Sunday, December 6, 2009

Laguna Seca takes another turn for AMA Pro Racing

After experiencing one of the most exciting racing event weekends this last July 3-5 2009 at Laguna Seca with the AMA Pro Road Racing Team and MotoGP, I was shocked to hear from @MotoPress on Twitter that the DMG ( Daytona Motorsports Group) the newly dominant controlling force, had pulled the plug on the AMA racing at Laguna Seca ! I even inquired with a few of my moto Twitter friends to confirm this tragic news, and sure enough, the nightmare had become a reality! With only 3 actual races by MotoGP in a 3 day event, it was looking to be a very long and uneventful season for 2010!
Well, I think as motorace fans, we just received a ray of hope…..

As recently as this last November, the AMA Road Racing schedule was released and noticeably missing was Laguna Seca in Monterey CA and Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, in addition to Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas, in which, Matt Mladin and Jamie Hacking physically protested their concerns, regarding safety, by refraining from racing the track.
It was looking like a difficult season start for AMA racing and with only 9 races scheduled, and a 10Th hanging in the balance, along with manufacturers, such as American Honda pulling out, as a result of the down-turn in the economy.

But, in short few months (or less) there has been an upturn in the ever retracting season for Laguna Seca and possibly for other US tracks as well.
Still to be a mystery on many levels, it seems the self-indulging DMG has reached an agreement with the Laguna Seca coastal track and will be indeed reinstating the provisional AMA Pro Racing back into its schedule for 2010, clearly, something to look forward to!

Although rumors continue to spread about what the future holds ultimately for the AMA Pro Racing Championship, such as the mention of two (un-named) premier classes, and in suggesting the American Superbike and the Daytona Sportbike classes will be experiencing some more changes for 2010.

There is still a ways to go before we can relax and resume the racing enthusiasm that we once enjoyed, but, I have confidence in the AMA Pro President Roger Edmondson, with his commitment to the organization, feeling optimistic about the DMG and bringing back Miller along with continuing a solid partnership with Speed to ensure growth and excitement in our sport every race weekend!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Erik Buell: You say goodbye, I say hello

Riding friends that know me, are well aware of my personal feelings about Buell motorcycles. The several demo rides that I have taken on the 1125CR, 1125R and the XB9SX have left me repeatedly disappointed in the rough handling of the motorized machines. But, in saying this, I have a great respect for the master mind behind these iconic creations. A down to earth guy with a grassroots upbringing, Erik Buell epitomizes the all American motorcycle enthusiasts, with a side of crazy thrown in! And I have to admit, I'm going to miss the line up of Buell motorcycles for 2010.

Though Buell would not necessarily be considered a household word like Harley Davidson or Yamaha, but to us avid motorcyclists, we know the familiar name all too well. For the last 26 years Erik Buell and his Wisconsin based team have been on a credulous mission to resurrect the passion to enthusiasts about what a motorcycle should represent. But, unfortunately, his over zealous enthusiasm was to be the beginning of the end to his demise by his unrealistic expectations of what Buell, the manufacture was to represent.
His daring innovative creations like the under slung mufflers, ZTL brakes and fuel in the frame concept was unique and on-the-cutting-edge to many dedicated Buell owners, but to the vast majority, ultimately, were just not willing to invest hard earned money into his ingenious, approach.

Inevitably on November 20, 2009, Harley Davidson dissolved Buell in a ditch effort to save their own corporation with the ever expanding economic down-turn.
But, with every sad story comes a silver lining, and in this case, the launching of Erik Buell Racing. An independent motorcycle race shop specializing in the supply and race-use-only of Buell motorcycle parts and race preparation services for engines and motorcycles , along with the fabrication and sales of the Buell 1125R for race use.

The real cincher, is that Harley Davidson will be assisting Erik in establishing the business and to continue to support the race efforts that he is so very passionate about, clearly an affiliation that will never go down easily!

As said by a one-of-a-kind motorcycle enthusiasts, that will most certainly go into the history books:

" I'm looking forward seeing racers competing for wins and championships in the 2010 season and beyond and to helping Buell racers keep their bikes flying!" ~Erik Buell~


Friday, November 20, 2009

Part 5 AMA Women's Conference Keystone CO ~final~

Day 7 Keystone CO -Our final day

Both Cathy and I did not sleep too well in our "comfortable" queen size beds. I guess we were kind of missing our bunk beds!
We arose to grey overcast skies that was threatening a repeat of yesterday! We wanted to take a scenic route back to Denver before giving up our bikes to the rental agency, but was finding this simple task growing increasingly difficult due to time, weather and closed roads from road construction.

