My Baby’s Got Game

This is just one shot that Mr. Slow took, of about 1200 frames total. He needs to put himself out there, he’s good. Hell, he could keep me in tire money for a few race weekends at least. I am apparently a rubber ho. I go through one set per day. What the hell happened to four or five track days? Damn Pirate goes through shoes like she does rum.

Exiting Turn 13 shooting for the apex of T14 to haul my Pirate booty down the front straight. I’m on the gas here. I made a lot of grown men cry in this turn. But if you’re on the brakes down shifting while I’m on the gas, you really deserve getting passed by a girl.

I have a sticker on my bike. You can make it out in Mr. Slow’s shot. It’s right above my right-side mirror mount. It reads: “Warning: Does not play well with others.”

It totally rawks to have my own personal track photographer. He also fetches tools, drives me there and puts up with my shit.

I’ll let you borrow him for your next track day. For a small fee, of course. Just feed him regularly and keep him properly hydrated and don’t forget to pass out the prescribed dose of caffeine, PRN.

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The Ed Bargy Racing School at JenningsGP

Ed Bargy vs. Kevin Schwantz

As I walked into the classroom, Ed Bargy, after getting my name, greeted me with: “So, you are the Kevin Schwantz graduate. Forget everything he’s taught you. I will teach you some stuff you can actually use.”

Ba-dam-CHING! Sounds like I had paid two extra large to spend a weekend at the track and hang out with a World Champion. Well, crap!

Yup, he’s a racer. I like this man already. It is going to be a fun-filled day of information overload and scattered knee dragging. Ed Bargy set a fast pace, off and on the track. He had a lot of material to cover and between the classroom lectures and the six on-track sessions, I spent the entire day running like a madwoman whose ass was on fire between three locations: classroom, pit, track, pit, classroom,… in my race boots! Mr. Slow had set up our pit in the Back Forty. In the GRASS!!!

The Sponsor's Truck

Our pit area in the waaaaay back in the grass! I must be on the track, my scoot isn't there.

The previous night, we pulled in seven minutes before the gate closed, dead tired but kept awake by generous amounts of caffeine, paid our gate fee and started looking for a spot to make our home for the weekend. I pointed to an empty paddock pad, two over from the hot pit entrance and close to the registration building and classrooms. Right up front!!! He says: “We don’t have a trailer, I’m not going to back in there.” Arrrrrgh! I was exhausted after having stayed up all night and most of the day prepping my bike. I had never been here and was completely clueless. Hell, maybe this place was run like the military, you didn’t get a concrete slab unless you… well, earned it. I didn’t argue, we parked the truck, unloaded the bike and set up our pit, pitched the truck tent we had acquired for just this purpose, inflated the truck bed air mattress, tossed our sleeping bags inside and pretty much fell into a coma as soon as the cords got pulled on the mummy hoods.

This Is Your Wake-Up Call

The morning got off to a cold start, when we were awakened by people talking while unloading their bikes, setting up and getting ready for the day. I still had no clue when I was expected to show up and where, but luckily they announced everything over the PA system. Mr. Slow met me in the registration building with a steaming cup of joe. The man knows me. There is no approaching me pre-coffee. I was relatively calm, I felt refreshed and ready to take my riding to the next level. Of course, I didn’t need to be there until tomorrow to register for my track day. The lady told me just to go ahead and go to the classrooms, Ed was already there.

First Things First: The Track Walk

Ed Bargy on the Importance of Walking The Track

Ed Bargy is giving lessons on how to use information gained on a track walk to our advantage. Line selection, things to watch out for and the proper use of reference points.

Class began with a track walk. Of course, “walking” was done under power in first gear. We stopped at key points at the track and Ed Bargy talked about its features and how to use them to our advantage. Got it! This is the first thing every serious racer or rider should do. Walk the track. There is stuff you’ll notice you won’t be able to see at speed. Subtle but important things that will help greatly in line selection. The best line around the track is the fastest line, and that is not necessarily the shortest. And in order to be fast, you have get to know the lay of the land. Literally. JenningsGP, which was designed by Ed himself and is a motorcycle-only racetrack, is relatively flat. No extreme features, no elevation changes to speak of, some turns are slightly cambered or banked, and the entire 2-mile track is mostly wide open. It is definitely divided into a fast section and a tight section. Turns 3-9 are pretty tightly grouped together, then the track opens up again entering into Turn 10 and you can pretty much stay on the gas all the way through Turn 14, onto the front straight, slow down briefly for Turn 1 and then onto the gas again until you get back around to Turn 3. Repeat.

