CVMA 2014 Winter Series Round 7 Race Report
May 7, 2014
I gave it everything I had: blood, sweat, tears, and buckets of money. I had nothing left at the end but a couple top-5 finishes and a top-10 finish in my classes, as well as 31st overall in the club. I can say this though -- it was worth every 800mg ibuprofen.
This last episode of racing with the Chuckwalla Valley Motorcycle Association started with so much promise; Andy and Omar at AP MotoArts built me a fire breathing monster to defend my position in the Formula Twins Championship. I held 3rd going into this Round and fought to the bitter end to hold fast. I did not go quietly…I raged.
In Friday’s practice, whilst trying to learn the new monster with its slipper clutch and torque in excess of 55ft-lbs, I high-sided myself into oblivion. I re-injured my right collarbone which I had dislocated at Buttonwillow late last year, and cracked a few ribs. The bike landed top down, crushing the tank and scuffing the beautiful paint job that MCPro and 5ZERO4 had crafted for me.
Andy and Omar were able to cobble the bike back together when I mustered the strength to ask for another chance. There was apprehension throughout the paddock when Scott Fabbro made the announcement over the PA as I rolled out for practice. I felt that I had come this far and I wouldn’t let it go while I still had some fight left in me.
As Andy said over dinner Sunday night, “It wasn’t a bad choice, it was a painful, expensive choice, but never bad.”
I practiced through the pain and managed to qualify with a 2:06. Nowhere near my race pace nor the pace that would be required to hold the championship, but when Formula Twins started, I was able to pick up a position on the start and the pain was muted by the task at hand. I managed to find some speed, and pull down a 2:02, and getting faster each lap, before the bike inexplicably cut out.
I could only think it was the gas, as there was little time between Qualifying and the Riders Meeting. So I tried and was able to restart her outside of the bowl. I wanted nothing more than to limp her across the Start/Finish to at least get a point; to claim that I finished what I started, but it was only the 4th lap. I crossed Start/Finish under the white flag, and she let go finally in Turn 4.
Convinced it was just out of gas, I had Matt, the love of my life and CVMA #312, help me gas her up. Andy came over to assist and we ended up pouring gas all over. It would turn out that there was plenty of gas, but the motor had given out under the beastliness of the power that she made coupled with the impact of the crash, and being oil starved while running on it’s side.
This concluded the weekend for me. I found comfort in knowing that I did not relent and I am genuinely happy with 5th place in the class championships in both the Formula Twins and Femmewalla Classes as well as 8th place in Formula2.
I am very proud of the BigHeadz crew who brought home three number plates this series, including Bill McCoy’s #1, Joanna Bitter’s #4, and John Reynold’s #6. I am very proud of Matt for being #1 in all of the Amateur 250 classes. I am very proud of the bike that Andy and Omar Built me. And finally, I am not ashamed to admit that I am happy with myself for not giving up while the glimmer still existed for my own championship opportunity. It’s been a hell of a year, which has seen many great strides in my ability to refine the craft of racing motorcycles as well as the soul-search that still continues.
A year ago I set a personal best of a 2:03.675. I entered this season with the goal of finding 3 seconds to be able to claim the coveted achievement of a “2-Flat at Chuckwalla.” After significant changes to the suspension over the summer and training with Jason Pridmore and Andy Palmer, Round 1 yielded a 2:01.746. It set the tone for what would be a great year.
I would ultimately get down to a 1:58.577 on a built motor making 82HP and a 1:59.668 on a stock motor making about 70. I came into my own this year. I owe everything to my BigHeadz Racing teammates and sponsors; Torco Fuels and Lubricants, AP MotoArts, OC Superbike, Woodcraft-CFM, Racer’s Edge Pirelli, ACT Racing, Impact Safe-T Armour and Snug Harbor Motorsports.
I look forward to next year which I know to bring additional gains in consistency and smoothness. I know that there will be battles with some of the front runners like Stephen Ludwig (#22), John Reynolds (#619) and Kalvin Kwong (#624)…and maybe make it difficult on Jozef (#911) and Christian (#69) too!
See you in September!
Sofia "TheFlyingNun327" Amadio
Sofia Amadio's photo shoot
CVMA #327 Round 6 Report
Mar 31, 2014
Practicing for Round 6 was a little more exciting than typical. Friday's practice almost ended early due to another failure of my power-plant. The motor that Andy at AP MotoArts had built me as a stop-gap until the summer break (when we planned on building something more permanent) gave up its ghost. Andy had created me a monster. It was built with spare parts off the shelf and came with the disclaimer that it would not last… While it did, it made ridiculous power and made me the "Girl-On-Fire" on race starts. Fortunately, I already had a spare delivered to Andy, and we were able to swap it out during the Trackdaz event. Andy and Omar did a fantastic job getting me running again. Sadly though, I would be racing this weekend on a bone stock motor; from 82 HP running race gas to something more in the neighborhood of 72.
I also had a high-speed, close encounter with a member of the Fox Motorsports team. Exiting Turn 6, I saw the rider ahead put his hand up, which I interpreted as intention to exit so I stayed in the gas and set up for an outside pass. Needless to say, I was surprised when he drifted out to meet me on the race line with his hand up. A hard lesson I learned over the winter break made me realize that my closing speed was much too high to try to brake for him and that my best bet was to stay in the gas and make contact. I side-swiped him at over 70 on my brake side. Having my Woodcraft hand guards saved me from a certain over-the-bars-crash and trip to the hospital. Both of us remained upright. It would turn out that his clutch lever had actually come apart and he was in neutral and he intended on crossing the track (and the race line) to wait for the crash-truck in the infield. As a Public Service Announcement, if you ever find yourself without power and on the inside of a turn, hold it tight, and run off the inside of the turn. Do not cross a hot track…you never know who might be barreling their way down on you.
