Friday
Apr112014

Thruxton Cup

At Cafe Racer XXX, we truly believe that "two wheels translate" and as much as we support the Cafe Racer and custom culture, we fully support motorcycle racing as part of our culture.  We currently sponsor and promote racers in multiple disciplines including Melissa Paris who races in AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike and Spanish CEV Superstock, AMA Pro Flat Track and SMEC Supermoto rider Johnny Lewis, Isle of Man TT and Macau GP rider Brandon Cretu, and Land Speed racer Michael Goni who pilots the World's fastest BSA.  We also take an inside look inside the AMA Pro Racing Paddock with a regular blog by former race team owner and manager, Bree Poland.  Recently, we had the opportunity to be part of the world famous Daytona 200 where Triumph America snagged their first Daytona win since 1967.  Cafe Racer XXX was set up in the Fanzone with a number of custom builders and was honored to be part of the "Cafe Racer Village" hosted by Moto Media XXX.  Our very own Kevin Dunworth led "Real Talk" and interviewed a number of racers on stage.    

Why all of this racing?  Standing in the midst of a race lights your blood on fire.  Try it.  The adrenaline, speed and energy that surrounds you is simular to the feeling of your own throttle wide open on an empty road.  The skills, guts and passion embedded in the racers deserves our respect.  We are all part of the same riding community.  Racing is at the roots of motorcycle culture and hell, Flat Track was born in America.  We need to support the regrowth of the sport and we encourage you to get involved in whatever way you can.  Choose a rider, get to know and follow them throughout the race season.  Have a race question?  Don't hesitate to email us and ask.  Find the closest race and attend it with friends or your local club.  If you are unable to do so, tune into Fans Choice TV and watch.  Or even better, try you own hand at racing!  Next, we'd like to introduce you to a very cool race series called the Thruxton Cup that you can easily be part of at any age and skill level with a Triumph Thruxton and some minor safety modifications.

Cheers!

Sasha Valentine

 

Since its launch in 2005, the Thruxton Cup has been igniting the passion of Triumph Thruxton owners and racing fans alike. Fuelled by the devotion enthusiasts have for the British marque itself and the Thruxton model specifically, this factory spec racing series is nothing short of enthralling. What began as a program developed in partnership between Triumph and the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) that initially lured out a handful of weekend warriors on their showroom spec Cafe Racers immediately began enticing riders of all ages and experience levels to join their ranks. Triumph, along with series partners British Customs and BES Enterprises quickly joined forces to add fuel to the fire that is the Thruxton Cup. Thanks in large to its ease of entry and open-armed community, the Thruxton Cup has snowballed into full field of twenty-one riders, battling for optimal lines, elusive checkered flags and the “single most glamorous trophy in the world”.


(Rob McLendon (16) and Jarret Martin (1T) battle for the racing line at NOLA) 

Triumph Motorcycles and racing have been synonymous since their first two bikes rolled out of the factory in 1902. That tradition has continued right through to today, with Danny Eslick’s Daytona 675 capturing top spot at this years Daytona 200 just a few weeks ago -- a feat not realized by the British brand since 1967. And then of course, there’s Bonneville. Possibly the most famous surface for speed, it doubles as the namesake of Triumph’s signature modern classic. The Thruxton, itself a Cafe Racer variant of the Bonneville, also shares its name with racing greatness. Named after the Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, England, it was the scene where the Bonnie secured its first complete podium in the 1969 five-hundred mile endurance race held there.  Winning is often its own reward but as a bonus to the Thruxton 500, podium finishers scored incredible advertising opportunities, making Triumph’s feat doubly important and probably just as tough as ad dollars often lured the fastest teams to the track.


(John Jewett (385) flying the familial colors)

Launched in 2004, the Thruxton enjoyed merely one production year before it found a dedicated home at the track. Now a decade later, riders are getting ready for the third race of the season. A walk through the pits at NOLA saw men and women of all ages, backgrounds and levels of experience slinging a leg over their Cup racers -- some, searching for the thrill of victory while others are just looking to have some fun in a supportive atmosphere. As Zack Materne of Triumph of New Orleans pointed out, “Racers here are well aware of the fact that you don’t need to hit 160mph to have a great time on two-wheels”. In fact, its that utter accessibility of the series, highlighted by incredible bang for your buck and competitive camaraderie that’s most most alluring.


