Lessons Learned at EMRA Round 1
This winter was the longest of my life. I don’t know if it was that much longer then normal, though some people said it was. I think the reason it was so long for me, is that last summer I took the first hit of the drug that is sure to have a serious affect on my foreseeable future. Motorcycle racing. But alas, June 2nd finally arrived, and it was time to get back on a bike. I have to give Robert so much credit for getting the bike and trailer ready for this season. Working out of town, I couldn’t help as much as I would’ve liked.
Saturday came, and Robert, my wife Hannah, and I headed out to the track. We had already dropped the trailer off the night before, so we just had to set up our pit area and we were good to go. But, as we went to throw the tire warmers on, we realized that we had forgotten to get fuel for the generator. No problem, Hannah is on it, she got in the car to go save the day. By the time she got back, and we got the warmers on, it was announced five minutes to my first practice session. Now, obviously, the smart decision would to have been to skip the first session, and let the tires get properly warmed up. Nobody considers me a smart person. I decided to go out on cold slicks. I figured I would take it slow for a few laps until the tires warmed up. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
I think this is a good time to mention the bike. Last year I raced the Ninja 250, but changes in the club rules meant that we needed to have a sealed belly pan to race it this year, and it didn’t seem worth spending the money on that bike. So, Robert graciously offered to let me race his RC-51, which is 1000cc. A true leader bike. Now, everyone who’s ridden a friend’s bike knows that the first thought you have when you take off is ‘I’m going to be especially careful that I don’t crash this bike’. Well, I took my first lap around, and all my confidence came flooding back. I was going to be the fastest novice of the weekend! Second lap, I was already starting to push the bike a bit more, cold tires completely forgotten. And, shockingly, in the corner 12 chicane, as I transitioned from right to left and got on the throttle, I went down.
I think my rear tire lost grip when I gave it gas, because the bike span around and pushed me into the grass. As far as crashes go, it was everything you could ask for. Slow speed, low side, not a scratch or bruise to be had. But it shook me up. Marshal came and helped me to push the bike to the side of the track, then I had to wait three races until the crash truck came out to get me. That was the really painful part, riding the truck of shame back into the pits. I’m sure it won’t be the last time. Robert and Hannah got right to work on fixing the bike, while I sat down and reflected on my choices. Windshield was gone, lost in the grass somewhere (along with some amazing artwork by our friend Denver), but the right side rearsets took the brunt of the damage. Thankfully, we had brought a spare set. Robert was confident that we’d get the bike back out that day. Honestly, I hoped he was wrong. It wasn’t a bad crash, but, I didn’t think I wanted to go back out.
But Robert was right, him and Hannah are the best pit crew anyone could ask for. They got the bike fixed up, we re-teched, and I was back out after lunch. This time, I waited for the tire warmers to do their thing. My lap times suffered, I lost a lot of confidence, but I was proud of myself for getting back in the saddle and getting out there.
Sunday was a perfect day. My mom and dad, uncle, cousins, sisters, and friends all came out to watch me race! Having everyone in the stands cheering for me made me feel like Marc Marquez out there. It wouldn’t matter if I got first or last, I felt like a champion. Now, in Novice class, there is no qualifying, the grids for the races are random. In my first race I was gridded at the back of the pack, which was nice, as it took away the pressure of having a good start. Which I did not have. But I got away eventually and had a really solid race. I was far from the fastest rider out there, but I was still able to pass some of the other racers. In the end, I finished 21 out of 28 racers, with a best lap of 1:48:960. That was my best lap time to date!
My second race was even better! This time I was randomly gridded in 2nd place, right at the front of the pack. Ok Cody, pressure’s on. Don’t stall, dear god, don’t flip the bike. Red light goes on, I rev the engine to about 6000 RPM. Red light goes out and I let the clutch out and take off. It wasn’t perfect, but a huge improvement from my last race. Now, the scariest part of a race is the first corner. More then 25 bikes trying to find their line, with mere feet between them, speeds quickly exceeding 120 km/h or more. I have never felt so focused and alive, my heart rate is increasing just thinking about it. I had a great race, improved my lines, pushed my braking marks. In the end I finished 18 out of 26, with a best lap of 1:48:150. As I crossed the finish line and came around corner 1, I looked up and saw my fans cheering in the stands. I will never be able to describe how I felt in that moment. But I’m sure Marquez knows.