Archive for the ‘Racing’ Category.
My friends are the coolest, nicest people I’ll ever know.
For those that haven’t been keeping up, Madison (my CBR) has been in the shop all winter, waiting for an engine refresh. It spent a little longer there than it should have – having my contract end, and not having a day job for a few months tends to do that. The 2012 track season started during this hiatus, and I went to the track bikeless for a while. When I finally landed a job, sending money Madison’s way was one of my priorities – I needed to get my track fix or I was going to go crazy.
The shop finished the refresh, and I took it out the very next track day with 2Fast at Pacific. I did my half day shooting session, then went over to let the bike warm up so I can ride the rest of the day. Turn the key, and blue smoke, immediately. I thought nothing of it – new engine, it’ll smoke, right? I got suited up, went to track entrance and started doing the break in laps as recommended. The bike felt fine, even maybe a little more responsive at the throttle than before. Awesome.
So I’m out there taking it easy, just wanting to finish my break in laps, when I see Jay black flagging me at turn 9 after my fourth lap. WTF? What did I do? I was in the 100 level session with all the new folks experiencing the track for the first time – was I riding sketchy and scaring them? Then Wendy comes around on her 250 and signals me to follow her… Ooohh… I must’ve really done something wrong… I wonder if I inadvertently made someone crash and I just didn’t notice.
I finally pull in to track exit with Wendy, and we stop. “You’re blowing blue smoke everywhere! Real bad! You better get that looked at.”
It turned out that I’d been spewing blue smoke around the track throughout all the few laps that I’d gotten in, which got worse with every turn. Dave and Zach (thanks a ton to those guys) said that my bike had been eating oil on both compression and decompression – which basically means really bad things are going on in the engine. So I ran four laps that day on the CBR. Fortunately, awesome friend Tim let me jump on his GSXR 600 to ride the rest of the day.
Which was a really bad idea. Because I was comfortable on that thing half a lap in.
Anyway, fast forward to the next WMRRA race weekend, which was preceded by a 2Fast day at the Ridge Motorsports Park. Woohoo! First race event at the Ridge! Lacy was kind enough to let me borrow her GSXR 600 for the day, and encouraged me to race it for the weekend. She rocks like that. Blake even set it up and wired it before I came by the night before to pick it up. He rocks like that, too. And that was only the start of how much they rock.
In a statement, that weekend was full of racing, dinosaurs, and cupcakes. All made possible by my friends, who, after lending me their bike and time, helped me get out of there each evening so I can bolt back to Seattle for some personal events. The first evening involving a suit, a girl, and a ball. The second night involving dinosaurs and cupcakes. That Saturday, I basically finished my Novice race – which was really the first time I’d ridden the Ridge on a bike I didn’t know – pulled into my pits, jumped out of my suit, grabbed my clothes and peeled out of there to get to Seattle an hour and fifteen minutes later…
All so I could dress up like a dinosaur and surprise Emily with cupcakes (it was all totally worth it to see her surprised face).
The races themselves? I spent them in the back of the pack just learning and adjusting lines, and trying to figure out what Lacy’s bike was capable of. I didn’t even run any video that weekend, because I was preoccupied with learning the track. Nothing too exciting, except for Sunday’s race, which I spent the first half chasing down Raymond on his 848. Didn’t do as badly as I thought I would have, but I can’t wait to get more seat time out there so I can actually be doing something instead of being a human lap marker.
Lots of thanks for the support from KFG Racing, for helping me find some takeoffs for the weekend. 2Fast for letting me dink around all day Friday so I can get out there and not look like a complete idiot for the race. Jason Tanaka for covering for me for Friday pictures so folks weren’t stranded without a photographer and for taking great shots of everyone, including me on a girl’s bike (top). And last, but not least, thanks to Lacy, Blake, Ana, Mike, Lisa, Tim, Carly, and John for who I wouldn’t have had a bike to ride, a place to stay, the opportunity to make it back to Seattle (twice!), a surprise birthday coordinated, or an absolutely awesome weekend; if it weren’t for their help and support. I owe all of them big for this. I’d give them each a leg if I could.
See you guys out there. You might see me out there on a GSXR next time… Goddamnit.
Oh, and here’s Mike tearing it up on his new Panigale. Envy. You should have it.
I realize this is a post I should’ve written earlier in the season, but I feel like I wanted to get it out there about how awesome people in the track and motorcycle community can be…
When this last season started, I thought I was done with it all. I wasn’t inspired in any way to fix my bike, and I didn’t seem to miss the track one bit, even as I watched folks circle the track through my lens. I had been thinking for a long time: I got my adrenaline rush. I’m done spending so much on this sport and risking it on the pavement.
Man, was I wrong…
At the last OMRRA weekend of the 2010 season, I wadded my bike in the rain. Twice. After the second crash, which did a number on the bike to the point where it was pointless trying to look for parts in the pits, I submitted to defeat and left my ravaged bike out in the open until pack up and go time the next day. That whole weekend, I kept passing by it, glancing at it, and thinking about how much more money in parts I was going to have to put into it, and how much time I was going to have to spend in the garage trying to figure out if it was even still ride-able.
