Racing: Cadwell Park, NLR Round 2.

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Second race last weekend at Cadwell Park - a track I know - ish. Overall, it went really well - day 2 especially. Got stuck in with some battles and even a 3 way photo finish. I'm a long way off my former pace and personal best, but, what can you do. I have had a long time off the bike.

Test day

Best lap time: 1.47.289 (unofficial)

The test day was weird. The GP originals were in with us, so it just caused massive traffic everywhere and led to people making stupid, rash overtaking decisions. So, predictably, plenty of red flags.

I managed a one off 1.47.289, but honestly, most were consistently in the 1.48/1.49 range.

Happy with that, all things considered.

First race day

The endurance race was on in the afternoon, so we only had one sprint race today.

Bit manic through the first few corners.

Qualifying 1: Did alright

Qualified: 24th of 37
Lap time: 1:49.490 (lap 5 of 6)

I just wanted to get through qualifying without doing anything stupid. Was more than happy to start in a place where I was surrounded by people doing lap times I was comfortable with.

Race 1: Steady away

Started: 24th of 37
Finished: 23rd
Best lap time: 1.46.545 (lap 8 of 9)

Really enjoyed the first race and got into the spirit of it. Made a tentative start, did some overtaking and got overtaken - standard stuff.

My biggest concern with racing was my fitness and that I always seemed to peak early - always doing my fastest laps on the 2nd or 3rd lap, before dropping off by up to 5 seconds per lap. Not ideal.

In the race though, even though I was knackered, arms throbbing and with painful hands, things changed.

I had clear track in front, but could feel a couple of bikes behind me - and having a cheeky look at their pit boards, could see that they were P24. I wanted to stay north of that.

On lap 5 or 6 I had a few quick looks behind and knew I was quicker through sector 1, and they were quicker through sector 2.

So I kept pushing on sector 1, and made myself as wide as possible through sector 2. Seemed to work - that's when I did my fastest lap (on lap 8 of all things) - and finished in front.

Happy days.

Second race day

Family and friends turned up for support. The weather had picked up again, but was forecast to rain in the afternoon.

#19 was up my ass all day... and I loved it ;)

Qualifying 2: Wet mess

Qualified: 24th of 34
Lap time: 1:55.859 (lap 5 of 5)

It had rained through the night and dried out, so I went out on dry tyres.

As it turned out, the track was actually wet most of the way round - only Chris Curve was dry. Wasn't very confidence inspiring seeing the spray flicked up from everyone on wets.

I was dead last doing north of 2 minute laps and considering pulling in - but noticed the chequered flag was out on my way to the mountain, so decided to just finish the lap I was on.

Glad I did, knocked 6 or so seconds off that lap and qualified decently.

30 mins later, it was bone dry. Typical.

Race 2: Photo finish

Started: 27th of 38
Finished: 18th
Best lap time: 1:46.259 (lap 10 of 10)

Focused more on the start this time. Based on race 1, I knew if I got away well I could make up some ground, and try to get a tow off someone closer to the pointy end.

It worked pretty well, I gained a few places through the first few corners, and started chipping away from there. Got past a few bikes before finding myself at a gap.

Fading towards the end again, I could see the gap to the bike in front getting smaller, but also feel another bike closing in on me.

Going down into Mansfield, I'd closed right up and planned to make my move in sector 1, thinking we had another lap to go.

It wasn't to be, I saw the chequered flag was out already. I tried to pass into the chicane and hairpin - making a mess and failing both times.

Come Barn, the last corner. I showed him a wheel and run a tighter line both to attempt an overtake and to defend the bike on my wheel.

Managed to get it moving pretty well out the corner and we were three abreast across the line, elbow to elbow.

We crossed the line within 0.067 of each other. I just managed to pip them both, and snag 18th by 0.034.

Fucking loved it.

Race 3: Gapped

Started: 23rd of 36
Finished: 18th
Best lap time: 1:45.446 (lap 3 of 6)

Tried another decent start, but couldn't quite get where I needed to be into turn 1. I managed to maintain my start position though.

The field spread out quite quick, but the gaps in my group were relatively consistent. I pushed on, plucked away and managed to pick up a few places to the front of the group before opening up a huge gap behind me of 8 seconds.

I just started making progress on the gap to 17th before the race was red flagged, so I bagged another 18th.

We got pretty lucky with it really, it started raining just as we pulled in.

Again, loved it.

Race 4: Nope

I would have started 20th of 38 - but didn't.

Knackered with blistered hands and (at the time) the weather looked sketchy decided to call it a day.

The weather eventually picked up, but I was happy to assume the role of spectator at that point - which turned out to be a common opinion. Only 26 started and 20 finished.

Conclusion

Well happy. Loved every minute. I'm defiantly chipping away and returning to where I once were. It's starting to feel familiar. Never forget do you, it's like riding a bike.

It was a long, hard few days for everyone involved. I keep reminding myself how incredibly selfish thing it is to partake in, but also amazing what kind of support you get. Family and friends sacrificing their time to spectate and give moral support - and in one special case, come for the entire time to spanner.

Thanks Phil <3.