Despite dangers, illegal street racing brings rush for Lincoln sport-bike riders
Story, photos and video by Madison Bell, NewsNetNebraska
Less than three seconds is all it takes for Alex Hall’s Yamaha R1 to reach 60 mph. That’s a time span even the fastest car in the world can’t compete with.
Lincoln drivers beware.
About five nights a week during the summer, Hall, and about 20 of his biker friends, can be heard miles away, racing each other across the streets at night. The police don’t condone illegal street racing, but they don’t have the speed to catch the racers.
Everyone who races already knows that, though.
Hall, 26, has been interested in racing and sport bikes since he was 11 and his brother brought home his first bike. He didn’t actually start racing, however, until he turned 16.
“I’ve been addicted to the speed ever since my first bike,” he said. “I love making people hate us when we ride. The faster, louder and crazier we are, the better.”
Hall isn’t the only one who fell in love with sports bikes. In 2012, the Motorcycle Industry Council reported that motorcycle sales increased 7.8 percent, and in 2013 sales increased 1.4 percent.
Even Hall’s group of riders has grown every year, which is something he doesn’t like. To him, more people mean a greater chance of being arrested, though he’s never been caught.
Cops annoyed by bikers
Some police officers, however, have given up completely on chasing racers.
Koan Nissen, a police officer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department, said he dislikes the growing number of people on sports bikes.
“I hate this time of year,” he said. “More bikers mean more racing, and more racing means more people get hurt.”
Nissen said he doesn’t even try to catch sport-bike racers anymore because it’s not even worth it. He said he knows his police cruiser can’t compete.
“If I chase them they’re going to run, there’s no question,” he said. “One crash and they’re dead. I’ve seen bikers lose limbs and decapitate themselves too many times.”
But the dangers of racing only make the activity more appealing to Hall and his friends.
Brandon Rahn, a 23-year-old railroad car painter, also races his bike and often competes with Hall. He has raced his Suzuki GSXR 1000 for the past five years and doesn’t believe in going less than 50 mph.
“Why get a bike if you’re not going to race, speed or swerve around traffic?” Rahn asked. “Live hard, die young.”
Unfortunately, dying young is a fairly likely possibility.
Motorcycle deaths continue to increase every year, and in 2012 fatalities increased to about 9 percent, according to Nissen and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Safety still a priority
Hall, Rahn and the rest of their group take safety very seriously when it comes to their bikes upkeep and helmet protection, despite driving in a way that may be considered reckless.
Hall, who is also a medical receptionist in the ER at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, said he checks his bike multiple times before every race to see if anything is broken, worn down or in need of repair. He also keeps his helmet in its own case so it doesn’t get damaged.
Everyone who races with Hall takes the activity very seriously.
“The thrill of death lingers around you as you race,” Hall said recently in his living room, where seven of his biker friends gathered.
Both Hall and Rahn said they will keep racing until they are too old to move. That is, unless they crash first.
“It would be the perfect way to go,” Hall said, looking at his friends. All of them shook their heads in agreement.
“Street racing is an addiction,” Hall said. “It’s my addiction, and I know it’s my friends’ addiction too. My first bike was my first love, and there’s almost nothing I love more than my bike now. Racing is my life.”
Alex Hall talks about why he loves to speed