The races, in contrast, were spectacularly fun. Stephen Ludwig (#22) was also on a stock motor and we set out to battle each other. Stephen was definitely better at getting his machine off the line, I even wheelied a couple starts, although not as bad as my team mate, John Reynolds (#619), who nearly put himself in the dirt. He was not only able to save it, but was able to catch me in Formula Twins. Despite Stephen's excellent ability to beat me to Turn One, I was able to get around him in both of Saturday's Twins races but our fun was cut short when he started experiencing transmission issues and opted out of Sunday's races.
I was also able to meet and race against Sam Weis (#145) of LWTRacer.com who rented one of Andy's Blue-n-Gold APMotoArts bikes. Sam's starts were fantastic and it would take me a bit to be able to put a move on him, but Tommy Woodbury (#598) takes the cake on impeccable lines and being hard to pass! I also got to spend some time on the track with my friend Niccole Cox (#725) in Sunday's Femmewalla Race.
In Saturday's Femmewalla, we were actually released with the Modern Vintage Lightweight race, gridded in front of us. This was a special treat because I was able to race with my teammate, John, and Trackdaz Staffer and former CVMA Race Director, Richard "Cowboy" Stamp (#31). Cowboy was seriously injured in a street crash while commuting to work. He was out of commission when I found a lot of my speed and I found it downright fantastic to be on track and dicing with him!
Results this round, I finished in 7th (Saturday) and 5th (Sunday) in Formula Twins, 7th and 5th in Formula 2, and 2nd and 3rd in Femmewalla. Overall, I remain tentatively in 3rd in the Formula Twins Championship, although I do not expect to hold this place as there is an evil Ducati manned by a former competitor, whom will no doubt overtake me in the final round of CVMA on April 19th & 20th. I am still in 6th overall in Formula 2, behind John by 11 pts with Stephen nipping at my high heels, just 12 pts behind.
Finally and especially, I am looking forward to Round 7 as I will be sporting a new paint scheme for the series closer. I have chosen to adopt an adaptation of the Blue and Gold reflecting the profound level of support that I receive from AP MotoArts because Andy and Omar have made sure that I have started every race this season. Looking back over the series, I only failed to finish once, and that was on me, but I was able to race the Formula 2 and Formula Twins races immediately after I crashed out of that one race, thanks solely to Andy and Omar. In addition to the mechanical support, Andy has provided coaching both regarding race craft and how to commune with myself through racing. It is through this coaching, and my relationships throughout the paddock, that I have extended my inner peace. Although I am very much still a work in progress, I am grateful!
#327 CVMA 2014 Round 5 — Control Departed
Feb 28, 2014
In this episode of #theFlyingNun327, CVMA February 2014 Round 5 was spectacular. I have no other word for it. After a tough holiday off-season involving crashes, a broken motor and more gossip than 9th grade Study Hall, I just needed to find my center. I needed to get back to the reason I loved Road Racing in the first place… the problem is, I never named it or even characterized it… it was always something that disappeared if spoken of in more than a whisper.
The thing about racing is this… I have no control over how the weekend will go; that having any semblance of control over it ruins the experience. I was consumed, not long ago, by the desire to influence the flow of the weekend. I worried about points and championships. I worried about what other people were doing to their bikes. I worried about my fitness, injuries and abilities (all things too late to be of concern). All that it achieved was a necrotic hell in which nothing was realistically achievable.
After this weekend, I discovered that I can thrive on control-departed.
I seek out a challenge because I don’t know what the outcome will be; That’s the point. It’s the uncertainty of it all that I find most exhilarating. This race weekend, I entered with a No-Fawks-Given attitude. I released the need to control the things I couldn’t and once again opened myself to the experience of putting it all out there and seeing where the chips fall.
I have found myself to be literally aroused by the act of overcoming the adversity. It’s a hard thing to explain, but this much I know… Finding the serenity to be in the present, Knowing what’s done is done, and what will be will be, allowed me to fully experience a fundamental peace among the stress.
A little back story here; I had introduced a ritualized release of emotional burden that I have found actually changes my mindset and allows me to “be here, now.” The Cremation of Care Ceremony was a shot in the dark a couple rounds back, and not only was it a moment where we all got to be pyros for a little bit, but it reunited us in the human condition; experiencing life and choosing to give our inner skeptic a voice to commune with in order to find a moment of self-agreement.
It worked so well that entering this round I had nothing specific to release, however, I had been left with an inexplicable anxiety. I ended up decorating this round’s effigy, another paper mache skull which we would respectfully burn, with affirmations regarding acceptance of fear. The act of writing things like “Courage is a peculiar kind of fear.” –Charles Kennedy and “To fight fear, act.” –David Joseph Schwartz attuned me, enabling the part of me that needed to be in control to see the fear of control-departed as acceptable and even empowering.
My biggest takeaway is that racing is a microcosm of life. There really isn’t anything of life that we truly have control over… and that “Your problem isn’t your problem; Your problem is your attitude about your problem.” –Captain Jack Sparrow
So, Race results: A broken PR; now 1:58.577 in qualifying which put me in the second row of Formula 2, Front row in both Formula Twins and Femmewalla. In both Formula 2 races, I stole the holeshot from the second row. Finally and most importantly, I had Buckets of fun.
