Feeling It

It has been a very long time since I have posted anything. There's lots excuses why I haven't.
Let's just say I wasn't feeling it.

Starting where things went south. Last July 2nd I had a big crash at Sears Pt that left me with a shattered collarbone.
  Of course I did that the day before we were supposed to fly out to Mexico to attend the 75th Anniversary party of the La Altena distillery. There's was no way we were going to miss that so I postponed any surgery until after we got back. Link to Kate's blog regarding trip. I spent a few days laying in bed post surgery, and 6 weeks in a sling. That's how last season ended.

OK moving onto 2013. Since racing ended early last year I saved up some money to finally put into a motor this year, and make some other changes to the bike. Our first race was at Buttonwillow in March with the AFM. Our new motor wasn't ready in time for BW but that's OK because I sucked out loud, and a fast engine would only have made it worse. On that first race back I knew I wanted to just ride smooth, and find some pace and rhythm. I had done one other practice day at Buttonwillow, and felt comfortable on the bike. On the AFM Friday and Saturday I was riding decent, again starting to get back into form, and even getting close to my race pace from this track 2 years ago. I figured I was in pretty decent shape for racing on Sunday. I couldn't have been more wrong. When the green flag dropped I charged hard off the line, and then chickened out in the first corner, and let half the field go by me. I was so uncomfortable around the other riders. Every time someone would challenge me for a position I would let them by. It felt like everyone was trying to kill me. I went slower on Sunday than I did in practice. That's a first, and I've never felt so out of place on a race track since the first time I set wheel onto one 13 years ago.

The next opportunity was the AHRMA/AFM/AHRMA triple header. It was 3 race weekends in a 10 day period and it would crush me physically, mentally, and financially. Finally we got the new engine together and took it down to Willow Springs for the first AHRMA event. One of the things I wanted to accomplish was to get my head back in the game and what was needed was some more track time in a competitive environment. AHRMA is a good place to do that because the racers take themselves a little less seriously and nobody is going to murder you into a corner.
   I spent most of Friday missing practice with one little technical issue after another including a cut front tire when I ran over somebodies plastic number plate while braking for Turn 1. You don't see that very often. Saturday we did 2 races where I fought hard for a 4th place which was a huge disappoint. It wasn't like Buttonwillow disapointing. I raced hard, did good times, but there where some bigger bikes in my class with decent riders on them, and I just didn't have the pace for them. Maybe if I hadn't missed so much of Friday practice I could have stayed closer. However far more disappointing was blowing the new engine in the 2nd race. For some reason the engine was running lean, overheated, blew it's head gasket letting all the water out of the radiator, and it just got worse from there. Sunday we packed up and went home.
  Monday evening (after working a 10 hour day on a jobsite) out came the blown engine, back in went the old engine. Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening were spent swapping over bits and pieces like the slipper clutch, putting the exhaust on etc (again after 10 hours days on a jobsite) Thursday was a big show that we'd been working on all week, and after I got out of there (once RunDMC took the stage) I went home to load the truck. Friday morning I went up to Sears Pt to Race in another AHRMA event. To make matters even worse my racing partner Kate was out of town at a work conference (don't feel sorry for her it was in Hawaii) so I was alone in my efforts. You don't know how much you've come to depend on a person until they're not there.  Friday I get a couple of practices in and the old engine feels fine. We do 2 races and again I get 2 4th places. Some damn AFM fast guys showed up and kicked our ass. My times were OK, but still not at the pace I had run before. I was getting some confidence back, but I was still a little timid.
  Saturday was AFM practice and I was doing OK. Sunday more AFM races. Sears is my favorite track. It's hard. It makes you think, and rewards riders who can connect the dots. I've always gone well at Sears. With that said I had my hopes up for some good finishes on Sunday. Well once the green flag flew I was right back in my new old funk. I was timid, and had no confidence. I just wasn't having any fun.

10 days have gone by. I've driven a 1000 miles, participated in 3 race weekends, changed engines twice, had lots of disappointing finishes, I'm broke, broken, and wondering why am I doing all of this.

The next race was going to be at Thunderhill in June. T-hill is my least favorite track, and I was short on money, and seriously short on motivation. The new engine was really damaged, and needed a lot of work to get back into shape so I chose to take a work project over the weekend, and skipped the race. I needed a break from the track.

In the down time KC shoe horned a R6 radiator into the bike. (idea stolen from here). We got the engine redone, and back in. I even made some cool little air ducts to try to get some more fresh air into the engine
 and we were all ready to go Thunderhill on the 4th of July weekend. It wasn't until Sunday night I would realize that this was the 1 year anniversary of the crash that put a plate and 12 screws in my collarbone. I'm glad I didn't think about that.

Friday July 5th Kate and I leave not so bright but very early for the trek up to Thunderhill. Friday is a ZoomZoom trackday, not an official AFM practice, but many racers come on Friday so it's a good day to work on things, and not necessarily try to set your personal best laptimes. I had done one trackday at T-hill earlier in the year so I at least remember which way the track went, but it had been well over a year since I'd turned a wheel in anger here. I needed so many things. I needed to break in the new engine. I needed to find my way around the track at speed. I needed to get my head out of my ass. I can't tell you how's and why's of things that happen. I can only recount them as I recall them from my third person memory, but on Friday it finally "clicked" I'd been working on some suspension settings with friends, and sponsors Jim and Nikki from Catalyst Reaction. The motor felt good, and strong, and the bike was stable and controlled. I've been working on getting on the gas coming out of the corners. That has been a huge weakness of mine for many years. In the 4th session of the day 650 rival James Strauss #206 comes around me on the outside of 15 onto the front straight. A clean pass, but a little close for a practice day. Now the timid Mickey that has been riding like shit for the last 6 months would have flinched when he got passed, and been content to let James go. This time for no reason I can figure out I said to myself out loud "oh no you don't" and proceeded to spend 4 laps grinding it out to track him down, and pass him into Turn 1. To be fair James was not riding at full race pace, but he was not going slow. I did a 2:01 in that session. Not too far off my race times. I needed that. I was back in the game. I was being aggressive, and confident. I was taking small chances where I knew I needed to push, and gaining speed and confidence. OK maybe this racing thing isn't so bad after all.

