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it's rained all night and I mean all night. At the riders meeting, no-one has any idea of what is going to happen. There's apparently a shortage of rain tires that extends all the way up to world superbikes and while Pirelli can guarantee everyone just one set of rain tires, they can't do more than that. For the bigger class riders, that means choices: Do they ride on a drying track with wets and potentially ruin them for a wet race? Or qualify on a track that isn't drying well with slicks and hope they don't come off? It's a horrible dilemma, but happily it's not one we have to face in the 250s. We have a single control tire that is somewhere in between.
I had expected some soreness overnight, but that's not happened. The elbow swelled up (below) but there's no sign of a reaction to the knee. The gloves needed some minor stitch work to reattach the wrist pad. I figure I went down maybe between 80 and 90 with no adverse reactions. Just goes to show, if you want to go fast, it's far safer at the track.
Eric's done a great job with the bike, too. As I arrive, it's just having it's fairing replaced. He checked it all over last night and the damage was mostly superficial.
But even though both my physical self and the bike seem OK, I've started slowly to get my mental self comfortable again but i'm simply not reading the track at all. I think my lines are mostly OK but I'm carrying even less speed than normal, which means I've not got enough momentum through the apex and I'm correcting mid corner. The problem is, if I go in any faster, the bike seems to be unstable and correspondingly, when I gas it on the exit, it squirms. In other words, I'm between a rock and a hard place; I am at a loss.
I talked with Colin Fraser of CSBK about it afterwards. He tells me it is slippy out there. So slippy that Jody Christie, who's mentoring us, has told him that he can no longer keep up with the kids due to the way the bike is squirming under him. I would have though the extra weight would make the bike more stable in the wet, but it appears the converse may be true.
So I spend session one effectively sightseeing and mange to put down a 3:11 lap, which is about 25 seconds slower than the leaders. I tell myself it's a long lap. It's also going to be a long weekend.
By second practice, the rain has been intermittent. A little light drizzle here and there, just enough to maintain the slippiness and just enough to maintain my inconfidence. Matters aren't helped by the fact that Connor Warnell, one of the kids from Nova Scotia went down in the opening lap and we got red flagged. Five minutes later we've all restarted but I'm slower still. I can feel myself tense in every corner. My arms are locked tight on the bars as if that's going to help. Intellectually, I know it's actually making me worse and so I start talking myself through the corner to try and break my instincts. "Break upright, weight off the side, look and turn. And breathe, relax". It helps for a turn before I'm back to locking my arms. If nothing else this weekend, I've learned a whole lot more respect for those racers known as "wet weather specialists".
I end up coming in a couple of laps early. I'm not enjoying this and I know I am not going to get any faster today and to be frank, I've lost my bottle. It's just not in me and I'd do better to leave, relax and come back tomorrow. At least Mont Tremblant is a lovely place to do the relaxing.