Open Production – P1 1:53.768
Open GP – P4 1:52.567
Open Superbike – P7 1:52.683
Formula Pacific – P8 1:52.045
AFemme - P3 1:59.220
600 Production – P17 1:58.378
600 Superbike – P14 2:00.378
Ride Fast. Take Chances.
"On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, 'Okay, this is the limit'. And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high." – Ayrton Senna
On Board Video - Click
“Joy Higa is out front, closely followed by Jenn Lauritzen. Ladies and Gentlemen, if we’ve seen an improvement in a rider this season Jenn Lauritzen is it. She’s out there killin’ it in Supermoto, she’s killin’ it in flat tracking, she’s coming out here and killin’ it at the (road racing) track. She’s racing a girl on a 1000cc on her 600 and doing it. That is close racing as they come, down into turn 10.” – Alan Cunningham announcing for AFemme.
It’s true… reading my race reports from this time last year compared to my results this year I have made big improvements and I have moved past a lap time plateau that I have been stuck at for a couple years, but to me the most noticeable improvement is the one you can’t always see from afar… it is the improvement in my confidence. This came about as a result of the various training programs, coaching and racing that Jason and I decided to start, not only to train for road racing but to also mix it up and have more fun. Supermoto Racing, Dirt Tracking Schools and Racing, Cycling…. Oh and my full day of one on one coaching with Scott Russell and Ken Hill at Thunderhill on a PTT track day didn’t hurt either. ;) For all the body positioning, technique, and bike handling skills coaching and practice I have been getting, the biggest reward came about in a new found trust of my bike, an understanding and confidence that the limit is just a bit further.
As I gridded up on the P4 at the start I was pleased to be back on the front row, missing the first round had really cost me in points, but alas I was back at the front. The front outside is the perfect grid spot at T-Hill if you get a good launch, as you can carry full speed into turn 1 with clean track in front of you. I got a good launch… the best one I’ve had all year… and probably in a long time. Joy beat me to turn 1, but I was able to stay on the throttle and tucked in behind her as we swept left into turn 2. Approaching turn 3 I instinctively took the new line I had been working on with Scott Russell a couple weeks earlier and discovered I was now stronger than Joy in this corner. I pulled up beside her as we accelerated off the exit and approached T4, I didn’t quite have the line and I backed off and settled back in tow. We crested the top of turn 5 and down the hill into the right sweeping 5A, I was in a zone… in “The Zone.”
“And suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension.” – Ayrton Senna
I again pulled up beside Joy on the exit drive of turn 6, but her 1000cc of fury was able to pull in front as we tipped at full throttle into Turn 7, then to Turn 8 and up to turn 9 she opened a gap, but thru 9, 10 and 11 I was able to close it back up… thru the esses and onto the back straight I kept her close enough, but onto the front straight, she ran away from me. I thought she was gone, but I was sure Zoe was coming for me too so I pushed on.
Lap 2 - To my surprise, I closed up on Joy again thru turns 1 and 2 and found myself beside her as we entered turn 3, exiting 3 this time she protected turn 4 with a more defensive line. And then we repeated the same lap as described above.
Lap 3 - “Here come our leaders, Joy Higa pulls out a huge gap over Jenn Lauritzen coming down the straight, that’s the difference between a 1000 and a 600, ladies and gentlemen, here at Thunderhill, you can come down the back straight, thru turns 14 & 15 and then up the main straight and then you’ve got a good gap. Now Jenn Lauritzen is going to close the gap down as they come into turn 2. She is riding like the devil, she knows she can get close, I’m just not sure if she can win it, if she gets in front she certainly can. She takes a slightly wider line than Joy as they come around 3, she’s not close enough as she was last time. That’s a great line from the exit of 3 into 4 and then driving up the hill, she’s making up space all the time.” - Alan Cunningham
Lap 4 – Is this Groundhog’s Day?
Lap 5 – “As our leaders for the AFemme come across the start/finish. Come on Jenn you can do this… she’s way closer than she was before, this could be really interesting coming into 3 and into 4 this time. Joy Higa leaves it wide, Jenn Lauritzen comes up the outside of 3, I think what’s goin’ to happen is she’s going to cut this back or possibly take that inside pass… she goes into 4, she backs it off, I think she’s got that lined up for the next lap ladies and gentlemen. Jenn is definit….OH, She goes up the inside!!! What a great pass! She does a block pass into turn 5, hopefully she can take that turn and keep it tight around 6. Joy Higa knows she’s in a race right now. Jenn Lauritzen with some fantastic ridin’, I think it’s all that flat track style right there .” - Alan Cunningham
“If you no longer go for the gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver...” – Aryton Senna
I was in the lead, clear track in front of me and I knew that she would be coming for me… I just worked to open the gap in the corners where I knew I was stronger hoping to gain enough space to keep her from getting back past me on the straights. I moved quickly thru the lap traffic, something just came over me and the lap traffic was just there… not in the way… just there. I moved around them, past them, thru them, quickly and decisively. Coming down the front straight, white flag, I didn’t believe Jason’s pit signal saying I had a big gap… he must be confused, but I am still out front and only one lap to finish. I kept my head down and stayed on it… still sure that Joy was coming for me. As I headed up the straight to take the checkers I saw Jason, Kyle, Greg and Skyler cheering for me, Jason gave me a big gap signal and at this moment I really wished I could do a wheelie. LOL!
That was the best cool down lap ever and I soaked it all in, waving at each turnworker as I rounded the course, a thumbs up for Max,a victory fist pump for Joe,
and then coming in for a kiss from my husband, and high fives and big hugs from my friends and my newest, awesome sponsor Ken Casey with PTT. Then like icing on my victory cake, David BenJamin told me I had clocked a couple laps at 1:59!!!! What? I FINALLY broke the 2:00 barrier!!! Oh yeah, it just keeps on getting better.
On Sunday, I had 2 more races, 600 Production was race 4 and 600 SB was race 11. Since I had skipped racing the 600 classes at both the first and second rounds I had only a few points and I was gridded at the back, P21 in both races. My goals for the 600 races were to get a good start and make my way thru the traffic… something Christie Cooley once said to me was stuck in the back of my mind, “I want to beat everyone that I am faster than and I want to be in the front of everyone that is the same speed as me… why settle for being stuck behind them.”
600 Production – I pulled up to my grid spot and lowered my visor, as I revved the bike and the green flag dropped the bikes RPM’s suddenly dropped (I really don’t know if it was me or the bike) but my start was horrible, I was nearly last into turn 1, but by turn 2 I had picked up a few spots, thru turns 2 and 3 I picked up a couple more, and thru turn 6 I block passed Keith Stie and put myself up to 17th. I was at the front of the group I was with and the next group had pulled a small gap in front of me… the group in front of me was my pace, but I was going to need to find a little something extra to catch up with them. I ended up overriding the bike and making silly mistakes, losing time rather than gaining it.
It was on the last lap, when the front runners of the second wave 600 Novice caught me up, Kyle thoughtfully waited to pass me until we entered turn 6, using me as a pawn to hold off Stephen, knowing that it was unlikely he would be able to pass me until after the exit of 8 due to the risk of passing in the shallow and high speed turns 7 and 8… but Stephen got a bit anxious and stuffed it up the inside as we entered turn 8. I had to pause on my turn in to not hit him and then wait to get on the gas as he nearly ran off into the dirt in front of me at the exit of 8. I lost my drive up the hill and the two racers I had put behind me were able to block me into turn 9. I finished 19th, picking up a few positions from my grid spot, but still a disappointing race.
