If you want something in life, reach out and grab it.
Here I sit to write my race report for AFM Round 1 at Buttonwillow and find myself at a loss for words… all I want to talk about, or even think about, right now is my plan for the rest of the season. Buttonwillow is in the past, and I am ready to move forward to tomorrow, or well, actually forward to Round 2.
Ken Hill has coached me well over the last couple of years and one of the most important things he emphasizes is having a plan each time you go out on track. I had my plan for that first race weekend at Buttonwillow; I knew what I was going to work on during Friday practice. I knew how I was going to approach Saturday morning practice and most importantly, I had a plan for racing Formula AFemme Saturday afternoon, as well as distinctly different plans for my 600 races on Sunday. I was prepared.
Now some of you may know that Buttonwillow is not my best track, this is not because I don’t like the track, in fact I think BW is a fun track to ride. I don’t “usually” have a hard time learning new tracks and getting up to speed quickly, so I don’t think it is a result of not having enough time there. BW is just complex, like a woman. ;) I feel like I should bring her flowers and candy next time I visit and maybe then I will “get some.” Ha-ha. Slowly though, I am starting to figure her out. And Friday, I had one of the best days I have ever had at Buttonwillow. I was able to match and then improve upon my best lap time there in the early sessions on Friday and then…
“Just remember when you should grab something, grab it, when you should let go, let go.”
Entering the sweeper I took my usual inside line. Oscar took an outside line and began to pass me on the outside near the apex. His wide line in meant he would hold a tight line on the exit, my tight line in meant I would push wide on the exit, I spotted him in my peripheral vision and realized we were going to bump… this is just at the point where I fully release the brake lever, but I still had it covered with my fingers and as I looked to my left at Oscar, I made the mistake of applying pressure to the brake lever… it doesn’t take much. I remember every detail like it happened in slow motion; a gentle tap on the brakes, the bars twisting tight to the right as my front end lost the contact with the asphalt, my knee, hip and elbow smacking down, the bike back spinning away from Oscar and into the dirt, the tumbling, keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times. And then it was over. I picked myself up and waited for my practice session to end. A big “Thank You” to the turn workers for keeping me safe out there and getting me and my bike back to the pits. I assessed the damage and it was minimal, but thanks to Jason, and Leo Vince for getting us a pipe so quickly, we had “Bessie” the back-up bike ready to go. Rather than miss the end of the track day putting my bike back together I rode Bessie for the rest of the day and despite her lack of set-up time I continued to put down consistent laps matching my best pace there.
Saturday was a new day and with the rising sun came my rising nerves. Right out of the gate with morning practice I was off my pace. I stuck to working on my plan for the day, trying to ignore my lap times being posted on the window I reminded myself that to go faster sometimes we must go slower. I was trying some new things and need not stress about the overall times. I was sure when it was time to grid up for Formula AFemme everything would be fine. Then the announcement came… the weather forecast for Sunday was looking bad, and the AFM made the decision to run the classes with the largest sign-ups for Sunday on Saturday afternoon. This would give the most people an opportunity to race and help out the AFM budget significantly. It was a great decision and I applaud the AFM for making it happen. It just meant I would now be gridding up for 600 Superbike on Saturday afternoon, instead of Formula AFemme. With no points in 600SB from last year, I was gridded just 2 rows up from the back. I got a great jump off the line and went forward a row, maybe 2 as we entered into Turn 1. Between the entry to turn 1 and the exit of turn 2 I felt like I had been thrown into a washing machine, with bikes brushing me left and right as they charged on, no mercy. Somehow, through it all, I found myself on the best line for a good drive out of 2 onto the straight, as I picked up the throttle, another bike came across my front wheel, from outside of the sweeper to the inside of the straight, “WTH?” I was forced to roll off and lost my drive and contact with the group I knew I should have been battling with. Regardless, I finished the race weekend in one piece, which we all know is a challenge at Round 1, and picked up some points and some valuable lessons heading into round 2.
“Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself... 'How did I get through all of that?”
I feel fortunate to have so many people and companies supporting me and Z2 Racing this year. Please remember to support those who support racers; Z2 Track Days, CT Racing, LeoVince, Yamalube, Factory Body Works, RaceImage Graphics, Fast Bike Industries, Motion Pro, CRG, GP Frame and Wheel, Roseville Yamaha, TechSpec, Suomy, Sidi, PitBull, Ink Monkey and of course, KH Coaching and Vanderkitten.
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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.