When Saturday came around the paddock was full of AFM racers and vendors, although it was a dismal attendance of 130 riders which for our club is a very poor showing. I guess having races on a holiday weekend is not such a good idea. I knew I needed fresh brake pads, but when I took my old pads off I was stunned at their condition.
With the fresh new pads I had so much more stopping power I was sure I would drop some more time. That would not turn out to be the case. I ended up over braking, or braking too soon, and I did not gain any time. That's something I'll need to work on for next round. Saturday afternoon brought a whole new adventure to motorcycle racing. Formula 40. For those few readers who aren't local racers the Formula 40 class is any bike as long as the rider is over 40. AFM has so many F40 riders that it's broken into 3 classes Heavy, Medium, and Light, and I am in F40LW. The grid was fairly small, and I knew the competition, and I figured I stood a chance at a podium if I could get in front of some guys. I did well, and rode a good race, but I got tired and faded in the last couple of laps so I had to be content with 5th. Not too bad for an old guys first time.

Sunday races would be frighteningly similar. I got good starts. I fought hard and got myself up into 5th place, and stayed with the leaders for a lap, then settled into my pace. The leaders got away, and in the last couple of laps I'd get tired, and get passed. Everytime I got passed I could stay with the guys, but I didn't have it to try and get back past them. Below is some video from the second race which exemplifies the scenario.

So here we are a year after my big crash. I haven't been to the gym in months (and it showed) My left shoulder is weak, and I've gained 15 pounds. I need to get my act together, and get to the gym, lose some weight, and get my stamina up. 7th place is not good enough. It was good racing. It was good fun. I can't wait to do it again.

The body follows where the mind goes. Let's just say I'm starting to feel it.



Thanks to the people that help me go faster.

KC at BRG

Jennifer at Werkstatt Motorcycle Repair

Jim and Nikki of Catalyst Reaction

Jeff Viets of Bridgstone

Julio from Tommy's

Paul Fine of Fine Design







Checking In

It's been way to long since I've written anything. So here's a quick synopsis.

Between race 5 and race 6 Kate I went on a real vacation. Something I haven't done in a really long time. Kate wrote about it here. http://kateslair.blogspot.com/2011/08/kauai-or-bust_10.html
It was excellent, and much needed. We need to do that more often.


In August I did my last race of 2011. It was a wild weekend. I crashed on literally the last lap of practice on Friday afternoon. I was sure my bike was wrecked as it had been at the end of the 2010 season. In actuality it only had a bent rear brake lever, and broken wind screen. I fixed in 15 minutes and we were good for Saturday. The races were tight, and fun. I did well with some of my best finishes. It was a bummer though to end in August. Work would prevent me from getting to race anymore that year. I still finished 7th in both of my championships, and that isn't too bad for missing 2 races!

 The fall of 2011 had some crazy work adventures. First there was Oracle like normal, which isn't normal at all unless you work on Oracle in the Fall every year. Then there was a massive corporate party down in San Jose. 5 Semi's of lighting and rigging. That show looked awesome, but it was brutal getting it there. My buddies Tim, and Trevor worked on it with me along with Walter from Impact. It was silly, and almost fun.
I did a private event where J-Lo sang for 100 people. That was crazy wild. I was her LD for a day. Me and Walter had a very late night, and early morning trying to program 9 songs, along with trickster David Blaine, and violinist Han bin, and glass decor by artist Dale Chihuly, it was one of the most epic events I ever worked on. Did I mention it was for 100 people? It seemed like the work would never stop. We rolled right through Xmas, and into the new year where again I went to Vegas to work on CES for Paul Fine. Vegas is a strange place. I don't know how anybody lives there. After 11 days working at the convention center I wanted out! My booth looked great, and the clients were all happy so it was a good gig. I had about a week back at Impact where we did the pre-game, and half time show for the 49ers NFC Championship game. Another wild day of rain, mud, and crazy special effects. I partnered up with Michael Sturtz of Crucible fame to make some big fireballs as the players ran out onto the field. Then we almost crashed and burned for half time show as the rolling stage holding the lighting trees broke minutes before we went out onto the field. A huge thanks to the combined forces military service men and women who were standing by. They jumped in and helped us hand carry all the lighting gear onto the field. And then a few days later I bounced out to Hawaii again this time to do some work on the Pro-Bowl with my friends at E2k Sports. More crazy adventures ensued.

So here it is March of 2012, and since getting back from Hawaii I've been very focused on my pre-racing season prep. I'll get that written up in my next post hopefully in a few days time. I wanted to just get something small written, and out there. I need to do this writing thing more often, It's good for me. I think the little snippets of Facebook and Twitter are not very good at telling the story, and just make us even lazier about communcating with people.

AFM Round 5 - Leave nothing out there



In-between the rained out round 4 and round 5 I squeezed in a trackday at Thunderhill. It was some much needed time at that track but didn’t really give me much of a feel for the recent engine tuning we’d worked on prior to round 4. It had been a busy period at work (when isn’t it) and I was not very focused on racing until the day before having to pack up and head to the track.

One of the many great things about racing at Sears Point is how close it is to home. Getting up early Friday morning to head to the track isn’t much worse than getting up to go to work on a normal Friday. Once at the track I only partially set up my pit area knowing I’d have to make some adjustments once the AFM took over. Friday practice was a trackday put on by ZoomZoom not an AFM practice day. Recently I’ve been pitting with KC and his BRG trailer on Vendor row which has been a great experience, but we don’t get to fully set everything until all the vendors are in place. As a side note to that I have been working with Dave Wallis of the AFM on laying out the AFM paddocks. I’ve been volunteering my CAD skills to help get the vendor area sorted, and try to add a bit of polish to the look of the AFM. The AFM board is all elected volunteers, and not very many have much experience with events, although they have lots of history with setting up the races. So to them things like doing a floor plan is a big task, but for me it’s a few minutes of the day so I’ve been glad to help out. For whatever reason I have to always stick my nose in it.
My Plan for Friday was to slow things down a bit and try some new approaches to some of my weak spots. By not trying to go fast I could take a different line, or maybe brake later and get used to the new location, or feeling before trying it at full race pace. One area of particular attention was my entrance to Turn 6 “The Carousel” I had a decent line into the turn but I was always applying the brakes too soon, and I knew to get under the 1:50 mark I’d need to start digging deeper and pushing those boundaries a little further. By deliberately coming out of Turn 5 slower I could brake later entering turn 6 and teach myself that it was OK to start braking at the top of the hill, and slowly let off the brakes as I began the downhill left hand turn. I worked on this all day and slowly taught myself how to trail brake deep into the first apex. I wouldn’t really get to test this tactic at full pace until race day but by practicing where I would release the brake lever I was mentally much better prepared for when I would be pushing myself. The other thing I was mentally working on was opening the throttle sooner coming out of corners. Later on the brakes, and earlier getting on the gas is how to go faster around the track. I got 7 practice sessions in and was feeling good about Saturday which is AFM practice and when I would up the pace and start pushing the areas I was working on. I was struggling a little bit getting on the gas. The rear tire just wasn’t hooking up. I thought maybe the rear shock needed some tuning, but a close inspection of my rear tire showed that it was in fact roasted. I’m still trying to understand when these Michelin Power One tires are done. I’ve been changing the rear tire when I thought I needed to, but this tire I wanted to push to the limit. Well I wore the tire down to the point that it started delaminate. That is the outer rubber started separating from the carcass. That would explain the lack of traction, and the occasional slide. There wasn’t any rubber on the tire. Note to self:  When the tire starts to slide replace it. Kate joined me Friday night and we bbq’d some chicken she had prepped. We made fajita burritos, and was some damn good eating for camping bbq.

