That is not a statement that you will hear very often, but in this case it is completely true!
Recently I was invited karting. Yes, people still do the go-karting thing that I thought had died out back in the early 2000’s! I was really chuffed to be asked along because it’s a group I didn’t feel I had a place with really. Not for any other reason than I do a very different job to them.
Then it kind of struck me that I had been invited to go to the Autrodrome‘s outdoor karting place and drive a go-kart (are they still called that or is it like an old person saying “The Facebook”?!) around a track. With other people.
This presented so many issues for me I hardly know where to start!My first issue was my weight. Was I going to be too fat? I was very thankful to note that I was well and truly under the 135kg weight limit, so that went out of my head quickly. In it’s place however was a little bit of sadness that I couldn’t use that as an excuse to not give it a go. Stupid, I know. But true.
My biggest fear was the helmet. It has to be full face. I don’t like things on my face. I can’t even have a facial as I stop breathing if they spend to long touching me. Yes, I know that is strange but I never said I was normal. All the time I spent in Bermuda jumping on and off scooters, my helmet was half face, meaning that it covered my head and the only thing in front of my face was the visor. This was fine. Nothing really touched.
When Mum and I were bumbling around Box Park before heading to The Roxy, I found a random sushi restaurant that is Yamaha branded/sponsored and it turned out they sold Nolan helmets. These are the brand that I always had before so knew what size roughly to try. Turns out that you need a bigger size for full face. Also turns out that I could manage all of 10 seconds before my chest became tight. So that bode well for 15 mins driving around a track.
My next worry was the outfits. Would I fit into them? Did I want to put them on anyway? How often were they cleaned. Then, how often were the helmets cleaned. So I ended up turning into my germaphobe sister about the whole thing. Thankfully I knew someone who had been and he advised that the helmets were cleaned regularly and that you were all given disposable head glove thingies to use under them.
I was appeased about the helmets but took with me some Dettol wipes just in case. Also, I took baby wipes and hand sanitiser for after the driving outfit came off. Oh, and a change of clothes. I know this may seem OTT but it was necessary for me to be able to balance my mind before I went.
The only thing I wasn’t worried about at all was driving that little kart around in circles. How hard could it be, right?! I can drive. I have driven cars from a Fiat Punto to a supercharged Hummer H2. The driving would be the easy bit. And it was safe. You are all strapped in…. or so I thought. Turns out that you weren’t but at least I didn’t worry about that before I got there!!
The day arrived and The Boy spent a fairly unreasonable amount of time telling me it was all going to be ok and that I could do it. He is now well used to my self doubt and worry so talked me through it despite not being fully awake and basically having no sense of fear so no clear understanding of what I was actually going through! While talking it through with him, I packed up my bag, put on a full face of make up (because it feels like war paint sometimes and gives me confidence!) and I was finally ready to go.
My friends picked me up so I didn’t have to find my own way there, and I don’t think I paused for breath the entire journey. I chattered along and entertained everyone with the randomness of my thoughts. They had all been great in the run up to the day when I expressed my fears, so they were great with the nervous chatter too and let me run with it.
We arrived at the Autodrome and suddenly everything started to go really quickly – not just the people already out on their loops who were hurtling by! Turns out this was a REALLY good thing because it didn’t give me much time to think. Suddenly I was all dressed up, helmet in hand and watching a safety video before going out to my assigned kart.
That is when I struggled though.
Firstly, I couldn’t fit very well into the seat. As you know, I carry my curves mostly in my behind. Also, because I am fairly long legged, I couldn’t get the seat back far enough so that my knees weren’t around my shoulders. Thankfully a chap came along and switched me over to a new one that a) had a bigger seat, and b) a seat that moved back a little further. Not quite far enough. My legs really got in the way of my hands.
But my biggest challenge was yet to come. I had to get the helmet on, done up and with the visor down. That was really hard. I had a bit of a wobble. I don’t like things on my face, as I said already. However I really cannot cope with things on my neck. I had slacked off the chin strap because the way it was, it sat at the top of my throat under my chin, but they spotted that and made me do it tighter. I was just thankful that they never discovered that my helmet was a size bigger than I needed!
I sat in my little clown mobile and practiced. I managed to cope with the helmet on and done up as long as the top of the jumpsuit wasn’t. That was just all too much. I got myself used to that sensation and then practiced putting the lid down. I nearly hyperventilated but I gave myself a talking to, and then a sterner talking to.
Do you know how I did it though? I simply didn’t want to embarrass myself any further.
I was already the fat person in the biggest suit they had. I already had to change cars, which meant really struggling to get up out of the tiny, low down, awkwardly positioned stupid kart. I was already the person who had to be dealt with about the chin strap. I didn’t want to be the one who ran away.
And I didn’t.
I got in and I drove my 15 minute session.
I may not have been a female Stig with a time of 1 min 54 secs per lap (yep – I was officially the slowest person and therefore last!), but I did it and I was euphoric. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I did it. I didn’t curse once. I didn’t slide sideways. I didn’t spin off. I didn’t crash.
I Driving Miss Daisy’d it around and enjoyed myself…. for the first couple of laps. Then I got bored. Then I got super bored. Then I had a little sing song. Then I got more bored. The euphoria was mostly about crawling out of the stupid small thing and being able to stretch my cramped legs out!!
Karting is totally NOT the sport for me but I conquered some fairly major anxieties so I could give it a try…. and now I don’t have to do it again!
(Also, I wasn’t the only person using the wipes or the sanitiser at the end of the race so I felt much happier about being the crazy person who bought it all!!!!!)