I feel as though I am about to give a duplicate race report, but that said here we go. I was all packed and ready to go for the weekend. There was one small hitch, my wife’s parents were in town and will come to the track with us. This is a hitch only in the sense that I am very much a creature of habit, and this is not a habit. They are very nice and helpful, but I am one of those do it yourself so you know it is done right people. After convincing them I would rather do everything myself, we showed up at the track early on Thursday. They turned out to be very helpful and I don’t have to do everything myself.
So am still getting everything back in place from my round one wreck. Sam drove my bodywork to me late Wednesday night, thank you by the way. So my plan was to install it at the track. I went to install it and found I had no hardware. This was not the start I wanted. I left the old bodywork on for Friday. Greg McCullough and I rode Friday, with the intent to get better. It was a day of testing, but for some reason I was not able to get really excited about riding. Struggling to find a happy place in my mind, the day was not as productive as one would have hoped for.
Saturday needed to be a better day for me. I got off to a decent pace, but actually got slower every session. I tried to replicate some AMA lines I had seen, but no dice. I tried to make some suspension adjustments myself, but that was like asking a 4th grader to do calculus problems. After not listening to my mechanic Tom, I finally gave in and followed his advice. Sheepishly, I asked Ken Hill to ride my bike. He was working with another rider, but agreed. It only bothers me to ask, because I need to know how to do this for myself. Ken rode one lap at the end of the day Saturday, one lap and he knew the bike was not right. I had been on it for 2 days, and in one lap he told me where to start adjusting.
After a massive adjustment on the rear shock by Ken Hill, I went out and rode the few laps left for me in practice. It was better, not perfect, but much better. He suggested I make some measurements that night and possible adjustments. I still had to fix my body work and I was exhausted from fighting the bike all day. With a ton of help from friends, family, and team we were able to mount the bodywork and sponsor stickers with out the factory hardware. I was too scared to change anything else on the bike. I have watched racers tell reporters that they had a tenth place car before the race, and always thought how do they know that? Well, Saturday night I went to bed with that question answered. I had what I felt to be a tenth place bike.
Sunday morning and Race 2 was 600 Production and due to new gridding and lack of points I was still well back in the field. My start was horrible and left me a ton of work to do. I don’t remember many race specifics and that is weird for me. I just remember finding some things in that race. I remember the start and the finish, but the middle is a blur. Most of this is probably because I spent the whole race talking to my self. Rather than tell you what little I remember about every race, I will tell you what I what really stuck with me at the end of the day.
Turn 1, I am not comfortable close to the wall, but I can lay the bike over further than I think, be on the gas at the apex. When my confidence was high enough, I remember being so fast in turn 1.
Turn 2, use the front tire to scrub speed, slow the middle of the corner, lay the bike over more, and get on the gas the bike will take it. I rush this corner almost every lap, but when I get it right the exit is great and my front tire will take more than I give it credit for.
Turn 3, I will give up a little bit here because I am going to get it back. If I am patient with turn 3, then I can get on the gas sooner in 3a and close up on people into 4.
Turn 4, stop over braking this corner, let the front end scrub speed and keep you RPM’s up for the drive out.
Turn 5, break off the gas for a second and then spot your exit. Get on the gas harder, I am loosing time here. It will go faster if I just let it.
Turn 6, be patient don’t rush the middle, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, see the 3rd light pole at the exit and then gas. I have to be more patient and also lay the bike over more, the tires will take it.
Turn 7, don’t be so late on the brakes. Stay out wide longer and use the brake to turn the bike in the middle. Stay outside the snake line and smooth and hard on the gas.
Turn 8, brake into the fast left, get the bike turned and use the gas to steer the bike.
Turn 9, slow down on the entrance a touch so you can keep it tight on the exit.
Turn 10, stay tight spot the exit and trust the tires as you get on the gas.
Turn 11, don’t charge this corner. Keep it tight on the apex and keep your exit only as wide as you need to keep the RPM’s in the power range.
This is what I said to myself for 8 laps in a row, 4 different times on Sunday. It was like a recording. Many times I said it out loud. I do remember some of the bikes in front of me, but more than that it was where I was gaining on them. If I followed my plan then I was gaining, if I deviated from that I lost time. This is not the turn by turn report some look for, but it is what I remember the most about my races.
