Here it is Sunday night and my weekend is over, Round 3 of the AFM series is over. Every race seems to end with a different, yet familiar feeling. If you have read the previous reports, there has been a completely different story every weekend. So if my weekend has not been the same, what is the common thread to the weekend? Driving home Sunday night, I had time to explore that question. Thinking back through the previous days and race weekends, my mind looked for common links in both my success and my failures. That is not one of my favorite words in the world, but to know true success I need to know failure. So how did the week compare to the others?
Somehow the first common thread for me is, no matter how prepared I get there always seems to be stuff left undone. Thursday morning I finished packing and had a goal to leave the house early. Jen is riding my other her R6 this weekend and I am still prepping the bike. A stop at cycle gear would find some gearing for her and my teammate Greg McCullough. The real goal was to get down to Leo Vince and see Manny. My bike has undergone several changes lately including a fuel change to Pro V2 from MR11. I like the fuel, but needed to know if the bike was maximizing the fuel. A stop at Leo Vince allowed me to find out. While I was there the other R6 needed help too. Just having pulled the stock headers off, we were able to find a system to install on the bike. The new system was so light and well built I really wanted it for myself. Resisting the urge to take it, I mounted it the her R6. With the extra power Jen would really enjoy riding the bike this weekend. So Thursday afternoon flew by as Manny, the Dyno Guru adjusted both bikes.
So with bikes tuned I headed to the track. Greg had just got his bike back from GP Frame and Wheel, so we spent late into the night finishing his bike at the track. Thanks to Greg Sahnd, for letting me borrow his PC5.
Friday was a Z2 Trackdays practice. My list of testing was long and for the most part I was alone in my testing. With Greg working the bugs out and Jen getting used to the R6, I focused on me. Lenny Hale came by the pits and offered some advice to both Greg and I. In not so many words we each needed to go faster and use each other to achieve that. People constantly want to know how to go faster and I am no different. The more people I speak to, the clearer it becomes. Work on what you need to do, not what the everyone else needs. The basic principles taught to me by Ken Hill are reinforced once again. So the conditions did not permit my fastest lap times of the year, but I found lots of stuff to work on. The day went really smooth for most of us, until the end of the day. Cody Landers had a late day crash and was taken to the hospital as a precaution, for some breathing issues. Racing can be dangerous, and you hate to see anyone not get right up after a fall.
Saturday was busy and the weather conditions were not much better, a little warmer, but we were still rocking hurricane style winds. Knowing that these may be race conditions, I chose to focus on using the wind to my favor. Basically why brake at the same spot if I have a 30mph head wind. So moving some markers around and changing my lines was the only thing on my agenda. Being a creature of habit, it takes a huge effort for me to change anything. So here is something for me to mark on my list, change it up. If you have spent any time around me you will here a common phrase, “if you do what you have always done, then you will get what you have always gotten”. Why approach the track the same way if I want to be faster, yes you need to do some things exactly the same, just not everything. This is a something that has taken me time to learn. I telling you this, for the same reason Lenny spoke to me on Friday. If you go faster , it will raise the level of competition for me and make me better.
Saturday evening we loaded up in the car and went to see Cody at Santa Rosa Memorial. They kept him for observation as he hit his chest and they were worried about swelling around his heart. After our visit, we broke protocol and went to dinner. I like to spend time Saturday night reviewing what we have learned so far. It was nice to see Cody and then hang out for a bit with friends away from the track. We always seem to speak about something that relates to each other, regardless of how fast each rider is. While we were away from the track we made a few more detours. A asthma attack on Friday night, left me with little sleep and forced me to find a drug store with an inhaler. Thanks to my team, as we bounced around Santa Rosa looking for what I needed. Arriving back at the track Shawn had made arrangement so we could get in even though it was late.
Let’s get down to business! Race day was here and I was ready. First up 600 production and a front row start. My launch was good and so was Lenny’s. Tyler Ohare came from the second row to get the best start. Into turn one Lenny, Tyler, me, Berto, and so on. On the advice of Mike Canfield, I stayed with Lenny for as long as possible learning what I could. Two laps in and my attention became focused on Berto. He was behind me and close. Faster than me into one, but slower out of eleven left us balanced as we circulated the track. A few laps in he made a pass on me into the carousel, but I was not ready to give up a podium just yet. Drafting him towards turn seven, I slipped up the inside on the brakes. He pushed back at the exit, but I was able to keep him behind me. We stayed nose to tail until the last lap and then it happened. Lappers were coming. At first it was a lapper in turn one that gave me the advantage, then a lapper in two that cost me the same advantage. Turn eight and pulling past a large group of lappers, I was forced to use all of the track as I was forced to the curbing and jumped past Justice Hoffman. Picking my way through traffic into nine, and Berto unable to make all of the same passes a gap was made. The gap held until the end of the race , 3rd place and my first podium in 600 production was finally here.
My second race was 750 super bike and was just two races later. They were going to have a lunchtime podium for this class. I could not keep my mind from the thought of being up on the box and getting to thank people who helped to get me here. In retrospect I wish my mind would have been focused on just getting through the race. Greg spent 6 laps running right behind me until we hit lappers. I was so focused on getting through traffic I made a poor line choice into seven. Not being able to take my line while leaving myself no options, and sure Greg was about to pass I forced the bike to turn in. Way to deep into seven and out on the marbles, I asked more of my bike than I had a right too. I lost focus and the front end tucked. My Suomy helmet bounced off the ground. Grinding my Helimot leathers into the pavement, my mind folded up and went into a dark and tiny place. Picking my bike up and remounting before 5th place had even gone by, I pulled the bike behind the wall. Frustrated with myself not much could be said to the corner worker, other than nothing hurts but my ego. Damage assessment in short order was body ok, head ok, bike mostly ok, and thumb hurts almost as bad as my pride. My gear did what it was supposed to and then some.