600 Superbike – I added another goal to my previous plan and that was to make sure I used the lines that Scott Russell and I had worked on the couple weeks earlier. I wanted to consistently hit each one of my apexes throughout the duration of the race. I also knew that this focus would keep me relaxed and prevent the silly over-riding issues from the previous race. Back again on the 6th row, this time as the 1 board went sideways I paid attention to keeping the revs on my bike up, I got a great launch and made my way forward several postions, by the end of the first lap I had made my way up to 15th and the group ahead had a significant gap. I finished 15th and ran consistent 2:00 lap times. I was happy with that result… for now.
"I continuously go further and further learning about my own limitations, my body limitation, psychological limitations. It's a way of life for me." ~ Ayrton Senna
Thanks to Max Klein - Oxymoronphotography, Joe Salas - 4theriders and Paul Seleskey for the photos used in this blog post
The future influences the present just as much as the past.
Over a month has passed since AFM Round 3 and it seems yet again I struggled with how to write this race report. In my true perfectionist attitude I find it quick and easy to write about my race weekends when things go poorly… but when things go well, I just don’t know what to say. I shrug it off as if it happened by accident. But the truth is I work hard at my racing; I have spent a number of days with Ken Hill Coaching and have him on my speed dial for the quick call when I need help with my riding or with my confidence, I started cycling a couple years ago to build my endurance and strength, I recently started taking dirt track classes with California Supermoto Schools and I also just started racing Supermoto USA… all in the pursuit of improving at Road Racing. So why do I find it so difficult to pat myself on the back when it actually works out and I have a good race?
AFM Round 3 is the perfect example of this phenomenon. Haha… Just 4 weeks earlier I fractured my back in the Supermoto race at West Coast Moto Jam. The doctors initially told me I would need 6-8 weeks to recover, but “just in case” I scheduled a follow up exam with my Neurosurgeon the Friday before AFM to see how the healing was coming along. When he told me that the fracture was healing very well… and was barely visible, my eyes lit up… when he told me I could start rehab, he might as well have told me I was cleared for racing, because that is certainly how I interpreted it. Saturday morning I suited up and headed out for practice. Honestly I felt fine, a little stiff and I was definitely weak in the core muscles (very noticeable under braking) but I was moving around on the bike ok and I felt confident on the track. I only ran about ½ of each of the practice sessions and I skipped the last practice session altogether, just to make sure I didn’t overdo it before the Formula AFemme race later that afternoon.
Since round 1 was rained out and I missed round 2 from my injury I was gridded up on the 3rd row for AFemme, it has been awhile since I wasn’t gridded on the front row in this class and I knew I needed a good launch to get up to the front if I wanted to do battle with Joy and Zoe. These two girls have always been fast and they have up’d the ante since they were both now racing liter bikes. But… Telling the future by looking at the past assumes that conditions remain constant. This is like driving a car by looking in the rearview mirror.
Going in my favor was the fact that I knew Joy was still struggling with set-up and figuring out her liter bike; and it was Zoe’s first race on her 1000, though she got hooked up with one ready to race from Viet’s, her practice lap times showed that she was improving each session out, but she wasn’t beyond my grasp on the 600. So I needed a good start and I hoped I would have the endurance to keep the pace throughout the full duration of the race.
I pulled up to my chalked grid position, front wheel in the box… 3 BOARD: push my gloves up tight… close my visor… 2 BOARD: bike into 1st gear… toe under the shifter ready to click 2nd off the line… 1 BOARD: rev the engine… SIDEWAYS……. GREEN FLAG! I was on the inside on the grid and attempted to hold the inside line into turn 1. I had a good launch, but still had the pack around me as we entered turn 1. I was pinched off at the apex and had to give up the line into T1, but found an opening into T2 and pulled up onto Zoe’s rear wheel as we swept thru the long radius of turn 2. Joy was out front leading the charge. Three chick’s in a row we lapped the course. Zoe passed Joy as we started lap 2 and left me on Joy’s rear wheel. I struggled to set up a pass on the corner exit drive, as the 1000 could easily pull from me on the exits… and my two favorite passing areas; on the brakes into turn 14 or on the brakes into turn 1 weren’t going to work either as I couldn’t hold close enough on the long straights to get by. It was time to get creative. On the 3rd lap, I closed in tight heading up into turn 5 and sat right behind Joy as we crested the hill and swept down and thru the right hand sweeper.
I was expecting to take the inside line and force her outside as we transitioned to the left handed T6, but Joy took me by surprise when she held a tighter line leading up to T6, I moved to the right and went the long way around her on the outside of 6, taking the line as we hit the exit apex and I was full throttle, no looking back. As I came by the front wall I saw Jason there giving me the pit signal that I had opened a decent gap, now I just needed to manage my pace and effort so I didn’t overdo it and have problems with my back or my strength in the second half of the race. From there I began to encounter lap traffic and battles in the other classes. I worked to make quick, clean passes and not get bogged down to where I would be caught by Joy or Lisa. I didn’t have a chance at catching Zoe by this time, unless she had a big mistake, so I kept my pace and finished strong in 2nd position.
It wasn’t until I sat upright on my bike for the cool down lap and began my wave thanking the turn-workers for their efforts that I noticed my back was sore. It was a long and wonderful day. I decided I wouldn’t attempt to race the 600 classes on Sunday, as that might just be over-doing it. Haha!
A second place result was far better than I had hoped for going into the weekend, having just taken off the back brace the day before and with completely atrophied core muscles I figured making my way onto the podium at all was a high-reach goal. Combine that with the fact that the competitive level in the AFemme class has grown significantly in the last few years, even with last year’s champion Christie Cooley leaving the sport to pursue her passion in the “other” two wheeled sport, our class continues to grow and become more competitive. We have the largest female class grid in the US and that is even after we split the class into Novice and Expert. (Sidenote: I think the splitting Expert and Novice for this class is lame, btw.) So I feel very honored to be on the podium within such a talented group of ladies.
“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.”
Victory in Defeat
Indoor Flat Track to SuperMoto, Dirt Tracking, Electric Bikes, A Day with Scott Russell and AFM = LIVING!
Can you really find victory in defeat? Well, a one month span of racing would test me to my limits and let me know. I take pride in being good at something and when it is not something that come to me easily, I will work at it until I get better. In the last month, several new opportunities came up where I would find out about defeat. I am not saying I enjoyed such a lesson, but there it is just the same. If I had any ego at the start of the month, that was all about to change.
A little over a month ago we bought a supermoto bike for Jenn and a few days after buying it I thought I would drive to San Jose and race the indoor flat track. Turning a sumo bike to flat track bike is not that difficult really, at least it shouldn‘t be. As I sat in the garage and looked over the bike only one thought appeared in my head; I looked at the front brakes, yep those have to be removed. With procrastination my mind scrambled for anything else to do. Yeah, I’ll just do the oil first, then again I looked at the brakes, oooh the air filter needs servicing, looking at the brakes once more, better adjust the chain, looked at the brakes again, and again I would find something else to do. I felt like Linus front the Peanut’s trying to give up my blanket. After dealing with my anxiety, the bolts were slowly removed. Who the hell races something with no front brakes? well looks like I just joined that group of idiots, I mean racers.