Sunday I rode as hard as possible for as long as possible. Everything was left on the table, so to speak. Shawn had told me all weekend, not to worry about the race and that I just needed to finish. I can say that I rode as hard as I could, without crashing. I was exhausted and just not able to execute every lap perfectly, but I stuck to my plan. Michelle told me my best lap was in the last race on lap 4 or 5. I leave round 3 knowing that there are areas I can actually improve on and that feels good.
This is one of my first race reports, written in my Novice Season 2007 and posted on Kneeriders.com. I found it while cleaning up files on my computer and thought I should share this on my blog.
If I’m crippled when I’m 60 I might be lucky.
My right shoulder is hurting again today. That easy-off, low side in Turn 4 in the Clubman Lightweight race at Infineon last weekend found me hammering down on it one more time. That makes for 4 crashes ending with my right shoulder taking the brunt of punishment for my novice moves as a motorcycle racer. Although, these are not all road racing crashes, a couple of them were from the exciting challenges of catching air in motocross.
The first injury; a right shoulder dislocation occurred when I over-jumped the front double at Hangtown, I bounced off my line (that can happen when you don’t land on the down ramp and accelerate.) Another bike jumping the triple came down, foot peg hitting the top of my shoulder, knocking it down and out of socket.
Number two; NRS day at Thunderhill, it rained. I had never ridden a street bike in the rain, hey, what better way to learn than on the track. J First lap out and it is slippery, hmm, I’m just going to take it easy. Coming out of turn 13 onto the back straight I roll on the throttle, oops, too soon, the rear tire slides right. I make another mistake and roll off the throttle and it comes back to the left. Back on the throttle and it goes right then comes back left and I am off, a slow, high-side onto my shoulder and sliding to the gravel, bruised and swollen.
But hey, I’m not done, just a couple of weeks later I am working the uphill, double-double at Hangtown. Each time I attempt it, I land the first double and lose all forward momentum to clear the 2nd double. My friend Cat offers up some advice, “When you are in the air on the first jump, blip the throttle, then land on the gas. C’mon” she says, “I’ll tow you over it.” No problem, I do just as she says and yes, you bet I had forward momentum when I landed it that time. Too bad I came off the first double a little sideways, tucked the front end on landing and down I go, dislocation and separation of the right shoulder. WTF?
And that brings me to the recent low-side at Infineon and hopefully to my point.
So today at work, I am hurting, but don’t have any Ibuprofen at my desk. I am forced to go searching. I ask a few people and finally succeed in finding some pain meds, but not without the becoming the topic of conversation yet again. It goes like this, “Jenn, I just don’t understand why you keep riding motorcycles, it’s just so dangerous and crazy. If you keep up at this pace you will be crippled by the time you are 60.” I hear this from people constantly, like 60 is some magic age at which I will suddenly become crippled from my injuries. And please, my list of injuries is not restricted to motorcycle related incidents. No, I have snowboarding, rock-climbing, horse-back riding and even drunken-stumbling related injuries to add to the list.
But let’s skip over the obvious response that includes listing all various activities you can get hurt by participating in and get to the point of their question. “Why do you keep riding motorcycles?” Short answer… because it is fun.
It’s hard to explain to people my philosophy of living life to its fullest, and as I am typing this I find myself fumbling with the words to explain why I love what I do. Most of my co-workers and friends from college are consumed with filling their lives full of tangible objects such as expensive cars or big houses, designer clothes and $600 purses. And there is nothing wrong with that, but it does not interest me. Yet, I find myself having to explain over and over the choices I make in my life.
I believe that life is meant to be experienced, the feeling you get when you know you have pushed your limits; physically, mentally, even emotionally. The satisfaction of setting goals, achieving them, then superceding them. And the disappointment when you fail, because let’s face, everyone fails once in awhile. But doesn’t that make it that much sweeter when you succeed. It does not take a motorcycle to understand this, just a sense of adventure and good medical insurance. : )
So on Saturday, just before I crashed in Turn 4 on my last lap of the Clubman race I had just turned my fastest lap on that track, I was making personal gains, and I was having so much fun. I came down to T4, late and not hard enough on the brakes, I turned in and felt my knee touch, then my toe touch, then the rear tire slide and I was down and sliding, then rolling and thinking, “stupid, stupid, stupid.” I picked myself up and as I pushed my bike all the way back to the pits (because apparently the crash truck had to pick up the turn workers) all I could think about was how much fun I was having and getting back out there again.
