Race Pace

I like numbers. I have a semi-pathological obsession with numbers. Numbers, unlike words, never lie. You may be able to misrepresent them, which takes words, but in and of themselves they are true to the nature of their representation. Numbers prove words true. Applied mathematics makes sense out of life, for the most part. Theoretical mathematics are just plain fun. “What is” versus “what could be”. Hence, my obsession with lap times, mostly my own, rather than anyone else’s.

I’m a very competitive individual. When I’m lacking decent competition I will compete with my own self. Decent competition here is defined as competing with racers who are at similar skill levels to my own, preferably on the faster (or better) side of things. An easy win isn’t anything for me to aspire to. I do like easy wins, don’t get me wrong; but “cherry-picking” my way around the competition just doesn’t feel nearly as good as that win you’ve earned. The win you’ve fought so hard for, you weren’t sure if you’re going to make it, and in doing so scared yourself on several occasions because you were giving 110%, pushing the envelope way past your personal comfort zone. I like those. Those are awesome! That’s the stuff a great story is made of. A story worth telling. A story worth reading. An inspiration; the fuel that keeps the flame alive and burning brightly. Coincidentally, those are also the races that will be remembered: the nail-biting, edge of your seat, heart-pounding close ones. Good times! Good times!

It would be utter nonsense to compare my “PR” of the best lap I ever turned at Barber Motorsports Park with that of Mat Mladin, who currently holds the track record of 1:23.664, with an AVERAGE speed of 115.474 miles per hour. I barely haul that on the front straight, never mind averaging it. Not even close. If I could get into the upper 1:40s consistently I’d be holding a press conference. My PR for Barber is 1:52. And that is NOT my consistent average.

Here’s a word problem for you:

“If Mat and Em left pit road and entered the track at the same time and there was no other traffic, where on the track would the lapping pass happen and at what time in the race?”

I give you a hint: When Kevin Schwantz crosses the finish line on a Saturday afternoon sighting lap with no brakes, Em is still trying to figure out whether or not to shift on top of the curb or before it, even though it really doesn’t matter either way at her current speed or the gearing she’s running, not that she would have to shift at all if she didn’t want to.

Another hint: She wouldn’t see Mat again, short of catching a quick glimpse of him heading out of Turn 6, once he disappeared from view in the middle of Turn 3, until she was unceremoniously lapped a shortish while later.

Go!

I try not to make it a habit to keep tabs on my competition. An activity, a friend of mine calls “lap time stalking”. She says it helps her confidence to know what she’s up against beforehand. I rather not know how I stack up against others. It becomes self-evident once you’re on the track with them. You either know wether or not you have a chance to keep up and possibly even have a chance at beating them. If they pull away from you like the newbie equivalent of Mat Mladin in my silly example, you might as well pick on somebody your own size… I mean, speed.

The same also holds true if the roles were reversed. It wouldn’t be any fun for me to pass another rider who runs in the 2:20s at the aforementioned racetrack. It’s boring and uninspiring, just like Mat would feel about my hanging out in the raceline with him. Non-consequential at best, a liability at worst, and an inconvenience every third lap or so. Like a sprint runner passing the fitness walker at the gym’s indoor track.

The stalking of lap times has the opposite effect on my psyche. If I had known what kind of times the boys were handing in during my first race weekend, I would have stayed home; not that I left the house thinking that there was even a remote possibility of me winning anything. I just wanted to do it and be part of something fairly unique. I headed to the racetrack with only one goal in mind: I didn’t want to come home with a DNF (Did Not Finish) or, worse, a DNS (Did Not Start). The former meaning I probably crashed out, and the latter meaning I didn’t have the courage to grid up for the race in the first place.

That’s also my attitude about running in my first half marathon. I’m not entertaining any notion that I’ll be winning anything. I just want to say that I did it and crossed the finish line under my own power.

