First 2Fast trackday…

A few words before Super Tired Schmi turns in. Today was one of those perfectly perfect days that I will remember for a long time. It was of course, the day I took off to go ride the SV at Pacific Raceways for a 2Fast Trackday. As far as turnout goes, it wasn’t quite the “unofficial MS trackday” we had hoped for because only four of the original people who had expressed interest actually signed up and showed up. The day itself was dull and rainy. But it was still fabulous in spite of everything.

There were sucky parts, like the obligatory waking up at 4:45AM, and riding to the track which is about 30 miles away (in the rain). Stopping on the way to get gas at the one gas station in Washington state that has trouble with filling motorcycle tanks did not help.

I managed to get to the track fairly early, before any of my co-workers showed up. I started pulling off the mirrors and prepping the bike when a hella cute guy came up to me and said that I could pit under his EZ-Up if I was there alone, since it was predicted to rain all day. I thanked him and said that I was waiting for my friends to show up and I was going to pit with them. A clear sign that Schmi’s brain was still asleep at that early hour. :P

When co-workers showed up, I chatted with them a bit (super nice guys!). Then finished prepping the bike – taping everything up, defusing the headlamp, taking off mirrors etc.; got through tech inspection and registration. There were about 28 riders in the Beginner group. I was number 47. We did a ridearound of the track in the 2Fast truck, which was VERY educational. Amazing how big and wide the track looks when you are going through it at 10mph. They gave us some info about what lines to take and where to be careful e.g. turn 7 is supposedly very dangerous in the wet (and boy was it wet out).

J. turned up around 9:00AM with EZ-up, chairs, water, cooler, tools etc. Bless him. :)

I find that I was quite enjoying riding the track now that I’ve gotten over my destructive attitude of cursing myself about everything I did wrong in every turn, rather than observing what I did wrong and improving it in the next lap, like Keith Code says to do (I owe a lot to that man).

Session 1 [9:45 AM]: Getting used to the track and warming up the tires. It seemed so rough, bumpy and shoddy compared to the gorgeous Willows Springs track I was on last month. I went pretty slow to get used to all the turns and familiarizing myself with everything. I was relaxed and loose and feeling good – in marked contrast to every trackday I have done until now.

I did brace myself a little going through Turn 9 for the first few laps though.

Lots of rain.

Session 2 [10:45 AM]: More of the same. Getting used to the track, and going cautiously into Turn 7 as instructed.

Lots of rain.

Session 3 [11:45 AM]: J. pointed out that I wasn’t getting the revs high enough and was in too tall a gear for all the turns he could see. I worked on this in this session and it was a bit distracting to look down at the tachometer so often. Kinda difficult to do that *and* figure out turnpoints at the same time. Got better though.

Misty rain.

*Lunch Break*

Session 4 [12:45 PM]: This was a bit of a sucky session. I was going okay until a control rider beckoned me to follow him. Is there a hand signal for “NO, I really don’t want to!!” No, I thought not. Anyway the next two laps I was stuck behind him showing me lines that I already kinda knew, except we did them super-slow at about 40mph. *rollsyes* I was a little bummed at the waste of time when I got back into the pits. Session right after lunch is never that good. I also felt a little bit ach-y.

Session 5 [1:45 PM]: This one was J.’s session (I owed it to him although I hated sitting out a session). He snuck out on the SV and put it through its paces. He was so stoked when he got back and was crowing about all the riders he passed and how crazy good the bike was (he used to roadrace a GS500 back in the day and apparently those didn’t handle quite as well as my bike does). He had even managed to scrape both footpegs really good. It was good to know that the SV could lean way over and ride like a dream if it had a competent rider on it. :P

Session 6 [2:45 PM]: One valuable tip J. gave me which really worked out well was to go into the busstop in 2nd and exit in 1st, and crank it up from there on. This worked really, really well, and I was redlining all the way through the straight (although the wind buffeted me quite a bit), went in through Turn 1 pretty good with no braking, brake d a bit for Turn 2 and shifted down, and rolled through it constantly, cranked it up to go up the hill and then down towards Turn 3, braked a little more and downshifted to go into Turns 3 and 4  (for once I didn’t blow them completely), revved all the way up the back straight, then straight line through Turns 5 and 6, a hard left at 7 and then uphill towards Turn 8 (this was the only part that wasn’t smooth as I felt like the bike “slowed down” going uphill), constant throttle roll through Turn 8, onto Turn 9 which I didn’t do   very well, eyes on the busstop, brake and shift down at busstop and back out onto the straight.

The next few laps were more of the same, and everything flowed together. J. timed me and said that I was consistently clocking in at 2:35. He said that I could be going a lot faster through both Turns 8 and 9 and the busstop and we strategized as to how.