(Two Triumph/British Customs collaborations fight for supremacy) 


(Thruxton Cup’s first female racer, Sarah Lahalih and Larry Fletcher)

In 2009, British Customs partnered with BES Enterprises (better known as BES Racing at the track) to become title sponsors of the Thruxton Cup. Together they have provided immense support to the series with their extreme passion for the bikes and the sport itself. This partnership has proven fruitful as they’ve teamed up with individuals (in a rider support and sponsorship role), as well as entire teams and AHRMA itself to further foster the racing’s success. 

As official performance part supplier, BC’s straight forward approach encourages riders of all levels to, almost literally, plug-and-play themselves from the street directly to a competitive spot on the starting grid. They even have pre-packaged kits to help get riders started. And with a good chunk of Triumph owners already familiar with BC’s expert engineering for their daily transportation, the learning curve for track modification is almost non-existent. Most of BC’s ever-expanding catalogue of performance and styling parts are bolt-on applications that can be easily installed by just about anyone and their race applications are developed in the same vein. Triumph, BES Enterprises and British Customs got together at this season’s most recent race at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, taking in the excitement, dodging rain showers and making sure the teams and riders they support are having as much fun as they are.


(Greg Heichelbech, current CEO of Triumph North America, gets a congratulatory High-five from BC’s James Panther)

Also taking in the festivities was The Transportation Revolution Speed Shop -- an offshoot of New Orleans based Triumph dealership, has set up permanent residence at NOLA. Their garage specializes in trackside service for riders of all series at the track, with special interest in the Thruxton Cup. Offering transportation, storage, servicing and even gear rentals for aspiring racers, they’ve no doubt helped many a weekend warrior realize the sting of champagne soaked eyes, including a few riders most wouldn’t suspect. 

Current CEO of Triumph North America, Greg Heichelbech spent this past weekend honing his skills, racing in Friday’s torrential downpour at NOLA Motorsports park. When you consider that those wet weather adventures were simply to earn his AHRMA race license, the infectious levels of dedication, stemming right from the top, become clear. Greg succeeded, thankfully under sunnier skies, on Saturday afternoon, passing his test and earning his spot on the starting grid. This weekend in NOLA also saw the first female rider join the Thruxton Cup family, as Sarah Lahailih (Triumph Race Liason) joined Greg and Larry Fletcher (Events Manager/Historian) on the graduation podium, further illustrating the incredible commitment that Triumph has to racing of all disciplines. The Thruxton Cup family is certainly growing, but there’s always room for a few more; click here to find out how to come on down and join us! 


(Greg Heichelbech, CEO Triumph North America, master of augmented sales, and rooster tails)


(Sarah Lahailih, Triumph Race Liason isn’t slowed down by puddles)

Tuesday
Apr082014

Meet Aileen | The Moto Quest

I met Aileen through the virtual wonders of Instagram.  Since she was a Cafe Racer XXX follower, at some point I was able to discover her profound photography and motorcycle journeys through Bali.  Not knowing much of her story, we slowly connected with three things in common... motorcycling, the spirit of adventure and the desire to push our own boundaries.  Through many message exchanges over the past year, we developed a friendship and I discovered there was much more to Aileen's story.  She had been exiled from Australia and as a result was truly heartbroken, she battled health issues and was about to embark upon a journey of spirituality, adventure and two wheels around the world.  I had to tap in and I had to know more as I know you will too.  Cafe Racer XXX is very excited to support and follow Aileen on her International journey, The Moto Quest.  You can follow along on her Webpage and Instagram but check here for unique entries from Aileen's trip.  Get inspired, live through her journey, and hell if you can, send her a beer or a place to rest her head for the night by donating through her page.  Now a little more about the woman behind this mission...

 

~Sasha Valentine


   

Hi there, I’m Aileen. 

