Wayne: You are really breaking the glass ceiling in a male dominated sport, can you tell me about your firsts as a female in motorcycle racing? Do the male racers give you a hard time?
Shelina: I’m out there to be a racer, and the guys know and respect that. I’m not there to prove anything for the girls and I’m not getting any special concessions as a female on the racetrack. The guys give me at least as hard a time as they give the other guy racers, and I expect nothing less. Nobody likes to get beat by a girl (not even me), so sometimes I do hear some trash talk when I’m faster than a guy, but that’s almost like a compliment anyway, it means I did well. Mostly the guys are super supportive. They want to see me beating the other guys.
It was pretty awesome making history at Indy as the first female to ever race a motorcycle there, and being on TV and the radio for it. I was also the first female to race an electric bike on the international level, the first female to race in the FIM e-Power series, and the first female to race in the AMA Pro Harley Davidson Vance & Hines Series.
Wayne: A first for Harley – I understand those bikes are much bigger and harder to handle – how was that experience?
Shelina: Heck yeah, they are big bikes (510 lbs) and I’m a little girl! But Man are they fun!! I grew up riding horses and the ones that buck are always the best challenge 🙂 The XR1200 is a ton of fun and a really awesome sounding bike. I wanted to race it for about a year while I was still racing AMA Pro Supersport on the 600s. It’s a completely different bike to the Yamaha R6 that I’m used to, and a lot of fun too.
Wayne: Racing is more than just a racer and involves a huge support system with sponsors, mechanics, etc… What does you support team look like?
Shelina: Racing involves huge support systems for sure. Sponsors are the biggest part of our racing and we couldn’t do it without them. We are constantly looking to partner with companies who want to get involved in the racing world and the marketing avenues it has to offer, and it’s more work than I ever thought before I started racing. I have a different support crew for each of the series I race in, with some overlaps. I race the Harleys, electric bikes, Yamaha 600s, Supermoto, and Flat Track. I have mechanics, engineers, PR professionals, an event manager, graphics designer and teammates, plus my family.
This season I’m very lucky to have support in the AMA Pro H-D Vance & Hines series from ChilipepperRacing.com, a really professional, yet down to earth team in the AMA paddock. Paul Diener and “Elvis” Johns are irreplaceable for me in this series.
For the Electric bikes I race with Team Parker Brammo. We have an entire crew of engineers and my job as their racer is to push the bikes to the limits and help them figure out how to make the bikes better. We are constantly improving them and it’s awesome to be a part of the newest vehicle technology.
In Qatar I race for QMMF Racing Team and my mechanic Agus Isaac, from Spain, is my right hand man. Traveling to Qatar also requires other logistical support and QMMF racing team has a crew for that.
In flat track and supermoto I’m privateer status and have several sponsors who help me out there. GP Fabrication maintains my bikes, BMC Racing brings me on their team when I’m on the East Coast, local guy Jimmy McAllister furnishes me with a bike when I’m on the West Coast.
Wayne: At high rates of speed everyone always think of the danger of crashing. Can you tell us about that?
Shelina: People always ask me about crashing and I do crash. Not something we try to do, but it happens and it’s part of racing and I learn from it every single time. I had a pretty hard crash last race in Qatar, I crashed at over 100 mph and it would have been just a lowside slide, but something caught and flipped me through the air and I tumbled an tumbled, but was able to get right up and walk away unscathed because of the awesome gear we wear. I have a great Arai helmet and top of the line AXO leathers, I have armor in my boots, leathers and gloves, and a custom back protector by Impact Safe-T armor. Its so important to have the right gear and to wear it, it’s the only reason I can learn so much from crashes and walk away from them confidently.
Wayne: Is there a way for people in Petaluma to follow you career on social media?
Shelina:I’m on Facebook a lot, I love interacting with people and race fans, and Facebook is a great way for me to do that. I’m becoming more active on Twitter @Shelina93 and now Instagram too as ShelinaMoreda. Instagram is great because I have way more photos than I want to post on Facebook so I can put them there.
Continue reading the interview by clicking on the next page number
Wayne: Tell us what a typical day of training looks like for you.
Shelina: I try to stay active all the time. Living on a ranch makes this easier. I get bored if I just go to the gym so I have to spice it up and don’t have a “typical routine”. I ride dirt bikes for training a lot, that’s my favorite. When I can’t ride dirt bikes or I want to change it up, I do crossfit, go rock climbing, bicycle ride, or do hot yoga. When I’m traveling I do circuit training style WODs that I can do in a hotel room or hotel gym.
