BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (May 19) - For Dane Westby, getting back on his GEICO Motorcycle Honda Daytona SportBike for the first time since an accident in March wasn't simply about going to work. It was about getting his life back.
Westby suffered a ruptured spleen in the season-opening Daytona 200 in March, and he was unable to do any physical activity while he healed. He was cleared to resume his active lifestyle two weeks ago, and Westby returned to his GEICO Motorcycle Honda this weekend at a test at Barber Motorsports Park.
"It felt awesome," Westby said. "I guess that's not really the word for it. This is my life, so not being on my bicycle, my dirt bike, my road bike, my race bike for six, seven weeks was just killing me. To get back on the bike today felt really, really good."
Westby approached his initial time on the bike with caution, but by the end of the day, he was turning respectable times.
"I was definitely taking it easy for the first session or two," Westby said. "I don't need to end up on my head or have any issues. But after I shook the dirt off the fur, I guess you could say, everything was good. It just felt good to get back on the bike. I just enjoyed that feeling and got back into slowly."
Several other riders and teams were at Barber, so there was traffic to contend with as well. One of those riders was Westby's teammate and bike owner, Chris Ulrich.
"The last session, we were able to get some good times in," Westby said. "There was a lot less traffic. Plus, Chris got out there and lit a fire under me, so that was pretty cool."
Not only was the GEICO Motorcycle team testing Westby, it also worked on the performance of the bike. Crew chief Chuck Giacchetto had a testing plan to develop new parts and try different setups, while Westby was focusing on his riding.
"He did have a new link that we were trying out," Westby said. "And we were doing some other things with the geometry. There was a test plan, but I didn't really want to know about it. They just told me, 'Try to feel this,' or, 'Tell us what's good and what's bad.' So that's what I did for them. I was mostly focused on having fun."
Westby targets a return to racing for the Subway Superbike Doubleheader on May 31-June 2 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.