The Year In Review: Looking Back & Forward

Joyous new year to you all! The coffee is on for some, and the Bloody Mary mix is out for others. Some are looking on with apprehension, some with excitement; others just see another day. Whatever floats your goat.

New years are a time to get your bearings, but I do not like to use them for much more than to check in, then move on. To me, looking back is a great way to lose momentum or fall on your face. But at the same time, when done the right way, it’s a great way to gain perspective. When I briefly look back at 2016, it gives me a chance to remember what I was focusing on and see if I hit what I was aiming at. It also allows me to decide if I still want to aim at the same targets in the coming year, as well as where to set my sights in order to hit the moving targets of future goals.

2016  had vague goals for the most part, but setting the record at Pikes Peak and winning every race we attended were measurable goals for the team. Personally, I also returned to full-time status in college, and the odometer of my street bike says I “took more trips.” But beyond the simple numbers, there were some cool highlights. Here are a few.

The Rise of Matt

Probably my favorite accomplishment wasn’t even mine, it was how fast Matt Blank picked up co-pilot duties on the sidecar. The guy is already a bona fide thrill-seeker with his background in base jumping and rock climbing, but he had the sense of timing needed to keep the sidecar in position, as well as the memory needed to learn new race tracks quickly. The only downside was that he seemed so flawless, so soon, I often forgot he was still learning…

We've had ups and downs already this season.

On the upside, we have won every race we have entered except one. That race we could have won if not for me having serious doubt about a tire vibration and then miscounting the number of laps (they waved the white flag twice and I thought the race was over, so I just gave up once I realized, seeing how the gap was so huge and the machine was vibrating).

Using the new (to me) Shelbourne chassis and Matt’s extra body weight to help hold the bike down, he and I broke my personal lap record at both tracks we attended, then broke the all-time sidecar record at Pikes Peak. Basically, everything we did exceeded expectation, then got better incrementally. We ran into setbacks, but we worked forward instead of playing a game of catch up.

 

Travel

This was a mixed bag for me, and it had to do with my goals. I did not have a specific, measurable goal for travel. 2016 became the year I decided (midway) to pivot my attention from racing to adventure in general. I missed being on the road for something besides towing a race bike. I made a pact with myself to travel more, to write more, to take more pictures, and share the adventure.

I created 2hearts1horizon, a stillborn adventure blog with tumultuous energy and potential, but no direction or planning.  Without a plan, it fizzled. Still, I learned about the process, the industry, and about the mechanics behind travel writing and blogging. Future endeavors will be more fully thought out, and the lessons I’ve been learning in college (studying business marketing) will no doubt help.

I already have another project under development, but with so many things clawing at my attention it has to stay in the pet-project category for the time being. Freelance writing and writing for more varied outlets is on the dance card for 2017.

The Road Ahead

Education remains a big focus and is a huge reason the racing calendar was reduced so much in 2016. I returned to school full time, aiming for a bachelors degree in marketing. For 2017 racing will stay on the back-burner. The Shelbourne remains for sale. I have offers to continue as a co-pilot with other teams, or I can go back to two wheels in any number of disciplines (flat track, vintage, scrambles). New horizons people: I’m not chained to one discipline. It’s about adventure and pushing boundaries. It’s about seeking challenge and my personal limits, not sidecars (they are pretty cool, I know).

I could also add a wheel and team back up with Gina, who has not sworn off the possibility of some desert racing with a 1600cc Bug or a lightweight buggy. You know, Dakar awaits… or maybe some SCORE racing here in California. Baby steps.

Specifically, Team Johnny Killmore will race the two California rounds with AHRMA in April and May. Anything after that will be decided case-by-case.

Photo: Steve Fooshee
Photo: Steve Fooshee

I also like the idea of hanging up the race suit for awhile and focusing on building some project bikes (one-off race events excepted). My RD400 cafe racer has sat for years because of my racing. My dual sport project, my cross-country-do-everything design… all my fevered dreams were pushed aside for racing. It would also give me new material to write about if I were traveling to cool places on these project bikes, which would feed my writing by giving me something to talk about. As we all know, all work and no play

And there you have it. Not so much new year’s resolutions, but more a look at what’s to come. The next phase will be measured in miles per day instead of miles per hour. Sell the race bike but stay involved in motorsport on the outskirts. Realign my focus toward projects in the garage.

sr500
Many travels await.

With racing curtailed and projects filling the void, I should have the perfect springboard for the other two goals this year: writing and travel. Full time school means limited time and money, so trips are necessarily short. However, I live near San Francisco, putting me in the heart of some really good destinations.

Exploring the left-coast gives me time to beef up my photography skills, while I write about travels, destinations, project updates, and any other lunatic ramblings that the world throws at me. My goal is not more blogging here on my own web page though; the expectation is to write for pay and to build a portfolio, eventually taking this from hobby to vocation to profession.

If you have read this post entirely you see the problem: too many irons in the fire. Building projects in the garage, racing motorcycles, traveling, writing, full-time college… where does this guy find time to sleep? I assure you I am aware, and perhaps now you, dear reader, are aware of why Team Johnny Killmore only competed in three events during 2016? Something will have to give, and it will. If I made a New Year’s resolution for 2017 at all it would be to get rid of a plan.But I prefer to put too much on the plate and let life push lesser priorities overboard.

So welcome aboard, and don’t worry… there is always room for you. There is room for you to follow the images, the stories, the machinations, and the tribulations. Always remember where my news page is. Better yet, grab the weekly digest and have something to dive into each Sunday. We will power ahead and keep building. There is cool stuff to see and to create. Let’s see what is out there to behold… together.

Full sail ahead 2017.

 

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