If you think you are beaten…you are!
If you think you dare not…you don’t!
If you like to win, but think you can’t, it’s almost certain you won’t.
If you think you will lose, you’ve lost.
For out in the world you find…success begins with the knowledge that it is all in your state of mind!
The season of 2010… my 4th year of racing and I decided at the beginning of the season that it is time for me to start pushing my limits and seeing some results. But HOW? What can I do? What can I change to go faster? What is the “Secret of Speed?”
My 2010 season started late, compared to most. In February, one week after being released from my doctor to start riding again, I was on the bike and spending a day with Ken Hill. “Back to the basics,” he told me again and again as we worked on what seemed like novice skills. I had been off the bike for 8 months and needed to reset my basic habits in order to build from a solid platform. I set some goals at the beginning of the year, knowing that I needed goals and a plan to track my improvements and measure my success. The goals I chose seemed SMART at the time I set them; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-oriented. I wrote these goals with the intention that I would race the SV650 for the full season, with a final goal of transitioning to the R6 next year.
1. Achieve (at least one) top 10 finish in 650 classes by mid-season.
2. Finish top 15 in 650 Twins and F4, season overall.
3. Podium in Formula AFemme
4. Finish Top 3 in CSC Femme class, season overall
5. Build my skill set and improve my lap times to transition to the 600 class in 2011.
I broke each of these goals down further with mini-goals in order to track my performance as the season progressed. Knowing this and if you’ve followed my race reports through the early part of the season, you may further understand the dilemma I found myself in going into Round 3…
“Over the course of the weekend, many people asked me why I decided to change bikes. This was not an easy decision, I love racing the SV, the bike and the classes are so much fun… but honestly I was struggling with my goals and I had to face the fact that I was not in the same position I was last year before my crash. I am physically weaker, despite all the rehab and working out, my shoulder is severely damaged and 6 months of rehab does not have me at 100%. My bike was put back together after the crash with the best components and any extras I could add to make me more comfortable and more competitive, but the fact is… my suspension settings were gone. At round 2, I started the journey of learning about suspension and getting Nikka handling the way I want, but the process was going to take more time. I had set some pretty big goals for the season and after the first two AFM rounds and the CSC round it was clear to me that I was going to need to go back to the drawing board and revise my plan and my goals. Believe me, this was a tough pill to swallow, it almost feels like giving up. I talked it over at length with each person on my team and even made a call to “Coach Ken” for a different perspective. He helped me work out some of the specifics of my new plan. With just over 2 weeks before round 3, I decided to make the change.”
As painful and frustrating as those first 3 race weekends were, they forced me to take a fresh look at my riding skills, my understanding of my bike, and my ability to set goals yet keep an open mind. I re-evaluated my goals and developed a new plan for the remainder of the season centered around learning to ride the 600 and go faster but with less risk.
Sometimes a breakdown can be the beginning of a breakthrough. If I had to pick one word to describe my AFM Round 7 weekend, Breakthrough would be it.
What was so special about Round 7, you may wonder. Well, for starters, I improved my personal best lap time at Thunderhill Raceway by 3 seconds this round. 3 SECONDS! 2:01! But beyond that I finally found out the secret, or so it seems.
At the end of Saturday morning practice I was on cloud 9. My practice sessions were on pace turning lap times within a second of my personal best lap time. The strategy that Coach Ken helped me develop for getting to race pace during practice worked. Looking at my practice plan, then looking at my practice lap times you could see the correlation, as each lap I came around was at a faster pace than the previous lap.
I had confidence as I pulled up to the chalked 3 on the front row, Christie and Zoe to my left, and Bess to my right. My plan was simple, get the holeshot… then ride! Ride the way I know how to ride, remember the basics. I had butterflies in my stomach like I was a teenage girl about to experience my first kiss. The feeling is familiar, it has been there EVERYTIME I’ve pull onto the grid for the last 4 years. But… once I snap my visor closed, it’s time to race.
My jump off the line was well executed, but I missed the timing of that important shift into 2nd gear, and lost momentum. Bess pulls up next to me on the outside, I pin it and feel the Yamaha R6 superpower, as I launch up behind Zoe as we Apex T1. Single file, tip to tail, through T2, Christie, Zoe and me. We fly this formation all the way to T6 where Christie manages an excellent drive out of the corner and starts a breakaway. I’ve got a good drive too. I look for a way to squeeze between Zoe and the dirt on the exit of T6, but without dirt-biking it there is not room. I drop in behind Zoe sporting those bright pink leathers and wonder if she chose them intentionally to serve as a distraction to those who approached for a pass. *wink* We approach T9 and I move inside to go for a pass, but I don’t have the line, she won’t see me and we all know how that would end. Down to T10, I am close, but not close enough to get the pass. I am on Zoe’s rear wheel for the rest of the lap, and the next lap, and the next one…. I was having fun, I was comfortable, I felt like I could go faster, I just needed to make the pass. Zoe’s a smart racer, she had moved into a more defensive line blocking me from an inside pass by setting up narrow for the corners but then moving out to block the fast outside line just before we turned in. It was effective, as I could not find a way by. Finally on the last lap, as we approached T5, I saw my opportunity. We were closing fast on a group of 4 Clubman racers battling for position in their class, I thought about how I could use these passes to my advantage. We came down out of 5, Zoe chose the inside line through the right sweeping 5A with the Clubmen scattered in front of us.