Last place is always preferable to being a no-show or a quitter; and who knows, there might even be a few people I could pass and finish ahead of. That was true for my first road race on two wheels, it will also be true to my first road race on two feet.

However, this didn’t stop me from trying to figure out where (and how fast) I would finish and where I could finish in my ultimate goal, which is completing an official marathon. On my quest to comparing the “what is” with the “what could be” I came across this nifty little tool. The runner’s (free) equivalent of the motorcycle racer’s (expensive) data acquisition: Greg McMillan’s pace calculator.

I plug in my PR of 30:00 for the 5K, which just so happens to give me the best projected outcome and furnishes me with all sorts of digits I can use in my marathon training. You can try it for yourself here.

Caught in the act by my daughter (I think she was trying to report on a heinous fashion crime though): At Barber Motorsports Park looking at posted lap times and race results.

Who said theoretical mathematics couldn’t be fun? Probably the same person who also insists that playing around with applied physics wasn’t a pleasurable activity. Talk to me once you’ve put your knee down for the very first time cornering your motorcycle or have set a new personal best for the mile in your run. We will then revisit the subject of “speed is relative” and can be enjoyed on any level, as long  as you have a grasp on what the accomplishment means to you personally.

I will never complete a lap in the 1:23s at BMP, nor will I ever complete a marathon in the 2:15s. What I will do, however, is be inspired to reach for my own personal best, by working hard and not giving up when things seem to get too tough; and enjoy my triumphs and be proud in my accomplishments, no matter how they may compare on a broader scale.

There is always somebody faster.

Just do it and be your best. Discouragement is highly discouraged. And discouragement happens when you compare yourself to others, especially to those (way) out of your (current) league. Don’t compare, but compete. And competition happens when you find someone who’s at your own level… and then the real race begins. The one you have a possibility of winning. The one that happens with the person directly in front of you. Let them inspire you to give it your all and then give a little more; and as you pass them, you’ll inadvertently do the same for them.

And that is where it’s at.

Chances are you’ll end up pulling each other along to the finish, crossing the line together in an impromptu team effort towards a common goal.

Chances are that the motorcycle you’ve been chasing and trying to hopefully pass for the better of five laps, inspired you to go faster than you ever have and you’ll still end up doing the happy dance in front of the posted race results, looking like a complete dork, even though you’ve finished the race in the back of the pack.

*overuse of the word “inspiration” in its various forms was completely intentional*


A Message From Your Sponsor

Dear Miss Busa,

It has come to my attention that you have become infamous with my colleagues at work. As I was gearing up for a nice  little ride on my motorcycle; you know that thing that works IF you keep it upright at speed? Anyway, as I was getting ready, Bobby walked over to me to say hello. The following is the conversation as close as I can recall:

Bobby: “Heya, Joe!”

Me: “Hey, Bobby! How’s it going?”

Bobby: “Pretty good. Great weather to ride, huh?”

Me: “Yes it is. Where’s your ride? I see you are cruising around in that big new Ford of yours.”

Bobby: “Yep, but I’m about to start riding my Hog again. The gas prices are killing me.”

Me: “Uh-huh, save some of that green.”

Bobby: “Got that right! Say where’s our girl, Crash?”

Me: “She wrecked her bike. Guess following me to work in the truck isn’t as much fun as riding.”

Bobby: [looking incredulous] “She wrecked it again? How freakin’ fast was she going this time?

Me: “A little over 120 miles an hour.”

Bobby: [now chuckling] “Guess the roads are safe again …  for a little while.”

As you can plainly see, you are reinforcing your reputation with your latest antics at the track.

This is a desperate plea to you. I am begging you! When I said to come back with your shield or on it, I didn’t think you’d take me so literally. I want you to win, but gee whiz, I thought you’d do it in the customary way, you know: first across the finish line. Well, I guess if you’re going to be Number One in crashing, we should lobby WERA to include a Crash Class in the award ceremonies.

“… and Miss Busa wins the Golden Turd for the most impressive and expensive lowside this weekend.”