Saturday morning I put on a new to me front tire. My new track buddy Peter Fry had bought a new slick front tire to test at a trackday he’d done last month but since he runs in the Production classes he isn’t allowed to use the slicks, and gifted the tire to me. My budget was getting mighty thin so I was thankful for such a generous gift especially since my front tire had 10 days on it and was past do for changing. After my lesson with the rear tire I didn’t want to push it too far.  While I had the front wheel off I did a quick inspection of my brake pads. I’d been feeling some brake fade on longer runs and was suspicious the pads were getting thin. The thinner pad allows more heat to transfer into the caliper and heat up the brake fluid which allows the fluid to compress under pressure from the brake lever. I’m talking about compression that is fractions of a millimeter but this compression translates into less feel in the lever, and that feel is crucial to pushing the limits of the front tire while trail braking into a turn. I can’t complain. A set of the very expensive super stopping power Vesrah SRJL pads have lasted me a season and half. I skipped the first session to take the time to make sure everything was cleaned and assembled properly and the brakes were bled thoroughly with brand new super blue brake fluid. Yes even the brake fluid on my bike is blue! 


deburring the brake rotors
intense brake bleeding









                             



             Saturday practiced sucked. I was slotted into group 3 which is frustrating because many riders are on larger displacement bikes which can make a fast laptime only because they can motor away in the straight sections, but the smaller bikes like mine keep our speed up in the corners. I wasn’t able to practice any of the things I had been working on at full pace and wasn’t feeling full of confidence one practice was over.
                I quickly put that all behind me because I had a lot of work to do still for on this Saturday night would be a margarita bash. One of the great perks of having Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant as a sponsor is once a season we host a margarita party on Saturday night. Kate and I had to get the bike tech’d for Sunday’s races, make dinner, and set up for distributing hundreds of cocktails.  The cocktail bash was an absolute blast. It’s a great opportunity to do some local advertizing for the restaurant, the Tommy’s Margarita mix, and meet new people.  Kate took pictures with her new camera and fun was had by many. With much of the paddock well lubricated by delicious margaritas skillfully crafted by yours truly the stage was set for the debauchery to really begin. You see the pit right across from me was the Twisted Racing team and their sponsor Horny Toad BBQ Sauce. They had a very well put together fund raiser. $40 bought you a bbq, dinner and access to a strip show. Yes they had fully enclosed part of their pit area, set up a stripper pole with lasers, and smoke machines, and had a full on strip show. God bless their ingenuity. Why hadn’t anyone thought of that before? The music thumped, lasers flashed, and the men hooted and hollered as the girl worked her pole. The good times lasted until finally Barbara from race direction told everyone they had to wind it down and get to bed. Yes mom, I’ll put my stripper away and go to sleep. There was a great festive atmosphere in the paddock that night something we hadn’t seen at all this year. 

margarita time!




tire guys


               









        Sunday morning dawned clear and warm. It was time to get serious about racing.  Werstatt had sent a new employee to help in the paddock with any set up stuff we needed. Although Kate and I have developed a pretty good routine it’s always nice to have an extra hand around to help when things get hectic. I ran my one practice session and warmed up my bike and body. I don’t like to push really hard in the morning warm up, but I was trying to get into the right mindframe. During the riders meeting Barbara our race director stated that the AFM was a family place and we should all leave our strippers at home. The AFM has been around for over 50 years and I bet no one has ever said that before!

Race 1  (Race 2 on the schedule) Formula IV
   I had gone down to the hot pit to do some practice starts. The engine was feeling great after the new exhaust and tune from KC, and I wanted to see how that would affect the launching of the bike. My normal procedure is to rev the bike up to about 7k rpm were peak torque comes on, and just slightly engage the clutch until a little friction is felt, then when the green flag flys dumps the clutch and twist to full throttle. I tried that in the hot pit and just about flipped myself over. I don’t think I’ve ever pulled such a big wheelie for so long. OK I thought maybe I’d applied too much throttle too quickly so I tried it again with the same result. OK the new tune changed the power delivery and I needed to start in a lower RPM. I dropped down to 6k rpm and tried a couple of practice launches and they felt good.
   I had a great grid spot on the outside of Row 2. When the green flag flew I got a great launch and drove deep into the first row. I was determined not to chicken out as I had so many previous times, and when a challenger came up the inside on my left I kept the throttle pinned and rounded Turn 2 in 5th place. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold it forever but it was great to be so far forward. I stayed with the lead 4 almost the entire first lap, but I couldn’t hold onto  them and started falling back. My race strategy became not to makes mistakes and try to ride as smooth and fast as I could knowing that 5 or 6 guys were right behind me waiting for any opportunity. Something new for this race was Kate working the hot pit wall. Every lap she would come up to the edge and give me hand signals informing me of where my competition was behind me. Pretty much every lap her signals were  ”they’re up your ass”.  Towards the end of the race we started getting into the slower traffic of the dreaded Ninja 250’s. I did not do a good job of managing the traffic. I allowed #555 Scott Reavey  to get past me on the last lap because of yet another poor traffic decision. I had half a lap to get it back. I wasn’t close enough to try in turn 9 so I backed off a little into 9 so I could get a good drive out of 9 and try a braking maneuver into 11, and that worked great. I pulled up alongside Scott on the gas in T10 and I knew I had the line to out brake him. As I got on the brakes I saw the standing yellow flag in the apex of the turn. NOOOOO! Under the AFM rules there is no passing under any flag condition. I had to pull over and let Scott by. I finished a frustrated 7th. I had made poor choices which allowed me to be put in that place and I should have finished 6th, if not even 5th.

