The few days leading up to my first race weekend were strange, I didn’t feel very nervous and it seemed a lot further away than it actually was, but as the Friday started, we had an early morning drive to Brands Hatch and the nerves had definitely started to kick in now.
The first few sessions went very well, lowering my lap times and the bike felt great. Due to my lack of experience though, I was starting to get tired and the next couple of sessions remained at a steady pace.
When we took the bike for scrutineering, it highlighted an issue with the head stock bearing, we feared it may be worn and we didn’t have a spare. With only a couple of hours left in the day and an early morning qualifying session the next, we took the decision to drive to Romford to get another while Paul started stripping the bike to get it ready to replace, however our worries were not needed as it was simply just done up too tight. We did go and buy the spare though.
Saturday came around, I knew a lot of family and friends were coming to wish me well and watch. My Grandma arrived and once again, told me something that settled my nerves all weekend. She said that in her bible reading this morning, she read Isiah 43v5: ‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you’.
Next was Qualifying.
I went out and again the bike felt good but my time wasn’t quite where it was the day before and it meant we started in 16th place. At the end of the session we are allowed to do a practice start, which I had been looking forward to as it’s something I’m more familiar with from my trials experience. It didn’t go to plan… I tried slightly higher revs to start with, which launched the front wheel into the air, then trying to calm the front down I change into second but accidentally knocked it into neutral, so made me feel slightly uneasy about the real thing that was coming in a couple of hours.
When race 1 was called, all my nerves came pouring back in. I lined up on the grid and had a great start, going from 16th to 10th. I struggled to hold onto 10th in the first couple of laps and dropped back to 13th. Through the course of the race I managed to overtake a few people back up to 10th place which is where I finished.
It was a ridiculous feeling, I was so happy and seeing the excitement on Paul’s face was amazing. We were all buzzing ahead of the next race.
At lunch time on the Saturday, Paul gave a great talk to our friends and families about what we’re here to do and who we are. We had been sharing what we do with lots of people over the weekend and the feedback was encouraging.
Race 2 came along, starting in 13th (as it’s done in time order), again I had another good start, getting straight into 8th place. After a few battles I managed to get another 10th place finish which amazed me. We were all so happy and really pleased with the progress we had made. All of us were very excited for the Sunday.
There were another 2 races on the Sunday and again, we were really pleased with how they went. Race 3, I started in 13th and again got a great start up to 8th. chasing people ahead of me really pushed me forward and my time lowered to a 57.7 with my best place of the weekend as 9th!
The final race of the weekend was wet and having never ridden on race wets before, I was rather nervous as it was in a racing situation. I started in 10th this time and again got a good start to 8th, but my lack of experience meant that a few came past me quite quickly. It was great to get some time and practice out on the tyres and overall I was happy with an 11th place finish.
These results have put me in 9th place in the championship which I am very pleased about. I am thoroughly looking forward going to Cadwell Park in a couple of week’s time. We will be sharing our space with a fellow Christian rider Mike Jackson, who we are all very excited to meet. If you know of any church groups local to Cadwell, please put us in touch with them as we’d love to see some come along.