I know that race reports can become a bit stale. Jenn and I have looked at ways to change how we write them. For AFM round 3, I choose to write about 1 circumstance. Maybe it ends up talking about the race or maybe it is nothing more than my own meandering thoughts pasted down on a page for anyone who has 10 minutes to waste, I mean read. Hopefully, and maybe, just maybe, I help one racer progress and take away one more second from their lap time, hell just a tenth or two would work for me. I owe the sport for so many things and this is my attempt to give something back, honest answers about the weekend and what goes on in my head.
The most depressing thing about being at that top ten level is knowing you are never again going to come off the track with that look on your face; that unimaginable look of shock and awe, when you have just bettered your lap time by several seconds. At this point, i am now looking for tenths, tiny bits of time, that only the best of everything brought together at a single moment can achieve. The joy is great, simply reduce your time by a single tenth of a second, consistently, and when you do it is amazing. That group in front of you appears so close, so close you feel that you have arrived at the next level. When you don't you are mired back with a group you feel you have out grown. On those days, your feeling is that of disgust, 'How did this happen to me? Me! I am apart of that next level, I simply don't belong with these riders.' You have out grown that group and aspire to ride for the 1/10 of a second.
1/10th has a weird sound to a non-racer. Who measures anything in tenths of a second? I remember when I was learning about building motors and an instructor showed me a single millimeter on a ruler. In a machinist's eye this is like a mile, he told me. Unable to see it at the time and only being having a point of reference in feet and inches, a millimeter seemed to be the smallest measurement I could imagine. Looking back those millimeters were like minutes on a race track. I have learned not to measure in seconds on a lap, but 1/10th's and even 1/100th's of a second, just like the 1/100th of a second it took me to lose a podium on Sunday. The scale has changed and so has my perception. I cant help but look back and think how many 1/100th's that I left out on the track, at any moment, any single 1/100th could have given me that podium spot.
Now here I sit in limbo, sure I don't belong with that ever charging group behind me, yet not quite up to the next group either. The truth of the situation is that a single 1/10th of a second can change everything and bear one of two fates; win or lose. Sunday an ill timed start would unravel my world and send me into a spiral of difficult situations. I remember looking in front of me and knowing the tail section that paced before me was not the one I wished to see. All of a sudden chasing the leader became a delusion, and trying to navigate past the riders in front of me became my challenge. How do you pass racers blessed with skill that leaves them only fractions of a second slower a lap slower than you? You look long and hard for a weakness, and maybe you find it, or maybe someone else sizes you up as your eyes eagerly look to be one place higher. This is true race craft, assessing the riders around you while traveling around the circuit at or near your own maximum capabilities. The very best in the business still struggle to pass a slower rider and not be passed themselves.
In the next race with a better start and wiser lines, I was able to advance my position and follow more closely behind that group I am so eagerly trying to be among. But then, my mind becomes overwhelmingly full with thoughts of what it is going to take to run at that next level, which distracts me from my race. Two completely different races, with different problems, rattle my brain to a point I am barely able to focus on anything. Herein lies the lesson of my weekend. I need every ounce of attention I can muster to handle both situations. This leaves me with a real issue, the riding. I need to further develop my muscle memory; the ability to react, in an instant, without thought, and respond to the situation I am in. With better muscle memory, it will free my mind to find the 1/10's and 1/100's left on track.
This is where I focus my training; developing my skills to not only 'just react' when an issue arises, but to react correctly. A brutally aggressive pass attempt into T5 put me in a bad position, nearly T boning another rider. I was faster in that section, but I did not put myself in a good position to complete the pass. My hand clamped firmly on my front lever and the bike dove in response to my heavy hand. Thanks to coaching from Brok at Prairie City Dirt Track I had acquired the skills that allowed my right foot to react to our dilemma. The small, but effective, rear brake use allowed both me and my competitor to race on and not have to watch the end with the corner workers in T5. Had we crashed, the fault would have been mine, but that small addition of rear brake kept us both on 2 wheels.
Muscle memory saved my day, and as someone once said, “Any time on a bike is good time on a bike.” After such a close call and looking back, I will continue to focus my efforts on developing muscle memory and reactive instinct. If it can save me in a close call, what could it do for my lap times if I apply it proactively and correctly. More seat time on the bike is what the doctor ordered, so PTT will see more of me and so will PCDT or any other opportunity that allows me to swing a leg over a bike. I hope this helps at least one person understand some of the true challenges I face in racing. Come as prepared as you can and hopefully you will achieve your goals and ride among the next group.
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.