And so today my shoulder hurts, but I get a smile on my face when I explain why it hurts. If I am crippled when I turn 60 then I might consider myself lucky. Lucky to have a lifetime full of moments like these that made me feel alive.
I arrived home from the track on Sunday evening, exhausted from our 3-day weekend at Infineon Raceway. Since then I have been motivated to write this race report, yet for some reason struggling with putting on paper the words to describe the ups and downs of this weekend. On my Facebook page, I posted that the weekend was good, I had a new personal best lap time and I am making significant progress towards my goals. Yet, I only felt that the weekend was “good,” not “great.” My feelings of disappointment simmer in the knowledge that I have some significant areas for improvement in my riding, yet I can’t quite figure out how to make it happen. I know I am losing time in the carousel, and at the fast left-hander in the 8’s, also at Turn 10, but the more I tried to work these issues out, the slower I felt. Another big problem for me is inclement weather…
Sonoma Valley is known to have foggy mornings as the ocean breeze pushes the moisture inland and this Saturday morning is no exception. It is a cold, damp morning and as I prep “Nikka,” my SV650 for AM practice I am already dreading heading out onto the track for Practice Group 2. My head is hanging low and I am complaining about the weather and how slow I am going to be before I even have my Spidi Leathers zipped up. I have defeated myself. I roll onto the grid for my first session planning to just stretch and warm up a little with no worries about my lap times, but once best lap times for the session are posted I am taken aback by how slow I actually went, 2:08 best lap, you’ve got to be kidding me. I need to figure out how to get comfortable on a cold track. From this day forth…. No more skipping first session at track days! As practice went on and the fog began to lift, my lap times slowly came down, but still only getting to a 2:00 minute lap time had me concerned for F AFemme. Fortunately, the sun broke through the clouds before we gridded up and my day, literally, looked brighter.
Saturday Afternoon – Formula AFemme
Race 2 of the day, we are 2nd wave behind Clubman Lightweight, with Vintage gridded 3rd wave behind us girls. I am on Row 4, in grid position 14, 2 spots to the right of the inside wall. I really want to get a good start, I concentrate on the starting techniques I have learned from my MotoCross racing days; scoot forward in my seat and get my body up over the bars to keep the front down, rev to 6000, feather the clutch and keep that shifter foot in position to get it into 2nd quickly….The 1 board goes sideways, I count to 4 and the green flag waves, I get a great launch off the line and as I have my foot positioned under the shifter I pull my toes up to bring her into 2nd gear, it won’t go!!! Oh shit! GP Shift!!! I am flustered and it takes me far too long to get my foot out from under the shifter so I can press it down, not up. I get her into 2nd, but by then the entire class has gone by me. I charge up to turn 2 and dive under Denise and make my way to 3 and up to 3a, I am caught up with the pack, but am going to have to work at it to make some passes. The race seems a lot shorter than it was, and I am not really sure which laps and where exactly I made my passes, we were running in a bit of a cluster, with Zoe, Cassie, Kristy Miller, Lisa and I… I remember getting by Lisa Kinberger on her Ninja 250 on the inside of 3a, and I think I passed Cassie and Kristy down into turn 4 forcing Kristy to check up and wait for me.
I railed through 5 up to the top of the carousel and I think this where I got by Zoe, but it would not last. Zoe and Cassie both made a charge back by me in the middle of the carousel, I had better drive up to 7, but I would not be able to make a pass stick at the exit of 7. Zoe led Cassie, who was right in front of me. I was so close I could taste it and I kept reminding myself to ride my own laps, use my own references, don’t let them dictate my line. This went on for a couple laps and as we came around on the white flag lap I knew I was going to have to make a charge to get by Cassie and maybe even catch Zoe. As we came out of the carousel and down the back straight to T7 I caught a glimpse of Christy as she tucked the front and went sliding, as we came by she was still tumbling… bummer. But racing is still ahead, I had been faster than both Zoe and Cassie down the hill to Turn 9 and I was hopeful I would get the drive to make a pass happen on this last lap. As we accelerated out of the 8’s and down to T9 a vintage racer was just about to enter the first right, Zoe managed to squeeze inside, bottling Cassie and I behind. I noticed that Cassie was tight to the vintage bikes tailpipe and she was following the typical line through 9a, this was going to kill her drive on that Kawasaki 600. I backed off and squared up 9a and came around the outside of both bikes on the entry to Turn 10, I had better drive to 11, and as long as I held my line tight and clean through 11, I had Cassie covered. Smooth on the brakes, smooth on the throttle and hold her pinned to the line. I finished 5th of the 10 ladies gridded up and turned my best lap time at Infineon, 1:54.555. I love this AFemme class!
