One of the many lessons that I have learned in the motorcycle world is that one should never judge a book by its cover. In today’s social media climate, the sentiment remains the same: never judge a rider by their social feed. Case in point, Ms. Keerati.
Ms. Keerati Julsophon is an amalgam of elements. She’s a rider. A racer. A free spirit. The list goes on. She’s one-third of the Redline Ravens, a female riding group based out Southern California. The Redline Ravens and the global motorcycle community recently suffered a severe blow with the tragic loss of Annette Carrion. From the embers of that tragedy, Keerati has refocused her life and passion in a manner unrealized before. Inspired by the love and support that surrounds her, Ms. Keerati is now using her experience to encourage others to live their best lives, the fastest and safest way possible.
SBI: How did you get into motorcycles?
Ms. Keerati: I started learning how to ride on a small bike in Thailand when I was around 12 years old. The kid who lived close by showed me how to ride it and how to shift gears. The bike was somewhat easy to learn on, so I decided to take my friend as a passenger around the neighborhood. I ended up dropping the bike while trying to turn. My tiny legs couldn’t hold the weight of two people and the bike, but luckily we weren’t going fast, so we just picked it up from the floor and kept on riding. I was wearing shorts and flip flops. Talk about being a real squid.
SBI: Who inspires you?
Ms. Keerati: In life, my grandma has been the one who inspires me. She was such a badass! My grandma was an athlete and used to box and play basketball. She raised two of my half-sisters and me since my parents separated when I was little. I look up to her because she was such a hard-working person and did anything she could to provide for her family.
In riding, my coaches Jason Pridmore and Caroline Olsen inspire me. Even though I started riding the track back in 2012, I didn’t know what I was doing out there. I struggled with it for a few years. Because I kept hitting a wall and kept crashing, I thought it was probably a good idea to seek professional help. A few people recommended me to go with JP43 Training, so I got with their program back in late 2016. Jason and Caroline have such a significant impact on my riding because they helped get over whatever mental issues I had that was holding me back for years. They helped me get rid of my bad habits that led me to crash in the past. Both of them are selfless individuals who always give their hands to everyone because they genuinely care about other people. They both inspire me to be more patient and to be more giving. I love them both and the rest of their team.
SBI: What was your first bike?
Ms. Keerati: I picked up my first sportbike, a 2009 Suzuki GSXR back in 2010. It took me a few months to get used to riding a bigger bike but having more seat time helped a lot.
SBI: What bikes do you own now?
Ms. Keerati: I traded the GSXR in for a 2014 Ducati Panigale which I have used on the streets and the tracks. Also, I picked up a used 2008 Yamaha R6 last year which I have been using strictly for the track. I used the R6 for my first race with CVMA back in March 2018. I retired the Ducati from the track. It just got too expensive to maintain and fix. R6 is the best way to go.
SBI: What are your feelings regarding street versus track?
Ms. Keerati: My heart has been at the track for the past few years. Although I started riding on the streets back in 2010, I used to do a lot of unsafe things like riding without gear and going fast in the canyons. After seeing a lot of severely injured riders and losing a few close friends in the streets, I have been focusing more on riding at the track for the last two years. That’s where I have improved my riding skills the most. I feel it’s a lot safer there and you can learn so much more there if going fast is what you like to do. You can’t stop people from going fast on the public road, but I’ve tried my best to encourage more riders to ride at the track.
The blog I wrote on redlineravens.com talks about things to prepare for your first track day and which tracks they can check out. I’ve helped a few riders get the professional training they need with my coaches so that they can be safer and more efficient riders in the streets and at the track. Accidents can happen anywhere and anytime, but I do believe most accidents can be prevented. Once we all throw our legs over that bike, it instantly becomes our responsibility to ride within our means or limits so that we all come home to our loved ones. I feel that a lot of times when riders get on a bike, they forget that responsibility and they ride over their heads which often leads them to injure themselves and others around them. So if I can get some a message out, please be mindful when you’re on two wheels and ride safely at all times especially when you’re on public roads that are full of hazard.
SBI: Tell me about your racing career and future aspirations?
Ms. Keerati: Back in the days when I first started riding the track, racing was not something I considered doing, mainly because I felt I was extremely slow and just was not that good of a rider. But I wanted to improve and to be able to keep up with my friends at the track. I used to beat myself up because regardless of how hard I tried, I couldn’t get faster.
Getting professional help changed my life and everything about how I ride. I truly believe for anyone to progress in anything in life, you need to work very hard, and you need to have a coach or a mentor. Having the right support system can cut down your learning curve tremendously. Although it took me a few one-on-one training sessions with my coaches Jason Pridmore and Caroline Olsen for me to have a breakthrough, I’m very proud of how far I have come.