I have written the acceptance speech for you, too:

“I’d like to thank WERA for putting on a great weekend; the corner workers for schlepping my bike out of the gravel trap yet again, I know you guys are getting tired of it, so thank you; many thanks go out to the medics who have conveniently relocated the ambulance to wait near Turn 1. You guys rock! I would also like to thank my sponsors: BMW Parts Division, FedEx for their awesome overnight service, Bondo, and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Georgia. Last, but not least, I need to show my gratitude to my mechanic; however, I’ve done this so often, I’ll have to start working on my own shit.”

Anyway, my point is: congratulations, you’ve earned renown points. I love you, Babe, you keep doing what you’re doing, if you aren’t crashing, you aren’t trying.

Signed,

Mr. Slow,
Your loving sponsor

Ach Du Heilige Scheiße!

Ach Du Heilige Scheiße!


113 is the new 27.

WERA #113I faxed my membership application into WERA on Monday morning and today I see that they had finally charged the $110 fee to my card. Cool. I wonder if I got my number? Please let it be 27. I want Twenty-freaking-Seven. Two-Seven. Please. Please. Please. Upon checking the racers page by last name, I find myself. I’m on the list… but I’m on the same page with @MsXXFastRR who is WERA #111 (that lucky girl scored herself the next best thing to her own numerical bliss!), since I have been assigned some number that wasn’t even one of my choices. One-One-Tree. Damn! 113? What the heck?!? I didn’t get either my first choice, nor my second or third? Crap! 27 meant something. That was the number I had at the Kevin Schwantz School. I wanted to keep it. It was mine. It fit. I got used to it. I took comfort in its good fortune and confidence enhancing powers. Goodbye my old friend, it’s been nice knowing you. Goodbye 13. Goodbye 37.

Hello WERA Provisional Novice racer #113.

Coincidentally, 113 is one mile over my max speed attained on a 2008 H-D Sportster 1200 Low; way back in the day when I was still straddling Pig Iron and didn’t know what a tank slapper was. I rode that puppy until the poor hog shook her head. “Nononono!” ;P Then something told me that it would probably be in my best interest to slow smoothly and gradually, which I did. I later found out that this was indeed a very smart and healthy thing to do and I shouldn’t have been riding it out as long as I did in the first place.

Oh well, there it is. The 112-mph Story. Good grief! I feel old (senior class racing anyone?). That was a lifetime ago in a parallel universe. I had been riding maybe three months then. A point in time about halfway between a Harley and a ‘Busa. Those were the days. The Days of the Squid. No, not really. Well, yes, maybe a little.

28 months and 35,162 miles ago I was a scared provisional novice rider who almost quit on several occasions and I have finally managed leveling up to wanna-be racer and official (slow-as-of-yet) fastass. 🙂 Next stop: JenningsGP in three weeks, to see a man (Ed Bargy) about a “skill upgrade” and work on some kinks in my riding that are slowing me down…

…and maybe when I get a chance to go back to Barber, I can do something about that coma-inducing lap time of mine. 1:47 to 1:52 isn’t all that bad for a first time track n00b. But I know I have gotten faster since then. I mean seriously, it’s really not inspiring when you’re still playing around between T8 and T9 while Mr. Thirty-Four crosses the finish line on his Saturday afternoon joyride.

I wonder how much it’d set a girl back to drive one of those Porsches they have sitting in the parking lot next to Race Control? That has got to be one heck of a ride through Charlotte’s Web and then through the Alabama Roller Coaster. Probably would have to wear diapers for that one. Weeeeeee! *giggles then nods*

Bring it! It is on. (The truck and the bike, respectively.)


WERA You Off To Now?

