APRIL, 2000 LRRS EVENT AT NHIS
The weather here has just been terrible. Well, it provides lots of material for conversations, as everyone complains about how bad it is. I suppose it could be worse; it could still be snowing!
It snowed all day Wed, so it was real hard to get motivated to think about racing, and to get the van and trailer loaded up to come here. Then, Thur morning, there was about 2 inches of snow on the ground when I woke up. I was most definitely not glad to see that! The local newspaper even had a headline about the shock and depression people felt about getting snow this late in the year. We are ready for green grass and flowers, not snow! Especially just annoying snow that doesn't provide for any recreation opportunities.
So, Thur AM, I finished loading up the van & trailer, and headed out. It was exciting to be approaching and entering the track again, so I knew my enthusiasm was building. The cashier. Pat, remembered me from last year, and even noticed that I was driving a new van. I got checked in to the track, and it was wonderful to be here again. It had stopped raining, although it was still cold. I got the bikes and trailer unloaded, and started doing the prep work. The bikes were prepared for winter when I put them away last fall, so I had to get them ready to run again. The excitement was building as I came into the track and started meeting many old racing friends that I hadn't seem since last fall. We're a pretty tight and friendly group. I race with some really great people.
Even though the practice session was underway, I stayed in the garage and worked on my bike. It was so cold, i wasn't real anxious to go out and practice. When there was an hour of practice remaining, I signed up and went out. I hated to take off my warm clothes and put on my cold leathers, but I did want to try it out. Of course, once I was in my leathers, I was eager to go on the track and have fun. And it was a lot of fun. I stayed out for the entire hour, then it was over. I REALLY had a great time, and I thought I rode quite well, too. I was dragging my knee on the pavement through all the corners, and riding quite fast.
Not to be! When I woke up Friday morning, it was cold and raining. Yuck! I went back to sleep! After awhile , I got up and wen out to breakfast in the nearby town. It rained most of the morning, and it was cold. Very poor weather. I remember last year, it was in the 80s in March!
So, in the morning, I worked on putting a new, quieter exhaust system on one bike, then in the afternoon, I was busy doing tech inspections, until it was time to go out and practice. Practice was great; I had good rides, and it was fun being out there with my friends again.
I talked with several other friends today who said they had had similar problems as mine in getting motivated to come race, in such poor weather. It's another clear, cold night, so maybe tomorrow will be clear, too. I sure hope so. That would be very nice.
04/29 SAT 4/29
It was a cold night and a cold morning, but it was beautifully clear this AM, with the sun shining nice and bright. It was still cold, but I knew it would be warming up nicely from the sun. It's really been great to be here, and talking with all my racing friends. My legs were rather stiff this morning from yesterday's practice and a general lack of exercise over the winter. I got my highly modified bike, the Ascot, running with no problem, and it ran well, after sitting all winter. It is quite a monster. It's very hard to start, and it's quite a handful to ride. It's like jumping on the back of a tiger. I did a practice with it, and it felt pretty good, though.
As the day went on and it warmed up, it really turned into a wonderful, perfect racing day. Not too hot, not too cold. A bit cool, perfect for racing. I also took my other bike, the EX out for a practice. I thought the practice went well, and I was quite fast on it, but I was a bit disappointed when i saw the lap times. The ground here is still cold, though, so everyone's lap times aren't what they were at the end of last season.
The day consists of relaxing, waiting for my race, talking with friends who come by to chat, doing some tech inspections, and just enjoying it all.
Well, it sure was a fun day!. My first race was Race 5, GP Singles, with the Ascot. I was first into the first turn, then some faster bikes started getting by me. I ran a couple good laps, but then something came apart on my shifter, so I had to pull in. Too bad, as things were going well. The Ascot is a hard bike to ride, but it was going OK. I need to learn to ride it faster. So, I watched the second half of the race from the sidelines. I fixed the problem later, so the bike is ready to do another race tomorrow.