As we sat in this funky diner having a late breakfast going over alternate routes, these two girls offered a suggestion of taking hwy 6 which ran basically parallel to hwy 70, which was our main route. We liked this grand idea, so we took their advise and went for it.
We started out east on hwy 70 climbing the summit passing through the 2 mile long Eisenhower tunnel and for the next 40 miles until the hwy 6 turn off.
Hwy 6 was very picturesque with it's rugged rock walls, numerous chiseled out rock tunnels and meandering steams that seems to mimic the two lane road. After 15 miles or so, it led us to Golden CO, where the famous Coors brewing company made it famous. And as big a day, there it was, the big "Coors" sign atop of a big plant! A small town with a big beer gut!
We tuned on to hwy 25 from hwy 6 and by this time could see the skyscrapers in Downtown Denver in the distance. With a few wrong turns, we managed to safely return the BMW F800GS and the Honda VFR back to the owner of the rental agency. I think Cathy and I both simultaneously let out a silent sigh of relief after parking the bikes in the garage.
The next 45 minutes was consumed by unpacking, repacking our gear from the panniers to the suitcases, which we left at the rental agency. It was a bit challenging, but we did it!
Our shuttle arrived 30 minutes early, but we were surprisingly ready, but sad that our wonderful adventure was coming to a close.
I think the most difficult part for me was just not knowing when I would see my "Alaskan" friends again. I hope that we can manage to pull something together like we talked about doing during our week together, a tour of riding the Michigan Lighthouses the following June.

On the final closing ceremony at the AMA conference, they posted a 10ft banner for everyone to sign. Laura quickly grabbed the pen and in big bold letters wrote " The Alaskan 5 was here" and to me, it just summarizes it all!

I will miss you girls, until we meet again...


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Part 4 The AMA conference in Keystone CO

Day 6 Keystone CO

I got up early to go for a run, but a run was not to be taken. Ellen, her husband John, Laura, Ted and Jon were to head back to Huston TX. And even though, I of course knew this, I was going to give my hugs and good-bye send offs and then go on my way. There seemed to be a slight glitch in this perfect plan, one of the Harley's had a flat tire!
After numerous phone calls and several hours later they were on their way to Denver, as luck would have it they managed to find a garage on a Sunday to change the tire. We found out later, they made it to New Mexico on the same day.
Jane took her Soft tail Heritage and rode back to Denver in order to catch a 3:30pm flight back to Connecticut. Cathy and I were left to stay another night, but not without giving up the "funky" house to go stay in a hotel down the road.
We got a late start on our day ride, and as the day progressed on, so did the cloud cover. We headed towards Leadville, from hwy 70 west for about 10 miles then cutting off to hwy 91 straight into a cute 1800's flavored old silver mining town in the Rockies.

We pulled in around 1pm had some lunch at the Mile High burger joint with a perfect view of MT Elbert while we dined. I found my CO motorcycle license plate I had been looking for all week, to add to my collection on the wall in my garage, yeah!
It was 3pm when we decided to push on and head towards MT Elberts Pass. The skies grew increasingly more intimidating, but it was our last riding day and we really wanted to make the most of it.
For the next 14 miles it went from cute little mining town to low rolling hills where the hills had been rapped from the mining days of yester-year, with beat-up and broken down houses surrounding them, one of the saddest sights I seen in this beautiful country side.
We turned on to hwy 24 towards the majestic mountains beyond, the massiveness was unbelievably grand to watch as we rode around this beautiful lake in the foreground.
We had a illusions of grandeur in hoping to make it to Aspen, but with a late start and clouds looming, it was clear, there was no way it was going to happen! Winding our way up to the top of Elberts Pass, taking 10 mph twitch backs on many occasions, with shear drops and no guard rails to speak of, it left little room for error in our riding skills.
Finally reaching the top we were surprized to see a big sign saying "Continental Divide 12,095FT" We parked the bikes and walked down this beat up path to arrive at this unbelievable view of the valley below and all the winding roads we had just rode. We took pictures and hung out for awhile, but knew we better get going to try and beat the weather that was now coming in fast.
By the time we got to the bikes it was now starting to rain! Coming back down the switch backs with timid caution as the rain was now intensifing! Luckily for us, as quickly as the rain would come, it would also disapate, giving us a much needed break.

We rode on back into Leadville, refueled and continued on to connect to I70 leading us back to Keystone. As we approached the split 20 miles out, the skies could hold back no longer and it poured! Then came the thunder and flashes of lightening, I found this so incredible being on the bike with the powerful and intimidating intensity of the storm, being totally exposed to it on the bike- I loved it! I found myself laughing out loud in my helmet!

Cathy and I pulled off into a gas station right before hwy 70 to assess the damages. After dismounting under an overhang we took one look at each other and started laughing our heads off! There was a family with a pickup truck next to us, desperately trying to tie down tarps over their precious cargo. They noticed us laughing at the sight of each other and then they too, started to laugh. In the eye of storm, it was a funny thing to experince. Soon after two women pulled in in a convertable with the top down! Now we had seen everything! It seems they couldn't get the top to latch, so Cathy and I helped them by laying ontop of their soft top to get enought weight to hold it down to latch, worked like a charm. But another pretty sight, two women in full "wet" motorcycle gear laying on top of a convertable!
We changed gloves got back on the bikes with the blustering elements in full swing, but with 10 miles to Keystone, we knew we could make it.

