Author : Ken McGrath

My body goes limp and it’s like floating, like there’s no gravity. Then I feel the zoom, my shoulders jerk back and I’m off.

Blood rushes to my head, fingertips scuttling like tiny crabs dancing over the keyboard, a whoosh by my eyes as the corners flash past in a blur of motion. My heartbeat starts to increase and I stabilise the craft, quickly selecting the icon I need.

There’s a click in the heart of my machine and gears shift upward, my angle straightens and I pounce forwards.

I feel the familiar kick as I crest that first hill, feeling the craft going airborne slightly and I hit the boosters, this time anticipating the push, the zoom and my stomach being sucked up into my lungs by the increasing pressure. Lights flash by as the track goes underground. Single pinpricks of white and red, yellow and orange stretching out, forming long continuous unbroken lines. They’ll direct me to my destination. Just stay inside of them I think calmly going over the familiar, rehearsed route in my mind.

I smile feeling the power beneath me, surrounding me, like I’ve become one with this machine. The guys in the garage would have some laugh if they heard me saying that and I’m sure the team psychologist would have a field day with it too. It’s true though, to a certain extent. You have to know your vehicle intimately, know how she’ll respond to any slight change in the terrain before you can seriously take part in a competition like this and I’ve spent so much of the past year working towards this moment. That was the engagement now this is the union, our bodies fused together by a series of straps, wires and buckles. Together we are complete. Right now we are one unit, with one goal, to complete this course in the fastest time possible.

Symbols flash up on my visor screen. For a fleeting moment the track ahead, pitch black apart from the comet-tailed guide lights is condensed and relegated to the bottom right of my vision. Both eyes work independently and my brain processes both sets of information simultaneously. There’s a lurch as the back of the craft glides too far to the left and the tunnel wall looms up terminally.

Like lightening I wrestle back control, using the spin to my advantage and we lunge forwards together. Sharp left, long, curving right, into the dip, accelerator held down firmly, a gentle tap and slight angling correction as I burst into sunlight and take the chicane. Inside my harness I lift slightly as the craft cuts smoothly through the air.

Focusing on the curves and turns I casually watch my timer creeping up on the race leader’s track-time. The chatter of voices in my helmet, issuing instructions and updates on my progress from the pit-lane are encouragement rather than distraction. Strapped in tight, the security harness keeping me locked in place, suspended inside this gyroscopic machine. This is freedom and I love it.

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