My next race was Race 9, with the EX. Race 9 was 2 races in one (2 classes running together). Unfortunately, when I signed up for the races, I picked the wrong one. So, most of my EX friends were in the other race, and I was the only EX in my race, pitted against all the new SVs. So, I got waxed in my race. But I had a super race, anyway. I passed one guy who I always thought was very fast, and I kept up with another who is probably the fastest guy on an EX here currently. So, it was incredible fun, and I ran the fastest race I have ever run.
After the racing was over, one of my best friends here had his parents visiting here from CA, so they invited me and a couple other hot EX guys out to dinner with them. My friend, Matt, was really stoked because he'd gotten a 3rd place trophy, his first as an expert. He was in the "other" race in Race 9. If I had been in that race, I probably would have beaten him, so I was glad for him that he got to get a trophy, especially with his parents watching. All of us EX racers are very tight with each other. We race hard against each other, but we are good friends, and we care about each other, too. All the comraderie after (and before) the races is what makes it all so great. We all grab each other's hand & wish each other well just before the race starts. We seem to take turns over the various race weekends being the "hot" one for the others to try to beat. Last year, Matt was pretty unstoppable, and I couldn't seem to touch his lap times. Toward the end of last season, I started getting better, mainly due to taking all that time off from working, and being at the track practicing so many days. This weekend, they seem to think I am pretty hot. We shall see. The big, main race for us EX Expert guys is tomorrow, when it's nothing but stock EXs like mine in the race. That's where it comes down to solely the pilot, not the bike. I probably won't win, but you never know. Today, I got hot, and was able to at least stay with the fastest guy, the one who's been winning. It looks to be VERY interesting to see how all us EX guys sort out in tomorrow's race. I am most eager for it to happen. There are several of us new Experts, as well as the Experts from previous years. Maybe one us new guys will upset the more experienced Experts. This is my first weekend as an Expert. I was a Junior last year, and an Amateur the year before that. But today, I was able to stay tight behind, and even close in on, the guy who was winning the Expert EX class last year. A couple have commented to me over the weekend that I seem to be "riding the wheels off my EX" (meaning going very fast).
Anyway, we went out to dinner with Matt and his parents, and a couple more of us EX guys. I have "lost" a few of my friends to the SV crowd, although I was still able to beat them today in the mixed race. After they get more accustomed to their new SVs, they should be able to easily beat me (50% more power). All us EX racers are pretty tight, but there is an inner core of friends that have done battle together for the last 2-3 years. We raced as Amateurs together, then a bunch of us fastest Amateurs became Juniors together, now we're all Experts together. We had a great dinner, and a great conversation, and we're all very much looking forward to tomorrow's big race.
Today was a wonderful day, perfect racing weather. It's almost midnight now, so I have to go to bed. It's overcast & raining lightly intermittently, so I am hoping tomorrow will be clear again.
It was clear and sunny this morning, although cold. It will get warmer as the sun warms things up over the course of the morning. I had a good time in practice. It took several laps to get me and the bike and tires warmed up, but then I was going for it. All us EX guys are eagerly anticipating the big chance later to see who will come out on top. It's all SO much fun!
I checked the results from yesterday's race. I finished 13th overall, with 53 finishers, so I suppose that's OK. I found out I would have gotten a SECOND place trophy if I'd been in the other class in that race! Oh well, I will be in the right class for the rest of the season.
We were also talking last night about a special Master's Trophy that will be awarded for the person over 40 years old who gets the most points over the year in the stock EX class. So, I will be a strong contender for that. There are 3 other contenders for it. One of them is Bill Martovich. He's in his mid 60s, and he's still racing. He can be pretty fast, too. He blew up his motor yesterday, so today he's riding a rental bike. There's also Bob Perkins, who has been racing EXs many, many years, and doesn't go out for practice, and tends to goof around a lot. But when he gets serious, he can be fast, too.