I watched the spikes of thunder plant itself across the sky, but never could hear the thunder, which I found strange....It poured for all those 10+ miles up until we pulled into the hotel parking garage. We looked like two drowned rats, I found the whole scene hysterically funny! We made our way up to our room and immediatley noticed it had stopped raining!! This just added to the hysteria!
We pulled garments off assessing what got wet and what didn't. Cathy faired the worst as she discovered her waterproof gear wasn't so waterproof, with wet pants and wet socks. Her top was the driest.
I did pretty good, , wet gloves, wet feet and the lower portion of my shirt got wet. Still can't figure that one out??

Needless to say, after 2 hot showers and some dry comfy clothes, we weren't going anywhere for the night!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Part 3 Riding Colorado and the AMA Women & Motorcycling Conf.

Day 5 Keystone CO

Today was to be an early day for Ellen, Laura, Cathy and I. We had to be at the Coach 2 Ride dirt bike school in the Tenderfoot parking lot at 8:30AM. While waiting for everyone to show up, I was able to sign up for a demo ride for later that day at the Ducati tent to finally get my chance to ride the Streetfighter, a very fast and aggressive bike. I signed up for the noon time slot, thinking that would give me plenty of time on my return from the dirt bike class that was scheduled to finish at 11:00AM.
A dozen or so women lined up on the 250 dirt bikes in preparation to go down to the dirt lot that was just down the street, to practice the rules and techniques of dirt riding. A quick 5 minute ride and we were soon standing in a half circle listening to Andrea and her assistant, Carolyn give us the needed instruction to get us started.
After gearing up and firing up our bikes, we did a lot of slow maneuvers, using the clutch and throttle. We learned how to lean and steer, stand and steer, counter balance, and ride over obstacles, among other things.
Andrea and Carolyn were great in their teachings, especially in such a large group, being we were the last class of the conference. Because we were a big class, it was taking longer in between turns and I had too much gear on for a progressively warm day. I would take my jacket, helmet and gloves off while waiting my turn, but with only one bottle of water per person and the consistent loss of fluids, I was starting to dehydrate.
At one point, I thought I was going to have to bow out and go back to the Tenderfoot parking lot. But, I had come too far and I made a commitment to complete my goal, so I pulled it together and headed for the hills with the rest of the girls!
After several hours of practicing the techniques, we were ready to then ride to up to one of the chair lifts at Keystone ski resort at the 10,000 ft level, it was pretty amazing, standing most of the way. It was mind blowing, how the center of gravity shifts when standing, the new experience had all of us beaming with big grins on our faces as each one of us arrived at our destination.
It was quite an experience and I am so glad I participated, even with being as uncomfortable as I was. Unfortunately, because we were a bigger group, it took us over our time frame and I missed my highly anticipated demo ride on the Streetfighter.
After losing out to my ride, I then went to the conference building to attend some seminar classes again. And once again, I had no success.
Feeling frustrated after losing out to my demo ride and not coming out any smarter, just hot and bothered, I rode back to the "funky" house to join everyone else. It seems, they were a lot smarter than I!
Later that evening, Laura, Cathy, Jane and I went to the closing ceremony to the AMA Conference. We had a great dinner, chitchatted a little and listened to a few of the speakers. One , was Lois Pryce, a very funny British woman with bright red hair and English lisp! She has written several books, her first being "Lois On The Loose", where she rode from Alaska to the very tip of Argentina. Traveling over 20,000 miles in 10 months on a Yamaha 220 motocross motorcycle....ALONE!
Lois was quite an amazing lady, with a very entertaining wit. Another fun filled day and we were ready for bed, so we headed back around 10:00PM and crashed!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Part 2 of Riding Colorado at the AMA Women and Motorcycling Conference

Day 3 Thursday-

We got up early to meet up with an organized ride by the Conference, to Hot Sulphur Springs, a town an hour northeast on hwy 40 from Keystone. After signing up for the ride, Ellen, Laura, Jane, Cathy and I decided to pay our $10.00 for our lunch and ride it solo, minus the group. It was a great plan for 2 reasons, we were able to ride at our own pace and we missed the crowd that was to come later.

It was a fairly straight on a long 2 lane, mostly barren hwy with rolling hills, not the dramatic mountains and trees. which had primary been my backdrop for the last 2 days. It was approximately 60 to 70 miles to Hot Sulphur Springs, an easy, fast paced ride that was relaxing, enjoying the fact that the Alaskan 5 were riding once more together. Just short of Hot Sulphur Springs, we pulled over to the side of the road where there was a sign saying "Colorado River." It looked more like the Colorado stream, but it was a kodak moment, so we took advantage of it and snapped some pictures.
We split up at this point, Ellen and Laura going on some wild goose chase to try and find a name on a sign and take a picture of it. I was never quite sure about this story, but never thought to ask. The real story was told later when they came back, telling of how they ended up scaling a steep dirt road in motocross mode on their cruisers! All for a picture to add to their collection of more pictures!

