A Race of Life and Death

Fred Boyles
Guest Contributor

“Oh shit I am dead.”  

My life has been defined by competitions with men. From the time I was 13 to 28 I raced motorcycles in the Southern California desert. I lived to race. One year I raced 48 weekends in a year. Every week was new and exciting, and the week before seemed to disappear from my memory. I had become addicted to the highs of life and death. 

“Oh shit I am dead’ came to my attention during a race where I arrived late to the Sunday morning start. I dressed in my leathers and safety equipment, which included a bell helmet with a football face bar across the front. This was before helmets were sold fully inclosed. The week before I had won my class and was high on my chances to win this day. I was in a state of delusional thinking. I pulled up to the starting line and within a minute the banner dropped.  

I got a great start and shot out front of the pack and dust. I just kept shifting up and stretched my lead out further and further.

Then reality came roaring in when I was going so fast that I could not avoid a small mound of sand with a sage bush on top. Once I hit it, my body was thrown forward over the handle bars and my belt buckle and club colors jersey wrapped around the crossbar effectively tying me to the bike. At such a speed, the crash had me and the bike cart-wheeling across the desert. I finally came to a stop with my pants and jersey ripped off and wrapped around the handle bars tying me to under side the bike, with the foot-peg stuck between the helmet and my football cross bar.  

The bike had my head pinned in the sand.  

My left lens of my goggles was filled with sand. And from my right eye, I was watching gasoline drip onto the cylinder head. I panicked and tried to shove the bike away but the foot-peg had me pinned in place. My leathers and jersey had me locked to my bike.

Two and three times I squirmed and scrambled to get away from the gas dripping onto the hot engine head, but I couldn’t get the three inches I needed to get that foot peg out of my helmet.  At this point I was sinking deeper In the sand and it was now filling my mouth.

I heard these words: “Are you dead?”

A fellow racer had stopped and lifted my bike the few inches I needed to get my foot-peg out of my helmet, allowing me to scramble away from that gas boom.  

I unwrapped myself from the motorcycles handlebars and took stock that nothing but my clothes and ego were broken.  

I drove back to a nearby hill to watch the race in my underwear.  

Just another Sunday.

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