Pinkyracer on the various strata at MotoGP races

Someone's long-haired son gets bored posing with the Red Bull Girls, COTA 2013.

Someone’s long-haired son gets bored posing with the Red Bull Girls, COTA 2013.

Sure, pretty much everyone at the track loves motorcycle racing. We wouldn’t be there if we didn’t. Some love racing more than others. But some love more than racing. Some, like me, love feeling special. I like feeling like I’m in the inner circle, not just a fan among fans. I was feeling very introspective this weekend, being at a GP without the press pass I’d grown accustomed to wearing. I had to think about where I most wanted to watch the races. Not just this weekend, but in the future. Everything has a price, or a trade off, and race spectating is no exception. Everyone at the track has a role, and is helping keep the sport alive through their passion.

Some of the roles I’ve held are:
Fan (general admission or varying levels of ticket access)
Media
Guest (well, usually not for the entire weekend, as sponsor guest passes are really for the sponsors)
Volunteer worker (riders for health)

Roles I’d like to hold, in order of awesomeness:
Team Sponsor
Team Press Officer
Grid Girl (not just for the access but for the validation)
Racer’s wife (less of an option now as most racers are young enough to be my kids!)

Sure, I’d love to be a racer, but I discovered in my club racing days that I really didn’t have it in me. So I’m content to watch the talented ones do their thing.

 

The Price of Access

2013 MotoGP passes

The price of a press pass with your name on it is coming up with really good stories about the event, stories that are compelling and insightful, that people can’t read anywhere else. Like these and these? That’s not as simple as it sounds when you’ve got a room full of experts all tapping their way through to the same goal. I still think I’d really enjoy working as a press officer, having simple content to write (just the facts, ma’am) and plenty of work to do to feel useful in the paddock. The price of being a press officer is working all weekend, not being able to just wander off and do what you want. And sometimes it even means missing the main race!

 

But then there’s also the role of sponsor, which is really the royalty of any race weekend. Without the sponsors, the series simply would not exist. I’ve dreamt of being a sponsor ever since I sat in that hurricane in Indianapolis, staring across the front straight at all those people dry and comfortable inside the VIP building above the garages. For a few hundred thousand dollars, that role could be mine.

 

Sure, I know some people in the paddock, and can occasionally get a spare sponsor pass from them, to hang out in the paddock on a Sunday afternoon as teams are packing up, and most fans are sitting in traffic. That used to be a big thrill, and feel really special. But now that feels false, like I’m an interloper disguised as a VIP. The true VIPs are the ones who paid $600+ for a spot in VIP village. And of course the sponsors whose companies are paying hundreds of thousands to market their businesses through MotoGP. I don’t want to annoy the racers, as they get enough strangers trying to get a piece of them all weekend. I also don’t want to get in the way, and don’t feel like a genuine part of the MotoGP family/circus. Like any traveling show, the people who travel together become a very tight-knit family, each team being closer and more inter-dependent than most families.

 

Because my paddock access was limited this race weekend, I roamed the general admission areas, usually with friends, but sometimes alone. Even wandering alone, I always saw people I knew, or who recognized me from social media. It’s so nice to connect IRL with people whose lives you’ve seen online.

 

Ducati People Rock

Cal pit stop blog

As always, I got myself and my friends into Ducati island, always a treat. I love the hospitality and camaraderie Ducati brings! Danny Carson has been running their roadshow for decades, and it is a show worth enjoying. I don’t know exactly what he’s responsible for, but I’ve always known him as the man in charge. I was honored to be one of the Ducati Revs America attendees and racer girls. Particularly when Danny’s wedding was held at the event! It was one of the greatest weekends of my life. More about my life as a Ducatista here. Although I’ve found bikes I enjoy owning more than Ducatis, and I talk no end of shit about that evil psychotic redheaded bitch in MotoGP who destroys men’s souls, I love Ducati people. All the Ducati people I know are awesome. I miss being part of La Famiglia, but I don’t miss the valve adjustments. ;-)

 

So yeah, it feels great to be able to get that wristband and hang with the cool kids. What’s funny is I wound up watching the GP directly above the Ducati garage, in a Red Bull VIP suite. It totally felt like I got in where I fit in, even though I knew I wasn’t fully qualified to be there. It feels even greater to have a pass with my name on it, so I’m sure a proper hard card with my name on it for the full season would feel even better. The only thing standing between me and that pass is my lack of perseverance/fear of failure. I get these brilliant ideas, then don’t follow through on them. I’ve become spoiled, having a long career in something I’m too good at- turning people’s visions into reality.