 After my little world changed unexpectedly about 8 months ago, I found myself in an incredibly challenging and painful situation. Life forced me to change gear.  It encouraged me to start thinking about the meaning of existence again.  Even though I have always been chasing my dreams I’ve maintained my childlike sense of wonder and curiosity.  I kept myself so busy in an everyday routine that I didn’t take time for pit stops; to look at the map and the road I was on…

Life kicked me out of the saddle and after a time of grieving and alteration of myself, I am getting myself back on it – well, I should say “back on the road”.  

~Aileen | The Moto Quest

 

Wednesday
Mar192014

Daytona 2014 – Can I get a do-over?

So, here I am on an uncomfortably bumpy plane ride home from Daytona. I knew I needed to write this blog about how my 200 went this year, but of course (as anyone who was there could probably guess) I’ve sort of been avoiding it. As a matter of fact, I even paid $15 for WIFI on the flight (something I NEVER do) and made it to the end of the internet and back before finally sacking up and opening the Pages App on my macbook.

Here goes nothing.

A lot has been changing in my life over the last few years, but especially in the last 12 months. The details of that are for another blog, but just to put in a nutshell, things in Meli-Land, in general… have been getting better and better.

After a great introduction and first couple days of testing with my new team in Spain (Team Stratos) I was really looking forward to coming back and racing the Daytona 200. Last year things went pretty well for me and I ended up with a tenth place finish (it would’ve been ninth if not for “Water Bottle Gate”, but hey, I’m not bitter!). I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a rider and my fitness is at a much higher level (I spent most of last off season laying on the couch thanks to a broken leg that wouldn’t heal and a masochistic doctor).

As you might imagine, putting together all the pieces for ride in CEV left me with precious few resources for AMA competition. But, thanks to Joe Rocket and Roadracing World pitching in, road racing’s very own Fairy God-Father John Ulrich, and my good buddy Steven Breckenridge volunteering to wrench for me, we were able to put it all together!

l digress. The point is, I was really pumped to race the 200. Think high confidence, smiley faces, and a bounce in my step. Lots of warm fuzzies.

 

Anyone who has ridden at Daytona knows that even on the best of days, grip is lacking. It doesn’t help that we have to run really durable rubber because of the banking… And as rider, you KNOW that when you first roll out its going to be really slippery. And yet is never ceases to surprise me. I know. I know. I’m not super bright. So I roll out in our first practice session and am slowly tip-toeing my way up to speed. After about 7 laps I came back into the pits for a small change. I roll back out and immediately crash in the chicane. (Yes, the same chicane that ate the end of my pinky back in 2010). What the…? It was kind of a strange crash but I just chalked it up to going too easy on my out lap. Really stupid.

Undeterred I rolled out into the next practice session ready to make up for lost time. One thing I struggle with usually is getting up to speed quickly and that didn’t seem to be a problem so I was pretty pumped. I was pumped that is, for about four laps. When I crashed AGAIN in the chicane. OK, seriously? Without getting into details, it was kind of a strange crash again. I was super grateful for my Joe Rocket gear (especially my Speedmaster boots) this time though because my bike (apparently also not pleased with my performance) dragged me across the ground by my leg. #awesome #goodtimes #notreally.

Now I was getting frustrated. I’m not a crasher. I’m really not. (Said the girl who just chucked two motorcycle down the road in less than 12 laps). We set to trying to figure out what the deal was, and did manage to find that a few setup things weren’t exactly as we thought they were. Luckily my friend Todd McNabney of Heroic was there with his sewing machine and was able to patch up the few spots in my leathers that needed some love. Even the best stuff has its limits it seems!  We tried to make some changes but my head was pretty done in and Friday was probably one of the worst qualifying sessions of my life. Not understanding why I’d fallen off twice the day before left me a bit shy of the front end, and it was obvious in my lap times. I ended up so far in the back that I was pretty sure I would be starting the race from NASCAR Turn Four. I only hoped I could see the start lights from there.