After I saw that I was progressing and cut down my lap time by 10 seconds, I decided it was a good time for me to give racing a try. After I did the new racers school with Trackdaz in March 2018, I got my license and raced that same weekend at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway… which is my favorite track in So Cal. I have been riding there plenty of times, and I call it my second home. I ended up cutting down 18 seconds overall around that track and placed second in my first Femmewalla CVMA race on my R6 against a few experts and other amateur racers.
I set an average lap time goal for me to reach by the end of 2019 but I was able to achieve it in my first race early this year. I couldn’t believe it. Also I placed first in the 50cc class with M1GP a few months prior to racing the big bikes. None of these accomplishments would ever be possible without my coaches. I’ve tried getting advice from friends, watching videos, everything and nothing worked for me. There is absolutely nothing like having professional racers dedicate their whole day to ride with you, giving you undivided attention to help fix everything you’re doing wrong so that you get to the next level as a rider and racer.
My goal is to continue to race CVMA part-time and head over to AFM next year so that I can race other tracks such as Buttonwillow and Thunderhill. I want to become good enough to be an expert racer eventually. I don’t want to have the title just to have it, but I would like to be a solid expert racer with good lap times and finishes to back it up. I will never stop getting professional training or stop working hard toward my riding goals. This is the only way for me to keep progressing as a rider. I would like to thank my coaches for helping me get this far, all my other sponsors and all the companies that have worked with me so far: Motoclub Santa Monica, JP43 Training, Dainese, AGV helmets, Dunlop, Eagle Rider San Francisco – BMW – Ducati – Honda, Energica, Speedcell, Y2 Wheels, Zero Motorcycles, Arai, and last but not least, Sena Bluetooth.
SBI: What is your riding philosophy?
Ms. Keerati: Do it if that’s what indeed makes you happy. Do it if that’s what you love to do. Keep doing it even if you think you suck at it and even if others think you suck at it. Do it even if many people don’t believe you should be doing it. Make friends. Meet lots of awesome people. Seek professional help. Take riding very seriously because at any moment it can take your life or other people’s lives away. We only have one body so take great care of it by continually improving your skills to reduce crashing and accidents.
Don’t judge others on what they ride and how big or small their bikes are. Don’t make assumptions about why other people want to get into riding. Be kind and be supportive towards everyone. The only way for us to get ahead with anything in life is to support one another instead of tearing each other down. And this is not about saying one thing and do another. We all need to live by that and not just preaching it or posting it on social media. Give hands to others and do it because it makes you feel good and because you’re learning something about someone, not because you expect something back in return. Get rid of all your ego and stay humble. Last is “Love More. Ride More.” That’s Redline Raven’s slogan.
SBI: Why is gear essential?
Ms. Keerati: Gear is extremely important because it can and will protect your body in case of accidents. I used to ride around a lot without much gear on the street but I’m glad I smartened up by wearing gear and riding the track more. But one thing I want to say is that more people do need to realize that having the best gear alone won’t always save your life. I’ve lost a few close friends who always wore gear from head to toe, but sadly they still didn’t walk away from their accidents alive. I would like people always to be mindful of their surroundings and always ride within their limits even if you have on all of your gear. And if you’re the type to push your limits, the best place to do it is at the track, not in the streets or canyons.
I do strongly recommend everyone to get gear with the airbag system to help reduce the impact when you crash. Whether it’s an airbag that you can wear outside of your suit or jacket, gear that has airbag built-in or gear that has a removable airbag, they all are a good investment. I’ve been lucky enough to crash a few times and walk away with minimal injuries thanks to my gear from Dainese, AGV helmets, and Motoclub Santa Monica. I have been riding with a Dainese D-Air suit with the airbag system and have a backup suit Laguna Seca 4 that I use for track days. I genuinely love my gear not just because it looks cool but because it makes me feel safer when I ride.
SBI: What are your perceptions and observations about females in today’s motorcycle culture?
Ms. Keerati: I do feel that more women are learning how to ride and getting their own bikes now. More women want to own two wheels because they’re not happy with being just a “backpack” anymore. Having your bike to ride anytime you want is so empowering. Social media also has been a significant influence on many people especially women to start riding. Plenty of women all around the world have expressed to me that they got into riding because of the pictures and videos they see on social media. Many also let me know they started riding because they see pictures of my group, the Redline Ravens.
