I was asked a question this weekend. It was a simple question and it came from an innocent source. My mechanic had his son at the track this weekend. Alex spends his Sunday watching his dad, Mikey, help me and my teammate prepare for racing. At his age you don’t understand everything you see, I was explaining how his dad helps me at the track and the importance of his roll.
Alex: “What’s my dad do?”
Jason: “Your dad gets my bike ready, so I can go out and try to win!”
Alex: “Why do you want to win?”
Without missing a beat he responded to me, why do you want to win? It was an easy answer for me. When you compete against the best riders on the west coast and you prevail on top, its fun! That is how I answered him, three simple words.
Because, its fun!
Winning is not the only time you get to have fun. My team, the other racers, and friends are all fun to hang out with. Saturday practice was not as much fun, though. My need to always do better sometimes leads me down too many paths. Rather than just focusing on my own riding, I tried a major suspension change. Fastbike Industries has taken care of me all year and has made the decisions for me. Saturday with a consultation to FBI, I tried to make changes on my own. He said my setup should be great, but if I was determined to try something new it was ok. I should have just listened to him, but now I know what absolutely does not work on an R6. The last session I reverted to my known good set-up and ta-dah , it worked.
Saturday night we celebrated birthdays and had full on bench racing sessions. You know the ones, where we tell how it was a monsoon outside, 100 racers were on the grid, my tires were bald, the engine was running on 3 cylinders and I still managed to win. After a giant pile of “when I was” stories had been told I went to bed and got some sleep for the final race Sunday of the AFM year.
What makes the last race even a little more tense than it already is for some? RAIN, sure throw in a little rain, because apparently racing for championship points was not hard enough, lets try riding a giant slip and slide. Luckily, the rain stopped the wind picked up and the track dried out. The Oregon riders were more than willing to go dry the track out for us, crazy kids. We were sent out for a shortened practice, after which, I had time to prepare for three of the craziest races in my portfolio.
Race #5, is the 600 super bike race and I am sitting 3rd in the championship with a large point gap to both 2nd and 4th, I am just looking to have some fun and finish the race. We pulled to the line and set the first race butterflies aside. Green, green, green and we are racing. As we crested the hill out of turn one, the black flag came out. It was an early black flag that sent us back to the pits where we would just sit and wait while a bad accident was cleared and the fallen riders treated. After several minutes, we received word that the riders were going to be ok and were called back to grid. I head out for my warm up lap and as I crest the same hill the engine revs to a heart pounding 16,500 RPM, only I am not moving forward any faster. Aaaaargggghhhh, see my round 1 report, because this is the end of my race. I could loose 3rd place in the championship over a clutch. I was forced to pull into the pits and look for another bike to ride. Drama anyone?
Trying not speed, my arms are frantically gesturing the problems I have encountered. My entire team is atop the Motion Pro hauler, except Mikey, who was there to take my bike, as my eyes darted around our pits. I was screaming GIVE ME A BIKE, ANY BIKE. Lucky for me, Greg had his bike on warmers and by chance we gassed his bike when we did mine. I peeled off the front warmer, and as I looked up Shawn had exited from the Motion Pro hauler before anyone else and was already peeling the rear warmer. I got waived to the end of the pit wall just in time to make the grid. So there I was, no warm up lap on my newly stolen bike and with a different set-up than I am used to. Hey, no pressure right? Thanks to Greg for working on my bike after I stole his!
The race went green again and it was not long before I figured out how to move Greg’s R6 around the track.
The last thing you want to do is wreck your teammates bike, wanting to push and do well was balanced by just needing to finish. That was, until Presting passed me, then something just fired up in me. Getting passed like the offering plate at church was not my idea of fun, it was GO time. Knowing a re-pass was in order I looked for an opportunity and took it. Again, he came by and I would pass back. In one lap, it was like 5 passes we made on each other. We were battling bar to bar and having just a ton of fun doing it. We were both examining places to pass or re-pass. It was true racing, making hard passes with determination. I hear we were getting a lot of chatter from the announcers because of the back and forth action. On the last lap my pass stuck and with some good drives I held him off at the line. Nice work Presting, it was my favorite race of the year.
Back in the pits Chris V., our crew chief and owner of Race Image Graphics, was surrounded and assisted by my team as he installed the new clutch pack. I had a few minutes to rest before race #7 and a chance at second overall in 750 production. My race would be one for the overall finish rather than individual race results. My 7 point lead over Neil was more than enough, due to a crash at WSMC a couple weeks earlier he would not be able to race, he was just too beat up to sling his bike around. Neil and I have become friends this year and it sucked not seeing him on the line. Kevin was 22 points behind me and that left me with one task, I would stick to him like glue, worrying less about me and more about what he was doing.
