So last week Mr. Spade and I knocked off a bucket list item—we ventured out to partake in Colin Edward’s Texas Tornado Boot Camp! And oh my! I can tell you with sincere excitement that it was probably the most fun we’ve both had in as long as we can remember.

We booked our trip right after the Circuits of the Americas MotoGP races which we were attending as well (originally not in our plans though). The boot camp is pretty exclusive and there’s usually a waiting list if you don’t schedule far enough in advance. In addition, spectators and family aren’t really allowed so it’s very private and tailored to the individuals attending. All in all it’s an all inclusive 8 acre fun zone for adults. You can literally show up with the clothes on your back and you’ll be set to go because everything is provided.

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Since we were in Austin for the weekend, Mr. Spade, CaptainKeyes46 and I were invited to join the group of instructors and Colin a day early and had the privilege of Rossi joining in the festivities. Crazy luck would have it that Rossi decided to also attend the camp his first time. It was a pleasure to watch the pros go at it on the flat track and pound in the blue groove—very inspiring and energizing! It filled me with so much excitement that I couldn’t wait till the start of the camp for us so that I could have a go on the track.

The overall atmosphere of the camp was something I’d read about but to truly experience it was fantastic. It’s really much like a relaxed family bbq. It really felt like one of our moto family reunions to Deal’s Gap that we take yearly. Everyone was just so laid back and cool. People traveled from as far as Canada and Germany to see what the south had to offer, and I believe they were not disappointed.

So, some of the things I really enjoyed which I never thought I would, was the competition. I don’t consider myself a very competitive person, I’ve never cared to be the first or the best or whatever. What is important to me is how I feel about myself. I tend to set extremely high goals and standards that are hard to reach and then beat myself up when I think I fail at them lol. There was some of that going on as well, but I’ll discuss that in a bit. I really enjoyed the structure of the drills that were set up by the instructors. There were two components that I thought were pretty clever. Firstly, we were told what to do, a demo was given and then we were set free to do it. After a couple of rounds of struggling and crashing we would huddle back up and the instructors would tell us the next step or a trick in making the drill work or click. They basically let us try it out, struggle a tad and then gave us the solution on what to do…and voila—wouldn’t you know it worked! I think trying it out first, failing and then having that AHA moment was very helpful.

TTBC_4Each drill built on top of the last and utilized what you had learn previously until everything was strung together into a crazy fun romp in the dirt 🙂 The second thing I specifically enjoyed was that for the most part, the drills were set up as mini competitions whenever it was possible. If you do the drill by yourself you are less likely to push yourself out of that comfort zone, so I thought adding in a competitive factor was a fantastic idea. Not only did it make me push, but it was downright fun!!! You would just randomly pair up against strangers and go at it—what great fun! As someone who again isn’t competitive and pretty self conscious about the lack of their skill level, I was shocked as to how much I enjoyed it. There was something amazing about constantly being shoved outside of your comfort zone that eventually it became the norm haha!!! Each moment became a thought of “Ok, what are they going to have me do now? WHAT??! no way!! holy hell!!”

So with that said, while I had many great satisfying moments, I also had my trials and failures. I’ll be honest, I went into this without many expectations because I didn’t know what I was really getting into and I’d only been on a dirt bike just once in my life before. However as day 3 rolled on I had started to develop a self confidence and just an all around wonderful feeling of self satisfaction…..which was all shattered in one fell swooping drill…the dreaded donut—my nemesis (which I desperately wanted to conquer). This was the culmination of all we had tried to learn that day, just forget what’s in your head, stop thinking and lay the bike down on the inside of your leg and rip the throttle allowing the bike to sling around with you. It looked soooo easy, so easy a child could and did do it. I tried, I tried my hardest until I physically couldn’t hold the bike up anymore. Then I switched sides and tried some more until I got tired. Then I flipped and flopped around from side to side for what felt like an eternity until Mr. Spade and one of the instructors had to separate me from the bike. Not a proud moment for me as my eyes watered with utter frustration while trying to manhandle my machine. I got it to spin 180º but that’s it. in the end I was too exhausted to perfect the concept and do a full donut. However I can tell you one thing I did notice, while I wasn’t successful in the drill I did go from being terrified of the machine, to frustrated, then to angry and all in the process I forgot about my initial fear. What an odd thing as I reflect on it now. I’ll have to do this again and see how I feel a second time around.

However after another drill, all went back to normal and I just resigned myself to focus on the next task at hand. Then came the race! As a massive thunderstorm started to rage outside we were all ready for our 1 hour endurance race on the massive football field sized course under a glorious metal structure. I can’t be certain but I’m thinking the added thunder, lightning and crazy pounding rain all around us fueled something fierce in everyone. Till this moment I haven’t really crashed yet, maybe a little spill or drop here and there. However when the race started I felt something come alive inside of me. I’m assuming it was adrenaline, but not the fear driven kind (which is what I’m used to and hate—that gut synching feeling of Oh shit!). No this was different, this was something I’ve never experienced yet before, something I was apparently eager to hurt myself for. I pushed harder during that race than I did the entire 4 days of the camp. I kept crashing and getting up, trying to manage just why I crashed and how to not do it again in the same turn. I did manage to bang my hand up real bad and initially I thought it was a possible fracture. I was also a little dazed so it took me a moment to compose myself and assess if I could continue racing. Funny how a little 20mph tumble can mess you up lol!

But that feeling of joy and excitement, that glimmer of pure unadulterated fun (which I can only guess is what racers feel) kept me going and wanting more.

And after hubby stuffed me into a corner and crashed me..twice…I was even more filled with that fire. It was certainly a new experience, one of those that shapes you as a human, that makes you discover something new about yourself, that makes you grow. I don’t expect many people to understand this but I know some of you will and you’ll smile with me 🙂TTBC_5

Overall it was a very amazing experience to share with my friends. Most of it was a very personal journey of growth and learning that we all experienced in our own ways. Nothing beats pushing yourself to the max, seeing what you’re made of and then enjoying a beer and amazing food with newfound friends. In fact we had so much fun that we plan on going again next year and bringing more of our friends along for the ride!

Cheers!

~Red

As an added bonus, check out our tribute to legendary riders in a legendary place video here: The Italia Cowboy and the Texas Tornado Kids