Track Walk (Under Power)

Ed Bargy starts us off right with a proper track walk, so we can get the lay of the land. As is proper, we do not use self-propelled methods.

The track has no rhythm to me. It seems too narrow and claustrophobic in its wide open sprawl. There are no blind corners or hills to obscure your visibility. I don’t like this. For some reason it messes with my focus. I see too much too soon. I knew from studying the track map that I may not end up liking the way this particular track is laid out, but it was perfect for what I came here to do: Quit entering turns like an old biddy in her Oldsmobile and get my corner entry sorted. If hauling it down from 150+ to throw it into T3 doesn’t do it then I don’t know what will.

This Girl Can’t Ride

Turn 11: Traffic is medium-heavy width=

Turn 11: Traffic is medium=heavy but still flowing smoothly albeit a little under the limit of speed.

My first few sessions were barely keeping up. I was literally riding by the seat of my pants, and they still got away from me. What in the hell? Screw it! I started doing my own thing, since I did not like the way I was riding. Unorganized, frenzied, rushed, without method. I slowed a little and started turning laps without touching my brakes. This track indeed does not sing to me, like Barber did. I can’t find its rhythm, so I can’t dance. I’m picking my lines, experimenting with various options, but I like none of it. I feel out of my element. Like a wall flower at a beauty pageant. I’m getting a little despondent, but I try to concentrate on the material covered and execute. My focus is not there. Every once in a while a control rider passes me and taps the tail section of his bike with his left hand. “Follow me!” I did and found that I was doing better copying someone else’s rhythm. But again, eventually they left me and I was on my own yet again. I was torn between heeding the call of my competitive nature and keeping up with the boys and tearing it up and doing the smart, responsible thing and moderating my speed back to about 80% of my skill envelope so I could focus on technique. Crap! I’m not liking this at all! Disconnect. Major disconnect.

Say What?!? A Racer You Are Not!

In the hunt with Ed Bargy

Everybody wants to take Ed Bargy's number. 😉 Nobody does.

What in the world have I done now? You can’t even keep up with the second slowest group of students and you want to do what exactly?!? Go racing? They’ll pull you off the field for being a safety hazard you’re so damned slow! Good gawd, woman! After three sessions, which progressively improved, it finally dawned on me. As we were heading out to the track I asked Mr. Bargy: “So the slowest of the four groups is to the right, the fastest on the outside?” He confirmed my suspicions. The drawing on the dry erase board was flipped upside down. Doh! I remember Ed even mentioning that and I still got it reversed in my head. This explains a few things! Definitely! No wonder I was feeling off. Instead of staging with the second slowest group, I got in line running in the second fastest. Ed just laughed when I smacked my forehead and said with a giggle: “Well, that would explain why I couldn’t keep up to save my life.” This would also explain why I had to ride by the seat of my pants. I had not the time to collect proper reference points for myself. Fortunately, I have always made it a point to teach myself “Riding by Reading” rather than “Riding by Repetition”. If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry, it is a subject worthy of another blog post. But in essence, if you know how to “read” the road or track while you ride, you’ll be fast no matter where you go. If you are a “repetition rider” you’ll smoke your buddies on your home turf, but go elsewhere and you are as lost as a kitten in a litter of hungry puppies.

With renewed confidence and motivation I went outside, suited up, took possession of the Pirate at the corner of the registration building where Mr. Slow waited for me. I think he started feeling a twinge of guilt about pitting his Baby in the grass in the waaaay back! Yeah, buddy! Walk a mile in my race boots…

More My Speed…

I think I can... I think I can...

I think I can... I think I can... no. I cannot. I'm sure Ed is snickering in his helmet as I'm trying to get the drop on him. Nicely played. He made me feel almost like I could.

I got in line with the peeps who would be more my speed and was ready to get down to business. I had some catching up to do in skill development and corner entries to work on at a speed more conducive to improving my game. Baby steps, yes ma’am! I was rudely interrupted in my reverie when one of the control riders pointed at me, at himself, and then behind him. I followed the arc of his left hand and saw that he had Margie Lee on her silver Ducati in tow. It was obvious he wanted me to come with him. What the hell? I didn’t like this at all. You, my man, are disrupting my plans. Apparently Mr. Control Rider is a lady’s man. His lonesome studly self gathering about him all the women in the group?!? Can you be anymore blatantly obvious? He was on his way of making me dislike him. He had already pissed me off once, and this must be due punishment for not hanging on his every word and doing as I was told, “Yessir, may I have another!” I might be shy, but I can be very verbose when it comes to calling bullshit where I see it. Go ahead and try me, I have no tolerance for it. And if you do, you’ll be the one having to pop a Xanax in the after-action review. But this one’s also for another time and another story. And I will share! Fret not.

