Racing high-revving sport bikes around a dirt track may look like loads of fun, but it takes some serious skill as well.
Just ask American Flat Track fan favorite Shayna Texter. The five-foot-tall, 26-year-old badass is one of only two females in the series—and doing quite well, thankyouverymuch.
Last season, Texter earned five wins, cementing her rep as not only the most successful female in the sport but also the winningest rider in her class. Shayna’s personal race bike is a Husqvarna FC450, but she’s also ridden the more monstrous Triumph Bonneville 995. So for insider insight into racing bikes, we figured she’d be a good person to ask. We wound up getting some great tips to live by as well.
“I’m a motorcycle racer. I don’t look at myself as a female racer, or the guy racers as males. We’re all just racers, trying to win races, do the best we can and chase the championship.”
1. Prepare to Win
Before any race, I make sure my bikes are 100 percent ready to go. Cleaned, lubricated, new tires, clean air filter, fresh oil, clutch plates replaced, stuff like that. Next comes my gear and equipment, things like cleaning and conditioning my leathers, boots and gloves, cleaning my helmet and making sure all my helmet shields are ready to go with tear-offs installed. That’s especially important on a track with a soft, loamy surface, as the bikes throw off a lot of dirt. Personally, I need to be in good physical shape, with a week of training before the race, and staying properly hydrated. Some of our races are in very hot places, so it’s important to be hydrated and having eaten nutritiously during the week.
2. Take Responsibility
My mental focus comes somewhat from getting everything ready for a race and making sure I’m in good shape physically. On the morning of race day, I eat a good breakfast, as that’s probably the only meal I’ll get until that evening, after the race, because we’re usually running wide open all day long and into the evening. As a team owner this year, I have a lot more responsibilities, from making sure the bikes are ready and that they get through tech inspection, to making sure our pit is set up properly, checking out the track, seeing how the dirt looks, how it might change later in the day, and getting ready for practice, the heats, semis and the main event.
3. Respect Your Roots
To me, motorcycles are life. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them. I grew up in a motorcycling family, began riding at three years old, and spent much of my youth at our family Harley-Davidson dealership. So being around bikes and racing is just part of me; it’s what I do, what I feel comfortable doing. There’s nothing comparable to riding and racing.
4. Don’t Make Excuses
I’m a motorcycle racer. I don’t look at myself as a female racer, or the guy racers as males. We’re all just racers, trying to win races, do the best we can and chase the championship. So being one of the only females is not a challenge for me, really. The guys in our paddock are generally great, and they treat me with a lot of respect, as I do them. To them, I’m just another racer, and I never play the female card. It helps that we’re all having a lot of fun in the paddock and on the racetrack. Growing up with a brother who races [Cory Texter, who also competes in the AFT Singles class] helped, as did growing up in a racing family, with my dad being a professional flat track racer and road racer. We’re all just competitors.
5. Learn by Doing
I’d tell new riders to start on the dirt; it’s a lot softer. Borrow a bike if you can and see how you like it. You’ll learn the motorcycle’s dynamics at a slow speed, and skills will come faster that way. Maybe attend a riding school like American Supercamp, or take a Rider’s Edge or an MSF class. Remember, if you can ride a bicycle, you can ride a motorcycle; have confidence! If you have a choice, start on a bike with an automatic clutch. Wear the proper gear; I’m a big fan of helmets, as they’ve saved my life a number of times. Be smooth with the throttle and brakes when you’re starting off; don’t be grabbing a handful of either.