They say you never know what you've got until it's gone
That is the absolute truth, and a realization I made early
into my weekend. But before I get into the adventure that
was the Canadian National in Calgary, I would like to thank
some specific people for their tremendous support. Thank you
to Mike and Rhonda Smith for their hospitality and friendship.
Also, a thank you to Jeff Johnston from Pirelli North America
for getting tires shipped to us specifically for this weekend.
A big thanks to Rick Botting with Techlusion Performance group
for his assistance with fuel management systems. And last
but not least, thanks to Dan Zlock and Zlock Racing for all
their support. Believe it or not, this weekend has made me
genuinely appreciate what they do for me.
Earlier this year I had promised Tim Mass, with Kawasaki
Canada, that I would attend the Canadian National in Calgary.
So with that said I worked on getting the team and myself
up to Calgary so that we could put our best foot forward.
Everything was lined up and Dan was going to let us (me and
one of the crew) take the race truck and trailer so that we
could have everything we needed. Dan couldn't attend as he
already had obligations with Corona Suzuki to attend the AMA
National that weekend. Unfortunately, things didn't go as
planned. The first "speed bump" came via a phone
call from my crew member just days before we had to leave.
He had broken his thumb and would not be able to help out.
Bummer. With all other sources of crew help exhausted I decided
to change my strategy. I would only take the 600 with me and
would attempt to do everything by myself. Naïve = Oliver
at this point :o). So I headed down to the teams' headquarters
in Spanaway, WA and crammed the bike and anything else I could
into my van. I can't believe how much gear I loaded into that
poor van. It must have looked like the Beverly Hillbillies
were going racing. Eighteen arduous hours later I arrived
in Calgary and set-up my pit.
Day 1 - Practice
Although I have only been to Calgary a few times, my memory
of the track and its conditions weren't far off. It's a very
rough racing surface that combined with the wildlife (Gophers)
running across the track make it challenging to say the least.
But before I could ride the track, I had my hands full just
getting the bike ready, dealing with pit-set-up, tire pressures,
fuel, technical inspection, etc. So back to the "never
know what you've got until it's gone" thing. I missed
my crew damn it. Over the past season I have been so fortunate
to have people taking care of all the prep work on the bikes.
All I had to do was focus on riding and communicating with
the team. I appreciated it before, but this past weekend has
made me come to a whole new level of appreciation for what
the team does for me. And in this respect, I am thankful I
went on this trip.
As though my prayers were answered, the weather forecast was
calling for rain! As you may or may not know, I love racing
in the wet and generally have my best results in mixed or
wet conditions. We mounted up the Pirelli Rains and went out
for a few "test" laps. The bike felt good, but more
importantly, my mindset had changed. I was going to put the
crappy qualifying results behind me and go out and do what
I know how to do - ride this bike! I absolutely nailed the
first start passing most of the field going into turn one.
People were crashing everywhere and I got a birds eye view
of Matt McBride high siding coming out of turn three. Ugly
:( As I came out of the last turn I saw the red flag waving
bringing an end to that race. Onto start two. Well apparently
my earlier start got the attention of Steve Dick who now moved
directly in front of me in an attempt to find the traction
I did, and here is where I made a huge mistake. Instead of
moving over a few feet so that I could squeeze by, I just
stayed right behind him thinking, "It's Steve. He'll
get a good start, no problem". Unfortunately, for both
Steve and myself, his bike bogged on the start and I almost
rear-ended him on the re-start. By the time I got things back
under control the field was disappearing down the straight.
Not good. I just relaxed and rode as smoothly as possible,
only getting out of shape a few times.
Well that about sums it up. I'm disappointed that I wasn't
able to do better, but I'll just chalk this one up to a learning
experience and look forward to getting things back to normal.
Thanks again to all the sponsors and people that make all
of this possible.
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