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  • Writer's pictureNed Neuhaus

A tale of two days

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Meters Rowed: 488,626

Calories Burned: 26,580

Days I will always remember on the track in 2020 (so far): 1

Day 1

I love to drive my car on the track, it is something that I get a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction out of, and I don’t get a chance to do it that often. I registered for my first SCCA Time Trial and was very excited for the opportunity to compete against some folks in my class.

Saturday was hot, but I knew it was going to be and thought I was prepared. Through the two practice sessions, my “crew chief”, John and I tried to figure out tires and pressures in the heat. I was less than thrilled with my times during those practice sessions, but I improved from 11th to 6th fastest of the day during practice.

Mind you, temps kept rising, I drank tons of water, I could not quench my thirst. Wearing a full driving suit, gloves and full face helmet is not a lot of fun in 90+ degree heat. The tires don’t like it either. We concluded I did not have the correct compound for the heat and my brand new “sticker” tires would likely not do well in extended sessions during the afternoon.

That meant I would have to do the “perfect lap” (Ford vs Ferrari reference) on my first lap of each session to try to save my tires for Sunday. Surprisingly enough, I pulled 3 seconds out of my practice times in my first timed lap, putting me 4th fastest. My day was suddenly coming together!

For the last session of the day, I mustered all the concentration I could. I was staged behind a well known, champion driver in a McClaren 720s (if you don’t know this car, look it up, it is an impressive and expensive supercar). I managed to take another 0.7 seconds out of my earlier timed session and was now sitting in 3rdout of 100 drivers. I was only 0.1 out of 2nd and 0.2 out of 1st.

I called Dee Dee on the way back to the hotel. I was so happy and proud of my day. She shared in my excitement and wished me well for day two. I went to bed knowing I had a real chance at a top 3 finish!

Day 2

There is a lot of waiting in motorsport. I had to be at the track for an 8AM meeting, with my first session to take place around 11AM. Weather was actually pretty appealing, the forecasted rain had not happened, it was overcast and much cooler. Times should be really fast.

At about 10:00, it started to sprinkle. That turned into a tremendous downpour. John and I changed tires in a small lake in the paddock. Then, they decided to delay my first session until 1PM. We had just made ourselves miserable changing to rain tires in a hurry for no reason! We had plenty of time.

My times were terrible in my first session. I really don’t drive in the wet, it is not fun for me, and I am usually just at the track for fun, not competition. I proved my lack of experience, finishing last out of my group.

The remaining sessions for the day were actually worse. Full downpour for one of them. Skating rink slippery for the other.

What a day a difference makes … I went from top of my world, to pretty disappointed.

Daily life with Parkinson’s

On the long drive home, I realized how my high and low days on the track this weekend mirror what days can be like living with Parkinson’s.

Some days, the symptoms are really not that noticeable. They may actually be there, but for some reason, I don’t notice them. Sometimes, I think it is attitude. Sometimes, I think I am just distracted. Sometimes, for whatever reason, they are less significant than a normal day. Regardless, those are days to cherish. I try really hard to do that. Just like I cherish the memory of Day 1 of my first time trial. If you read the commentary about Day 1, PD is not mentioned. This was about living my life and loving what I was doing.

Day 2 was not a fun day. Not because of anything I particularly did (except drive poorly in poor conditions), much like a bad day with PD symptoms. Just like there is often no particular reason for the good PD days, there is often no reason for why symptoms kick me hard some days. I try to keep perspective on those days that they are not that frequent and better days are ahead.

As I move forward, I won’t hardly think about Day 2 (what’s the point?). I will cherish the fond memory of Day 1 and the tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Much the same way I try to not focus on the bad PD days … this weekend will help me remember that when the next bad PD day comes, because I know there will be one. Now, I am better prepared.

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