speed triple

Riding with CLASS Motorcycle School at Virginia International Raceway

Nope, we didn’t crash and have to get our bikes towed! (Kendon Motorcycle Trailer)

Nope, we didn’t crash and have to get our bikes towed! (Kendon Motorcycle Trailer)

Not Just Your Average Monday.

Earlier this week I had the honor of attending back to back track days with my friends at Reg Pridmore’s CLASS Motorcycle School.

I attended a special, unique event earlier in April just for women riders but this one was one of their regular 2 day events at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, VA. My husband and I loaded up our bikes on the RevZilla Trailer (#IloveMyJob) and drove out Sunday, October 14th.

Here I am dancing with our bikes?

Here I am dancing with our bikes?

We rented one of the fancy garages at the track and made our home for the next 2 days.

By the way, we didn’t bring half the stuff most people bring with them to the track. Everyone will tell you something different, but I can tell you that you’ll probably use half of what you actually bring. So this is our simplified list in order of importance:

  1. Our track gear (duh!); suits, helmets, gloves, boots, back protectors

  2. Our bikes and keys

  3. Painters tape and duct tape (painters tape goes first, then duct tape. You’ll see why in a minute)

  4. Clean clothes for 3 nights since we left Sunday and got back Wednesday

  5. Chairs (because standing around all the time is tiring)

  6. Tool box (we have this one from Sonic). Of course we didn’t use everything but it does have some nice moto specific tools that can come in handy. I mainly used the tools to remove my mirrors, reinstall them afterwards and tighten up some loose ends.

  7. Cleaners, paper towels:

    1. Mucoff products: dry chain lube & degreaser, protectant, goggle/faceshield cleaner

    2. Simple Green; general, all purpose cleaner

  8. Tire compressor (so you can adjust your tire pressure below street levels. I drop mine to 28 front and rear for a little more stick)

  9. Tie downs to tie the bikes down to the trailer

  10. A few snacks/drinks

Oh and did I mention that because we went to the South Course on Day 1 (not North as planned), we had to leave our cozy paddock behind! So we managed all day without anything with us, and relied on track friends to help us out.

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In retrospect I could’ve used extra fuel, but there was a Sunoco station on site, just on the other side of the parking lot. This was the first track day where my fuel light actually went on at the end of the last session!

We got in Sunday night a little late but stayed up to tape up our headlights and turn signals. You didn’t have to take your mirrors if you didn’t want to but I found them distracting and they were easy enough to remove.

This is why you need duct tape and painters tape, so you can make eyes! Let’s just say my husband’s creativity inspired me. Remember to never directly apply duct tape to your lights and mirrors, you want to use painters tape first and then you can go crazy with funny colors and what not.

Although Hurricane Michael hit the weekend before, we had the privilege of riding both courses at VIR; both the North and South Courses. Originally we were only supposed to ride the North Course but it just worked out that we were able to do South on Day 1 and North on Day 2.

The South Course was a shorter, slower paced track. The upside to this is that I got to do more laps than I normally would have. The schedule for CLASS was a little different than track days I’ve done in the past with other organizations.

As with every track day, the day started first thing (7:30am-8:00am) with Check In and Tech Inspection followed by a safety meeting where rules and information for the day was presented and shared by Reg’s team.

These rules were imposed on both groups, regardless of experience level or training so you know that everyone is on the same page and things will go as safely as possible.

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Reg also impressed upon us a few other thoughts that he truly believed were important to our time at VIR for the next 2 days. I find these messages are important, not only for the track but for the street too:

  1. Slowing down, maintaining control

  2. Courtesy and consideration

  3. Learning not speeding

I can feel the instructor’s (orange shirt) eyes on the back of my head watching my pitiful form.

I can feel the instructor’s (orange shirt) eyes on the back of my head watching my pitiful form.

I found this message to be comforting, empowering and set a positive tone for the riding ahead. One of the many personal rules I have about riding motorcycles is not riding in large groups of strangers (outside the confines of an organized, training ride with a dedicated riding organization e.g. large public rallies and parades. It simply makes me nervous because out on the street, the training and riding environment is vastly different. When a group of riders are at the track together, we’re generally on the same page. We know we’ve come here because we know it’s safer, and our environment is controlled and organized in a way that cannot be matched to a track day. I always feel 100% safer on the track than I do on the street.

As the day went on, I found myself finally figuring out this track and feeling the most confident at of course, the last lap. It took me all morning and afternoon to get my lines just right.

