The Kentucky Kid’s Final Lap…

The Kentucky Kid’s Final Lap…

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In the past few years I’ve written a number of columns about
people who sadly died while riding. Since then a few friends
as well as readers told me my column was getting a little too
morbid and certainly was not “ride-inspiring.” But we had lost
a lot of good riders and I thought it important to call reference
to these deaths to at the very least, raise awareness of the
serious nature of our beloved activity– motorcycle riding.
Indeed it is as the Motorcycle Safety
Foundation refers to it– Serious Fun.
Some of these motorcyclists who met
their end way too early were racers like
Tommy Aquino, Marco Simoncelli and
Dane Westby but they also included
everyday, local riders like Mikey “O”
Loughlin, “Wild” Bill Krebs and Steve
Lenge. As a result of the critiques I
received, I backed off the dark nature
of my column content. But then Nicky
Hayden died…
Nicky was the AMA Supersport
Champion in 1999, the AMA Superbike
Champion in 2002 (the youngest rider
to achieve that!) the 2006 MotoGP
World Champion, a World Superbike
race winner, fiancé, uncle, brother, son,
friend and was known in the motorcycle
racing arena as “The Kentucky Kid”.
Only 35 years of age, this man who was
well accustomed to going in excess of
200mph astride a motorcycle, ironically
died while training on a bicycle in Italy.
He was struck by a car and sustained severe head and chest
injuries which lead to his death five days later.
This was such a tragic tale that I felt Nicky deserved some kind
of tribute on this page. If at the very least to impart to all of you
who ride, that you need to have the same level of situational
awareness whenever you are on the road. Even if you are just
riding a bicycle. Nicky rode motorbikes on the highest level in
the world and yet still, he was taken out while on a roadway.
Simply put, it can happen to anyone at any time and at the risk
of scaring readers away from riding motos at all, one needs to
have a severe respect for the road and a heightened level of
awareness at all times while riding. But
enough of my preaching…
I did not know Nicky Hayden personally
but I did meet him once at the NYC
premier of the film “The Doctor, The
Tornado and The Kentucky Kid”. He was
doing a meet and greet after the film
played and I was very psyched to meet
him if even for a brief moment. Like
the über fanboy I was, I told him as he
was signing my poster, that I watched
him “all the time” when he raced. The
words sounded pretty psycho-stalkerish
as they crossed my lips but it was too
late. After giving me a little sideways
glance with his trademark smile, as if
to ask me, “Are you serious or are you
just busting my chops” he ended up
being very cool about my blabbering fan
foolishness. I recall really admiring that
because I really did sound like a tool. But
I suppose that’s why he was also known
as ‘the nicest man in Grand Prix racing’.
Here is a shot of the poster he signed
for me that evening. Rest in peace Nicky. You left us way too
early #69.
You can remember and pay tribute to Nicky Hayden with the
hashtag #RideOnKentuckyKid.

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