unlike anything

I never jumped a motorcycle until the day I did. There was tripidation in my voice when I spoke to other track-goers earlier in the day, "I don't need to jump, I'd be happy learning the basics of riding super motards."

And I believed myself. On dirt, the bike shifted, squirmed and shook under hard acceleration, yet, overtime I was able to get some feel of traction. Under pressure, in a hurried situation like the base of one jump feeding me into the bottom of a burm, my heart grew panicky and I'd stab the front brakes. Whew, I didn't crash but the experience was unnerving nonetheless.

Super motos are the opposite of everything I've ever ridden before, not just in wheelbase and suspension travel but in how steering inputs are initiated, brakes are applied and weight distribution mid-corner. I wasn't just learning to ride a new bike, I was on a new track on a unfamiliar bike with riding characteristics unlike anything I've known before.

One thing that became clear after a couple of laps was how forgiving the bike was to ride. i could brake while leaned over, stab the throttle and initiate an awkward steering input and the Suzuki 400sm stayed upright and motoring. I would have thought the wide wheelbase would make handling fuzzy but the 10 inches of suspension travel soak up any ripples in the pavement.

Power came on smooth and the rev-limiter came on quick but the track was short and there was never a need to go below 2nd or above 5th gear. Riding a motard was so visceral, so pure that the bike felt attached to my spine. The spooling of the tire, the vibration of the engine and the strength required to keep the bike from pulling your arms out of their sockets reminded me I am alive and well. In the day-to-day, modern world I find myself on autopilot but motorcycles remind me that i am in control, alive and well. A few weeks later I went out and purchased a motard so I could remember I am alive every day.