Victory in Defeat
Indoor Flat Track to SuperMoto, Dirt Tracking, Electric Bikes, A Day with Scott Russell and AFM = LIVING!
Can you really find victory in defeat? Well, a one month span of racing would test me to my limits and let me know. I take pride in being good at something and when it is not something that come to me easily, I will work at it until I get better. In the last month, several new opportunities came up where I would find out about defeat. I am not saying I enjoyed such a lesson, but there it is just the same. If I had any ego at the start of the month, that was all about to change.
A little over a month ago we bought a supermoto bike for Jenn and a few days after buying it I thought I would drive to San Jose and race the indoor flat track. Turning a sumo bike to flat track bike is not that difficult really, at least it shouldn‘t be. As I sat in the garage and looked over the bike only one thought appeared in my head; I looked at the front brakes, yep those have to be removed. With procrastination my mind scrambled for anything else to do. Yeah, I’ll just do the oil first, then again I looked at the brakes, oooh the air filter needs servicing, looking at the brakes once more, better adjust the chain, looked at the brakes again, and again I would find something else to do. I felt like Linus front the Peanut’s trying to give up my blanket. After dealing with my anxiety, the bolts were slowly removed. Who the hell races something with no front brakes? well looks like I just joined that group of idiots, I mean racers.
I showed up and had no idea what the hell I was doing, having never raced a flat track race, I had no idea how unprepared I was. Newb, squid, noodle, rolling hay bail, any of these would apply. I did not show up with any of the right gearing or any idea how to handle the polished concrete. Garrett Willis helped both Martin and I, he told us to bring carpet for our boots. Yes, in true do it yourself fashion we taped carpet to our boots, and not with any tape, the one and only 200mph tape, held carpet to our boots.
We did eventually get out on track in what I thought would be an easy class. Little did I know that this was a big race and tons of guys showed to race the 150-230 class. Maybe with more time to ride the bike we had purchased only one week ago, I may have done better. At the end of the night, we were the last two guys to NOT make the main event. I sat and watched 8 other guys race the main event. Missing the main hurt my ego, but I have now raced a flat track race and plan to come back.
Embarrassed and upset at my performance I had a week to shake it off before my first Sumo race and dirt track race. Yup, both in one weekend. It took a few trips to Roseville Yamaha to get all the required parts that would make the bike legal to slide down the track. I put on the last of my parts Saturday afternoon and went to the track to learn the art of the sumo racing. We showed up Saturday afternoon for practice and we had 3 sessions to learn how to ride supermoto bikes. Jenn rode the 150 and I had a 250 to work with. Sebastio was able to show up with a borrowed bike and pitted with us; he spent some time explaining things, trying to minimize my newb status. His help was much appreciated and helped me get up to speed.
After a few sessions of Supermoto practice, I grabbed some Pirelli rain tires and mounted them up in time to do my first dirt track race. Keeping up with the theme from the polished concrete pummeling, I got my ass handed to me all night. The night was really breaking my spirit until the last race, where a holeshot and a 3rd place made me feel like I had plugged one of the many holes in my leaking dam of talent.
Sunday morning and another tire change back to some slicks CT Racing helped me pick out, I was ready to race. T1, 2, 3 are all a bit different in sumo racing. Elbows, bumping, nudging, and rubbing are all acceptable means of passing your fellow rider. After getting mugged like a rich person in the hood, I realized road racing etiquette was not going to fly. I spent the rest of the day nudging, rubbing, and bumping my way back to the podium. 4 races ended with 3 podiums and a slightly re-inflated ego.