Bored at work (and feeling guilty about not using my time more wisely), I click my way through my usual haunts on the Internet. You know, the daily menu: Twitter, motorcycle forums, motorcycle sites, looking at engineering porn and so forth. I am supposed to be researching gearing changes for my inaugural LSR race at the Laurinburg-Maxton airfield better known as the Maxton Mile. I’m not in a “theoretical top speed attainable by a known mass within a certain distance figuring varying friction and drag coefficients” kind of mood. I also need to write today’s blog entry, I’m not in a writing kind of mood either.

Then something happens via link shared with me by my girl Marianne (@MsXXFastRR). I watch the awesome drifting video she wanted me to watch and after it is over I click through the “related videos” chain and happen upon a video of a WERA C Superstock Novice race at Barber Motorsports Park, which I would consider my home track! Yeah, yeah, yeah… Road Atlanta should be… who cares! I’ll move to Alabama if that’s what it takes to make it official. Seriously, though: Barber, although technically challenging with all its elevation changes and off-camber goodness and downhill decreasing radius fun and straights so short it doesn’t really pay to upshift or move back center on the bike, if you’re a lazy bum like me out on a Sunday ride, has got to be the most beautiful creation ever to come along in the way of mankind’s effort to pave the planet. And the thing has a rhythm that just speaks to me. Riding Barber’s 2.38-mile track is like moving your body to the music of a sensual Latin ballroom dance number, the Samba perhaps. You know your program, but you get to interpret it as the music moves you. Unless, you’re competition dancing… Yes, I used to dabble in the dance sport in my teenage years, that is why I am so flabbergasted that I can’t get my hips positioned right to stick my knee out farther. It’s a personal insult. Now, where was I?

The Museum Corner (T7-T8)

Barber Motorsports Park: The Museum Corner (T7-T8) ~ Visible in the photo: T7A through T9

At any rate, I watched this video and timed their lap and I couldn’t believe it. I watched it a few more times, checked my math, checked the class, then jumped out of my office chair, heart racing and hands sweaty. No freaking way! My nerves went into maximum overdrive, my electrical circuits overloading and my fingertips starting to tingle. I snatched my iPad off my desk, and jumped down the stairs in two hops, busted through the magnetically sealed door, while slapping the green release button mounted on the wall to my right. Leaped across the outbound lane, through the gate in the chain link fence, sprinted across yet another access road, took another set of stairs in two bounds and fell into the security trailer’s door with my knock. My partner was on the phone and I practically yelled at him: “T, put the damn phone down and look at this!” and I started to explain in the gasping staccato of disbelief. I don’t even want to know what I will do if I ever found out I had won the lottery. My heart would probably explode and I’d drop dead right there on the spot. Have fun spending my hard-won cash… Anyway, he listens and tries to follow, I barely notice in my excitement that he tells the person on the other end of his phone conversation that he’s gonna have to call right back. After he confirms that I am not completely off my rocker I simply tell him in an overly excited voice: “Dude, Imma gonna go racin’!!!” and with that I disappear back through his door. I try to call Mr. Slow. No answer! Shit! That’s right. He’s sleeping… damn! All excited, with the pressure built up and no place to vent. Crap! For the rest of the evening I can’t concentrate, I can’t focus, and I’m good for nothing but to try and seek distraction.

T comes over later and tells me (yet again) that he doesn’t want me to race. That he’s “gonna have to buy me a car to stop all that nonsense”. He’s such a sweety. What is he thinking? Buy me a car? I’d race that mofo, too. Once you get a taste of speed, bogging it down in the granny lane just isn’t an option anymore. I’m a junkie and I’m all for stepping up my tolerance to my chosen drug of choice. =D

I check the WERA schedule, although I had promised myself I wouldn’t look at it until after my LSR meet, so I wouldn’t bum myself out. I am able to run in five of the 13 races scheduled without having to take vacation. I can’t afford to take vacation to entertain my silly notions, since there is time to be spent on being with family. That is more important, since I don’t have a whole lot of family left that I actually care a great deal about and those few people are very dear to my heart and will always take precedence in my life.