Although It’s so awesome for me to see more ladies ride in the past few years, I also see all the negativity that comes along with it. I often hear people say most women get into riding because they just want attention. That is something negative, and I don’t support having that type of mentality towards anyone. It’s just wrong to create stereotypes towards other people. Many women, including me, have been labeled as posers and many other names that I can’t mention here mainly because we pose on or next to the bikes. Some say posting pictures of you standing next to the bike makes you less of a rider because you’re not actually riding.
I can’t speak for others, but I can say that many people that you see on social media such as Mizziel and Annette who pose next to the bikes actually ride a lot and put tons of miles on their bikes on a daily basis. I don’t really commute much, so my miles are mainly from track riding. But between three of us, we have done all kinds of riding such as long distance, commuting, riding at the track, drag racing, road racing, etc. I often see the negativity from both genders towards women who wear sexy clothes underneath their gear or merely posting pictures with their bikes on their pages. It’s all fun and games to see women walk on the runway in Victoria Secret’s lingerie but when they see a girl pose next to their bikes, everyone loses their mind. I know that many of us women work hard to feel healthy, beautiful, powerful, and independent.
We all express ourselves in different ways, and I do wish more people would be open-minded towards women who ride in general instead of putting negative labels on us. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I love seeing women pose on bikes, pose in their bikinis, pose in their gym clothes, and showing off the bodies that they work hard for. I don’t feel threatened by anyone. We were born naked, and we all are the same underneath. I don’t care what people choose to wear as long as they’re happy and love themselves, that’s all it matters.
It’s very important to lift each other up. I enjoy seeing more women get into riding and all of them, regardless of what they choose to show on social media, have my support. I have friends who only ride streets, friends who only stunt, friends who only race, and friends who only ride as passengers. Is there something wrong with any of them? Not at all. If you’re a good person and are doing what you love, to me, that’s what matters. No one makes it out of this earth alive. Why not be more kind and understanding towards one other?
SBI: Who are the Redline Ravens?
Ms. Keerati: The group was started by Mizziel and Annette initially, and they both wanted a third member because they felt three was a good number. The goal was to inspire everyone to get out, have fun, and ride. At first, I hesitated on getting involved with other women at this level because I know in general we all are very emotional and it would be challenging to be on the same page with everyone all the time. But I decided to be part of the group, and I have no regrets so far. We have gone through so much together and have so many amazing memories together.
The biggest challenge was managing our crazy schedule while trying to get things done. On top of that, we all have different types of personalities. Mizziel is a social butterfly. She can talk to and get along with anyone at any time and anyplace. Annette was more of an introvert. She used to have anxiety dealing with other people, but she had come a long way. I’m just in the middle of Annette and Mizziel where I’m not afraid to socialize but I only do it when I feel like it. We all have bumped heads so many times, but someway somehow we managed to stay together and made things work. I’ve become a better and wiser person by working with these ladies. I learned how to compromise and to take other people’s feelings and opinions into consideration before saying things. I also learned that you could get things done a lot faster if we focus on everyone’s strengths. We all have weaknesses and realIze that sometimes we can’t always be great at everything. For example, Annette and Mizziel are excellent writers and are extremely smart. Annette was the most organized person. Mizziel was the best at making connections and meeting people. I think I’m good with numbers and negotiating since I have a degree in Finance and Marketing. We all balance each other out so so well.
Starting the group was easy, but maintaining it despite all the negativity we received was definitely not easy. Many people didn’t take us seriously, and some still don’t. We would hear things like, “they don’t ride, they just pose, they don’t do anything for the riding community, they only use sexy images to get ahead,” etc. Although it can get very tiring and discouraging to hear all of this negativity (it almost made me want to quit), we kept moving forward. We didn’t want to focus on the people who don’t like us solely but wanted to shift our focus more on those who wish to support us and believe in what we do. However, we didn’t completely ignore our haters. We wanted to learn and grow from the criticism, so we started taking classes to help us become better riders, started doing more charity related type work where we donated our time and money to help other people inside and outside of riding community. We have a page dedicated entirely to charity work we were involved in on our Redline Ravens website. We don’t want to be known as women who just pose next to our bikes. We want to have a positive impact on our community.
SBI: How has the memory of Annette empowered you?
Ms. Keerati: Annette’s passing was a real tragedy and a huge shock for a lot of people all over the world. It’s hard for us even to accept the reality today but we just tried to turn a sad event into something more positive. Since Annette’s accident was on the street, we wanted to raise awareness about safe riding and get more people to hone their skills at the track. So I had an idea of reaching out to a few track organizations to donate some track days to help other riders out.