Fast forward two weeks and to the AMA races, where we attempted to race the Zero electric bikes as well Supermoto USA with Brok McAllister. Practice went well, but we had to skip my heat races which left me at the back of the grid. I got close, but last to 4th was the best I could do. Saturday we enjoyed talking with our friends and had a good time. Sunday morning we had only one sumo practice available which we both looked to ride before heading down to race the electric bikes. Then the weekend came to an abrupt halt, as Jenn flipped over the bars and slammed into the dirt. We decided several friends already in the hospital needed a visit from us. Jenn thinks I drive like there is blind fold over my eyes and lead weights on my feet, so she went to hospital via the ambulance. A broken T12 would keep her in the hospital for a few days. I think she made up the injury to get out of loading the trailer up.
Tuesday, was supposed to be all about her. A day with KH Coaching and special guest Mr Daytona (aka Scott Russell). Unable to ride she opted to let me ride in her spot. Most everyone knows that I picked up a 1000 for the 2012 AFM season, I had a few days on the bike, but just tried to get a base setup and tame the beast that is a 1000. Luckily Scott was able to chase me around and help me with a number of bad habits I picked up on the 600. Honestly, I was not sure what to expect, not all racers make good instructors. Together we found a vocabulary that worked for both of us and made me feel much better heading into my first race weekend. Thank you again to Ken and Scott for all your help! More than telling me what was wrong they also gave me some tools to continue learning how to get faster on the 1000.
All of this lead to my first weekend on liter bike with guys like Dave, Martin, Ricky, Go Go, Siggy, and the rest of the regular fast guys. Chris Maguire showed me what tires to run for the weekend and off I went. Saturday morning I took the bike out and started going to work. I felt bad as I seemed to be dragging an anchor for most of the day, not a cargo ship anchor but an anchor none the less. It could have been worse, but at least I felt like I belonged on the bike. It is all about relationships and my bike and I are developing ours.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday here we go. Two months late I am finally racing my new toy. Race 1, gridded 19th the flag dropped and off I went. Every effort was made to get up front, but I just missed getting to the back of the lead pack. I used the rest of the race trying to manage my energy. After the race it was funny to listen how my description of the track changed from 600 to 1000. I now refer to those straight sections as short-aways not straight-aways. There is not a lot of time to rest on the 1000.
Race 2 was the same 19th place start, but after lap 2 my heart got a bit of adrenaline as I went for the brakes only to feel the lever pinch my fingers to the grip. Unable to do much after that I struggled to finish the race, with little to no brakes. Back in the pits I checked the brakes and flushed the fluid, looking for any reason to my failing brakes. FP was to be after lunch and I needed to be ready to play.
FP gave me the best grid of the day, Row 3 and 11th place. My start was good and I thought I may be able to latch onto the faster guys, but by lap 2 the brakes went bye-bye. Coming down the short away and flying into T1, I was doing my best not to suck the seat right off the bike, I managed to make the turn, but missed my down shifts and Go Go passed me, much like his name suggests. Immediately I tried to challenge, but as he tightened up the line we almost hit as I grabbed for what should have been brakes. My first race weekend could not end with me cleaning out one of the nicest guys in the pits because I was too stupid to back off. Don’t get me wrong I wanted to beat him, just not at the risk of hurting another rider.
At the end of the weekend it was a 5th in Open SB, a 5th in Open Grand Prix, and a 7th in Formula Pacific.
The 1000 class will be a challenge for me, I know it. Several guys talked with me and said nice things or were very encouraging about my new program. Some people can’t wait to see me struggle with the big bike and that’s ok with me. I watch racing interviews all the time, and listen to riders pussy foot around questions about the upcoming year. Well I was asked and want to make it perfectly clear, I came to win. I want to win every race I enter, every time I enter. I am setting reasonable goals along the way, but I expect to win this year. I have nothing but respect for the other racers on the grid, and that is what makes me want to beat them. Thank you to everyone who has helped me make this part of my racing dream become reality. I look forward to the day I get to say it from the top of the box.
Thank you as always to those who choose to support racers, and thank you to those who support those companies. See my sponsor links for information about the best companies in the business. Look for us riding at Pacific Track Time in the upcoming months.
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.