come along for the ride
A few weeks ago I bought a used Yamaha 250. It was already set up for Supermoto racing so I did not have to any work on it except get some powerful brakes put on the front end. Damon over at Mammoth Motorsports really helped me out with that little detail. There was only one other little problem. I did not have time to ride the bike before this weekend. I started off slow unsure of the power difference between the 150 and the 250. Another little difference is the massive front brakes I installed on the Yamaha. I hardly need to to touch them, where on my little 150 Honda I have to grab a whole handful just to stop. It was so fun to get on a bike with slightly more power, plus the slipper clutch that made shifting down a breeze. I even enjoyed riding the through the dirt section. The dirt was so hard packed it was like riding on the pavement anyway.
Friday I decided to ride the little Honda to see how it handled through the dirt. I found that I rode it far more aggressively after getting off the 250. I think I have a sense of security being able to dirt track the little bike around the corners. The 250’s height makes it difficult for me to let me foot slide around the ground like I want. The thing that was most noticeable was the lack of the slipper clutch on the 150. As I down shifted before the corner I could feel the little bike chatter underneath me. I guess I need to learn how act as my own slipper clutch, pulling in the clutch a little and then letting it out to match the engines RPMs. In some ways I feel that learning to ride without the slipper clutch will make me a better rider and more in control of my machine. Looking back now, I probably should have just ridden the 250 again and skipped the 150 since I feel right at home on that bike.
As I came to the starting line for the women’s heat race I worried that I was going to stall the bike. I have never been in a race start on a motorcycle with a slipper clutch. Added to that, I can’t actually touch the ground when I sit on the center of the saddle. I feel more comfortable with my foot down on the shifter side, which is the wrong side for a start.
I was gridded at the back because I was ride riding a bigger bike than the other women. This gave everyone else a chance. Of course I stalled it and had to have someone hold the bike up while I kick started it. Even though I started half a lap back I finished fourth and was actually catching up to leaders. In the main race I started easy so I could get off the line and not stall the bike or launch myself into a wheelie. I crashed during my lightweight race because I pushed a little too hard and used too much back brake. So the goal was to keep my 250 upright and hopefully earn a place on the podium. I tried to keep up with Becky who was trying to stay with Nicole Garcia who blew us all out of the water. I decided to back off because I really wanted to place, and not screw up, but not enough to let the person behind me catch up. There was one corner where I could easily see where she was. I did not want to be distracted, but it was good to know how large the gap was. I am happy that I placed and got my cool pink trophy. Soon enough I will be able to ride my 250 with same confidence that I ride my 150 and my lap time should go down.
Sunday was difficult day for me because I decided to ride with rain tires in the 150 race. Of course, the rain was intermittent and by time my race came it was dry. I was coming to end of the long straightway, getting ready to brake and turn in, when the front end tucked. I am really not sure why it happened. It might have been because my tires had a little too much air in them, or maybe because the tires were a bit too grippy, both of these reasons were given too me. Regardless, I decided to pull out since I hit my head on the ground and was slightly wobbly when I got up.
I then decided to leave the slicks on the 250 for the novice race. Brian Bartlow told to run a gear up since it was slick out on the track. It would lug the motor slightly so the back end wouldn’t spool up. I of course forgot to do this. I thought I was taking it easy on the first lap to feel how the tires felt. It had started to sprinkle slightly and as I got on the gas exciting a turn the back spooled up spinning on the pavement and when traction finally caught I was launched through the air for about 10 feet. I hit the ground hard and felt like I couldn’t breath. It took a little bit for me to get up. Then I was helped back to the trailer. I felt crushed; I had let myself down. Once I got my breath back I decided it was better for me to sit the day out since I was still in a bit of a haze.
I was really disappointed about crashing three times over the weekend. Several other riders told me not to get discouraged. As you learn to go faster you push yourself more and more. You are learning how far you push yourself and the bike. When you reach those limits you crash. If you don’t crash at some point you probably aren’t pushing yourself to the limits. Learning to go faster means that you are going to crash.
I want to thank all the people that came to talk to me and make sure I was ok after I crashed. Brok Mcallister for letting ride in the Supermoto School with Brandon Case on Thursday. Brian and Amy Bartlow for letting pit with them and for making me feel like part of the family and Rich Oliver for teaching me how to pass people and pushing me to be more aggressive while trying to pass. Mammoth Motorsports for making sure my brakes were done in time and Damon for checking my bike after I crashed.