racing

First Lady Ana Carrasco

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I recently saw this post on Facebook from a gentleman by the name of Stuart Baker. He prefaced this post with the following text:

Since no magazine or website wants to publish this feature I've decided to forego my usual fee and publish it on here myself because I believe this woman deserves recognition for what she's achieving. Please share this post freely and perhaps, between us, we can reach a wider audience than a closed-minded magazine would anyway. -Stuart Barker

Since I totally agreed with him, I asked him if I could reproduce this article on my lowly website which makes absolutely no money but hopefully reaches a wide, female audience. I hope you enjoy his article as much as I did. GO ANA.

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August 8, 2018

First Lady Ana Carrasco

Words By: Stuart Barker, Photos By: Mdan Katana

She's 21-years-old, stands five-foot-one, and weighs eight stone, wringing wet. But don't let that fool you. Ana Carrasco is one tough little Spaniard. She's the first woman in the 100-years-plus history of the sport to lead a motorcycle road racing world championship. She was also the first woman to set pole position and the first to win a race and, with just two rounds remaining of the World Supersport 300 Championship, she has a healthy 16-point lead – against an entire field of men.

Oh, and she's also half way through a four-year law degree and trains six hours every day. Are you starting to feel a bit inadequate? You should be. Meet Ana Carrasco – the fastest female motorcycle racer of all time.

Women have not always been welcomed in the sport of motorcycle road racing. Original regulations laid down by the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme) in the early days of racing dictated that competitors must be ‘male persons between 18 and 55 years of age.’ This ruling didn’t apply to Sidecar racing so in 1954 the intrepid German, Inge Stoll-Laforge, caused a sensation by entering the Isle of Man TT – the biggest motorcycle race in the world at the time. She finished in a highly credible 5th position but was tragically killed four years later in a crash at the Czech Grand Prix. 

By 1962 the FIM had changed its rules and allowed women to race so Beryl Swain became the first female solo rider at the TT, finishing 22nd in the 50cc race before the FIM did an about-turn and banned women again in 1963. 

Despite this historical backdrop of rampant sexism, a handful of brave, determined women have persisted in blazing a trail for female riders in one of the world’s most dangerous sports. Riders like Maria Costello have scored podiums at the Manx Grand Prix (the ‘amateur’ TT) and Carolynn Sells became the first woman to win a Manx in 2009 while Jenny Tinmouth (the fastest woman ever at the TT with an average lap speed of 119.94mph) recently became the first female rider to compete in the prestigious British Superbike Championship. Germany’s Katja Poensgen won the Supermono Championship in 1998 and women have even scored points in the Grand Prix world championships, the first being Taru Rinne with a seventh-place finish at Hockenheim in 1989. But while convalescing from a crash shortly afterwards, the Finn received a letter from Bernie Ecclestone (who, at the time had a heavy, but thankfully short-lived, involvement in motorcycle racing) informing her that she was ‘not qualified’ to compete the following season. 

Clearly, nothing had changed. Despite occasional outstanding performances by women in the male-dominated sport of motorcycle racing, by the start of the 2017 season no female had won a world championship race - perhaps unsurprisingly given the additional barriers they faced. 
But that all changed at Portimao in Portugal on Sunday, September 17, 2017 when a 20-year-old Spanish rider called Ana Carrasco came out on top in an epic drag race to the finish line in the World Supersport 300 Championship race. In doing so, she became the first woman in history to win a motorcycle road racing world championship race. And while the significance of the moment wasn’t exactly lost on Carrasco, she thinks like a racer first, and a woman second. ‘At the time I was not thinking about the significance of this’ she says.

‘I always just try to ride as hard as I can and try to achieve results – I don't think about being a woman. So, in that moment I was just happy because I'd won the race but after some days I start to realise what I had achieved. It's important that a woman can be fighting for the victory in the world championship because it's good for other girls to see that this is possible.’

After finishing the 2017 season in eighth place overall, Carrasco came out of the traps ready for a proper fight in 2018, setting pole position at Imola, winning the race, and taking the lead in the world championship. After another win at Donington Park in England, Carrasco now has a 16-point lead with just two rounds of the championship remaining. This makes her the first woman ever to lead a motorcycle racing world championship. 

Ana, Kicking Ass and Taking Names

Ana, Kicking Ass and Taking Names

It seems an incredibly young age for anyone – male of female – to be leading a world championship but Carrasco was practically born into the saddle.

