Since I only live about 40 minutes from the track, it was pretty easy to make good time. You might have noticed in the pictures above that I didn't bother taping up the headlights or track-prepping the bike. The idea was that we would get out to the track with enough daylight for me to get'er'done. See... part of my camping appeal to my buddy was simple: You ride in the advanced group, advanced group is always the first out on the track after the riders meeting, we all know I have a bit of a problem with... mornings
... so if we camp then you can wake right up and be on the grid lickety split!
It seemed to have worked. I have to take a minute to declare my undying thanks to SkilledHouse for bringing his sleeping bag since it got a little colder than it was forecast to get that night, and the three blankets that I had originally forecast as being sufficient, would have been anything but. I also need to pause for a minute to commend SH and his girlfriend, the lovely Meg, for packing everything but the kitchen sink into the back of a Honda with a U-Haul trailer attached. Holy crap! We got there and found that not only did they have a tent, but they brought an entire dining room setup as well. That made for a pretty awesome Sunday night chill session with beer and grilled brats.
The next morning I woke up to a lavender sky and the sound of trucks rolling through the paddock with bikes. I silently announced through a weary grin: "Wake up! It's track time!" My track buddy had already gotten down to business unwrapping the bikes and rolling out his tire warmers. I, on the other hand, made my way to registration and to bring back some coffee.
The Superbike Princess and the Killer Kaw: ready to raise a ruckus
I grabbed coffee and then approached the reg-table: "You're in luck!" the track organization owner announced to me with a proud grin as I made way over to greet her. "There are only 20 people in C group!" I smiled and let out a subtle "fuck yeah!" There are a lot of advantages to riding in C group and I still make the most of every single one of them. The truth is, I had thought about bumping up to intermediate after the last track day but I found myself absolutely enamored with passing people. It sounds arrogant, but there actually really is an art to it and I wanted to make the most of learning it in the beginner class. I also wanted to make sure that if anything was going to fall off of my bike, that it would happen early on when I was moving at reasonably safe speeds. By the end of the first couple of laps of the first session I was sufficiently satisfied that nothing was going to fall off... and even if it did, I really didn't give a shit. I was ready to ride and I got down to business pretty early on in the second session but brought it in a few minutes early to adjust my tire pressures.
I really can't even begin to describe how well everything clicked. It seemed like every session was better than the one before it and I had consistently shaved seconds off of the time I had set a year earlier during my track day on the Yamaha. The first few sessions out I started modest and delicately made moves on people who were significantly slower than I was. At one point I had picked off a small group of riders and kept pushing to ensure that they didn't pass me back, my zone was broken when I suddenly had the strangest feeling that I was no longer being stalked. I glanced over my shoulder to gauge the distance of the nearest rider and noticed that there wasn't a rider to be seen. I was completely alone and I abruptly looked to the nearest corner worker to see if I had blown a checkered flag. As I glanced around, all of the corner workers were standing idly and I second guessed whether or not I was even riding in the right session anymore. I brought it in just as they waved the checkered flag and I felt like a dumbass for getting so wrapped up in the moment.
As the day wore on my appetite became more and more insatiable and I found myself tracking down riders and trying to pace them. All the while I was starting to make note of the tech-guy who warned me that my brake pads were going to be done by the end of the day. Sure enough I started to feel the lag in braking somewhere near my 4th session but it wasn't enough to make me compromise my determination to pick up the pace and hold onto my groove.
William was a moving at a pretty good clip and, during the sessions where we made it out at the same time, I managed to hold onto him until we hit traffic which is where his confidence really took the stage in passing maneuvers that I either wasn't ballsy enough to make, or simply didn't have the timing to make courteously. He's quite a rider and I had a lot of fun sparring with him and regrouping in the paddock to discuss the highlights of our session. The bike ran great and no matter how hard I pushed it was there with more get-up-and-go than my lazy, non-exercised body could handle. By the end of the day I had reached the limits of my physical ability and I was so sore that I could hardly get my ass off the seat. Other riders were starting to have the same problem. As I made my way around the track during an afternoon session, two riders ran off in front of me. I carpe'd the diem and throttled by but the last guy I held off on because I thought he was going to save it. Sure enough he ran off into the dirt and immediately found his line again and got back on the track in front of me. I still had some space to pass him so I took it upon myself to do so and to give him a supportive thumbs-up for the recovery.
To be continued... with pics, video, and a closing assessment...