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2006 Season Log

With the arrival of Spring of '06, I am entering the third year of my club racing carreer.

Having learned some bitter lessons, and having been blessed with the opportunity to not repeat some costly mistakes, I am now thoroughly comfortable with expressing this summary of my racing goals for this season:

  1. avoid crashing at all cost
  2. have fun racing
  3. while avoiding crashing and having fun, work on gradually improving my lap times.

Below is the table of contents for the 2006 race log:

Winter/Spring 2006

The silly season went by very quickly this time. I managed to do some riding on lake ice, some winter trail riding with home-brewed studded tires, hike Mt. Washington and even do some ice climbing. But my most remarkable achievement was that for the whole winter I've been doing indoor rock climbing at the Boston Rock Gym. I used to rock climb a little back in Kiev, and it was nice to not only get back to a long forgotten hobby, but to also stick with it for an appreciable amount of time. My brother-in-law, Aleksey Shuruyev, operates the International Rock Climbing School and one of his instructors, Katya Vorotnikova, provided me with much needed (and appreciated) guidance in easing back into climbing. In addition to this being a great physical activity, it has allowed me to make some new and great friends. I sincerely hope that I continue with rock climbing even as the racing season gets under way.

Much like working out on a stationary bike last year, rock climbing and winter hiking has allowed me to stay more or less in shape, which will hopefully reflect in my being able to concentrate more on my riding technique than on being able to endure the physical demands of a race weekend.


Last year I'd said that we would have six motorcycles in the garage, which I'd predicted to be pretty tight.

In actuality, it turned out that John Doll, with his numerous and persistent fan club (aka family,) and his extensive set of racing supplies, especially compared to the size of his bike, ended up pitting in garage 11 - right next door to the rest of Team Moto Market.

Also, Caleb ended up being a frequent no-show (or infrequent yes-show) at the track in 2006 - something for which he hopes to make up this year.

In 2006, Team Moto Market still consists of the same tightly-knit bunch:

  • Paul Conley, Ex
  • John Doll, Ex
  • Caleb, Am
  • Allan Jones, Am
  • Lisa Marolda, Nv
  • Ilya Kriveshko, your humble Am

There has been some significant intra-team shuffling of machinery. Allan retired (i.e. sold) his old GSX-R racer, and will be campaigning a fairly new Kawasaki ZX6-R, which started its life as Lisa's street bike. Leslie Doll, John's wife and fan #1, bought a Honda RS125 to use as a track-day bike. Paul Conley, with gracious permission from Leslie, will be racing said RS125 in addition to his current ride, Aprilia RS250.

John, Caleb, Lisa and I remain true to our steeds by campaigning them for yet another season. John is still riding his Tigcraft super-duper-trick-like-no-other-race-bike-on-Earth single. Caleb and I are riding plain vanilla Suzuki SV650's in supersport trim, and Lisa is riding the same MZ Scorpion thumper.

We meant to have a team meeting over the winter, as we had successfully done last year, but various constraints on the individual team members' schedules proved it impossible to schedule a convenient date.

Despite that, we all managed to add cool new Dainese jackets to out team wardrobe.

Life is good, gimme some racing!


At the last LRRS Banquet I pre-registered for the whole season. This means that now for the whole 2006 season I will have a fixed schedule of races:

  • Saturday
    • Race #3 - GTL
    • Race #6 - LW Supersport
    • Race #8 - LW Grand Prix
    • Race #10 - Thunderbike
  • Sunday
    • Race #10 - LW Superbike

2006-04-29, Saturday

As usual, I drove up to the track early on Saturday. Despite it being the first race weekend of the season, I even managed to be ready for the first morning practice.

This was the first race weekend since I moved up from Novice to Amateur, and I assumed that I would be relegated to Amateur red sticker practice - the slowest of the three Amateur practice groups. That is I didn't actually check the sticker that they put on my bike at Tech. I donned my leathers and helmet, and rolled towards the pit road when the Amateur red practivce was announced over PA. After some hand waving and yelling from Johnny B., it turned out that I was actually had a yellow sticker affixed on my fairing. Turns out I had an extra 40 minutes to spare before my group was scheduled to be on the track.

