"The Racer" by Robert Pandya
On a Friday morning I got up very
early to catch the final motorcycle qualifying at Pikes Peak. Don Canet
was riding perhaps the most important custom bike ever put out by
Victory Motorcycles. A bike that represented the heart and guts of the
brand and every proud employee connected to it.
I followed Don
out as he walked from the flaggers line towards the timed starting line
about 100 yards away. He was by himself and fully focused. I've seen that
look before. That long stare down the line. Facing the reality of
traction, momentum, and equipment. Anticipating the thrill, fear and
strategy needed to get to the end as quickly as possible. Facing the
very personal decision to charge ahead.
I thought that Don may have been walking away to get away from the
hub-bub of grid, but he was already racing...it just took me a few
minutes to get it.
Don was inspecting his turn-in for the flying
start - just around the corner in the photo. He was looking at gravel
that may have been on HIS line. HIS line because everybody else seemed
to dive in and hug the curb - but Don had a wide entry starting just
feet off of the flaggers station to increase his drive towards the wire
that triggered his run.
He had twelve perilous miles ahead.
Miles that had claimed another racers life just days prior. That weighed
heavy on all of us. 156 unique corners ahead. Many with guaranteed pain
awaiting a fraction of a seconds mistake. He has a life, people who
love him, people who respect and elevate him. He has a reverence for his
God and an appreciation for what people do to help him achieve his
goals and to somehow share in his skill and experience. With all of
that, his focus was on the feet prior to the official start, an
important few feet - for him.
Don gets paid to write. His
stories are tight and direct. His perspective is generous of those less
skilled than he. Canet has a genuine appreciation for his business and
craft and the great industry we share.
But in this photo and this moment Don is what he had to be to get through the next moments in his life as quickly as possible.
Don is a racer.