I got back to the pits in time to walk over and watch Greg take second on the podium. I am not to proud to admit I was jealous, if your not jealous or upset then maybe racing isn’t for you. Congrats to Greg, he earned it and I am proud of him. This is when you find out who you really are. People actually walked up to me and asked me if that was the end of my day, looking for confirmation in my eyes. Well LOOK somewhere else, I trust my team to get the bike ready and my mind couldn’t imagine anything but riding for redemption. A few years back we were out moto-x racing and I chose to bump myself to the intermediate class. Off the start my 250 was out powered by the 450 bikes that surrounded me. Knowing I could make up the time in the corners we went into turn one. My corner speed was so much higher than the back of the group I got tangled up and slammed to the ground. Ever so slowly I was able to climb to my feet. My bike was picked up and being pushed off track. Wait, wait, let me have it. Kicking the bike over and pulling back on the track already a lap down, my arm slipped from the grip. I pulled over lifted it back in place and rode off to the next corner. Knowing I was never going to catch up, but not willing to quit I stalled the bike a few more times. Pulled off line I waited that last lap just so I could take the checker flag. Finishing is important to me! I don’t want to look back and think I quit my first intermediate race, because of a broken collar bone. Why would anyone quit, even if last is the best that can be done, it is just that your best.
2 races to go and 600 superbike was up. Lenny would jump out to the lead and the race was on for the rest of us. Sebastian and I would battle for a lap or two until I out braked myself into turn nine. Trying to recover the gap I made more mistakes. Ride your own race. If you don’t they take control out of your hands. Several laps in my mindset finally changed to my race, but by that point we were all pretty strung out. I watched the gap to 5th place and tried to find something new for my last race. It is odd practice while racing, but hey if it works.. 4th place is not the worst finish you can have after smacking the ground earlier in the day. Greg had some issues I was unaware of and when I got in the pits his bike was already on stands. A loss of power forced him to pull in and save what was left of the motor. My wife quickly offered her bike to him for his last race. That was a huge gesture, because she thought they were both in that race. Turns out Greg was in F1 and we were in 750 production. My bike is closest to his, so I offered my bike.
Before the bike was loaned out, we still had some business to tend to. 750 production and after a comment by both Greg and Berto about my riding earlier in the day, I chose to address the issue in this race. My front end was giving me issues and Sam Richards offered up a new tire on his rim for diagnoses. Turns out it was my lines causing the front end issues, but thanks Sam for the loan. My race was spent adjusting my line and managing a gap back to 3rd place. It was a small party in my helmet as each lap continued. The last time I remember being this goofy in my helmet was 2 years ago. I was actually singing as the bike just flowed around the track. Doing lap times I could barely touch last year, it was just easy to ride. Regaining my personality on the track that matches the one in the pits is awesome.
So for the weekend I learned some of what makes me do what I do.
#1 My team is everything to my success. Tom, Mikey, Lolli, Chris, Shawn, & Kathy.
#2 My teammates are beyond selfless. Greg, Jen, Sam, and David.
#3 Anyone can be beat.
#4 Don’t be afraid to change things up.
#5 Have fun in your helmet when you are on track.
Real quick I want to mention that my team did great this weekend. Jen got her first podium in the Afemme class. Sam rode smart and is learning to race, not just be on the racing surface while a race is happening. David met his goal of a 1:49 lap time. Getting in the sub 1:50 lap times is a major breakthrough. Greg managing to fight off Berto for a 2nd place finish on a borrowed bike, wow!
Please remember to support the people who support racers.
Z2 Trackdays Staff, Z2 Race Team, Yamaha, David at Fastbikes Ind., Pirelli /CT Racing, Yamalube Products, Motion Pro, Race Image Graphics, Leo Vince, Helimot, Soumy, Factory Body Works , Igartua, 4 The Riders, Sidi, Tech Spec, Ink Monkey, GP Frame & Wheel, CRG Levers, Graves Motorsports, Mach 1, and Ken Hill Coaching.
600 Production started 4th finished 3rd
750 Superbike started 2nd finished DNF Crash
600 Superbike started 4th finished 4th
750 Production started 2nd finished 2nd
One of the three well-known California road racing clubs; AFM offers a place where you can participate in races, watch as a spectator, or even take part as a turn-worker on the course. There are competition classes for almost all motorcycles; you can race what you own, build a bike specifically for racing, or maybe even pick up a pre-set-up bike through member want ads. Competing in expert club racing can be used to qualify for a pro racing license. Explore the website for further information.
Women race with the men?
Yes, races are structured by bike size. Women race in the same classes as men that have the same sized bike. However, there is a growing interest among women in racing , so many racing clubs have added a women’s class to encourage the ladies to give it a try.
Formed in 2001, SMUSA is now the premier Pro/Am supermoto series in the country. Many of the well known American road racers such as Bobby Fong, Joey Pascarella, Cameron Beaubier, Elena Myers, Tyler O'Hara, Garrett Willis and others all competed in Supermoto USA's Nor Cal Championship where they developed their skills.
PC Dirt Track in Sacramento, Ca holds a series of the oldest and most traditional type of motorcycle racing, flat track - sometimes referred to as “dirt track” racing. A uniquely American type of motorcycle racing. Riders finesse their machines sideways through the turns, just inches apart from each other.
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. The AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. No one who has ever seen an AMA Pro motorcycle race ever forgets it.