 

It’s time I got out of my way. Yes, a lot of what I want at a race is ego-based. The jumbotrons viewable from those general admission hillsides are bigger than the one viewable from VIP village, and certainly more pleasant to experience than just sitting in a dark room in front of a wall of monitors. While I love being outside where I can experience it live, there’s just something so special about being in that media center, working. It’s the best work environment I’ve ever experienced, and I’d love to see if it’s as fun all season as it was for the three US rounds I got to work last year.

 

Although, as I looked around on the GA hillside in Texas, I had to admit these people were only different from the GA people at Mugello in one way- most of us aren’t half as obsessed with the sport as those Italians are. Other than that, we’re all just ordinary working-class people who love racing and can’t afford VIP access. It’s not just being a part of the inner circle, feeling like one of them, it’s also the idea of traveling the world. I loved being surrounded by and working with people speaking different languages. I’d still love to run off and join the MotoGP circus, at least for a few years. Or start a company that could actually sponsor a Moto2 team within the next few years…

2014 Zero S Review- Your Range Anxiety is Bullshit

2014 Zero S Malibu

This bike was not only fun to ride, but blew my mind with the range. Sure, it’s got twice the battery capacity of my Zero FX, and weighs a lot more, but wow. I could totally sell the R1 and go all-electric… Full story on Gas2.

Photographed juicing up at my favorite westside lunch spot- Malibu Country Mart.

Freedom Cookies!

freedom cookies

I know, this is not a baking site. But! Ride to Eat, Eat to Ride. The only way to live! However, we can’t ride very far or fast (especially on the pedals) if we’re bogged down with a bunch of crap food. So I’ve finally perfected the double chocolate chip cookie. Thanks to HeatherVescent for the perfect starter recipe. Hers is great, but I needed it to be Free. Gluten Free. Sugar Free. And Dairy Free. I’ve been afraid to ditch the dairy, but finally crossed over completely. You could call these Coconut Chocolate Delights, there’s so much Coconut in them. And they are truly delightful. Trust me, I know chocolate And these are the best cookies I’ve ever tasted.  All ingredients are organic and fair trade whenever possible. Especially the boiling water… Continue reading Freedom Cookies!

Picking your Battles | Survival Skills

Zero at home

my precious babies safe at home after both enjoying some riding today

Patience is not a virtue that comes naturally to me. I have to work hard to develop it. But sometimes it’s easy.
Riding a motorcycle means I….
Lanesplit
On the Freeway
At Night
In the Rain
In Los Angeles (where nobody knows how to drive in the rain).

But even I have to draw the line at doing all of the above right after the Superbowl (or any other major drinking event). A simple detour to one of my favorite quiet surface streets made a potentially fatal ride home quite pleasant. Beverly can get you from Hollywood to DTLA just as fast, even faster sometimes.

Today I also got to ride my R1 through sand, out in Joshua Tree. That was exciting. But I kept my speed down (around 6mph!) and didn’t make any sudden moves, and we made the half mile trip (each way) successfully. It was exciting, especially having to turn corners where the sand was actually a couple inches deep. Luckily traffic wasn’t an issue. I am dying to play in the dirt more, now that I’ve learned how to do so through Shelina Moreda’s dirt camp, which I did last year. In case you missed it, the full story is on RideApart.

Winter has finally come to SoCal, let’s all keep the shiny side up!

Zero Motorcycles Press Intro | International Motorcycle Show

Zero FX

The FX may be the perfect city bike, but not with those tires. Those are your Saturday tires, for playing in the dirt. Get some Zero S wheels to run street rubber on this bike for everyday use.

Here’s a recent article I did for Gas2…

 

Zero had a massive showing again this year, with a central spot on the show floor at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, CA. As press entered the show we were greeted by a pair of ladies handing us Zero brochures and reminding us not to miss their presentation.

Judging by how late most of the paper magazines were to report on these bikes, some even reporting on 2013 models when they’re all sold out, you’d have think they missed it last year. You know we didn’t. Full coverage here. And exclusive video interview with Zero owner Terry Hershner on the completion of his first (of MANY) cross-country trip on the Zero S. Oh how that bike has changed over the year! It was sad that the only Brammo at the event was the wheelie “ride” bike I saw outside near the stunt arena. The show continues in New York this coming weekend. Story continues on Gas2….