Well, the race started and my clutch was working fine. I tried a few times to pass Kevin, but he had some ferocious defense going on. My heart wanted to race for the position, but my head was screaming just be smart. I pushed several times hoping to make the pass, and almost got my front end sawed off more than once. We came into 14 with my best chance to go by yet, up the inside on the brakes, with my tires almost on the inside curbing, Kevin was going to tighten up his line. Coming from out wide he had that option, but I was out of space and he knew it. He leaned in on me to block my pass, just then my inside peg scraped the ground, rock meet hard place, hard place the meet rock! I was sure we were both about to slide across the ground, my mind immediately started telling my heart, look what you have gotten us into. My heart had little to say, as it was currently visiting my stomach. My Pirelli tires did there job and held me up as we exited the turn. As we went down the straight, my mind had a one way conversation with my heart and its desire to beat Kevin. I rode close to Kevin for the last few laps thinking of the long term goals. A solid finish would net me 2nd overall. On the plus side of things, my seat is attached to my bike better than I thought because it was not permanently mounted to me as I got off the bike at the end of the race.
With all of my serious races aside, it was time to just have some fun. Race 12 and 600 production. The start was good and Berto rode like a man possessed. As we headed towards T5, with me currently nestled in 4th position, Berto and Tyler were having a war over 2nd. Berto had just passed Tyler in T4 and they went side by side into a very tight T5. As I crested the hill, my eyes got very big and avoiding flying debris was my new goal. Berto’s bike bounced down the steep T5 hill as I raced to pass the bike. Parts were everywhere and a red flag came to mind. Could they clean it up before we come around again? Well, race like hell and see, they may not stop this thing. The next lap and no red flag, although I just about visited the same spot as the front end of my bike tucked; my knee hit the ground, then the peg, then a quick dirt bike step with my left foot lifted the bike back on two wheels. One lap later and the red flag flew. As I crested the hill looking for Berto, Lenny Hale was there picking up his bike. Both riders were down and a question of oil on track stopped the race. Berto jumped on the back of my bike and we got him back to the pits for the restart.
Restart we did, and we continued our battles around the track. Sebastio chased me down and passed me near the end of the race, while I was busy trying to pass Berto. Not willing to give away spots like lotto tickets at the local gas and splash, my focus turned to passing him back. We had some more tight racing and at the end of the day, I had passed one rider, but not both. Fourth place again. A lack of trophies made the weekend feel weird, almost not complete. I was faster than it showed today, but I made a plan to focus on overall finishes and stuck with it. My year can be summed up with just 4 lines;
2nd place California State Championship 600 Superbike Overall
2nd place AFM 750 Production Overall
3rd place AFM 600 Superbike Overall
Earned the #10 Plate for the AFM Overall
More than all of that, I met and raced against incredible people. I also learned things about character, perseverance, and teamwork. Thank you very much to all of my sponsors, team, and supporters. I hope we made you proud to be a part of our program and will work to improve for next year.
Last race start of the season 4theriders.com
Please remember to support the people who support racers.
Z2 Trackdays Staff, Z2 Race Team, Yamaha, David at Fastbikes Ind., Pirelli /CT Racing, Yamalube Products, Motion Pro, Race Image Graphics, Leo Vince, Helimot, Suomy, Factory Body Works , Igartua, 4 The Riders, Sidi, Tech Spec, Ink Monkey, GP Frame & Wheel, CRG Levers, Graves Motorsports, Mach 1, and Ken Hill Coaching.
600 Superbike - started 3rd, finished 5th
750 Production - started 2nd, finished 4th
600 Production - started 4th, finished 4th
If you think you are beaten…you are!
If you think you dare not…you don’t!
If you like to win, but think you can’t, it’s almost certain you won’t.
If you think you will lose, you’ve lost.
For out in the world you find…success begins with the knowledge that it is all in your state of mind!
The season of 2010… my 4th year of racing and I decided at the beginning of the season that it is time for me to start pushing my limits and seeing some results. But HOW? What can I do? What can I change to go faster? What is the “Secret of Speed?”