I choose an outside line through 5A, setting up wide, for a longer straight drive to 6, hoping to steal the inside line and push the clubman wide to block Zoe. I pass Zoe as we approach T6 on the brakes. There is one clubman left in front of each of us, but I feel I have the advantage as I have set up the left corner to hold a tight line on the exit. The race line through T6 will carry you wide to the right exit curbing as you accelerate out of the corner. The clubman in front of me should be on the gas and moving to the right as he accelerates off the corner, which will put him in front of Zoe and open up the inside for me to pass him…. But he holds the corner too long… I’m screaming in my helmet, “Get on the gas! Drive! Go! Go! Go!” But apparently he can’t hear me and I squirt to his right just as Zoe pulls next to me we hit the exit apex of T6 side by side. Zoe has the drive out of 6 and pulled ahead of me into 7...I stay on her rear wheel, but unable to find another opportunity for a pass I am forced to settle for 3rd. Wait… what? Did you say 3rd? Yep. I got podium in Formula Afemme. My second podium in class this year, then I saw my lap times and discovered my 3 second improvement, 2:01.6! Woot! I was over the moon with my day!
It has now been a full month since that race day and I am still aglow from my accomplishment, not only in that day, but with my season as a whole. A few friends have asked me how I have had success in improving my lap times. How I went faster this season without any crashes. How I was able to adapt to the R6 so quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m not a KFG, yet, but I have some pretty good ideas on how I will become one.
“All personal breakthroughs begin with a change in beliefs. So how do we change? The most effective way is to get your brain to associate pain to the old belief. You must feel deep in your gut that not only has this belief cost you pain in the past, but it’s costing you in the present and, ultimately, can only bring you more pain in the future. Then you must associate tremendous pleasure to the idea of adopting a new, empowering belief.”
So here you have my secrets… well, the glossy cover view at least.
Ken Hill Coaching – Ken said something to me early in the year that was so obvious and yet so overlooked in this sport, “All sports have coaches; basketball, football, gymnastics, even cyclists. Why is it that most road racers think they can learn this all on their own? In such a high risk sport, why don’t more racers seek out coaching.” He’s right I thought, I even had a coach when I showed horses, why wouldn’t I have a coach for road racing. Coaching is more than just finding a fast guy to tow you around at a track day. It means finding someone who can communicate with you, everyone has a different communication style and what works for me may not be what works for you. It means trusting what that person is telling you and being able and willing to change your ways, a willingness to make your breakthroughs. Thank you Ken for the coaching this season (and in the past,) your input has made a clear difference in my racing.
Z2 Racing – Our team, our crew, our track family. Z2 Racing is more that just setting up Yamaha canopies with Z2 banners and wearing matching team shirts. This is the support system that makes life at the races easier. Maybe it’s not necessary, I can pull my own warmers, change my own tires, fuel my own bike, etc. But other times; it is a life saver, when I have races close together and just want to grab a drink of water, knowing someone else will put my bike on the stands, put warmers on, check the fuel… all so I can have a rest. Or when I have an electrical problem that alone would cost me the weekend but with a team is a 10 (ok, maybe closer to 20) minute fix. Or when I have a bad practice session and I can’t seem to shake a bad mood. Those are the moments… when my team stepped up to help me and made me feel like a Rock Star, that I will cherish for a lifetime. Thank you to David, Shawn, Kathy. Thanks to Tom, Mikey, Kyle and Chris (and Danny who joined us at Round 7.) Thanks to Sam and Greg and my husband, Jason.
Sponsors – It’s hard right now, in times of belt tightening and corporate downsizing to ask companies and people for their support. I am so grateful to all our sponsors for the parts, discounts and time so generously given which has made the difference for me to be able to afford racing. Thanks to Z2 Trackdays Staff, Yamaha, Vanderkitten, Pirelli /CT Racing, Yamalube Products, Motion Pro, Race Image Graphics, Leo Vince, Suomy, Factory Body Works , Igartua, 4TheRiders, Sidi, Tech Spec and CRG Levers. Also an extra special thanks to Craig Sanders for taking all our Z2 Team portraits this year. Remember to support those who support racers.
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.