It’s as if my heartbeat slows. I no longer hear it pounding in my ears but it echo’s in the background, dub dub, dub dub, slow and methodical. My breathing moves from rapid and shallow, to calm and measured, my whole body relaxes.
There is no distinction between the motorcycle and me because we are now riding as one. I begin the perfect lap.
The sensation of speed has diminished and the feeling of being rushed and frantic has vanished. I don’t feel like I am riding on the ragged edge, I don’t even feel like I am riding fast. It’s as if everything is moving in slow motion.
My vision is crystal clear. I can see every ripple and crack in the pavement and am looking as far down the glistening track as possible. I can see from edge to edge, it even feels as if I can see what is going on behind me, as I instinctively know where the other riders are.
I notice everything. I begin connecting the dots. The braking point approaches and my right hand automatically squeezes the brake lever with just the right amount of pressure. My machine responds perfectly, slows just the right amount as I approach the turn in point.
Almost unconsciously I become aware of the fact that my body is already perfectly set up and I don’t even remember moving across the motorcycle, my knees are squeezing the tank, my lower body is so connected to the machine underneath that I can feel every vibration, every rev, it is almost as if I have melted into the engine.
I look into the gorgeous curve, sun shining, the blue of the sky tinting the pavement a magical purple and my mouth softens, the tension dissipates and my lips curl into a sly grin. I spot my apex, the specific mark on the surface of the track; where I want to end up. I know the exact shape of it, the curved skid mark, darker than the rest, shaped like a moon.
My brain assimilates this information seamlessly and even though the motorcycle is still moving straight while my head is looking into the corner I feel no fear. I am right where I am supposed to be. With a deliberate and forceful press on the inside handlebar, my arms react to the visual information in my brain and the machine carves into the corner towards the magical apex. I feel like I am flying.
Before I reach the center of the turn my eyes flow effortlessly up to spot my exit point and simultaneously my throttle hand cranks on the gas. The sensation of speed fills me with a sense of purpose and a happiness that I can’t quite describe, and my sly grin turns into a big smile as I pick up the pace, faster, faster, faster.
The air is crisp and fresh mixed with the smell of powerful race gas while the revving of the engine sounds like music; my heartbeat joins the melody. It’s a clearing of my mind, a total “in the moment” Zen like state. My body is reacting but I’m not actually thinking about it, my subconscious has taken over.
I am riding a mistake free lap where all I have been working on and practicing in the past is coming together flawlessly, intuitively. My body feels like it is cutting through the wind. I feel the scrape of my knee puck on the ground, feel the tilt of my body. I hear the drag of the footpeg, the roar of the engine. The motorcycle and I move magically together to come back vertical. My head tucks behind the winscreen and while the trees and bushes, fences and barriers rush by in a blur, the path ahead is stunningly clear, a ribbon of asphalt, a fast paced dance.
Every reference point is spotted, every target hit. The dots are all connected, the lines are precise and flowing. Every movement is exact and executed with very little effort. This is why I do it. This is what non riders don’t understand. The perfect lap is the only time when I’m not thinking about anything else. When I’m completely in the moment and every thought is directed towards the movement my bike and me flowing around a series of twists and turns, where I’m more concentrated on one thing than any other time in my life.
It’s calm, it’s focus, it’s surrender, it’s peace. It usually happens when I decide to have fun, when I remember why I am out there riding, why I love it so much. When I stop trying to go fast, or qualify. When I just RIDE.
The perfect lap is dreamlike, one of those dreams where you can control everything.