‘I started riding when I was three years old because my family was always involved in the motorcycle world’ she says. ‘My father was a race mechanic since before I was born so when I was three I started riding my big sister's minimoto because she wasn't interested in it. So that was a good thing for me!’

Standing at just 5”1 and weighing eight stone-three (52kg) wringing wet, Carrasco cuts a diminutive figure in the racing paddock. Her slight frame would normally give her an advantage under acceleration but constantly-changing rules in the fledgling WSS300 championship (which is only in its second year) mean that even this advantage has been removed: because she is so light, Carrasco is forced to carry a weight penalty on her Kawasaki Ninja 400 race bike.

‘I now have to carry a 13kg weight penalty so I think it's actually worse to be small’ she says. ‘I have to move more kilos than the other riders through the corners and yet the overall weight of rider and bike is the same (because of the combined bike-and-rider minimum weight rule) so I don't have any advantage on acceleration.
‘The rules change every race so sometimes we have a good bike and sometimes no. It’s difficult for us to work like this because every Thursday of a race weekend they say “Okay, now you have to change this” or “Now you have to change that.” It’s difficult for the team and it’s also difficult for me to ride fast like this because every race I have a different bike. I hope for next year the rules will be more stable because I like to win, always, and with all these changes it’s not always possible to win. At the moment, Kawasaki is not always on the top because the rules are helping the Yamahas to be at the same level. But we just have to work within the rules Dorna gives us and finish the championship the best we can.’

Carrasco at least has a competitive bike and team for the 2018 season, which is something of a novelty after battling for years with uncompetitive and poorly-funded rides in various Spanish championships and even, for a few years, in the Moto3 World Championship that runs alongside MotoGP – the Formula 1 of motorcycle racing.

‘Yes, for me it's really good because in the past years I was struggling a lot because I wanted to be at the top but it was impossible with the bikes that I had. Now it is really good and I'm really happy with my team and with my bike and Kawasaki is helping me a lot so now I don't want to change my team because I feel so comfortable. I want to win, so I will stay in the place where I can fight for the victory.’

The World Supersport 300 Championship which Ana currently leads is a support series to the World Superbike Championship, meaning the young Spaniard has operated out of the two biggest paddocks in world motorcycle racing. So how do they compare in their attitudes towards women?

‘The people in the WSB paddock are more friendly and more relaxed’ Carrasco says. ‘You can speak with everybody. In the MotoGP paddock there's a lot more pressure so the riders have to always be thinking only about riding and they cannot do anything else. So, yes, the paddocks are different but I like both. I didn't notice any difference between the paddocks in their attitudes towards female riders. My job is the same and the people are good with me, always. But in the World Supersport 300 Championship it was more easy for me to find a good team and a good bike so that I can be fighting at the top. In the past it has been really difficult for me because I never had the equipment I needed to be fighting for the victory.’

Like every motorcycle racer, Ana Carrasco needs to have the mental capacity to accept the inherent dangers of her chosen sport and the ability to endure the pain caused by regular injuries. Although safety measures have improved radically over the last 30-odd years, people still die in this sport. Yet it’s clearly not a fact that Carrasco loses much sleep over.

'I broke my elbow in 2007 and I broke my collarbone in 2015 and also my shoulder. I’m okay with pain – I can handle it. I can ride with pain and don’t feel it so much. I’ve had some difficult injuries but I don’t worry too much about it. I know it’s a dangerous sport but many things are dangerous so we have to try and take part in all sports with as many safety measures as we can. We have to respect the dangers and just try to remain safe and do our job. For my mother it’s more difficult! I think this sport is difficult for all the mothers to watch!’

And before you think these are the words of a crazy and irresponsible young kid, consider this: when she’s not traveling the globe fighting for a world championship, Ana Carrasco is studying for a law degree. Half way through a four-year course, the girl from Cehegin in the Murcia region of south-east Spain must balance adrenalin with diligence and solitude in equal measure.

‘It’s difficult to do both things because I spend so much time away from home but now I’m in a sports university where many Olympic athletes study so they give me the possibility to change the dates of my exams if I am racing. So I try to work out my study and exams calendar according to the racing calendar. It’s a four-year course and I am in my second year now. I don’t know for sure if I will be a lawyer after racing but this is my Plan B! I want to be a racer and be riding for many years but, if not, then at least I have another plan to be a normal person and to have a job and a family and everything.’


