Calling All Riders of All Skill Levels: I need your help!

Dear awesome regular readers and accidental acquaintances,

I am in the process of starting my new series of educational articles aimed at the beginning street motorcycle rider and those who are thinking about it, but aren’t sure if they should. I will be covering issues related to skill development, smart riding techniques, safety gear, and basic motorcycle maintenance.

This series will be different from what I’ve done so far. It will feature diverse media, such as videos, podcasts, and standard written articles with plenty of photos, as is appropriate for the subject being covered. I will publish weekly, every Friday morning, so you have the weekend to play on two wheels and put the new info to work, if you choose to do so.

I need your help, though. If you’ve been riding for a while and can think of something that you wish somebody had told you when you first started learning but didn’t because you never knew to ask the question in the first place, please let me know.

If you are a beginning rider, please email me your nagging question and I will work hard to answer it and also publish it in this series so others may benefit.

This is going to be fun! So, please help a chica out and email your questions, suggestions and ideas to missbusa@teampldracing.com.

Please also share this with your friends who ride or are thinking about learning to ride. The more people I can get involved helping me with ideas and asking questions the better this is going to be. 🙂

I want to thank all my readers for their help and want to let you know that I appreciate all the encouragement I have already gotten on this project.

Ride hard. Ride safe.
Em Alicia aka “Miss Busa”

P.S. You can also leave your ideas and questions in the comment section of this blog post, if you wish. 🙂


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.)


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!


An Acute Case Of The Rocket Crotch

Look at all this roadfaring seafood out here. It must be the Day of the Squid and I was a major participant. Didn’t plan on riding it like a jackass. I was on my way to work, on my day off no less, tooling down the road at speed limit +5, trying to get over being grumpy. This proved a wee bit difficult, however, since I decided to skip real sleep in favor of setting up for the switch back from nights to days. The one time I don’t do my usual thing, the one time I decide to just take a short nap and then get up to work on The Fat Lady so I’ll be nice and sleepy come 9PM… the ONE time… Murphy happens. Murphy. And his asinine law!

5 hours earlier:
My cell rings. It’s a coworker, asking if I could work for her since she was feeling ill and would rather find someone to cover her so she could convalesce. I am her last hope. Here I am, standing in the middle of what probably goes for about $2500 worth of plastics strewn all over my driveway, haven’t had any sleep to speak of, and now have approximately 4.5 hours before I have to badge in and work a 12-hour night. I tell her I don’t know if I can make it due to my present circumstance and that I have no clue how long this is going to take, since it’s my first attempt. She understands, but remains hopeful. I commute to work on my Hayabusa, so I have to get the thing back together before 4:30PM. No sleep for the weary.

I make it. I call her, to let her know and I’m out the door. I close in on the intersection that will dump me onto the ‘Hayabusa Speedway’ (officially known as US-278) with an expedient left turn, and to my delight the light is green, which is a rare occasion. Woohoo! I notice two sport bikes ahead of me in the right lane; they must have been already waiting at the red light. They are ahead of me, leaned into the two-lane turn. The boys are taking it like old coots. I smile. I’m in one of those moods. I get to the turn and I get my lean on and am ready to show them how you ride it like a girl. I’m accelerating out of the turn and pass them in the left lane and get in front of them. I’m back to going speed limit +5, the usual. They decide to pass and haul ass. Whatever, I don’t really care. I have to work on my damn day off. I’m still trying to get my spirits up, since being ticked off isn’t going to change anything, might as well be in a good mood.

A little while later I notice I’m catching up with them yet again. What in the world? I look down at my speedo; yup, still going 60. You have got to be kidding me. They’ve actually slowed down. Oh, well. Whatever floats your boat. I’m going around. Unlike some peeps, I have to be at work, on MY DAY OFF! Just for kicks, I speed up to [an undisclosed number on the dial] to get some distance between them and me and settle back into the less ticket worthy velocity of speed limit +5. Well, hell. They’re right behind me, although the following distance between the two has now increased significantly. Hmmm… Mr. FZ1 passes me and is gone. Hell with this. I’m in need of a little throttle therapy; maybe this’ll turn the frown upside down. I dial it in, don’t even bother to drop a gear, and quickly catch up with Mr. FZ1, but keep a safe distance, and the three of us (I am now in the middle) haul our combined asses up the road to the next red light.

Traffic is getting heavier once we pass Fort Gordon’s main gate, and it’s time for slicing and dicing. Each man (and woman) for him (or her)self. I don’t know how many cagers were pissed off during the making of this entry in the SquidlyPants Chronicles, but I’m sure there were three-digit numbers being dialed frantically on a few cell phones. Calling in a sighting. I pride myself on being able to read traffic patterns and the intentions of cagers around me fairly accurately and therefore stay out of trouble. Knowledge is power. And power is power. I make it to the aforementioned red light first. Ha! The Fat Lady digs this sort of thing and I’m starting to be pretty happy myself. Mr. FZ1 pulls up to the right of me at the line and I have to put it in neutral, flip up my visor and push the pause button on my iPod, because clearly he wants to chat. I turn to him and exclaim with a big grin: “That was fun!” He smiles and nods. “Nice bike.” I point at his silver Yamaha and reply: “Ditto to you.” The light changes and it’s off to the Redneck Races once again.

I stay behind Mr. FZ1 this time, because I just remembered a court date at an as of yet unknown future date and time. I pled not guilty to a High Performance Award and requested a bench trial. Probably wouldn’t look good if I got busted doing the ton while waiting on a court date for a previous infraction. Wouldn’t look good at all. This kind of curbs my enthusiasm, until I find myself on the I-520E ramp. Here we go again. Traffic is hopping this evening and moving along at a cozy 80 in a 55. I like it when the cagers have somewhere pressing to be and get their collective move on. Good, we’re not sticking out too much. Our friendly little race has turned into a high-powered PUG group ride and we’re now moving in unison through traffic. What a hoot! We catch up to another sport biker and now there are four of us.

I have to slow down. I can’t blend in and disappear when LEO decides to take written notice. I’m a chica on a white Hayabusa with a personalized tag. I have cat ears and a tail stuck to my helmet. They know where I live, which is why I could never run; they’ll just meet me at my house and add evasion to the laundry list of traffic violations and I’ll find myself bent over a squad car with my face smashed into the hood by a giant meaty palm and zip-ties around my wrists. No thanks. I slow down to the flow of traffic while getting into the right third of my lane and wave the dude behind me the OK to pass. He takes the opportunity and blows by me, I’m guessing at triplets. They take the next exit, we wave at each other, and I find myself behind the guy we caught up to earlier. He’s now also taking it easy, but we’re still moving about five mile per hour faster than traffic. He also disappears up the next off-ramp. I’m so lonely… oh so lonely. Traffic is light now; it usually is, once you get past this point and I slow down to 60 and cruise my grinning self the rest of the way to my unscheduled work.

I’m a squid! Still a little peeved at having to come in to work on my day off and pretty much ruining the weekend I could have had with hubby, since now we will be on opposing schedules. This falls under emotional riding, which consequently lead to an unwillingness to resist getting caught up in groupthink and turning into a giant squid. Where two or more are gathered in my name a race breaks out. In other words, get a few sport bikes together under favorable conditions and you’ll have mayhem in the streets.

Don’t be a squid.