It was a motorcycle what made him dream, and it was a motorcycle what took him away last week. Joan Garriga was the eternal second best in ’88 season when fighting for the 250cc world championship against Sito Pons… but sometimes, there’s no room for a second best
I was six years old in 1988, and believe it or not, I remember watching the races with my cousin, and see Sito Pons win the 250cc world championship. I jumped and felt so happy when I saw his achievement I knew I would never forget that. I always looked back when a motorcycle passed by, and I know deep inside my heart I would be a rider one day.
Joan Garriga was there too, and I can’t remember him at all, as there’s no room for a second best in a child’s memory. That was the day when his dreams broke, the day Sito became a legend in a country willing to substitute the already retired Mr Ángel Nieto for another hero. But there had been a fight I then ignored.
But there are far more riders than spaces in a podium, and only room for one on top. Joan Garriga started a difficult fall in his personal life that led him homeless and absolutely broke. All those who made the money because of him forgot him once he was not worthy any longer.
I will not mention all his suffering and problems as many other morbid news out there, I want to keep focused to his eyes, his passion, his dreams… a man and a machine in perfect coordination. He was there because he loved motorcycles more than anything else.
It was not long ago when telecinco, the channel that broadcasts MotoGP in Spain showed a documentary about his career, and his present life. I could not help to burst into tears watching it. The motorcycle world is cruel and difficult sometimes, too much I’d say. With the perspective of time, it seemed that documentary was a prediction, a final act to the glory of a glorious rider.
Riding a Yamaha, sponsored by Ducados and being a legend, he was forgotten. He was kicked out of the show business and absolutely ignored. But he kept riding. Despite his heart attacks, his delicate health, drug abuse and problems with the law… he kept riding! Isn’t that what a badass rider is supposed to be? Nobody would be surprised if that was the life of a biker on a Harley… but speed riders are also bad boys.
And that’s what makes a real biker, that’s what makes us unstoppable, we will never give up because the gasoline that runs through our veins would never let us stop. As he did, against all odds, he rode and rode. He lost his house, and slept in a car until somebody gave him a house to stay.
The town hall of Barcelona, and the fucking Catalonian government messed up with him. I believe his words when he says that the police was behind him to show him as a prize, his fame preceded him and police officers would claim they’ve arrested a celebrity.
Always in trouble, always riding… inquisitive eyes, curly hair and poisonous tongue. He was the good boy back in the eighties, and Pons was the one who was not always fair, who feared him, who despised him a bit… riders. After all that, on the dangerous roads of real life, he crashed into a van, was taken to hospital and died a few days after. At least he passed away on two wheels!
Race In Peace Joan, I hope to see you one day on the roads of heaven -or hell. You’ll probably be faster, I will just stare at you and wish I could have ridden close to you in life.