I have had a hundred lessons in life, most apply to racing. "Never quit trying, no matter what". Yeah that is one of my favorites and the hardest one for me to live up to. How do you force yourself to go on when the pain is so bad you can’t imagine it any more, or when you are sure this is as much as you are capable of? In your mind you are maxed out, done, ready to give in. Sometimes it is not a physical issue, more of a mental one. This is the one I faced this weekend. Sitting in second place with a safe lead, I had to make the choice. Continue doing what I have done in the past or keep trying harder. These are some of the most difficult decisions you can make, play it safe or make the effort to be better. So with one lap to go and safe in the 2nd place, I made the choice not to quit and try to be better.
Don’t you always want your reports to have a story book ending? Well this is real life and sometimes it's messy. So laying there on the ground surrounded by corner workers, I remembered my weekend. As part of a growing trend there was no Friday practice and it doesn’t seem to bother me much at all. The weeks leading up to the race were mired with challenges and left me in a tough spot for the weekend, so no Friday was kind of a blessing. Friday was loading and finishing final details for round 6.
<<Test ride on the flower power bike.>>
Thanks to Greg McCullough for loaning me an engine, Saturday practice and race day was possible. Like I said the weeks leading up to the race were not so good to me. A cold Saturday was a setback for many riders. For me it was time to learn how to settle the back of the bike into the corners. Backing it into a corner has its place, but I like the wheels in line. All day I worked on a new technique that would allow me to enter the corner in more control. It proved difficult and my lap times were slow at best. I can’t remember seeing my name that far down the lap times list. IN ORDER TO GO FASTER, FIRST YOU MUST GO SLOWER. That is what they say... isn’t it? Well then check that one off as job done, because I was slower!
So with practice done an time in hand, I watched my wife race, and wow did she ever race. Her time working on basic skills is really starting to show results. Maybe I should let her coach me, she is getting faster every time she goes out. Hanging out after the races the girls got group photos, and had a crowd around that rivaled a FP podium. 16 women showed up to race and made a for an impressive group. With photos done it was time for some food. Making dinner for a large group is hard, but we seem to have that pretty dialed in. I have kind of taken over food duty, since Jenn is racing. If your guys are working as hard as mine, take good care of them and feed them well. With everyone fed, bikes done with tech, and a little bench racing completed most of us sacked out for the night.
My focus has come down to just two classes. 600 Superbike and 750 Production were my main classes for the day and my first two races of four. Making some small changes to the bike and finding a brake issue (thanks to Tom), I was ready for a nice cold practice. Once on track I chased a few fast guys on liter bikes and seemed only to loose time on the straight sections. Yeah that will do just fine, as I came in impressed with my speed. Faster Sunday morning in the cold, than I was at anytime Saturday was just what was needed. I headed to the riders meeting while the team mounted new CT Racing Pirelli tires. Hey I said I felt good, but why not feel great with some crazy sticky tires.
Pulling up to the grid I slotted into my 3rd place starting position. With the green flag about to fly Lenny Hale let the clutch go and jumped the start. I waited to see the flag fly and off I went. My start was very good, but coming out of T5, smoke billowed from the bottom of the Hale bike. O’Hara was just in front of me and we both shut off the gas. Sure I was about to get collected in oil a line change was in order. Down to T6 and more of the same smoke. The smoke got less and less as the lap went on. They were starting to gap me out and I decided that keeping up needed to be my priority. Sadly they inched away every lap and I was left to try and protect my place from a charging Berto #115 and #74 Prince. Prince was able to make good use of lapped traffic and passed a lapper at the yellow flag, which left me and Berto watching him ride into the sunset as we waited to pass the crash. Finally we got by and pushing hard I was able to close the gap that Prince was managing well. Just after the race I did something I have not before. Went and saw Barb without being called down to grid. I was sure Prince had passed under a yellow. No corner workers called it in and Prince stated he made the pass just before he reached the flag. Good enough for me, as long as he saw the flag and was sure he passed legally I agreed that he beat me. Another rider protested Lenny and he was docked one lap for rolling the start. 3rd place overall was not a bad start to a promising day.
750 Production and I was ready after 600 SB. 2nd on the grid turned into a follow the guy in front of you session. First through fifth in the points, rode just in that order. Hale checked out and left 4 of us to battle it out for 2nd place. I ran a fast pace, with a little left in the tank in case it was needed. Four laps in and 4th crashed out. Five laps in and 3rd touched tires with me and crashed out. Not knowing that we touched tires, I later found out he was coming into T3 faster than me and was trying to get around the outside. 6 laps in and a brief look over my shoulder told me I had a safe 2nd place position. Trying to get a first place requires talent and effort. Like I said at the beginning never quit and I didn’t. A 100 yards from a white flag, I exited T11 with a desire to turn my fastest lap and get in the 1:41:00 range. An over eager throttle hand and brief lack of concentration sent my ass skyward over the bike. Eventually a spectacular high side left me laying on the track with riders coming. Over the wall and flopping to the ground, my weekend shot through my eyes. Slow, slow, faster, faster, oops! Ok, so that is the condensed version.
My hopes of racing the rest of the day were evaporating as the swelling was growing. Sitting in the pits icing my body one of the team owners came over to talk, I tried to explain my actions. Stumbling for just the right words he stopped me and proudly said, “you were still racing”. He seemed not to be upset that the I had crashed, more of an acknowledgement that I crashed while trying to be better . I am sure he wanted me to finish the race and get a 2nd versus the DNF, who wouldn’t? That said I am most proud that this is the team I race for, because everyone on the team understood. They choose to believe in me and I continue not to quit trying every time it gets difficult, painful, or as some say just too damn hard.
So I am in one piece bruised and battered, but I would race today if I could.
<<Team building exercises. :)
Loving the new suspension, thanks David Behrend.
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, Suomy, 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.
On a non racing related note, Saturday was our anniversary. I am married to a woman who chose to go to the track, instead of a fancy party or anything crazy like that. She did this not because I asked her to, but because we both love to race. She is my best friend and we spent our anniversary with great people and could not imagine doing anything else.
Thanks to Craig Sanders for the portrait.
600 Superbike started 3rd finished 3rd
750 Production started 2nd DNF
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.