Special thanks to Ken Hill for the two up ride on Friday, I observed his better lines, as well as acceleration and braking zones. When I ride two up with Ken, I am able to look down at where we are at on the track or look at his hands to see how he is using the controls, without having to watch where we are going, it is quite educational. I am proud that I was able to get the line through 7 right every time all weekend, now I just need to improve my breaking into 7, I am still too hard, too soon on the brakes. I would also like to thank Vik Anderson, Z2 Trackdays, for riding with me on Friday and helping me find a couple places where I could carry more speed. This opened up the door for my lap time improvement on Saturday and was one of the highlights of my weekend.
Sunday Morning - I am again faced with my fear of riding on a cold track, not only for morning practice, no, no, today I have the great fortune of riding Race 1 – Formula IV.
We are 2nd wave and I am in grid position 28, on the outside of Row 7. This is a great grid position and I am singing my starting ballad in my helmet, “trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside, round the outside, daa daa dada” as I pile into turn 1, not backing off from the crowd, but rather enjoying being in the midst of the pack. I come through T2 tight to the inside, I see Christy on my left and she is getting a great drive, this encourages me to keep on the throttle to 3 and I settle right behind Zoe who is right behind Christy headed up the hill to 3a and down into 4.
On the next lap Brad Woods and Ben Swigett capitalize on my weakness in the carousel and put their bikes between Christy and I, as Zoe makes her way in front of Christy. Christy, Brad, Ben and I continue in this formation for a couple laps, I see each them making little mistakes, but instead of following my program and putting myself into position to take advantage, I deviate from my plan thinking I can rush a corner and I end up making mistakes of my own, costing me precious tenths here and there. Brad and Ben eventually find a way past Christy beating her to the checkers and I come to the line half a straight behind her, finishing 24th of 36 starters, with a best lap of 1:55.049 coming on the last lap, and I am pleased with the consistency of my lap times in the last 4 laps of the race.
Sunday Afternoon – 650 Twins
Race 9 – 2nd Wave – Grid Position 32, outside of Row 8
Over the lunch break, I talked with Greg McCullough, www.RideMerchant.com, about the carousel, he had been struggling there too and had some insight as to what I could do to set myself up better for the drive out. As we talked and watched video, what he said was logical, but for some reason I struggled with trying to figure out how I was going to apply it on the track. Later that afternoon, when Race 9 comes around I am starting to feel tired from the weekend. I grid up and get a decent start and again end up behind Christy heading down into Turn 4. On the 2nd lap, Zoe goes by in turn 2… she is on a mission, as she came by I thought I would latch on, but I am trounced by her. I can’t run her pace and I am exhausted and panting, I back off and Christy begins to gap me out as well. On the 6th lap, again in the carousel, a black bike with a yellow plate goes by, a Novice!
No way, I struggle trying to find a clean pass to get back by him, there are several places that I am faster, but not better, since I couldn’t get past (from Christy’s race report… never underestimate your competition) I get my second wind in the last lap and he runs wide in turn 11, I am able to hold it tight and get a better drive to the checkers taking Rick DePena at the line. Rick, why do you still have yellow plates, anyway? Ha ha. I finish in the top 20, on track for my season goals. However, my best lap time for 650 T was a 1:56.104. I went slower. Dang it! I will be focused on getting more time on my bicycle before the next round to work on my endurance, besides I love wearing my new Vanderkitten riding kit.
