North Bay Runway RompFriday - drive up to North Bay is lovely! I arrived in time to get through registration, tech and walk the track before dark. The track is a myriad of different surfaces, textures, tar worms and bumps, and I have no idea what my tires will make of most of it. I have no difficulty sleeping to the sound of landing airplanes, thanks to my room-mate who's addicted to flight simulator video games.
Saturday - practice goes well, I manage to distinguish the track from the straw bales and pylons although that takes most of my first practice session. The 180 hairpin requires hard braking (not my strong suit). My recently-bled front brakes work great, although my rear brake doesn't seem to be working. Between practice sessions I manage to identify the offending bolt that's preventing my repositioned brake pedal from activating the rear brake fully. I hadn't equipped myself with a suitable shorter bolt, likely washer or nut to use as a spacer, so I resorted to filing the bolt shorter. I occupy myself in the second practice session trying to figure out what different surfaces offer in the way of traction, and finding route around the corners and around the worst of them bumps, biting my tongue firmly in the process. Suspension that seemed quite composed on other tracks seemed overtaxed by the textures and bumps of North Bay.
The Saturday heat race was a good learning experience. My standing start needs more work! I got a steady start, but entered the first corner near the back of the pack. The diversity of surfaces through the first corner was still something I wasn't too sure about, and the bumpy 'S' corners before and after the taxi-way straight seemed pretty crowded in the first lap. I ended up near the back pretty early on, and contented myself with chasing the pack as fast as I could. I never did figure out any good way through the hairpin, although I tried just about every imaginable line, several gears including neutral (whoops!, I didn't think much of that option). Seeing as most of the crashing was happening in the hairpin, I decided to just go slow in the slow corner and work on going faster in the fast corners.
Sunday's final race of the season. I got a better start, but from farther back on the grid. The race was red-flagged after a few laps, and I wasn't entirely certain of the grid-position rules for restarting, so I opted to start from the back of the grid. There was a crash in the first corner after the re-start, and a 2nd bike got involved, spitting it's rider off and continuing riderless. I had to go off track to negotiate around the fallen riders and behind the still-rolling bike and by the time I got back on track and pointed in the right direction, I'd nearly lost sight of the pack through the 'S's'. I spent the rest of the shortened race chasing along at the back.
Not exactly a stellar rookie year, but an excellent learning experience none the less. I think my riding improved steadily through the season. I coped successfully with some minor mechanical challenges and kept my bike running all season. I discovered just how many new skills I will have to master too. But I enjoy a challenge, and I'm very much looking forward to next season.
Please visit my 'Thanks' page to see who helped make my 2005 Racing season possible.
2005 Season: Rookie Season - First Race Shannonville - Second Race Mosport - Third Race North Bay - 2005 Season Photos
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