Photos courtesy of Tim McGill @TMStudios.ca, Steve Evans, and Rob O’Brien/Mopar CSBK.ca
“I need a 4 and 6 mm Allen key, and duct tape – meet me in the hot pit!” I’m shouting at Steve Evans, part of “Little Bike Alley”, our community of small bike racers.
My bike will make the restart, but only if we move quickly. Adrenalin rushes through me, and I try to put the last five minutes behind me.
Getting it all wrong
I am off line, in a gaggle of lightweight sport bikes fighting for position in a slow, left-hand turn when I tuck the front and go down. Unable to avoid me, the rider behind grabs a handful of front brake.
Three-hundred and fifty pounds of motorcycle slam at speed into my lower back, and searing pain shoots up my spine, but as I roll to a stop, it’s not my back I’m concerned about.
My friend and competitor, Kirk Shergold is badly winded, and is lying next to me. The medical staff quickly get to him, and I get to my feet. Kirk was an innocent victim. Within seconds, the staff has determined that Kirk will be okay, and he is upright. He walks to the track ambulance.
My own family and friends are in the stands just a few metres away, and I give them a hasty thumbs up, before an official helps me restart my bike. The damage is minor, but we only have two minutes to get it cleared by Canadian Superbike staff.
It is the low point in a weekend I never quite found my rhythm in, punctuated by one of the best parts of the Canadian racing community. In pit lane, a swarm of strangers all run to provide tools and assistance, to get my bike running. The Liuna team of Josh Fantin chief among them. We couldn’t get my left clip-on to seat properly, “Hammer!” I yell, and one appears like magic.
The marshals ask again if I’m sure I’m okay, and how my back feels. “Totally fine” I tell them, as the countdown clock reaches zero.
In the restart, I battle for a while with Matt Simpson – who had gone from a crash in qualifying to an impressive podium earlier in the weekend – before fatigue takes over. I ride home a lonely 13th.
In the second RACE Mopar Express Lane Lightweight Sportbike regional race of the weekend I finish a disappointing but consistent ninth, running 1m17s laps for the entire race.
The last race of the weekend brings more disappointment. Having qualified poorly, I was starting deep in the field in 14th, but felt I had pace to run with the group running fourth-eighth. I intended to make my way to that group.
A quirk of Grand Bend is that we start, motocross style, on a straightaway that is not part of the circuit proper, and do about three-quarters of the lap before we pass the official start/finish line. I passed two riders around the outside of the first turn, and another one on the way into the second, then rounded up a couple more down the straight. By the time we crossed the timing line on the first lap I was up to 10th.
A big run down the main straight gets me alongside the 99 of Tyler Waugh, and I take the narrow, inside line into the carousel to make the pass. But I’m asking too much of the front end, and as I add more bank angle to hold my line, it tucks again and washes out. This time, everyone misses me, and I slide harmlessly to the edge of the track. But the damage to the bike is too much, and with no front brakes, I have to retire.
If you qualify badly, you’re gonna have a bad time
All of this angst is caused by a poor qualifying session. Ignoring my own advice to “ride within my helmet” I decide to follow someone I think is faster. I give up opportunities to pass them in the draft on the main straight, because I think I’ll go faster following them through the lap. I do not.
And despite setting times in the 1m16s bracket earlier in the weekend I manage only a 1m17s lap and start mired in the bottom of the field. I’m livid, and not hiding it well. My mind is once again impeding my progress, my inability to focus on the moment and ride my own race hurting my results.
A mix of embarrassment, frustration, anger, and bitter, bitter disappointment cloud my mind. I can’t shake out of it. Motorsport is a mental game. My mental game needs work.
Enough about me, let’s talk about racing for a minute
Up front, Jake LeClair continues his sweep of the season, with Alex Berthiaume and Ryan White drawing ever closer to him. The class gets tighter, more intense and draws in deeper talent pools with every race. The next one at St-Eustache is going to be another cracker. Each and every class of the CSBK championship is putting up thrilling races, near upsets, and elements of sheer agony. Ben Young was ever-so-close to his first CSBK Pro Superbike win at Grand Bend, but lost the lead on the penultimate corner. He’ll bounce back and keep pushing to get by the dominant Jordan Szoke. In the 600 class Tomas Casas and Mitch Card face off against a rising tide of local heroes and cheeky challengers.
I’ve loaded my busted-ass bike into my new Beckner Trailers trailer, and I’ll be in St-Eustache. It’s not how I wanted to welcome the new sponsor, but we’ll do what we can to start clawing back points and getting this Kawasaki Ninja 400 towards the front where it belongs.
CSBK National Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike Race One
|3||64||Ryan White||Ninja 300||6||01:13.8||1.504|
|4||74||Johann Plancque||Ninja 300||6||01:14.6||6.036|
|7||814||Connor Campbell||Ninja 300||6||01:16.6||0.02|
|11||225||Trevor Dion||Ninja 300||6||01:16.3||3.542|
|12||901||Matt Simpson||Ninja 300||6||01:16.8||3.766|
|13||707||Jacob Black||Ninja 400||6||01:17.8||3.156|
CSBK National Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike Race Two
|3||64||Ryan White||Ninja 300||10||01:13.6||10.832|
|4||74||Johann Plancque||Ninja 300||10||01:13.9||5.244|
|9||901||Matt Simpson||Ninja 300||10||01:15.5||0.322|
|10||225||Trevor Dion||Ninja 300||10||01:15.7||0.112|
|12||814||Connor Campbell||Ninja 300||10||01:16.5||12.514|
|DNF||707||Jacob Black||Ninja 400||1||02:57.7|