And as much as I wanted to get my knee down, I decided to shift my focus on hitting my apexes just right and keeping my line tight, not wide because on the street that can be a very dangerous outcome. (Imagine going wide on a 2 lane, 2 way road over the double yellows!) I finally started feeling more confident to take my lines tighter and get over my fear of going wide.  

Trying my best to hug those apexes and keep a tight, inside line per the Mantra of Reg Pridmore.

Trying my best to hug those apexes and keep a tight, inside line per the Mantra of Reg Pridmore.

There were only two groups, A and B. A was for Advanced Pace and B was for Relaxed Pace. I started out in A the first day on the South Course. Although I did fine in that group I wasn’t feeling comfortable with the pace of the other rides so halfway through day 2, I opted to ride in Group B. The group was smaller, so more room and more laps! I hardly ran into any traffic and it felt like I had the track to myself. I also had lots of opportunities for coaches to follow me and for me to follow them. Pretty much every session, there was a coach available if I needed help.

There was also a small Triumph contingent, which was also comforting.

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You might be able to see in the background, that there were quite a few non traditional sportbikes that attended too!

And yep, they also fully attended both days. SEEE?? Track Days aren’t just for Sportbikes!

It’s for everyone, anyone. It’s all about finding the right one for you, and contacting local track schools to see if their program fits in with your goals and objectives as a rider. I have a list on my website here, of advanced, nontraditional track day training around the country that I highly recommend.

http://www.gearchic.com/beyond-basic-training/

But if you do some searching online I’m sure you’ll find local schools that will be more than happy to provide you advanced street training on the racetrack.

Or, sign up for a class with Reg and Gigi and tell them I sent you!

For more information on CLASS Motorcycle Schools including dates and prices, visit their website: ClassRides.com. You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram.

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Shoutout to Shoei Helmets and Honda for sponsoring CLASS and making sure that the instructors have the best helmets and bikes as well.

My Gear:

  1. Helmet: Bell Race Star, Ace Cafe

  2. Suit: Alpinestars Womens Motegi V1 Race Suit (new version)

  3. Gloves: Racer High Racer Womens Gloves

  4. Boots: Dainese Womens Torque Out D1 Boots

  5. Back Protector: Alpinestars Nucleon KR-1, SM

And in case the men out there are wondering about my husband’s gear:

  1. Helmet: Bell Star Helmet (Pre 2015)

  2. Suit: Revit Venom Suit

  3. Gloves: Held Evo Thrux

  4. Boots: Dainese Torque Out D1 Mens Boots (same as mine)

  5. Back Protector: Alpinestars KR Adventure; he said it was more comfortable than the model I have

Passing on the Inside Line with California Superbike School

Me and my babe did two classes with California Superbike School this year. They were incredibly effective for me overall. I learned SO MUCH in two days; far more than the two other track days I did before. Read my review of their school here.

Another Day with California Superbike School

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In July we signed up for our first track day with California Superbike School. 

We had such a great time the first time around, we squeezed in another one before the riding season starts to freeze us out. I learned so much from them the first time, I knew going back for a second round at Level 2 would be well worth it. 

As you can see, there is no knee dragging! Ha. I'm too scared to drop my knee down at this point. But it had nothing to do with that. It all had to do with riding smoother, more consistently and with better focus. For me, it was all about figuring out how to ride more effectively so I could go exactly where I needed to without going too wide, or missing the next corner. But I think as I start to get closer to the edge of my tires that I'll need to start shifting my weight over. And I hope that with more practice next Spring I'll get there. 

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When we went to our first day in July, we decided to get more track specific tires that we could still use on the street. We went with Michelin Power RS's and they performed quite well. No tire warmers necessary! But who am I kidding? I'm not going that fast and my bike isn't a track only bike. So I opted for something that could be ridden on the street too, just with a lower tread life than say the Pilot Power 3s. They were ridiculously sticky and it showed. 

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One thing I was able to add for this track day was a track helmet! I borrowed the Bell Race Star, their carbon fiber track helmet (just below the Pro Star).  Well conveniently borrowed from work of course. I really enjoyed this helmet on the track. I didn't have the chance to wear it on the street but I have a feeling I would enjoy it there as well. :) Check out my review here.

But by the time my next track day rolls around (likely Spring, ~April) I'm going to have to start improving my body position where my butt is concerned. I struggled with trying to lean more while having my hands much higher than a traditional track bike like the rider behind me. But I feel like I learned so much more about how to manage all the excess real estate of the race track. The corners can be so spread out, figuring out how to focus where you need to without missing the corners can be daunting. 

I feel like they gave me the tools and techniques I would need to ride that track again more consistently and smoothly. But that translates to the street as well, since focusing on where you need to be while keeping track of everything around you is extremely to difficult to juggle especially with all the excess distractions. Riding on the track seems so much easier at this point. 