Race 2 650 Twins (Race 11 on the schedule)
   The race preceding my second race had been stopped twice do to crashes. Just as they were starting it for the 3rd time I could see the helicopter landing just across and up the hill from us. That’s a sickening sight. Someone had life threatening injuries and needed to get to the hospital immediately. As I write this I’m on a plane to Hawaii for a much overdo vacation. I could tell seeing that helicopter made Kate a little pensive. Like me she was worried I might get hurt, 2 days before going on our vacation. She watched me watch it, and was also worried I would let it get to me. I watched the helicopter take off hoping it was no one I knew, hoping I wasn’t going home in one either, and then I completely put it out of my mind. I put on my head phones, and practiced my start in my head.
Once again gridded on the second row and another great launch I charged up the hill in 5th place, but quickly lost a position into T3 to #206 James Strauch. Determined I charged hard out of T5, and got to put into practice the late braking into the Carousel I had been practicing on Friday. Back into 5th I once again tried to stay with the lead pack, but knew eventually I would lose them. On the following lap while beginning the second apex of the Carousel I had held too tight of a line trying to stay with those guys and found myself too far inside way too far leaned over, and I hit the series of ripples that exist there. My front wheel started to slide out from under me. At that point I was crashing. I could hear something scraping on the ground, but I stayed on the gas and as we crested the next ripple the front wheel came back to me, only to start to slide and scrape again as it fell away on the downside. Still holding the throttle open hoping I didn’t get run over by the bikes I knew were right behind me the front wheel came back to me as we crested the next ripple and again slid, and scraped as it dipped past the crest.  I can’t really explain how I saved that. I was crashing. Maybe a little skill, a little balls, and a whole lot of luck. I kept the throttle pinned expecting someone to pass me going into 7 but there was no one.  I lost a position to a visiting fast guy from another club, and had a hell of a dog fight with # 206 for a couple of laps, but I put a little gap after awhile. I lost another position to an exotic custom Ducati 649 which was damn fast.  I ended the race in 8th place feeling I had left nothing out there, and had gone as fast as I could. I never gave up even when I was on the verge of crashing.

I posted a best time of 1:49.6 almost a full second faster than my previous best from the last round. I would like to have dipped in the 48’s but I need to do some more work on my riding. The bike is still capable of more than I am. I haven’t found its limit yet. One limit I did find is me. I have been doing OK at getting to the gym, and when I was fighting for 15th place I think my fitness was good enough. Now that I’m consistently fighting for single digit finishes I’m getting tired, and making mistakes. It takes an amazing amount of physical effort, and mental focus to push a racing motorcycle to its physical limits. I need to step up my training if I’m going to get any faster.


Below is a series of photos from the 650 Twins race taken by amateur photographer Erich. They tell a great story of how my race went. Thanks for the pics Erich!










AFM Round 4 - It seemed like a good idea

Round 4 of the 2011 AFM season was going to be tough for me. Once again my bike made it's way to KC at BRG for some more tuning. KC and I had tested a set of Leo Vince headers in an attempt to find some more power, and KC had a plan to build a custom muffler to go on that set of headers and we'd be set. So the bike was yet again in KC's capable hands, and the plan was he'd trailer it up to the track for me. That seemed like a good idea. The problem was I had a work project that same weekend and I couldn't bail out on it. The plan was I'd load up all my race gear into my truck on Satruday, get home from work around 10pm, take a disco nap, and head out to Thunderhill Sunday morning around 4am. That seemed like a good idea too.

Well like the "The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often askew," What seemed like a good idea would quickly turn into the harsh reality of "what was I thinking" First off the weather at the track was looking suspicious and KC didn't want to spend $200 in fuel trailer my bike up there if we were going to get rained out. That left me with the idea that early Friday morning I'd go out to KC's shop, grab said race bike, take it to the job site, and then Saturday morning load it all up as planned. Yes, That's a god idea. Well Thursday night with my grand scheme laid out in front of me I made the decision to call the whole thing off. The work project was the wrap party for Pixar's Cars 2 movie, and we had a very short install time, and a fairly complex show. I've always told myself racing is just a hobby and sometimes life gets in the way. I chose to stay committed to my long time clients at E2k, and ensure that the show was as flawless as could be. In the end we did an amazing show with some pretty damn good lighting. Erin, E2k's choreographer, put together an awesome routine that was martial arts / hip-hop themed, along with some huge washes of red light, and some stark shafts of white cutting through it we had a pretty rad dance number. Unfortunately due to Pixar's strict photo policies (for good reason) I have nothing I can show you, but it did look cool.                  

Oh and the race got rained out. I feel sorry to my racing friends that made the trek only to sit around in the cold and wet. However it means I lost no points and will be starting from the second row at my favorite track next round at Sears Point (Infineon Raceway) Hopefully with my head down some good results will follow.

As a side note I went out to T-hill last weekend for a trackday test session. Several friends from the SFMC   were in attendance and it was a lot of fun. I hadn't been to T-hill since last October when I crashed big time so I was way out of form. It took me half the day to get a feel for the track, and it wasn't until my last session that I started to really feel fast. I can now say for sure if I'd shown up on Sunday morning race weekend and had 1 practice session I would have gotten my ass handed to me. Sometimes the world works in strange ways.

Here are some photos from the trackday.


Tipping it into Turn 11

One of my favorite Turn 14

Need a haircut or more hair?

Showing some speed in Turn 1

Getting low in Turn 2

Cary, Tegan, John, Me, four SFMC
John Sweeney returning to form after a long hiatus from the track















Thanks to the people that help me go faster.
KC at BRG
Jennifer at Werkstatt Motorcycle Repair
Dave Moss of Catalyst Reaction
Michelin and Alex of AFMotorsports
Julio from Tommy's
Paul Fine of Fine Design

Spotlight: Michelin Tires

In the coming months I'm going to be doing some more posts. In an effort to write more often I'll be posting what I'm calling "Sponsor Spotlights" These are going to be stories about the people that are helping me in the passion of motorcycle racing. Sponsors come in many types. Whether they offer financial support, a discount on products and services, or just their time, they are all a huge part of where I am today. These are in no particular order.  Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions about these vendors please feel free to contact them directly, or leave a comment with your contact info and I'll get back to you. -mickey


In 2011 I made the switch from Dunlop tires to Michelin. The main reason for the switch was that long time Dunlop Supplier Sport Tire Services was no long going to be representing brand D. Terry at STS was on of my first sponsors way back in 2005. He agreed to give myself, and then racing partner Eric a deal mostly based on our relationship to fellow SFMC member Jim Hoogerhyde. Terry and Jim went way back. It wasn't a big discount, but it was something. Over the years I got to know Terry, and really liked the guy so really I didn't have any loyalty to Dunlop, I had it to Terry. 