I showed up and had no idea what the hell I was doing, having never raced a flat track race, I had no idea how unprepared I was. Newb, squid, noodle, rolling hay bail, any of these would apply. I did not show up with any of the right gearing or any idea how to handle the polished concrete. Garrett Willis helped both Martin and I, he told us to bring carpet for our boots. Yes, in true do it yourself fashion we taped carpet to our boots, and not with any tape, the one and only 200mph tape, held carpet to our boots.
We did eventually get out on track in what I thought would be an easy class. Little did I know that this was a big race and tons of guys showed to race the 150-230 class. Maybe with more time to ride the bike we had purchased only one week ago, I may have done better. At the end of the night, we were the last two guys to NOT make the main event. I sat and watched 8 other guys race the main event. Missing the main hurt my ego, but I have now raced a flat track race and plan to come back.
Embarrassed and upset at my performance I had a week to shake it off before my first Sumo race and dirt track race. Yup, both in one weekend. It took a few trips to Roseville Yamaha to get all the required parts that would make the bike legal to slide down the track. I put on the last of my parts Saturday afternoon and went to the track to learn the art of the sumo racing. We showed up Saturday afternoon for practice and we had 3 sessions to learn how to ride supermoto bikes. Jenn rode the 150 and I had a 250 to work with. Sebastio was able to show up with a borrowed bike and pitted with us; he spent some time explaining things, trying to minimize my newb status. His help was much appreciated and helped me get up to speed.
After a few sessions of Supermoto practice, I grabbed some Pirelli rain tires and mounted them up in time to do my first dirt track race. Keeping up with the theme from the polished concrete pummeling, I got my ass handed to me all night. The night was really breaking my spirit until the last race, where a holeshot and a 3rd place made me feel like I had plugged one of the many holes in my leaking dam of talent.
Sunday morning and another tire change back to some slicks CT Racing helped me pick out, I was ready to race. T1, 2, 3 are all a bit different in sumo racing. Elbows, bumping, nudging, and rubbing are all acceptable means of passing your fellow rider. After getting mugged like a rich person in the hood, I realized road racing etiquette was not going to fly. I spent the rest of the day nudging, rubbing, and bumping my way back to the podium. 4 races ended with 3 podiums and a slightly re-inflated ego.
Fast forward two weeks and to the AMA races, where we attempted to race the Zero electric bikes as well Supermoto USA with Brok McAllister. Practice went well, but we had to skip my heat races which left me at the back of the grid. I got close, but last to 4th was the best I could do. Saturday we enjoyed talking with our friends and had a good time. Sunday morning we had only one sumo practice available which we both looked to ride before heading down to race the electric bikes. Then the weekend came to an abrupt halt, as Jenn flipped over the bars and slammed into the dirt. We decided several friends already in the hospital needed a visit from us. Jenn thinks I drive like there is blind fold over my eyes and lead weights on my feet, so she went to hospital via the ambulance. A broken T12 would keep her in the hospital for a few days. I think she made up the injury to get out of loading the trailer up.
Tuesday, was supposed to be all about her. A day with KH Coaching and special guest Mr Daytona (aka Scott Russell). Unable to ride she opted to let me ride in her spot. Most everyone knows that I picked up a 1000 for the 2012 AFM season, I had a few days on the bike, but just tried to get a base setup and tame the beast that is a 1000. Luckily Scott was able to chase me around and help me with a number of bad habits I picked up on the 600. Honestly, I was not sure what to expect, not all racers make good instructors. Together we found a vocabulary that worked for both of us and made me feel much better heading into my first race weekend. Thank you again to Ken and Scott for all your help! More than telling me what was wrong they also gave me some tools to continue learning how to get faster on the 1000.
All of this lead to my first weekend on liter bike with guys like Dave, Martin, Ricky, Go Go, Siggy, and the rest of the regular fast guys. Chris Maguire showed me what tires to run for the weekend and off I went. Saturday morning I took the bike out and started going to work. I felt bad as I seemed to be dragging an anchor for most of the day, not a cargo ship anchor but an anchor none the less. It could have been worse, but at least I felt like I belonged on the bike. It is all about relationships and my bike and I are developing ours.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday here we go. Two months late I am finally racing my new toy. Race 1, gridded 19th the flag dropped and off I went. Every effort was made to get up front, but I just missed getting to the back of the lead pack. I used the rest of the race trying to manage my energy. After the race it was funny to listen how my description of the track changed from 600 to 1000. I now refer to those straight sections as short-aways not straight-aways. There is not a lot of time to rest on the 1000.
Race 2 was the same 19th place start, but after lap 2 my heart got a bit of adrenaline as I went for the brakes only to feel the lever pinch my fingers to the grip. Unable to do much after that I struggled to finish the race, with little to no brakes. Back in the pits I checked the brakes and flushed the fluid, looking for any reason to my failing brakes. FP was to be after lunch and I needed to be ready to play.
FP gave me the best grid of the day, Row 3 and 11th place. My start was good and I thought I may be able to latch onto the faster guys, but by lap 2 the brakes went bye-bye. Coming down the short away and flying into T1, I was doing my best not to suck the seat right off the bike, I managed to make the turn, but missed my down shifts and Go Go passed me, much like his name suggests. Immediately I tried to challenge, but as he tightened up the line we almost hit as I grabbed for what should have been brakes. My first race weekend could not end with me cleaning out one of the nicest guys in the pits because I was too stupid to back off. Don’t get me wrong I wanted to beat him, just not at the risk of hurting another rider.
At the end of the weekend it was a 5th in Open SB, a 5th in Open Grand Prix, and a 7th in Formula Pacific.
The 1000 class will be a challenge for me, I know it. Several guys talked with me and said nice things or were very encouraging about my new program. Some people can’t wait to see me struggle with the big bike and that’s ok with me. I watch racing interviews all the time, and listen to riders pussy foot around questions about the upcoming year. Well I was asked and want to make it perfectly clear, I came to win. I want to win every race I enter, every time I enter. I am setting reasonable goals along the way, but I expect to win this year. I have nothing but respect for the other racers on the grid, and that is what makes me want to beat them. Thank you to everyone who has helped me make this part of my racing dream become reality. I look forward to the day I get to say it from the top of the box.
Thank you as always to those who choose to support racers, and thank you to those who support those companies. See my sponsor links for information about the best companies in the business. Look for us riding at Pacific Track Time in the upcoming months.
Are you kidding me?
May 6, Sunday Late Morning:
What the ____ did I do? What was I thinking? The weekend was going great up until this point, now I am lying in the Santa Rosa Memorial Emergency Room with 12 doctors surrounding me; cutting off my new jersey and Underarmour, trying to remove my pants and knee braces without having to cut those off too, needles going into my arms and sensors being stuck to my chest and stomach. The TTXGP Race 1 is preparing to head onto the track right now, I am supposed to be out there racing with my husband, Martin Szwarc and Kenyon Kluge for Zero Motorcycles and instead I am being rolled away for a CT scan while my husband is desperately loading up the RV so he can come be with me at the hospital. “Do you want any pain medication?” they ask me again. I continue to refuse, hopeful that I was just having muscle spasms and that I am not “really” hurt. If I turn down the pain medications maybe they will release me this afternoon after I have been checked out and cleared, maybe I could make it back to the track in time for the rest of my Supermoto USA races and TTXGP Race 2. Why does my back hurt so much? What was I thinking?