The first laps on the track were a bit tense. Riding on old and cold tires didn't help me feel secure either, but that's probably a good thing, as it all but assured that I woudl refrain from trying any heroics. I paraded around the track for the duration of my practice, which was punctuated by one red flag, due to the 6 bike pileup in turn 3, which I actually saw out of the corner of my eye as I was passing through turn 10.

I ended up with a ~1:30 for a lap time, which was quite satisfactory for my getting reacquainted with my bike, my body and the track.

In the second equally relaxed practice, and without any added effort on my part, I ended up circling the track in ~1:28. I felt quite comfortable and at ease, which was already more than I was reasonably expecting.

After a drawn out delay in posting grid sheets due to the annual early season computer malfunction, I got ready for my first race - the GTL. This year all GT races have been shortened from 30 to 20 minutes, with the race fees deflating correspondingly. I launched well from the second row, and was second into turn one. I even managed to pass the rider who got the hole shot on the first lap and led the race for maybe a lap or two. After that I got relegated to the second spot, which I maintained for most of the first half of the race. After that I let another three racers to squeak by, but returned the pass on one of them - an yellow RS125 - a couple of laps before the end. I then managed to quickly get around a group of lap riders, which I believe delayed the RS125 rider sufficiently, that he didn't managed to catch up before the checkered flag. I took the 4th place finish in my first race of 2006.

In the LW Supersport and LW Grand Prix, which were my second and third Saturday races, I did even better, by scoring two 2nd place finishes.

I also finished 2nd in Thunderbike, which was my last race that day, but that result ended up being thrown out, because of a red flag, which was mistakenly thrown and retracted by a confused cornerworker. That apparently caused those racers who saw the flag to pit in, while the rest of us continued with the race. The referee decided to re-run the Amateur Thunderbike race on Sunday morning. This was actually a great news, since it meant that I would get to run 6 races for the price of 5.

While putting the bike on the stand after the last race, I almost dropped it. I typically stabilize the bike with one hand on the tail fairing while operating the stand with the other, but this time the tail section was flopping around and didn't provide the rigid "feel" I'd come to expect. As it turned out, the fairing bracket attached to the subframe that I fabricated over the winter broke, leaving the tail with very little support. I took the pieces of the bracket off, and drove, hoping to weld a new replacement piece with stronger machined lugs before going to bed.

I did manage to machine the lugs and weld up the new bracket that night, but not without leaving myself only 4 hours to sleep before I needed to leave for the track.

2006-04-30, Sunday

In the morning, I came to the track early and got to work on mounting the new tail fairing bracket. All that required was drilling and tapping three holes, and assembling the pieces together. Again, I managed to finish that before my first practice, so I didn't miss any track time. I did wish I'd gotten more sleep the night before, as for the rest of the day I felt quite fatigued.

After lunch I was trying to call my mom to tell her that I was safe. I was having trouble connecting, and was getting ready to leave a message, when I heard bikes accelerating down the pit road. Since the first race of the day was race #0, which was my rescheduled race #10 form the day before, and since I was standing in the garage with my leathers off and jabbing on the phone, something didn't seem quite right. With the help from some of my teammates I rushed through the whole prep routine, and even made it out to the pit road before the green flag waved. Still, that meant that I wan't getting the warm-up lap, and that I was going to start from the pit lane, entering the track in the last position.

Mentally, I talked myself through my priorities, as I was circulating the track in the last spot and managed to be quite satisfied with catching the pack and even picking one racer off before the finish flag. Hey, you win some, you lose some. I had fun on Saturday, and any extra track time I got on Sunday was better than none, regardless of the outcome.

In the last race on Sunday, LW Superbike, I managed to score a 3rd place finish.

Overall, this weekend was a smashing success. My best lap time on Saturday was only 0.9 seconds below my best lap time from the last season, which means I came up to speed very quickly, and gives me a good starting place for further improvements in '06.

All of Team MotoMarket raced safely and successfully. Here's hoping that the rest of the season continues in the same vein!

2006-05-13, Saturday

Wow! What horrific weather. I checked the weather last night, and it had just about as much ambiguity in it as an upper cut. For Saturday it said: "Heavy Rain, 100%". Not 90% not 99%, but all 100%. Same for Sunday.