Formula 2 was exciting because all I wanted from this weekend was to improve my Turn 1 standings; historically I am timid on the start and work myself into my aggression. I had no expectation of getting the holeshot, especially considering I was coming from the second row, but in front of me were the 250 2-strokes… and being gridded 4th put me on the ideal line for Turn 1, which I capitalized on. In Saturday’s race, I was SO excited to get my first holeshot, I immediately let 4 bikes passed me in Turn 3. I managed to get lots of clear track that race and was able to crank out lots of consistent laps which is another area that needed work. I have been inconsistent and depended on other riders to tow me through the course to get under the 2 minute mark in my lap times… this was a chance for me to exercise my own lines, and I was pleased with the result! My laps were all within a half second and were close to 2-Flats.
Formula Twins was a little more challenging, despite being gridded in the middle of the front row, thanks to a tow I received from Kalvin Kwong (#624) in qualifying, I could only manage 2nd behind him. I had a hard time holding onto the front pack on Saturday, finishing 6th, but Sunday I came out with a 4th after dicing with my team mate John Reynolds (#619) for the last two laps and passing my close friend Stephen Ludwig on the #22 AP MotoArt’s bike in the last turn on the last lap.
Femmewalla was a “Pick-up race” after I was able to practice with Patricia Fernandez (#804T) in the morning. Having missed my chance to race another AMA Racer, Melissa Paris (#13x), I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to grid up with a Pro. I qualified front row, next to Patricia and team mate JoAnna Bitter (#9 on pole) which was victory enough. I actually got a really strong start and might have gotten the hole shot if not for starting in the second of a two-wave start, 5 rows back from Start/Finish. This gave the powerhouse of Jo’s R6 to reclaim the ground that I had made on the start, but still left me in second at turn 1. I was able to hold off Patricia for half of the first lap until she could get a better drive to come around me on the back straight. I hung onto her as long as I could, trying to learn as much as I could (with my 1:59′s compared to her 1:57s) before finishing the race in a distant 3rd.
I am really excited about my bike, which is running great thanks to the hard work of AP MotoArt’s Andy Palmer and Omar “El Mechanic-O” who busted-butt this weekend. I was experiencing a power delivery issue which turned out to be a vapor locked gas tank. Torco has also stepped up with extending my sponsorship to Race Fuels as well as the Race Lubricants. OC SuperBike and Woodcraft-CFM have been helping me out all along with parts and of course my Protective gear keeps me racing despite my infernal attraction to asphalt; Thank you ACT Racing, Impact Armor and Snug Harbor Motorsports for keeping me in the game! And of course, thank you Dale & Thomas at Racer’s Edge Performance for keeping me shod with the Stickiest tires on the grid, the Pirelli SC1 Diablo SuperCorsa.
I am also very proud of my team, BigHeadz Racing for an amazing Turnout! JoAnna Killed it in Femmewalla as well as her other races! Her husband, Bill McCoy (#20) is also killing it in all of his races, too, and is positioned to make a run at the #1 plate! Fellow Twins Racer John Reynolds (#619) gave me a hell-of-a-run in our races. But most of all, Matt Cavarlez (#312), the Love of My Life, with whom I share this amazing passion; He took 2nd in 250 Supersport after running a bar-bangin’ race against my former competitor Shane Liberty (#114). I am SO PROUD and luckier still!
How I spent the off-season: Suspension Suspension Suspension!
I dropped a grip of cash at Race Tech this summer... I had the geometry set, the forks re-valved, and a new G3S shock built for me. I had a three-day track-day weekend before the end of the Season at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway to test the shock and then a couple weeks ago I was able to go to Buttonwillow to test the front-end. I had some issues with it, so my rep actually came to my home and we re-sprung the bike in the garage. He will also be coming out to the first SoCalTrackdays event in September to help me dial it in for the season.
It has been much too long since I have written a race report, and for that I humbly apologize. I missed the last round of CVMA 2013 because the financials just did not work out. My man and I moved (we upgraded the apartment to get a better garage -- I have my priorities straight!), but it required overlapping leases for a month which basically works out to my race budget for the month of May. I have been able to get in some track time, but the expense of racing was just too much.
I have been able to work on a lot of skills, including SoCalTrackdays the first weekend of May at Chuckwalla, followed by learning a new race track at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch during Memorial Day weekend. Additionally, I was able to attend Trackdaz's last event before summer at Chuckwalla. I was able to work through adapting to a two tooth change in my rear sprocket with more than 20 practice race starts. I also spent a little time turning my own knobs; yeah, I just said that. But dialing my own suspension to feel the differences in compression, wide-open versus full-closed, and trying to balance bottoming out the forks against front end feel and to develop a vocabulary to use when talking to suspension experts.
Poor planning on my part left me without tires for a three day weekend with Trackdaz, which I was able to attend. As a result, this past weekend I was able to cross compare my trusted Michelin PowerCups B-compounds provided by Podium Tire against Pirelli's Diablo SuperCorsa SP1s from Racer's Edge. Long story short, I find both tires are confidence inspiring. The handling characteristics, however, are very different. For instance, the PowerCups provide constant grip for 50-60 laps before they start to begin to slip as a prelude to further total loss of traction. This is in contrast to the Diablos, which tend to predictably spin up throughout the life of the tire. The benefits of this was described to me as though it were an Olympic runner whose feet are never solidly gripping the ground but rather constantly skimming it; while the tire is not "fully hooked up", it is still accelerating the bike. I have to admit that this was unnerving the first time I left a darky coming out of Turn 10 going clockwise, but I adapted to it quickly. As I previously mentioned, both are confidence inspiring, but I have a lot of history with Michelin; Gabe at Podium Tire has supported me continuously through the adversity this season and he has my business.