Before the race weekend:
I was really… I mean really, really, looking forward to this race weekend. Jason and I had decided not to race AMA SuperSport this year; Jason had sold his R6 and is now racing a 1000 so he can no longer race SuperSport, and though I have not entirely given up my goal of racing some AMA rounds, I decided that it fell lower on the priority list this year than some other things I want to accomplish, so I have put that goal aside for the time being. We weren’t headed to the West Coast Moto Jam to race AMA SuperSport, instead we were going to be there racing Round 2 of the SupermotoUSA series. Thanks to Jason, and his magic fairies, I would be riding my CRF150R this round, he managed to locate a used motor and get it installed in Lily since the motor blew at the 1st round, and now she was running great. I couldn’t wait to race on the Infineon Kart Track, I had actually ridden there once before and really enjoyed the track and I heard the dirt sections for the Supermoto race were going to be challenging and fun. I was optimistic about the weekend and looking to improve on my race finishes in each of the classes from what I had accomplished at Round 1.
And then…. It got even more exciting… a few weeks before West Coast Moto Jam; Jason got a call from our friend and fellow AFM racer Kenyon Kluge asking if we would be interested in racing on his team from Zero Motorcycles in the TTXGP (electric bike series) at Infineon during West Coast Moto Jam weekend. Jason and I talked it over and decided to do it, Jason had raced the inaugural TTXGP race with another team a couple years ago and the electric bikes have really come a long way in development in this short time. We thought it would be exciting to be a part of the race and fun to ride some really cool Zero Electric bikes, so we signed up for the team. To make it even more fun and exciting, our good friend Martin Szwarc signed up with the Zero team as well. In the days leading up to the race weekend, I made sure to razz the boys on FaceBook letting them know my plans to beat them to the checkers in the race, maybe I have a little competitive spirit.
Zero Motorcycles May 1
Zero Motorcycles rider #7, Jason Lauritzen
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Racing in both TTXGP and SupermotoUSA was going to be challenging, I mapped out our weekend schedule carefully, we were going to have some overlap on track time between the two events, but I was sure we could still race the mains for both. We called in our great friends to help us with the logistics and preparation for the two events; Cat Stadler came out to the track on Friday and took care of all the little things that make the day go smoother (and took some great pictures for us) and Greg McCullough showed up to lend us a hand for the events on Saturday and Sunday. It may not have seemed like much help, but sometimes it is the little things that make a huge difference, thank you so much to Cat and Greg for their help.
May 4, Friday:
Friday was pretty mellow, we had several Supermoto practice sessions in the afternoon. As I was getting familiar with the track, I found the transitions from asphalt to dirt and back from dirt to asphalt was the most challenging part for me… the traction goes from very loose on the dirt to suddenly having grip on the pavement or vice versa, it forced me to be smooth, yet quickly responsive on the throttle. I also found that, despite having some MX experience, I was not a big fan of the dirt jumps, I was being mental about the idea of jumping in the dirt on slick tires (tires with no tread.) Part of the reason that I gave up motocross is, that after a couple of significant accidents while jumping, I concluded that I am not very good at jumping, thus road racing - where we stay firmly planted on the ground - became my preferred sport. As a Supermoto racer, we don’t have big dirt sections, but I would have an advantage if I could find that courage to jump again. It just didn’t seem to be within me today… I would roll through the dirt sections, trying to carry as much speed as possible without catching too much air.
At the end of the day on Friday we had our first practice session on the Zero bikes, I swapped from my dirt gear to my leathers and headed down to the main track for practice. The Zero bikes were so fun to ride, but so different; no clutch, no shifter… direct drive. Just twist the throttle and go… no sound. I spent the practice session getting familiar with the lean angle, traction and corner speeds available on the electric bike, I worked on my tuck and trying to minimize any wind resistance. It was incredibly windy during practice so it really amplified if I wasn’t in a good tuck. We came in from practice and compared notes, Martin and Kenyon were turning the fastest lap times, but Kenyon has loads of experience riding the Zero bike and Martin had the opportunity to test it out at a track day earlier in the week, so it was expected that they had the advantage on the learning curve. I had started using the speed gauge as an indicator of how I was doing with corner speed and drive out of the corners, when I told the guys how fast I was going on the straights their jaws hit the floor because I was able to get a good 10 mph faster than they were. I joked with them and told them to stop eating so many cookies. :) All I needed was to carry a little more corner speed, trusting those Pirelli tires like I do on my R6, and I should be able to use my lighter weight to my advantage. Maybe…. I would be able to beat out two of the AFM top 10 plate holders, that would be bragging rights forever! LOL!
May 5, Saturday:
We kicked the day off with Supermoto practice first thing; I had one Supermoto race on the schedule today, the Women’s race, and I wanted to win it. There were a few girls that were getting through the dirt section faster than me and if I wanted to win I needed to fix that or make sure I was that much faster on the pavement. I focused on getting faster in the dirt and by the end of practice I was able to jump the rollers and table tops, but there was this annoying little “double” that I was nervous about jumping, so I continued to roll it, each time wondering why I was letting it get to me so much.
The Supermoto heat races (a pre-race to determine your grid start spot for the main) were mid-morning, and unfortunately we had a conflict with the TTXGP practice scheduled at the same time. Jason managed to race one of his heat races, finishing 4th, and then we scooted off down the hill to get more time in on the electric bikes. By missing my heat, I would be starting dead last (on the 4th row) for the women’s main.
My second practice on the electric bike went much better. I was learning that I really didn’t need to brake AT ALL for most of the corners, carrying corner speed and momentum would be the key for this race. It is a very strange feeling to not brake for turn 1, or turn 2, or turn 3 and 3a… and it is kind of difficult to override the survival instincts that wanted me to brake. After some hard negotiations between my self preservation - left brain and my thrill seeking – right brain, I managed to convince myself that it was safe enough and even quite fun to charge full speed, pinned to the stops over the hill, wide into the carousel and then ride it like a roller coaster down and around, toes and footpegs dragging as I spit out at a full 73 miles per hour onto the back straight, where I would immediately tuck as tight as possible to the bike, knees and elbows in, chin dropped to the tank. At one point in my new found full tuck position, I was charging down the hill towards turn 9 trying to latch onto Kenyon, who had just come by me, and as I moved from the tuck to hang off the right side of my bike for the corner, I bumped the kill switch with my chin. I didn’t hear it die, but as soon as I rolled on the throttle exiting 9, I realized what I had done. Oops… I won’t be catching Kenyon now.
Several laps into the session, Steve Atlas came by me on the Brammo development bike, then as I came around turn 7, I was shocked to see Steve’s bike lying on the outside of the track and Steve was crawling his way off the edge of the curbing. It looked like he had a nasty high side at the exit of turn 7, our session was red flagged.
We later learned Steve had broken several ribs, I wish him a speedy recovery.
With our last electric bike practice now complete, it was time to head back up the hill for our Supermoto Mains, I had the Women’s race and Jason had 2 races, 250 lites and Vet +30.
Jason’s 250 lites race was up first, followed immediately by my Women’s main. I lined up on the inside of the last row. I gave it a couple attempts to set my hole shot device, but it looked like they were about to wave the green flag so I forgot about that and got ready for the start. Just like the days of MX racing, body forward up over the bars to keep from wheeling, elbows out, rev the motor and green flag!!! Pinned and feather off the clutch and we are off. As we head off the line my plan was to swing around the outside, but a row in front of me Kristy Miller wheelied off the start and her bike swerved slightly to the right pushing the group out just enough. I saw a line… an opening up the inside and I forced my way into it.
