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November 2002

Hanging in, Hanging on

By Judith Geppert,

Judith in leathers and helmet getting into the motorcyle sidecar.

Sidecar motorcycle racing

One Monday I asked a friend what he did over the weekend, he said "went Sidecar Motorcycle Racing". So like a complete idiot, I thought to myself "Now that's just what I need to do".

After explaining to me what it was and how dangerous it was, I still inquired if I could have a go. So it was decided that I could trade my wheelchair in for a short while, and give sidecar motorcycle racing a try.

The ride of my life!

Speeding around Sydney's Oran Park Raceway circuit with your head and body just a few centimetres above the bitumen, is just another way to spend a lazy Sunday.

Sidecar Motorcycle Racing is an extremist sport and capable of reaching speeds of up to 300kph. These motorcycles usually have an 1100 cc motor, three wheels and a flat platform (approximately 50 cm wide) on which you balance yourself (no seat).

The driver handles the bike similar to a regular motocross bike, except the bike doesn't lean in the turns. The job of the passenger is to move his or her weight around to help go faster in turns and jumps. The passenger does much more physical work than the driver does since they move their whole body around continuously. Excellent physical conditioning is required for both the driver and passenger. One of the most important aspects of sidecar racing is "teamwork".

On the day that I went speeding around the racetrack, dressed in oil smelling leather jacket wearing a crash helmet, I shared the sidecar with one of the owners of the bike who made sure that I didn't come off on the bends.

The first lap was what you may call 'hair-raising', the telegraph poles looked like a picket fence. Viewing the racetrack from only a few centimetres above it, is something I'll never forget. We did three laps and reached speeds of 80-100 kph.

I learnt very quickly that day that the most important thing you learn in this sport is - just hang on!

I can recommend this sport to anyone who doesn't have a weak heart.

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