Session 7 [3:45 PM]: This was the best one, of course. :) Everything just worked and my lap time improved to 2:24. No, it’s not as good as the lap record of 1:29, but not a bad beginning! :)

Session 8 [4:15 PM]: This one was a bonus 15 minutes for people who still wanted to go out. I jumped at the chance until I realized that it was a mixed session with Level 200. I was on such a good run that I really wanted to go out again at least for a couple of laps. People were passing me waaaay too close for comfort though, especially one marshal who zipped by with little over a foot between us, and another instructor who cut me off in the busstop (he later stopped by and apologized). Thankfully I recovered from that one although my right tire wobbled violently coming out of the turn (not sure why?). I also scared myself silly when I scraped the left footpeg in Turn 4 and felt the bike feel unstable. :P

I came in to the pits after those two laps. They weren’t stellar but then again I was sharing it with a bunch of maniacs and didn’t feel safe. :P

Overall it was a wonderful, satisfying day. No more demons. I didn’t break any lap records and didn’t hang off or drag a knee, but I was quite satisfied with how I did. I wish I had done more before lunchtime, and that things had come together sooner than they did, but there’s no point rushing these things. I didn’t use all the instruction from CSS School – I never quite memorized turn points, relying on the cones on the track instead, and I didn’t use reference points. Things I did use were wide view, body positioning, relaxing, and two step. My biggest breakthrough was learning to redline the bike and use it to its full potential, rather than being afraid of blowing the engine. I was also quite pleased that I was no longer afraid or nervous of the speed or of other riders on the track.

It’s crazy how very good, energetic and unstressed I felt. No soreness, no muscle ache, no mental fatigue, just a wicked grin thinking – “Hey, this is fun.” :)

Note: There were a few crashes during the day – most at Intermediate level, and one bad one in the Advanced one where they brought ambulances in to take the guy to the hospital. No crahes in my class though. Guess we n00bs were being way too cautious. :P

Onto some photos:

These are the ones of me on the track that J. managed to take while watching from the grandstand with my point and shoot. Brandon Bones’ pictures aren’t up yet on Studio 819, but he did take the majority of them early on in the day, so I don’t expect them to be that good in any case.

J.’s way of saying: “Relax, schmi!” :) The tape on the odometer was to mark off how high I needed to keep my revs.

Coming round Turn 9 to the bus stop. Yes, I could have been leaned over more.

Going through the new busstop.

Another one through the busstop. Whee, for once I’m happy about a blurry photo. :P

My gear is very bulky. :( Especially the jacket. I need to consider replacing it soon.

Scenes from the WMRRA races at Pacific Raceways…

It was a hot, sunny day – a perfect Sunday afternoon at the races. :)

I woke up a bit late which snowballed into getting to the track pretty late and up missing the first race. Stayed for most of the day, saw some old friends and familiar faces, met with the super-nice people at Acme Motowear, saw some some good racing and a couple of crashes, took some good photos, and overall had a good time. Going to the track is always a bit like coming home. Can’t wait for my trackday on 5/14.

The ride to and back from the track was bad and uncomfortable with the SV riding inexplicably rough. Ah well, can’t win ’em all, huh?



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Adrenaline Freaks 9/8/2006 trackday update

Finally time to write a post about my trackday on Friday in words, rather than just pictures. So this was my second track day, in a manner of speaking. I did ride at Pacific Raceways on July 27th as part of Mike Sullivan’s Women-Only Day, but that was more of a performance school+trackday, with a lot more coaching and one on one attention than I got this Friday.

It was organized by Adrenaline Freaks, and I only really booked it because my friend Liz had won a free trackday and picked that date. Until that moment, booking a day was something I continually postponed as it meant taking time off, and actually dealing with transporting my bike to the track on my own. As usual, fear of the unknown equated to constant procrastination. It’s a good thing I finally did decide on a day, because there is only one more day on the calendar (Oct 6th) before the Pacific Northwest rains and doom and gloom descend onto this lovely city.



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Adrenaline Freaks trackday pictures

Now those are tires to be proud of. :)



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Mike Sullivan’s Women-Only trackday

I attended Mike Sullivan’s Performance School‘s Women-Only event late last July and have held off on posting an update about it for various reasons. A small part of it is that I didn’t have the pictures from it, but they are finally up here, courtesy of .

