So what do you do if you’re a motorcycle racer and winter sets in? In most of the United States, you hibernate. Maybe you work on strength training or cardio, or if your budget allows maybe you head south for the winter to ride tracks that don’t get snow. If you live in Michigan, the first days of winter tell you that it’s time to break out the electric screwdriver and build up some studded tires. Winter, at least to those in the mitten-shaped state, means that it’s time to go ice racing.
As much as I love to ride, nothing about racing bikes equipped with studded tires on a frozen lake appeals to me. There’s a razor-thin line between traction and no traction, and crossing it means a hard low-side impact on a surface that hurts more than concrete. Road rash isn’t a problem, but broken bones probably are, and then there’s the whole issue of cold: if you can’t feel your fingers, it’s a little hard to modulate the throttle and brake. Frostbite should never be one of the dangers associated with riding a motorcycle.
I suspect that ice racing is born from the desperation of knowing that riding season is still three months away. Faced with riding in the worst possible conditions versus no riding at all, some riders embrace the absurd. They suck in their friends by saying how much fun it is (without admitting to how much suffering they endure), and suddenly you have mass hysteria. Everyone does it, only because no one wants to be known as the “pussy who couldn’t handle the cold”. I’ve done my time up north, but there’s a reason I now live in the south: I just don’t have the patience to drive 1,000 screws into a set of knobbies.