Perhaps even more impressive – and certainly testimony to her determination and will to win – Carrasco also maintains a brutal training regime that would qualify as a full-time job in itself.

‘I train around six hours every day’ she says. ‘I go to the gym for about three or four hours and then ride dirt bikes for another few hours.’

It’s this kind of commitment that sees Carrasco regularly beating an entire field full of men and her reward is the sheer satisfaction that generates.

‘Yes, for me it’s good!’ she laughs. ‘This is a motivation to show the people that women can do the same. This is what I want – I want to win in a world championship so I can show that I can beat the best riders in the world in that class. So, I want to be always better and better and better and to arrive at the top.’
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It’s perhaps not easy for every male psyche to handle being beaten by a woman (in the past, they’ve also had to accept Carrasco’s own take on the brolly dolly – she had her own umbrella fella on the grid!) especially in a sport that has for so long been male-dominated. So how do her rivals treat her? Does she get the respect she deserves or does she get shunned by bitter, defeated rivals? ‘For sure they respect me because if you are fast, everybody respects you! I’ve shown them that I can win races and fight for the championship so I think everybody respects me now.’

Testosterone is not always a man’s best friend. Often it can lead to rash decisions out on track and crazy do-or-die lunges that have little chance of working and every chance of ending in crashes and broken bones. In the sport, this kind of aggression is known as ‘red mist’ and it’s the one area where Carrasco thinks female riders may actually have a slight advantage over the men.

‘Sometimes it helps to be a woman, yes. Women think more when they are on the bike! The men are more brave but they sometimes make dangerous moves without thinking and sometimes this is not so good! I think in my case I have a slight advantage here because I always stay calm and think a lot about what I have to do out on the race track.’

Female motorcycle racers are no longer a complete novelty but they’re still very much in the minority (there are none at all, for example, in the world’s two biggest motorcycle championships – MotoGP and World Superbikes) although Carrasco believes it’s getting easier for women to be involved.

‘Every year it gets a bit more easy. It's difficult for a young female rider to see how they can arrive in a world championship if they never see any other girls doing it. So if you are the first girl to do it then it's more difficult but once you can see that other girls are doing it then you can think “Why not? Why can't I do the same?” So, for the girls, it's important that I'm doing a good job in the world championship.
‘I think women can do the same as men in this sport. We are all just riders and we can all do the same thing. But it’s more difficult for women to find a good opportunity – a good team and a good bike. It’s more difficult for people to believe that we can win so we have many problems in getting access to competitive equipment to be fighting at the top. In this sport, if you do not have a good bike then you cannot fight to win.’

As to the future, Carrasco already has some options on the table due to her incredible performances this year. But for now, she’s concentrating on the job in hand.

‘I want to continue with Kawasaki because I am very happy with them and they are supporting me to be at the top. I would also like to continue with my team. But it will depend on what we achieve this year. I have some offers from the Moto3 World Championship and also from World Supersport 600 and World Supersport 300 teams. At the moment, I don’t know. I think around September time we will start to look more closely at next year but at the moment I just want to think about the championship.’

There are two rounds remaining of the World Supersport 300 Championship – at Portimao, Portugal, on September 16, and at Magny-Cours, France, on September 30. Carrasco has a healthy 16-point lead over Germany’s Luca Grunwald but with 25 points available for each race win, it’s still all to play for. One crash or mechanical breakdown could change everything, but Carrasco is confident.

‘We have a good opportunity, we are in a good position in the championship, so I want to try to win at Portimao because I like this place. The circuit is good for me, so I would like to finish on the podium and win the championship there. But if not, then we will wait and try again in Magny-Cours. For sure we have a good opportunity and we are in the best position to win the championship.’

The sport of motorcycle road racing has been around for well over 100 years but no woman has ever come this close to lifting a world title.

So what would it mean to the petite, highly intelligent, and multi-lingual Spaniard if she could put an end to all that and finally prove beyond all doubt that women have a genuine place in motorcycle racing?

‘For me it would be a dream come true because, for my whole life, my dream is to be world champion and this year I have the opportunity so I want to give my best to try to win.’

