My perspective on cars, bikes and such.

First of all I've always loved cars and motorcycles. I have "the need for speed" and I'm addicted to the "go-fast crack pipe". Once I had driven on the racetrack I was hooked. I met my husband at the racetrack. At this point in time I want to be on the track at least once a week. I'm fortunate to have a husband that likes the same things I do and he encourages me to do those things.

I hate poor sports - the guy at the racetrack that has paid exorbitant amounts of money on his car just to be passed by little ol' me on the track.- he irks me. There are plenty of fast women in the world, be nice to us, we will rule one day ;). Don't come up to my husband after I have passed you and assume that he was the one driving. Then when you find out it was a woman don't make excuses, just say what you would if I were a man.

There's nothing better than shopping for bike leathers with your husband. I like to see the looks on the other guy's faces - pure envy. :) Don't get me wrong; I'm not that full of myself as to think every man wants me. It's just that almost every guy wants a woman that at the very least won't give him shit about cars, bikes, and spending too much time in the garage.

If you're reading this then you have read dp's site and you know that I can work on cars and drive them too. You probably also know I'm just now getting into bikes, as of now I have a healthy fear of them. I remember having that same fear with regards to the track about 2 years ago. The fear of the track is gone now and has been replaced with a desire to learn and develop my driving skills. I have a long way to go but I'm having fun every step of the way. I long for the day when a bike ride isn't an experience that puts my stomach in knots but is instead something like a car trackday.

May 14th, 2008 I decided to ride the 748 to work today just to see what it's like to commute on a bike. Before I even got it out of the drive way I dropped it on my foot. I had to sit on the ground and pull on my leg with both hands and all my strength to get my foot out from under the bike.

I still rode to work - so I could get ice of course- :)

With my foot almost fully healed I wanted to get back on the 748. I was fully geared up and ready to go when my fear got the best of me. I talked myself back on the bike and away we went. After almost crashing into the curb, a parked car, the other curb, stalling the bike, and almost falling over at a stop sign, I had a mini break down on the street. Probably 15 min later dp calmed me down and away we went -again-. I had a good ride, although I had a death grip on the handlebars the whole time to the point of being quite painful. The ride was about an hour and a half ride each way (most likely because I was so slow). I learned a lot and I have a big list of things to work on from my teacher (dp).

June 20, 2008 A friend of dp's is in town after riding all the way up from Texas on his bike. Naturally, a bike outing is in order. After my near-crashes and dropping the 748 on my foot, riding in the neighborhood scares me. The hills, the tight turns and the broken pavement are about the toughest riding you can do according to my husband. It scares me to the point of where I hadn't ridden in a month and a half. I thought I was fine... But I wasn't. So I took off all my gear and loaded up the mini so I could follow them and switch if I got up the courage. It turned out I didn't find the courage to ride that day but I had a blast in the mini except for the slow bikes in front of me ;)

We went leathers shopping again today. Dp wants me to have one-piece leathers so I can safely learn to ride on the track. Of course we went to motocorsa; I love motocorsa. They actually have women working there that know what they are talking about when it comes to bikes and equipment. The whole experience of trying on the leathers for the first time was painful for my ego, I'm not fat but wow these things are tight!

July 4th, 2008 It's a coincidence that dp has several friends that are learning to ride right now. I suggested we call them up and go for a novice ride with them. I pretty much refuse to ride in my neighborhood now so I load my gear in the mini, dp gets on the 748 and we switch once we are out a ways. I just did a short ride. You know you're in the country when 3 huge hogs are running down the road in your lane right at you. I pulled over, off the road, just to see my jacket and boots covered with coolant. The 748 decided to overheat and spray me with coolant from the overflow tank. Once the hogs were safely off the road I switched back to the mini and let dp get the overheating ducati back home.

July 6th 2008 Another short ride today. Like I said earlier, I have a lot of things to work on. Before every corner I say my little mantra- breathe, body position, elbows in, wrists straight and relaxed, look through the turn, go. :) I really need to shorten this, which means I need to ride more and start making those things second nature. As dp says 'if you have to think about it - it's too late'.

July 10th 2008 More practice and learning - the more I ride the more I want to ride again. Today was the first time on the freeway YAY! :) I don't like the freeway, it's boring (no real surprise there). On the back roads I'm still working on being consistent in turns and smooth.

After we got home the conversation went like this:

dp: How did the ride feel overall?

Me: Good. But bikes are difficult and complicated.

dp: Yeah. They are, just like women. They're worth it.

Me: I see.

I tried some low-speed turns on the way home. I freaked myself out, I prefer the higher-speed, open sweepers for now. Someday I'll be comfortable in traffic in low-speed, tight turns. But not yet.

July 22nd 2008 With my first bike track day coming up fast, I need to become comfortable on the bike ASAP. This time I actually made it out of the neighborhood on the bike without any emotional breakdowns. ;) I still hate the low speed stuff, it's a vicious cycle - I go slow because I'm scared and that makes the bike handle worse so I get more freaked out and go slower! Argh! My mind knows what to do I just can't make my body do it. But at least I made it. I need to get over this fear of low speed / traffic / stopsign stuff. Every time I stop or have to go slow I tense up and it just gets worse from there.

