Common Tread

Video: Racer climbs Kilimanjaro, and that's not the most memorable part

Apr 14, 2019

You have to be selfish to succeed as a professional motorcycle road racer.

Just in my limited exposure to the sport, I've heard that from racers ranging from former World Superbike champion Neil Hodgson to four-time AMA Superbike champion Josh Hayes. What they mean is that you have to be so single-minded, so focused on your craft and so dedicated to training, that you inevitably shortchange those around you: a spouse, a child, friends and family alike.

A well rounded person with a moderate work-life balance never won a world or national championship.

But the wise ones are aware of the sacrifices others make to help them succeed, and they realize they have a debt to pay back some day, whether to individuals or to society in general.

MotoAmerica Supersport racer Hayden Gillim shows that awareness in this video produced by Bell Helmets, one of his sponsors. Gillim sets off to challenge himself by climbing to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, which he found was the hardest thing he'd ever done, physically. But in the end the most lasting memory was not made at the top of Africa's tallest mountain, but in the poor neighborhoods of Nairobi, where he handed out solar-powered lights and met with children at an orphanage.

As focused as racers are and must be, there are times, whether it's Shelina Moreda saving animals from California wildfires or Hayden Gillim visiting an orphanage in Africa, that we see some selflessness from them, too.