Diligence is the mother of good fortune, and idleness, its opposite, never brought a man to the goal of any of his best wishes. - Cervantes
Thank you to those who provide me support and instructionat the track; Jay Kinberger (my Z2 Trackday coach), Shawn, David, Kathy and the rest of the Z2 crew, RideMerchant.com, Vanderkitten, Zoran, Jon Foreman and Twin Works Factory team, CT Racing-Pirelli Tires, Ken Hill, and Blaise, Dave, Ricky (best pit mates ever) and Justus (my carrot on the track). Congrats to Ricky Ford for his first podium taking the top spot! We want to see more of that. And of course, Joe 4theriders.com, for all these awesome pics.
Well I had a bit of a delay in getting this race report written and on line… I have been BUSY, between my day job, track days and motorcycle repairs it has taken me a little too long to get this posted, but alas… here it is.
Boy-o-boy had I been looking forward to this race weekend. As you may recall, Round 1 at Buttonwillow did not go as well as I had hoped and I went into this weekend not only hoping for, but expecting better results.
I enjoy riding at Infineon Raceway (aka Sear’s Point) the shorter, but more technical track is perfect for the SV racers, where horsepower is not necessarily the deciding factor. A good suspension set-up and the ability to maximize drive out of the corners is what will make the difference for you at IR.
Friday evening after the track went cold, the garages were opened and we were able to set up pits for the weekend. Jason and Greg, along with David BenJamin, would set-up Z2 Team pits in Garage 3. I would set-up next to them in Garage 4 with TwinWorks Factory, joined by Jeff Frost, Jon Forman, Tom Dorsey, Ricky Ford, and Shandra Crawford. Throughout the evening, many of my other racing friends continued to arrive, I be-bopped around the paddock saying hello and giving hugs to everyone. One of my favorite things about racing is seeing all my friends, we spend so much time together and AFM racers are so supportive of one another, it really is like one big family.
Saturday morning…. Oooh, ooh, ooh, it is race day for the women signed up to run the new Formula AFemme class, as well as the Novice Clubman, and Formula 40 races. All the ladies are buzzing about the good grid size we got for the first round, there were 12 entries on the AFM website when we last checked it on Friday. Not a huge grid, but decent considering it is a new class to encourage more women to get involved with road racing. Check out my separate post for Saturday’s events… where you will learn about how my bike died.
I have borrowed Ricky Ford’s B-Bike again for Sunday’s races. I am able to get one practice session on it first thing in the morning following registration and tech inspection. Morning practice went well and I was ready for the races, however I was not going to find myself on the track again until after lunch since 650 Twins was Race 6 and Formula 4 was Race 11. There were some delays to the day with a couple of bad accidents in the morning races requiring heli-flights for the injured, my best wishes to them for a full recovery.
The remaining races were cut from 8 laps to 7 in order to complete all the races scheduled for the day prior to 5:00 pm when the track “goes cold.” So during the down time I got my grid positions for 650T and F4… I guess it really did pay off to race BW last month and now I am happy I did it. 650T - I am in position 14, on the 3rd row, out side. This is a fantastic grid position for me; I could see a clear path to and through turn 1. I would focus on getting a good start and then ride clean, smooth lines; there were quite a few faster guys (and girl - Zoe) gridded behind me. I got a good launch and held a decent position up into Turn 2, where I gave it up and let a couple racers pass because I am not yet willing to bang bars in that corner. It’s just a little too sketchy there for me. Scott Lesnewski came past me at the entrance to T3, I ride with Scott on Z2 track days occasionally and am confident using him for a tow up and over 3A. Then Gator came barreling in on the top of 3A and I thought for sure he was going to hit me, but he managed to hold his line and block me down the hill, nice move Gator! He held his line and made a clean pass, so I couldn’t help but give him a hard time and congratulate him at the end of the race. Gator (Christian Sommer) is one of our good friends and pitted with us most of last year, until he broke his collarbone skate boarding in the pits and took himself out for the rest of the season. It is good to see him back out there this year, although he is no longer using the skate board as pit transportation. The next 3 laps continued in a similar fashion, I ran very consistent lap times and was feeling comfortable on the loaner bike from Ricky, as the faster racers would come by I would try to latch onto them and learn better lines. It was pretty cool to come out of turn 7 and look to the right to see half the class still behind me, this is a huge improvement for me from last year. In the last couple of laps, I had a little battle with Tom Short and Mickey Fimbres as they made their way past me, then on the last lap in Turn 8 I came up on a Formula 2 lapper, not realizing there was anyone coming up behind me I decided to wait to make a more courteous pass on the straight down to 9. William Wickersham was tight on my tail with better drive coming out of the 8‘s and he flew past me down the hill and beat me to the checker flag. I gave up 9 positions from my starting position, but still managed to beat my buddy Justus to the finish line. My result was 23rd out of 48 starters, well on my way to my goal to get in the top 20.
