Tag Archives: track

Following the Donner Track

Ken Snodgrass | Michigan

“The cowards never started and the weak died along the way” – Kit Carson, Guide and Trapper

I bought this motorcycle two years ago looking for high adventure and, after a few training trips, I was ready to strike out. The idea was pretty simple: complete a cross country road trip, use my BMW RT as it was intended, and, since every trip needs an objective, follow the track of the Donner Party, who were famously trapped in the high Sierra Nevada Mountains in the winter of 1846-47. I’d also be following the track of Gabrielle Burton and her family, who followed the Donner Track in 1977. Gabrielle has written two books about the Donner Party: Impatient with Desire: The Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner, a fictional recreation of Tamsen Donner’s journal, and Searching for Tamsen Donner, an account of her family’s journey in 1977. Gabrielle had originally planned to make the trip solo on a Honda 350 in 1973, but as she said “Erosion eats away in drips. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, my fears about the trip became greater than my desire to take it.”

I decided to make the trip solo so that if I decided to bailout or change plans, the decision and consequences would be on me. The upside of the decision was that I met a lot of people since traveling solo on a motorcycle gives everyone permission to come up and start a conversation. The downside is that there is no one to share the experiences you encounter along the way.

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The Experience of a Track Day

Michael Snyder | Texas

As MSTA members we all have one thing in common; we love to ride. Riding however can be categorized into several different facets of our lives. Some tour many miles a year, some ride on weekends and others ride to events. Then there is the small portion of us that thoroughly enjoy the adrenaline rush, sounds and smells of the track. There is just something that gets your blood moving early on a Saturday or Sunday when that first bike starts up and you think to yourself “Here we go.” While I have done a track day here and there since 2008 the last couple of years I find myself yearning for the sounds, smells and culture almost constantly. About a week out from any planned event I find myself thinking back to the last event and running the laps in my head searching for something I can do better. I watch my videos looking for proper body position, gear selection or line around the corners playing them over and over to find that one or two things that I missed the first time. Don’t get me wrong, I am not the fastest nor the smoothest nor do I have great body position, but something I do have is drive and passion to improve my riding. Each time I go on track, I work on technique and becoming a better rider not only on the track but also on the street. I am a firm believer that the laps one does on the track relate directly to the miles one rides on public roads. I am a safer rider on the street because of my experiences on the track.

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