By turn 1 I was up to the 8th spot, and as we filed thru turn 1, I forced the inside line and held it tight to turn 2 making a close pass on Sarah Pittiglio, I left her just enough room as we transitioned from the left to the right so she wouldn’t have to run off track. I stayed pinned on the gas to turn 4, taking a tight, inside line again into the left handed hairpin of turn 4. Here I managed to put a couple more bikes behind me, but I could see Carrie Looney and Sarah Preston getting away at the front. I made a couple more passes in the high speed section after turn 5 leading up to the front straight. By the time I hit the front straight I was in 3rd. Now time to see if I could reel in Carrie and Sarah. Three more laps I chased and inched forward into the gap they had pulled at the start. I was making progress, but it was not as quickly as I needed. A lap after we passed the ½ way flag (telling us we were half way thru the race) we came into the dirt section and one of the speedy younger girls was lying in the dirt section. Yellow flags waving, she wasn’t getting up quickly. I finished the lap and wasn’t surprised to see the red flag as I came onto the straight. The race was called over since we were more than ½ way, and I had a solid 3rd place podium spot. I was pretty excited about that, with the talent and number of women racers in the field and my back row grid spot… it was a good race! (And I was glad to see the young lady up and ok, ready to race again later that day.)
Jason headed out for his 30+ Vet race and like me he had a back row start (17th position.) Jason made a great start and put on a good charge getting up to 4th by the time the checkers flew.
After he came off the track, we had a short break before it was time to head down to the main track for our TTXGP qualifying. We walked over to the edge of the hilltop to watch, from afar, the end of the SuperSport race on the track below. Jason had the binoculars and told me that Cameron Gish (a young gun, fast kid and our former team-mate when we raced with Z2) had crashed in turn one and the race was red flagged. We loaded up our leathers and headed down to the Zero pit to get ready for qualifying and get an update on how Cam was doing. Greg was already at the Zero pit as he had helped get our electric bikes set up and put the tire warmers on them.
We found out Cam was pretty hurt and was being transported to Santa Rosa Memorial, though we were relieved to hear that he had given the thumbs up as they loaded him into the bus. Our qualify session was delayed for ½ hour due to the red flag.
Finally at 5:30 it was time to get on the track for qualifying. We went out and put in several laps with the goal of being the fastest in the session so we could get the best grid position for the race. Zero had turned up the settings on the bikes to allow us to get to max speeds, but it meant that the bikes would get hot faster. We had to do a few flying laps, then run a slower lap to allow the bike to cool, then back to a few flyers and repeat. The session was pretty fun as I was really starting to get a feel for the bike, the traction and staying on the throttle thru many of the corners.
Unfortunately during the Qualifying session Brammo had another crash, they had brought in Steve Rapp to ride in place of Steve Atlas, and Rapp ended the day with a broken wrist. I hope Rapp heals up quickly and can get back to racing soon.
It was a very busy day for us, but Jason and I had a blast with the racing and action. We hung out in the paddock for awhile and spent some time visiting with great friends then headed back up to our Toy Hauler on the hilltop to get some rest for Sunday.
May 6, Sunday
Our schedule for Sunday was even busier than our schedule from Saturday. We would start the morning at 8:30, with one Supermoto practice session. Both Jason and I had 2 heats and 2 mains for Supermoto races, and we had 2 TTXGP races. TTXGP race 1 was scheduled for 10:00 am, in the same time block as our Supermoto heat races, so we were going to have to skip the heat races again and just grid at the back for our mains, but at least we would be able to race all our mains before heading back down to the main track for TTXGP race 2. Since there wasn’t very much time between Supermoto practice and our TTXGP race, I contemplated skipping the morning practice. Then I decided it would be a good warm up and after talking to Carrie and Sarah, I decided that I also wanted to try to jump that stupid little double and get it out of my head. Practice lap 1, I sized up the jump and the best line. Lap 2, I followed another rider and measured the speed they were carrying to clear the double. Lap 3, I rolled it again I was trying to build up my nerve… Lap 4, this is it, I am committing to jumping it, (the double is after turn 3) I make my way thru T1 transitioning from the pavement to the dirt, turn 2 I line up the exiting the dirt berm to make sure I am on the right line in turn 3. Turn 3, I am on the line I want and I clear the roller as I exit the turn and then the double is in front of me, I get on the gas to clear it and just as I am heading up the face I realize I don’t have the speed to clear it!!!! The right thing to do would have been to stay on the gas and try to keep it upright as I short the jump and bounce… but I didn’t do the right thing. I panicked and I rolled off the throttle just after my front tire came off the top of the ramp, it happened so fast from there, the front tire dropped like something had knocked it down out of the air and it went straight into the upslope of the double, the rear tire came up into the air throwing me into a front handspring over the bars and slammed me onto my back on the top of the double landing and then my bike followed my path of travel and landed on my belly, then bounced into the track. I rolled to the edge of the track and sat up. I wanted to get off the track, but as I sat up I felt the sharp pain in my back, I planted my hands on the dirt and pushed up with my arms I felt pain relieve a little. “Crap,” I thought, realizing what this probably meant, “I’ve just fractured my back.” The medics came and put me in the C-spine, and strapped me to the board… off to the hospital I went.
They took me to Santa Rosa Memorial, Jason had called the only person he knew that was at the hospital, Cam, and talked to his dad and asked if they had someone who could go down to the ER to check on me. Thank you to Kim for coming down, she was allowed in to see me just as Jason arrived at the hospital, so she only stayed a moment, as her son really needed her up in the ICU, but I am thankful for her support.
Eventually I got the CT scan and the news, I have a “minor” compression fracture to my T12, at the bottom of the rib cage. They insisted that I need to stay in the hospital for 2-3 days, but I disagreed. They already told me it was minor… I wanted to go home. We agreed on an overnight stay. The next day, I found out I needed to be fitted for a brace and seen by the Physical Therapist before they would release me. My day nurse on Monday was amazing, she followed up with my doctor, the guy who had to measure me and fit me for a brace and the PT. It was because of the persistence of that nurse that I was in my brace and released on Monday evening.
May 8, Tuesday
Today was the day I had been awaiting for half the year, my one on one coaching day with Scott Russell and Ken Hill. Obviously I didn’t get to ride. My husband spent the day with them instead. I tried to listen in on the video review and feedback sessions as much as I could, but unfortunately I was still in pretty decent pain. I spent the majority of the day sleeping in the Toy Hauler, while Jason rode.
But at least I got to meet Scott and get a photo with him and Ken. (I’m blaming my goofy smile on the pain meds.)
May 18, Friday
It’s been nearly 2 weeks (already) and I am starting to feel much better. I saw my local specialist on Wednesday and he advised that I should stay in the brace for 4 weeks. June 1st, I am free of it. I had to sit out the first AFM race last weekend at Thunderhill and I really don’t want to miss another one. The next AFM race is June 2-3 at Infineon, just after I am free of the brace, so I will just have to wait and see how my recovery goes in the next week before I can determine if I will be able to race. *Fingers Crossed*
I want to thank all my sponsors; your ongoing support is greatly appreciated. Also, thank you to Joe Salas, 4theriders for hooking me up with my Supermoto pictures from Saturday and to Max Klein for the “Eye of the Tiger” shot on the Zero bike. Cat and Greg for the help over the weekend, and more pictures from Cat. Also a big thank you to Ernie Montegue and my BFF, Kyle Schirrmacher, for filling in for Jason and I, racing in the TTXGP Races. KH Coaching for being the best Coach EVER! Brok McAllister for the AMAZING dirt track schools and for running the fun and competitive SupermotoUSA series. (Sorry I crashed and delayed the Sunday program.) I’ll be back for more SM racing soon.
