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My First Race Experience

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I've finally done it. After 8 years of track riding, I've started racing. A few weekends this year and I'll be all in next year. I thought for my first experience I'd have a funny story, or that I'd be pumped and shaking, but it wasn't like that at all.


I've been on Arroyo once before. It's probably in worse shape than any other track I've ever ridden. I've been on around 10, so it's not like I've been sheltered. A tight corner before the straight has a dip that is, at its deepest, probably over half a foot deep. I'll walk the track if I can get there early enough to show you. It goes along the width of the track, so there's no avoiding it. The owner and other riders get people to go there. The one time I was at Arroyo, I was doing 1:24's. I'm horrible at new tracks and take a while to get used to them.


During the practice day I couldn't come close to that time. I was lapping 1:31. I have no clue what was going on, but I was pissed. The front pack was doing 1:17-1:18, as they do in the races. I'd just wasted a bunch of money, was the only thing I was thinking, and I was about to pack my stuff and not bother with it. End my dream of becoming a Moto GP rider by the time I was 50 before I even started trying to fulfill it. My bike has been regeared and I'm on track tires for the first time. AND I'M 7-SECONDS SLOWER!!!


Raceday came and I wasn't doing any better during warmup. I'm an excitable fellow, so everyone knew what was going through my head by my facial expressions and... well... I was saying everything that was going through my head. My friends were avoiding me because I'd snap at them. One guy's repetitive suggestion was "go faster." He avoided me as well, after I replied to the 5th time he said it. My girlfriend wasn't talking to me because I was being short and she knows there's just nothing anyone can say to me at this point.


Having never raced, I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't nervous, and although I'd gotten a little excited a couple of days before the race weekend, there were no nerves. I was thinking maybe I just wasn't into it.


I was in 3 races. I'm not going to keep you in suspense and just tell you now that I didn't win any of them. What I will do, is let you know a little about me. I have PTSD and am flippin' nuts. My mind is always working. When I'm on the track, everyone says that my problem is that I'm always thinking. I know this, but it's odd that everyone else can pick up on it as they all have. Everything I've learned in all my schooling goes through my head as I round every corner. When I go to sleep every night, it's a noggin full of thoughts. Try listening to your favorite song, a song you hate, a movie and a TV show all at the same time while trying to relax. That's what going to sleep is like for me.


The damnedest thing happened when I went out for my races, though. Everything stopped. It was quiet. Not having a peaceful moment in my head for over 20 years came to an end. I've always loved the track because it turns everything down to one thing: riding the bike. But even that left my head. Just the race that was about to happen. There is no way to describe it. When everything from the race countdown to the flag was happening, my mind was blank. When we went into turn 1 (I was in the back in all of them because I signed up the morning of the races) I wasn't thinking about what I was doing with the bike, just what was happening on the track. Safe lines, other riders, and how I was going to get past them. What I was doing and going to do. I'd bet that, besides the physical requirements of riding the bike, my heartrate wasn't over 100. I've watched some riders with monitors on going and staying in the 160's, but I have to say that racing motorcycles is the most calming thing I've ever done.


I'm not good at it. I had to fight to get past some 1,000's in a couple of races, and I have nothing on the straights, so if I pass someone a couple of corners before we go down the straights, I have it to do all over again because they fly right by me. I'm hooked though. It's like being addicted to anti-crack for me.


In every race, it was a matter of picking off one rider after another. I split 2 racers going into a carousel and would swear it would be on a Moto GP greatest passes of all time video, had it happened in a GP race. I was screaming in my helmet! I ended up middle of the pack in every race, and everyone I got past couldn't get back around me. My best time was a 1:21 flat. When I hit 1:18, I'll be satisfied. I'm going to do one more race next month before packing it in for the summer, in order to get the bike repaired and suspension fixed (it's leaking all over from both sides after having it worked on by Cycle Mall in California and getting to do 3 trackdays on it before the fluids started shooting out). I've already put $3,000 aside so I can race next year without worrying about where the money is coming from. I'll also do a couple more races in the fall.


Sorry it's not your standard race report, but this first race wasn't about what I did during the race for me. I was also just picking off riders in the slow group and closing gaps to get by some others. Nothing very interesting.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Awesome post Jason. I cant imagine dealing with PTSD but I do know that the feeling of everything else dropping away is one of the things I love about the track. As for winning races...well...when people hear that I track ride they ask if I'm fast. I tell them the truth "Not really, but I'm faster than those who dont do it at all".


Nice work sir.

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Great story. Thank you.


I've been hoping to try some WERA racing. I say hoping because I bought a "race bike" (used in CCS and a couple AMA rounds in 2012) last year and thought that'd have me setup. After reading the WERA manual and then looking the bike over, I discovered I'm missing about 90% of their safety wiring requirements. So far I've been too lazy to work on drilling holes everywhere, so obviously my racing attempts will have to wait until I get motivated enough to complete that task.

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