Girl On A Motorcycle | Film Review

photo courtesy of IMPAwards

photo courtesy of IMPAwards

Shockingly, I never got around to watching this film until this week. It was released 2 years before I was born, rated X, so the first 15 years of my life, I just wasn’t likely to see it. I’ve known about it since the 80′s or 90′s, friends mentioned it, and of course I’d seen That Suit. But given the crowd I ran with from age 15 on, when I started riding my scooter, you’d think it would’ve been playing at some art house or something. But nope. I saw Born Losers, which was my favorite 60′s era “Bikesploitation” flick. Until now. And not just for the flawless Lanvin custom leather suit. I’m already plotting how to make a replica with D30 armor inside instead of fur.

Continue reading Girl On A Motorcycle | Film Review

Execute! Predict! Scan! Decide! Identify!

traffic

I’ve been thinking about SIPDE lately. It’s the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s acronym that’s very handy for riding- Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute. They must be done in order. Don’t mix that up. Scanning used to be so automatic is wasn’t even conscious. Then I started riding a bicycle. At 15mph, your eyes can safely wander. You notice stuff you’d never see at 20+mph.

 

The hard part is getting back to 20+mph vision, which requires consciously ignoring shiny distractions and ONLY seeing the things that matter. Mainly the big, fast things that could kill you. Not much else matters. Not that intriguing billboard. Not that new store that looks like it might be interesting. Not the cute guy waiting for the bus. None of that matters. It’s rather annoying that I have to re-train my brain when switching from bicycle to motorcycle. But there it is.

If I was a snake, I would’ve bit you…

Identifying hazards is pretty simple, but requires an awareness of your environment. Like the guy I had to pull a Lorenzo on while riding the bike path on Saturday. Two men rode side by side through an underpass, convinced they were the only people on the whole bike path, on a Saturday afternoon, and that nobody could possibly need to get some momentum while trying to get up the hill at a considerably faster pace than them. They failed to identify the possibility that others may want to share the path with them, particularly through an area where traffic noise was likely to drown out any calls of “on your left!” I think the only injury was someone’s pride. I thought when they told me I was supposed to ride slower than guys they meant fast guys, not all guys.

 

Tonight I exited 110NB on 9th st as usual. Except my timing was such that I had to tuck in behind a gravel truck. I could’ve passed him on the left, as there are 2 lanes to the left at the bottom of the exit ramp. But I saw another gravel truck merging from 9th st. Being a local, I knew that the major construction sites are on 7th and 8th, accessible at the very next left turn onto Figueroa. So I waited a second, saw that the 9th st gravel truck was signaling left, and of course the one I could’ve passed on the left also moved to the left. Waiting a second and then passing both trucks on the right was the safer decision.

People think Predicting is hard.

It’s not. Except when you’re riding too soon after your last concussion, you should be able to predict that cab which is lit up as available is going to dive across 4 lanes of traffic, or stop suddenly, or both, to pick up that fare that just shot their arm up. But that’s NYC. LA is a lot less predictable, because most LA drivers are not only NOT professionals, they’re actually not even driving. They’re getting stoned, or looking at their phones, or both.

 

But some things you can predict. An LA driver will almost always turn right then immediately head for the left lane, and vice versa. It’s an LA thing. It took me awhile to become comfortable riding here (again) when I moved from NYC in 2001, but eventually I found the flow. It’s not a natural, smooth flow like Rome, or even NYC, but it’s predictable enough. Just keep an eye on the front wheels of cars as you’re lanesplitting and try to avoid splitting past a gap in one lane. Someone next to that gap may suddenly decide that’s the void they’ve been looking to fill their whole life. And take it easy diving in as traffic is just starting to slow, those are the people most likely to want to change lanes.

 

And always expect the car waiting to turn left to not see you. They know you’re not big enough to hurt them, and unless you look like you just rolled off the set of Sons of Anarchy, you don’t look like a threat. So I make myself more visible, because wearing neon pink actually isn’t enough. (proven). When approaching the intersection, I’ll put one hand out in a “stop!” signal, while shaking my head “no!”. As I pass them safely, that hand changes to a thumbs up for good behavior. I don’t care if they were just waiting for those pedestrians in the crosswalk, they still get a gold star for not hitting me.