Mean while, Cathy, Jane and I went to soak in the natural sulphur spring pools. It was very relaxing and very HOT! As we sat, soaking in the hot stinky sulphur infused water, we would watch all these little chipmunks run around. I kept thinking of the Chip and Dale chipmunk cartoon I watched as a kid, they looked just like them. Cathy and I ended up rescuing one of the little guys, who managed to fall into the garbage can. Seems his curiosity and his tummy got the best of him, right into a practically empty waste basket with no escape! It was pretty funny watching the waste basket knock back and forth like it was alive! Actually, now that I think of it, kind of like a Chip and Dale episode!
We stayed for about and hour, as we were walking out, the women from the organized group were walking in. I love good timing! We had lunch, met up with Laura and Ellen and continued on our loop ride on hwy 40. Heading towards Winter Park, we passed through small towns such as Granby, Tabernash and Fraser. After passing through Winter Park the scenery became more and more breath taking as we started to climb into grander terrain. Ascending into the Arapaho National Forrest, and cresting at somewhere around the 13,000 ft level, I was starting to remember the warning from the locals on my first day out about keeping an eye on the road and not the scenery so much. We were going into tight turns climbing up and up with shear drops and some road work in the worst places, I was in full concentration!
Aside from the intensity, I was absolutely loving this part of the ride. Ellen and I pulled ahead and took the downside of the mountain at a fairly fast cadence, leaving the other girls to go at a more comfortable pace for their own comfort level. Although, I have to say, Cathy was not far behind me.
Ellen is one exceptional rider, she handled her Harley Davidson Ultra Glide through the tight 15 mph turns like she was riding a sport bike. She is a police officer heading the bomb squad team in Houston TX, so, being in her field of work, I can't imagine Ellen doing anything half ass!

Descending back down to the 7,000 ft level into a cute town called Empire, we once again split off, Ellen and Laura going on to Mt Evans, the highest paved road in Colorado at over 14,000 ft. I really wanted to go, but I was tiring and becoming fatigued, and with another 45 minutes to get back to Keystone, I knew I was done for the day. One promise I make to myself, is to respect my limits in riding. I have only been riding for 4 years, and although I am proud of my accomplishments in perfecting my riding skills. I know I tire easily compared to an experienced rider, because of how much more concentration that is required to take a turn correctly or just sitting on the bike for hours at a time. It wears me out a lot faster, and I make sure to be aware of this fact and call it quits when I should.
Jane, Cathy and I headed back down hwy 70, through the Eisenhower tunnel once again and down the steep grade back into the Silverthorne Valley. We got back to the house at around 4:00, Jon, Ted and John arrived soon after from their ride. We sat outside in the warm Colorado sunlit afternoon, swapping our riding stories of the day along with pictures to document our tales.

Later, when Laura and Ellen arrived back from Mt Evans, the five of us girls walked down the street from the "funky" house where there was an outside barn dance being hosted by the AMA Conference. After receiving our complimentary straw cowboy hats with a choice of Kawasaki green or a pink bandanna to adorn it, we had dinner chitchatted a little, watched the line dance lessons, the lassoing and horseshoe games and dragged our tired rears back up the street and promptly crashed in my bunk. A full day of riding the Rockies wore this girl out!

Day 4, Friday-

Today I did not have to rush, so I took a really nice peaceful hike back up the hill from the "funky" house. Came back and got ready for another day of riding. This time on demo bikes in the AMA's Tenderfoot parking lot. Jane and I rode over to checkout what bikes were available for us to demo. Sponsoring manufactures, Harley Davidson and Buell were there along with BMW, Ducati, Yamaha and Kymco scooters. I was half expecting there to be more manufactures to choose from after my experience with Femmoto, demoing 12 motorcycles on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2 days time, last October.
Today the most I managed to fit in was 3 test rides, a Buell XB9SX, Ducati Sport 1000 and a BMW F650GS. The Buell was to be my third model I had test ridden, two at the Femmoto race weekend. I have to say, I just don't care for Buell's with their clunky transmission and stiff, rough ride. I just don't see what the draw is in these bikes. The BMW was fun and surprisingly agile on the twisties. But I find with all BMW's, the ultra responsive handling it has, no matter what model. The Ducati was to be my favorite, with it's gorgeous shifting and handling, not to mention the purr of the engine is a major turn on!!