In addition to training I really watch what I eat. We grew up on whole milk, we have always had a garden, and we get fresh eggs from the chickens, so I was raised with a healthy style of eating. I try and maintain that as much as possible, and I eat a lot of high fiber foods, with real ingredients, not fake sugars and whatnot. Candy is a weakness for me though…
Wayne: When is your next race? Are there any races in the near future that will be close to Petaluma that local fans can come out and enjoy?
Shelina: We just raced at Sears Point, and I anticipate we will race there at the beginning of May next year again as well. I have a race in Monterey at Laguna Seca in July. If people really want to get a taste of what I do, I put on Girlz MotoCamps, where we have a 2 day school on how to ride or improve your riding. We have them here in Petaluma about once every month and a half this year.
Wayne:Tell us more about your Girlz MotoCamps?
Shelina:I do a lot of training on dirt bikes and I figured out that other people want to learn to train like this too. Our Girlz MotoCamps teach fundamental skills on a dirtbike that benefit and challenge every level of rider from absolute beginner to professional racer. It’s not just riding dirtbikes. It’s a whole experience, and it builds confidence, self empowerment, endurance and strength. One of my favorite things about the camps is the bonds they also build, the students walk away with new friends, new goals, and big smiles. I have some of the best female racers around as my instructors, Olivia Francis, Heather Mowell, and Sharon Mowell aka s_mowell190y. They are each at the top of their classes in the series they race and they are phenomenal teachers, excellent role models, and extremely encouraging of our students. I’m proud to have such a strong crew. We have one “Family Camp” in June, the 13-15 and the next Girlz MotoCamp is in August. [Click here for more information on how to register]
Wayne: I understand you created a brand called She’z Racing because if anyone asked where you were, this is the reply they would give. Tell us more about She’z Racing and what that is all about.
Shelina: She’z Racing is a brand I started to help promote my racing. We have a racing related apparel line and we have a team of umbrella girls who work for other racers as well as working events for She’z Racing. We do charity events like Wine for Wheels and the RIP City Riders Chili Billy Run. The She’z Racing crew also helps organize and support Girlz MotoCamps and offers scholarships to girls wanting to attend the MotoCamps. The website is www.ShezRacing.com
Wayne:They say you are the next Danica Patrick but on two wheels – what does your future look like in the sport of racing?
Shelina: I’m pretty different from Danica in a lot of ways, but I do appreciate the comparison. I think Danica is awesome and I respect how strong she is at marketing and getting her name known as an athlete. I want to be like the Amelia Earhart of motorcycle racing, a pioneer, advancing motorcycle technology and enthusiastically breaking glass ceilings. I want to be the best known female athlete in the United States (and beyond), and I want a lot more “firsts” and awesome adventures.
Wayne:Thank you so much for the interview and the best of luck to you
Three-time World Cup overall champion and creator of Juliana Bicycles Juli Furtado, right, will be the guest of honor for the MCBC Dirt Fondo ride from the Marin Headlands to the top of Mt. Tam and back on Sunday. (Gary Perkin photo)
Mountain biking is fast becoming a popular local high school club sport. Over the last decade, this sport did not grow on its own. It takes individuals with dedication, passion, and drive to organize and motivate teenagers to get involved. Vanessa Hauswald is such a person. This former 12th grade teacher at Casa Grande High School is now Executive Director for the NorCal High School Cycling League working in what she calls her dream job. I first learned about her after watching a very touching and inspiring video of her mountain biking which led to this interview. In this interview, you are going to learn how she has overcame a significant personal challenge and turned her love for teaching from the classroom to mountain trails.
Wayne:Vanessa, thank you so much for your time to tell us your story. Tell us about your experience growing up in the wine country and riding in your youth?
Vanessa: I was born and raised in Napa Valley, CA where my parents had us riding and touring bikes since we were in elementary school. He started out by bribing my brother and I with pancake breakfasts, so we would ride from Napa to Yountville or St. Helena, pig out and return happy. We graduated to doing more touring…I celebrated my high school graduation with a two week bike tour through the Scottish Highlands, and since then our family has toured the CA coast numerous times.
Wayne:What happened when you live in Colorado that made mountain biking turn into a passion for you?
Vanessa: Everyone in Durango rides a mountain bike, so I joined the fun and never turned back.
Wayne:Why do you mountain bike opposed to road cycling?Vanessa: I ride mountain and road bikes; however I prefer mountain biking because you can get further into the backcountry. You can see and do things on a mountain bike that 90% of society never does or sees.
Wayne:Tell us how you turned teaching 12th Grade English to becoming Executive Director —-reading and writing to teaching mountain biking?
Vanessa: Teaching is a profession that translates well to most other jobs. Most teachers use leadership, public speaking, patience, critical thinking, and perseverance on a daily basis and these things serve you well in professional as well as personal life.
Wayne:You were a 12th grade English teacher at Casa Grande High School – how did you make the jump from being a teacher to a profession in mountain biking?
Vanessa: I absolutely loved my job as a high school educator; however, I also really loved coaching mountain biking to teens. Teenagers don’t have that many opportunities to unplug, get outside and challenge themselves and mountain biking provides these things. When I was coaching the mountain bike team I was able to put both of my passions together: education and cycling. So, when the position of Executive Director of the NorCal High School Cycling League became available it just seemed like the perfect fit for me, even though I had never studied non-profit management.
Wayne:Tell us how the development of an English student differs from a Mountain bike student?
Vanessa: They don’t really differ that much. Both require focus, attention to detail, patience and hard work. I guess the main difference is that you usually don’t bloody your elbows working on an essay.
Wayne:You have personally been faced challenges with your battle with cancer. How has this changed your view on life what life lessons do you share with the young riders?
Vanessa: Cancer has made me that much more appreciative of the little beauties in life: patterns in nature, a sunny afternoon, the coastal breeze, a good conversation. Cancer has also reminded me that our thoughts have an enormous impact on our mental and physical health, and we are in control of the way that we think about, and perceive, all situations. I’m a glass half full kind of person so I work on passing along these simple truths to the teens I work with.
Wayne:When did mountain biking first become a high school sport?
Vanessa: It’s not a high school sport in CA. It is a club sport, similar to lacrosse.
Wayne:How has the sport grown in the past decade?
Vanessa: The NorCal High School League was the first high school mountain bike League in America. It was founded in 2001 with 25 student-athletes. In 2014 the NorCal League has over 800 athletes, and there are now 11 other Leagues across the country, which were all modeled after the NorCal League. It’s booming!
Wayne:Tell us the story on how the Casa Grande High School Mountain Bike Team came about.
Vanessa: Casa had a mountain bike team for a few years in the early 2000s. My friend and co-coach Scot Wigert, and I, revitalized it in 2006 and it has been going strong, under Scott’s fabulous coaching, since then.
Wayne:How many Petaluma high school riders are participating now in the sport?Vanessa: They have a great team this year of about a half dozen kids. They are working hard to grow their team for the 2015 season.
Wayne:Tell us what character transformations you see in teenagers from the first ride to finishing their first race on a mountain bike?
Vanessa: I see kids bettering their eating and sleeping habits and I see major boosts in individual levels of confidence both on and off the bike.
Wayne:Is there any upcoming new talent that may be a hopeful in the sport of mountain biking?
Vanessa: We have numerous student-athletes who are racing on the national and international level. We’ve also got recent almuni who are demonstrating magnificent success on the professional cycling circuit. However, we focus on the development of strong bodies, minds and characters in our teens and not on how “fast” our riders are. We’re developing lifelong cyclists who love the sport and make good life choices.
Wayne:You are now Executive Director non-profit NorCal High School Cycling League – What makes this your “Dream Job”?
Vanessa: I work with teenagers and mountain bikes in a rewarding and challenging field. I get to ride my bike to work, and often get to ride my bike FOR work. Weekly, I hear from parents that cycling has changed their childrens’ lives for the better, and has helped their entire family to become more healthy…these things make it my dream job.
Wayne:Why is it so important for you to get as many kids on mountain bikes as possible? What lessons can they learn from this sport?
Vanessa: High school mountain biking is a coed, all inclusive sport. There are no benches. There are no cuts. If you come to practice and work hard, you play. I can’t think of another high school sport that can claim to be this inclusive. It is also team, and an individual, sport, which is very unique. What lessons can be learned? Lots! Perseverance, confidence, health, patience, grit, and joy are some of the ones at the top of the list.
Wayne:For people who are not familiar with National Interscholastic Cycling Association (N.I.C.A.), can you tell us what that association is and what it means to young riders?
Vanessa: NICA is our parent organization, and they support us in numerous ways. They are working to bring high school cycling coast to coast by 2020.
Wayne:Have any local high school riders moved on to college level riding?
Wayne:NorCal has many great programs for youth riders. Tell us about the programs the kids can take advantage and experience through NorCal?
Vanessa: Our 11 race series; winter camps, summer camps, skills clinics, Wilderness First Aid courses, Coach Certification programs, scholarship programs, fun rides and more.
Wayne:NorCal is a non-profit and completely relies on funding from supporters? What benefits does NorCal bring to our community that would cause a person or business to take interest in making a donation or sponsor it?
Vanessa: Both schools in Petaluma have high school mtb teams: Casa Grande and Petaluma High. However, the NorCal League reaches all the way down to Fresno and up to Mendocino. We believe that being a sponsor of the NorCal League gives companies exposure to a broad and diverse market, and it has tangible positive impacts on the health of the kids in our community.
Wayne:Petaluma seems to be fast becoming a bicycle town – do you see more and more people transition from four to two wheels as a choice for transportation?
Vanessa: Unfortunately, I don’t know if I agree with that. I ride my bike to work everyday and I hardly see anyone else commuting on bikes. Our downtown parking garage is full of cars and bike racks are empty. The “road diet” that was implemented on Petaluma Boulevard is really great for cyclists, but there are still way too many people driving under 5 miles to work and to the store.
Wayne:Where is your favorite place to ride in Petaluma?Vanessa: Helen Putnam Park.
Wayne: That’s one of my favorites parks too, and thank you so much for your time.
Vanessa: Thank you for the interview.
Click here if you wish more information about the NorCal High School Cycling League
Click here if you wish to support and make a donation to NorCal League.
Chase Johnson from Petaluma is a 4th generation race car driver. He started his racing career at the early age of 5 and won six championships racing Outlaw Karts. Today, thirteen years later, he has 150 feature main event wins and 7 championships. Today he competes in high level sprint car racing and in 2012 was crowned Pit Stop USA Sprint Car Series Champion at Petaluma Speedway. A 2013 graduate of Petaluma High School, his peers named him “Most Likely to Go Pro” in Student Standouts section of his senior yearbook. However his racing and life came to an abrupt halt on the night of March 16, 2013 during a practice session when his sprint car’s steering wheel malfunctioned causing him to lose control of his vehicle. This terrible accident resulted in the death of his fourteen year old cousin, who also raced and was like a brother to him, and a 68 year old car owner who loved being at the track. In this interview you will learn about how Chase is doing today and how he has a changed view as a person and a competitor. Just this weekend Johnson charged to his first Podium of the Season at Petaluma Speedway placing third in the featured race.
Wayne:How does it feel to start your season off with two straight top 5’s?
Chase: It feels great, it has just pushed me even harder to improve and get closer to a win.
Wayne:Your car number is 24 – is there any significance to that number?
Chase: Yes I chose that number because I looked up to Jeff Gordon. He drove the number 24 when I was growing up and still is today in NASCAR. I look up to Jeff for many of reasons but the major one was that his career path was a lot similar to mine today. He started racing quarter midgets young in California and progressed into sprint cars and midgets which then took him to the stock car world to be a NASCAR driver. My path was I started running Outlaw Karts at age 5, then moved into the Sprint Car at age 14.
It’s hard to follow sports in Petaluma without running into the name Dalton Johnson. Living and coaching baseball on the east side of Petaluma I really didn’t know Dalton. It wasn’t until my son attended Petaluma High School and played on the varsity baseball team that I started hearing about him.
What intrigued me about Dalton is that while he has an impressive tenure in sports as an athlete he also has a passion to write about it. Dalton was a sports intern for the Argus Courier. Today he is an outfielder for a NCAA Division II Armstrong Atlantic University Pirates in Savannah, Georgia where he will graduate in spring with a B.A. in English with a concentration in journalism. Not only does he play on the field, he also writes a sports column for the AASU’s school newspaper, The Inkwell. He also is author of a blog called “Life’s A Ball: Life, sports and everything in between.”
Dalton has an impressive track record in local sports. He earned All-League and All-Empire honors in both baseball and football for the Petaluma High School Trojans. In Max-Preps his stats in his senior year are well over the national average. In junior college at SRJC he earned All-Big 8 honors in baseball with an impressive record for a sophomore. Even this week Dalton celebrated a big win for the AASU Pirates after hitting grand slam home run to send them past #24 nationally ranked Braves. Not only was this the Pirates Senior Day, it was the first time that Dalton’s parents were able to see him play at Armstrong. A day they won’t soon forget.
I set out to learn more about Dalton, because I felt that others would like to know more about him. Dalton agreed to an interview so I am happy to share the following with you.
Wayne: What first inspired you to create Life’s A Ball?
Dalton: I started Life’s A Ball as a lowly blog for me to write my sports opinions in January of 2012. Once I decided to get more serious about my writing and create a more professional looking blog, it took off in the last two years.