He who hesitates in war is lost.

This phrase is something I live by. I rarely hesitate when riding in traffic, and when I have I know it wasn’t ideal. Make your decision and OWN IT. Sometimes that decision is “Here is where I get to exercise patience and tolerance. these “muscles” are weak as hell, and could use some practice.” Other times that decision is “fuck yeah I can fit there!” That sort of decision can be fatal if you second-guess yourself because that gap you were counting on is constantly changing. It could shrink to nothing in a split second.

 

Now go out and RIDE! I’m sick of meeting motorcyclists who live in LA but refuse to ride here. Be part of the solution. And if you’re nervous, find a group ride, or a buddy who’s got some patience to ride with. I suck at riding slow. But the East Side Moto Babes meet up most Tuesdays for a nice chill ride. You don’t have to ride vintage to ride with them, but it helps if you’re a babe.

Yamaha Knows How To Treat Customers!

Enjoy this video of my booty working it around the track on Saturday…

The weekend of October 12th and 13th, Yamaha sponsored their annual Owners Appreciation Event at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. The track days were conducted by Zoom Zoom, and awesome as always. Zoom Zoom does a great job, and Yamaha kicks down some money to make it free (if you’ve got a newer Yamaha) or $100 for the rest of us. This is a brilliant strategy from a company that prides itself on making kick-ass sportbikes.

$100/day is a quarter of the cost of a typical track day at my favorite race track. It was so fun to be back out there, and on my big boy. The Refuel event was fun, but my Zero FX tops out at about 80mph, which makes for a very boring run up the front straight. I trained a little to try and build my strength, as I knew two days on the R1 at Laguna would be a serious workout. But it wasn’t enough, so my lazy ass could barely walk by the middle of the second day. So I packed it in early, as did quite a few others. Track days are a great way to appease the need for speed, and Laguna is my favorite track to ride. You can see pictures of me on-track at gotbluemilk.com

Continue reading Yamaha Knows How To Treat Customers!

Suzuki Girls…

GS450 In August I was asked to cover Suzuki’s 50th Anniversary party at the Indianapolis round of MotoGP. It was a lovely party, especially because I got to see the Suzuki that was my first real motorcycle. They had this nice history wall, with media highlights from all their 50 years of selling bikes in the US. You can read my story on RideApart. Before the GS450 I’d only had scooters and an MZ150, which looked like a motorcycle but ran like a very high-maintenance scooter. The GS450 was the most powerful bike I’d owned. I bought it from my friend Jaxon, who’d been using it as a motorcycle messenger. At the time I was a scooter messenger, delivering letters and packages around San Francisco on a 1965 Lambretta TV175. The Lambretta had been properly rebuilt by Barry at SF Scooter Centre, so it ran like a champ even under the hardest conditions. But I saw the messengers on proper motorcycles getting the higher paying out-of-town runs, and wanted a piece of that. In the early 90′s in San Francisco, all the cool kids rode BMWs and the REALLY cool kids rode Ducatis. I didn’t have the kind of money for either, and needed something practical. So I bought Jaxon’s GS450 when he upgraded to a bigger bike. Continue reading Suzuki Girls…

The Life and Times of Princess Concussia

Princess Concussia, as rendered by brilliant sewing artist Paul Nosa

Princess Concussia, as rendered by brilliant sewing artist Paul Nosa

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away known as New York City, there was a biker chick. She liked to go fast. In fact, she traveled hundreds of miles to a distant race track on race weekends to do so in a safer environment. On one of those race weekend mornings, the track was a bit cooler than she’d expected. Cracking open the throttle on T2 a little too ambitiously for the lean angle she was riding at, she sent herself into a highside.

Essentially what that entails is- the rider feels the bike start to lose traction, so the natural reaction is to slam that throttle shut. Which she did. Which then results in the bike regaining traction entirely too quickly. Which then confuses the hell out of the poor motorcycle, so it bucks side to side like a wild bronco, trying desperately to shake the offending pilot off, who should’ve just gently closed the throttle a little… When the bike succeeds in spitting the rider off into the air, we call this a highside. This one resulted in concussion #4. And the gift of a lovely set of tire warmers from her caring brother.

Continue reading The Life and Times of Princess Concussia