As many of you know, I often throw out an invitation on Twitter to female motorcyclists to share their story. And that’s how I connected with my next guest, Krystyna (KK) or on Twitter @KK352 from SoCal. KK is a serious lady rider with lots of experience to share! Enjoy!
Do you have a blog or URL? I contribute a monthly column on my racing adventures to girlclutch.com – a fabulous place for women riders to meet, founded by my good friend Christin Voros. My column is called Psycho Kitty (a nickname given to me by one of my sponsors!)
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? 11 years now! Wow … time flies!
How did you learn to ride? I was about to graduate from college, as a mechanical engineer, I decided I wanted the biggest, baddest Harley I could get my hands on. I knew that wouldn’t be the first bike, so I jumped on the chance when a co-worker offered to sell me his 1979 Honda CX500 for super cheap! He taught me how to ride it in the parking lot of our work!
This was Aug 2001! I was in Pennsylvania at the time for an internship, and I attended my first bike night as soon as I got myself that bike! I met a really cute boy who took me for a very spirited ride on his Yamaha R1 … and I decided the Harley could wait!
Fast forward to November 2002 and I purchased an ’02 Yamaha R6 as an early graduation present to myself, and was quickly immersed in the sport bike world. I convinced my parents to purchase a day atCaliforniaSuperbikeSchool, and a good friend from college took me to my first track day with Trackdaz.com at Buttonwillow Raceway and I haven’t slowed down since!
What was your first motorcycle? 1979 Honda CX500
How many have you owned? Seven – although I currently only have two.
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? I had accomplished everything I had set out to do since graduating high school – I was about to graduate as an engineer; I had built an engine in college (Ford FE 352 – which is why my race number is 352); I was hired for my dream job of building/designing locomotive diesel engines; and I had successfully performed an engine swap and improvements to my 1964 Ford F250. Next step … motorcycle!
Honestly, it was kind of a whim … riding a motorcycle had never been a dream or goal … it just seemed like the next awesome thing to do in my life.
Tell us about your riding. I’ve been commuting on a motorcycle ever since I got that old Honda cruiser. I did my very first track day in April 2002, started racing in Sept 2002 (a bit too early in retrospect) and now racing is my passion. However, I live in LA now, so commuting on the moto is a necessity!
In 2009 I turned my 2006 R1 commuter bike into a race bike, and it’s taken me to a level of riding and racing success I never dreamed possible!!! I won two novice championships in 2010!! And my expert year this year so far has seen me dropping multiple seconds and becoming competitive in the liter bike expert class!!!! A place I NEVER dreamed I would find myself – let alone being competitive!!!!
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Take the leap and do it!!! Ride with someone you know and trust for your first time. Although I knew how to drive a manual transmission auto, I struggled to learn to get rolling on the bike. And being short, I tipped over very easily until I learned how to handle myself. In those first few months I kept picturing Arnold as the Terminator, in the scene when he leaves the bar in the first movie and takes that guys bike. The confidence which he showed putting the kick stand down, riding away … I pictured that, and pictured myself doing the same.
The mind is incredibly powerful at riding – picture yourself doing what it is you WANT to do …. do NOT picture yourself doing what you are afraid of!!!!
I learned how to load my bike in the back of pick ups by doing exactly that!
When you’re out riding, the guys are usually pretty cool, and thankfully you can easily ignore them once you’re moving and the visor is down. Just ride your own ride, and do what YOU feel comfortable with. I found myself trying to keep up before I was ready, and scared myself several times.
I got into moto bikes without a boyfriend – or any male for that matter – to be my guide. My co-worker taught me how to ride, and friends and family helped along the way.
The best thing about riding is you’ll meet the GREATEST people!!!!! So even if you start off all by yourself, you will NOT be all alone for very long!
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? Probably the longest trip I’ve taken is riding from my college town to my parents house – a little over 400 miles.
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? I am a member of Western Eastern Roadracing Assoc (WERA) a club racing org that I just love! And I do a few races on occasion with American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM) and the California State Championship.
Do you have a favorite riding story? Kind of a long story, but such a fairy tale … November 2010 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – WERA West Regional Final. I was literally 2 pts behind the Open (A) Superstock Novice Championship leader. It came down to this one final race – I had a good chance of winning the Championship – and becoming the first woman in WERA’s history to win an open class championship, let alone the first woman to win any championship on a liter bike.
I got the holeshot in the novice class. I was running faster than that guy in practice, so I knew if I stayed in front of him I would likely beat him. As I slowed into turn one, another rider (who had gotten a poor start) came careening into the pack and, in a panic, tucked the front under the brakes. His bike slid into the rear tire of my bike, causing my bike to flip so quickly underneath me that I landed on top of it! I surfed it along the track as it slid, but I knew as soon as we hit the dirt it would flip! My bike flipped a few times, relatively gently. It did hit me, but thankfully did not land on top of me! I couldn’t believe it … my one chance at going after the championship was taken away by another rider … and the best friend of the points leader (and 3rd place in the points). In an instant all the emotion and adrenaline came pouring out of me … I was screaming at the rider as he lay knocked out, I was throwing my fists, I was crying … an unbelievable amount of emotion just poured out.
The crash truck took my bike back to my pits while the ambulance tended to the knocked out rider. My friend’s dog piled on my bike to get it ready for the restart. No systems were breached, so it was a matter of getting the rocks out of it, replacing a handle bar, duct taping the windscreen … my friends are incredibly amazing.
They got my bike ready to go just in time to make the restart of the race – they were not going to wait for me! I was re-tech’d by the official, and I was the last one to roll down hot pit lane. To my utter amazement, EVERYone along hot pit wall were cheering and clapping for me as I rode by!!! It was like a scene from a movie! The best was seeing one of my best friends, and biggest competitor, jumping up and down cheering loudly as I rode by.
My start was good; I fell in behind my rival, and let the first few laps determine if my bike and my body were ready to push harder. As we began lap 3 I passed my rival, putting 6 seconds between us! I took 2nd place in the race with a new personal best lap time!!!
In the end, my rival and I tied for the Championship in points, but since I had more race wins, I was awarded the Open (A) Superstock Novice Championship!!!!! My whole family was there – they rarely make it to races, so it was extra special to have them there for this one!
I also won the Women’s Superstock Novice Championship that year too … but the open class one was quite a bit more special. I am the only girl in my regular classes. And I am the only girl in WERA West (and I think all of WERA) who races a liter bike.
What do you do when you’re not riding? I workout to be fit for riding! I also enjoy spending time with friends and family and my Great Dane, Duke!
- Graves Motorsports (gravesport.com)
- EBC Brakes (ebcbrakes.com)
- Scorpion Helmet (scorpionusa.com)
- Lenny Albin (superbikechassis.com)
- Pirelli Tires (CT Racing – ctracetires.com)
- RaceTech (racetech.com)
- M Racing (mracingperformance.com)
- Five & Dime Tattoo (fiveanddimetattoo.com)
- Moonstone Cellars (moonstonecellars.com)
- STARSchool (starmotorycle.com)
- Five-0 Racing (five-0racing.com)
- Aussie Body Fitness (aussiebodyfitness.com)
- Attack Performance (attackperformance.com)
- 785Graphics (785graphics.com)