Our 2012 race season was scheduled to start as usual with our first racing being with the AFM at Buttonwillow Raceway March 17th/18th. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not in on our plan and she scheduled a very rainy weekend… the forecasts were so bad the AFM was forced to cancel. To further rain on our parade, the AFM had scheduled a long break between rounds 1 and 2, so the 2nd round isn’t until May 12th/13th … waiting until May to race, no way, that just won’t do.
We started looking for other options; racing with WERA, CVMA, OMMRA, but the drive to the races that they had scheduled in this time frame would be over 10 hours for the closest one and we couldn’t get the extra time off work for traveling. So when we found out that SupermotoUSA had their first round scheduled in early April, and even better at Prairie City, only a 20 minute drive from our house, we decided it was time for us to give Supermoto racing a try this year.
We had been training with Brok McAllister and his crew at California Supermoto Schools on the dirt track all winter, and I was starting to feel very comfortable with the way the bike handles and slides on the dirt and was eager to take those new skills to the pavement (at a lower risk than on my R6.) In March, Jason and I rented a couple of bikes from Brok and headed up to the Infineon kart track to ride Supermoto for the first time. I had a really fun day and learned so much. Yep! I decided I wanted to race SM. *giggle*
Craig’s List! Jason found me a CRF150R already set up for Supermoto racing, and turns out it was from a fellow AFM racer, sold. She’s a sweet little bike, I named her Lily.
My first Supermoto race weekend was an eventful one, though it did not go the way I planned…. Open practice didn’t start until after noon on Saturday, so living only 15 miles away we took some time in the morning to put fresh TEXAS TEA motor oil in the bikes, check that all the nuts and bolts were tight and I even mounted up Jason’s new plastics for him. (We’re still waiting to get new graphics, so the bikes went naked.)
Saturday practice went ok, but my gearing was wrong. I really didn’t want to mess with it during practice, because I didn’t want to miss any track time. The PC kart track is tricky, with a lot of tight turns and narrow lines. I decided to focus on learning the lines and just getting familiar with my new bike… since this was only the 2nd time I had ridden her (and the first time was on the dirt track.) A 150R is small and body position is a big deal, my long legs kept hitting the bars, or the curbing, or both. At the end of the day I was EXHAUSTED. It seems somehow I forgot to mention that it was 92 degrees and I was in full leathers. I was EXHAUSTED and DEHYDRATED.
The DTX (dirt track) races were just about to start and I really wanted to race them, but I was so tired and I really did not want to hassle with swapping my tires from slicks to rains (which is what I use in the dirt.) I was about to scratch my entry, but then my sweet husband told me I could race his 250 in the women’s race. It was so much fun racing in the dirt, at night, under the lights. I’m glad I did it… and I took home a 3rd place trophy too.
Sunday morning I made the gearing change I needed on my 250R, we had a few quick practice sessions before racing would start. I went out for my first practice eager to see if the gearing change was good… but something wasn’t right, I heard a clanking and the bike didn’t seem to be pulling out of the corners, since the only thing I changed was my gearing I wondered if I hadn’t adjusted the chain right and that it might be slapping, I glanced down as I rode but couldn’t see anything wrong… Lily clanked louder and the bike just felt---broken--- I pulled off the track and pushed my bike back to my pit. I was looking her over with Jason and I grabbed a towel and started wiping the dust off the motor and I found a cracked head. *Sad face*
Lily went BOOM!
My day was over…. Unless… by some miracle Brok might still have a rental bike available. I headed over to ask Mac if she thought Brok’s bikes were all rented, she assured me that they probably were, but told me I should check with Gage anyway. Gage was so cool, he found a Honda 230 for me to race, and even offered up to let me ride his bike if we couldn’t find another one. I was going to be super disappointed if I hadn’t been able to race, thank you soooo much to Brok and Gage for getting me a bike at the last minute. It was a huge favor to ask considering they were kind of busy… you know… managing the race and all.
I had signed up for 4 classes; Beginner, Fast Females, Adult Mini and Novice. We had a qualifying heat for each race that determined our grid spot for the main. My Beginner class heat race was my first race, I was glad for that because I hadn’t had a chance to practice on the 230. My start was horrible, but I was quick and aggressive through the first few corners and found myself picking up a few positions getting up to 5th, then out I came onto the straight… I had no top end speed, the bike would rev up I would shift and it would bog. I was up to 5th gear by ½ ways down the straight, but with no more pull, the other racers just walked on by me. I picked back a couple positions in the corners, then onto the straight-Repeat. I finished 7th in my heat, I was ok, it was my first race and I realized I had a bike disadvantage, but I was still having a great time.
My 2nd race was the Women’s heat. I really wanted to do well in this class, but again got a terrible launch… I started wondering if I should be launching the 230 in 2nd gear… wait… this is not the time to worry, I need to make up ground. I went around the outside on turn 1 and held my ground as Stephanie and I went side by side for the 3rd place spot into the very tight turn 2. Being on the inside I had the preferred line, but Stephanie wasn’t going to give it up that easy, we came together at the apex and she stood it up and ran off course… although this turned out to be to her advantage, because when she came back on course heading into turn 4 she had a gained a sizable gap over me by not having to go thru the tight, slow turn 3. Noted. I kept up a good pace on the back half of the track, but again suffered on the front straight. At half way thru the race I realized I was not going to be able to catch the front runners and I focused on not losing anymore positions. I held onto 4th which gave me a front row outside spot for the main, perfect spot. After the heat race I was bummed to hear that Becky Uribe had a pretty nasty crash on the back part of the course and was injured. I wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her back out there on the grid. Get Well Becky!
The 3rd heat was Adult Mini, I decided to stick with 1st gear for the launch… and again I got a horrible start. But I was on the inside and just opened the throttle heading up to turn 1. I made it through turns one and 2 and was up into 4th. Again, gaining ground on the back half of the track I was able to get enough of a reprieve to hold on to my spot, but the pressure was building… I kept pushing harder in the back section knowing I was going to give it up on the straight away. On the 4th or maybe it was the 5th lap..
I clipped my footpeg on the inside curbing, it stood me up just enough that I missed my exit line and ran wide off track into the grass, my rear tire slid as my front tire came back on the asphalt grabbing traction. I high sided right into the middle of the track and slid for a bit. I could hear the other bikes heading at me, I jumped up with my hands a waving, like… “don’t hit me” Ha-ha! I picked up my bike pushed it out of harms way, fired it up, and rejoined the race. I was hurting and my footpeg was sticking to my boot, I wasn’t sure I could finish the race, so I was quite relieved when I came onto the front straight and the checkers were waving. Apparently, my reaction time was pretty good, because even with the crash I finished 8th out of 14.
The Novice heat was up next but my ankle was throbbing and my thigh was really starting to hurt. I decided to drop the Novice class and focus my energy on the 3 mains I had coming up after lunch.
