With Adam’s radiation therapy already taking a toll on his energy at the VRRA event, his attendance at Calabogie was tentative – right up until the moment he showed up late Saturday AM to register on the Hyperstrada. I hadn’t ridden a track event with him since the DOCC Mosport Festival in ’05 and we’d been trying to set-up a weekend all through the past season. But it seemed that each time we set something up, his chemotherapy schedule would get changed – putting him on the backside of a chemo dose whenever we were slotted for a track weekend.
By the time he got registered and the Hyperstrada tech’d and ready to ride, we found ourselves sitting around waiting out a seemingly endless run of red flag delays. This was a Team Pro-Motion event and true to the form displayed all season at Calabogie, they just couldn’t seem to get their shit together. We’d get out and string together maybe 2 or 3 laps each session only to see yet another red flag thrown. I find it amazing how quality can vary from one organizer to another and disturbing to see the TPM organization slip from being (at least in my mind) one of the tightest crews around – offering the lowest cost per lap – to its current state (at least at the Calabogie venue).
Being unknown to the aforementioned organization, Adam had to learn the track in the Intermediate group – which was kind of cool for me ‘cause I got to watch him run thorough turns 16 to 20 from atop the bluff overlooking the back end of the circuit. The show became particularly entertaining during the late afternoon session where he was being checked out by a TPM coach for graduation to the Blue class. They got hung up in a serious traffic jam – with passing complicated by the “outside only” rule for the Red group - and Adam saw his opportunity to rip past about eight of the group in the short bit between turns 16 and 17 and then a couple more around the outside of 18 and 19. That was the last the coach saw of him for the balance of the session…
We got a chance to get a few (red flag abbreviated) sessions in the Blue class together before the day was out and it was more a matter of bringing him up to my pace than playtime, but cool to run together again.
Sunday was another story. I almost regretted being in the same class with him ‘cause every time I had to follow him, I became totally distracted (and dismayed!) by how hard he was pushing the Hyperstrada. But lunch, he’d worn through half the shift lever and had ground the edges off the pegs. I had to kind of pace myself when I got in front of him so I wouldn’t be constantly worried about him digging into on of the non-folding pegs hard enough to unload the back wheel. The bugger even had a knee down which I find amazing given how tall the bike is (he’s only about 5’5”). Superb dicing and play racing all afternoon saw me dragging my knee more than I have in … well, I almost never drag a puck, so you get the picture. It was an exceptional day and turned out to be Adam’s last track session of the season.
Next up was Mt. Tremblant and a long overdue return to a track that I’d had great fun at during the DOCC event in ’05. But as usual – I packed the van in the rain. Although it stayed dry enough Friday night for Fran and I to catch a late night swim, Saturday AM saw ominous clouds that opened just as I took all the side curtains off my EZ-Up. And it continued to stay wet all day Saturday (which is fine if you’re Paul Hewitt, but sucks if you’re me). We were all taking it in stride during the morning – doing a bunch of social stuff and pretending that we were all having a wonderful time - but by 1:30 or so the crowd began to feel like a bunch of 12 year olds who had been grounded for the weekend.
By 3PM, I would have cast the mood as sullen – or maybe even ugly. When the track finally began to dry at 4PM, it was still too dicey for slicks although that didn’t stop Pat Chartrand from venturing out on a borrowed, real-live-honest-to-goodness-Aprillia 125 GP bike – and then pitching it down the front straight in front of a shocked but nonetheless appreciative crowd.