On the way home from Chuckwalla Sunday night we dropped in at Racetech in Corona, CA. I left my bike there to get some work done to the front end so that it will match the sexy G3S Shock that is on the back. While it is there, Terry Diedrerichs will also be putting the bike up on the Racetech MegaMAX geometry analysis rig, to give me a warm fuzzy that when I looped my bike I didn't bend anything and will also give me a baseline for how the bike is currently set up. I want to thank Christie Gunter at Racetech for being available despite my slipping schedule in order to receive the bike last night.
I am also looking at getting a fresh set of ACT Racing Leathers, designed around a full set of Impact Safe-T Armor for this new season. Impact is setting me up with a Back Protector to match my Chest Protector as well as a set of their new Hip Protection inserts. It is a shame that I did not have those Hip Protectors when I failed my launch in Round 4, as it would have prevented a hematoma as large as my hand. I also want to thank Snug Harbor Motorsports for their ongoing support with the PUMA 1000v3 boots. I appreciate all the help with replacement parts!
Finally, I am looking forward to working with AP MotorArts in the near future. I have had the pleasure of a half day of one-on-one coaching. The relationship between BigHeadz and AP MotorArts has been described as "Team-Adjacent" which I find quite rewarding. I have long standing ties with AP MotorArts' riders going back to my very first couple track days where I met Al Garcia #83 and then Stephen Ludwig #22. Probably the most notable feature of AP, is the eagerness of all its members, but most notably Andy Palmer himself, to enhance the safety of the sport through skill, and understand as well as promote it as fun environment for self improvement. As El Mechanic "O" would say, "It's all in the Chi, Bro." To punctuate AP's Commitment to safety and fun, I was able to help AP's riders to guide a new racer, Katelynn Heffernan, through getting her Race License! Congrats to her on not only getting her license, but also learning Chuckwalla in both directions from scratch and doing consistent 2:17s in the mock race! Way to Go!
The CVMA 2013-2014 Winter Series is going to be spectacular. I can't wait!
I am faced with the challenge of telling the tale of the most epic race weekend of my career. I am compelled to make it artistic, as it flowed like it had been scripted for TV. I am torn between starting the telling in the middle like the movie Memento, or from the beginning like something off the History channel. Such decisions!
Meh, it's not dramatic enough to start in the middle; lets flip it all around and start with the 'thank yous' and shout-outs!
First and foremost for the weekend: Gabe Smith of Podium Tire. You are such an amazing tireman and friend. Thank you for the constant encouragement throughout this enTIRE season (kill me later for the pun). After the two close encounters with the pavement this season, you have done nothing but build me back up and keep me looking to my lap time goals. Thank you for rewarding my PR of 2:04 in qualifying and challenging me with the 2:03s, which I achieved in BOTH Femmewalla races. I only wish I could have reached that stretch goal of the 2:02, but I ran out of gas in Femmewalla on Sunday after a hot lap at 2:03.675, my current career best at Chuckwalla; I owe it to you...and Michelin, but more you. Speaking of... I am running the PowerCups on my Formula SV650; 120 V-profile Front on the GSX-R front rim and a 180 rear pinched on the Honda F3 5" rear rim... I am VERY happy with this configuration. A lot of people have advised against it, but with a few geometry changes, it works perfectly well and is confidence inspiring. My last set of tires lasted well over 70 laps on the rear and upwards of 130 laps on the front; and the front still has life!
BigHeadz Racing: I swear we have the best pit in the paddock. I know that everyone thinks their pit is the best, but here we are, 8 racers competing in 12 classes (if I counted correctly) and can not only keep things civil, but be there to support each other for our respective races. Doug, I am sorry your bike failed you this weekend, but I really appreciate the bomb chorizo and eggs you made for Sunday breakfast! Special thanks, also, to Mike Weiss, Levar Taylor and Richard Reynolds who came out to support us even though they weren't competing. And to the Easter Bunnies that left us treats on our bikes; you know who you are. Thank you!
GirlClutch Racing: I cannot begin to express my appreciation for the epic battles with Jen (#70), Christin (#61) and Issey (#150) throughout this series; but Jen, this weekend was particularly exciting. Sunday's Femmewalla was spectacular. Swapping places while doing 2:05s is fantastic and I had a blast! I am so excited to be racing with you girls!
Andy Palmer, Stephan Ludwig, Al Garcia, and the rest of the APMotorArts Pit, thank you for the encouragement! Pittman, it's okay that I got around you in Formula2 on Saturday, I got around John on Sunday also, so don't feel too bad that you "got beat by a girl"...you are in really good company! Both were great races and I am really excited to have my first Expert Podium (3rd) in a non-sportsman class! Special thanks to Stephen Ludwig (#22) for your antics on Sunday, if you asked me, your plan worked perfectly!! I am also really excited to be able to compete with a close competitor from my amateur days---David Martin (#60)!
Mamma & Pappa Walla, Rene, Skyler, Lilly and the rest of the CVMA Staff: thank you for putting on a smooth weekend! My bike worked perfectly (while it was fueled) thanks to Torco, OCSuperBike, MoPower, Woodcraft, Bazzaz, MotionPro and Robert Glaze of CaliPhotography took some bangin' pictures!
