It’s Tool Time!

I’m patiently waiting on the Man in Brown to show up on my doorstep to drop off a load of (highly specialized) tools, so I can get this front suspension pain in my arse taken care of once and for all.

What did I actually put on the track at Road A? Let’s just say that I was way too trusting of a bike that my hubby had acquired for me from a dude who is a mechanic by trade and the bike in question had also been set up and raced by a local racing team.

I’m not complaining, mind you. As far as I am concerned hubby got a great deal on the R1. The added up cost of the performance upgrades alone would have set us back as much as we paid for the bike itself. I’m speaking retail cost here. When you’re sponsored you could find yourself getting these things for free. I’m sure both parties came out of this deal smiling. I know I did, and Skinny Dude with Similar Spring Rate even cut me a break and knocked another five bills off of it. But it goes to show that even though I had checked the bike over to the best of my ability, with the mechanical knowledge that I had gained thus far, some things do not become obvious until you put the beast on the track and give it as much hell as you dare. I did. At the last race of the season. Yes, the finals. I went testing at the Grand Nationals and then still entered the actual race (there are some freakishly fast dudes in A Superstock); knowing it was a really bad idea, but when did that sort of thing ever stop me? But that is a different story for a different time. Maybe I’m going to tell it someday… when I’m completely over the public humiliation I received that weekend, and deservedly so.

Candy's Fork(ed) Leg

But I digress.

Finding a rolled up piece of shop towel shoved in between the outer dust seal, the inner oil seal and the ring clip that holds the seal assembly in place was the last straw. (Somebody sneaking some leaky fork seals through Tech?) The last straw in a long line of other straws that made me say WTF!?! out loud. Every one of these straws presented me with the awesome opportunity to research and add yet another tiny increase to my MotoMech Skill. I need to develop an eye for these things, I’m starting to, but I’ve got a long way to go. Vic Fasola took one quick glance at my bike and muttered something along the lines of my suspension setup being totally fooked and my grips being a few degrees off from each other! Holy hell, I measured those clip-ons as best I could with my digital calipers, which isn’t the right tool for that job anyway. They looked even to me, hell they felt even when I was riding the bike.

Later disassembly of the front forks revealed that the preload between the two legs was differing by several millimeters between right and left, the compression damping differed by 25 clicks. Absolutely nothing was right about the front suspension setup. Not geometry, damping, preload, relative positioning, or fastening torques. Nothing. Those tubes were slid so far up the triple tree that they were in danger of giving you a nose bleed when in the race tuck. A twitchy proposition to say the least. And to facilitate this extreme lack of straight line stability it was necessary to have the upper triple tree clamp half on the skinny part and half on the fat part of the fork tube. I snapped off both pinch bolts on the right side in an attempt to loosen them. I wonder how close they were to snapping when the bike was on the race track? I don’t even want to think about that. I managed to release the left-side bolts without a snap, by backing them out alternatively a few turns at a time. The bolts showed signs of fatigue. They were bent and the threads were unevenly stretched.

No wonder the bike felt weird in the front and kind of strange in the back. No wonder I was as slow as a blob of molasses hanging out in a fridge. The bike was talking to me. I didn’t understand all this feedback I was getting through the chassis. I am slowly learning, but my lackadaisical attitude, a conditioned response to balance perfectionistic tendencies with and adventuresome spontaneity into a more sensible approach, sometimes gets in the way and slow natural progression.

I get in my own way. There. I’ve said it. I’m a brainiac klutz. Leave me to my own devices with too much time to think and too much room for self-doubt, and I’ll stumble over my own two feet and land on the mental equivalent of my JLo ass. But I own my solutions and failures. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have to own something to trust in it. I have to test a theory and be able to reproduce the promised results on my own to fully believe it. I don’t follow blindly, unless the source has repeatedly proven itself, and even then I can’t help but feel the gnaw of insecurity. I like my variables to be assigned beforehand. I like the equation’s result to be known. But this is the real world… and constants aren’t much fun anyway.

In the end I have nobody to blame but myself; which is the preferable scenario to me. When the blame falls squarely on my shoulders I can spare myself the annoyance of being upset with someone else.

I should have done the research beforehand, educated myself on the things I was unclear on or was ignorant of and check all fasteners. Set the suspension up for myself instead of trusting “it must be right, because the guy is my height and approximately my weight and he raced it.”

However, too much theoretical knowledge without any real world experience makes my head hurt, it gets me frustrated by information overload and I end up winging it half of the time for lack of patience, time constraints, not having the proper tools, or simply by saying: “Ah, screw this, it’ll be alright.” After all, I don’t want to wrench. I want to ride!

I own it or am owned by it.

