I like big bikes, and I cannot lie

Photos courtesy of Andy Woo

I actually sang this, and completely rewrote the chorus to make my point on Sunday morning. The rest of my (all female) team couldn’t understand why I was so unmotivated. Something about having to fold my knees into my armpits in a suit that never seemed quite cut for actually racing might have contributed to my extreme discomfort on the baby bike. Timeline highlights follow…

14:00 Friday: I ride my R1 (the fun way, of course) to willow and back to get 3 laps of practice in on a bike unlike any I’ve ever ridden. It’s small. It’s light enough for me to lift it (almost). It’s slow as molasses. But with 17″ wheels, this Honda NS50 (bored to a 63) is almost rideable. But still not as fun as my R1.

6:00 am Saturday: I wake up long before any human should have to in order to get to track in time for tech inspection & the riders meeting. I skip the 1 hour practice session, as some of my teammates have had none.

While waiting for the riders meeting, we discuss who should start. Although I’m the one who only runs when the alternative is tear gas (Cramps concert, Hollywood Palladium, 1986), we decide I should be the one who runs to the bike to start the race. Mainly because my suit matches the bike perfectly.

High Noon, Saturday: I had no idea just how slowly I run until I was competing against 10 guys. Last one to the bike, last one off the line. Although I picked up speed throughout the session, Jason Perez did manage to lap me 5 times.

Later that afternoon… I pitch a fit because we’re not supposed to have more than one vehicle in our pit, even though our 1 vehicle is a fraction of the size of the 1 vehicle many competitors have. Most nonsensical rule I’ve ever heard of. So when the lightning threatens to move in and the rain is indeed pouring sideways in the ever-present Rosamond afternoon wind, we had to scramble to find shelter. Then it started to calm down and it was time for my first nap. Then it was time to wake up again (as if I’d actually slept) and ride again.

4:00-8:00PM, Saturday: I ride a couple 20-minute-ish sessions, finishing out the shift on a high note with an extra session to leave me nice and worn out for my 2nd nap session. I attempt to sleep in my car without any padding, and manage maybe an hour.

Midnight… The halfway point. My 3rd shift begins, so I drive back to the pit and join my team. We’re excited that it’s the halfway mark. I’m actually a little disappointed and kinda horrified it’s still happening. My sleep-deprived brain hears the bikes on course and can’t accept that there are different people on those bikes. I’m wondering how these robots can just keep going like this. Meanwhile, my teammates are rarin’ to go, so I think I let them start the shift. I did a session, it was ok, but still excruciatingly painful. Although I was able to practice turning in later and getting on the gas earlier. I know, I wasn’t supposed to ever close the throttle on that 6hp beast. (for real, it was half what it was supposed to be). At 4am I return to “bed” and freeze my ass off until I decide to just run the engine & heater, carbon monoxide be damned.

8:00 AM Sunday: I wake up for the final run to the checker- creaky, exhausted, and in dire need of caffeine and breakfast. I get my fuel, then gleefully volunteer to do the pit board as that’s about all I can handle at 8AM on a Sunday morning with almost no sleep. On our team, pit board duty mainly consisted of sitting in a chair watching the race, and letting the rider know when they’d been out there for 15 minutes, then letting the pit crew know when the rider was heading in.

High Noon, Sunday: We all applaud as the racers take the checker (Jason Perez first, of course). Despite only having 6.5 riders on the team (I was the .5), we came in 3rd in our class! Even more shocking is that we were on a 6hp (measured after the race by Kitty’s mechanic) 63cc bike competing against 100’s! This is what passion can do for a team. We may have only completed 960 laps to Team Rojo’s 1334 laps, but we completed them all.

The next day, after sleeping 11 hours in my wonderful bed, I rode to work and was pleasantly surprised by how much faster and lower I was in the corners. It feels so good to be back on my big bike it’s almost pornographic. I can’t wait to get out to the canyons and see just how much of a difference that stint on the torture device made on my riding. Although I still hate little bikes, I loved being part of such an awesome team. I’m really glad everyone had so much fun riding, and that I got to watch. I loved being out at Willow all night, under the stars, with the music of motorcycles going nonstop.


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