I love doing the demo rides and experiencing all different shapes, sizes and cc's in bikes, I really think it helps to improve on my riding skills, I just wish I could have had more opportunity to do more...
The lack of organization in the conference was growing more apparent to me as the days went on. My several attempts to sit in on some of the seminars was just not working out, every time I would make my way over to the conference building to catch a class, invariably, everyone would be on an extended lunch break. This happened on three different occasions. How did all the other women in attendance fit in the rides, demo's, dirt bike classes and make a class on riding solo in between? I was failing miserably at it. Trying to set up the limited demo rides was just as frustrating, trying to get the bike I wanted to ride in the time frame I wanted was time consuming and nearly impossible.

The days were passing by fast and furious and I was beginning to realize, I was not going to be able to get in everything I was planning, namely, the classes I was so looking forward to.
Came back to the "funky" house at around 5PM and Laura had graciously made dinner for all 8 of us, this was the first time during the trip we all ate together. It was really nice to sit with everyone and have a delicious homemade meal.

After dinner, Cathy, Jane, Ellen and I went for a walk down along the stream close to the "funky" house. It was so warm and enjoyable, with a back drop of a beautiful sunset glowing atop the mountains, a perfect end to a perfect day!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Part 1 of Riding Colorado at the AMA Women And Motorcycling Conference

Day 1- Novato CA in route to Keystone CO

As I awoke to the blaring sound of my alarm at 3:00AM in the morning in the attempt to make a 6:15 AM flight, I thought about how full my day was going to be. In the realization of what little sleep I managed to get, I was worried and excited all at the same time, I better be up for it, because I was going to be riding the Rockies in just a few hours!

I arrived at the Oakland airport right on schedule, schlepping all my "stuff", but proud of the fact I managed to pack all my motorcycle gear and clothes for a week into two small bags. I was to meet Jane from Connecticut at the gate and fly out to Denver together. I waited and waited for her, but no Jane. They called our flight for the second time, still no Jane. I went ahead and boarded thinking maybe we got our wires crossed and she wasn't taking this flight at all, but another one. It's funny how the mind can dream up crazy crap at 6 AM in the morning!

Still, as I sat in my seat, I watched every person who boarded, looking for the familiar face that I had not seen in two years time. Finally, there she was looking frazzled and relieved all at the same time. Seems her hotel shuttle was late. Thankfully, my mind wasn't playing tricks on me after all and soon Jane and I where off to Denver to rendezvous with Cathy from Michigan.
Jane and I found Cathy in baggage claim after a cell call, collected our gear and just as soon as we united, we found ourselves parting again. This time Cathy and I on one shuttle to Tourbikes on one side of Denver and Jane on another shuttle to Eagleriders, on the other side of town. We planned to meet at the junction where hwy 70 and hwy 6 meet.

We arrived at Tourbike rentals, Bill, the owner approached us with a perplexed look on his face, this made Cathy and I nervous. When we announced who we were, he explained he wasn't expecting us until the next day. Cathy and I found this odd, since we both separately confirmed out dates online. Fortunately, the bikes we requested, the BMW F800GS and the Honda VFR were there, so the only inconvenience was a time delay with paperwork that hadn't been filled out in advance.
Now the challenge at hand, loading the bikes with all our gear and making it fit! Some how we did it, but in the mean time, the sky was looking more and more threatening. Big black clouds were forming, then the thunder and lightening came, being from California, this was not something I was used to. And down came the rain to follow, I did not need this!! A motorcycle I was not familiar with, along with being loaded down by all my gear with a vague idea of where we were going to meet up with Jane.

As Cathy and I pulled away from the garage, I could hear Bill, the owner of the Tourbikes voice echoing in my head "it's not our fault if you kill yourself!" I would have taken this personally, if I hadn't already heard him say it minutes prior to the guy that left before us!

As the rain came down and temporarily turned to hail, I was struggling to see, even after I had made sure to rain guard my visor in preparation for such a situation. What a waste of time that was! I did manage to see Cathy's BMW tail light and for the most part, everything else. With every stop light we hit, we would look at each other, with this look of what the hell did we get ourselves into? No words were necessary, we both were on the same page!

Through fighting the elements, struggling with the unsteadiness of a motorcycle that was a little too tall, in addition to the weight of my gear and now the stop and go traffic on hwy 25, we managed to make our way to Jane. Finding her Harley Davidson Softtail parked outside a biker bar called Susies off of hwy 70. How she managed to track down a biker bar outside of Denver in a matter of minutes is still a mystery to Cathy and I! There must be some kind of universal homing device on all Harley's that we were unaware of???

Susie's was a typical funky biker bar where everyone was friendly, even though we did get some stares as Cathy and I pulled up on our BMW and Honda, not your typical motorcycle fan fair, I would suspect around these parts. Or the fact that we were girls riding bikes. Either way, we had fun, chitchatting with the locals, having a much needed bite to eat and went on our way, climbing up hwy 70 making our way to Keystone.
The gods must have been with us, or that we had a chaplain in our midst, but the rain stopped as we headed up the mountainous horizon, feeling much better about the ride to come. After about 60 miles, passing through the 2 mile Eisenhower tunnel, the weather definitely took a turn from one end of the tunnel to the other. Maybe it was the Continental Divide marked by a bright yellow sign half way through the tunnel that hastened the shift in weather? Regardless, coming down the steep grade into the Silverthorne Valley, we were feeling the difference with the drop in temperature and the strong headwinds.

