Photo by Lee Woolcock
Britt Bohannan Arechiga
Britt came to Barcelona in October 2008 from her native California.
Having won two co-ed championships (and finished second and third in several more) on the club racing circuit, she is hoping to make a return to the sport, competing in a few races next year at Montmelo. She has done some freelance test riding and writing for Solo Moto magazine and writes a blog: brittatlarge.wordpress.com
I got my first motorbike when I was 26, which is pretty late for most people. I started riding on the racing track one month later. There was a big mountain in Southern California with around 70 turns on it going up; it's called Palomar Mountain and it was where I rode every Saturday and Sunday. After a year or so of riding up and down that mountain and the track as well, a few of the guys I rode with suggested I start racing.
My dad was a motorcycle freak before I was born and was always trying to get me to take part in sports biking. Kind of strange to have your dad say “You should get a motorcycle.” When I finally got one, I was like: “Dad, why didn’t you tell me to get one of these before?”
It took a little while to decide, but I started racing GP125 bikes. Those bikes teach you about taking corners. People who ride big bikes tend to rely on speed and horsepower to get them out of trouble, but at some point you need technique.
You can’t think about the danger. When people start out racing, there are usually two types of personalities: the one who crashes and never races again, and the one who has a bad crash and is lying on the ground, unable to move, saying: “How’s my bike?”. I fall into the latter category.
I’ve had a lot of surgery. I had a rod in my tibia, a plate in my clavicle and a pin in my wrist, although they are all out now. I used to make such a noise going through airport security.
Like other sports, you go into a zone. You use your full concentration and it’s really fluid. It’s both mental and physical. There’s nothing as rewarding as when you have success in racing, when everything comes together.
At the same time, it can be the scourge of your existence. It can take all your money, it can make you just want to quit. There are so many variables as to why you won’t finish a race, not start or crash, that have nothing to do with you. Several times I’ve been taken out because of a mechanical failure and you get no points because you didn’t finish.
The club racing circuit is a pretty tight community. The people become your friends. Racing with guys has never been an issue, although two or three times on a track day, which is open to the public, I’ve had guys on their big 1,000cc bikes crash trying to pass me.
My most memorable race was in 2005. There were three of us racing for the lead. We were going round the corners three astride, pushing each other with our elbows. It was so exciting. At one point, we lapped the people coming behind us. At the finishing line, there was so much screaming from the crowd. I came third but it was my favourite race ever. I remember it so clearly.
I love going mountain-biking in the Collserola. You’d think I’d be somewhat competent on those two wheels, but the truth is, I am absolutely terrible!