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Waiting for godot


Ottawa Safety Counsil

Mont Tremblant National August 8th - 10th 2003

Dave Writes

Four Days and Three Nights at Mont Tremblant


The weekend was filled with excitement, fun, thrills, spills, and chills (air conditioning was on too high). Meanwhile, our hometown was in the black due to the power outage. If anyone asks where we were during the Black Out of 2003, we'll smile happily and say, "We were racing around one of the nicest road courses in Canada."

Thursday Practice

After attending the riders' meeting and setting up the pits, we were ready for our first practice. It is impossible to describe our excitement about the track. Riders had no idea where the corners turned or what kind of corner came next... it was actually kind of funny to watch all of this. "Boy, these guys are amateurs", I thought to myself as I screwed up the double apex and ran wide. After several laps, the speed picked up. To my amazement, the track was so smooth and fast. I'm not a big kneedragger because of my short, stubby legs but the track inspired confidence to lean to the bike effortlessly. Once the knee touched down, our sliders slide with little resistance because the track was so smooth. I wasn't the only person to notice this. Most of the other racers made the same comment about dragging their knees. We looked like a bunch of kids again, all excited as if we had just scrapped our knee pucks for the first time at the FAST course.

The afternoon practice went equally as well. Everyone ran a little faster and by the end of the day my times had put me right at the qualification cut off point. If they would take the day's practice times, I would have qualified for my first National Amateur 600 race... but they didn't.

After practice we drove to the village of Tremblant and checked into the condo. It was beautiful... two full bathrooms, A/C, a full kitchen for Cathy to do her magic and cable to watch the rioting during the Great Black Out of 2003.

Friday Morning

After a good night's sleep, even after the late night catfight between Dan and Pat over sleeping arrangements, we sat down for an excellent breakfast and prepped for day two. Dan, Pat and I decided to sign up for the ASM Superbike class as well since the class entry fee with the
Friday practice was a measly $125. For those of you that don't know, this is an awesome price. We sometimes get hosed and pay that amount just for the Friday practice.

The morning ASM practice started off a little scary. About half of the riders in the practice had not had the advantage of the Thursday practice so they were quite shaky while other riders were going very fast. The practice felt good for me but Pat had an incident with a slower rider crashing in front of him and thus causing Pat to crash as well... CRASH #1, we'll call it. A cheap practice just got a little expensive for Pat. Oh well, better him than me! The National 600 practice was a little better. I managed to do one of my fastest laps chasing down Pat on his now tweaked F2. I would actually turn out to be my fastest lap of the weekend.

Friday Afternoon

Practice was non-existent due to a big crash that ripped a hole in the air fence. With the large delay, they decided to pack it in and call it a day. We did manage to sneak in a quick ASM practice before the incident so it wasn't a complete waste of the afternoon. I was one of the lucky ones that decided to change my tires early. I wanted fresh rubber before the National 600 Amateur practice but now I was ready for Saturday instead. Everyone else scrambled to get their tire changes in after the cancellation announcement.

The nighttime activities were interesting as well. Pat's wife and his friend joined us for the weekend. I had a very brief chance to tour a bit of the Tremblant Village. Unfortunately, the village is nice and it does mimic a European town a little but it still doesn't hold a candle to Europe... nice try however. Perhaps it's all the rich people running around in Tremblant that makes me feel uneasy. In Europe, the town would be filled with regular people and I think that gives it the genuine feeling.

Saturday Morning

After another breakfast fit for Royalty, we headed for the track. This was the big day... practice and then qualifying. The rain clouds hung overhead and then started to open up. I quickly ran to the Michelin man to get my tires changed from my dry Dunlops to Michelin wets. In doing so, the clouds dissipated and the rain stopped... I had saved the day for all the racers!

The track was fine for our first practice but several corners were wet or very damp. This slowed everyone down except for Pat. He continued to lap like a mad man until his highside out of the chicane... CRASH #2 for Pat. The good news was that it was the first time on his left side. It helped to even out the looks of his bike. Pat did his usual repairs and we were ready for the National practice. They had broken down the groups into A and B. Pat, Alan and I were in the A group for slow and challenged racers. Dan was in the B group for ugly, less attractive riders.

