CVMA Round 3 May 26-27, 2012 - Clockwise, personal best time: 02:38.037
This was an incredible weekend. It started with 40 mile/hr winds Friday night at 2am from behind the gate of Chuckwalla Raceway as I arrived to a dust storm and slept in the cab of the truck with Fendi, my faithful German Shepherd. Saturday was an early start at 6am with Aimee, the track owner, waking me with a friendly tap on the window. Driving in, I could see it was going to be a beautiful day and I was very excited to try out my new rear shocks which had been fabricated a little longer than the previous shocks for better body position and turning.
I found an empty spot near Scott Fabbro and started to unload. Soon Stephen Gillen from Arizona and Brian Hertzfeld arrived and our pit was nearly complete. Only Julian Heppekausen from Deus was missing. After such a great time at Corsa, Julian decided it was time to see what CVMA was all about and help out in our pit. The timing could not have been better since my racing coach, Kiyo Wantanabe, could not make it this round. First ultra light weight practice came up first and quickly and I was ready. I headed out to the track with Kiyo’s voice in my head, “take it easy, don’t worry about times, just feel out the new shocks and get some good practice in.” This is what I did. We had made a few adjustments during the week since racing at Corsa, and this being the 4th race weekend of the season, 555 was pretty much dialed in.
I took to the track and things were feeling good. The gearing and jetting from Willow was working and it took no effort to just breath and enjoy being back out on the track. I took the first practice easy. It was early and cold and I did not want to push it. The new rear shocks proved to be an advantage because 555 had never felt so smooth or been so easy to pilot. During the second practice, in the second lap in turn 4, I felt a grind on my left knee that gave me a shock. By the time I came out of turn 5, I knew exactly what that grinding was and I headed into the next double apex of turn 6/7 with a huge grin on my face. I WAS KNEE SLIDING! A HUGE MILESTONE! This was a goal I’ve been trying to reach since day one and now on my 13th race weekend I had finally achieved it and it felt good.
By the time I completed the qualifying round I was knee sliding consistently through practically every turn. Race 6 couldn’t come soon enough. I was excited to race and feel the adrenaline of the moment. With only one race in the day, this is one element of racing at CVMA I find challenging. In AHRMA there are three classes 555 qualifies, which makes for a long but gratifying day with lots of track time. At CVMA with only one class and one race means I have to focus on reserving my energy, keeping my muscles warm, while also keeping my race head in the game. It can be tedious, but it is also good training. This aspect also builds up the anticipation for the race.
Race 6 was finally up and Stephen and I took to the track. We are the smallest, oldest, and loudest racers at CVMA and they pull us out in front to start our warmup lap first. I arrive to the grid and have difficulties finding neutral and I stall. I try to bump start alone with difficulty, so I pull off the track into the sand and Eric Nolan, the Assistant Race Director, calls everyone to do another warm up lap. Thank you Eric! I get the racer started again with some help. This time when I arrive to the grid I just keep the clutch engaged, a habit Kiyo has been trying to break me of. With the pressure on, I find it difficult to find neutral, so I just rev in 1st and get a good start. So good that I hold back from turn 1 with fear of being trampled by all the Ninja 250’s. This is another bad habit I need to work on. When I do get a good start I don’t charge into turn 1 with the pack. Instead, I find a safer place to break in and settle into the race.
I do settle into the race and I take each turn as fast as I can. It is a good solid race and I complete it with pride. This day could not have gone better. That evening Julian finally arrives with his son Henry and a group of us do a track walk. This is a tradition I have come to look forward to as its awesome to see the track on foot and look, think, and discuss lines, approach, ways to improve, and things to try. We eat well, do some star gazing, and I get a good nights rest.
Sunday I am up early full of enthusiasm for the day and start it off with a bit of 555 maintenance and pit organization. Yesterday went so well that I can hardly wait to get back out there and make more improvements. Kiyo’s wise words are not on the forefront of my mind where they should be when I decide during the the second lap of the first practice to experiment and to see if I can take a challenging section of turns 8-10 faster by not down shifting and instead stay in 4th gear. I find out when in turn 9, an off camper turn, I low side. 555 slips out from underneath me. I land on my left shoulder and hip as I slide off the track holding onto 555 into the sand. When I finally realize what is happening I’m already in the sand and I let go off 555 and roll away leaving the racer on its side 5 feet off the track. I get to my feet quickly and dust myself off and take inventory of my body. Once I determine I am fine the disappointment and anger with myself for allowing this to happen settles in. The crash truck arrives and we get 555 into the back and I am relieved to see that there is hardly any damage. I am so lucky and determined to get 555 sorted for the race.
It is so important to pit with good people. As soon as I arrive back to the pit with 555 all hands are there helping. We take a few observation laps around 555 and together determine the steps to take to get back out for the race. We all agree 555 can be ready and that I am very lucky. Everyone chips in during a free moment. I remove both carbs for cleaning to see that sand did not enter the engine. Very lucky. Julian is a big help and we remove the fairing, which was barely damaged, and attach the old front number plate and hardware for the race. We finish with enough time for lunch and a break to switch gears back into race mode.
Its a great feeling to come back from a crash and race and the other racers show their support and respect. Overall, the CVMA racer community is awesome and I look forward to each round and seeing the friends I’ve made. There is a lot to learn at Chuckwalla and Round 4 in September cannot come soon enough. But first comes 4 AHRMA races: 2 in the Midwest, Miller, and NOLA.
Bring It On!
Big thanks to Julian, Stephen, Brian, and Scott for all their help and support on this challenging weekend. Also my sponsors Kiyo Wantanabe Racing, Ironwood Racing, Bell Powersports, Illuminati Motorcycles, Alpinestars, the East Side Moto Babes, and of course the amazing motorcycle community I am apart of, without whom none of this would be possible. Everyday I wake up feeling very lucky and honored to live this journey. Thanks for being apart of it.