So, right now I am just hanging out and relaxing, waiting for my second practice session. Because I am a contender in the EX class, and probably not a contender in the class I'll be racing the Ascot in today, I will do both practice sessions on the EX, and not practice at all on the Ascot. Of course, the other EX guys were saying I should just go out & practice on the Ascot only! The Ascot is what I started racing with. It was completely stock back then, and embarrassingly slow, but I had lots of fun with it, and learned the racing basics on it. It's pretty windy this morning, so it is chilly, and we have the garage door shut to keep the wind out. The sun will warm the track up, though.
I am just hanging out again, waiting for my first race of the afternoon. It's clear and sunny, but cold, mainly because of the wind. The second practice session this morning was lots of fun. All us EX guys went out together, and we were "play" racing and checking each other out. It could be anyone's race, although some are more likely contenders than others. I have the pole position in the EX race, so that's a good start. I just have to go like crazy and stay ahead of the rest of them.
later Sunday afternoon
Well, it's all over! It's been quite an afternoon! I have just finished loading up all my gear into the van & trailer, and now I'm just waiting around for the trophy presentations. In my main race, Production Twins, the race I'm most competitive in, I got a really good start, and I was first into the first corner. Then some bikes from the previous wave crashed, so we restarted. I got the holeshot again and was first into Turn 1 again. One guy got by me, Doug, who has been winning as an Expert for a couple years. I stayed on his tail for a couple laps, until we caught up to slower backmarkers from the first wave. They do multiple races in waves. There might be 2 or 3 races going on at once on the track. They start each class so in a wave, then about 10 seconds later, they start the next wave. My race was the second wave, so I knew we'd have slower riders from thfist wave deal with. Theoretically, the first wave is a different, faster class, but fast guys in later waves usually catch and pass the slower guys from the earlier waves. Anyway, once we caught up with backmarkers, Doug got thru faster than I did, then he was gone. I stayed in second place for the rest of the race! It was wonderful! I was really excited! My heart was pounding, and I was gripping the bars too tightly, so I had to try o relax & be cool & just stay fast & not make any mistakes. Well, I did it! My first trophy of the new season! I had figured it would take me all year to get fast enough (as a new Expert) to get trophies, cuz now I'm up against the fastest guys in the northeast US. But I got a second already, and I coulda got one yesterday if I'd only been smart enough to be in the right class.
I'm especially happy and surprised to do so well so early in the season, as I usually haven't done well at all until the last couple months of the season. All my previous trophies are from September and October races. This has been such a great weekend for me, and I am so happy!
Matt was pretty bummed out that he hadn't done better. At the start of the season last year, and halfway through it, I couldn't touch him at all. He was definitely faster than me. Then later in the season, I really started coming into it, and started beating him again. Today, I never even saw him in the race. I told him not to worry, we all go thru up & down cycles, and he'll be on one of his UP cycles again soon. That seemed to cheer him up a bit.
Then I raced the Ascot in a later race, and did much better than I expected to there, too. I started dead last, because I didn't sign up for the race until this morning. I beat several strong competitors, including one of the top guys in that class who I never expected to be able to beat, and I ended up with ANOTHER trophy, third place, right behind one of the very best names in that class. I am SO STOKED!! It's been a wonderful, wonderful weekend! I did SO much better than I expected. The Ascot is quite a wild animal to ride, and my arms were really pumping up in the race, but I was cool ,and didn't mess up. I tried to realx wherever I could during the race.
Then I got called up to the trophy presentation area again and presented with another (big) trophy I wasn't even expecting!! They are doing a new class called MASTERS for guys over 40 in the Expert Production Twins (my EX) class. So, I got a big FIRST PLACE trophy for that, too, as well as a whole lot of talking about the new class and how well I was doing in it, and how Iím the new guy for the others to try to beat. I knew it was going to be a points thing, but I didn't realize that class got trophies, too! I was so very proud! This has been one heck of a weekend! I am also now the points leader in the Masters class for the Class Championship for the season. Now I'm REALLY in the points race, and a strong contender for the Class Championship. Unbelievable!! What a day this has been! Super racing, super friends, super fun, and I even did very well, too; much better than expected.
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