Why road racers ride

A few days ago I read an interview with Jeremy McWilliams, about the recent deaths in road racing, in which he stated that William Dunlop "like a lot of riders these days, needed to make ends meet". Which in my (and some family and friends') opinion can way too easily be perceived as 'road racers only continue this dangerous sport because of money'. Now as much as I, and I'm sure many others with me, would love to be a citizen of McWilliams' magical fairy tale land where unicorns poop rainbows and we get paid to ride, for most of us this is the reality: we make ends meet, just so we can race. I hope this piece will help you understand a bit better, why road racers continue to ride in the face of death.

It in fact is not because we are reckless, fearless idiots, too stupid to consider the dangers. We are all very well aware of the dangers, and most of us have lost at least one close friend to the sport. Personally I ride in part simply because it does scare me, and pushing past this teaches me that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. It doesn't have much to do with money either; even the ones heading the field now and earning a living through road racing, spent years fighting to get there - honing their skills and spending a (small) fortune in the process. Why, then? Because we are incredibly fortunate to have found this thing that sets our soul on fire. One race week(end) makes us feel more alive and brings us more happiness than most people will ever experience in their entire lifetime. And provided we work hard enough, we get to do this multiple times a year, all while surrounded by the best people in the world. Trust me, I've traveled a lot, met many different types of people, and raced in 12 different paddocks; nothing compares to the friendship and comradery of the road racing world. From riders and teams to organisation to spectators and fans, we are family, and together we have the most fun making the best memories.

Especially the latter makes it incredibly hard when we lose one of our own. To then make matters worse, the 'road racing should be banned' discussion rises up. Even some within our little world will blame the sport for the latest death. To all of you who feel this way, I'd like to offer a different perspective: not our sport but life itself is cruel, as it always ends in death. Whether you sit at home on your couch, afraid of 'what if', or you live your life to the fullest - you are going to die. You can do everything 'right', and still die at 25 from a brain aneurysm, or get hit by a drunk driver. Just like you can be extremely reckless and live to be 80. Now I understand that living your life to the fullest doesn't mean the same for every single person. Some of us are happy pursuing a family and career in finances, some of us pursue road racing (and you can be damn sure that this is a very well considered decision). What I don't understand is why we seem unable to all accept our differences.

I've never seen or heard of a road racer go to the media to declare that "chess is way too boring, not to mention sitting still for that long is bad for your health, this game should be banned", yet outsiders say this about road racing all too often. I'd like to invite anyone who speaks out about our sport being banned to come to a road race open minded: feel the atmosphere, talk to some of the riders, talk to the spectators, watch the racing... and then see if you can still say our beautiful little world should be banned. If you are not willing to experience what we do and what we live for, then please, please know that you are talking out your ass, and you can, respectfully, stick your uneducated opinion back up where the sun doesn't shine.

Just a small part of my road racing family.