OMGZ I have a racer’s eyes! I always wanted my eyes to look like that. :P

The rest:

My favorites:

The pictures are copyrighted and I need to pay to get the digital originals. I might wait until my trackday on Sep 8th to decide which pictures I want though. Still, these are brilliant images, and the very first ones I’ve had of me actually riding the bike, rather than posing on it. I always wondered what I looked like when I rode. :)

A brief list of the pros and cons of the event, in no particular order:


  • It was my first ever time on a race track and a great learning experience. It was oddly exhilerating to not have to switch on turn signals, look out for left-turning idiot drivers, dodge crazy traffic, but just ride, ride, ride on a safe enclosed circuit.
  • I got 1:1 instruction with one of the trainers, and got a lot of valuable feedback. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see one particular bad habit I had that was pointed out to me.
  • It was great to practically have the track to myself, seeing as there were only 26 riders out there – far less than a typical track day.
  • My riding style improved dramatically after this day.
  • I won some freebies! A $50 gift certificate to Skagitt PowerSports, and a 50% discount off of a rear tire from Seattle Cycle – pit I’d already broken the bank for brand new tires the week before. :|
  • I got to hang out with Wendy Leber – ranked 104 at WMRRA, and according to Mike – the fastest woman he’s seen on the track. I’d met her before and chatted, and she’s such a lovely person! It was also cool to have three brilliant female instructors.
  • I was sick the day before, and practically collapsing when I woke up at 5:30 that morning. I got my leathers on and made it to the race track on sheer willpower alone. Strangely enough, I felt perfectly fine at the track although I felt like I was holding back a little. I felt sick again an hour after I got back home in the evening. Guess someone was looking out for me that day – it would have broken my heart if I hadn’t been able to make this event.
  • The instructors said that I had very good, clean lines. :) They also said that it was great how I anticipated every turn and looked far into it. It was nice to get some compliments where I was beating myself up for being so abyssmal.
  • I have started studying Keith Code. I love Twist of Wrist 1 and am beginning to critically analyze my riding and mentally correcting myself. All the racers recommended TOW2 as they thought TOW1 was more “philosophical” than practical, but I like it a lot.


  • We were instructed to get to the track at 7:30 am, but we only got out there at about 10:00. We wrapped up at 4:00 PM with a one hour lunch break. I was rather disappointed at not having enough time on the track, and didn’t feel like I got my money’s worth. I would have given up the freebies and catered lunch for more track time. :|
  • I felt like such a squid. Some of the women on the track were so young and so fast that I cringed at how bad I was. This woman especially is someone to watch out for. You can see from the pictures how good she is. Do any of you feel this way on the track? The feeling that you got into this way too late and the young ‘uns have everything going for them? This was one of the few times in my life I felt like I was old. :|
  • I wish I had done a few trackdays before this school. My form was so bad and I never really pushed the limits of my bike. Part of this was the fear of wrecking my only bike – I think I really need to get an inexpensive race bike that I don’t mind crashing and losing for next season. The track was also unfamiliar to me, and I spent the major part of the day just learning it and getting used to it, rather than improving my riding abilities.
  • At the end of it, I still didn’t master shifting my weight on the bike, getting my butt off of it, sticking out my knee, or shift gears without using the clutch. I know it’s impossible to learn everything in one day, but I wish I had made some progress in each of these areas. I have however started working on the former while commuting to work everyday. I look like a right tool with leaning and shifting my weight while going 20mph on city streets, but it’s really the only place I can practice until my next trackday.
  • I know everyone goes through this, but I am still concerned about just trusting riders behind me to not collide into me and overtaking me safely. The instructors said that I need to get past this mental block and just concentrate on the road ahead and trust my fellow riders on the track. It’s hard for me to do though. I’m reminded of the last horrendous accident I heard about at the WMRRA novice races a couple of months ago, where there one of the riders lost control of his bike, flew up into the air and his motorcycle landed on another guy ahead of him, who had to be airlifted to the hospital. :| Scary shit.
  • I need to get in shape and really build up my core strength and endurance. I just know that it’s going to improve my riding.
  • I didn’t ride two-up with Mike Sullivan. I just couldn’t get past my mental block of never doing two-up with anyone, but I felt a little wistful when the other women who did it said that it was the scariest thing they had ever done, and they were that close to vomitting in their helmets. Maybe next time?
  • I think I hit 100mph, but I’m not completely sure as I was trying my best not to look at the speedometer. It was sobering to realize that while my bike was upto hitting 120+mph, me – the rider – was not.

In conclusion, I love the little motorcycling community. I really got a sense of that on this day, the same as I do when I attend WMRRA races. When I rode away from the track, I felt so empty – heading back to my normal life in my normal city seemed like such an anti-climax to the day.

I was hoping that I would be able to decide on this day as to whether I want to race next season, but I’m still not there yet. I don’t know if I’m able to spend that much money and time on something that could potentially get me killed. It’s not the getting killed part that I’m daunted by as much as the time and money bit though. Add to this my insecurities about my abilities although even this I could work on. I remember the first time I tried riding and how terribly bad I was, and how far I have come since. I know I can do this, and I know I can be good, but I am a little haunted by the thought of how good those other racers were – I don’t know if I have it in me to putting in the effort to get to that level. Perhaps I’ll settle for just doing trackdays regularly, rather than club racing. I’ll give myself some more time to decide. I have another trackday with Adrenaline Freaks coming up on Sep 8th. I’ll just concentrate on having a blast there, and let the decision-making rest until then.