Sunday on the other hand was a prefect, but my F1 – alas was not. I could get a full lap in before the bike would start to lose power and then run on one (or even half of one it seemed). Starved for laps, I’d whip in, grab the Hyperstrada to finish the session, come in and dick around with the F1 and then repeat the process. I had a double registration, so I was at least getting some laps in, but I really came to Mt. Tremblant with some serious F1 flogging in mind. Finally, just before lunch I figured out the problem. I pulled off the track at Turn 6 when the bike went sour and after looking and poking around for about 4 minutes, was surprised that it fired right up when I hit the starter. I slipped back out on the track and put another 6 corners behind me when it went south again and this time I was able to slip in behind the hay bales on an access road that’s used for the short course. I was able to get my helmet off while the bike was running and here’s the weird bit: It was running, but making no exhaust noise whatsoever. While I sat there going “Hmmmmmmmmmm”, I heard the primary baffle dislodge itself from its cozy position in front of the megga outlet – and suddenly I had both noise and power. Back in the pits I confirmed that that the primary baffle (an inverted cone attached halfway up the megga taper) had come loose and would get rammed up against the outlet by exhaust force - something easy to fix, but alas not at Mt. Tremblant. So after a quick word with event coordinator John Ross, it was agreed that I could go out with the open megga as long as I was careful to pull in the clutch and coast past the sound meter located in the middle of the chicane we had set-up on the front straight. From that point forward, it was simply way too much fun to grumble about the required coasting and sneaking around in the pits and hot-pit. Enough track time and good fun that Fran and I gave the last session of the day a pass in lieu of another swim in the trackside lake before packing up and hitting the road.
All racetracks should have lakes.
And no racetracks should have sound level restrictions. It should never rain at any race track while I’m there (well, except maybe on those stinkin’ hot days when it’s too friggin’ hot to ride anyway and the track dries out in 10 minutes).
That should have been the season finale, but my move was continuing to run into delays and as the Ottawa weather continued an unseasonably warm trend, I found myself at Calabogie the next weekend for a kind of stolen Saturday. It’s kind of strange when I show up at the track without one of the tribe and for some reason it took most of the morning to get my groove back. But by lunchtime, I had found a suitable playmate in a racer in his mid-50’s who had dusted-off his ‘80’s Suzuki superbike and was putting down some surprisingly quick laps for a guy who had been away from the track for over a decade. I dragged my knee some more (it had become addictive).
The truly excellent day ended with long, heartfelt goodbyes to the CMP and 303Imaging staff I’d come to know over the season – but as I headed over to the van to leave, 303Imaging’s Dan Henri caught up to me and asked if I’d be keen to come back for an invitation-only day the following weekend. Ummmm…. Gee, Dan - I don’t know…
So although I’d promised Deb that under no circumstances would I even think of inviting Fran to any more track days…
The following Saturday dawned cool and crisp, but sunny – with the promise of temperatures getting up in the hi-teens by afternoon. Dan was trying out the Show-up, Shut-up and Ride format of a small group (less than 50 riders) who could be relied upon to self tech and stay upright all weekend - and with only two classes running (Fast and Faster), the old fool from Shawville and I were pooped by 3:30. It was a picture perfect track day; reminiscent of my past SSR experiences at Grattan. We were riding fast enough to impress ourselves, but still had enough reserve to be able to appreciate the beauty of the track and magic of good laps with good friends. 303Imaging President and chief camera man Cory Klinkenberg took what I think were the best motorcycle shots of the year and all the attendees left with a free CD full of excellent images. The event went well enough that they’ll repeat the format a few times next year and I hope to make it back up there to take at least one of them in.
Back from where? Bethesda, Friggin’ Maryland of all places.
…But that’s another story…
Content: 1987 Ducati 750 F1, 2005 Ducati Multistrada MTS1000S, Calabogie Motorsports Park, Ducati Owners Club of Canada, DOCC, VRRA, Adam Bennett, Team Pro-Motion, Le Circuit Mt. Tremblant, Hyperstrada, loudbike, Steve Munro
1987 Ducati 750 F1, 2005 Ducati Multistrada MTS1000S, Adam Bennett, Calabogie Motorsports Park, Chemotherapy, DOCC, Ducati Owners Club of Canada, Hyperstrada, Le Circuit Mt. Tremblant, loudbike, Radiation therapy, Season finale, Steve Munro, Team Pro-Motion, VRRADucati Motorcycles