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Jan 22, 2011

A Fan From New Zealand Travels To Miller Motorsports Park For The World Superbike Races, Part One

Lynda Blair and one of her Ducati Monsters.
FIRST PERSON/OPINION:

I'm not sure where to start - this is my first-ever blog - so I'll start by introducing myself.

My name is Lynda Blair. I live in Wellington, New Zealand, with my husband of 25 years, Hamish. We both love motorcycles (I've been mad about bikes since I was 16, and I currently have two Ducati Monsters. Hamish has a BMW R1100S and a Yamaha Anniversary R1). I love road racing, and over the years have been involved with several motorcycle clubs, helping organize numerous race meetings here in New Zealand. I'm a very nervous flier.

For those who don't know where New Zealand is, it's in the South Pacific - about 1300 miles east of Australia. We're a small country of almost 4.5 million people, about the same number of dairy cows and about 32 million sheep (I had no idea we had that many sheep, but that's what the official Statistics NZ website tells me!).

We have motorcycle racing throughout the year. You may have heard of some of our racing motorcyclists - Burt Munro/"World's Fastest Indian"; Andrew Stroud and the Britten; Aaron Slight/World Superbike; Bruce Anstey/Isle of Man; Simon Crafar/GP500s; the BSL and the late Robert Holden. It's certainly not an exhaustive list, and it's in no particular order. Some of you who are old enough may remember back in the mid- to late '70s New Zealand ran the Marlboro Series, when many top overseas riders of the time (among them were a number of very fast Australians, Italian Marco Lucchinelli, Englishman Chas Mortimer, Belgian Jean Phillipe Orban, and from the USA Scott Brelsford, Pat Hennen"¦and a very young 15-year-old Randy Mamola!) came "down under" during the northern hemisphere winter and raced. They were very exciting times; we were very privileged to see such riders here.

For some time now Hamish and I have travelled to Phillip Island in Australia each year for either the GP or World Superbikes, or some years for both.

Both Hamish and I have accumulated a lot of vacation time over the last couple of years, and our respective bosses suggested that we should think about using some up"¦.so that sowed the seed of an idea in my head. We are avid watchers of both the MotoGP and World Superbike series. For the last three years, I've watched the SBK races at Miller Motorsports Park and thought how spectacular the track is"¦the heat haze from the desert-like ground and the bikes shimmering in the foreground, with those majestic snow-capped mountains in the background. Yes, we could have traveled to Europe and taken in two separate races in the same trip"¦but the vista of Miller sold me.

"So, Hamish," I said, "how about we use a couple of weeks of our vacation time and head to the United States in late May to go to the Miller round of World Superbikes?"

So it's now a month later, our tickets are booked and we've got a four-week holiday planned, centered around Miller Motorsports Park and World Superbike racing. We fly into LA and pick up a rental car for the duration (hmm"¦driving on the other side of the road; that'll be a challenge!!). From LA we head to Las Vegas for a few days, then drive up to Salt Lake City where we're based for five days. After the racing we'll take in some of Utah's spectacular scenery, then head south to Route 66, taking in the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam at some stage.

I'm nervous about the flight, but we're on one of the newest planes in the business, a Boeing 777-300. We're treating ourselves to premium economy seats, and hopefully I'll sleep through most of the trip - aided by the pills my doctor has suggested.

So watch this space as my excitement builds!

To be continued...