and the phone weren’t enough, I actually used the paper
calendar in the hallway: “Big day.”
“Honey, I’m impressed,” said my wife, studying the cal-
endar. It was early May.
I just smiled. She was doubtlessly praising my newfound
organizational abilities. “Yup. May 18th.” I said. “I’m look-
ing forward to it.”
She paused for a moment. “Me too,” she said. Then she
At that point, a million alarms went off in my brain. You
could actually hear them, right through my skull. “Me too”?
He’s a sick man, Paul.
My system is much simpler. I get up in the morning
and decide which race I want to do. If I don’t get up early
enough, the decision is made for me. It’s going to be an
REM motocross at Glen Helen or some other late-riser
event. If I get up early, it could be a desert race, but that
doesn’t happen much anymore.
The VCMC Quali-Fire was different. This is usually the
best off-road race in Southern California. It’s held on Native
American reservation land, so it’s not the usual parade of
whoops in the high desert, or the endless rock gardens
around Red Mountain. It has excellent trails, and the rules
are simple. No time-keeping. You go when someone tells
you to go; you stop when someone tells you to stop. It has
me written all over it.
This year I broke my pattern. I filled in the little box
that said May 18th on my computer’s calendar: “DON’T
FORGET—set alarm to 4 a.m.” I put the same note on my
phone’s organizer. It would be just like me to get up that
morning and drive to Glen Helen at 9 like usual, then spend
the rest of the day kicking myself. In case the computer
By Ron Lawson
“At that point, a million alarms went off
in my brain. You could actually hear them,
right through my skull.”
“If she’s a shrewd negotiator, then she
can probably get two or three date nights
out of it.”
What did that mean? May 18th? What happens on May
18th? The brain is a funny thing. I have no trouble remembering the date of the first race I ever won: December 2,
1973. I can remember birthdays. I can remember deadlines
and embargo dates. They all come on demand. You would
think my anniversary would be easy. Not so. So here’s
what I did for the next two weeks. Nothing. What could I
do? I sought advice from my closest friends.
Gary Jones: “Ride the enduro! She knows who you are! If
she wants to be with you on your anniversary, she can go
and run the pits. An anniversary isn’t just about the woman,
you know. It’s for both of you!” Gary, for the record, is currently single.
Pete Murray: “Being tough means surviving obstacles
and enduring incredible hardship. You should take her to
the opera or something. No matter how much you suffer,
no matter how intensely it hurts, take it like a man. It will be
easier if you train for it. You could work up to an anniversary by going to a few chick flicks, or getting a sitter for an
occasional date night. But don’t show pain. And whatever
you do, never mention the enduro. Next year the 18th falls
on a Monday, and you’ll be in the clear to ride anything you
want.” Pete, for the record, is a good man, an excellent
father and a thoughtful husband. Ugh.
Peter Vetrano: “It’s all about negotiation. Look at it logically. The 18th is a Sunday. Wouldn’t she rather go out
on a Friday or a Saturday? Trade dates. If she’s a shrewd
negotiator, then she can probably get two or three date
nights out of it. There’s probably a chart on the Internet
that shows that one anniversary is equal to 2. 7 non-anni-versary-based outings. Simply go by the numbers.” Peter,
for the record, is a successful businessman who has been
married four times.
Two days before the 18th, I was still hopelessly lost. I
had a great bike; it was a beautiful KTM 350 that we had
featured on the cover two months earlier, and I hadn’t ridden it at all. I was in the garage admiring it when Jenny
walked in. “Honey, would you mind if I went to a play with
my sister on Sunday? I know you were planning some kind
of anniversary thing, but I already had tickets a month ago.
I didn’t know how to ask you.”
Her sister? On our anniversary? The nerve. ❑
Calendars have never been my friend. I know people, like Paul Krause, who have calendars that would put the
ancient Incas to shame. Each day is marked with an elaborate system of codes and abbreviations denoting events,
schedules and appointments. Any given weekend is cluttered with numerous entries, written in different colors with
asterisks and footnotes. Primary targets are marked in red,
with fallbacks in orange. Sometimes there are two red notations on a given Saturday or Sunday. Those are days when
he’s planning to ride a desert race in the morning and go
to an awards banquet in the evening. Or worse, he has an
early race, then he plans to drive 200 miles to a place where
he’s riding the second stint in some epic team race.