I'm excited to go to the track and practice what I've learned so far before heading back again for Levels 3 and possibly 4. (They have 4 levels of instruction).

If you've never done a track day ever, I highly recommend doing one with CSS as your first. You'll learn more than you ever knew possible and it'll be one of the best track day experiences you've ever had.  
 

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Video of Riding Motorcycles in (West) Virginia

Last week, me and my husband went for a fabulous vacation down South to Virginia / West Virginia. A ride report is coming soon. In the meantime, check out this short video of one of our afternoon rides through the mountains. 

Wish I could take credit for the amazing video editing, sound production, camera work and post production. All the credit goes to my husband, founder and CTO of this company. 

Thanks for watching! Stay tuned for a ride report. 

First Track Day on Our Triumphs

Someone sort of following me... more like really good Photoshop skills.

Someone sort of following me... more like really good Photoshop skills.

After my accident in June, a track day is exactly what I needed. We signed up for a track day with Team Promotion at New Jersey Motorsports Park. 

I've been so terrible about posting these past few weeks.  Learned some new things, gained more of my confidence back and learned a lot about my bike. Team Pro Motion was great, and my husband and I had a blast!

For this track day I didn't buy a 1 piece suit, because I knew that I wouldn't use one again anytime soon but I would be able to use a pair of track leather pants again on the street. So I opted for the Revit Xena Leather Pants to zip to my jacket. 

So is a trackday right for you? I think it really depends on what you're trying to accomplish. There are many of us who are really all about street riding and touring. And we simply want to increase our skills. What's the best way to do this?  

Ride Report - Northern PA to NY

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I still need to replace my rear tire, and the man is out of town til Thursday. So what's a wife to do? Take the Triumph out for a spin in a new direction that I hadn't explored before, North! I decided to try and shoot for RT 97, Hawk's Nest, a popular destination for local motorcyclists.  I decided to send Benny to his awesome dogsitter, and try a solo overnight so I could try to ride as far north as I could. Since I have Sunday and Monday off, I tried to start Sunday morning. I had a rather late start and ended up not leaving until 11am. As a result I only got about 150-180 miles (my goal was closer to 300) in but still had a fabulous time!

As always, I used one of the Kriega packs, the 20-Liter since I wanted to have enough supplies for the night. Remember to fully pack your Kriega so it cinches down easier. I scribbled down my ride route and off I went.

Oh and for the record, I'm NOT keeping my husband's bike. Just borrowing until I swap that damn tire. I have decided however, that I will be selling the SV and buying a gently used Street Triple next spring :D. An R model if I can find one I can afford, fingers crossed.

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I had a really late start Sunday (~11am) so I didn't quite hit the roads I wanted to. Here's the route I wanted to do but once I got to 15 I had to keep going and take the obvious route to get there before deer o'clock. Did you know that Pennsylvania has one of the highest deer collision rates in the country? Eek!

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zWtuq3HMVCRs.k_T9H2q9bEQg

Before I got to Chester, PA I did have a nice detour through Black River Park because of tremendous traffic heading into Chester. It was at least a mile of bumper to bumper. And the last thing I wanted was to sit there clutching on this tall, heavy beast. So I made a right turn and followed another guy on an R6 who was obviously hoping to do the same. I got to this funky intersection (after riding some goaty, unpaved roads to get there!):

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After awhile I stopped for lunch at Hilltop Deli & Catering in High Bridge, NJ at 513 and Cregar Road. I had a tasty BLT and a nice view of my ride. Sandwiches were inexpensive and delicious. A lovely family ran the place, dad making sandwiches and mom running the place with their teenage kids working the counter. Love it!

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The rest of my ride to the border was rather uneventful. I found a room for the night at the Red Carpet Inn, nothing fancy but clean and inexpensive ($78/night+tax). I picked this location so I could ride further up north in the morning.

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The next morning, I headed West on 6 and then went north on 97. I underestimated how cool it was going to be, given that it was 8am. I also wanted to get back home before rush hour, since traffic can be heinous heading into Philly. Being a California girl, I certainly had high expectations. I would say that 97 is definitely a lovely road and worth the trip if you've never ridden that way before and are looking for scenic routes. The road is certainly twisty but nothing highly technical (think switchback and hairpins with changing elevation). I did manage to get a few pretty pictures on this cute little bridge:

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At the end of the bridge was a very goaty, gravel filled road with a sign that basically said Go Away. Something about needing permits if you go beyond this point. So like a good girl, I hopped off the bike and did a 3 point turn to get back on the bridge back to 97.

