Spotlight on Ohlone:
Dancing on the edge of disaster
By Nicole Johnson, Features editor.
Thursday, March 5, 2009—Reprinted from Monitor.
Screech! went the tires as the motorcycle went down on its side on the track. Officials desperately waved yellow flags at riders speeding around the corner, as Bob Dochterman felt his Honda CBR 600 fly out from under him. Irritated with himself, he watched his bike go over a hill to the edge of a race track, dig in the mud, start to tumble, flip a couple of times, and still have time to do a few somersaults.
Dochterman didn’t see the drivers rounding the corner of Infinieon Raceway the wet morning of Wednesday, Feb. 18, as he slid along like a bullet on the asphalt. His bike inched lower to the track and the wheels lost traction with the ground, a phenomenon known as “lowsiding” in the motorcycle world.
Dochterman, head of Ohlone’s radio station, KOHL, said he wasn’t hurt because he was wearing leather and extra padding. After the incident, he stood next to his wrecked bike giving a thumbs up, to show officials that he was okay, and there was no need for an ambulance.
He said that if he would have “highsided”—the opposite of lowsiding, in which the tires let go and catch a certain way, catapulting the rider over the top of the bike –“that would hurt.” As it was, however, he escaped with only minor bruises.
As a rider of 20 years, he warns, “Anytime you go out [on the track] it could happen during the course. If you’re going to ride close to the edge of the bike’s capacity or your own abilities, do it on the track,” not on the street.
He said the key to driving motorcycles is to understand the tires. “There’s nothing more important than tires.” Only when they are heated up do they reach their operating potential.
He said his error and impatience, along with the rain-wet track, caused the accident. Dochterman was too impatient to do the typical three laps of warmup; instead, he only completed one. On the green racetrack, with “no rubber or sticky stuff on the track,” riding on cold tires, “I was dancing on the edge.”
This was Dochterman’s first time having a crash caught on film. “That’s pretty excellent!” he said. Infinieon is a professional track that always has photographers.
Of Infinieon, Dochterman said “it’s a pretty safe track compared to the streets, especially at an extreme level.”
He conceded that while motorcycling is dangerous, any sport carries a certain degree of risk. “If I gave up [riding motorcycles] and [took] up golf, I’d probably get hit in the head with a golf ball and pass out.”
Dochterman has no aspirations to become a professional racer, just to “get out there and have a perfect lap. I want to do my personal best.”
His bike, he said, was not irrevocably damaged by the crash. It “takes a licking and keeps on ticking. The engine fired up even after the somersaults.
“This is just a hobby,” he said, “like some people play golf. I do this.”
There was “cosmetic damage” done to the bike, but nothing too serious. The handlebar broke in half, but the engine was fine. Dochterman has a lot of spare parts, so he plans on fixing the bike himself. He hopes to get his bike fixed for under $1,000, or even $500.
Another interesting motor-related experience of Dochterman’s was getting to play a part in the Matrix 2. He was a part of the freeway chase scene, as an extra driver. He was able to get into the movie because he was involved with a movie extra company.
They were looking for doubles for agent Smith, so he auditioned for that. It turned out they were going to have more computer generation than actual people for that character, but they did have a deal for driving.
“So, it worked out,” Dochterman said. “I was only in the movie for a couple of seconds, but if I had to say one thing about working on a movie, you get fed like a king.”