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2004 Season Log

2004 was my first season of racing. I had ridden on the track prior 2004, but that was only during organized track days.

Paul Conley of MotoMarket offered me to join his racing team. This made sense for the purposes of sharing the expense of renting a garage bay. More importantly, I would immediately have several buddies who would help me learn the logistics of racing.

Paul warned me that the first weekend would be very hectic. I'd have to do the race school on Friday, wait in several long lines to submit my racing license application, rent a transponder, register for races and pay for it all. Paul said that if I didn't do it on Friday night, I'd be sure to miss the first morning practice. Following his advice, after receiving the racing school certificate, I skipped the last (optional) session with the school, and ran over to the booth at the track entrance to wait in lines and do all the paperwork. Next morning I was up early, and was one of the first waiting in line for tech inspection. I managed to get ready in time for my group's practice, which was the first practice of the day.

2004-04-24, Saturday

Saturday was great! I did the rookie race at a very conservative pace, as the primary goal there is not to place well, but to cross the finish line on the last lap. Woo-hoo! I was a racer now!

My first sprint race of the day was LW Supersport. It went well. I was the last not to get lapped by the race leader. Whew... Some achievement that is. I finished 14th out of the field of 22 in my class. No points.

That was that for Saturday. My best lap in the LWSS race was 1'35.773", with the average lap time of 1'38.655". I guess that's a baseline from which I should count my progress.

2004-04-25, Sunday

Sunday was the big day. I registered for 3 races, one of them being a GTL endurance race. And I was already sore from the two previous days of riding at the track. Nevertheless, I did both morning practices, and was looking forward to my upcoming races.

My first race of the day was the GTL race. GT races are 15 laps long — one can hardly call that true endurance racing, but it's as long as they come in LRRS. It was exhausting indeed. Finished 12th of 16 — no points again. My lap times had improved somewhat: best of 1'31.515", with the average of 1'36.916". Believe it or not, despite feeling like I was about to pass out through the whole second half of the race, lap 12 was my best. I was quite surprised to find that out...

And here comes the sad part. The next race I was going to run was LW Grand Prix. It is now a blur. The only part of that race that I can now remember is rolling on throttle coming out of the bowl, only to realize that the bars are getting crossed, and next thing I know I'm getting flicked off the bike like a booger and smacked into the ground hard. At that point I might have blacked out for only a few seconds, but I remember coming back looking at the sky and trying to move my limbs to see if I can still do that. A couple of faces appeared shortly silhouetted against the blue sky... I don't remember how much time passed then.

An ambulance picked me up and took me to the track's medical center. Despite never having broken any bones in my entire life, I knew that my right collar bone was snapped. With my left hand I could feel the two ends of the bone through the skin being quite separate from each other, and I couldn't lift my right arm. I didn't need to be a doctor to make that diagnosis. That was a pretty crappy end to the weekend.

I was taken to the Lakes Regional Hospital in Laconia, where X-rays confirmed that I had a right clavicle fracture. In addition, it was noticed that I had a contusion on my hip that I overlooked earlier. The latter became apparent after I took my leater pants off as I was getting ready to change into my street clothes. There was a protrusion on my right hip that was absurdly large, about the size of a footbal. It really looked quite grotesque. Over the course of the next month, it took heating, pressure and finally three sessions of draining it with a huge needle to make it go away... well, mostly... Man, that thing freaked me out! Never thought that a human body could stretch like that. Eek!

I was lucky to have several of my good friends at the track — Armando and Todne — who with the help from my teammates loaded my my bike on the trailer, packed all my stuff in the car, drove to the hospital to fetch me, and then drove me home. Thanks, guys. You're the best!

Long pause here, as my body takes time to recover...

2004-10-02, Saturday

The primary goal for this weekend being staying upright, I reduced the number of races thatI signed up for by one. This time it was going to be one race on Sunday, and two races on Saturday.

The first race was again a LW Supersport. The most important part is I finished. Out of 18 finishers, I was 11th. No points, again, but that's not a problem. My time had improved markedly since the first weekend's times. My best lap now was 1'30.859", with an average lap time of 1'32.909". That's both, quicker and more consistent. I was quite happy with that.

2004-10-03, Sunday

Two races on Sunday. GTL endurance race, followed by LW Superbike sprint.

This time, the GTL race was not quite as exhausting as it was the last time. I attribute it to the endurance training that I was doing over the summer. I finished 9th out of 13 finishers, with my best lap being a further improvement at 1'30.137". The average lap time was 1'34.086" - worse than before, but I remember making a conscious effort to slow down in the middle of the race. I was enjoying myself too much, and had to remind myself what my real goals were. It was only a bonus that I actually scored 4 points for the 9th place finish. Woo-ptee-hoo! As insignificant as that achievement was, it was certainly not unwelcome.

The LW Superbike race came next. I managed an 8th place finish out of the field of 11. Not a big feat, but it did net me another 5 points. Best lap time was set at 1'30.428", with the average of 1'35.614". I was getting tired indeed, and it was the last race of the weekend for me — no reason to throw it all away then.

The weekend was a success, and I was happy to know that I could pace myself and stay safe next season. But would I? There's a good question. Let's wait and find out.

Ilya out.