Kim and I recently celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. The more I think about it, the more impressive that milestone seems to be as many people will never hit that magic number. I know what you’re thinking. Impressive yes but what does that have to do with motorcycles? Well, the answer is that for those 30 years, and even a little longer than that, motorcycles have been part of our journey in one way or another and I consider myself very fortunate to have a partner who shares my interests. At least she pretends to anyway.
Way back before we got married, Kim came along during my less than stellar road racing career. Along with consuming a bunch of my time, the racing also consumed pretty well every spare dollar that I had, so there wasn’t a lot of extra cash to take her out for dinner, a movie, or a quick round of mini golf, yet I never seemed to hear her complain. Although she stopped short of holding an umbrella for me when I sat on the grid, she would do whatever else she could do to help either at the track or at home. This included custom painting my helmets and at one point when I was in a bind, she even talked her mom into letting me store my race bike at her house for a few months. After the rocky road race career, there was a brief dabble into flat track and although it seemed obvious there weren’t a lot of checkered flag laps for her in the future, she was still behind me every step of the way. It was between the road racing and flat track racing that we decided to get married, and as I write this, I think about how she might have got the short end of the stick once again on this occasion. After our wedding night it was time to head off for a romantic getaway and I couldn’t wait to get to our destination. Mexico? Nope. Hawaii? Nope. Banff? Nope. My lucky bride was whisked away to Shannonville to spend another weekend at the track. I know what you’re thinking ladies, but sorry, I’m taken.
It wasn’t long before kids came along and although they put a slight damper in the motorcycle hobby, I still did my best to stay involved and by association so did Kim. I would usually try to hit a few events a year and most of the time Braden wanted to come as well. When he was young of course this meant bringing diapers, toys, extra clothing, and of course all kinds of kiddie snacks that he was nice enough to share with me (although he probably didn’t realize how many Dunkaroos we had actually brought). All this extra packing was done by Kim of course, and I’m sure every time we headed out, she shook her head the whole time as she packed all the necessities while I basically just worried about grabbing my favourite racing shirt and hat. I remember one particular weekend at Mosport when Braden was about three. After racing was completed on Saturday, a freak storm came out of nowhere and we watched in shock from the van as our tent that was full of blankets, clothing, food, and about seven pounds of Hot Wheels disappeared in the wind. When the storm was over, we went scavenging and dragged the soaked and destroyed mess back to the van. I kind of expected us to head home at that point, but Kim put on her Super Woman cape, found us a hotel, and we were back watching the next day after a good nights sleep.
A few years later Braden started racing and our vacations kind of changed then as well. Most of our vacations turned into ‘racing vacations’, where we would head to a far away destination for a race and then try to quickly take in a few touristy things before heading home. Surprisingly we did this for 14 years and during that time she became the ultimate planner, trying to maximize what free time we had between racing and driving.
When Braden quit racing, we really started travelling and it became very obvious that we had been missing out. We try our best to hit a couple of sunny destinations every year but along with that we are still spending lots of time at the track. My announcing for Flat Track Canada keeps that racing itch scratched, and true to form Kim is with me at every event. She’s not a huge fan of how early we arrive at the track every day, but she takes it in stride as she knows I like to cruise the pits to get the scoop from everybody before racing starts. Along with the FTC races we usually try to hit a couple AFT events each year and do our best to hit a couple of the Canadian Superbike rounds as well. And I guess I should mention that she bought me a new street bike a few years ago. I really am spoiled I think.
As I said at the start of this, we just celebrated our 30th anniversary. Almost a year ago Kim decided that all she wanted to do for our anniversary was to have a big party at our place. She did a bunch of planning (of course), and with the help of a bunch of wonderful friends and family we had a great get together with almost 70 people there. With a pretty good cross section of people from the last three decades, we had a bunch of different groups represented at the party including work friends, school friends, hockey friends, and of course racing people. I spent my night trying to visit as many people as I could and really didn’t spend much time with Kim. Hours later the party was winding down and before I knew it the only people left were the gang from racing. Without missing a beat, Kim brought the tv and computer outside and just like that, we were settled beside the fire watching the Sacramento Mile. Some things never change.
Not sure how I got so lucky to find somebody who shares my passion, but I feel very fortunate. I still feel a little bad about the honeymoon in Shannonville though. I think for our 50th I am going to take her to Hawaii. Please don’t tell her, its going to be a surprise.
- From Todd Vallee