You! Come With Me!

Entering Turn 12

Miss Busa is entering T12 and gets ready to get her lean on.

I had to wait until my group was starting to pull out before I could get out of line, we were pretty much bunched up tire to tire. I cranked my upper body around to make sure that the rider behind me was aware of what I was doing and then slipped out of line and waited for Mr. Lady’s Man and Margie Lee to pull out and fell in behind them. Yawn! He was going so slow, I was wondering if I should drag rear brake to give the engine something to pull against. I dismissed my misgivings and took the opportunity to collect much needed reference points and reconsider line selection. Besides, my tires were still cold, so it’s all good. After another lap of this, I had enough. I eventually passed Margie Lee and at some point I must have passed him or he had just left us at one… I can’t recall, but “frankly mah dear, I don’t give a damn” where he was. I was doing my thing, finding my groove, at my own pace designed to maximize my learning process. Previously I was getting rather disgusted with myself and wondering if I would ever manage to carry enough speed into these turns to get my knee down; but it wasn’t before too long I was dragging some serious knee and passing people by taking it up their inside; or using the Pirate’s awesome power to my advantage by letting myself drift wide and then passing them on the outside. Plenty of times where someone showed me a wheel and I showed my pretty front end to someone else. I was passing. I was getting passed. It was glorious. I started feeling my competitive edge creeping back in and I got swept up in the moment. I was starting to really enjoy myself and I felt like I finally was learning something.

Starting Procedure Practice

At the end of the school we had a mock race, but Ed preferred to call it “Starting Procedure Practice”. Mr. Lady’s Man had told us that we will be gridded by our observed skill levels. Ed told us not to worry about grid position. The field will sort itself out, no matter what position you start in. The fast riders will be in front, the slower riders end up in the back and the intermediate group will duke it out in between. I bet some imaginary money on what position Mr. Lady’s Man assigned to me on the grid, but I lost the bet. I wasn’t dead last after all. There was one dude who was worse off than me. At least I had the inside line in the last row. I told him that we’re just going to have to roll this up from the rear. He laughed and agreed.

Going into Turn 1

Going into Turn 1: Miss Busa is of course last in line. Probably target-fixated on leather-clad asses and has forgotten all about passing...

I made it a point to be there right after first call. I sat on the entrance to pit road and waited. Dan, who is Race Control, held his right hand up, all five fingers splayed out and yelled at us over idling engines: “See this? That is your FIVE BOARD. Go!” He stepped off to the side and let us enter pit road to take our warmup lap and assume our assigned grid positions. We were using the standard WERA staggered grid pattern of 3-2-3. From my position in the sixth row with only one rider behind me,  I could see the entire field. I wasn’t nervous at all, which was strange. I happened to look at the Starter when the 3-Minute Board came up. Time to pay attention now. I lowered my face shield and put my bike in gear. I was ready. The 2-Minute Board was displayed fairly quickly thereafter. I exhaled when the Starter displayed the 1-Minute Board. Apparently I had forgotten to breathe. Sideways. I rev up the S1000RR to 9,000 RPM. My shiftlight illuminates at about the same time the green flag comes out and I smoothly ease the lever out in one quick, controlled movement. The Pirate responds and I find myself passing people on the grid. This is a far cry from the starts I laid down at the drag strip. It is the same thing, pretty much. I don’t know why I can’t be smooth at the strip. Never mind that now, Turn 1 is coming up. I have a clear shot on the inside, but decide to stay in the middle. for a better drive into Turn 2. I am not aware of the other riders. No, I am aware of them, but I don’t know who they are or where they came from on the grid. I know I now have people behind me, since I passed a few on the grid. But never mind this. My tires are still not up to temperature and I decide to concentrate on what I’m doing, not what everybody else is up to. All I know is that I’m always in second place. The guy in front of me? He needs passing. That’s all I worry about. I’m having a hoot. I am in my element. I thrive on this.

