The Gays Experience Road Atlanta From A Superbike

At the end of 2021, I took a two-day course from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which earned me a motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license. Based on that information, one might be inclined to believe I have some experience on a motorcycle. The problem is, I haven’t been on one since.

Cut to me, green as can be, suiting up in the Road Atlanta paddock during the MotoAmerica Superbikes at Atlanta races. The Roadracing World Action Fund, a nonprofit advocate for motorcycle racetrack safety, offers ride-alongs on a specially modified 2-seat Dunlop ECSTAR Suzuki Superbike at events like these. Two laps on a legitimate racetrack, at speeds that my fleet of Honda Accords could only dream of. Truthfully, I was terrified, but I knew I could NOT pass this opportunity up.

The confidence boost from feelin’ kinda sexy in the $3000 or so worth of safety gear helped, but only a little. I spoke briefly with Chris Ulrich, the rider for the program who would be entirely in charge of what my poor body was about to experience. Chris told me that the program started in 2001 by offering rides to media professionals. The whole idea being that by experiencing it themselves, the media would understand what the riders and bikes are doing out on the track. The program was subsequently expanded in later years to include rides for anyone willing to make a $350 charitable donation.

“How do you describe a feeling? I’ve… only ever dreamt of this.”

– In My Arms, Kylie Minogue

In hindsight, I think it is best that I was the first ride of the day. We traipsed on over to the grid at around 10am, I swung my leg over the bike, and there was no turning back. From the moment we set off, it was like nothing I had ever experienced. My hands had an absolute gorilla grip on the handle that I was SO thankful was fitted to the bike. I felt like I was inside of a video game, like I was having an out of body experience.

I’ve been to races at Road Atlanta before, and I have played the track in video games, but the sensation of seeing it from the back of a motorcycle at speed is above and beyond incomparable. The weight shifting, leaning heavily into corners, and intense sensations of acceleration and braking were not like the four-wheeled travel I was used to. I’m told that we reached speeds of up to about 150 miles per hour, at which point the air was pushing my helmet upward significantly.

Towards the end of lap two, my poor, limp wrists felt more than a little bit trembly. On the back straight, I started to worry that I would simply fly right off the back of the bike. Just as I thought it might happen, we were braking and pulling back into the pit lane. When I tried to get off the back of the bike, I realized that I was sweating and shaking profusely. Normally you wouldn’t be wearing clothes under the suit (um, woof) but I was, since it wasn’t mine.

I want to emphasize that this experience was two (2) entire laps, and it positively WRECKED my body. My wrists, forearms, and neck were beaten within an inch of their lives. As I tried not to visibly quiver in the media room later that day, the top 3 riders in the Superbike class came in for an interview.  One by one, I listened to them describe Road Atlanta as one of the most physically demanding tracks they’ve raced on. Let me tell you, I’m glad I heard that after my ride.

I truly feel blessed to have bookended the motorcycle experience in the way that I have. The track environment allowed me to safely experience a thrill unlike none other and has unquestionably given me a deep respect for what it takes to race a motorcycle. Don’t expect to see me clamoring to buy my own motorcycle just yet, but I do know that Honda makes them, and I think that would be a cute addition to my garage.

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