AFM Round 4 - Picture

Cool picture from last weekend that shows both the scenic backdrop of the foothills around the racetrack, and what is looks like when you're racing for dear life with a pack of angry apes hot on your tail trying to get around you (Quick! God please help me make my bike eight miles wide and impossible to pass and give me the swiftness of a ninja!  Ha, ha.)

picture by Joe at 4theriders.


AFM Round 4 - Thunderhill Raceway Park

Great weekend racing at Thunderhill Raceway Park.  This was the fourth round of seven in the AFM 2010 series.  A couple personal victories this weekend, I improved my best laptime at this track by three seconds, and my best this year and with this bike setup by five seconds.  I got consistent 2:01's in during the Open Production race, and a few 2:00's in a couple of the races....  it's starting to come together.

For the first race weekend since I started racing two years ago, I felt like a real Varsity level racer.  They have a special class of race for new racers, simply because it's very difficult to substitute for experience.  Guys who've been doing this for years are plainly faster.  Being fast in the novice races is still miles away from being competitive in the Sunday varsity level races.  In fact this is a big jumping off point for new racers.  Many guys will come out and do the novice races for a year or two, and never really get to the point they can race with the faster crew.  For the last two years I've been wondering if I'm doing to be able to put together the kind of laptimes it takes to compete with the premier race classes, but I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

I still race in the faster races, but typically there are a few guys like me WAY toward the back of the pack - so much toward the back it's almost like we're having our own race back there.  The laptimes if you look down the list of finishers are all a few seconds apart, then you'll see a jump of several seconds to the backmarkers.  For the first time, this weekend I was right there with the back of the pack.  The guys who were a few positions in front of me were doing very similar laptimes, and for the most part, I can see my way through to the next few seconds I need to produce to get up there a little further. 

Many people who start racing will get going on a bike that's friendlier to new racers.  Race groups are divided by bike size and by rider experience.  At the last round before the novice race for big bikes, the announcer said, "Ladies and Gentlemen... here come a group of VERY inexperienced riders on VERY powerful bikes"  Ha, ha.  I wonder sometimes if I need to get a smaller bike to learn and compete then jump back up to bigger bikes when I'm already toward the top of the smaller-bike-classes.  I finally have faith now that I can both wrangle with this big bike and also wrangle with the experience of getting competitive racing at the same time.

Still have miles to go, but at least it's a start.  I can see the back of the pack now, and with a few tweaks to my riding I can probably squeak out a few more seconds and have some battles with guys in the mid-pack of the bigger races.  Open Production is the smallest class I race in shown above.  The other races have 45 guys in them and I'm now starting to get up toward finishing in the range of 25th.  A few Novice racers are finishing in front of me still, but only a few, and I'm starting to get past some of the experienced racers at the back also.

All in all it was great fun racing.  July 10th is the next race weekend, and August 1st is the next race in the Bay Area back at Infineon Raceway Park if anyone wants to come watch!