The weekend came to a close, along with race season, and the bike, once I got it home, sat in the corner of the garage for the whole winter. Some boxes even started to crawl up on top of it and managed to cover it by the time the 2011 season came around.
The first track day lay ahead, and people kept asking me where my bike was. I told folks that I wasn’t feeling the pull of the track any more, and I was just going to focus on taking pictures. I got some weird looks, and I was okay with it.
By the time the second track day came around, Rob emailed me and told me to bring my bike to the track. He wanted to take a look at it, and I didn’t see any harm in it, so I did as asked. He took it home that day and it didn’t really cross my mind to question why. Maybe I was just glad to get it out of sight for a while, or maybe I was thankful for the extra space it opened up in the garage.
I didn’t see it for a few months, much less think about it. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Come mid-season, I started to get the itch again. Friends were racing, I was on the outs with a girl, I needed something to get my mind off of things, and it kept gnawing at me that I needed to get out on the asphalt. It hadn’t helped that I had been getting a fix every week or so doing some warehouse mini bike racing with the Skagit guys, either. I blurted about the angst on Facebook, and the next thing I know, I get a message from Tony telling me I should make sure to show up in Portland at the next track day, because the bike was nearly ready. Oh, yeah. My bike’s with the guys. So south I went with a trailer.
I get there the night before in the dark, help 2Fast set up the pits while working under car headlights, and get ready to turn in. The whole time I was thinking about where I could go on the track the next day to mix up my photos, because Portland’s always been a pain to shoot at, with rules pertaining to photographers needing to be behind barriers. It wasn’t at the front of my mind, but I had also been wondering what the guys had been doing to the bike. It wasn’t until I walked past Rob’s trailer one more time that I noticed he had an extra bike lined up with the others. Even in the dark, I could tell that it was a nicely done ride, and my initial thought was Ha! Rob got another bike to ride on the track. Man, that guy really enjoys — … Wait… Why would he get a CBR…?
That’s when I realized what the guys had been up to. Quickly followed by the revelation of how much I had actually been missing my motorcycle. It was beautiful – more beautiful than I’d seen it in years. Rob, Tony, Jay, and Joe had all pitched in to get the bike looking new again. They redid everything: plastics, controls, swingarm, rotors, fairing stay – the works. Of course the first thing I did at sunrise was to take pictures of it.
That was the only time I picked up the camera that day, because I spent the rest of it riding the crap out of my awesome new motorcycle. I was back where I belonged, and so was Madison: zipping down the track and leaning into turns with a knee on the ground.
I will never be able to thank the guys enough. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten back into racing, and my year wouldn’t have been anywhere near as awesome as it has been. Hell, they probably saved my sanity.
From the bottom of my heart, a big thanks goes out to Rob, Tony, Jay and Joe for all their kindness and hard work. You guys are some of the greatest people I know, and you’ve helped me come back to doing what I love. Here’s to riding with you for years to come.
So I haven’t been too good about doing my race reports lately, but my first race back this season in WMRRA Round 6 wasn’t anything too exciting to write about other than just trying to get back into the groove of things and getting frustrated at Orhun for beating me on his first race.
Yeah. I’ve got a lot of things to work on.
So by round 7, I managed to cut off more than three seconds from my personal best, and I plan to shave even more at the next round, having been working with Rob and some others about cleaning my lines around the track and learning to get on the gas more and brake later. We’ll see how that turns out for round 8.
Thanks to Jay for coming out and taking pictures of some us and making us look more awesome than we really are.
A huge thanks to Jay, Joe, Rob and Tony. They put my bike back together and I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for them. That’s a story for another post, though.
So instead of actually writing out a race report for round 7, I figured the race videos themselves would suffice in showing how slow I really am. So here’s Novice Race 1 Restart and Novice Race 2. But to really express how I felt about the weekend, take a gander at the following clip. Should pretty much summarize the emotional roller coaster that I rode all weekend.
It didn’t start out that way, though. 2Fast picked up the track day before OMRRA‘s final round (Oct 23-24) and, despite the murmurs and forecasts of rain, we didn’t see a single drop all day. The wetness stayed at bay, even with the foreboding cumulonimbus clouds, and we may have even seen temps up in the 70′s. It was a great way to end the track day season. According to team mate Tim (#910), I even got into 1:18′s, which exceeded my goal of breaking 20′s at PIR for next track outing there.
The race weekend, unfortunately, was an all too different story. Stepping out of the hotel, groggy-eyed and slightly hungover, we were greeted with rain, puddles, and chilly winds. Thankfully, I still had Johnny’s (#933) set of rains, and swapping to them was the first thing I went about doing after registering and passing tech. I only missed a few minutes of the first practice session, and with OMRRA’s schedule being gratuitous, two more were to be enjoyed before the Novice race in the afternoon.
Having never really raced in the rain, that first practice didn’t go too bad at all, and I was surprised to see my time get down to 36′s. Especially when I wasn’t even expecting to break 2 minutes on a wet track. The whole time I was focused on being smooth and not being choppy. It kept me up for the whole first session, and everything seemed to be going great. I guess it got into my head during the second session, because three laps into it, I somehow lost the rear mid corner in turn 1. I slid for a good fifty yards, at least, popped back up and was immediately trying to figure out what exactly happened.