As part of my journey I attempt to try one new thing every week to broaden my horizons and, more importantly, to just have a good time. However, sometimes work and other life events get in the way. Last week, work took over and I wasn’t able to mark anything off of my To Do list. To make up for it, this week I did two new things: Hitting my first baseball and driving a go-kart.
Hitting a 70 mph Fastball
I’ve never been very athletic and I’ve never had an interest in playing sports. Those two things combined mean I’ve never hit a baseball. Since that is something most 8-year-olds have likely accomplished, I thought it was time to change that. So this weekend I visited the batting cages with my very own hitting coach.
I started off with a 35 mph slow pitch to ease into things. I missed the first several pitches, I was either swinging to high, too low, or too late. Then, finally, it happened! The ball actually came in contact with the bat and it went flying back toward the machines. When I hit my first baseball I was absolutely ecstatic and expressed my joy the only way I know how: by jumping up and down and screaming.
I learned that hitting a baseball really hurts your hands. Two days later my palms are still sore from the force of the bat hitting them each time it came in contact with a ball.
After trying 35, 40, and 50 mph pitches, I eventually worked my way up to 60 mph. This is when I get a little nervous about the speed of the balls flying at me. My general technique, as demonstrated below, was to try to keep the balls as far away from me as possible.
It turned out that I had good reason to be nervous. One of the balls popped off of my bat and sprung back to hit my ankle. I am still unsure of the laws of physics that allowed that to happen. All I know is that it hurt like hell.
Once I worked my confidence up with the 60 mph pitches, and walked off the pain of getting hit, I wanted to try the very last cage: a 70 mph fast pitch. While my initial goal was to just hit a ball, at any speed, I couldn’t walk away without at least trying the fastest machine.
I was absolutely shocked when I hit the ball. It was not something I imagined possible. While I may not have the best technique yet, I can at least say that I’ve hit a 70 mph fastball. With a little practice . . . look out MLB!
Driving a Go-Kart
After the batting cage, I decided to take a ride in a go-kart. How I’ve made it this far in life without driving one, I don’t know. We were at Kart Kountry outside of Louisville, KY, which has the longest go-kart track in the world. It was the ideal place to try it out for the first time.
The track was 1.5 miles of twists and turns. My general technique was to drive as quickly as possible and never break. Probably not the best idea. It was a beautiful day, so the place was absolutely packed. I think I would have enjoyed it more if the track wasn’t as congested and it was easier to get past the slower people. Or at least there was someone out there waving blue flags so I could get around the random 13-year-old who was swerving all over the road. I’d love to go back when there aren’t as many people around and I can really let loose and and test out the track. Driving a go-kart, of course, has only increased my desire to drive an actual racecar.
Okay, driving race cars was on my bucket list. I started at the local (2 hr drive) track with my daily driver at their performance driving clinics. I seemed to get pretty good, and bought a used race car. Drove my first race at age 60. Got 2nd place and went on to win three consecutive class championships. Who knew? Anyway, find you local SCCA region and ask about track days, time trials, or anything else they have for beginners which include instructors. Stay far away from other for-profit and fly-by-night operations. The Sports Car Club of America is well established, non-profit member based and very professional. Have a blast! Better than sex, but don’t tell my wife I said that.