2003 -2006 Ducati 999 - Smart Money

MC Garage
Fresh Meat
Fortune favors me. First I got this cool job at Motorcyclist, and now I've got my very own long-term test bike. And what better bike for a girl who races a 2005 GSX-R750 than an '06 Gixxer? I'm in pony heaven with endless possibilities ahead. What will I do with my new 750? What won't I do?!

First order of business: Clean it up. For starters, I peeled off the warning labels, removed the side reflectors and mounted the license plate to the plastic rear fender instead of to the metal bracket. A fairing screw had mysteriously gone missing, so I ordered one from the local Suzuki dealer as well as two for the front fender to replace the unsightly reflector stalks. Much nicer.

So far, the bike has been limited to commuter miles, but that's going to change. My next plan of action is to make it track-day-ready: pipe, gearing, brake lines and pads, frame sliders, sticky tires, etc. Stay tuned.

Track Time
Umbrellas Are Sooo Last Season - Pink Is The New Black At Femmoto 2006
MC Garage
Within the first few hours of meeting Bonnie Strawser, I made a bad impression. She'd invited me to be an instructor at Femmoto 2005, where I was to lead groups of women riders on demo bikes around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Classic Course. Given that the women didn't own these bikes, the pace wasn't as spirited as at a normal track day. The instructors owned theirs, however, and weren't afraid to push them. As the day progressed, some of the male instructors got antsy and started racing one another. Naturally, I wanted to join in the fun, and did so until I was called into the pits for a reprimand. Apparently, Bonnie was none too pleased with our shenanigans.

When Bonnie created Femmoto, her intent was to organize a track day for women to ride together in an environment where competitiveness, aggressiveness and Alpha-dog behavior didn't exist. It was all about girls improving their skills, networking with fellow female riders and having a good time-not getting strafed by racers on hot laps. Needless to say I screwed up, and for several weeks after the event Bonnie heard nothing but apologies from me. Fortunately, our peace talks ended with a simple and logical solution: Femmoto '06 would have all female instructors, and I'd coordinate the recruiting effort.

Rounding up enough women riders to serve as instructors was no small task. Femmoto began as a one-day event in '01 but has grown considerably, the '06 edition expanding to two days with no fewer than 330 participants. More manufacturers are attending as well, newcomers Ducati and Moto Guzzi joining perennial supporters Aprilia, Buell, Kawasaki and Kymco in acknowledging the rapidly growing female market. In addition to demo rides on the roadrace track, the '06 event also featured supermoto and motocross demos. This is arguably the most important event of the year for female riders, and I had to find competent instructors. Fortunately, between instructing at track days and club racing, I'd met several talented women who were eager to volunteer their time. Between my contacts and Bonnie's-plus two of Sportbike Track Time's East Coast instructors, Michelle Stone and Sallie Inch-we assembled a full team. It would be the first edition of Femmoto with a 100 percent female cast.

Preconceived notions were numerous. Some thought it would be a bloodbath of girl racers trying to prove they're the fastest. Others pictured gaggles of beginners in pink leathers wobbling around the racetrack. And a few imagined it was some sort of gay pride rally on wheels. Truth is, this track day was no different than any other. There were competitive riders, slow riders, know-it-alls who couldn't be taught a thing, riders who tried to drag their knee before they knew how to counter-steer and those who were confident and smooth. There was no gender distinction, especially for the instructors who saw everyone incognito-it was all helmets, leathers and bikes.

So, what made Femmoto '06 special? In a word, inspiration. What I saw through my helmet visor was unforgettable: I witnessed women being inspired by other women, learning from each other, riding new bikes, networking and laughing. I watched Jessica Zalusky, AMA Pro roadracer, rail through turns smoothly and effortlessly at a pace no other rider could match. I watched Michelle DiSalvo, AMA Pro supermoto racer, back it into a hairpin with smoke pouring off her rear tire, then accelerate off the corner into a near-vertical wheelie. I needed a Botox injection to smooth my smile lines! I never made it to the motocross track, but girl after girl returned from there delighted after taking lessons from AMA Pro motocross racer Tania Satchwell. This is what Femmoto is all about. If this year's participants weren't inspired by something or someone, they should check their pulse to see if they're still alive.

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