Yesterday marked my first outing since my accident at the 92nd Loudon Classic back in June. After about two months after surgery and a wee bit longer since the break I was loading up the bike, gear and necessities for a shakedown, of the self more than the equipment, of my race program. It didn’t hurt that the whole of Lo-Riderz were making their attendance to the track, seem to be a lot of fun!
We got their late as usual and with a team of 5 people we unloaded 10 bikes and an obscene amount of gear, but it is always better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it am I right? It felt good to be back in an actual garage for once, seeing how during race weekends we are usually in the infield. Shelter from the elements? Yes please!
Mechanical issues plagued my teammate to which no solution was possible for his quickshifter so after burning some midnight oil we decided to call it a night and head to bed.
In the morning I awoke to an early 7AM paddock chatter and knew the day was about to begin. After sleeping on just a sleeping bag in the trailer I was more than ready to get up and get going. Teeth brushed and undersuit on it was time for the riders meeting with Penguin Road Racing School. We went over the basics of what the day would contain, to ride easy and have fun, because everyone else was at work while we were at the racetrack. What better sales pitch?!
Don’t mind my bike – she has seen better days. As mentioned before no major damage other than the body work and wind screen. Luckily all the parts I had placed on my steed held up VERY well in my crash, I couldn’t be happier with the quality of the parts.
Honestly I had no idea what to expect from the first session out because I was plagued with mental games after the crash. Even though the crash was not of my own doing I couldn’t shake that feeling of fear when dropping the left shoulder when heading for the apex. That fear of maybe crashing and re-injuring the collarbone had me in dire distress the weeks leading up to the first ride on track. This mental fear is what hampers progress and ultimately a fast rider from a slow rider. I have seen it before, heck I even felt it before and only recently gotten over the hump myself, but here I find that I am back in that situation.
The first session consisted of just riding around for 3 laps behind an instructor then pitting in on hot pit to decide whether a solo venture or one-on-one with an instructor is right for you. Following the instructor on the initial 3 laps didn’t really allow me to gauge my pace or how my injury feels under riding conditions so when I pit back in I opted to go out on my solo venture to really test it. I found myself behind my sponsor, DRT-Sport, of which I followed him for two laps to gauge my speed relative to his. After that I just booked it.
I was really surprised at how much more comfortable I felt all things considered. Turns 1-1A-2 felt normal, turn 3 and onward up the hill through turns 4 & 5 was as expected, hard braking then trailing with maintenance throttle up and over, turn 6, my accident turn, took one or two sessions at most to get comfortable with again but this too was natural once more, the uphill turns 7 and quick flick right turn 8 was still fast and light as the front comes up just ever so slightly under hard acceleration, the down hill turn 9 before the tight-right-next-to-the-wall turn 10 was a simple in tight, let it drag wide just a bit and pull it back before the wall comes up, turns 11/11A/12 was a brake, hold on for life and a down shift before the last chicane and a pick up for immense drive onto the straights.
Everything clicked as it did before my broken collarbone. My pace, my rhythm, it all felt natural again and I couldn’t be happier. What caused me to worry and had me losing sleep at night was merely mind games playing tricks. I was glad I can overcome this little hiccup in the road to getting faster. There are still much work I need to put in at various points on the track but this is slated for another day another track time.
But in the meanwhile:
Until round 6 of the LRRS it’s been real NHMS!