Finally, SRA Sidecar...Leon: thank you SO much for lending Matt and me your ZX10 based 800lb Gorilla sidecar racer called "The Woodie". Holy crap, what an experience. The whole SRA Grid was supportive and generous with their time and instruction! We had so much fun racing and I am sad that we didn't get to finish per the mechanical that we experienced in Turn 4, but what a ride! That's something that Matt and I will never forget! We hope to see you at future events and we will definitely operate it again, if you need a driver/monkey team!
In every race I botched my starts... but I didn't loop them like last round. I know what caused my moon-shot in Round 5, and it was not the clutch or the throttle but rather my body position. I analyzed the video and discovered that I incorrectly positioned myself in an attempt to shift my weight bias over the front. I actually unweighted the rear and the leverage I was putting on the front was at a mechanical disadvantage compared to the leverage of the bike. That said, I am still overcompensating with the clutch out of...respect.
Femmewalla was my first race both days...and my fastest races as well! Both days I put down 2:03s in Femmewalla after breaking away from Jen (#70) late in each race. Chasing Jen was a special pleasure for me, as she has the most perfect start. She has gotten the hole shot in nearly every race where I have girded with her. Her form is immaculate and I am envious of how far through each turn she looks! My only saving grace is that I am later and harder on the brakes and it helped me get past her in turns 9, 14 and 16 but she would get me on the exit of 10! Sunday's race ended early for me when I ran out of gas. I was "that guy". I took the bike out into the runoff, parallel to the back straight, laughing like a hyena for the error.
In Formula2, I surprised a few people. Teammate John Reynold (#619) and Pittman Wallace (#40) both fell prey to circumstance, as it were. I managed to get around Nick Furst (#284) nearly in the dirt on the back straight and Pittman in turn 3, but Sunday, I was still running well with consistent 2:04s, and with some rather fortunate head wind at the exit of Turn 10, I was able to draft and pass John going into turn 11.
SRA SideCar was a hoot. We actually went faster in practice before the motor started to misbehave. We ran practice 2 and the race on 2 of 4 cylinders and on the 4th lap, after stalling it on the start, I lost all power and parked it in the dirt at the exit of Turn 4. The SRA pit is full of great racers and some of those men and women are crazy fast! I managed to loft my boyfriend Matt Cavarlez (#312) while "flying the chair" in turn 9 and broke the rear loose in Turns 6 and 16. This opportunity is something I will definitely be telling stories about for the rest of my life! Special thanks again to Leon, for letting us have a throw with "the Woodie!"
On the way home I told Matt "Weekends like this definitely justify the risk of Hospitalization"...and that's a FACT. As James Dean once said, "Dream like you will live forever. Live as if you will die today." See you at the races!
#327 Consolidated March Session Report 17 Mar 2013
After my tragically spectacular performance at CVMA Round 5, I have
made a concerted effort to get my head in the game. I spoke with
several of my racer teammates and friends about everything, from how
to start to just getting comfortable on the bike. I had a lot of good
takeaways and I am sure this is another one of those hard lessons from
the school of hard knocks which I'll never forget and will be a better
racer for it. I know that these lessons won't make me faster, per se,
but better starts should help my standings.
I have done two different track events this month in preparation for
CVMA Round 6… our second to last of the first annual Winter Series of
CVMA. My regular attendance at SoCal Track Days is always a place for
me to lick my wounds and group. The SoCal Staff is my extended family
and BigHeadz Racing is a huge part of SoCal's operation. Being a part
of the well oiled machine that is SoCal Track Days brings me great
comfort and we always have a good time. We started the weekend,
keeping warm with a few sips of Fireball Whiskey around the fire pit
on Friday night where we rehashed my 12 o'clock knack-knack down the
front straight and detailed the "Corner Worker Strike" taking place at
Pahrump's Spring Mountain race facility. BigHeadz will be traveling
there for a change of scenery and indulge in some extracurricular and
vehicular activities. Good times will be had by---well---me at least!
I was able to put down some consistent 2:07s and the occasional 2:06
lap times Saturday morning, and identify problem areas where I wanted
to focus my attention. I am always concerned with my entry into the
bowl, as that is where I crashed in round 3. This round will be going
Clockwise, which is my preferred direction since the entry to the bowl
flows better. I also like the exit of 10 into the back straight where
I can typically set up a good drive out. I had hoped to work on turn 3
also, but the bike started to give me feedback which caused me to
nearly throw in the towel Sunday afternoon. I worked with Randy of
InHouse Suspension and was able to tune out some of the rear sliding I
was feeling but picked up some front end chatter. I did manage to hook
up with friend and fellow Femmewalla racer Lea Cutshall, and we got to
put down some laps together which was great fun.
This Friday passed I was also able to squeeze in the Southbay Trackday
at Chuckwalla. As a paying customer with no responsibilities besides
attending the riders meeting, I was able to actually commune with my
bike. It was nice being the fastest in A group for a change…at least
for the first few sessions before the Nittos could break from their
Control Rider responsibilities and Brian Short started to practice. I
started in the 2:07 range before my PowerCup rear, which has probably
80 laps on them, started to loosen their hold on the gritty asphalt of
Chuckwalla. I was still putting down 2:12s and keeping up with my
friends Ryan and Alan while working on technique and lines, but called
it early because I was losing confidence as the tires loosened up with
the higher afternoon temps.
At the end of the day, I feel like I have an idea where I need to be
for CVMA but the suspension still isn't there yet, despite Randy's
efforts. I just needed more time and rubber. In May/June, the bike
will be going to Racetech for the Shock and Geometry benchmark. I am
looking forward to having some Racetech Gold Valves installed too.
