Talk to the Helmet: The Off-Season Meltdown
The “off-season”. Comparable to being stuck behind Sunday drivers, a snowplough drive-by as soon as you finish shovelling, Rob Ford’s “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine” interview or anything else that leaves you contemplating life. The off-season is a long, painful process of reminding yourself that there are 58 days 11 hours and 14 seconds until you set tire on the track. Side effects may include mild depression, a racing-oriented thought process, sensitivity to scent of exhaust and mechanical lubricant – or anything mobile. It’s a hard pill to swallow but once it’s over and done with, it’s like heaven on earth.
I’m not sure about all you racers out there but if you’re anything like myself, your experience of the off-season meltdown most likely hits you in stages.
When you are just a few weeks past your last race day and are still under the illusion you will hit the track on the weekend. News flash, you won’t be on track for another five months. This stage is absolutely brutal. It consists of playing mind games on yourself for closure and the supportive people around you saying “don’t worry, you’ll be on the track in the blink of an eye!” I wish I could say that offseason went that quick, but it doesn’t. Thanks for the effort, mom.
Admitting you have a problem. At this point, you have given up on the whole “out of sight, out of mind” theory. From now and so forth, everything you do turns into racing. Apexing the staircase correctly and making it to the top before your opponent, criticizing someone’s “line” as they walk around a corner, when someone in a crowd blatantly cuts you off and you highly consider “dumping them”. Yeah, it happens. And last but not least a personal favourite of mine, when someone is walking inconsiderably slow in front of you and you catch yourself right before you were about to bump draft. Unfortunately, many of these actions aren’t considered socially acceptable which adds on to the torture.
New equipment, new year, new gear and a snow-covered track. A new year has begun and you’re only a handful of months away from being back where you belong. Exciting, right? Absolutely! The only issue here is the Polar Vortex we call a Canadian Winter. You are left to drown in your own sorrow with all of the new racing apparel, gear, pictures and equipment. It consists of blurbs of the previous stages and sudden rushes of excitement. All in anticipation for the three feet or more of snow to melt, replaced by the sound of motors ringing. This stage lasts much longer than the others because of the never ending surplus of god awful weather Mother Nature brings.
Feeling like Muhammad Ali. This is the stage were everything builds up and the days grow shorter. The majority of the pre-season goal setting happens during this time period. Forever being hyped up at the thought of racing, you discover your inner Energizer Bunny. You constantly have an urge to go at a fast pace, work out, build muscle and feed off of the other opponents. Whether it’s their status updates, old memories/photos, club chatter, whatever it may be – it fuels you to defeat them. The effort put forth in this stage can create the world of a difference in your race season to come, which I learned last year. This stage is my all-time favourite because everything comes together and all of your self-belief you lost in stage one starts to flow back. The snow starts to melt (haha, who am I kidding?) and the light is near! Hallelujah
Stage 5: TRACK TIME!
Need I say more? As much as we all dislike the dreaded winter months, I believe they serve a purpose. A purpose other than saving many families from racing bankruptcy. It’s all part of fuelling the passion and appreciating the sport and the opportunities we’ve been given!
Cheers to the near-death of off-season everyone, I can’t wait to get back on track soon!
-#614, Graci Young
** 14 year-old Graci Young blogs exclusively for Canadian Karting News in her column: Talk To The Helmet. She resides in Pictou, Nova Scotia, and currently competes in the Briggs & Stratton Junior division at events Regionally and Nationally.