Sometimes I do find myself getting a little jealous of some of my friends who can call upon the experience of trusted others to help them along their way. I do most everything myself, and I fall down a lot. Occasionally, this gets a little old and I feel like quitting. Fortunately, I have Mr. Slow to kick me square in the leather pants when I start uttering such nonsense as wanting to quit racing because it’s such a pain in the ass in between. Hubby is EXTREMELY supportive of my racing endeavors. He is my rock. His is the hand that reaches out to help me up. He is the one who puts up with all my girly insecurities and the shit I dish out when I’m stressing, smiles and says: “I don’t care how slow you think you are, baby. I still am damned proud of you for getting out there. You are doing it. You just need to do it more. That’s all.”

He’s right. I know that on an intellectual level. Sometimes it is just hard to hold on to that emotionally when you’re down, but not out. I wish he could also be a master mechanic and a pro racer instead of just playing the role of my psychologist. 😉

My stuff is here, I’ve got to go!

17 days until race day.


Mr. Slow Knows What This Girl Needs

Mr. Slow surprised me a few days ago with an announcement that just made my day. No, that is not entirely true. So far it has made my week. I have been floating around about an inch off the ground ever since. Happily elated and in a shamefully good mood.

I’m not a romantic person. I find romance awkward. It seems so staged. Performed. Fake. The initiation sequence of the scoring program. Just add alcohol. I find these moments of the heart in everyday life, no candlelight dinner and moonlit walk on the beach required. One such happenstance is when hubby snuggled up to me in the middle of the night and informed me, sandwiched in between two unrelated sentences of our late night half-whispered conversation, that he was going to watch his baby race.

“I have Friday off,” he pauses, then adds: “and Sunday,”

He then told me that I should do a track day on Sunday. After spending a few days tossing the idea around, I quieted the responsible adult voice in my head that insisted on not spending any more money, but rather start paying off a loan or two early; and with that I went online and reserved myself a slot in the intermediate group.

We are making a weekend of it. I asked Joe if he isn’t going to get bored hanging around a race track for two days. He simply replied: “I have my photography.”

I have been trying to get to a track for over four months now. I considered throwing myself off an overpass if I didn’t get any real throttle therapy pretty soon. Every time it looked as though I could make it, something happened that prevented me from going. I am finally getting close to getting my much needed fix to feed the addiction and cure the winter blues and ease the withdrawal symptoms.

I need to bring an extra set of tires. Definitely.

I have a surprise for him, too. But I won’t tell him until we’re at the gate paying our fee to get in. If I can manage and keep my excited little blabber mouth shut for another week.


Express Euroself Ovally ~ A Message To The ‘We Ride’ Girls

First off, the design is not mine. The winged biker chica with her silk scarf flying, riding what looks to be some vintage goodness with comfy highway pegs is DianeT’s design. Diane is one of the core group of ladies at the We Ride women’s motorcycle forum. I blogged about how I came to host the board not too long ago. I just added the wording and tweaked it into “oval sticker” format.

We Ride Sponsor Sticker Design

A heartfelt thank you goes out to my girls of the We Ride women's motorcycle forum. You ladies are the best. 🙂 I will be honored to show my colors when I go out there making a fool of myself. 😉

I wanted to give something back to the ladies who are supporting me in my desire to race motorcycles. They cheer me on, support me, and pick me up off my sorry ass when I fall. They, as my husband, won’t take no for an answer. They let me rant and rave. They are an awesome group of ladies who all have something to give, in their own way, to the motorcycling community. They make me proud to call myself a biker chick.

I will slap this baby on my S1000RR as is proper for a racer to do with her sponsor stickers and hope that I won’t disappoint.

This one’s for you!


We’ve finally found a home!

We have finally found a home. The long-planned replacement board for the Her-Motorcycle forum refugees is live at http://forum.weridemoto.com. If you know what I’m talking about, you’re one of the gang and you need to go over there and sign up or I’ll open up a can of whoop-ass. 😉 I promise there will be no lost posts, no testosterone fuelled show of admin powers abused, no conincidental deletion of posts, no man who doesn’t even ride running the show. Just us chicas and our two-wheeled passion. Oh, and the DB won’t get lost, I promise. I do my backups. =D Oh, and this thing’s gonna stay up, no matter how slow it gets… I used my bonus I got at work to pay this crap well in advance and I will continue to do so because that is how I roll.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about and are a woman who rides (no matter which seat your butt’s parked on, no matter how long you’ve ridden or what you choose to straddle to go on your two-wheeled adventures) and are looking for a decent women riders forum, come check it out, be part of the gang who started it all.

The Phoenix will arise from the ashes. And so it shall be.

We Ride v2.0

The board is up and running, but the site is far from done. The walls are up, but we need to decorate. 🙂