SoCal Trackdays 2013-02
SoCal Trackdays February 2013 was a chance for me to ride Counter-ClockWise (CCW) at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway (CVR) for the first time in over 4 months. The last time I ran this direction was when I tore my MCL; and I have never ridden it this direction with 'Kara,' my 2007 Formula SV650.
Mechanically, the only change I needed to make was to take out 3 more clicks of rebound from my shock because I was seeing 'wings' on the leading edges of the sipes of my Michelin PowerCups from PodiumTire. In Round 4 of CVMA, Gabe at PodiumTire had recommended that I take out some more rebound but I didn't want to change anything between races. I didn't really 'feel' the need to change the shock as it already felt worlds better than it did with the initial rebound settings from last year. After this change I felt more 'confident' in the rear, but I really can't quantify why, exactly. This is my greatest frustration right now because I know I could be a better rider if I understood why the bike reduced my confidence when it did things I didn't feel were compliant with my input.
Psychologically, there were a lot more barriers. Being that this was my first time CCW at CVR since my crash in Round 1's Sunday Femme Walla where I tore my MCL, I definitely was 'checking-up' entering the bowl. I felt like every time I entered that I was 'charging' it… as I had done when I crashed. Additionally, I had a cold tire Saturday afternoon and was so unsettled by it that I thought I had blown my motor and had oil on my tire. I actually put the bike in the dirt (intentionally) to inspect it. Overcoming this inherent distrust in the bike's ability to track is purely an artifact of my 2003 SV650 which I had named Marla Singer (after Helena Bonham Carter's character in Fight Club).
Saturday, I spent a lot of time getting railed past by some Fast Folks. It was a little AMA Practice session with Benito Solis #35 on his Honda and Taylor Knapp on the #44 KTM, who showed me what it's like to get passed at the AMA level. It was pretty impressive to watch, as a fellow racer but as a corner worker for a trackday organization, it struck me as maybe little aggressive at times. That said, we had some fun as SoCal is a haven for twix-racing practice. I was battling fatigue from a few consecutive late nights and took two naps amidst my practices and was struggling to have fun, and not push too hard.
I recovered some of that needed rest after a fantastic dinner with the Staff, including Robert Glaze of CaliPhotography, and some good laughs and an early turn in. I was able to share some of the footage from the last race with Leah Cutshall, who was unfortunately not in attendance but will be for Round 5! It rained Saturday night, and I want to thank my Teammate John "RedBean" Reynolds and Randy of InHouse Suspension for getting my laptop to someplace dry.
Sunday, I actually got my groove back on a little. I came within a few seconds of my personal best from before the crash in this direction and managed to have a lot of fun. The suspension changes are working for me and I am looking forward to my date with Racetech which had to be pushed back to May after the 2012 CVMA Winter Series wraps. I will be starting a new workout routine this week to combat some of the fatigue that I experienced this weekend, which included my knee giving out on the exit of turn 11 entering the back straight. In 3 weeks we will be racing again and, I can't wait. In the meantime I will be changing the oil in the bike with some fresh Torco T4SR and potentially installing a new MotionPro Clutch Cable.
Race Report CVMA WS Round 4 2013 2013-01
January's CVMA Winter Series Round 4 was my first time back to racing after I crashed out of Round 1 back in September of last year. In that crash I tore the MCL in my left knee and have spent the last 3 months recovering. I was able to get back on the bike in December but knew my pace was way off. I spent a good deal of time with Andy Palmer of AP MotorArts working through relaxation techniques and Body Style which would help unload the weight I was trying to put on my still-not-perfect knee. At the end of December's SoCalTrackdays weekend I still wasn't confident about my ability to race, but my dear friend and BigHeadz teammate Joanna Bitters (CVMA #10) talked me into at least registering for the Femmewalla Formula Open class; just for fun. I am glad she did.
The weekend started off, on Friday, with me working remotely from my very forgiving day job while the love of my life and teammate, Matt Cavarlez (CVMA #312) got back on his bike for the first time in 9 months due to a broken tibia and fibula back in April's round of CVMA 2012. After working hours, I touched base with all my friends who tried to again talk me into racing the Twins classes, but my apprehension stayed my signing up for more. I got the bike tech inspected and asked to be put in the D-Group for morning practice. Friday night we had a BigHeadz Team dinner in our paddock. Bill McCoy (#20), Jav Ramirez (#677), John Reynolds (#619) and family were all in attendance for a delicious BBQ Dinner where we all reinforced each other's need to have fun and not over analyze. I think this was done mostly for Matt and me as we are both returning from injuries.
Saturday Morning marked the "things just got real" moment for me. Rolling out for practice I repeated reminded myself to keep singing. One of Andy's pieces of wisdom was to lead the bike as though we were dancing together. The song I would keep in my head was "The Things I've Done" by the Killers. It was the same song I sang to myself when I was in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation class where I learned to ride in 2008. Practice was faster each lap and I got to dice with a few of the faster 250 riders. I even latched onto Josh Fogle (#666) who is the current lap record holder on a 250.
Qualifying went well and I hit my goal for the weekend of a sub-2:10 lap. My Qualifying Time of 2:09.44 gridded me 4th of the seven woman starting grid between my GirlClutch Racing friends Jen Dunstan (#70)in 3rd and Christin Voros (#161) in 5th. My Teammate Joanna (#10) took Pole and Issey W. (#150) in 2nd. Joanna would take first, uncontested, both days.
