Second bite of a delicious apple

Nostalgia attacks at the Laguna Seca race track as I fling my leg over this lovely, iconic Norton ‘Featherbed,’ known the world over as one of the finest race motorcycles ever conceived: all the old familiar sights and sounds, the identical saddle, throttle, footpegs and lever ergonomics. I’m home again. It’s as if I never left. Great motorcycles—like great . . . anything—live forever. The sensations are immensely pleasing. I am transported back to my youth as if by magic, watching Geoff Duke and John Surtees win on the Island, on Featherbeds, then having the chance to ride one as a motojournalist, wishing I could have raced it but waaaay too slow. Take a deep breath. Force down the upwelling of memories and concentrate. Make every instant count. The owner’s wife … [Read more...]

Racing dinghies, and a woman

The scene: sailing the 5-0-5 racing dinghy at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco. The ‘Five-Oh,’ as it is called, designed by John Westell in 1953 but still a thrill to sail and race, is five meters and five centimeters of brutal physical test, a beast in boat’s clothing. Beautiful but deadly. The Ferrari of racing dinghies, never rivaled in half a century, sailed worldwide by the thousand, capable of 15 knots and faster ‘on the plane.’ In this demonic device, the skipper steers, controls the mainsheet and centerboard, and manages the show. He or she is in sole charge. The crew handles the jib and spinnaker, rides the trapeze and obeys orders promptly. Managing the jib and spinnaker sheets requires an athletic combination of dexterity and strength, as well as … [Read more...]