  Back at the start of 2010 Alex Florea of AFMotorsports had tempted me with some Michelin tires. He'd offered me a set to try out. "Just try them, if you don't like them give 'em back" Like the candy man, the first hit is free.I was afraid of giving up practice time to try out new tires so I never took him up on the offer, but it stuck in my mind. I'd known Alex mostly by reputation. He was a passionate member of the AFM community always speaking his mind, and swimming upstream with his ideas, but never afraid to go it alone. I didn't always agree with his views, but I had tremendous respect for someone willing to stand up for what they believed in. So when it was time to shop for new tires Alex was the first person I contacted. I had other options, and I'm sure I could have worked a deal with somebody, but Alex replied to my email almost immediately, and said I could be one of his sponsored riders, and sent me pricing breakdowns. You could say I've been a Michelin man ever since (I'd just better not end up looking like one)

  Since it took me so long to get my act together at the beginning of the 2011 racing season I didn't have any time to test tires prior to the first race weekend. At that time I had made the mental choice to not do anything any different. I'd just go ride, new tire be damned, and see what happened. Well the first weekend came and went without incident, and I discovered something amazing. Alex helped point this out to me. Tires are round and black. Go ride. I don't know why but I had built up in my head that something was going to be really different.

  I've now had lots of laps, a few hard races, and some experience. What I've learned about Michelin tires is that I really like them. It took working with both Dave (of Catalyst Reaction), and Alex to get the tires to wear better. At Buttonwillow I had bad tearing, as well as at the first Sears round. We made some big changes to the bike and that helped get the rear tire in much better shape. I find the that the Michelin's have a more pronounced feel. Not everyone would say that based on how their bike is set up, but to me I can "feel" the Michelin's better. They really talk to me. No not like voices in my head but I can feel in the handle bars what the tire needs. On my bike it comes in chatter and vibration. When I'm asking too much of the tire, whether it be too much lean angle, too fast (rarely), or too much throttle I'll get a vibration. What's great is the vibration will start small, and grow as the problem gets worse. So far I haven't crashed, but I contribute that to me reacting to the communicating the tire is doing. Push the front too hard in the Carousel at Sears Pt? Stand the bike up a little to reduce vibration, or add gas to reduce weight on the front tire. Rear tire starting to vibrate out of 7? Stay on the gas, and increase lean angle. So far it's been a great experience. I'm only just now developing the skill to understand what's happening down there.

After Race 2 at Round 3 my rear tire was starting to tear again. That's not a bad thing. I have a new motor that is making more power, and I' m pushing harder trying to find more speed. Tearing the tire is a sign that we're moving in the right direction: Faster. Now I need to work more with Dave and team to get the tearing to stop again. Find a setup that works, go faster, then the setup doesn't work anymore.



Thanks to the people that help me go faster.
KC at BRG
Jennifer at Werkstatt Motorcycle Repair
Dave Moss of Catalyst Reaction
Michelin and Alex of AFMotorsports
Julio from Tommy's
Paul Fine of Fine Design

Humbling - AFM round 3

Last weekend May 6-8 was the 3rd meeting of the 2011 racing season.
The race weekend started early with me dropping off my bike with  KC at BRG for the new motor to be broken in and tuned. We had finally finished the getting everything swapped over, and the new motor was ready for it's time on the dyno. I picked the bike up on Thursday before the race weekend. It had been thoroughly thrashed and finely tuned so there would be no problems once at the track. I had not been sleeping well this week. Something about the new motor and the expectations I had put on myself left me nervous, and I would wake up about 4am every morning unable to fall back asleep.

I showed up Friday to Sears Point for the Kiegwin's track day around 7am, and found my spot. I had helped Dave Wallis with the paddock layout map so I was very familiar with where all the vendors would be set up for the weekend. This round I would be pitting with KC, and his BRG trailer, both as part of the sponsorship, and to help with any issues that should arise from the new engine. My Friday practice was pretty uneventful. I took it really easy the first few sessions trying to get a feel for the new motor. It was a great feeling. The engine had a great harsh growl to it. KC had worked some magic on the stock motor and the compression was definitely up, and not only could you hear it, you could feel it when you stood behind the bike. The exhaust exiting the shorty muffler with a much higher velocity, and feeling like someone was slapping you in the face. Oh vroooom... Out on track the bike pulled hard out of the corners from 6000 rpm to 10k rpm, then it flattened it, and it was time to shift gears. It was faster for sure. I spent much of Friday trying to get my head around the new found speed. I was still trying to work on getting on the gas sooner coming out of the corners, and with the faster motor I was getting to the next corner more quickly. Now I had to figure out how to get into the corner with the same speed I had last month, but that's not such an easy thing. Friday night KC brought the trailer that is both hauler, home, and work shop when at the track. Kate came up and we got our little camp resettled, and we had a cold windy (again) dinner.


Saturday we only get 4 practice sessions, and I needed to pick up the pace. Again I tried being smooth getting off the brakes, and getting on the gas. There was a ton of traffic and I don't think I ever got a clean lap. I was lapping in the '52's which I thought was decent considering the slower riders I had to fight my way around. Mid day Jennifer from Werkstatt came by with some flyers she had made up to try and get some new customers into the shop. I was a little surprised to see that I was prominently featured on the cover of the flyer.
Advertising 






 


Back on track I was having a little issue when cracking the throttle open. The engine hesitated just a tiny bit, and bogged a little. KC plugged in his laptop to my bike, and made a change to the fuel map.
KC explaining what he's doing
He tried leaning out the fuel mixture a little in the lower RPM to see if that helped. I went out for some more laps to confirm it did not help. We plugged the laptop in and made some more changes which made the problem worse. More laptop and we went back to where we started.I spent a few moments trying to relax and clear my head then went out on track and did some warm up laps with the afternoon races. That little bit of focus really made a difference. I swear that one flying warm up lap was my fastest lap of the 2 days.


Me not buying it











Saturday night we hung out with some friends in the pits after we made our dinner, but it was just too windy and cold and we ended up hiding out in KC's trailer before heading to bed.






Iron Clad Balls
When we had a break at lunch Kate and I took the opportunity to share a joke we'd been working on for some time. Maybe some of my long term readers with remember the post Testicular Fortitude. Our Ducati racing friend Scott Miles had taught us that phrase, and for awhile Kate has been scheming a way to put it to good use. Well we decided that what we needed was some bottle TF. With the help of Kate's brother Mark, we came up with this.  Because what every racer needs is more balls.


More Balls required
I rode like ass in the Sunday morning warm up sessions. I knew I would need to find a mental breakthrough if I was going to stand a chance in the first race which was by the way the first race of the day so I didn't have much time.