My 2010 season started late, compared to most. In February, one week after being released from my doctor to start riding again, I was on the bike and spending a day with Ken Hill. “Back to the basics,” he told me again and again as we worked on what seemed like novice skills. I had been off the bike for 8 months and needed to reset my basic habits in order to build from a solid platform. I set some goals at the beginning of the year, knowing that I needed goals and a plan to track my improvements and measure my success. The goals I chose seemed SMART at the time I set them; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-oriented. I wrote these goals with the intention that I would race the SV650 for the full season, with a final goal of transitioning to the R6 next year.
1. Achieve (at least one) top 10 finish in 650 classes by mid-season.
2. Finish top 15 in 650 Twins and F4, season overall.
3. Podium in Formula AFemme
4. Finish Top 3 in CSC Femme class, season overall
5. Build my skill set and improve my lap times to transition to the 600 class in 2011.
I broke each of these goals down further with mini-goals in order to track my performance as the season progressed. Knowing this and if you’ve followed my race reports through the early part of the season, you may further understand the dilemma I found myself in going into Round 3…
“Over the course of the weekend, many people asked me why I decided to change bikes. This was not an easy decision, I love racing the SV, the bike and the classes are so much fun… but honestly I was struggling with my goals and I had to face the fact that I was not in the same position I was last year before my crash. I am physically weaker, despite all the rehab and working out, my shoulder is severely damaged and 6 months of rehab does not have me at 100%. My bike was put back together after the crash with the best components and any extras I could add to make me more comfortable and more competitive, but the fact is… my suspension settings were gone. At round 2, I started the journey of learning about suspension and getting Nikka handling the way I want, but the process was going to take more time. I had set some pretty big goals for the season and after the first two AFM rounds and the CSC round it was clear to me that I was going to need to go back to the drawing board and revise my plan and my goals. Believe me, this was a tough pill to swallow, it almost feels like giving up. I talked it over at length with each person on my team and even made a call to “Coach Ken” for a different perspective. He helped me work out some of the specifics of my new plan. With just over 2 weeks before round 3, I decided to make the change.”
As painful and frustrating as those first 3 race weekends were, they forced me to take a fresh look at my riding skills, my understanding of my bike, and my ability to set goals yet keep an open mind. I re-evaluated my goals and developed a new plan for the remainder of the season centered around learning to ride the 600 and go faster but with less risk.
Sometimes a breakdown can be the beginning of a breakthrough. If I had to pick one word to describe my AFM Round 7 weekend, Breakthrough would be it.
What was so special about Round 7, you may wonder. Well, for starters, I improved my personal best lap time at Thunderhill Raceway by 3 seconds this round. 3 SECONDS! 2:01! But beyond that I finally found out the secret, or so it seems.
At the end of Saturday morning practice I was on cloud 9. My practice sessions were on pace turning lap times within a second of my personal best lap time. The strategy that Coach Ken helped me develop for getting to race pace during practice worked. Looking at my practice plan, then looking at my practice lap times you could see the correlation, as each lap I came around was at a faster pace than the previous lap.
I had confidence as I pulled up to the chalked 3 on the front row, Christie and Zoe to my left, and Bess to my right. My plan was simple, get the holeshot… then ride! Ride the way I know how to ride, remember the basics. I had butterflies in my stomach like I was a teenage girl about to experience my first kiss. The feeling is familiar, it has been there EVERYTIME I’ve pull onto the grid for the last 4 years. But… once I snap my visor closed, it’s time to race.
My jump off the line was well executed, but I missed the timing of that important shift into 2nd gear, and lost momentum. Bess pulls up next to me on the outside, I pin it and feel the Yamaha R6 superpower, as I launch up behind Zoe as we Apex T1. Single file, tip to tail, through T2, Christie, Zoe and me. We fly this formation all the way to T6 where Christie manages an excellent drive out of the corner and starts a breakaway. I’ve got a good drive too. I look for a way to squeeze between Zoe and the dirt on the exit of T6, but without dirt-biking it there is not room. I drop in behind Zoe sporting those bright pink leathers and wonder if she chose them intentionally to serve as a distraction to those who approached for a pass. *wink* We approach T9 and I move inside to go for a pass, but I don’t have the line, she won’t see me and we all know how that would end. Down to T10, I am close, but not close enough to get the pass. I am on Zoe’s rear wheel for the rest of the lap, and the next lap, and the next one…. I was having fun, I was comfortable, I felt like I could go faster, I just needed to make the pass. Zoe’s a smart racer, she had moved into a more defensive line blocking me from an inside pass by setting up narrow for the corners but then moving out to block the fast outside line just before we turned in. It was effective, as I could not find a way by. Finally on the last lap, as we approached T5, I saw my opportunity. We were closing fast on a group of 4 Clubman racers battling for position in their class, I thought about how I could use these passes to my advantage. We came down out of 5, Zoe chose the inside line through the right sweeping 5A with the Clubmen scattered in front of us.