We had 21 track days total donated from Socal Track days, FasTrack Riders, Keigwins at the track, Trackdaz, and Moto Corsa. Hustle Hard Racing, Motorsport Exotica, Feel like a Pro, and 619Kneedraggrz donated awesome prizes such as gloves, dyno sessions, track bike rentals, and tow service. Three of my friends: Raffy, Bo, and Francesca donated training sessions, track bike rental and dinner service. My coach, Jason Pridmore donated two days of one-on-one training with him and the team. California Superbike School donated one day of training. We were so blown away by how much support we received.
There was over $8000 worth of services and prizes donated to us, and we gave them all away for free to get more people to ride at the track. We decided to raise money in other ways by selling Annette’s sticker and were able to raise a few thousand dollars after covering all the costs.
A majority of the cash was donated to Annette’s family for her funeral and the rest of the money we split it equally to help young racers: Argee Cardenas, Jamie Astudillo, and Mikayla Moore. Michael Yamaguchi from Moto Crew USA saw what we were doing for the kids so he matched our donation so that we could help out more kids: Alex Dumas, Kristian Daniel Jr, and Kensei Matsudaira. It was so amazing to see so many people come together to honor Annette and to help each other out. We are so thankful for all the support.
SBI: Do you feel that the motorcycle industry is still a male-dominated industry?
Ms. Keerati: It still is male-dominated but for sure more women have entered this industry and I believe that’s a good thing. Some women don’t mind that it’s male-dominated at all and they don’t get intimidated by it. A young female racer, Jamie Astudillo, made history by being the first female to podium MotoAmerica race with her Ninja 400 this year. Caroline Olsen, my coach, is racing in MotoAmerica again this year with her R6 while still recovering from a serious crash. She’s one of the fastest females in America.
Melissa Paris also is racing in MotoAmerica with her Yamaha R1 after having a baby recently, and she’s doing extremely well. All of these ladies are just killing it out there by showing what women are capable of and prove to the world that you can do more than what you think you can.
SBI: Describe your perfect day of riding?
Ms. Keerati: The perfect day would be about 80 degrees, sunny, with no wind. It’s the day I will be at the track, working on braking, entry speed, exit speed, my lines, and throttle control. It would be the day I hit all my marks with zero mistakes, and I stay as smooth as much as possible. I would not have any fear, any worries, or any doubts. My primary focus would be just to ride, enjoy the day, and progress throughout the day. I would have all my friends who like to improve their riding there with me, and we all just ride, get better, laugh, and have a good time.
SBI: Where do you ride to for lunch in Sunny Southern California?
Ms. Keerati: One of my favorite motorcycle meet-up spots is Newcomb’s Ranch. The ride up there is just gorgeous, and their food is delicious. The staff and the owner are always so welcoming. I usually head up there with a bunch of my friends, and we would watch MotoGP races there. A few times a year they would host charity events to help injured and fallen riders, animal shelters, and non-profit organizations that are dedicated to cancer research.
SBI: If you could ride any bike, on any road, anywhere in the world, what would you ride and with who would you take that ride?
Ms. Keerati: I would want to take my R6 to the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia. I’d like to take my coaches Jason Pridmore and Caroline Olsen, and all my friends who ride the track with me on a regular basis. The reason why I pick this place is that Jason raced there last year and everyone who went with him loved the track so much. I believe Jason will be racing there again early next year so I am trying my best to make it this time around.
SBI: What do you want the global riding community to know about you?
Ms. Keerati: I want them to know that I’m just a regular person who loves to ride and have fun with the people I care about just like everyone else. My priority is happiness and health. I’m just living my life, riding, and traveling at different places because that’s what I set myself to do before I die. If social media didn’t exist, I would still be riding and doing what I enjoy as long as I can afford it.
I’m not here because I feel that I’m special or that I’m better than any other female riders out there. If I compete, I want to do well, but that’s the only time where I feel the need to do better. The rest of the time, I just want to laugh a lot and have fun. I want the global riding community to know that I’m very thankful for the support I’ve received. When I was selling my stickers for the heck of it, I was blown away that so many people from all over the world wanted to buy them. I had to order more a few times because I sold out so quickly. I want to let everyone know that I will continue to do what I love and I’m hoping that will inspire them to do what they love as well.
This vast world is getting tiny thanks to social media. Keerati is using her platform to bring the motorcycle world even closer together. Using her presence and network, she is positioning herself to help others achieve their motorcycle goals. She is transitioning into the role of a leader, and that is not always a natural transformation. There will be haters and naysayers. But it is how she perseveres and triumphs that will dictate her ultimate victories. There’s a lot of negativity out there, but there is even more love and positivity. Ms. Keerati is gravitating to that love and positivity and drawing others toward it, as well. Never judge a rider by their social feed. You could be missing an opportunity to go on one hell of a ride.