After a decent group A practice, I was on the cool down lap only to have Pat flag me down on the back straight. He had run out of gas during practice. Once again, I'm reminded of Mosport when I had to drive his Sunfire off-road to help him gas up his bike. Pat's been using a new system when it comes to fueling... only put enough in to make the session... unless you forget that is. Then you just run out of fuel. I gave Pat a lift back to the pits but I had to drop him off early... he's a rather fat bastard. I let everyone in our pits know that Pat was all right and it wasn't a crash... just forgetfulness on Pat's part.

Saturday Qualifying

For the ASM Superbike qualifying heat race, Pat and Dan were in one race and I was by myself in the other. Dan had managed to get some points at a ASM round so he had a decent starting position. Pat and myself had zero points, it was my first ASM race in 2003, and so we had a beautiful back of the grid position for qualifying. My heat race was up first. When I lined up at the back of the grid, I had a great view of the riders in front of me. I recognized a couple of bikes that were slower than I was in practice... it was starting to look good. I was starting from the 25th position or something like that and they were taking the first 20 riders. I had a chance; all I had to do was pass 5 riders I keep telling myself. Then Bowker lined up one position over... great, I've got to pass 6 riders now since he'll blow by me and I'll be one position down. When the 5-lap heat race started, I was the last out of the chicane... I really didn't want to stuff my bike in that mess. I watched a couple of riders go off or missed the chicane... just a simple case of too riders in one small space. As the laps went on, I managed to pass one or two riders but got stuck behind a group of 4 guys. I managed a last corner hairpin pass on the guy in front of me but I didn't think I made the cut. Back in the pits, I was happy to hear that I placed 18th. Whoopee, I'll be racing Sunday! Dan and Pat qualified for their ASM Superbike race as well... Dan did well and Pat placed 17th in his race... the bastard!

The National 600 qualifying was a different story. The handsome Group A riders were up first. Pat, Alan and I went out to do some laps. We tried to find the fast guys that could pull us along in qualifying but they were no were to be found. I ended up getting stuck with some slower riders and really messed up when I nearly lost it in the hairpin. I was going in too fast and lifted my back wheel under some hard braking. Settling the bike after that lost me valuable time and I was passed by a lot of riders... there goes that fast lap I had hoped for. I just never got in the groove and returned to the pits dejected. Then I noticed Pat and Alan parked at pit lane. Pat had crashed at the hairpin and his bike looked pretty twisted. That's number 3 for those of you counting at home. The interesting part was that Pat's entire family had come up to watch him race... and they were watching the hairpin. The cool part is that his crash was completely captured on digital video. I'm sure his crash will make the highlight video for Team Shoulder Check. Watch for the Team Shoulder Check Year in Review to be aired this fall. As we believed, Pat, Alan and I didn't make the qualifying. Dan was fast enough to qualify but his problem was that he needed to go faster to be a threat to the leaders.

Saturday Night

Cathy went back to the condo to prepare meals while Alan started packing up. It was at that time, the Parts Canada guys came looking for Pat. It seems that Pat picked up enough point to qualify as a "Promoter's Choice" and he'd be racing the next day. Alan started stripping down the F2 he was riding and replaced the broken bits on Pat's F2. I tried to help but realized that it looked like too much work and I didn't know anything about F2's. Actually, Pat had mysteriously disappeared once the work started and I figured if he wasn't working on his own bike, I wasn't going to do it for him. He later stated that he was off getting his leathers repaired by Bickle. Alan completed the parts exchange for Pat. I guess it was Alan's way of thanking Pat for the use of Pat's second F2... or something weird like that. After I watched Alan perform the repairs, we packed up and went back to the condos for dinner... hmmm, another wonderful dinner.

Sunday Morning

It was time to say good-bye to the condo and the luxury we knew as knew it. Stealing as many towels and soaps as we could, we packed up and hit the track. Morning practice was going to be interesting. Many of our fellow instructors and friends had come up to watch us on the Sunday. Pat and I decided to take the ASM session as an opportunity for some photos. It was fun and relaxing for what would be one of our final sessions at Tremblant. If it got any more picturesque, Pat and I would have to ride around holding hands.

After practice, I had loads of time to hang out and watch some racing... it was fun being a normal person. Except for the fact that I had access to the nice bathrooms under the newly constructed tower... the other washrooms were sickening.

