Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cresson: My First Race


Cathy White and I had dropped the bike off on Friday night and unloaded most of the gear but still had a lot of work to do on Saturday morning. Tech inspection was looming and we needed to mount a new set of tires, along with installing a catch pan (turkey baste pan) on the F4i to make it legal. All this, and a bit more, was accomplished by 11 a.m. and the bike was tech inspected and ready to go.

John Roberts got to the track Saturday and brought his wonderful wife Linda and his friend Nick to the track to help us in the pits. He also brought his F2 as a backup bike, in case anything happened to the F4i. Gary Strunk and Cathy’s friend Guy also dropped in to help us with pit stops. Guy has 10+ years of experience and brought a great deal of advice and insight to our team, and Gary was a big help keeping thing organized and running smooth with each stop.

Practice session:
In the warm up we were allowed to run both bikes so John took the F2 out to acclimate himself with the track, and Cathy rode the F4i to scrub in the new Michelin M2s and also learn the track. Everything went well and we were ready to hit the track and get racing!

John, Cathy and I had previously decided to run 40 minute stints. With each pit stop we would add fuel and change riders, check the tire for good heat and do a quick debriefing of the new rider. We were starting 49th out of a 52 bike grid. I think that worked out well for us because I was starting the bike and had never actually done that before. It was all guesswork for me and if I’d been up any farther I think I would have just been in the way.

Given that, my first stint went rather well and I was able to hoist the team to somewhere around 29th or 30th before handing over to John’s capable hands for the second stint. The bike felt good, we were running clean and having a lot of fun.

John’s stint went very well, he acclimated himself to the bike quickly and set some fantastic lap times. He also kept us right in the hunt and I think we were placed at about 31st at the end of his stint! Cathy was up next and we had yet another flawless pit stop. Her stint went almost perfectly as well and we stayed right there in about 32nd or so, and on the same lap as quite a few other bikes.

My second stint started off really well. The bike and tires were holding up just fine and I was excited to get out there and mix it up again. Unfortunately, I had trouble finding some people to run with since the field was so spread out at this point. Still, my times were good and the bike felt nice and secure. Then, it started to sprinkle. Not a problem with the nice hot tires and rubbery track, the bike still felt great and I had tons of traction. Soon though, it started to drizzle and the track was somewhat slick, though still not bad. Then, suddenly it seemed; the track was soaked. I came around on the lap and saw no less than 8 bikes down! The track had instantly turned into a slab of hay-fever mule snot and the Michelin’s didn’t seem to have any ability to move water. After what seemed like an eternity, my stint ended and I brought the bike (gleefully) into the pits to hand off to Mr. Roberts. We decided that if the track just felt to greasy and slick, that we should park the bike and save it for my sprint races on Sunday. John did a recognizance lap but felt that there was little to no traction. We had a team meeting, checked the scoring monitor and the team made the decision to park it. There was no sense in jeopardizing our yellow jersey status or risking damage to the bike. So, we ended the day in 32nd overall and something like 8th in class. Not bad for a bunch of newbies!


I decided that the morning warm-up was useless given Cresson’s greasy morning stigma and slept in. I got to the track around 9am and decided to go ahead and clean off the tires from Saturday’s muddy, marble-fest of crap on the tires. The warm-up went well and I put in a brisk 5 laps to scrub and clean the Michelins.

Once again Gary Strunk was eager to lend his assistance in the pits and help me out on Sunday. His company was welcome and well appreciated! A whole host of friendly TSBA faces also showed up throughout the day along with a host of my friends from work and play! All in all it made me feel really good and actually thought I was somewhat important…

Middleweight Supersport AM:
34 starters, I was starting on row 11 in 28th

The start went decently and I managed not to lose as much time leaving the line. I don’t have tire warmers so I took it gingerly into turn one and made a quick assessment of the riders ahead of me. Immediately, I realized that many were taking it much easier than necessary so I dropped the hammer and passed one or two on my way through Tombstone, then another into Buzzard’s neck and continued my work from there. By the end of the 8 laps I had caught another group of 4 riders but was unable to make anything stick as I diced for position. In the end I was 19th out of 34 starters, and felt pretty good for completing my first sprint race without incident. I have, though, found that even my raised LP pegs are too low, as I spent the whole race grinding away sliders on my knees & boots plus a portion of the pegs!

Heavyweight Supersport AM:
24 starters, I was somewhere on row 7

I’m not entirely sure where I started, but my launch had a lot to be desired. I was instantly smoked on the start and found myself dead last, and more than a few paces behind the pack… joy. Once again I felt out the tires and then began to make work of the riders ahead of me. I made a few solid moves and eventually ended up on my own, chasing down what I think was a liter bike. He had apparently given up and was cruising, not expecting anyone to come by… so I snuck up and blasted him going into Buzzard’s neck (turn 5?), the downhill, off-camber, decreasing radius corner where John Roberts was working Sunday. I had previously promised to make his afternoon exciting and hopefully lived up to it with my cannonball move. Well, needless to say, the other rider was a little miffed. He blasted by me coming out of Little Bend but I wasn’t ready to give up yet. I kept on him and carried more speed through many of the corners, but he kept pulling me exiting the left hander and also the front straight after Rattlesnake. With just two laps to go I made another move on my way into Wagon Wheel. As we crested the hill I had a heap of speed and took an outside line as we entered the corner. I made the move stick and finished the race in 16th.

Middleweight Superbike AM:
19 starters, I started 16th-ish

Ok, Michelin tires were not designed to last through an endurance race and three sprints. I found this out the hard way. Once again I had a horrific start and dropped to the back. I also quickly found that traction was at something of a minimum and the bike was sliding everywhere. I lost ground immediately and had to work hard to fight back up and challenge Steve McNamara (of LSTD fame). I managed to eventually pass him in Turn 5 but as I exited Little Bend the bike took a HUGE step out as I rolled on and I nearly lost it. I felt like it slid out about 2 or 3 feet but honestly I have no clue. All I know is that I stayed in the gas, lost the position and had to start working all over again. Grrrr. So, I did. Steve looked to be sliding just as much as me so I hung with him and eventually got by with only a lap or two to go as we entered Wagon Wheel. After that I lost the position again on the last lap to some guy that passed me like I was sitting still. I ended up finishing 14th out of the 19 starters. Not great, but not bad for being out of tire!

All in all I had an awesome weekend. I’d love to keep doing it but we all know how that goes. I have a lot of prep on the bike that needs to get done if I am to be competitive… so we’ll see.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home