Going Back To The Basics

Wondered what a racer does after a not-so-good race? This is what a former national champion suggests

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“There is no such thing as a perfect race”, quipped H K Pradeep, seeing my dismayed face after finishing fifth in the first race of the TVS Young Media Race Program. It was a tough pill to swallow, given that I was the second fastest on the grid during the selection round.

This time, the race-spec TVS Apache RTR 200 4Vs were armed with lighter rear wheel and a sticky 110 section tyre instead of the 130 section unit we used while training. The bike would now dive into corners a bit more enthusiastically, but the 15 minute practice session didn’t inspire enough confidence, and I not only qualified fifth but retained the same spot in the race as well.

“When nothing else works, go back to the basics,” Pradeep was quick to advise. The former eight-time national champion’s wisdom took time to sink in, but in retrospect, made it easier to understand where I faltered and what could have made me faster.

Five seconds. That’s all one has, before the lights go off, and the racers dart for the first corner to assert their domination in the race. While I didn’t botch up the launch, my reaction time was a tad slower, giving other riders an edge over me in the very first lap.

A couple of overtakes and corners later, I found myself battling for the fourth spot and the rider ahead of me went off the tarmac, which was a grand invitation for me to take up his spot. However, my road riding instincts kicked in, and instead of taking the outer line, I ended up dropping anchor, anticipating that his crash would take me down as well.

Having seen other racers crash, including one in our race over the course of the weekend, instilled the fear of crashing into me too. At times, seeing the skid marks, I would involuntarily end up going slower than I would have usually gone around on that corner.

But having seen those crashes, and witnessing riders get back on their feet, pick up their motorcycles and resume racing, instilled the same spirit in me. I went in too hot in a couple of corners, losing time, but in the consequent laps, bolted through them faster and with more determination. Eventually, it became a fight not just with others, but with myself.

The skinny tyres which I was getting accustomed to, slowly became my ally. In fact, over the course of two days, my lap time went down from 2:34.118 in the practice to 2:25.716 in the race, which was faster than the three riders ahead of me.

The race result wasn’t satisfactory, and clocking better lap times didn’t help much too. But as the Dark Knight’s butler once said, “Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up again.” The next round is over a month away… enough to practice and clinch the victory once again for ZigWheels, and myself.

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