Saturday's race started well enough. I kept 4th place for the first lap. Christin got around me in the straight between turns 3 and 4. She is consistently better on the brakes than me going into the Turn 1&2 combination. She led me through the race and would pull on me in the straights, leveraging her 30HP advantage, but I could consistently take it back in the corners. I was able to get up alongside her in the 10 degree banking of Turn 13, known as the bowl, on multiple occasions, but it was on the second to last lap that I was able to get around her before Turn 14 and shoehorn myself in-front of her. Crossing the checkers, under the white flag, I had to make sure I didn't let her get me on the brakes again, going into the Turn 1&2 combo and keep my lead through 4. I believed that I she was all over me through the remainder of the race.
After taking 4th I was able to give her a fist-bump in appreciation on our cooldown lap. We chatted in Hot-pit and it was said that that was the most fun that we have both had since we started racing together back in 2010. It would turn out that we both came close to our career bests that race. I had a 2:06.201 whilst on-the-run to keep 4th from her, and Christin had a 2:07.954.
Sunday, I skipped practice 1 as I was tight on fuel and wanted to remain light hearted. I only managed a 2:14 in Practice 2, but it was still very cold in the early desert morning. I was very pleased with my start in Sunday's Femmewalla. I was able to get around Joanna, when she managed a wheelie, but she took it back right quick going into Turn 2. I exited Turn 3 in 4th place. I was able to work my way into 3rd place getting up under Jen Dunstan's CBR600rr, going into Turn 6, which I normally have a lot of problems over braking into. At this time I find Issey's Daytona 675 (#150) in my sights. She a bat-out-of-hell on it and it takes me 2 laps to finally catch up to her in Turn 5 and I do to Issey, what I did to Jen; again on the brakes going into Turn 6. I hold 2nd for a lap before Issey can take 2nd place back on the back straight, before Turn 11. I manage to get her again 2 laps later on the entry of Turn 6. For being what I thought to be my worst corner, I made a lot of passes in Turn 6. Issey would again motor me down the back straight, and take a well-earned 2nd and leave me happy with 3rd.
This weekend definitely reminded me why I love racing. While trackdays are usually a lot of fun, they definitely lack the competitive nature that draws me to racing. I had become so bogged down with the need to be the best at everything I do, that Racing became about lap times and not about dicing it up! I definitely enjoyed battling with Christin, Jen and Issey and I am so excited for the rest of the 2013 race year. First order of business though, I need to do a quick oil change with some Fresh Torco T4SR before SoCalTrackdays in 2 weeks!
I also want to take this time to thank all those who supported me both mechanically and emotionally. Gabe Smith with PodiumTire for, not only sells me my favorite tire, the PowerCup with that deliciously tall V front… but he also helped me diagnose a rebound issue I was having. We stiffened up my shock to give me more feel and help settle the rear.
Andy Palmer for reminding me to have Fun! Aimee Grana and Matt Cavarlez for smacking me around when I start obsessing over lap times! Thank you, Paula Kaltmaier, for being there in the stands and for catching me in the pits. BigHeadz Racing as a whole and John Reynolds, Joanna Bitter, Bill McCoy and Jav Ramirez for sharing the pit with Matt and I. Niccole Cox (#725) of Cycle Mall for sharing your toy hauler with us! To my dear GirlClutch friends, Jen Dunstan, Christin Voros and Issey W, thank you for the epic game of cat and mouse!
Torco Advanced Lubricants has been with me through my injury and I want to take a moment to thank both Ernie Soliz and Peter Lysakowski for being patient with me. I can't begin to express what it means to me to run your colors both because I stand by your product but because you get what racing is about. I very much appreciate that you contributed to the Femmewalla All-Girl Trackday in December and the Unforgettables Foundation to which Femmewalla donated its proceeds.
Shout out to Dave Sanders of OCSuperbike and Nick & Kendra at Woodcraft for the getting me the parts I needed for this weekend. I feel safer with my brake and toe guards and I am grateful to hear that Woodcraft is working on a new GP Shift mechanism for the SV Rearsets!
Andy Chung of ACT Leathers, I want to thank for helping me minimize the repair costs on my suit and the replacement gloves from my off in September. Thanks also go to Audrey Faijo of Snug Harbor for repairing my stylish Puma boots! Bell Powersports; I am very grateful for you Star line of helmets. Having thrashed 3 already, I trust my head in your gear. Thank you.
SoCal Trackdays 2013-01-05/06
I got to hit the track this weekend. It was nice to get out there and ride with intent to go fast, although it was cold and I didn't go as fast as I wanted, but I also kept it out of the dirt and went fast than I did last month!
The bike handles 100% better now that I got the geometry back to OEM spec. I worked on my BP and comfort on the bike, which has been an issue. I have a tradition of carrying a lot of tension in my shoulders which limits my ability to control the bike. The geometry issue was the root cause of a lot of that tension (constantly fighting the bike developed a bad habit) and so now I am trying to unlearn that negative tendency.
I will be working with Racetech later this month, or potentially next month, to make positive changes from the OEM Spec, including raising the bike by installing a G3-S shock on the rear, allowing me to raise the bike 8-10mm and regain the adjust-ability of High & Low speed compression which I lost when I replaced the short GSXR Shock that I had on there with the low-end Ohlins shock which I had from my 2011 season. The Racetech work will have to wait until I replenish the funds from all the work that I have done so far!
I have registered for the January Round of CVMA. I will be racing Femmewalla only, due to finances, but I will get my Green-Flag fix for the month! I am hoping to make a top 5 finish for the 2013 Championship, which will be difficult since I missed 2 rounds due to my injuries last year.
