AFM round 4, 2014
SLIPPER CLUTCH SUNDAY!

People freak out when I write “we” instead of “I”. Sounds weird I guess, I understand, but in reality it’s not weird at all. It’s accurate. “I” out-brake other racers, but “we” win. “I” crash, but “we” fail. I think of myself as the most fortunate, most blessed racer in the paddock for no reason other than the fact that there is a “we” that includes me. If there wasn’t I wouldn’t be here.   Considering this very reality I must now regretfully share with you that Keith, Calmoto Livermore’s race mechanic since 2011, has gone. He moved to some place in the mountains called Thors Twins, or maybe Valley of The Vixens. I don’t know, I intend to visit him soon so I’ll share the proper name then. All I know right now is not a lot of people live there, which Keith prefers. He left on good terms. There was no drama, other than my heart sinking into my spleen when he texted me “Sorry to leave you in the middle of a season, GoGo, but it’s time for me to go.”

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Oh my hell… There couldn’t have been a worse time to lose Keith. Just two weeks before he decided to go our transmission tried to kill me in turn 3 at Thunderhill. Our bike was a mess after that wreck, and without Keith to rebuild it I truly feared we wouldn’t get it back together in time for round 4. Thankfully Alex Florea stood in as chief mechanic for this round, which ultimately drove a spike of reality through my chest. Alex was generous to offer help but he’s got healthy boundaries far too structured to mesh with our hot mess of a race program. Less than fifty feet into first practice Saturday I discovered everything got fixed but our triple clamps. They were bent in the wreck and nobody picked up on it, because without Keith at Calmoto during the week there was nobody there to. I should have driven there to work on our bike but I didn’t. I steered right for the grid and our bike went straight. Without even reaching turn one our weekend, and possibly season, was ruined.

Immediately I reached for a long 2×4, I wanted to bend the forks back straight. Alex reached for Gerry Piazza’s phone number. Alex was right, I was wrong. Again.   An hour later found Tracy and I in the egg frying heat of Woodlands California banging on Gerry’s “GP Frame and Wheel” front door.

If there is a racing God, I need to offer up my special undeserving thanks for putting such a man as Gerry Piazza in this place, on this day. Gerry is the rainman of untwisting the twisted, unbending the bent, and righting the wrongs of all problems motorcycle related. With his hands he straightened our RC8R’s triple clamps, with his smile he settled my soul.

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We made it back to the track in just enough time to make two laps of the final practice of Saturday, which is both ridiculous and alarmingly familiar. For round 2 we didn’t even show up to the track until Sunday..

Racing can be a great form of self-torture. You’ve got a clear weekend, you’re healthy, you’re happy – why not spend it reading, or swimming maybe. Something low impact, low cost, low stress. But no, as racers it seems we need the abuse. We are drawn to the pain. So let’s call our first big problem of round 3, “Triple Clamp Saturday”. That segways nicely to our second big problem of round 3, “Slipper Clutch Sunday”. Yes one big problem per weekend is simply not enough. Sunday morning I could feel our clutch going soft, threatening to let us down mid-way through our Open Twins race. In a state of dreadful unpreparedness, of course we have no spares, Tracy was introduced to a new side of her racing self. With uncanny clarity Tracy stood before more years of racing experience than either Alex or I readily admit, and said, “We need to drop out of Formula Pacific, in order to save the clutch for Open Twins.” Alex looked at me, I looked at the sky, Tracy stood there in shock and nobody spoke. She was right.

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OPEN TWINS:

On the grid, next to Tiger boy and Brendan Walsh, I felt completely irresponsible. Their bikes look perfect, they sound incredible, these guys make every practice of every weekend, and Tiger even runs Friday practices. There I sat on a bike I wasn’t sure of, I had no idea what to expect for the race. Would we be last? Would we struggle at first but then find a way through? I think we did 0T(.IUO/R64w4N+-άJ24*(pS33JsRL t