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.
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.