I have reached a new level in my braking technique. Trial by fire. I notice that a lot of these people like to park in the corners. When you have no brake lights to give you a clue, you have to be extremely aware of your immediate surroundings. If their nose is dipping it’s a telltale sign they are on the skids hard. And when your front end is almost stuffed up their tail pipe it’s high time to take some countermeasures to avoid collecting. I notice a front wheel in my peripheral vision and have to dismiss the awful thought that my continued success of keeping both my contact patches engaged is entirely at the mercy of the unknown variable behind me.

This is the exact reason why I don’t ride in groups on the street and when I do I hang in the back, because I trust in my own capabilities over those of others and rather keep the trouble up front where I can see it. Yet, here I am putting myself at the mercy of others at grossly higher speeds. Strange how I abhor something on the street and thrive on it on the track. There is a reason why they make us take our mirrors off; and it has nothing to do with safety or drag coefficient. I’m sure we’d have to change our diapers several times per race if we could see what exactly goes on directly behind us. Best not to think about it at all.

The Color Of Adrenaline

Ed Bargy on his Race Bike

Ed Bargy has traded his street legal Kawi for his race bike and is ready to give us a run for our money.

I have not a clue how I finished in the mock race. All I know is that I got passed and passed others… I do know that I rode harder than I ever had in my entire life. I started sliding the rear I accelerated so hard out of turns. I almost tucked the front on several occasions because I had to brake so hard while leaned over to avoid running up on someone in mid-corner. Ed Bargy wanted us to feel for these limitations of available traction. That is how you know how much you have left. We need to be able to control these without having to wipe our butts later or freaking the hell out and wadding it. The more I do it, the less anxious I am about front end tuck or rear end slides. I’m learning. Slowly. But baby steps is what it takes to improve without wrecking your shit. I’m ok with that. I have a few payments left on my BMW.

Don’t race what you can’t afford to wreck. That’s what they say. When have I ever let stuff like that stop me? Let me think… hmmm… nope, can’t come up with anything at the moment. I race what I have, run what I brung. But I race it sensibly. I aborted passes, didn’t take opportunities to pass, or let someone pass because the risk to do otherwise was too great. There was no money at the finish line. There were no points waiting for me at the checkered flag. There were no sponsorships at stake. My ego only drives my machine so far. This girl knows when to hold ’em and she definitely knows when to fold ’em. I race my own race. I have no testosterone-driven need to be a track day heroine. I have nothing to prove to anybody but to myself, and most of what I prove to myself has nothing at all to do with raw speed or position.

Check The Appropriate Box

After our mock race we pitted our bikes and went back to the classroom to take our written examination. The questions were multiple guess and all related to racing procedures. Ed said that this test was “closed book, but open can.” Those of us who were inclined to do so were invited to help themselves to an ice-cold can of brew with Ed while we were taking our test. I made a huge exception to my standing rule of zero-tolerance for alcohol and caffeine while participating in a race or track weekend. But I could not pass up an opportunity to have a beer with Mr. Bargy. Shortly after grading our tests we received our Provisional Novice shirts and Certificates of Completion. We also got to keep Ed Bargy’s book “Introduction To Motorcycle Roadracing”, a $50 tire discount coupon which I ended up using the following day; a coupon for a discounted track day which I couldn’t use because I had already registered and paid for Sunday; and a 10% off coupon for the chassis alignment and setup services of G.M.D. Computrack Atlanta.

This Was Fun! Can I Do It Again?

Overall I had a great time. I learned a ton, improved my lap times by 17 seconds over the span of six track sessions, gained a great deal of consistency in my riding and learned to trust my machine. I never had the S1000RR on a track. I trusted her on the street, but had no clue how I would get along with her on the track. I never ran Dunlop Sportmax Q2 tires on the track either. I still love these tires and will continue to run them, since they are priced moderately and perform their duties very well, street or track, wet or dry. Once I started trusting my tires and my bike at higher speeds and steeper lean angles, things started happening for me in a good way. I am happy with my progress, but still have lots to work on. Oh, before I forget: I did shorten my corner entry by a significant amount. When I first started, I initiated slowing down and then braking at the first brake marker. I carried an average of 60 mph into Turn 3, which was the turn I consciously measured my overall progress on, but it wasn’t the turn I did best in, as I would have expected. Turn 1 was the turn I did my best in as far as corner entry goes. By the end of the day I started braking halfway between brake marker 2 and 1, without rolling off the throttle prematurely and “sunday driving” it to my braking marker, and carried speeds of about 90 mph into the turn and had to actually downshift before stuffing the Pirate in and putting my knee on the ground.