Ignoring the change in conditions, my attentions quickly diverted to the magnificent views I witnessed with each sweeping turn I took on the bright red Honda. Jagged , rocky peaked mountains that seemed to reach out and touch the sky, giving an enveloping feeling to the small city of Silverthorne, below. Breathing in all the beauty as we came upon our exit all too quickly.
Minutes later, arriving at what I would come to affectionately call the "funky" house, that was to be our home for the week, we were greeted by Ellen , her husband, John, Laura, Ted and Jon, all of which rode up from Huston Texas. It was a multi level styled 5 bedroom 5 bath house that was odd in it's design, but perfect for our "roommate" needs. Cathy, Jane and I shared a room with two sets of bunk beds, me being mandated to sleep on the bottom bunk, below Cathy. And Jane getting a bunk bed all to herself. It worked out perfect, with plenty of room for our gear and a sitting room off the bunk room to sit and relax, when given a chance.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with the girls playing "catch up" and the guys sitting outside smoking cigars.

We all called it an early night around 9PM. It had been a long, but exciting day. It was comforting to know we all made it safe and sound. I remember falling asleep thinking how this trip had finally arrived after months of planning and waiting, it was truly an amazing day!

Day 2- Keystone CO

Arising to a beautiful crisp day, I decided to take a run/hike around the existing area of the "funky" house. I found a fantastic view at the top of a hill over looking the Keystone Golf course, I remember thinking, what a wonderful way to start the day!

After breakfast, Jane, Cathy and I decided we wanted to our money's worth out of your rental bikes, so we passed on the seminar that was to kick off today and head out hwy 9, south off of hwy 70. We passed through Breckenridge, a small quaint town I had been to several year before, spending the a week skiing every day. It looked so different without snow!
Winding up into Pike National Forest at the 11,000 ft level and back down into a very small, old town by the name of Alma and then on to our final destination of Fairplay CO. When we first arrived in Fairplay, it looked hauntingly like a ghost town, there was no one around at first glance. As we dismounted off the bikes and started to walk up the sunny narrow street, we then started to notice people milling about. We discovered a little sandwich shop called Milloni's, and had lunch overlooking a picturesque creek nestled in the hills.

After lunch, we walked up to the end of the street where Fairplay had an exhibit of what the town looked like from days gone by, called The South Park City Museum. For a small fee, you could walk through, getting the feel of what it must have felt like in the mid 1800's.

Fairplay takes it's name from gold prospectors who settled in 1859. They had staked more claims than they could work, hence giving the small town the name "Fairplay", giving every man an equal chance at staking his claim.

We headed back to Keystone, hoping to catch some portion of the seminar we were most likely missing! In my 2 days here, I had heard from several locals about how frequent motorcycle accidents occurred when riders drift off the road or into on coming traffic from being distracted by the awesome scenery. As I rode back, I could completely understand why this could happen and made sure to pay close attention to what was in front of me.
I was getting more comfortable with the VFR, we came into some twisties and felt confident enough to pass Jane and take the turns more at my own pace. It was nice to break away for a brief moment!
We caught the last 45 minutes of Carla King's talk about her solo travels, she and I met a month prior after she consented to doing a review on my Style Saver Scarf. We instantly hit it off and I wanted to make a special effort attend her class and personally say "hi" to her afterwards. She greeted me with a friendly hug and we talked, catching up on her recent trip to the big island of Hawaii.

From there, Jane, Cathy and I rode down the road to catch the AMA's president Rob Dingman and his cocktail party he was hosting. I had heard that Rob Dingman had been receiving a lot of bad press about his "my way or the highway" method of doing things, since taking his presidential position two years ago. So, I was a little predisposed on his reputation and found his reticent speaking abilities less than entertaining. It was like listening to latex paint dry!
Cathy found one of her Free Spirit chapter sisters, Joy from Michigan sitting with two women from Dallas Texas. Much more entertaining than Rob! We munched on quesadillas and sipped margarita's talking shop and learning more about motorcycles and the diverse women who ride them, it was fun and I enjoyed the experience.