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I hope you enjoyed her interview as much as I did. Please take a minute and visit her social feeds to support her and share this story with everyone you know!

https://www.facebook.com/anacarrasco22/

https://www.instagram.com/anacarrasco_22/?hl=en

www.motogp.com/en/riders/ana+carrasc

New Dainese Women’s Motorcycle Gear for Spring

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Dainese launched a few new products worth mentioning in its latest Spring 2016 Women's collection. Here are my favorites. 

Veloster Perforated Leather Jacket

This jacket has a great sport fit to it, without being too aggressive for street riding. It features a removable, long sleeve thermal liner so you can make this work most of the year depending how mild your winters are.  Lucky you! :-(

For those of us on the East Coast, this would definitely be a Spring/Summer/Fall Jacket. Even the toasty thermal liner wouldn't cut it in the middle of February!

I tried this one on and I really loved it. It reminded me of my Dainese Cage jacket,  which has a more relaxed fit from other women's Dainese Jackets. It's too bad my closet is already overflowing with leather.... #firstworldproblems.

Veloster 2 Piece Women's Race Suit $999.95

This suit comes in 2 pieces, both in the size that you choose. It isn't a new suit, but hot damn it's HOT! I just had to mention it. It also comes in 2 more colors including less red and more pink (for the few pinks fans out there)

! If there's one thing Dainese knows how to do, it's designing motorcycle gear. Why am I sweating so much right now? If I needed a 2 piece, I'd run out and get this one. Too bad I have tooooo much gear in my closet. The only downside to buying a set like this is if you are different sizes on top or bottom, then you're stuck. But the good news is you could always buy the Veloster jacket, and then buy Delta Pro Evo (race fit) or Pony Pants (street/touring fit)!

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Women's Torque D1 Out Boots

$389.00 I wrote a blog post about these boots earlier this week, check it out!

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Carbon D1 Long Gloves

$179.95 THANK YOU again Dainese, for adding Palm Sliders to these gloves which the mens version had previously! Some brands like Olympia and REV'IT has always made the women's gear equally as protective as the mens versions, but some brands are still catching up. These are also offered in 2 more colors as well. Whoop!

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As you may or may not know, Palm Sliders are *really* important for street riding, because the minute you fall down you will almost always put your hands out in front of you. And if you're moving, now you're tearing through the leather on your palms. These are also available in a shorter version, which I don't recommend unless you're wearing them with a Dainese jacket, because the elbow armor guards extend almost down to the wrist.

You can check out the rest of the items in the Dainese Spring 2016 Women's Collection on Revzilla.com!

So Excited! Women's Motorcycle Boots with Real Ankle Protection

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As soon as the temperatures come back up and it's time to go riding again, I'll be upgrading my everyday riding boots to these beauties, the Dainese Women's Torque D1 Boots. With my tiny Size Euro 36 / US 6.5 feet, it's incredibly difficult to find motorcycle boots that offer real ankle protection. What this means is full lateral support, and that these boots will make it nearly impossible for your leg to bend sideways at the ankle. Hopefully it should minimize the injury to a sprain or fracture vs. the need for major surgery.

Although you can't 100% prevent every injury, you can drop it down to the best possible outcome. When I crashed last June, I got lucky when I lowsided because although my foot was pinned underneath the bike for a bit, I only walked away with a fat bruise. Every accident is different, and you have no idea what can happen to you in each circumstance. Some people wear absolutely nothing and get up without a scratch, who knows how? But then there are many riders who can't get up at all. I don't want to be one of them, and rather than gamble with the ability to walk comfortably without pain, I'd rather wear a better boot.

Sidi Vertigo Lei lowside accident swollenfoot_after_motorcyclecrash_nobrokenbones_sidi

I do *adore* my Sidis, but I have to give in to the extra protection that these offer. They're too good to pass up.

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I just hope they fit me as good as my Sidis do. I only got to try the 36 (barely, since my feet couldn't get into the opening!) and not the 37. I put on a 38 and definitely had enough room to add my amazing insoles.

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So FYI, these do run narrow especially at the instep. The opening is rather narrow.  So I recommend ordering a size up unless you have narrow feet.

Hitting the Apex, Philadelphia

If you're a fan of the Faster documentary series, then you definitely want to see this. The latest from Mark Neale (also the director of Faster) is Hitting the Apex, narrated by Brad Pitt. Maverick Moto Media is trying to bring this movie to Philly by setting up a screening in Center City on Tuesday November 17th at the Landmark Ritz Five Theater. 100 Tickets must be pre purchased in order for it to happen. If they don't sell 100, it won't happen and your credit card won't be charged. So sign up now!