I choose an outside line through 5A, setting up wide, for a longer straight drive to 6, hoping to steal the inside line and push the clubman wide to block Zoe. I pass Zoe as we approach T6 on the brakes. There is one clubman left in front of each of us, but I feel I have the advantage as I have set up the left corner to hold a tight line on the exit. The race line through T6 will carry you wide to the right exit curbing as you accelerate out of the corner. The clubman in front of me should be on the gas and moving to the right as he accelerates off the corner, which will put him in front of Zoe and open up the inside for me to pass him…. But he holds the corner too long… I’m screaming in my helmet, “Get on the gas! Drive! Go! Go! Go!” But apparently he can’t hear me and I squirt to his right just as Zoe pulls next to me we hit the exit apex of T6 side by side. Zoe has the drive out of 6 and pulled ahead of me into 7...I stay on her rear wheel, but unable to find another opportunity for a pass I am forced to settle for 3rd. Wait… what? Did you say 3rd? Yep. I got podium in Formula Afemme. My second podium in class this year, then I saw my lap times and discovered my 3 second improvement, 2:01.6! Woot! I was over the moon with my day!
It has now been a full month since that race day and I am still aglow from my accomplishment, not only in that day, but with my season as a whole. A few friends have asked me how I have had success in improving my lap times. How I went faster this season without any crashes. How I was able to adapt to the R6 so quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m not a KFG, yet, but I have some pretty good ideas on how I will become one.
“All personal breakthroughs begin with a change in beliefs. So how do we change? The most effective way is to get your brain to associate pain to the old belief. You must feel deep in your gut that not only has this belief cost you pain in the past, but it’s costing you in the present and, ultimately, can only bring you more pain in the future. Then you must associate tremendous pleasure to the idea of adopting a new, empowering belief.”
So here you have my secrets… well, the glossy cover view at least.
Ken Hill Coaching – Ken said something to me early in the year that was so obvious and yet so overlooked in this sport, “All sports have coaches; basketball, football, gymnastics, even cyclists. Why is it that most road racers think they can learn this all on their own? In such a high risk sport, why don’t more racers seek out coaching.” He’s right I thought, I even had a coach when I showed horses, why wouldn’t I have a coach for road racing. Coaching is more than just finding a fast guy to tow you around at a track day. It means finding someone who can communicate with you, everyone has a different communication style and what works for me may not be what works for you. It means trusting what that person is telling you and being able and willing to change your ways, a willingness to make your breakthroughs. Thank you Ken for the coaching this season (and in the past,) your input has made a clear difference in my racing.
Z2 Racing – Our team, our crew, our track family. Z2 Racing is more that just setting up Yamaha canopies with Z2 banners and wearing matching team shirts. This is the support system that makes life at the races easier. Maybe it’s not necessary, I can pull my own warmers, change my own tires, fuel my own bike, etc. But other times; it is a life saver, when I have races close together and just want to grab a drink of water, knowing someone else will put my bike on the stands, put warmers on, check the fuel… all so I can have a rest. Or when I have an electrical problem that alone would cost me the weekend but with a team is a 10 (ok, maybe closer to 20) minute fix. Or when I have a bad practice session and I can’t seem to shake a bad mood. Those are the moments… when my team stepped up to help me and made me feel like a Rock Star, that I will cherish for a lifetime. Thank you to David, Shawn, Kathy. Thanks to Tom, Mikey, Kyle and Chris (and Danny who joined us at Round 7.) Thanks to Sam and Greg and my husband, Jason.
Sponsors – It’s hard right now, in times of belt tightening and corporate downsizing to ask companies and people for their support. I am so grateful to all our sponsors for the parts, discounts and time so generously given which has made the difference for me to be able to afford racing. Thanks to Z2 Trackdays Staff, Yamaha, Vanderkitten, Pirelli /CT Racing, Yamalube Products, Motion Pro, Race Image Graphics, Leo Vince, Suomy, Factory Body Works , Igartua, 4TheRiders, Sidi, Tech Spec and CRG Levers. Also an extra special thanks to Craig Sanders for taking all our Z2 Team portraits this year. Remember to support those who support racers.
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.