Race 1 Forumla IV
I did a few practice starts in the hot pits to try to get a feel for the way the new motor would react. I lined up on the grid, made a plan, and focused on being ready. When the flag flew I got a great launch, but I totally chickened out after that. The buildup to the race weekend all caught up to me at that moment. Too much stress, not enough rest, and too much time in my own head left me lacking confidence and it showed going up the hill into turn 2. Whenever someone would show me a wheel I'd let them through. By the time we went through turn 5 I was probably in 12th, and had a 10-15  bike gap to the pack in front. I told myself not to worry, don't panic and do anything stupid. I had 8 laps to get it together, and they'd come back to me. That moment showed some real maturity. I guess after 8 years you do learn some things. As we got into the braking zone for turn 7 I made up half the distance, another half of that braking into 9, and right on their tails braking into 11. However the real excitement wouldn't come for another half of a lap. For whatever reason the AFM started the 250 Superbike class in front of us again. 250SB is mostly made up of 250cc Ninjas which are about 1/3 as fast as our bikes, and it took us  1 1/2 laps to catch them. The next 6 laps would be a game of traffic. Going into turn 10 I made a mistake judging where to pass one of the slower bikes, and I got hung up, and 3-4 bikes got by me. I shook my head and vowed that wouldn't happen again. In fact I told myself that as I chased down the bikes in front of me, if they passed a lapper I would too.  No matter how late I had to brake, no matter what line I had to take, I wasn't going to let them get away. I don't think I knocked anybody into the dirt but I know I made some scary close and tight passes while trying to keep my adversaries in site. My buddy Robin had made a great pass on me coming down the hill out of 8a, and I returned the favor going into T1. I honestly didn't mean to pass him there, but he got hung up by a slower rider so I forced the issue, and cut under both of them. It was frantic and scary diving bombing the Ninjette's. I really hope the AFM figures something out and puts the little bikes either in their own race or at least behind us. I ended up finishing 9th which was no where near where I wanted to be, but considering the carnage on track I was happy to finish at all.

In between races I tried to chill out and turn my focus inward. I needed to find some more confidence. I really needed to stop over thinking everything, and just ride. I put my head phones in and listened to some chill music transporting my mind away from racing motorcycles. At one point I looked up and saw KC's apprentice Billy cleaning the bugs off my bike. For some reason I couldn't look at him.

Race 2 650 Twins 
I was much more focused and looser this time around. When the green flag flew I got a good launch, and didn't chicken out, as much. I went through T2 in roughly 8th place. I tried to stay with the front group, but I just didn't have the pace. I put my head down, and tried to run clean laps and not make a bunch of mistakes.
At some point T2 had a debris flag flying, and I didn't see any debris so I stayed on my normal line, and when I gassed out of the turn my rear wheel started to come around. I don't know if there was something on the track or not, or if the terrible wind had caught me out, but I was definitely crashing,. Luckily I was falling to the right, and I pushed hard on my right knee and started to stand the bike up while staying on the gas. The rear wheel dug in, and we were off. Woo-Hoo. That was fun. On the last lap I was getting tired, and while trying to hold a tight defensive line through T4 I got on the gas too early and had a big slide which slowed me way down. I thought I was safe but going through T5 Scott Reavy #555 came through, and then nearly crashed trying to get slowed down into the T6 Carousel. I probably could have come back under him, and if we were fighting for a podium spot i would have, but I couldn't say for sure Scott knew  I was there and didn't want to end the weekend in the crash truck so I let him have it. I figured I'd take a shot at him either in T7 or T9 on the brakes but I wasn't close enough any of those times.

I ran a best time in the last race of 1:50.4. Tying my best time from last month. It seems like kind of a disappointment, but truth is with the wind being so bad I couldn't even shift into 6th gear going down the back straight I had to figure I would have done 49's easy. Some things were learned, and the bike will go back to BRG for some more tuning to try to get it to rev all the way to 11k rpm, and maybe pick up a couple more HP.

Why do I title this post Humbling? Because I felt so humbled to be so well taken care of. Whether it's Kate feeding me, taking the tire warmers off, of prepping the bed at night, or Jennifer making flyers for her shop with me on the cover, or KC tuning my bike at the track or his apprentice cleaning my bike up. There are so many people that have reached out to me this season and are helping in so many ways. Sponsors, friends, everyone. There have been so many people that I feel very humbled to be so well taken care of. Now lets pick up the pace a little and deserve some of that care.

Here's a few more pics from the weekend.

Gerry Piazza stops by
Explaining
Ugly Doll keeps an eye out

Frozen Ducky
Shiny Balls

WTF?





Leading the back pack



Thanks to the people that help me go faster.
KC at BRG
Jennifer at Werkstatt Motorcycle Repair
Dave Moss of Catalyst Reaction
Michelin and Alex of AFMotorsports
Julio from Tommy's
Paul Fine of Fine Design

AFM Round 2 at Sears Pt - A Ding Dong Battle!

When I first started watching racing back in the late 90's the very colorful announcers would refer when two riders were swapping positions back and forth as a "ding-dong battle" It made me laugh, and stuck in my head. This past Sunday it was very much a din-dong battle.

Before we get into the heat of the racing action let's take a look at what brought us to this weekend. I had every intention of  having a fresh hot rod engine in my bike for this round, but the best laid plans of mice and men did not allow that to come to fruition. It's my fault. I was supposed to pull the Web cams out of my current engine, and get them to KC at BRG, and I didn't do it with enough time to finish. I didn't want him to take any chances while trying to rush so instead we ran our same tired old engine, minus our high performance cam-shafts. So not only did we not have a new engine, we had a slower version to boot!

On Friday we practiced with Pacific Track Time, and got 7 sessions of much needed practice. My suspension tuner Dave Moss of Catalyst Reaction was there but wasn't allowed to work. The politics of track days are getting stupid. Come on people it's the Friday before a race weekend at least let Dave work with his sponsored riders. So Dave wasn't allowed to touch the bike, but by communicating through the old school format of talking I began making adjustments. As I said last month I'm using Michelin tires now, and the rear tire was tearing up badly. I'm using the C compound which is the hardest and should last me 2-3 days of track abuse, and I barely got a single day of my first tire at Buttonwillow. I ran a couple of sessions in the morning to get my head cleared, and then started in on Dave. We tried more spring pre-load, less spring pre-load, but the tire was still overheating. Dave then suggested we need to get some weight off of the rear of the bike. At his suggestion we added 2 full turns of ride height. Non-motorcycle folks, that's a lot. I ran a couple of sessions, and the tire started cleaning up. We continued to add ride height 1/3 turn at a time until we felt like the tire stopped overheating. Interestingly once it did stop overheating it began to tear up in another way. We both agreed it was a rebound tear, and made the choice to slow down the rebound by adding some clicks on the adjuster.  As Friday's track time came to an end the paddock livened up as more racers began pulling in to set up. Since most AFM racers are bay area based the Sears round usually has more participants, and none more than the first round. It was Friday night and the circus had definitely come to town. I tell you this circus might have 3 rings, but all the acts are filled with clowns. Friday night Kate drove up straight from work, and we settled in for a cold windy dinner before climbing into the back of the truck for a much needed rest.
 