During the lunch break Brok stopped by our pit to check on how our races were going and see if there might be something wrong with the 230 I was racing… silly thing, the choke was half on (when they warm them up in the morning they leave the choke half on until the bike gets running, since I grabbed a bike that hadn’t been out on the track yet, the choke was still half on.) Doh! That explains the lack of power down the front straight.
The first Main for me was Beginner, and again I was thankful as now that the 230 was running full speed I would need to adjust my shifting points and my braking to account for actually needing to brake. ha! I can’t say I did anything exceptionally well in the Beginner race, it was like being out in the first practice of the day except now I was tired and sore from my crash. Even though I was having a ton of fun racing the course, I was kind of a mess; missing my apexes, missing my shifting points, braking way too early… I was pretty disappointed in my performance, finishing 17th, but at least I had gotten used to the bike.
Next up was the Women’s race. I had the best grid spot and as I launched off the line I missed that first important up shift and landed in the 5th spot headed into turn 1 with Shalina in front of me. I stuck to her like glue, I was faster on the back of the course, but could not get a clean pass. I would show her a wheel and she never relented, shutting the door on me again and again. As we came off the dirt section into the sweeper before the straight she had the line figured out much better than I and she would get the drive onto the straight opening up a small gap, but by turn 1 I was back on her wheel again. Literally, bumping her tire several times in the tight corners as she would brake more, and for longer, than I expected. On lap 4, as I became increasingly more frustrated, my racing instincts really started to take over, unfortunately, I still have road racing instincts when it comes to my body position and I began making silly mistakes like moving my body to the inside and putting out my knee instead of moving to the outside and using my inside leg up and out to balance the bike. On lap 5, we passed Sarah Preston who had crashed and was in the process of picking up her bike. Knowing she was coming up behind me gave me a new sense of urgency to get it back together, but by then the little mistakes I made had given Shalina an easy run down the straight to beat me to the checkers. I finished 4th. Still this gives me a good grid spot on the front row heading to Infineon for the West Coast Moto Jam May 4-6.
My last class of the day was Adult Mini. I had a second row outside grid spot, starting in 8th. This time on the start I picked up a few spots heading into turn 1, finally a decent start. I got pushed out off line through turn 2 but stayed on course into turn 3, coming out of the chicane I found myself in 5th, but with a whole gaggle of racers behind me wanting to get by. We went on like this for a couple laps, then I got passed when I ran wide in the hairpin, this allowed another bike by on the kink as I had no drive coming out of the hairpin. I was holding down 7th, but I fadded at the end of the race and a couple more guys got by me. I finished 9th.
As a first race weekend, and having only ridded one day at a Supermoto track before this weekend, I feel pretty good about how my weekend went. I know I have a lot to learn about Supermoto strategy and I really wanted to finish better in my races, but overall I rode well. I had fast moments throughout the weekend, I just need to string it together in the race. Since the one track I have ridden before is Infineon, I feel confident heading there for SupermotoUSA round 2.
Come on out to the West Coast Moto Jam on May 5th and 6th and celebrate Cinco De Mayo with us while watching some fabulous racing, you will find Jason and I racing the main track in the TTXGP on Zero Motorcycles and you should definitely cruise up to the top of the hill and watch the Supermoto races, when you see how much fun we are having you are going to want to give it a try. Now I gotta go… my new 150R motor should be here soon and I only have a week to “watch my husband” get it in my bike. I’ve got work to do. Haha!
Great job to Insurrection Racing for working with us ladies and with PILOT to get the custom fit women's suits.
When I first started track days and racing (Fall of 2006) I bought an off the rack man's suit, because the women's suits were sub-par as far as protection, speed humps, options, venting, quality, etc. The problem was the man's suit was too big in the upper body (across the chest and back) or to get it with a smaller torso meant going to a smaller size then the waist and hips were also smaller and tight. I went with the smaller option and found after my first track day that I couldn't move my knee out because the suit was so tight across my hips.
After that the searching began to find a quality suit that fit me... Spidi had just come out with the Lizard Pro (the first off the rack women's suit that had all the options of a high level man's race suit) and that is the suit I have raced in for the last 5 years. But... since it was the first women's quality suit, many of the girls have it... and girl's like fashion, we want to have our own unique designs and colors, plus it was an expensive suit. So a custom suit has always been my dream.
I talked with several custom suit providers and I looked at the suits they were making for women, they just looked a little "manly." I don't consider myself a girly-girl, but I don't want to look like the Hulk in my suit. Especially not at the price that custom suits go for. I even talked with some respectable custom suit makers and I found out that they find it very difficult to make custom women's suits because we all have different curves and shapes, more so than men do, and that it was extremely difficult to get women's suits to fit just right. So I stayed away from them and continued to wear the suit that all the other girls wear.
Then I met Wade and Carrie and we had a conversation about this... Insurrection Racing and PILOT agreed to work with me to get the suit fit just right and I jumped at the opportunity to represent them and get my first custom suit. With a million measurements (ok, not really a million, but a lot) they got my dimensions, then they had me send in photographs of my body shape from front, back and each side and then they double checked all the dimensions. I got e-mails from Carrie asking me to confirm dimensions, because not everything added up right. I appreciate the fact that they took the time to confirm the dimensions when things didn't look right rather than just guess. When I got my suit in November, I can't even tell you how excited I was; it was fun getting my own design that fits my personality, is the highest quality, and it looks "so Pro." And it fit perfectly everywhere except.... I did have a fit issue with my womanly curves. Rather than going in for a breast reduction, hahaha, Wade and Carrie helped me get the suit adjustments made through PILOT so that it fits just right. It was cool to be a part of the development process for the PILOT women's custom suit design and now all the other ladies can order a custom suit from PILOT knowing that they have a Women's specific design to account for our lovely lady lumps.
To top it off, PILOT suits come with full chest and back protectors, which I am wearing in the pictures below. I also just got some amazing X-Small A-Race gloves from Insurrection Racing. Finally a full protection race glove that fits my very small hands. I will be trying these out this weekend and will report back on how I like them.
I am so happy to be working with Wade and Carrie, the time and effort they put in to getting my suit to fit just right is above and beyond my expectations. Thanks to them I am going to be rocking my first custom suit in 2012 and many more to come in the future ('cause with all the contingency, I can just keep getting shiny new suits.)
Mid-December, my friend Kyle “Lollipop” Schirrmacher started a thread in the ‘Racers Section’ of www.bayarearidersforum.com asking the opinion of others on the benefits of riding dirt as it relates to road racing, it started;
Why Ride Dirt?
After racing the last AFM round I was feeling great about riding and wanted a way to continue through the winter. Fast forward 2 months and I haven't missed a weekend of riding at Hollister. It's addicting.
The faster I get, though, the more confused I actually become about why this is supposed to benefit me when it comes to road racing. Can anyone really quantify this? What should I work on more? Certainly the really nasty rutted single track stuff with roots that will castrate you won't do much but of the 'typical' terrain, which would translate better into road racing? Are TT and flat track more useful than trail riding and MX?
In general, the responses pointed out that dirt riding offers benefits in the way of being more comfortable on a bike in general; fine tuning your throttle modulation, brake control and use of the clutch, engine braking, etc. It was also pointed out that dirt riding can help your confidence and reaction to the bike when it gets a little loose or out of control, that you can gain a better “feel” of the bike when you are at the limits of traction, and generally on the dirt it is done at slower speeds than you would be able to do on your road bike. The other common reason for riding dirt was that it is simply... fun.