In the morning the rain was coming down in sheets in the morning, as I was driving up to the track. The signup line was short, as it is on most rainy weekends. I quickly unpacked, swapped out the DOT race tires in favor of the rains, helped my friend Todne do the same, and headed to the tech. to inspect my bike. Ang again, the same thing happened as the last weekend - they moved me up to the blue practice group. However much I would like to think that it was an acknowledgement of my superior achievements, in reality it was most likely bacause that group was the least populous at that moment in time.

In the practice sessions, aside from getting wet, I felt pretty good. I did 1:40-something in the first practice, and a 1:38-something in the second. When I checked the lap time sheets, searching for the familiar names and trying to see how my closest rivals compare, I was surprised to find out that I was outperforming every one of them in the wet. Ok, then. I decided to try to keep it that way through the races.

My first race of the day is the 20 minute GTL race. The amateur field consisted of 12 racers. After the green flag, I launched well, but not as well as two or three people beside me. So, they want to be in front of me? Fine by me - I'll just use them as my brake markers: I didn't let off the gas until I was in the lead, and then I petched the bike left for turn one. Even though I ended up running it wider than ideal, I got the holeshot, and stayed in the lead as I was following the resulting exaggerrated sweeping line through turns 1a and 2. I continued in the lead for the first few laps only briefly trading passes with another SV (#336 of Jason Markham). Shortly after that we started coming into the thick of the experts' wave, and as Jason later told me, I managed to pull away from him by being a bit more decisive in my passing. I went unchallenged for the remainder of the race, and got my first ever Amateur victory. As it turned out, Jason crashed in turn one shortly before the end of the race, as he was trying to catch back up to me. "I should have settled for 2nd!" said he as we shook hands after the race.

The Lightweight Supersport race #6 was my second race. I decided against using the tire warmers before it. There was so much water on the track, that any heat that went into the tires beforehand, would just as surely dissipate during the "warmup" lap.

My second race was relatively bland, as since grabbing the holeshot (using the same "keep it pinned until I'm first" method) I stayed ahead of the amateur field for the whole eight laps. I did take some guilty pleasure in making my way through the field of experts, and after Rick Doucette retired from the race with a shot clutch, I actually ended up finishing second overall. In fact, judging by my firends' account (and by the posted lap times,) I was rapidly catching up to the expert leader, averaging ~2 seconds per lap faster than he. Another first place for me. I don't enjoy racing in the rain any more than the next guy, but while I'm doing it anyway, I sure don't mind collecting first places!

My third race was Lightweight Grand Prix - race #8. The start was basically in instant replay of the first two: I didn't get off the line as well as some of my competitors, but again I managed to be first by the time we went into turn 1. I led the first two laps, when an orange KTM supermotard (#203 of Bradley Krause) passed me coming out of turn 2. I tried to give it all I had on the back straight, and managed to get half a bikelength on him as I took the inside line going into turn 3. Just as I began considering that pass completed, I felt a firm tap on my left knee - apparently Brad was trying to disagree with me on that account. The contact was mild (at least for me) and we both stayed upright, with me retaking and holding on to the lead, which I carried all the way to the finish flag. Another wet race - another win!

The last race of the day was race #10 - Thunderbike. I was gridded in the third wave, right next to a CBR600RR and a GSXR750, both of which outpower my bike by more than 30hp. I tried to repeat the same holeshot trick, but being clearly outgunned did not allow me to do that. I gave up the holeshot to #973 of Eric Sampson, who was riding the CBR600. But what I lost on the acceleration, I made up in whatever it was other than power that I must have had in surplus: by the time we came to turn 3, I was in the lead. On the third lap, however, Eric slipped in under me into turn 3, but after getting a better run out of the bowl, and despite being squeezed out onto the gator strips, I managed to get by him between turns 7 and 8. We traded similar passes in various corners throughout the rest of the race, and despite being thoroughly drenched, I was having a ball. On the last lap I missed a downshift braking into turn 1, and the subsequent recovery gear hunting and lost concentration ended up costing me a couple of seconds, putting me second at the finish line after Eric, who was clearly the winner. We high-fived each other as we were pitting in and Eric asked: "Are you in Unlimited Superbike?" After I told him that I was entered in Thunderbike, he exclaimed something to the effect of: "Then why the #$%!@ were we duking it out like that?" As it turned out, we weren't racing against one another, and we were both winners of our respective classes. It's just that being started in the same wave made us "feel" like we had to race each other.