Now What?!?

Fun With Still Caps

I still could get more aggressive on my exits and get on the gas just a little harder. I have always had a tendency to get on the throttle as soon as I got to the apex of the turn, but I always finessed it rather than giving it a good, aggressive drive out. I’m nowhere near my traction limit at the apex, which is probably a good thing, considering that I constantly seem to find myself dealing with some slowasses backing up traffic mid-corner, which leaves me room for braking and “changing lanes”. At JenningsGP I shouldn’t have this problem. I can see them way ahead of time, but I end up putting my nose down for them anyway. I just can’t help myself. I should moderate my speed and anticipate the bunching-up effect, but I never do. I always think that I won’t be catching up with them, since they are the ones that got away from me in the straights.

Here’s a little educational something where Miss Busa demonstrates how NOT to do it. Enjoy! 🙂

*The thing got mangled during encoding by YouTube for some reason. It plays fine locally on Mr. Slow’s Mac, so I am not fixing it. The important stuff is there. I apologize.*


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)

I Am So Backordered!

Dainese Xantum Lady D-Dry (3/4 rear view)My birthday, as you might know, was three days ago. Papa wired 200 € to celebrate the occasion. Cool. What to spend it on? What to spend it on? The money arrived on the 5th and I’ve spent over a week trying to decide where to unload it. So many toys, so little cashola! Bellypan for the the Priate? Color-matched OEM seat cowl to get rid of that superfluous seat cushion that mars the beauty of my S1000RR’s awesomely fast looking tail? Carbon fiber case guards? Or some shark fins? Maybe I could buy that canopy in red and black I need for the track? Ahhhh… so many things… but what I really want, but necessarily don’t need, is a waterproof Dainese textile jacket for cold weather riding. I want something I can zip to my Dainese Hooper pants I scored for $100 less than MSRP but a few weeks ago. I’m such a Dainese gear whore. I Devilhead ME. Yeah. I’ve wrestled with options and then finally settled on the Xantum Lady D-Dry in Nero/Rosso to match my bike’s colors, the truck’s colors, the team’s colors. Painfully obvious that this broad color-coordinates. Now if someone could tell me where to get a (cheap) roll of 4-inch wide, no-residue removable, medium tack, 10mil vinyl tape in red or black, I’d be a happy girl.

Of course, I can’t find the blasted jacket anywhere. Dainese.com wants $40 for S&H and I’m not down with that. So off to Kneedraggers.com to special order it, which ends up in an email telling me that this specific item is backordered indefinitely and Dainese in Italy is currently only manufacturing the jacket in either blue or black. Yeah. No thanks. I have the order cancelled.

This money is positively burning a hole in my pocket!!! And rightfully so, because if I hang onto it too long it ends up getting wasted on more responsible things like bills. No! Birthday money can’t be wasted like that, it’s just not proper.

I end up aimlessly clicking around the Interwebs and just so happen to come across the JenningsGP track schedule and amuse myself with finding a date that coincides with one of my Saturdays off; Mondays are cheap, but then Mr. Slow can’t come with me, and I don’t want to go by myself, not to a new track. While checking dates I remember that I had previously thought about taking the Ed Bargy Racing School there, because it would count as one of the two required race weekends to rid my Novice Racing License of that annoying PROVISIONAL tag. Construction Worker Orange is so going to clash with my leathers AND my bike. That’s just hideous! I can’t ride if I don’t feel coordinated. ;P As a matter of fact, I was planning on going to the Ed Bargy school in October of 2009, when it was still at Road Atlanta (I think it was Road Atlanta anyway), but they ended up canceling it, moved it to some track in Tennessee (if I remember correctly) and the rescheduled dates were all on days I had to work. Every single one of them! That’s how I lucked into getting to go to the Kevin Schwantz School the following June; hubby must have felt a twinge of compassion for my sorry ass and bought me a slot for my birthday last year.

Eureka! I now know what great cause my birthday cash was supposed to support all along. Hmmm… I could do a three-day track special for $50 less. I dismiss the thought. What I need right now is three days of unsupervised track time to grind in some more bad habits, like I did on the Hayabusa when I was left to my own devices and a stack of motorcycle riding skill books. It took Kevin Schwantz and his team of instructors to help me unlearn all those bad “Hayabusa Habits”. I have a proper supersport now, I might as well ride like I have one and look like I kind of know what I’m doing. Ed Bargy it is. Click. Click. Click. Ca-ching!