In the mean time I will be attending a women's motorcycle maintenance clinic where I will be bringing samples and promotional material for Torco and field questions about oil changes and PL-50 Penetrating Lube… which has come in handy for myself doing a lot of my own work.
Round 4 and/or Round 1! Oct 1, 2012
CVMA Round 4 of 2012 was also the first round of the 2012 CVMA Winter Series. While I did what I set out to do, which was have a fantastic time, I did not finish all my races.
The weekend started Friday when we setup the Pit. It was a combination of GirlClutch and BigHeadz Members. I shared it with Jen Dunstan (70), John Reynolds (619), Bill McCoy (2) and Joanna Bitter (88). I am grateful to have had the support of my boyfriend, Matt Cavarlez (405) who is still recovering from injuries suffered from CVMA Round 2.
Saturday's Practice was an opportunity to shake the cobwebs off. While I was not able to get my lap times back to my pre-summer break times, I was able to find myself comfortably lapping at times which used to be Personal Records (PRs). I qualified with a 2:08, while 4 seconds off my PR, I was consistently hit this pace.
I believe that, in part, my inability to approach my PR was that the bike was not far from ideally configured. During the off season, I have been building Kara; a 2007 SV650 which I am building up to be my new "A-Bike" which will have considerable improvements over my current race setup. The problem is that I am half way between target configurations. As my lap times came down I began to notice a geometry issue with my bike. I replaced my well configured setup on this bike with my backup forks and shock. The dialed-in setup is installed on Kara, which was not finished in time for this round. The forks in this configuration are 10mm shorter and I didn't replace the rear linkage with a matching height. This caused the bike to be pitched forward resulting in it pushing wide on exits and made me weary to push the bike in practice.
I had two races on Saturday and they were back to back. I raced Formula Twins followed immediately by Femmewalla. The heat was extreme; 111 was the high. Formula Twins was a delightful challenge, but ultimately I didn't place well. I attribute this to both the heat and the suspension. I backed off when I would have rather gone deeper and leaned harder. I pitted in where I met Matt and he gave me some water then I rolled right back out to face the Ladies of the Women's Open. This was a blast; I put down my fastest lap during this race, a 2:08.2 and placed 4th. Despite my comfort with the speed, I definitely noticed a tendency for the bike to push wide on the exit of the bowl (T13) as soon as I got on the gas. It wasn't an issue as I was mostly alone during this race. I was chasing down a 1000cc and two 600cc bikes with my 70hp SV with an untested suspension.
Sunday was a longer day. Lightweight Shootout was Race 2. These folks were Fast; I was alone again. While I didn't have "a Carrot" to chase, as I did in Formula Twins or Femmewalla from Saturday, I did get a chance to work my lines and still managed to do 2:08s. I was back to back again for Femmewalla and Formula Twins… but Did Not Finish Femmewalla. I went into the first turn behind 3 600s, a 675 and a 1000. I was able to overtake Issey Wiriyahyuttamar (150) on her 675 within 3 turns, but I charged the bowl (T13) trying to put some distance between me and her, where I faced the challenge of my suspension. As I started to push wide, I dropped my elbow and looked to my exit, but when that didn't tighten my line I attempted to steer with the throttle by rolling off…. as soon as I did, the front folded and I exited the 10degree banked turn at over 85mph.
The bike launched into the air and came down on my left leg. I rolled off, then under, the bike. In the process I twisted my knee but was able to walk away. The crash truck raced out to fetch me and we were able to get loaded and out of the way without causing the race to be red flagged. I want to thank the Staff of Chuckwalla Valley Motorcycle Association for their professionalism and efficiency. Regarding my injuries, I am still pending an MRI, but my orthopedic surgeon, whom I have given much business, is optimistic that I will not need surgery.
Looking ahead, I will not be able to attend October's round because I will be attending to family matters in Pennsylvania and I would like to get some extra track time in a school or two so that I can better represent my sponsors. I want to thank them now for their support. OCSuperbike has been instrumental in providing me the means to build up Kara to replace my current bike. Torco has been amazing with their lubricants and shade (they supplied me with an exceptional easyup). Woodcraft, Bazzaz, LiveWire, Wrechage Clothing and RiderSurance also have been very helpful! Thank you all!
I was blindsided by Motorcycling. I am not the type of racer that knew at a young age that they were destined for a life on two wheels… which is tragic for I Love this sport and don't remember a life before I found it in 2009.
I have only been racing since September of 2011 and have already taken the Amateur SuperSport Twins Championship and graduated to Expert Plates with only half of a race season under my belt. I could have continued in 2012 as an amateur but knew that the challenge I needed was racing against experts. This year will be challenging for me since I will be competing against racers that were outperforming me by 10 seconds, on average, at the beginning of the season, but the strides I am making in my lap-times should have me being competitive with the back of the fast pack by summer.
I have faced many challenges including 20 broken bones, 2 concussions and a collapsed lung, but this price was in exchange for 16% improvement in my lap times; a price I would again pay. I am within striking distance to Podium as an expert this year.
It's aggressive and presumptuous to have such lofty goals, but I am more than up to the challenge. If my career thus far is any indicator, I am not going to give up and I am ready to face any challenge… Face it with me and we will show the world what we can do!
Series Chuckwalla Valley Motorcycle Association
Motorcycle Formula Suzuki SV650S
Goals Show those boys What a Girl can do; Podium as much as possible, Lap-times under 2:00 and Represent my Sponsors with Style, Charm and Talent