still in the firm grip of a raging racing fever. I still can feel the thrill and emotions of this ride in the mountains…
It was cold riding through the glorious scenery in the high Alps, and we rode in both clear skies and snowstorms on that trip. I wasn’t foolish enough to try and show Robert up on snowy, icy roads, but we had some warmer days and dry roads at one point, and I finally saw my chance; I started to race him. He was expecting this and naturally couldn’t let his ego down—he accepted my challenge. Immediately, we both forgot about the scenery, forgot about the fact that we were at an altitude of seven thousand feet on narrow, winding, two-way mountain roads without any protecting guardrails to shield us from sliding down the steep long slopes into the valleys below us, and that there were a number of annoying cars on the road.
Gradually, we increased our speed and went faster and faster, the stunning landscapes passing by in a blur. We had long lost our friends when we finally hit a stretch of road with little opposing traffic. By this time we were fully engaged in our nice “friendly” street race, traveling at speeds around 80 mph (130 km/h). Robert had been leading slightly. I was already pumped up by an incredible adrenaline rush and promptly forgot all about my resolution not to use racing techniques on public roads, but this opportunity was too good to ignore; We were coming up onto a sharp, left-hand curve, and I took my shot. The roads were very tiny, and there was clearly not enough room for both of us, at least not for the maneuver I was just about to pull off. We were going far too fast to stay on the road if we failed to make the necessary split-second decisions. Robert had already hit the brakes to prepare for this turn up ahead of us. The point at which he chose to brake, I used to downshift, giving me much more momentum; I had to react quickly since speed is an unforgiving opponent, and so I slid by him on his left side. I actually grazed him with my right shoulder, knee, and elbow when I finally hit the brakes; was he ever shocked! We were going head-to-head into this left turn. I leaned the bike over and cut the turn crossing onto the other side of the road dedicated for oncoming traffic, in the hope that there was no car coming up the hill. I took my chance, accelerated quickly out of the turn, went back to my side of the road, and was triumphantly in the lead. Robert had lost his momentum after I cut him off, or as we say when we talk shop, “closed the door on him.” I was on a furious run now and kept on going in total and utter race mode to the end of the mountain road. Finally, I realized I didn’t even see Robert in my rearview mirror anymore, and so I stopped and waited for everyone else to catch up with me. Story of my life.