At 7 PM we rode back down the road, to the conference hall for the opening ceremony to listen to some of the most awe inspiring women motorcyclists to date. Ashley Fiolek, a teenage motocross rider who was recently signed professionally representing Honda. As she stood to the right of the podium "signing" as her mother translated from the podium. It was clear this talented, determined young women was not going to let being deaf stop her in any way from accomplishing her dreams of being one of the first female professional motocross racers.
Leslie Prevish, Harley Davidson's women's outreach manager was full of energy and it emulated across the auditorium infeciously. She was an entertaining speaker, who's main focus is to create a vibrant community of female riders. She talking about some of the pioneer women riders of the early 20th century, such as Vivian Bales and Adeline and her sister Augusta Van Buren.
Leslie Porterfield, a very attractive young woman with long golden hair, that holds 3 land speed records and a member of the Bonneville 200 mile club. She also owns High Five Cycles in Dallas Texas, where she resides.
Feeling a little "small" after listening to all the incredible stories, we went back to the "funky" house and promptly crashed in my lower bunk bed!


To be continued.......

Monday, August 17, 2009

NMP finds the Dark Side, or Code Blue Race Report

Although it is my intention to "personally" write my blogs in a leitmotif flavor from a women's perspective on motorcycle musings, I felt compelled to share a story. After receiving this letter from a fellow NMP track side associate, on Dr. Paul Love, also a track side medic, a person I had the pleasure of meeting and working T3 with at Laguna Seca MotoGP this last July 4Th weekend.
I was fortunate enough to be out working the track on Paul's 2ND AFM race experience, on August 9Th at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma CA and saw first hand what an impressive, enthusiastic racer he is. A cynosure of everyones attention, at least track side!
Below are the chronicles of Paul, writing first hand of his on-track AFM racing experience.
The exhibited photos are of what I was able to capture of Paul and other racers, while track side!


By Dr. Paul Love, MD.

Well, in case any of you failed to notice the giant riding the 600 at ThunderHill and Infineon, I am racing in the AFM now. Above all, I want to state that I love the NMP, the mission, the work and above all the GREAT people that I've met. You guys, along with the white shirts are the unsung heroes of racing, and my participation with you has not ended by any stretch. Why am I racing? After all, I'm not a kid anymore. All I can say, I love going fast and I finally found the place where the only limits are my skill and equipment.

My first weekend was the July round at Thunderhill. I had a track day there two weeks earlier, and thought I was running well enough to have a shot at making the 600 Production grid, officially 2:14 at T-hill. I ran around for two weeks getting the bike prepped and setup, including my yellow number plates, 515R. Brian Paoletti met me at the track to help me on race Saturday. Brian races in AFM but tore his biceps lifting a bike at MotoGP.

You know the NMP code: first the rider, then the bike, then the party. Brian was picking up Jason Disalvo's bike. His unfortunate loss was my gain, Brian showed up with shade and TIRE WARMERS, as well as lots of experience in surviving race day. Ann and Brian both accompanied me to tech. I'm not saying strings were pulled but there was remarkably little hazing of the new guy. I can't describe how nervous I was taking the track for that first practice lap. My anxiety showed in the riding and my times were inconsistent and barely in the range.

I was with the USGPRU kids in Group 1, you know, the fearless 12 year-olds. At one point, I was passed by one on the outside of Turn 3, as he came around I remember looking under my arm and seeing the top of his helmet a few inches from my outside knee. At times it was like brushing off mosquito's on an evening walk through a swamp. There were some traction issues in some turns, my suspension had been freshened up and needed tuning but a few visits with Dave Moss got things right , and third session was yielding some 2:09's.

My anxiety builds all day, but finally it's time for Clubman Middleweight. I do a few mental laps to quell the fear, and make my way to the grid. A mellow cold lap, then I take my place at the chalk mark #31. Engine roar builds around me as the starter waves the cards. Green means gogogo and the pack launches. My start is umm, bad, but I join the pack hurtling toward that little patch of pavement where everyone wants to flip it into Turn 1. Call it common sense or survival instinct, but I checked up, and came through turn 1 last. I chase the first lap, and might even be gaining but down the front straight my bike emits a horrific shrill noise. Imagine a million fingernails grating on ten thousand chalkboards, and it just keeps getting worse.

A thousand years of motorcycling experience at that track, and I don't think anyone had ever heard that exact noise before. Expecting a grenade to detonate between my legs any second, I raise my arm and exit the track to the infield at T3. AFM'er Dean crosses the hot track from the corner box at T5 to get me moved to a safe place. I exit the track after last rider, my race hopes crushed. Back in the pit, we discover the source of the noise. A year earlier, when I bolted the rear brake rotor on, I didn't torque the bolts. Two bolts backed out and were grinding the brake caliper at 115 mph. Repair was pretty simple, but I didn't finish Clubman, my weekend is over.

I ask Ann if she needs an NMP tomorrow. Instead she tells me to talk to Barb. Cathy Reilly gets involved too, they clear me to race 600 Production the next day based on my best practice time of 2:08. AFM is needing the money this year, or maybe Shawn Reilly is just running a warmer, fuzzier, club. I'm thrilled, going home without a finish would have would have been unabidingly depressing.