So, it was 4-for-4 for me on this gloriously miserable Saturday.

2006-05-14, Sunday

I came to the track only to find out that the races were canceled, due to the extensive flooding of the infield. The access tunnel was covered with water, and to get to our stuff we had to drive all the way around the hill at the back of the track, and then back in through the turn 3-10 gate.

There was at least a foot of standing water in the south garages, but luckily for us, the north garages were still dry. We packed up our belongings, and after a late breakfast at "that egg place" went home to unload and watch the MotoGP race from Shanghai.

Go Nicky! Go Colin! Go Hopper! An impressive 2-3-4 for showing for Americans.

2006-10-08, sunday (written on 2006-10-26)

Two weeks ago, in what was supposed to be my last race of the last weekend of the '06 road racing season, I crashed hard and broke my femur.

On Saturday I clenched the Amateur Lighweight GrandPrix championship. Then on Sunday I only had one more race remaining - in a class where I had skipped a bunch of races over the season and so was out of the top three anyway. I didn't care about finishing well. I thought I'd just go out and circulate, in the name of squeezing out the last bit of track time before the racing season's end... Darn! Hind sight 20/20.

Let's rewind back to the beginning of this racing season. I saw something odd in the neighboring garage bay: I saw an expert racer, Todd Babcock, unwrap a brand new set of Woodcraft-CFM footpegs, install them on his SV650, then take a hack-saw and chop them down to half their length. I asked: "Why?" He replied with a question: "Have you ever hit a foot peg on an apex curb?"

Why couldn't I take that implied advice on its face value and start shortening my footpegs from then on? Dumbass. I guess I thought that I wasn't fast enough to need that. I thought: "I don't lean that far over, and I don't hit the apexes that close. I usually pass my knee over the apex curbs, with enough of a margin that hard parts aren't anywhere near them."

Yeah, that was all true, in a way. Until that last race.

Here's how the Lightweight Superbike race went:

I was gridded in the last spot on the grid, because I had screwed up my pre-entry form and had to post-enter at the gate. Again, no problem - I wasn't racing for points in that class, and so didn't mind starting from the back. More passing for me, right?

The green flag waved, I got a great launch and ended up fourth going into the first turn. So much for all the passing that I was expecting...

I maintained that position through the first half a lap, and was chasing down the pack of four ahead of me. I got a great drive out of Loudon's steeply banked turn six (aka The Bowl.) As I was going into T7, which can be really thought of as the continuation of T6, as virtually no extra steering input is required between them, I realized that I was gaining on the bike ahead of me, but that I was not on the right line to make the pass. I slightly held back the throttle to stay close behind him this time, and that's where it all went wrong. Normally, I am full on the gas as I go through T7, and pass close to the curb on the left before standing the bike up and transitioning for a right-hand sweeper T8. However, with less than full throttle my line got tightened up a bit (acceleration makes the bike carry out wide, less acceleration means the bike stays closer to the inside.) I thought: "Shit, I'm too close to the curb."

Next thing I remember is feeling a bump that upset the chassis, immediatelyu followed by a violent tumble of my very own body. I remember pulling my hands tightly against my chest, so I don't break my arms. I remember severe pummeling all over that would not end. Remember seeing the proverbial "ground-sky-ground-sky-ground-sky..." sequence. Remember the several thuds of hitting my helmet on the asphalt. Remember thinking: "This is going to break bones." Then remember coming to a stand-still in a seated position, with my arms still crossed on my chest and my feet splayed out to the sides in front of me.

The immediate post-crash self-inpection followed next.

I felt pain in my left upper leg. The best I can describe that pain is as if someone took an inner tube and setup a tourniquet on my thigh that was way too tight. So tight and painful that I could scream.

I looked around carefully, and my head turned without any neck pain whatsoever. Good.

I moved my arms to brace myself agains the ground, and they obeyed. Good.

I moved my toes and ankles, and I felt the inside of my boots and saw the boots move. Good.

