Dealing with Debilitation and Downtime
Well, I wish I could say I was actually racing this round, but unfortunately, I will be out until next season. It has been 4 weeks since the last AFM round and my right shoulder dislocation. I couldn’t get in for an appointment with the surgeon for two weeks following the injury, but I spoke with him on the phone about a week after… he had seen my x-rays and was planning to do surgery right away. Over the phone he told me to use my arm as much as possible and keep the strength up. So I ditched the sling immediately and went back to using my arm, and I found that riding my bicycle was not painful and has allowed me to keep active for the last few weeks.
Upon exam at my appointment on July 24th, Dr. Hu, my orthopedic surgeon, discovered that the injuries were much more extensive than he saw on the x-rays. He decided to postpone surgery and schedule me for an MRI, which was another week later. Friday, August 7th was my MRI follow up exam with my surgeon. Many of the AFM racers, including Jason, were already at the track on Friday for a test & tune track day. I was getting the news… based on the X-rays and MRI; I have a near complete tear of the rotator cuff with fibers displaced into a Hill-Sachs deformity (a dent in my shoulder bone), a torn labrum, a ruptured supraspinatus tendon and a complete (Level 3) AC joint separation. “This is too much,” Dr. Hu says, “Too much for one surgery. I will not do it all at once. You will have to have two surgeries.” Dr. Hu had warned me at my last exam that because of the nature of my injuries it was likely going to require two surgeries. Oh, if you had seen my face then, I asked him to reconsider and talk to other surgeons to see if there was a way we could do it all at once, ya know, get it over with and into recovery so I can ride again soon. How long is this going to take? But this time, when he says it will take two surgeries, I agree - without argument. I do not want to have on-going problems with my shoulder, I want the repairs done correctly and to give it the proper time for surgery and recovery. Dr. Hu tells me, “The humerous head is still quite badly bruised and you have fluid in your shoulder, we need to give it a couple more weeks to heal before I can schedule the first surgery.” I leave his office and head to Infineon with Sam, to join the racers at the track.
Over the last few weeks, I have been keeping in shape and working on increasing the strength in my right shoulder. I started off just going for rides on the bicycle, but then made a couple trips to the MX tracks for some laps on my dirt bike. First, at Riverfront MX track in Marysville on July 28th. This was a fun evening at the track because Nikki and Sam joined us at the track for their first time. Ricky Brown showed up with his supermoto bike and my friends Cat and Mark came out that night as well. I just had to try to ride with all my friends. I rode well below my limits and was careful since I knew a fall on the shoulder could cause another dislocation, but surprisingly it was not painful riding the dirt bike, even managed to clear a few jumps and have a lot of fun.
The next week Jason and I decided to meet Sam over at Hangtown MX track. I have a love-hate relationship with this track, it is extremely difficult and technical, but it is so fun to ride and so rewarding when you accomplish sections of it. Both of my first 2 shoulder dislocations occurred on the dirt bike at this track, so I will admit it… Hangtown scares me a little. I was sitting in the truck trying to decide if I should ride, then I just geared up and headed out, thinking, I will just roll around the track a little, after all this could be my last time on a motorcycle for a very long while. I went out and did several laps just rolling (no jumping) the whole track. Then I decided to focus on just the front section working a couple small table top jumps and a couple easy corners. At the end of the night as the traffic cleared I went back to running the entire track and just couldn’t contain myself anymore. I jumped most of the doubles, but kept it well within my safety zone. And I was extremely careful in the corners where I knew I could actually risk taking a fall. Overall, it was a great afternoon at the track and I am glad I went… even though we all know dirt bikes are dangerous. LOL! It felt good to be able to go out there and ride one last time before going in for surgery.
Of course all this dirt bike riding got me dreaming of putting on my shoulder brace and attempting to race AFemme on Saturday. However, I hadn’t pre-entered for any of the races and I didn’t take any of my gear (or my bike, for that matter) to the track so that option was pretty much out the window. Ahh, well, probably for the best since my shoulder decided to dislocate in my sleep on Saturday morning… with me waking Jason, Sam and Lollipop (our guests in the trailer) at 5:00 am, with a scream of, “*Expletive!* It’s out!” Jason and Lollipop remained calm(ish) and reset my shoulder using the technique I learned from my last trip to the emergency clinic. Luckily, this time it actually worked and my shoulder snapped back in. Kyle, thank you for not throwing up on me, ‘cause I know you were grossed out. LOL!
I spent the rest of the AFM weekend at Infineon Raceway watching my good friends and my husband race. They all did a fantastic job, and Jason is really starting to come to terms with his bike. It was fun to watch him finish with a 6th, then a 5th, then a 4th in his 3 classes. Nicely Done Jason! I took some video footage of the weekend and hope to get something edited out of it and posted next week.
Have you ever seen Star Wars? There is this scene where they jump to light speed. Stars are just shooting past, you can’t focus on anything. Well for several race rounds that is how my head has felt while racing. The thing about that is, how do you train your brain? Trust me I had some strange ideas, but I can’t say anything I thought of was going to work. So train everything else around your brain, and you can spend more of your attention on the track and less on your body or bike. This was my plan for round 3.