I got my start riding bikes on the trails and about a year later found myself entering my first motocross race. I raced MX for a few years and I did ok, but was never really good at it. What I did learn in those early years of dirt biking was a lot about bike control, and that foundation helped me develop the reactions needed to save what otherwise would have been a few nasty road race crashes over the last few years of road racing. One particular incident that stands out was a tank slapper I had coming down the straight between the carousel and Turn 7 at Infineon. I was in my first ever AMA qualifying session, on new tires that I had never tried before, and I didn’t have the suspension dialed in yet. The front end was too light, as I crossed the asphalt seam in the middle of the track, the normal small wiggle I feel on any normal day was exemplified into a wicked bar swap. They banged back and forth several times and my reaction to stay loose and keep the throttle steady allowed me to ride out the bucking bike… then going into Turn 7 I pulled in the brake lever to realize I had no brakes, the pads had "slapped out". I was able to keep the bike up-right and bring it to a stop as I used the rear brake while I pumped the front brake lever several times to get the brake pads to bite. I am sure that my years of trail riding and racing MX were helpful in my ability to deal with this unexpected situation.
Kyle posted this thread during the off-season when we were all craving a little time on the bikes and around this same time I found out that McAllister Motorsports (Brok McAllister) had done quite a bit of work on the dirt track he was running at Prairie City and that it was quite awesome. Our friend and fellow AFM racer, Martin Szwarc, offered to let Jason and I share his mini-bikes so we could go out and give it a try. The first thing I learned about flat tracking was that it was F-U-N. Who knew going in a circle could be so challenging and so much fun? We made a couple more trips out there and I started to feel like I could use some coaching on how to ride around in circles properly. :) Like he was reading my mind, Brok announced he was going to be offering Saturday classes at the track to learn more about dirt tracking and bike skills in general... I signed up immediately.
I have now been to 6 Saturday classes and I continue to learn, building on my skills consistently each week. Last Saturday, after my turn at the oval drills, one of the great instructors for the classes, Pucho Bagnis (legend of USA Supermoto and World Superbike) came over to me to compliment me on how much I have improved since that first day. In reality though, this is a compliment to the classes and instruction that they have been providing me. Despite the fact that I have been riding and racing bikes for nearly 8 years now and despite the fact that I know I can “ride out” of a lot of situations on my bike, I found that I still had fears about the bike sliding and moving under me and I ride conservatively from that perspective. The instruction I have been getting from Brok and Pucho, along with Garrett Willis (AMA Road Racer and Flat Traker) and Brok’s son Gage McAllister (USA Supermoto Champion and rising moto-star) has helped me to incrementally build on my skills, and more importantly on my confidence, over the last 6 weeks. When I started, I would ride the bike around the oval as fast as I could within my comfort range; which equaled rolling off the throttle too soon, coasting mid-corner, not getting back onto the throttle soon enough and going slower when the bike would start to slide.... so that I wouldn’t slide. (ha!) All of these instincts had me going slower than I was truly capable of. This team of instructors has been helping me each week make improvements with all of these issues and more. It is such a cool feeling to be able to use the throttle and the rear tire slide to turn the bike, which I just started to learn this last Saturday.
I feel more prepared than ever and when the 2012 road race season to starts in a few weeks, I am confident that these skills I have been learning while riding dirt will translate to the pavement (and have even started to try them out on a supermoto bike) which will help me become an even faster racer. The only thing I wish was that I had learned this stuff when I was just getting started in road racing 5 years ago. But it's never too late. :) I will keep going back to the flat track out at Prairie City to continue building these skills with this team of great people.
Thank you Brok McAllister, Pucho Bagnis, Garrett Willis and Gage McAllister for all the coaching and support. Let’s Ride!
It is that time of year, the off-season. The organizations I am now racing with, AMA and AFM, along with many others, take a few months off racing from the end of October though early March. I am not unlike the other “addicts” that enjoy the time off for about 3 weeks and then really start to miss the racing action, I spend hours each day thinking about racing, planning for the next year, pursuing sponsorship help, training and looking for any opportunities to get on the track again during the off season.
Today, I am at work on a Saturday, overseeing field installations but with no real obligations of my own other than as a contact if they have any issues. This has left me with hours of uninterrupted time to think about racing. I spent the morning updating our team website Ritz-Racing.com and scanning Facebook, reading the posts of fellow racers talking about how much they miss racing or promoting their own efforts for next year. I really think it is great news when my competitors and friends announce their sponsorship deals or get some public recognition for their racing accomplishments, but now I’m going to tell you the whole truth… sometimes I become so envious of my competitors; looking at their photos, seeing the sponsorship help they are getting, the activities they are partaking in every weekend and especially if they are somehow racing in the off-season (like WSMC or WERA,) and I could go crazy thinking about what they are getting or doing or becoming. I could become bitter and angry, thinking “Why not me?” And then I begin to wonder, is racing making me a bad person?
I don’t want to have these feelings and I have even contemplated quitting racing because of them, no other sport has ever aroused such emotions in me. I honestly just want to be a good, supportive person and I think these feelings stir because I am truly passionate about racing. I know there are a lot of good human characteristics to be gained and developed through racing; confidence, compassion, determination, sportsmanship, I could go on and on. So how do I stop those envious feelings? Through refocusing that energy, every ounce of energy wasted worrying about them is less energy that I have for improving myself. My resolution for 2012 is to always be supportive and encouraging to my friends and competitors that are busy living out their dreams and a commitment to myself that I will focus my energy on living out my own dreams.
Jealousy is both reasonable and belongs to reasonable men, while envy is base and belongs to the base, for the one makes himself get good things by jealousy, while the other does not allow his neighbour to have them through envy. - Aristotle
This is not to say that I will never feel jealousy again, that would be unrealistic as it is a natural human emotion. Just know that when you read my FB comment “Jealous” on someone else’s post, picture or thread… all that really means is I just got another little shot of motivation to keep pushing myself this off-season. I’ll be finding a way to get in a few track days, a lot of dirt biking, rock climbing, cycling, swimming, and mental training to make sure I am ready to do MY very best in the 2012 season. I won’t wait for the ball to drop on January 1st, my resolution starts today.
My 2011 race season is over, aside from the occasional track day if I can manage to get a couple in this winter, I will be off the race bike for the next 4 months or so.
The weather will be turning cold and rainy and the limited hours of day light in the winter months make it even more difficult to get outside and "play." Many of my racing friends will turn to off season training to keep busy and fit; spending time in the gym, pushing weights and working out on stationary equipment. While this type of workout has its place, and I will get in my share of gym workouts this winter I prefer to keep fit another way.
Flashback to childhood -- I spent my free time riding bicycles, climbing trees, playing tag, riding horses and generally being outside. I was always a fit kid and I never had to lift weights or ride a stationary bike to stay that way. And here I am, a "few" years later and I still prefer to stay fit the same way. I suppose this is why my husband Jason and I got together in the first place, because he is much the same, and now he has started a personal training business based on that philosophy.
The custom tailored workout program Jason created for me this off season involves riding my bicycle, rock climbing, riding my dirt bike and a core body workout that I do at home in my backyard (or my living room if it is too cold.) I have a few pounds to lose and I have some goals to build my endurance and core strength. I'll keep you posted on all the fun I'm having and how I am doing on reaching my fitness goals.
Here's a video of our indoor climbing workout yesterday, check it out... and if you have fitness goals of your own and don't know where to get started, maybe you should give Active Body Training a call and see what he can do for you.
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.