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The morning starts reasonably well. A good nights sleep is broken by the bright sunlight in the room but it's only 5:30 am so I stick my head under the pillow and go back to sleep.
When the alarm finally sounds at 7 am, I hear thunder, the weather is not looking so good any more. No idea where that came from. Showers weren't forecast last night and as I sip my coffee, it starts to rain. Crap. I've just started to get over my fears in the dry and now it might be a wet race?! Now, I know technically riding in the rain shouldn't be a problem, except Jodi Christie, who was helping us out yesterday, explicitly told us there were patches in the tarmac that were slippery when wet, if you'll pardon the Bon Jovi reference.
To compound matters further, I also misread the schedule. The mandatory racers' meeting was actually at 8 am. I arrived at the track in what I thought was good time at 8:05, only to find I'd left my broken wristband in my lodgings. After some subtle persuasion I'm issued a new one and I make it the CSBK trailer for just after 8:15am but the meeting is already over. That's two in a row I've missed. I'm hoping it's not a three strikes policy and resolve to leave even earlier tomorrow.
At the track, the mood is bullish: The rain will pass and sure enough by 9 am the clouds are breaking and the racers are starting to smile a little. Seems like no-one likes the rain and everyone is happy to see it pass.
I manage to spend some time talking with Costa Mouzouris while we're waiting for our qualifying session at 11:55 am. He's starting to put the fear back into me. We talk about crashing (everyone does it) and how a lot of the younger racers don't have a plan for when they're racing and sometimes take risks they shouldn't. I guess it's an experience thing though and I figure I'll be OK as my plan is basically "don't crash" and I'm going so slowly, that's probably not even possible.
As I'm wrapping up with Costa, one of the competitors, Sean Smith, just came back in from practice having lost it. The bike is all ground out on the right side and covered with mud from turn six. Seems a combination of late braking and the wet washed the front. The bike needs some attention and it looks like at least two rolls of duct tape are applied. The number 7 CBR has lost it's looks but at least it's mechanically sound and Sean is OK to race later.
I'm suited up and ready by 11:45 am for the 11:55 am session, but it seems I missed the memo: We're not due on track until about 12:15 as the rain apparently delayed everything. But it's Ok. I drink more water and pretend I am psyching myself by doing some stretches. I stop when I realize I'm not even fooling myself.
At the starting line, I'm surprised I'm not more nervous. Completely calm is the wrong way to describe it, but I'm reasonably relaxed. I've seen the demo of the starter lights earlier that day - amber goes on, then five reds count go on, one per second. After a random one to three second delay, all the lights go out and we go. However, I'm so relaxed, soaking the atmosphere in, that I almost forget to put the bike in gear at the amber light as a result. I click into first gear and start to gun the engine because everyone else is doing the same.
Three, four, five red lights and then what feels like and eternity before they go out and nine CBR250Rs start to scream like a hornets nest. I get a fairly decent start and actually managed to pass Derreck Roemer in front of me on the grid as a result. Maybe I should try drag racing instead? But this turns out to be my last pass of the day and by turn three, he's pulled forward and I've start to fall back. I want to do well, but for me that means focusing on my race, not someone else. My goal is to try and beat my qualifying time and not get lapped by everyone.
Ryan Roche wins Race #1 without incident! Both Ryan and Tomas Casas in second place, passes me on the back straight around lap 6 and then so does the rest of pack. Lap 7 sees the next three pass me. But I do manage to hold on. Derreck Roemer isn't able to lap me and so my job is halfway done as I cross the line and see the checkered flag.
After the race, I go check the times - my best lap is only 1:34. Disappointingly, I am slower - back to my second practice time - and I am disappointed. However, the best part is that I at least have some ideas on what I am doing wrong. And my text-mentor, Jeff Lowe will be here in person to coach me for Race #2. Surely, he can help...
Honda CBR250R Race Results Race #1 by Inside Motorcycles http://esr.cc/Onlrqy
1.Ryan Roche, Pickering, ON, 10 laps
Tomas Casas, Peterborough, ON, +0.050
Stacey Nesbitt, St-Lazare, QC, +5.915
Costa Mouzouris, Montreal, QC, +15.365 (Media Challenge - Inside Motorcycles)
David Booth, Toronto, ON, +35.090 (Media Challenge, National Post)
Neil Graham, Toronto, ON, +35.273 (Media Challenge, Cycle Canada)
Sean Smith, Calgary, AB, +35.861
Derreck Roemer, Toronto, ON, +1:00.010 (Media Challenge, Cycle Canada)
Alex Cookes, Toronto, ON, +1 lap (Media Challenge, EatSleepRIDE)
Time of Race: 13:40.904
Fastest Lap: 1:21.120 by Ryan Roche on lap 10