Meet Brian Schilt, Novice Racer #977. Brian will be writing a new episode after each race weekend so check back for the next installment!
My first race as a novice:
At the beginning of my first race weekend I was both optimistic and apprehensive. I loaded up my Aprilia Friday after work and drove to Portland. I got to my buddies house and tried to get a good nights sleep for the weekend ahead. I was going to need it.
Saturday morning saw me second in line at the gate very bleary eyed and excited. Registration and tech inspection were races in themselves in order to make the 9:00 a.m. novice check ride. We got our group assignments and headed out to the track. Our sessions went off without a hitch. By 11:00 a.m. we all had become licensed novice racers. I was happy with my practice times and was feeling good about the bike.
Several practice sessions later I found the limit of lean angle in three. I had used my supermotard as a lawn dart. I was following another novice into one and knew I could set up on him in four. As I chased him through three I noticed that I had leaned the bike too far. This was painfully apparent as I was sliding across the asphalt behind my bike. It was a very gentle and smooth slide across the racing surface as I saw my bike connect with the dirt and catapult violently into the air. I remember thinking ďNooooooooo!Ē as it flew about five feet in the air whilst conducting a barrel roll and came down on one bar end. That was the end of my Saturday practice and my first introduction to Blinky. Several hours of dirt removal and some new bars had me track ready again.
Sunday morning brought concerns of tire grip and re-enacting my turn three fiasco. I found a set of takeoffs and had them mounted in time for my first race. As I pulled out of the hot pits on my out lap for middleweight super sport I realized I hadnít checked the tire pressure. Oh no, I was running at beading pressure! I took my place on the grid and decided to take it easy on the first few laps. I did and they felt okay. A little loose, but nothing severe. I finished my race ahead of someone else and felt all right about it.
My second race found me with proper tire pressure but way underpowered on the grid. The 450 super bike class had much faster bikes than I had anticipated. I did my best but my bike began to feel like it wasnít pulling hard after nine laps. I thought maybe I shifted too soon or something, but it just didnít have the power it had at the beginning of the race. I got to the checkers and as we rounded three I got a waving pointing hand from another novice, I looked back and saw smoke. They were just unfurling the debris flag in four when I pulled the clutch and the motor abruptly stopped, not good. I pulled to the outside of four and saw that a sensor had blown from the top of the head and my catch pan had done its job and retained the oil which had soiled my boots but fortunately not the track. So another trip with Blinky, he even remembered where my pit was.
So my Aprilia is a kick to ride, especially on the track, but it just wonít compete with the bikes it classes with. I have an SV650 in the garage and the time has come to prep it. I wanted to do something different, and I did. I donít think I want to be so different now.
See you at the races! Brian Schilt #977