What exactly did I find out? I’m not one to kiss and tell…

Barber Motorsports Park (T14A)

Turn 14A at Barber Motorsports Park: Yes, that's Miss Busa in the front. 🙂

Just kidding. I can’t keep my cakehole shut to save my ass on re-cross, I would be a criminal defense attorney’s nightmare. I did it. I’m proud of it, too. Was an excellent execution of the almost perfect crime! Yeah. Suffice it to say: I have a decent enough chance to not come in DFL (you figure it out ;)), there is but a trace of a chance to be lapped (which would just make me so embarrassed that I would consider cutting across the grass and taking the back gate out rather than using pit road like a normal person), and I might just have a shot of hanging and scoring myself some double-digit brownie points. 🙂 However, the chance of a DNS (Did Not Start) are still astronomical, because of life and (bad) luck and (annoying) bills.

I must forget that I found out about this. It doesn’t do my nerves any good. I don’t follow racing (watching sports is boring), I don’t try and look into too much detail, because I have to combat my tendency to become scared and tuck tail and run because I always am my worst critic, judge myself way too harshly, am never good enough, can barely ever reach my own set of standards and am deathly afraid of looking like an ass in public. It also doesn’t do my ego any good, I’m way too competitive. I have to concentrate on what I am doing, not what others are doing or are capable of. That is why keeping myself oblivious is part of my strategy. And I haven’t learned the lesson yet. Every time I try something new I freak myself out with details of minor importance and concentrate on my silly overblown fears and I stress myself out, just to find out (after the fact) that it wasn’t but a thing and I did quite better than I had expected. Yet, here I am.

I am going to race this season. Even if it is just that one race weekend to get rid of my provisional status. My WERA membership application is filled out, the paperwork is done. All I need to do is pay my $110 and get my competition number for the Pirate. But since the racing license is only good for one year, this has to wait until I have a definite date figured out for my first official race. I would love for it to be at Barber, but that would mean waiting until September. We shall see.

2011 WERA Southeast Region Schedule

  1. 2/5-6 Talladega Gran Prix Raceway, Talladega, AL (run counter-clockwise, WERA Riders School available)
  2. 3/18-20 Roebling Road Raceway, Faulkville, GA (combined with National)
  3. 4/16-17 Nashville Superspeedway, Nashville, TN (WERA Riders School available)
  4. 5/7-8 Barber Motorsports Park, Leeds, AL (WERA Riders School available)
  5. 5/21-22 Jennings GP, Jennings, FL (WERA Riders School available)
  6. 6/4-5 Roebling Road Raceway, Faulkville, GA (WERA Riders School available)
  7. 6/11-12 Talladega Gran Prix Raceway, Talladega, AL (run counter-clockwise, WERA Riders School available)
  8. 6/24-26 Road Atlanta, Braselton, GA (WERA Riders School available)
  9. 7/23-24 Roebling Road Raceway, Faulkville, GA (WERA Riders School available)
  10. 8/4-7 WERA Cycle Jam at VIR, Alton, VA
  11. 8/20-21 Talladega Gran Prix Raceway, Talladega, AL (run counter-clockwise, WERA Riders School available)
  12. 9/9-11 Barber Motorsports Park, Leeds, AL (combined with National)
  13. 9/24-25 Nashville Superspeedway, Nashville, TN (WERA Riders School available)

Best Accomplishment in 2010

This is Topic #3 for the Post A Day 2011 Challenge. The Daily Post asked:

What’s the single most important thing you accomplished in 2010?

I had to think about this, since there are a few things that I’ve done in 2010 that I’m rather proud of, astonished by or surprised with. It has indeed been The Year of the Fast. Fast, as in velocity, not self-induced famine. In retrospect 2010 came and went in a hurry. I experienced a lot of motorcycling firsts and came to learn a thing or two about myself.

I would have to say that my best accomplishment of 2010 is graduating the Kevin Schwantz School at Barber Motorsports Park as “Runner Up Most Improved Rider”. I was the only woman in attendance. I was nervous as hell, I had never ridden a 600, nor had I never been to a track.