Sunday is mo' bettah, hopes arise with the new sun. I always enjoy the ride out to the track through the vast sunflower fields, now losing their color in the July swelter. Two practice sessions go without incident and I grid up for 600P. From the tail of the grid, I watch as racers tug on straps and leather adjusting their armor for battle. The cacophony builds when the #1 card shows. A flash of green and a swarm of multi-colored missiles accelerate away. I launch pretty well, but am shy about the rubbing elbows thing and pull through turn 1 in last place again.

For tail-end Charlie, the race is pretty boring really, I latch onto #865, and basically struggle to stay in contact, the gap Bungee-cords from turn to turn. Still I'm moving up as I pass the scene of crashes and see riders frantically trying to get back on the track after running off. I sense the laps ticking off, but somehow I'm so focused on 865 I missed the white flag. There's a yellow in T9 and a bike down just off the race line, no white flag there either. I drive hard out of T15, but get nipped at the line by #931 who finally catches up after running off the first lap. I'm last, but a fighting last I think. Funny thing is, I don't actually see the checkered flag, so I run all the way to T10 at race pace before I figure it out. I'm so slow most people thought I was on the cool down.
Sorry I didn't wave, Ann and Jordan, I was still going all-out. My times surprise a little, mostly 2:08's but I rip a solitary 2:06 so I think there's room for improvement. The Apres-race party involved tequila shots as I recall.

Anyway, I survived my first AFM race, even though I finished last. Thank you all for being there, special thanks to Brian P. Next installment, Infineon Round 6, or My trip(s) through the daisies, why does David look sooo worried during Clubman middleweight?, and I think Barbara finds me attractive. :-)

Love , Paul

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reflections of Alaska, Reuniting At The AMA Conference

This coming Tuesday I will be jet setting off to Keystone CO to the 5Th AMA Women & Motorcycling International Conference. It holds great meaning for me on two levels: One, it will be my first experience in attending an all women's conference exclusively in motorcycling. And two, I will be reuniting with 4 of the 13 women, who shared in a life altering, more than 1200 mile Alaskan trek, solely on motorcycles.

Cathy is was born and raised in Michigan. A chaplain at a privately owned small hospital , who, in her spare time, rides with an all women's motorcycle group called the Free Spirit Chapter out of Southeast Michigan, on her Honda Nighthawk 750.
She and I were friendly on our Alaskan pilgrimage up in the Great White North, but became close friends after my former husband had been hospitalized. I came to understand the importance of Cathy's work, when the my local chaplain had been so comforting to me in my time of need. I expressed my feelings of compassion for her work and told her how much I appreciated what she did. We communicated via email for over a year and a half and bonded our friendship even further when she came out for a week long stay with me in CA. We had a blast together!

Jane is from Connecticut and will be flying out with me to Colorado. She will be visiting here in California prior to the conference, so our reunion will be at the Oakland airport at 5:30 AM! That should inspire us to wake up!
Ellen and Laura are both from Texas. They will be riding up along with Ellen's husband, John, his friend, Jon and their neighbor, Ted. Ellen stated in an email, "We will have 3 Harley's and 2 Honda's, we need at least 2 dependable bikes on the trip!"

The Texas clan will be departing on Saturday August 15Th and staying in Amarillo, Texas as the first over nighter. Sunday, they will be taking an over night break in Walsenburg Colorado. And on Monday, staying in Gunnison Colorado and then on to Keystone.

After our rendezvous at the Denver airport, Jane will pick up her Harley Davidson Heritage Softtail at Eagleriders on one side of Denver. While Cathy and I go to the other side of town, where I will mount up on a Honda Interceptor and Cathy on a BMW F800GS, from Tour Riders.
The three of us will once again reunite on HWY 70 near Golden, CO and continue on our 1 1/2 hour journey up HWY 70 into the Rockies, where we should simultaneously meet the Texas 5 at a 5 Bdrm, 5 Ba house that Ellen found on the internet.

On August 17, Tuesday at approximately 2:00PM central time, in a large brown house entangled amongst the Aspens of Keystone Colorado, is where the 5 unsuspecting girls from the summer of '07, inquisitively deciding to embark on a historian, 1st all women's , 7 day, 1200 mile journey, will continue to build on friendships that will last a life time.

Side Note:
The Alaska ride was also instrumental in the development of the Style Saver Scarves. This was the forum I chose to test my newly invented prototype.
I fervidly had sewn 23 polyester satin scarves in preparation for a great opportunity to test out my concept of creating a bandanna styled "silky" scarf, in an effort to combat "helmet hair."
Something I struggled with as hair stylist, riding a motorcycle!

The girls were great about trying out the new "doo" saving scarves and as a result, I discovered the necessary changes that needed to be made in order to successfully introduce them into the market.

Reflecting back today, if it wasn't for the willingness of the women, on the Alaska Riders Tour, Style Saver Scarves might still be in it's infancy!

Thank you girls, for all your support!