After lots of pleading prayers I woke up Saturday morning and just decided to stay the course. All I could do was just keep trying and see what I could make of things. The race got off (I was in fact, able to see the start lights) and I settled in just trying to make up positions. I made up five or six pretty quickly and got into a group of riders. As one of the smaller riders in the field, I like Daytona because I can usually draft by pretty much anyone at will. We were struggling with a few things this year though, and I was pretty indignant having people twice my size come by me on the banking. It’s a good thing we don’t have radios because I was saying some not nice things inside my helmet. #paybacksucks #onlyfunwhenihavetheadvantage

Our first pit stop was smooth and I settled back in with a rider I’d been riding with the whole first stint. Everytime he would draft me around the banking I could feel my bike start wobbling pretty violently, which was a new and unwelcome experience for me. #yay None the less, I was having fun swapping spots with him as long as I didn’t look at my lap timer and see how much slower I was than years past.

Unfortunately as I was leaving our pit stall on my second stop, one of the mechanics saw a cheeky spacer that had somehow managed to sneak out during a wheel change and my team had to bring me straight back in to replace it. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew when I saw my pit in board that I better come in. They got me back underway and I had settled in to around 22nd place or so with a sizable gap to the next rider.

With clear track ahead of me I was just focussed on finishing the race and moving on. Unfortunately, gravity wasn’t done with me yet. With about 8 laps to go, I rolled into turn one, and just as I let off the brakes and picked up neutral throttle, the bars turned under and I tucked the front. Again. This time it was a pretty awkward tumbly sort of fall. Right away my shoulder was hurting pretty bad and for a moment I thought I had finished off my Daytona pinky (there are few things in life that will make you think you’re more injured than you really are, than slapping your fingers across the pavement at speed, lol). The digit was mostly fine, but my shoulder is still pretty beat up now… which is just SUPER when you need to lug a heavy backpack through the airport.

 

I kept it all together and composed pretty much until Josh came into the riders lounge to check on me. I may or may not have let out a few tears at that point, more from frustration than anything else.

It just really sucked going into the weekend feeling so confident and then just repeatedly throwing myself on the ground. But at the end of the day, I still have a decent degree of peace about the whole thing (again, back to that forthcoming blog I need to write, that I mentioned earlier). The fact is, I’m not in charge of how things are going to go. Sometimes they’re going to be great. Sometimes they’re going to suck. Some days I may crash the team right out of bodywork (though I hope I don’t do that again anytime soon). There’s a purpose and a lesson in all of this… and I promise as soon as I figure out what it is I’ll get back to you!

 

Until then- onward and upward (hopefully!)

 

Yours Truly,

Undettered,

Slightly battered,

but still smiling,

~Melissa Paris

Tuesday
Mar112014

Melissa Paris partners with Cafe Racer XXX

Finishing off the day with a very cool announcement. Cafe Racer XXX is very proud to support Melissa Paris for the 2014 Road Racing Season. This year Melissa will be competing in two series, the AMA Pro Road Racing GoPro Daytona Sportbike Class and for the first time she will be racing overseas in the Spanish CEV championship for the Stratos Racing Team.


Last year Cafe Racer XXX jumped into supporting riders in all disciplines and really enjoyed the journey. "When the off-season came around we all talked and decided to continue our support of riders in Road Racing and who better than Melissa Paris?! Melissa shows dedication day in and day out. We love the energy and enthusiasm she shows for the sport. She is a sponsors dream. Being one of the top females in all of Road Racing, we feel she is a perfect match for Cafe Racer XXX. 

"I'm really excited to be partnering up with Cafe Racer XXX for the 2014 season. As a racer, I see the need for our sport to be promoted so that we can continue to grow our sport. I'm really proud to be working with a group of people that have proved to be not only knowledgeable but so passionate about motorcycle racing and the overall Motorcycle lifestyle," says Paris.

We are looking forward to Melissa's Road Racing adventures and her help spreading the international love for Cafe Racer XXX in the US and beyond.

For more information and to follow Melissa throughout her season check out www.caferacerxxx.com/racing and www.Melissaparis.com.

http://www.facebook.com/MelissaParis13

http://twitter.com/Meligirl13