How did the weekend go? That is a good question. Friday was a low key day for me. Ken Hill had ridden my bike a few weeks ago while training my teammate, Greg McCullough. He made some adjustments and told me the bike was good to go. So I enter Friday with a bike a KFG says is good to race, if that doesn’t give you confidence, what would? So I am confident my bike is good, but I spent most of Friday adjusting the suspension anyway. I had a great base set up and could always go back to it. I made massive adjustments just to see the outcome. Well the outcome was that I can do 1:46 to 1:47 lap times on just about any setup.
Friday afternoon, I talked with Ken Hill about some things I had control over. When was I using the brakes, how much, and for how long? He made some suggestions and Saturday would be more about me and less about the bike. Friday night we went for a bicycle ride. About 8 of us went. My legs still are not strong enough to hang, and just a few laps in I had to bow out to some serious peddle crushers. Still I had some fun and that is why I am here.
Saturday was a good day. I rode some old race tires and by the end of the day felt pretty good. Shawn Reilly gave me some more advice about small issues I was challenged with. That is the one thing about the AFM, there is no shortage of experienced
fast guys. Most of these guys have been where I am at, so they are able to give some advice on how to work through issues.
We had a fair amount of crashes through the weekend and Saturday would claim one of my friends. Sebastio has found a lot of speed this year, but he found the limit on the exit of turn 6. He was a little beat up and wouldn’t ride Sunday. See you next round Sebastio. I have fallen twice this year and was not looking for a third, so riding within my limits is priority #2. Why number two, because priority one was expanding my limits.
Saturday night was great. We had some great pit bike racing and the money went to Eric Arnold. On my way back from the pit races, Dave Stanton said to come by and he would help with turn eight. I have struggled with turn eight all year and was looking forward to his advice. So I grabbed my notebook and over to his trailer I went. I tried to listen and not talk at Dave as he gave me advice. You would have to ask him how I did. He gave me some great advice.
Learning to shut my mouth is high on my list of things to do. Asking for help from Ken Hill, Shawn Reilly, Chris Van Andel or Dave Stanton doesn’t do you any good if you can’t shut your mouth and listen. I think in this way I am like a new racer during and evaluation. You tell him to go out and just ride around, pretend like your not following him. You ensure him your not giving him a Moto GP contract, but he still rides way over his head, because he wants to impress you. I suffer from this problem with my mouth as well as my riding. I am learning to go faster, now if I can just keep my mouth hole in check. Thanks to all of the fast guys who helped this weekend.
Sunday, ahhh Sunday. I was practice group 6 and had plenty of time to get ready. My bike was good to go and I had help from Mike as my mechanic for the weekend. Mike is new to racing, but with some guidance from Sam he did a great job all weekend. Sunday practice went fine and I felt good. My races would be late in the day so I entered 600 super bike to stay warmed up. I dumped this race a few rounds ago to focus on other classes. In the hot pits I looked up and saw Dave sitting up front. He rides a liter bike so he must be testing on our warm up lap. I pulled up next to him and asked for a tow through the corners he was helping me with last night. He agreed and off we went. This put me on the grid early and my tires started to cooling off, but hey take help whenever you can get it.
That race was like practice for me. The lead pack gapped me out a bit after a mistake and I promised my self to ride my race not chase like a newby. After a lonely race I just thought about all the lines I tried and the results. Besides, I was worried about other races later on. Did I mention I ended up 6th, with the best lap of my weekend so far? Not to bad for being all by my self.
I watched an exiting FP race where Mach 1 rider Dave Stanton won. So, one of the guys telling me about lines, just won the hardest race in the AFM. Yeah bring on race 9. Again I latched onto the front runners, but chose to ride my race instead of theirs. After some early action I got dropped back by a few seconds and just stayed in 5th for the rest of race.
Race #12, I am excited and disappointed about this race. 750 super bike is tough. You are giving up some horsepower to bigger bikes, but the fastest guy in this race is on a 600. I got a poor start, but by turn two I was in the hunt. Lenny Hale was out front, but he was not my immediate worry. O’Sullivan, Ezequiel and Billy Scott were. Ezequiel, a young AMA rider passed me out of 6 and I decided early retaliation was in order. A block pass into 7 got the job done, but he passed me back into 11. I had to let him go and focus on Billy. I got around Billy ok, but could not shake him. I made some mistakes every time I deviated from plan. So I chose to sit in 4th and ride my race. I did just that and came home with a 4th and my fastest and most consistent laps of the weekend.
My disappointment from that race came in only one form. I could not bring home a podium. I really wanted to, but I promised myself to ride my own race. To Chris at Pirelli, thank you for having a set of tires that performed for 3 hard races. I really wanted to put a trophy in the Pirelli truck. To my entire pit crew thank you for letting me focus on riding. To all of the mentors who helped me this weekend, I will try to talk less and listen more.
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.