Since I rode the entire way today, dp came along on the 900 instead of in a car like before and we switched for part of the ride. The 900 felt small and my legs were especially cramped. I had a hard time getting my toe under the shift lever so the next time we stopped I got back on "my" bike.

So what's the deal with animals crossing my path when I'm on a bike? A few rides ago it was three full-grown hogs running towards me and today it was a baby bobcat crossing the road. He was really cool looking but he startled me by jumping out in the middle of a corner.

Next ride will be in my leathers! I need to break them in for the upcoming trackday. I'm not sure how the leathers will help (people say they make the ride more comfortable), because they are so tight, I can see myself passing out in the middle of a ride due to lack of blood to the brain. ;)

Here's a woman's perspective on riding bikes- I went to the salon today to get a haircut. $70 later (I think) my hair looks great. Four hours after that - taking off my helmet - I have horrible helmet hair. Oh well. The ride is worth it.

July 27th, 2008 dp and I finally took care of the auto-retracting kickstand the 748 had. He did most of the work :). We also lubed the chain. Bike maintenance is interesting. I find it to be totally different from car maintenance, but fun. The 748 is much easier to park without battling the kickstand. Now I just have to remember to put the kickstand up before "take off".

In keeping with the preparing for the upcoming bike track day theme, I went shopping for something to wear under my leathers. I found something that works great. North Face makes it; it's called Base Layer. They're water wicking, breathable, cooling, and on top of that they are made from bamboo (a sustainable material). I've read enough bike forums to know that a lot of people don't know what to wear under bike leathers (me included). It reminds me of the age-old question what do men wear under kilts?

Today was the first ride in my leathers, it started like this: I can't breathe! My head feels like it's going to pop! I can't breathe! These things are way too tight!! I can't bend my leg to get it on the foot peg! I can't breathe! Once under way, I stopped thinking about all of those things and focused on riding. The ride was fine except I couldn't breathe and I now have extremely painful knots in my back. The back pain is my fault though; I was way too tense with my upper body.

I'm slowly banishing my fear of low speed riding. I did fine today, no close calls. :)

I feel like a "street racer", I can go relatively fast on the straights but when a corner comes up I slow down and become timid. I'll get over it soon (I hope). dp said I looked better in the corners, I felt better too. I focused on countersteering and rolling on the throttle out of the turns. I'm starting to get the hang of this; I almost have a rhythm going. Almost.

July 28th, 2008 OK I know this riding thing is supposed to be fun, but right now for me it's quite painful and scary. The ride today hurt because my leathers are doing something funny to my back. Well the issue might be entirely my fault; I'm not sure. I need to do some experiments with the bike, my riding gear and my posture.

This was the longest ride I've done so far (that's not saying much). Previous outings have been under 30 miles roundtrip, today was about 45. The last part of the ride (the extra bit of road) was very scary for me. I didn't know the road. There are decreasing radius corners. And gravel. This combined with the pain in my back and being a novice rider made it extremely stressful.

On the way home the knots in my back were excruciatingly painful. dp said that I picked up the pace on the way home- I was motivated by getting my leathers off and fixing my back I guess. With my first trackday approaching fast I need to figure out this issue sooner rather that later. Worst case, I think I can live with the back pain on the track a 20 minute session at a time :)

July 28th, 2008 Finally, another car track day- Porsche day. After struggling with the bikes this is very refreshing. This was my first day in the advanced run group. I like it much better in advanced, less people for one and fun cars in this group. Today I was passed A LOT :). I much prefer this to being stuck behind people. I spent half my laps with my hand in the air pointing GT3s by me.
I want more power! As soon as I said this I realized that more power wouldn't help me if I can't take advantage of all the power I have now (the Mini). Don't get me wrong I like the Mini it just doesn't compare to a GT3 (duh!) in the hands of a good driver.

I feel good out there, the Mini does what I ask now and I feel in control of the car. By being more comfortable on the track and gaining confidence allows me to play more. I am experimenting with braking zones, shifting, pitching the car into turns and throttle steering. Downshifting to 2nd for Turn 7 is working really well but 6 is still a problem for me. dp is trying to get me to track out on exit but for some reason the edge looks scary and I can't bring myself to do it except for once or twice. A while back I was using the brakes quite aggressively but overbraking for turns. Now I've gone the other way and am braking too early but not hard enough, although my corner entry speeds have increased.

Definitely lots of things to work on but overall my pace seems OK for the Advanced group and I don't feel out of place. In the plots above I'm the black trace and dp is the red trace. I can gain time by braking later and carrying that speed through the entire turn -mainly tracking out to the edge so I can give it more gas earlier. I've been focused on getting off the brakes and turn in, this is most likely the reason I'm faster than dp in turn 10. Today I eventually increased my speed through turns 10 and 11 to the point where they became new corners to me. I've heard people say that 11 is off camber but I had never experienced it before today. This is what I love about PIR, just when I think I know the track, I go through a corner at I different speed and surprise it's a new corner.