Over the course of this year, we are going to bring you a number of motorcycle stories that focus on the experience of going motorcycle racing at the amateur level. We call the series “Gone Racing”, and if you have been following us on Instagram or listening to the Brap Talk podcast then you have likely already been privy to some of the preparation for these features.
The concept is pretty simple, yours truly will be competing here in Portland with the Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing Association (OMRRA) – as a true blue novice – using a Kramer HKR EVO2 as a racing and testing platform.
The goal of the series is to give a glimpse into what it is like to go from a track day rider to novice racer, and to use that experience as a springboard to explore various topics, like getting a race license, what gear to use, setting up a bike for racing, preparing as a rider, and so forth.
For our A&R Pro readers, we will also have some stories that take a deep dive on various technical topics, like the number of fuels available to racers (aka the cost-benefit analysis of MR12), how to read your tires (aka the dark art of the black round things), and the real difference between braking components (aka why does the Brembo GP4-RR cost as much a decent track bike?).
I think the topics should be of interest to racers and non-racers alike, and the hope is that the series spurs conversations amongst the A&R community about life at the race track. If we can convert just one non-racing reader into getting their racing license, then I would consider the series a success.
The pace of the stories will follow our first-hand experience this year, which means it will be loosely tied to the OMRRA race schedule, but I would expect a story every week or two. If you happen to find yourself at Portland International Raceway during a race weekend, be sure to stop by and say hi too.
While the story series is perhaps the external goal for the “Gone Racing” series, there are some internal motivations for the series that I have as well. Namely, going motorcycle racing is something that I have had my eye on for quite some time. The issue always stopping me though was the commitment of resources – namely the commitment of time.
After lurking around the OMRAA paddock last year, helping some friends with their racing programs (read: standing around and mostly chatting about bikes), the bug finally caught me, and the gears started to move in my head.
As such, the 2019 OMRRA season will be my first true experience motorcycle racing, though I have done a local round of our supermoto series before, in full disclosure. I am no stranger to the racing life though, and besides my professional work at A&R, I can also hang my hat on being an accomplished sailboat racer in my younger years.
The two experiences might not be exactly the same, but I certainly miss the competitive aspect that racing brings, as well as the camaraderie, and look forward to having more of that in my life, which was a deciding factor in making this racing commitment on two-wheels.
On a professional level, I look at racing this year as a continuing education course as a motorcycle journalist – at least, that’s what I am going to tell the tax man. Truthfully though, while I have seen my skill depth increase while doing A&R for the past 10 years, during that same time I have seen the edge to those skills dull.
In short, I feel like my skills on a motorcycle have plateaued, and I’m looking to find that next step in my riding evolution. In the process, I would also like to add a few more tools to my toolbox when it comes to riding motorcycles, which is beyond something that can merely be explored in a track day environment.
As a coach once said to me, if you want to get better/faster/smarter at something, consort with those who already are. It’s time to go back to school, and hopefully my experience racing can result in some shared learning for the readers here at Asphalt & Rubber.
I should point out that the “Gone Racing” series is supported by the following brands: Kramer Motorcycles USA, Pirelli, MotoCorsa, Turn Two Motorcycles, Dainese, AGV, and Racer Gloves USA. Asphalt & Rubber would like to thank them for their support during my racing efforts, and for their support for other racers around the country.
Photo: © 2019 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved