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“Kat Kitten” takes it to the Track

chanFast Women are not exclusive to America.   You can find them north of the border as well.  Twenty six year old Chandelle Webber, of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, is a trackday rider and racer from the Great White North.

Known as “Kat_Kitten” on the www.katriders.com website, Webber is a Katriders forum regular.  She’s also a natural athlete. Born in 1984 at Port Hardy, British Columbia, Chandelle was considered a tomboy growing up and participated in many sports which are usually the reserved territory of men.  In High School, she was not only competitive at the national level in wrestling but was also the coach of her team.

In 2004, Webber moved to Seoul, South Korea to teach English. Her boss there gave her the use of a moped to ride to and from work. This was her first motorized experience on two wheels, which Chandelle found, “A little unnerving at first, but I quickly adapted.”  From Seoul, she moved to Jakarta, Indonesia to continue teaching.  Of this experience, Webber commented, “In Indonesia, the roads were insane; organized chaos at best really.  Thankfully, my job was within it was within walking distance of where I stayed.”  Chandelle’s two-wheeled education continued in this new location.  She told us, “When vacationing, we would rent mopeds or 250cc bikes. My first manual clutch riding experience was awful!” “When I popped the clutch, I was pointed up a path that was maybe a foot or two wide and wound around the mountainside. The dang bike wheelied.  Following a lucky safe landing, I thought I’d need to change my shorts!”

Chandelle moved back to Canada in 2006, landing in Calgary, Alberta. Soon in need of transportation, she bought herself a 2002 Suzuki Katana 750. Next, she took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider training course.   While looking online for information about her newly purchased motorcycle, Webber found the Katriders community.

Ever the athlete, Chandelle joined the Calgary Rockies (now the Calgary Rage) in 2007.  Make no mistake; this was full contact football.  Webber served as the team’s only quarterback and was also one of four team captains. Chandelle’s career lasted for two years, in spite of receiving a shoulder injury in her first season.

chanout of the chuteBy 2009, Webber’s shoulder damage left her unable to continue as a football player. At this point, she was introduced to the Alberta Mini Roadracing Association (AMRA). Already a motorcycle enthusiast and looking for a fresh challenge, she began riding the little 8hp bikes around the miniature road course that was located behind Race City Motorsports Park, the full-sized roadracing course where she competes today. In October of 2009, Chandelle had surgery to repair the damage she’d done to her shoulder while playing football.  Once mended, Webber decided to take her riding to the next level.

At this point, Chandelle was bitten by the “Racing Bug.”  Minis were cool but she was interested in giving full-sized motorcycles a try at the track.  With her natural athletic ability, her competitive sprit, and a love for riding, it didn’t take much coercion from her friends to give the Calgary Motorcycle Roadracing Association (CMRA) a try.

Webber had been riding her Katana for a few years and loved the bike but recognized that it was not a pedigreed racer.  Although she’d yet even to participate in a trackday, Chandelle understood that she’d need a better machine if her eventual goal was to be a competitor.  After consulting with main sponsor Rob Jessop of GFY Performance (also her mechanic, riding coach and all around go-to guy), she purchased a race-ready 2003 CBR600RR with only 4000kms on it.

In April, Chandelle attended her first trackday. Former president of the CMRA, Brad Gavey (owner of Brad Gavey Performance Riding School) and Rob Jessop took Chandelle for an on-track tour of Race City’s full-sized road course in a pickup truck. Her mentors gave Webber all of the usual first-timer pointers, including everything from avoiding target fixation to choosing reference points and then they cut her loose on the track. “My first trackday was awesome and I knew I was hooked.” Says Chandelle of that day.  When it was over, Webber’s riding coach gave her high praise for running the correct lines, displaying good body positioning on the bike and looking well ahead down the track.

The next event on Chandelle’s agenda was the mandatory CMRA Race licensing school. She was smooth and clean all day on a very cold track. Her only moment of drama was at the start of the final session. In the first warm up lap of the school’s “mock race,” cold tires on a cold track and a touch too much speed conspired to cause Webber to lowside in the third corner. There was no real damage, either to the bike or to her desire to continue riding.

Realizing that racing is a very expensive endeavor, Chandelle teamed up with the Katriders site to launch an innovative sponsorship program.  A thread was started in the “At the Track” section of the forum which allowed members the opportunity to become a part of Webber’s effort.  A link was provided that would take interested parties to Chandelle’s  Hypersloth Racing website.  There, visitors would find a PayPal link that would allow them to make any contribution, large or small and become a member of the Katrider Team.  Benefits to potential sponsors included being entered in a raffle at season’s end, which offered a number of $50.00 gift cards as prizes. Chandelle kept the Katriders team members updated for each round of the Calgary Motorcycle Roadracing Association (CMRA) events in the forum’s “At the Track” section by posting a new thread for each round.

chan872444730_tZEaH-M-1Alberta’s short summers make for a compact track season.  Cold weather is a given on either end of the race season in Calgary.  Chandelle began her quest in April with trackdays, practice and school.  Webber attended several more trackdays in the time between the CRMA licensing clinic and her first race weekend, showing steady improvement with each outing.  She also competed in the annual AMRA three hour Spring Endurance Race, riding minis on the small track and earning a third place podium finish.  Following that was the six-round CMRA series, which ran through mid-September.  Chandelle had a stellar first season. When the points were tallied, she was fourth overall in the Novice Group standings. Webber’s standing might have been even higher if she’d competed in every event, however she’d skipped Round Three of the competition so she could attend the annual Katriders rally at Deals Gap in North Carolina. She rode her Katana there and back, covering a distance of over 11,000kms total.

The following is a summary of her round-by-round CMRA results. Chandelle finished every race she started, which is quite a feat for any racer.  Even more impressive was her steady climb from the back of the pack to the podium.

Round One:     Race One: 14th    Race Two: 11th

Round Two:    Race One:  7th     Race Two:  8th

Round Four:    Race One:  6th     Race Two:  7th

Round Five:    Race One:  6th      Race Two:  6th

Round Six:      Race One:  3rd      Race Two:  3rd

Clearly, Chandelle is a Fast Woman who is getting faster every time she races.  This well-traveled lady excels in finding solutions where others would choose to make excuses.  With he athleticism and competitive drive, there’s no telling where Chandelle’s riding will take her next.  We wouldn’t bet against her.

(The following links are from the Katrider forum.  Check them out for a blow-by-blow account of Chandelle Webber’s 2010 race season.)

First trackday thread

School crash thread

Round One with pictures

Round two

Round four

Rounds five and six

Video interview

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