Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.
This is a saying that I try to live by in my work, in my relationships and in my sports. I can’t understand how people do things half-way; why put in the time, money, and emotional investment if you are not going to give it your all?
I work as a construction project manager and have had the opportunity to work on some very cool projects with some very cool people, but, as with any career, my job has its highs and lows. A few years ago, I was working on a challenging project; long hours, a tight schedule, difficult job conditions… I was stressed, and as I sometimes do, questioning why I choose this career. At that time, I was also spending my “free time” as a mentor working with high school students interested in pursuing careers in Architecture, Construction and Engineering. One of our activities was a field trip at one of my projects where I explained how the different entities work together on the project and what it is I do as the Project Manager. I will never forget what one of the students said to me, “Jennifer, you really like your job don’t you? I’ve never heard anyone talk so passionately about construction.” Ha ha!
Passion - Yes! That’s it! - A compelling, intense feeling or emotion; love, ardent affection; amorous desire; lust; violent agitation of the mind; violent anger; zeal; ardor; an avid desire; as, a passion for fame; a display of deep feeling; as, a passion of tears; a pursuit to which one is devoted; the subject of an engrowing pursuit.
Passion, it is the force that drives people to do their best.
AFM Round 6 fell on the same weekend as the 6th anniversary of being married to my wonderful husband Jason. I had posted a Facebook status prior to the weekend commenting on the fact that it was our anniversary and we were choosing to spend it at the races, together doing what we love. Several people, having seen my FB status, were kind enough to stop by our pits and congratulate us. Thank you all for that! Jason has told me that a few guys have commented to him that he is lucky to have a wife (yeah, me) that not only understands racing and supports his pursuit of speed, but also enjoys racing herself. What is the secret to our marital bliss? Let’s get real for a minute… it takes work, and we have our spats. In fact, we had one that weekend as Jason told me where to go when I tried to tell him how unload the trailer better. LOL! But we kiss and we make up, and we move on without grudges, we are best friends who enjoy each others company more than we enjoy racing. If we had to quit, or if we decide to quit, we will just move on to the next thing together, I know this because we have done it. In the last 12 years we have pursued rock climbing, snowboarding, motocross, kite-boarding (well, we sucked at that), kayaking and now we are adding cycling to the mix. You see, the bond that holds us together is our shared thought on how life is meant to be lived…with passion.
Oh… were you here for a race report? Well, let’s get started. 3 board, 2 board, 1 board, Siiiiiidewaaays… green flag!!! And the ladies are off… charging into Turn 1 like a pack of cougars hunting a 21 year old boy, we sprint up the hill and sweep through turn 2.
I am third exiting T2 and again find myself trying to hold onto Joy and Christie just a little bit longer in hopes of learning something new. The Formula Afemme grid boasts 13 participants this round; filled with some, but not all, of the AFM regulars, along with Jenny Besaw from the Northwest and Krystyna Kubran (KK), Nadine Lajoie, and Marisol Lacour up from SoCal pursuing bragging rights in the CA State Championship. As we crest the hill leading into the Carousel Zoe comes in fast and sweeps around me on the outside relegating me to 4th place. I follow her up to and through T7 and then she pulls away from me in the Esses. Heading down into T9, I hear the roar of the Yamaha R1 piloted by Miss KK, closing in on me. I hold a tight line and remind myself to run my own race.
KK stays tight to my rear wheel and I pull onto the front straight to see my husband there giving me signals… his hands closed together tell me I have no room for error. In lap 3, I blow the apex of T7 after coming in too late on the brakes, KK takes advantage of my lapse of focus and makes a pass on me into T9, taking 4th from me. I fight back, thinking of a little something Ken Hill taught me about T5 and T6, I am able to pass her on the gas between Turn 5 and the entrance to the Carousel. The next 5 laps seem to last forever, each time I pass Jason on the front straight his hands are closed together and I giggle in my helmet knowing Krystyna is as determined to get by me as I am not to give up this spot. I cross the checkers two tenths in front of Miss KK, finishing fourth with a best lap of 1:53.740, improving my personal best lap time for this track, by a full second. This was a fun race taking the battle to the end!
To make the day even more special, Christie Cooley arranged a group photo for the lady racers in winners circle at the end of the day. We all celebrated our little victories by popping bottles of champagne and spraying each other in celebration of the growth and success of the Formula Afemme class. I must admit I was a little bummed my new Spidi leathers now had champagne all over them.