[embed]https://youtu.be/fmT_vnJ1jzw[/embed]

And what's sexier than hearing Brad Pitt talk to you about motorcycles? :-)

Dakar Rally 2015

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If you've never heard of the Dakar Rally, you just might want to change your mind about that. 

It doesn't matter what kind of motorcycle you ride, whether it's on or off road. It's virtually impossible to watch the Dakar Rally and not be amazed at how well these riders master their machines. As well as the desert, sand and anything else in their way.

The beauty of the Dakar Rally isn't just the enduro motorcycle racing (mainly KTMs, Husqvarnas, Hondas, etc.) aspect. But the cars and trucks that also join in on the fun. Not just pickup trucks, but HUGE trucks! The rally is a 9,000km race that goes through three countries on all these different vehicles and it's an insane adventure from start to finish.

If you have access to NBC Sports Channel (we have it on the HD digital channels with Xfinity), they'll be broadcasting a 30 minute highlight every day between the 4th and 17th. If you have an Apple TV, then you have access to the Redbull TV Channel! They'll be uploading videos starting today, although I haven't seen it as of yet. I suspect they will be uploading videos tonight. I'm sure there are hours and hours of footage for them to get through.

RedBullTV: http://www.redbull.com/us/en/motorsports/offroad/events/1331640348182/dakar-2015-rally

Route: http://www.dakar.com/dakar/2015/us/route.html

PS, the redbull channel on the apple tv is SO much fun. Lots of extreme sport/racing action, everything from ice racing to climbing to supercross/enduro racing. good stuff!

On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter

Hopefully you've already watched On Any Sunday. WHAT? You haven't? Whyyyyy not? It's one of the most iconic motorcycle movies of all time! And it shares a ton of history and famous names in motorcycling that you may not be aware of. Go check it out.

It sounds like this movie will be released this Fall. I can't wait!

http://onanysundayfilm.com/

Isle of Man TT aka Two Wheel Insanity

If you've never heard of the Isle of Man TT, it's an incredible exhibition of horsepower, wheelies, endurance, people you can barely understand and SPEED! Everything from electric motorcycles to sidecars to good ole' sportbikes.

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May 24th - June 6th, IOMTT 2014. 

IOMTT on Facebook

What I find incredible about IOMTT is the fact that these people are going 100-200mph on an Island. A very very small island.  That means they have to avoid people, cement walls, driveways, buildings!

Hopefully you get the Velocity channel in your cable lineup. If not, then you're missing out on some two wheel insanity. It's the only channel as far as I know to watch any of the qualifying / race results here.

Mary McGee, Desert and Road Racer

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You may not know who Mary McGee is, but soon enough you will find out how she started racing sports cars in the late 50s, motorcycles in the 60s, up to the point where she meets Steve McQueen and gets roped into racing motorcycles in the desert!

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I'm pleased to announce that I'll be putting together a little website for Mary so everyone can read her story and see how she made history racing motorcycles, and along with other women sports cars in the Southwest.

She was also the first and Only woman to hold an AFM racing license until '63 or '64, which led to her racing not only motorcycles but cars and trucks in the desert!

In the meantime, check out this pic of her (#102) and a few friends being the first group of motorcycles to race down the corkscrew right after it was built.

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Motorcycle Gift Idea, Faster Ultimate Collection

faster motorcycle movies fastest

It doesn't matter if you like cruisers, dirtbikes, sportbikes, cars, tractors or bicycles. This series will simply keep your eyes glued to the tv for 5-6 hours repeating the word wow over and over again.

There's something about watching motorcycles racing at 200mph that makes everyone say 'whoa. If you haven't seen this series, you're missing out. If you know someone who appreciates action sports and risky dayjobs, they're going to love this series too.

This series breaks down the world of international motorcycle racing, how crazy dangerous it is and the small group of men who keep coming back year after year, injury after injury to do it again. You'll also meet the incredible Valentino Rossi (Italian), the motorcycle superstar who's won (and lost) MotoGP many times over; the few Americans that have competed in and won/lost races at MotoGP.

The only place I found this box set online was sportsflicks.com. Not bad for $33.95 plus shipping.