The F4 race is next to the last race of the day, I pulled up to my grid position18, on the 4th row, outside again. This should be another good start, but... Brad Woods has a mechanical on the launch apparently losing oil from his engine, he is a bike length ahead of me and to my left as we make our way thru the fast turn one, Woods rear wheel gets oil on it and he goes for a bronc ride bouncing right, then left, then right again… I am sure he is going to end up on the ground directly in front of me so I check up until I see him ride it out and off to the right side of the track. I now have no drive up the hill to turn 2 and I have dropped to the back of the pack. Throught the course of the 7 lap race I manage to work my way back up a few positions, but can’t quite catch Tom Short and Justus Hoffman who are in my sights, but just out of my reach. The drive to come back from such a bad start helped me get to my best lap time of the weekend and I finished 24th out of 33 starters. Side note: It was a real bummer to see Christie Cooley sitting on the inside of turn 4 with another blown fuse on her SV. Hope she can get the mechanical sorted out before Round 3 next month.
It’s 2:30 in the afternoon Saturday, April 25th 2009, my right knee lightly scrapes for a moment over the blue and yellow curbing at the exit of turn 7. I am extremely pleased because the ride height adjustment Phil Douglas of Aftershocks made before this final practice session of the day seems to have worked. Nikka (my bike) is no longer pushing us off line as I roll on the throttle to the stops. My line through the turn 8 esses has been consistent and clean since I spent the better part of Friday working on it. Each transition of my body from left to right is smooth, my feet properly positioned and weighted on the pegs…. but this time through something is not right. Nikka is low on power, she is not pulling even though the throttle is pinned and a quick glance at my RPM gauge tells me I am in the power band. I decide to try my normal up-shift over wheelie hill before dropping down to turn 9 and hear a load clunk, 2 down-shifts under braking and more clunking from Nikka’s belly. This sounds similar to the noise she made when I blew the transmission last month. I coast through turn 9 and 9a with my hand in the air to warn anyone approaching from behind that I am having difficulties, “Please don’t hit me.”
As I roll on the throttle exiting 9 she still doesn’t want to pull, we limped off the track at the exit lane, and she stalled. I dismounted and pushed Nikka back to my pit, heartbroken with the thought that I won’t be able to grid up for Formula AFemme which races in about an hour.
Jason and Greg are in Greg’s toy hauler writing notes of what they have learned today when I rudely interrupt them requesting assistance with my bike. This is not the first time and it certainly won’t be the last, sorry guys. They both raced raced SV’s our first two years in the AFM, but they made the move to the mighty R6’s this year, maybe secretly hoping to get away from the little problems that SV’s often present. The SV’s are fun to race, plus they are lower budget race bikes than most of the others in the paddock. I prefer the Generation 1 SV650, which means my bike is old, a 1999, and when you race a bike that old you are bound to have problems from time to time. So I recruit their help to diagnose my problem. Jason tries to manually push through the gears and can’t get rotation, but a few moments later Zoran (the SV God, owner of Twin Works Factory and engine builder for a large percentage of the SV grid) gives it another try. I tell Zoran that my bike is set-up GP shift (up is down, down is up) and he has no problem getting her through all the gears and back again. So it looks like my problem is maybe not the transmission… but at this point she is not going to run right and I am going to have to miss the 1st AFemme round.
As I turn away from my bike, Ricky Ford is rolling into our garage from his last practice session of the day, on one of the two bikes he brought this weekend. *light bulb* As soon as he has removed his helmet, I am in his face asking if he will please, please let me race one of his bikes in AFemme. Yes! Really! My emotions are like a roller coaster, I just want to race with the girls!
Ricky’s bike that I borrow is a Gen 2 and there are several differences; tire brand and size, the bike shape and seating position, regular shift not GP, and a quick shifter which I have never used before. This should be interesting with no practice sessions left… I decide to go out for the hot lap for race one and make sure I am comfortable, my hot lap went ok and I remembered the correct shifting pattern. :) I decide I am not going to stress about race finish position or lap times, I am going to go out to race with the girls and just have fun. I realize that with no practice on this bike there is a very low probability that I will run my normal pace.