I wake up Sunday ready to continue my flow of continuous improvement accomplished since I started racing the R6, however, I am signed up for Race 5 - 750 Production and Race 10 - 600 Production, which means no racing for me until after lunch. I watch the morning races and wait impatiently for my turn.
750 Production is up right after the lunch break. I am gridded near the back in position 29. I get off the line with a decent start and at the end of the first lap shuffle I end up 25th as we cross the start/finish line, I am in the middle of a pretty decent pack of guys battling for positions 23-28. I hold my position for another full lap, but over the next few laps things are mixing up in our group, Sam Richards picked his way through from a 28th place start and eventually made his way up past me in the Carousel on Lap 3.
On lap 4, Bobby McCourt found his way past me pushing me back another position to 27th. Both Sam and Bobby then found there way up past Gustavo Arriaza, leaving me in a Gustavo sandwich with Arriaza in front of me and Gustavo Gama coming up behind. I had Arriaza in my sights, using him as a carrot to pick up my pace, but a yellow flag was out on Lap 5 as Brian Stone crashed out of 4th place… another yellow flag on Lap 6 as Kevin Nekimken crashed out of 3rd place. On Lap 7, I was alone heading up the back straight to Turn 7 when out came the red flag, I was the first one there and came to a stop. The guys behind me rolled in one by one and soon Lenny Hale, our race leader pulled up, followed by Neil and Jamie and several of the other front runners, but where was Jason? Usually he is in the top 5, with still no sight of him as they released us to head back to the pits I was still hoping he had just stopped for the Red Flag on the front straight. As I made my way off the track, I glance to the right to see a bike against the concrete wall at the entrance to the front straight, it was under the air fence and I couldn’t tell if it was Jason’s. The downed rider was surrounded by the medics so I couldn’t see who it was. I made my way back to our pit nervous that the crew was going to tell me it was Jason down, but then I see his bike in the garage and it looked fine from the side I approached from… relief started to wave over me, then was crushed as Kyle took my bike from me and told me they were working on getting Jason into the Ambulance.
I made my way down to the wall and was happy to find that Jason was a little bruised and possibly had a broken ankle but mostly he was just disappointed in having crashed out of 2nd place. Must been something in the air that day as 4th to 2nd place all crashed out in reverse order. Silly boys! Jason was very fortunate that his injuries weren’t worse considering he high-sided out of turn 11 and propelled into the air fence and concrete barrier behind it. Despite his passion and determination, he decided he was done racing for the day and getting an X-Ray of his ankle was added to his to-do list for Monday.
I, however, still had one more race to go…. 600 Production! I gridded up again near the back, still working on accumulating points from having switched bikes at Round 3. Christie Cooley was two rows and directly in front of me. I get a good jump off the line and follow Christie through traffic through the start shuffle. At the end of the first lap I end up with one guy, Armando, between Cooley and I. As we head up the hill between 3 and 3A, I alter my line slightly to set up for a narrow exit in an attempt to make a pass on Armando at the entry to T4, but I am blindsided as another rider comes in on the inside of me into 3A and forces me to stand the bike up losing my drive down the hill. I settle in behind the rider thru T4, not recognizing the leathers, nor the bike I decide to be patient to determine where my best opportunity will be to make a pass stick. As we head into T7, I recognize the riding style and figure out this is Shelina in front of me on a borrowed bike and wearing borrowed leathers. I decide I will need to set up the pass so that I can maximize the drive out… In the distance I see Christie pulling away and I start to grow impatient. I feel that I can go faster but can’t seem to find the right place or time to make the pass. I show Shelina a wheel into 7, but don’t commit and back out, the same into T9 and T11, lap after lap, until finally, at the end of Lap 4, I make the pass into Turn 11, hold my line and pin it onto the front straight.
Yes! Now don’t let her take it back. I keep my head down and execute every corner, every drive, according to my plan. As I come by the front straight again, Jason is there with a signal, the gap between his hands tells me I have some breathing room. I stick to my plan for the next three laps and finish the race in 22nd. At the end of the race, I was a little bit frustrated with myself for not finding a way to make the pass sooner, but after checking the results I found that again I had improved my personal best lap time by another second from yesterday. I now had dropped to 1:52.215, but the best part was this lap time was achieved with consistency, I ran the last 5 laps of the race with low 1:52’s. A solid end to my weekend and a positive way to go into the AFM two month season break......
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.