Then I tried to move my legs. The right one moved, and the left one didn't. Shit. It wasn't that it was painful to move - the pain was everpresent at that point and unchanging. It's just that I couldn't will my knee or my hip to make any motion. Nothing. Zip.

Based on the location of the pain, I decided that I broke my femur somewhere mid-shaft. But I was also very afraid that I could have dismantled my knee. It all looked sort of together in the leathers, and I have integrated knee armor, so I was hopeful, but the tendons in the knees aren't as easy to repair back to 100% as bones. At least that was (and still is) my dilettante opinion.

Life has taught me that I'm pretty good at taking pain. At that point the pain in my leg was over the bearable threshold.

I started looking around for cornerworkers (mind you, this is like 10 seconds after the crash). I looked to the T6 cornerworking station and did not see anyone there (turns out the worker was there, but positioned in a slightly different spot than usual - just out of my sight.) I then looked for the flagger in the T8 tower, whom I saw looking in my direction. I started to wave frantically, showed him the ambulance sign (I cornerwork almost every weekend between my races, so I'm familiar with hand signals), pointed to my leg and screamed at the top of my lungs.

To be honest, the screaming was as much for attracting attention as it was for coping with the pain at that point.

I saw the T8 worker briefly wave the red flag (though most of the racers were past him at that point) then put the flag away and start climbing down from the tower. This allowed me to relax a bit - I knew I was noticed and help was coming. I lied back and clenched my teeth.

The following 20-30 seconds I spent on my back contemplating the consequences of my presumed injury. Both, short term and long term.

In the short term I thought of how long it would be before they can drug me up. They usually delay that until after they inspected the rest of the body palpated for possible internal injuries. That sucks. Maybe I should always carry a Percocet or two duct-taped inside the gauntlet of my racing glove...

In the long term I thought of how the recovery would affect my life. Both mine and my wife's. I never broke as big a bone as the femur, but I knew enough to understand that it was just about the biggest and strongest bone in the body that carries a lot of weight and has some seriously big and strong muscles attached to it. I knew then that it would take a surgery to put it together, and that tere would be a lot of bed time, a couple of months on crutches, followed by many months of serious physical therapy. My wife would have to care for me. I would miss weeks of work even though I could pretty quickly start working from home (I'm a software engineer.)

In other words, not a pretty picture. Crap. And this was THE LAST FREAKING RACE OF THE SEASON!!! Cra-a-a-a-ap!

That's what I thought as I was lying on my back.

Next thing I saw was the face of a woman EMT.

I said: "My left femur is fractured, but everything else is OK."

She thought: "Shut up and let me decide what's wrong with you."

But she didn't say that, because she was nice.

The EMTs told me not to move, and very carefully rolled the helmet off my head. That was not a trivial task, as I make a point of wearing a very tightly fitting helmet. Next, they put me in a neck collar "just in case." Standard procedure, so to speak.

Moving me onto the body board was an ordeal. I insisted on sitting up a bit, so I could manipulate my own leg with my arms. At first the EMTs were insisting that I stay horizontal, but then I told them that I was sitting up and looking around just a minute ago and that I had no pain whatsoever anywhere near my spine, thorax or abdomen. I told them that I remained conscious throughout the whole tumble, and that I was more than reasonably certian that the leg was the only significant damage I incurred.

Against the standard protocol (but based on good judgement, in my opinion) after palpating my neck the EMTs agreed to take off the collar and let me sit up.

I literally had to pick up my leg with one hand just under the knee, and the other one under the calf and lift it up while the EMTs lifted the rest of me and slid the board under. As I was letting go of my leg, it rolled slightly and I felt the awful grinding sensation, which I remember from braking my collarbone. So it was confirmed: the bone was fractured, and it was in fact a complete fracture. I informed the EMTs of that. I think they were already gettign tired of my pretending to be an amateur doctor, but that was just the beginning.

Anyhow, to make the long story long (as opposed to very long) what ensued was a trip to the infield medical center at the track, followed by a trip to the Concord Hospital in Concord, NH, in turn followed by a 2+ hour drive to Boston's Mass. General Hospital (the trauma orthopedist on call at Concord said that he wouldn't touch a bone that big with a ten foot pole, which is fine with me.)