KSS Graduation

2010 Graduate of the Kevin Schwantz School: Yay! I'm getting my security deposit back! (read: I didn't wad up a bike in some corner somewhere, not even a CBR... LOL)

I did best (and was at my fastest) when the instructor let me take the lead and I could run a lap at my own pace without having to worry running my nose up somebody’s tailpipe. Passing was not allowed unless instructed to do so and only in the straights; I ran almost exclusively in the Intermediate group and most of the time I felt like I was being held up by the riders in front of me, but stepping up to the fastest group wasn’t an option, I would have not learned anything by riding at 100%+ of my skill level. It was tempting, though. Especially on Day 2, after my brain had a chance to process all the information collected during the previous sessions. There was a distinct jump in speed and skill improvement between the last session of the previous day and the first session that morning. I had wanted to move up, but they were faster now, too. My reason finally overcame my competitiveness. After all, I had a $1000 security deposit to consider and I wouldn’t get that back if I took a short vacation on Pebble Beach stretched out on my backside with a wadded up sport bike to keep me company. Kevin Schwantz and the instructors also impressed upon us that we should concentrate on technique rather than how fast we could make it around the track. I decided to take his word for it, the man obviously must know what he’s talking about. So, I behaved.

Here’s a little video courtesy of the camera bike of one of my earlier (and slow-as-molasses) laps of Day 1. I think it was during Session 3, because I had already quit switching sides on the bike between T7 and T9 and my body position, although still too much ass and not enough torso, had already improved somewhat. The Hayabusa had taught me very, very bad habits. Add to that teaching yourself without anybody with enough experience to check up on your progress occasionally and you have the perfect recipe for hanging on versus hanging off and dragging toes as supposed to dragging knee. And even with all that to work on and having way too much lean in relation to my cornering speed, I still felt I was being held back. I need a group in between Faster and Fastest. Seriously.

I edited Kevin’s lap out, because while he’s leisurely crossing the finish line of his first warm-up lap, I’m still tooling around a little past the Museum Corner’s exit and we really do NOT need to compare the two. No. Really. We don’t. It’s embarrassing. And that’s the last we’re going to talk about that. Thank you. Now bugger off. 😉

Oh, and I almost forgot: I finally got my knee down! w00t!!!!! I’d have to get my notes out, but it happened in Session 4, I believe. Shortly before the apex of T9. I didn’t expect it, it scared the piss out of me until I realized what the hell was happening and then I was screaming out of that turn doing a mini fist-pump with my clutch hand and kicking my clutch foot out, all the while yelling cheerful obscenities into my helmet. Then when I got back to the pits and took a peek (while nobody was watching) it was a total letdown. Hell, my toe sliders have more damage on them! 😦 Like the time when I screamed down the road doing 147 mph just to later find out that my odo is way off and the GPS admonished with the fact that I was doing more like 139. Bummer! Somebody (or something) always has to piss on your parade, I swear it!

Turn 9 (Barber)

The Scene of the Crime: The place my knee pucks finally lost their virginity. At least the right one did. About where the third painted section is, shortly before the apex. This is T9 at Barber.

Knee Slider (Right)

The first sweet and innocent kiss of asphalt. So sad. It sounded more like french tongue action and all I find is a peck on the lips. Well, dammit, man!


Haulin’ Arse: A six-pack of split rolls…

*wipes tears from her eyes in addition to the retarded smirk on her mischievous face, coughs, clears throat and sits up straight*

Oh hell!

Every time I come across this pic I’m snickering… there’s something to be said about a bunch of dudes in leather onsies straddling inline-four engineering. God Bless America (and the Japanese)!

Haulin' Arse

Haulin' Arse: The Six-Pack! And that is why Miss Busa is slow on the track... who can pass that?

And this is the reason why Miss Busa doesn’t have a one-a-day photo blog. *walks off giggling*