We awoke Saturday morning to the bayying of sheep on the hillside, and generators starting up. There are few better places to wake up than at the race track. With the roust-abouts having set up all the tents the paddock was much more full than the previous track day. There are only 4 sessions of practice on Saturday and I needed to make the most of every lap. The tearing was better but could be improved. Sears Pt has some hard braking zones so front end feel is crucial, and  I was having a hard time getting the bike to turn in while trail braking so more work needed to be done. The morning session is almost a throw one because the track is a little damp from the overnight dew, and the sun hasn't warmed up the asphalt. The best thing to do in the morning is get some heat in the suspension, the bike, and yourself, and not try to win practice. I was feeling good about the track, even with all the traffic I had to fight my way through, but I was still struggling to get the bike turned in Turns 7, 9, 11 which are all the hard braking zones. We started by adding some front preload which also helped keep the forks from bottoming out on heaving braking. Still trying to clean up the rear tire we took some high speed compression out which also seemed to help. One little adjustment at a time all trying to make the bike more comfortable, more stable, more precise, and not wear out the tires. After the last session we made some more small changes, and called it a day. Kate and I watched some of the novice races, drank some beer, and caused general mayhem around the paddock. OK maybe Kate didn't cause any mayhem. That was probably me and my buddy Robin. Well fed, well beered we went to sleep early to try and rest up for the following day.

Sunday morning, and I put on a fresh tire I went out for my 1 and only practice session. I tried to push as hard as I could to test the few changes we made after our last session on Saturday afternoon. It felt like the bike had a chatter transitioning from 3 to 3a, and I thought maybe we had overdone the front pre-load so after the session was over Dave took 3/4 of turn out. A tiny adjustment but we're getting there. The rear tire looked great, but after one cool morning session it's hard to say for sure.

Race 1 Open Twins. I decided to run OT because I wanted a race before the lunch break as my main races were after lunch. OT is mainly for the big bikes but it's fun to go chasing motorcycles that make much more horsepower. At the start of the race I got a good launch and stayed with the main pack until we came out of the carousel, and that was pretty much it. They were gone. I ran around by myself for a while trying as hard as I could. That is exactly what the problem was. When you "try" hard is when you really start making mistakes. The harder you try usually the slower you go. I had counted all the 650's in the grid, and the really fast guys were gone so I decided to stop trying so hard, relax, focus on hitting my marks and make the most of the race by being smooth and improving my laptimes. Then Fredrik went by me. "Where the hell did he come from" I screamed in my helmet. When I looked around on the grid I didn't not see Fredrik, another 650 racer. Now it was game on. Fredrik, myself, and Bill Brown riding a Ducatti 749 had a 3 way battle for 2 laps. Fredrik and myself would make brave passes on the brakes, or through creative lines and Bill would motor us on the straightaway.  It was excellent racing. Fredrik and I kept trying to find ways to put Bill in the middle in hopes of screwing up the other guy. Poor Bill got to be a rolling chicane. It was damn fun, even though Fredrik motored by me on the straight to take the position it was great. I'm really glad I did that race. I made some bad mistakes and really needed to get my head out of my ass for the afternoon.

Race 2 650 Twins My case of cerebral rectum-itis cured I got a great start made a few passes (mostly on Robin hehe) and rolled around by myself for 7 laps. It wasn't a boring race though. I kept it interesting by losing focus, running wide, overbraking and generally  trying to take myself out. I got tired, had no one to chase, and lost focus. All bad things. The worst part of the race was that Robin crashed out at the bottom of the Carousel, and luckily wasn't hurt. My next race started in about 30 minutes, and I needed to get some energy in my body quickly. When your body needs a short burst of energy what's the best thing for it? Sugar. I began scouring the paddock for a can of Redbull. I'm not a big fan of energy drinks because I think they are overloaded with sugar and caffeine that we just don't need in our daily lives. But if there was ever a time I needed some wings this was it. Again fortune smiled on my as Scott Reavey another 650 racer pitted right next to me had one to spare.

Race 3 Formula IV. Another great start. I was focused, determined, and wired. I quickly made my way through the people I knew I could pass, and lost touch with the people I wish I could race with. That left me and Evan #898. We spent 6 laps fighting each other tooth and nail. Inside pass, outside pass, on the brakes, on the gas even as we got into the back markers of the wave that started behind us we kept at it. Once again I felt bad for the poor guys and girls riding the 250 ninjas. There was no way I was letting Evan get away so if he passed a back marker so did I, and a couple of times I came so close to one of those little green bikes I thought I heard them scream as I went by. I talked to some other racers who were behind us, and they thought for sure Evan, and I were going to take each other out, but I never felt I was out of control. On the edge pushing the limit, yes, but not out of control. In the end Evan got a better drive out of 11 and beat me, but not without me giving it everything I had. It was a ding-dong battle from flag to flag.

I ended the weekend with a 7th in 650 Twins, an 8th in Formula IV, my best finishes ever, and a personal best lap record of 1:50.4. The rear tire is almost perfectly smooth even after 3 hard races. Next month we'll have the new engine sharply tuned by KC at BRG Let's see if 1:49 or better is possible.


New banner for long time sponsor 
I don't know what I just said to Scott to cause this face palm


Always better to be the sittor rather than the sittee
















Thanks to the people that help me go faster.