I had a crazy ride planned but with the chillier weather I decided to get back home sooner than later. I turned around at 41/Barryville and took a rather direct route home that Google suggested, avoiding the Interstate.

Riding without winter gloves and no heated anything definitely pushed my limits as far as what I could bear. I'm a weather wimp and was definitely missing my heated accessories. Of course I was wearing head to toe Schampa underneath, a windstopper vest and my awesome Rev'it suit. It was just barely enough to keep me fairly warm but I really could've used some heat! The temps were mid 40s to low 50s, definitely colder than I'm used to without my creature comforts.

I MUST redo this ride once I install my heated liner. There appear to be some amazing roads further north which definitely require a much earlier start to accomplish more than 400 miles in 2 days.

 

 

 

Learning to Ride All Over Again, Almost

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There's nothing like riding a taller, heavier bike to help you remember what it was like to learn to ride a motorcycle for the first time...  A few months ago, my husband bought this beautiful bike; a 2007 Triumph Speed Triple. It's completely stock, as far as the suspension and it's totally set up for his height and weight (5'10", 210lbs). Definitely not designed for someone of my size!

When I set out for a long day ride on Sunday, I had to forego riding my trusty steed, because it wasn't holding any air in the rear tire. I found a couple of cuts on the surface of the tire so I was worried that it wouldn't be very safe for an 8 hour ride. I was a little worried about taking his bike out since it was only my 3rd time riding this Speed Triple. The first time I took it I only rode to work which was a 15 minute ride to and from home. The second time was a few miles further to the Suzuki dealer for an oil filter. Piece of cake compared to an 8 hour, 270 mile day ride.

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This bike is 1/2" taller than my SV (31.5" v. 32.1") that I have to wear my Daytonas, which give me maximum vertical height. It also weighs another ~30lbs so it's more top heavy as well. I definitely wanted to have as much stability as possible since I hadn't ridden his bike this much before. Due to the way the bike's engine is situated, I find myself sitting up much higher too. It reminded me of driving my dad's '82 Suburban back in college when I was used to driving my little '90 Honda Accord.

It definitely reminded me of the first time I rode our first motorcycle, a 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 250. It felt heavy, awkward, and tall. Ha! If only I could travel back in time and tell the woman in this picture what she was was in for:

2003 Kawasaki Ninja 250

I found myself doing things a little differently so that I could maintain control of the bike at all times. (I was terrified of dropping it, I just knew that my husband would be *very* sad if that happened) So I tried to be extremely strategic and conscious at all times of how I was riding, stopping and parking. Since I can only flat foot with my left ( I can barely get two toes down), that meant extremely smooth braking and making sure that I didn't stop on any weird slopes that my left foot couldn't reach. I also found myself using curbs to my advantage, especially at the gas station for filling up. Left foot on the curb, right foot on the rear brake. For some reason, I kept forgetting to kick back my sidestand before shifting into 1st gear. Rookie move!

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I also had to jump off the bike every time to park it since it was a little harder to back up with one foot due to the extra height. Fine by me, since I do it all the time with my SV unless the pavement is perfectly flat. There were also a couple times where I couldn't just follow my friend Brian into the parking lot. The first pic above, for example, I parked the bike there after he rode into the parking lot to the right which was *all* gravel. Although, later in the day we met a brief gravel road and I miraculously made my way through it.

So my natural inseam is 28.5". This bike is 32.1" inches; almost 4 full inches of additional height than my own inseam. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone was SO worth it, I had a blast and CAN'T WAIT to go riding again with it. (although my husband may disagree.... heheh).

After awhile, I felt far more confident, and more importantly I was having SO MUCH FUN. Damn, this bike is evil. Because all you can do the whole time is scream in your helmet; "Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!" I can't be trusted on a liter bike, so I'll definitely be getting new tires on the SV soon to make sure I keep my driving record as clean as possible :D.

If you're looking for a fun, semi twisty route outside of Philly, take a look at the route my friend and I took to Shamokin, about 275 miles round trip.

 

New Addition to our Motorcycle Family

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Someone picked up a new-to-him Speed Triple this week. I've yet to climb aboard but I'm sure that will end soon when we take a 4 day weekend trip to Williamsport, PA during the 4th of July. We'll be meeting up with a couple of very good friends to ride back and forth across the state and finally hit up some incredible twisties! Sitting on this bike, it's a bit taller than my SV, but nothing crazy.  

Motorcycles for Short Riders

Motorcycles for Short Riders

Motorcycles for Short Riders aka Tips for Success if You're Short