The next day I had to call the school and ask if I could get a $100 refund. I found out not five minutes after registering that I am eligible for the upgrade price since I graduated from the Schwantz School. I actually talked to the man himself. He sounded nice and made me feel at ease, he was very friendly and eager to help; he even answered a question I had about the WERA licensing rules, then issued my refund and told me to just bring in my certificate when I come in. Cool. It is confirmed! Wooohoooo! I jumped up and launched into a how-low-can-you-go, hip gyrating, arms waving little solo dance number to celebrate the occasion and got promptly caught by some dude looking through my window. I straightened myself, brushed my tousled hair out of my face, smiled and asked if I could be of assistance.

Now I better hit the gym, race prep the bike, finish my suspension tweaks, take it to get the 12K service performed which is hideously overdue, finish the safety wiring to bring it all up to WERA’s liking, study the track map, watch some sighting lap videos for both directions, since I don’t know whether they are going to run clockwise or counterclockwise that day, and re-read A Twist Of The Wrist. Hopefully I can break through this plateau I have hit in my skill development, gain some more confidence by having my riding evaluated (and maybe even validated), maybe even shave a few seconds off my game. Definitely need to do that. I know where most of them are hiding, too. I ride like granny drives her Oldsmobile. Do we really have to come to a complete stop before turn-in just so I can stomp on the gas again? I really don’t know why and what, but I can’t bring myself to go in deep, slam on the brakes, pound it down a gear or two and crank that puppy over. Shit, I’m already finished braking and completed downshifting before I even hit the “3” of the brake markers, then I realize I’m just tooling along (la-dee-da) and I have to get on the hammer again, just to make it worth my while to actually push on the bars. *shakes head* No wonder my knee sliders skim over the pavement only barely coaxing a kiss out of the asphalt. Of course, that in turn leads to exit speeds that are probably not quite optimal and way too early, since the bike sill has way too much lean angle. Not that it matters much at my average speeds… I only slide it a little… more or less, sometimes, here and there. I have to admit, though, that is quite the guilty pleasure when it happens. Gawd, I can be such a damn squid!!! It’s a kink and I need to correct it before it starts to matter because I’m starting to ask too much of my tires.

I have a little over a month to grow a set. Better get to work on my mental game to pull out the stoppers and reduce the length and improve the timing of my approach. If I can’t set my entry speed quicker and later, I might as well quit ripping on that dude in my KSS class. I got stuck behind him on several occasions and it was frustrating because I had to either brake really hard while mid-corner or go wide to offset myself so I wouldn’t stick my nose up his tailpipe. Sometimes I had to do both. I just about fell out laughing when he let loose with the following little gem during the after-session review, and I quote:

“I don’t like to haul ass in the straights. I don’t see the point. You just have to slow down again when you get to the end of it. As a matter of fact I don’t really like to go fast in the corners either…”

I just couldn’t help myself and piped up from where I was standing towards the back by an industrial strength fan that was almost as tall as me, cooling my sweaty ass (and arm pits) sipping on a bottle of water: “I noticed! I was right behind you! And I’m a Hayabusa girl, I happen to like speed.”

I want to get to the lower 1:30s, but I’m not going to make that a goal. I know myself, I’m going to fret over crap I need not worry about. Speed comes naturally with increased skill and improved application. Worry about being good, not being fast. Yeah. Mwah. I’ll try.

I can’t wait! I hope Mr. Slow gets his vacation day because I want him to be there with me and this time he better actually watch me ride my scrawny bum around the track. Not like he did at Barber, where he elected to be a no-show because it was “so unbearably hot”, but in reality it wasn’t the heat that got to him. He finally admitted after I graduated that he was too scared and he didn’t want to watch me wreck. Well… Thanks for the vote of confidence, buddy!

Saturday, February 19th, 2011 is the date. Jennings, Florida is the place. Just a little over a month… finally something to look forward to in this drab winter existence.

OMG! I’m so excited it took me almost four hours to write this thing… I can’t keep focused. I keep getting sidetracked, I keep thinking about what I need to do to the bike… holy crapola! Woooohoooo! I’m…. damn! Finally…. yeeeeeeeaaaaaahhhh! Somebody got a Valium?

*bouncy bouncy*