Sunday Afternoon

It had threatened to rain all afternoon but it held out for the Amateur National and Pro 600 race. The skies opened up for the Pro Superbike race however... it was interesting to watch but it also put fear in our eyes. We were up right after the Pro's for our Superbike race. We all looked at each other and decided it wasn't worth crashing. Then Steve Plummer made his comment, "We drove all this way to watch you guys race. If we had wanted to watch Dan race, we could do that anytime. We came up to watch Pat and Dave race. Oh yeah, I expect a wave each time you guys come by here." With those words of encouragement (I think Steve just wanted to see us crash into each other), Pat and I agreed and started breaking out the rain slicks. Pat was lucky and had the happy pit crew changing his tires. I ended up with the short end of the straw and got one of the grumpiest pit guys in the world in Rich Peillard. He complained about everything from my lock wire to my lock wire pliers. I think he really wanted a hug but his foul odour stopped me from doing that... I just let him complain.

A Race of Comedies  

After getting our gear on after the tire change, Pat and I were late getting to the starting grid. The ASM officials had closed the gates to the track but quickly opened them up as Pat and I approached. We quickly realized that the other riders were already doing their warm up lap so we sped off in the slippery conditions. As we approached the start/finish line, we didn't see any bikes or riders. Pat and I thought they had started the race without us so we started racing. We knew they couldn't have been too far ahead so we pushed as fast as we could. After several scary moments of sliding through the corners, we finally caught one of the riders at the hairpin. He was pitting but we knew the others were close. We accelerated like banshees to the start/finish line only to see all the riders on the starting grid. That's when we realized it was a two lap warm up. We slammed on the brakes hard and overshot our 35th and 36th positions on the starting grid... oops. We calmly pushed our motorcycles back and wait for the lights to go green.

It appears that only half the grid showed up to race in the rain. This would make the first corner a little easier to bare but it was still chaos. After the chicane things started to work out but these guys were going slow and Pat and I were just riding around looking for good places to overtake. We saw several riders fall in the rain and nearly lost our front-end due to some puddles that caused our front tires to hydroplane. As we rounded the hairpin corner, Pat and I dutifully waved that the people that encouraged us to race. As the race progress, the rain came down really hard as we lapped at a comfortable pace while passing riders and waving to the crowd. It turned out to be lots of fun because we were just riding around.

Pat got caught up with some slower riders and I took off with an R1, number 42. We passed more riders and eventually, I saw Michel Grenier (#95) ahead of me. I knew he was quick and probably in the top ten. I wanted to finish in the top ten so I pushed a little harder and out braked him in the hairpin. Realizing Michel wouldn't like that, I wanted to put a rider between us so I knew I had to pass #42. It was an R1 so it was rather difficult, the only thing I could do was carry more speed in a corner and go around him. That's an easy thing to do in the dry but it was raining and this is my first time on rain slicks. I mustarded up enough guts and carried my speed through the double apex before the "Hump". He didn't pass me back on the straight so I knew I was clear and I actually caught up to the rider ahead of us.

After doing my wave to the gang because they were waving very frantically, I crossed the start/finish line and received the last lap flag. I decided to slow down and take it easy... I had been battling a visor fogging problem all race. The duct tape that preventing my fogging was lifting so it prevented air from circulating and clearing my visor. As the final lap went on, I kept the bike up and opened my visor full so I could see. I crossed the finished and was really happy about my top ten finish so I waved to everyone on my cool down lap.

When I came into pit row, I was stunned that I was alone except for the guy that was in front of me... and he was getting the checkered flag stuffed in his boot. That's rather odd I thought. As I approached the track exit, Alan came up to me and said, "You finished second!" I hesitated for a moment and everything started to make sense as the pieces fell into place... kind of like Memento when you see the last 10 minutes of the movie. I replied with, "What the F-k?" As I rode up to the pits, they told me they were trying to signal me that I was up with the leaders... and I thought they were waving. Pat arrived at the pits just as dazed as I was... he had finished 6th. The ironic thing was that I'm sure Pat and I did our fastest lap of the race in the second lap of the warm up when we thought they had started without us. If we had continued that pace, it would have been and easy one, two podium finish for Team Shoulder Check.

Anyways, I'd like to thank all the people that came out and encouraged us to have some fun racing in the rain. Thanks to grumpy, smelly Rich for the speedy tire change, thanks to Todd from Parts Canada for giving me a visor and hat, and thanks to Mario from MD Motorcycles for the advice on tuning before the wet race. "Mario, should I change anything?" I asked. He replied with, "No." That's all... see you in Shannonville!

Dave "The First Loser" Fong
AM #28





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