Jennifer at Werkstatt Motorcycle Repair
Dave Moss of Catalyst Reaction
Michelin and Alex of AFMotorsports
Julio from Tommy's
Paul Fine of Fine Design

AFM Round 1 2011

What a crazy build up to round 1. It all started way back in October when I crashed and did some serious damage to my race bike. In December I came across a good deal on a theft recovery Kawasaki EX650. I decided to buy it with the idea of turning it into a production race bike. Lots of people had suggested I should race production, instead of the Formula classes. For my non racing readers the Formula classes allow unlimited modifications to the motorcycle as long as it stays in it's displacement category which for me is 650cc, while the Production classes severely limit modifications to make it cheaper racing. The idea being that it's a more even playing field. Since I've never been able to afford a rocket ship engine it made sense. So I pushed this bike around my garage for a couple of months before I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to race production. Even though it made sense, and really would be in my best interest I just didn't want to race such a limpy wimpy bike. I like fiddling with my bike. I like looking for ways to make it better. I like being a bit of a David up against a field of Goliaths. So with about 30 days before the first round I made the decision to fix up the old crashed race bike, and get thee to Buttonwillow. First the bike went to Gerry Piazza to straighten out whatever had been bent, and the list was not short. Both inner and outer fork tubes on both forks were bent, as well as both wheels, the upper and lower triple clamps, and the front axle. When it was done I picked the bike up and took it to KC at BRG to have a new sub-frame made, mine looking like a crushed aluminum can. Once I got the bike home off came the forks and shock to get refreshed by my long time sponsors Dave Moss of Catalyst Reaction. When I had the bike reassembled I began the dance of fitting the new freshly painted bodywork (Thanks to all the contributed). I have to say if anyone is considering getting into racing I highly recommend buying a used prepped race bike, and not building one from scratch just to avoid the lengthy and annoying process of trying to fit race bodywork. Getting all the last minute parts ordered and delivered to me in time goes to the credit of Gina at Werkstatt, who fit my urgent parts requests into her busy schedule, including adding new dealerships just so I could get a special part I wanted. As a typical racer I put the finishing touches on the bike the afternoon it was to be loaded onto the truck. When my trusty racing partner Kate got home from work off we went to the fabulous resort of Buttonwillow Raceway Park.

Here's a pic of the new sub-frame all mounted up, and waiting for the bodywork


Here's the bike all freshly painted, and ready to race


Friday morning was busier than normal. I needed fresh tires as I was switching tire vendors this year. That's a big change for me as I have been riding on Dunlops for 6 seasons. Alex Florea representing Michelin had courted me last year, but I was nervous about switching and Terry from Sport Tire had always given me a deal and taken care of me, but when things changed at Dunlop and Terry wouldn't be doing tires anymore it was time to give Michelin a try. Tires fitted, warmers on, and suited up it was time to hit the track for the first time in 6 months. I spent the first couple of sessions trying to recover from Cerebral Rectumitis, otherwise known as getting my head out of my ass. I was trying to remember which way the track went, what gear to be in, even how to sit on the damn bike. In the afternoon I finally started to get my rhythm back and feel like I knew what I was doing. I was still desperately slow, but at least I knew where to go, and what I wanted to do. Friday night kinda sucked. Usually the race paddock is a vibrant place filled with colorful characters eating, drinking, and making merry, but on this Friday the place was eerily silent as a storm was approaching. Many, like myself, had packed up their pit spaces tight and found shelter in motor homes, backs of pick up trucks, or hotels. Kate and I spent a lovely evening with my parents who had brought their camping trailer. It was nice and warm, and cozy in there.

Saturday morning we arose to a cool overcast day. The weather forecast was not good, and I wanted to get as much track time as possible in case of the eventual cancellation. After a few more sessions I was starting to feel like a racer again. At lunch Barbara, the race director, made the announcement that we would  be running select races on Saturday afternoon because the weather forecast for Sunday was so bleak. This was unusual and a bold move something different for the AFM. I would get both of my races on Saturday. This news energized the paddock like nothing else. Where there was before a sort of lull that went along with the cool overcast sky was now replaced with the frantic race preparations as people had to quickly decided what their afternoon strategy would be. This news caught many off guard. Tires had to be swapped, fuel tanks filled, and so on. I was very glad to have made the choice to practice on Saturday as some had not, and would no be racing with only the warm up lap to get their heads around racing.

Race 1 650 Twins. I was gridded in an excellent position on the 2nd row, and I had a good plan on where I wanted to put my bike when the flag flew. I executed that plan flawlessly driving even with the front runners as we left the line. Then my plan failed. Racing is about pushing the limit. It's about finding your comfort zone, and going past it. That's why we race. As we got close to turn 1 I grabbed the brakes at the point I felt comfortable, and about 8 guys went past me. That's what 6 months off the bike does. Cursing at myself I knew I had my work cut out for me if I was going to have at least a respectable finish. I knew I would be strong on the back section so I allowed myself to just relax knowing they would come back to me. Over a couple of laps I made some passes on the outside of Riverside trying to be brave on the throttle, setting up for an inside pass on the brakes into Lost Hills. I think I was running as high as 8th when I tried a pass in Sunset. I had the pass, but the rider took either a brave, or stupid move and completely sawed off my front wheel forcing me to tighten up my line, and stand the bike up. I hit the dip on the inside of the corner and that bounced me off track. Next time I'm going to hold my line, and bounce him off track, but again lacking seat time there was no confidence for a move like that. Out into the dirt I went, but unlike normal Buttonwillow the dirt was nice and firm, and I easily got the bike under control, turned and while still in the dirt back on the gas. I took a long look over my left shoulder and merged back on the track determined to make up a place or two. I managed to make up 1 spot and finish a disappointing although fun and exciting 10th.

FIV I was gridded a little further back, and when I entered T1 there was a waving yellow flag so I slowed up a little and several riders went past. Naughty Naughty riders, no passing under any flag conditions. I made note of the riders with the intention of protesting them at the end of the race, but it didn't matter because as we rounded Riverside #211 Everett "Ducky Fresh" lost the front end in a dramatic fashion crashing big time bike tumbling through the air. I was 2 bikes back, with Dave Sapsis in front of me. Dave stood his bike up and ran wide trying to miss Ducky. I think if Dave had held his line like I did he might have not gotten caught up in Ducky's crash. As we came around the final corner the black flag came out, and we all pulled off track. When the race restarted I was determined not to blow the start again, and I managed to suck a little less, but still far from spectacular. This race was a lot less fun. The 250 super bike race which is made up of little 250cc ninja 250's started in front of us, and it took us all of the first lap to get into them. So my race became a game of who was willing to take the biggest chance, and stuff the most Ninjette's at a time. At first I was bound and determined to stay with my competitors using the little 250's as rolling berms. I can tell you some of those guys and girls could smell my BO I passed them so close. I lost a couple of spots because I just wasn't willing to torpedo someone. At one point I had a great battle with Evan #898 with him coming out on top. This Time.

We packed up said out goodbyes on Saturday night, and began the long wet drive back to SF. It was great to be back on the race track. 6 months is too long to stay away from some of the weirdest, and greatest people on the planet. Motorcycle Racers.


Thanks to the people that help me go faster.

Jennifer at Werkstatt Motorcycle Repair
Dave Moss of Catalyst Reaction
Michelin and Alex of AFMotorsports
Julio from Tommy's
Paul Fine of Fine Design


Beware. Ugly dolls are wathcing