Just before the race, Berto Wooldridge comes over and gives me a pep talk. I tell him about how I am not on my own bike and he says, “Well now that you have your excuse all ready, go out and kick some ass!” Thanks for that Berto!
We take the hot lap for our race and I am still comfortable as we grid up. I am on the 2nd row, I haven’t been this close to the front since racing clubman two years ago, what a great view into turn 1. My visor is down, the bike is revved, I am watching the 1 board go sideways and waiting for the flag to drop. In that instant, something that Ken Hill had told me during my coaching session flashed through my mind… I can’t tell you what it was, if you want to know get your own session with Ken (ha ha) but I was determined.
I got a good start and I rode a pretty good race, my lap times were within my normal range although I had been hoping for better. In Valentino accent “I make-a good rhythm, I try to puussh, but I just not have it today.” I wish I could tell you that I didn’t miss a shift, but I missed quite a few. Many-a-time when I wanted to make a down-shift I would make an up-shift, and baaahhhhggg…no power. And I really should have asked more questions about how a quick shifter works, because apparently when you roll off the throttle a bit with a quick shifter it really doesn’t work at all; each time I came down the front straight everyone in the grandstands got to watch me try to figure this out. But I kept going, I gave it 110% effort (that’s for you Jason,) I didn’t give up just because I missed a shift or lost a little time. I wanted to do my best to show appreciation for all the people back in my pit that helped me that day and many times before. I just laughed and laughed in my helmet each lap as I crested wheelie hill and the little 113 bikes' head shook for an instant as it got light from the acceleration, you just wait… soon I’m going to be doing a full wheelie over that crest.
So Round 2 is in the books and I did not have the weekend than I had hoped for. I showed up early on Thursday and had the bike ready for some testing. Due to my wreck at Buttonwillow, testing has been non-existent. Easter Sunday at Infinion changed from a test and tune, to just a sorting the new bike out day. It is better to sort than not ride at all.
I spent all day Friday just trying to set a decent pace and get the bike to work. The pace never came, but the bike did start to work much better thanks to Phil at Aftershocks. Not having the pace would prove to be a big issue on Sunday. Friday should have been a great day for me, but my allergies were really bothering me and I was a little bit off. Some days aren’t great, so do what you can. Friday night was miserable by my allergies and sleep was not much of an option.
Ahhh, Saturday here we go. Everyone started showing up and it is feeling like a race weekend. So I was determined to make Saturday better. Little did I know the flu was just getting its hooks into me. Saturday riding was more of the same and my head felt like I was deep sea diving. A Twin Works rider stopped and got me medicine on the way to the track, but I was still suffering. Again it just was not a productive day.
Saturday went even worse for my wife who blew up her bike right after lunch. I was asked to help out with the announcing and Jen had to race. Ricky Ford, Dan Sewell, and Greg McCullough all stepped up and offered her a bike for her afternoon race. That is why we race with the AFM, the people here are the best. I was able to announce for her race, along with a few more races, but being sick made it less enjoyable than it could have been. Saturday night I wish I could say I slept like a baby and felt like a million bucks in Sunday, but why lie.
Between the tears flying out of my eyes and sticking to my visor and the runny nose, I was miserable on Sunday. It looked like it was raining in my helmet. Sunday was approached differently than most weekends. I wrecked in round 1 so my options were wide open for racing. I chose 600 prod, 600 superbike, Formula 1, and 750 superbike. It was very apparent in my first race, my pace would not allow me to run up front. I was faster than I had been all weekend, which caused the bike to present with handling issues. The rest of the races were spent riding to the bikes strengths and dealing with the weaknesses.
With less than stellar results from most races, I was left scratching my head. I really expected to do better. You always hear about pro riders having the flu and that is why they were off the pace. I have a new respect for those racers and how hard it can make racing. My physical fitness is getting better every week. The left leg is still weak from surgery and that is my focus when I train. The next few weeks will be spent tuning on the bike and finding a way to get my head ready for racing. This is not where I wanted to be, but I will work hard and find a way to get the results I expect of myself. As always, thanks to all of my sponsors and my crew.
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.