Now every time I had to get into or out of the various beds (track - ambulance - IMC - transport ambulance - Concord Hospital ER - another transport ambulance - Mass General ER - Mass General Bed -- that's seven times total) every time I had to do that I had to put up with the horrible pain and the god-awful bone grinding. No fun, let me tell you.

My initial field diagnosis held up. It was a mid-shaft femoral fracture with a butterfly fragment.

At Mass General I spent one night broken but in traction (sounds bad, but traction was actually a relief - no more grinding.) The next day I went in for surgery and ended up with a titanium rod spanning the inside of my femur from knee to hip.

(Actually, the proper term is "intramedullary femoral nail", but given the choice of saying "I've got a big rod" or "I got nailed," I certainly prefer the former.

The recovery so far has been ahead of normal schedule:

  • I broke the femur on Sunday.
  • Got the rod put in on Monday.
  • Walked with a walker on Tuesday.
  • Walked on crutches on Wednesday.
  • Went up and down a flight of stairs on Thursday morning, following which I was promptly checked out of the hospital.

Now, two and a half weeks from the surgery, I can stand on two feet with about 50/50 weight distribution between my two legs. But I can't put 100% of my body weight on my left leg. I mean maybe I can (you know, titanium has pretty high module of elasticity), but I am not clinically advised to do that until about 6 weeks post-op.

As far as soft tissue damage goes, they had to cut through my muscles to get access to the loose butterfly fragment of the bone, so I have severely limited range of knee motion. I can now bend it up to 90 degrees (thanks to thrice-daily stretcing - it was more like 60 degrees post-op.) And for the life of me I can't straighten the leg and lock the knee. They tell me it's all normal, and that with my current progress I'm already way ahead of schedule. Good.

Got the good people at work to set me up with a nice dual-core Turion64 laptop running Linux (our development platform.) And am looking forward to slowly joining the ranks of productive people. Two weeks of watching TV is about as much as I can take. I even started reading books, if you could believe such a thing.

The night pain in the knee so far is the most difficult aspect of this injury to deal with. As I said before, I am fairly tolerant of pain in general, and so I can take it like a man during the day. But I can't fall asleep for the life of me. And it feels like it is getting worse during the night. All the other senses are cut off, it's dark, quiet, and pain in the knee is all there is. I take a doze of Vicodin at midnight, fall asleep, then wake up from pain two hours later and have to wait another 4 hours before I can take another one. Then, at 6am I pop another Vicodin and fall asleep for another two hours, only to wake up again from the pain.

When I complained about pain at night to the doc, he basically said: "No shit, dummy. You broke your leg. It's supposed to hurt." I'm paraphrasing, but only very slightly.

Hopefully, this will improve in the next week or two.

I guess that's all for now. I'll post the X-rays when I get them.

Oh yeah, back to the reason I crashed. I thought at the time of the crash that I rolled over the curb with my wheels. But I have since heard from another racer who was smack on my tail at the time of the crash, and he swears that he saw the peg hitting the curb before he had to take evasive action and ride through the grass to avoid hitting my tumbling body. (Thanks, buddy!)

One more point I wanted to make:

I was wearing an Arai Corsair helmet (one size smaller than comfortable), fully armored Dainese racing suit, Dainese back and hip protectors, Held racing gloves, Daytona internally articulated racing boots. There are two very significant impact sites on the back of my helmet, with corresponding compression of the EPS liner. There is evidence of impact on the shoulders, elbows, knees, shins, back hump, etc... Every piece of safety equipment that I used is essentially destroyed (the leathers were cut off me by the way - and I insisted on doing it myself, because I don't like girls waving scissors in the vicinity of my sack!)

Other than the damage done to my left leg (and it's the kind of damage that no suit or armor can protect against) there was not so much as a bruise anywhere else on my body.

I know exactly the brands that of motorcycle safety equipment that earned my trust. All the junked gear is getting replaced by either exactly the same model or the next higher model for next season. (Or whenever it is that I convince my wife to let me get back to racing.)

This accident was a 100% affirmation of every agonizingly expensive safety equipment purchase that I have ever made.

Now, if only I had listened to Todd and chopped down my footpegs...


PS: Here is a composite of two AP (anterior-posterior) X-ray images of the femur right after the surgery: