Mike Daugherty - Round 3

Round 3, or, Simply Awful.

I’d love to make this report about 2 sentences long. I was not able to go to the Friday practice day at Pueblo Motorsports Park due to a work conflict. I arrived Friday night during a drag race event, which was definitely a…different crowd. Several days earlier I had broken one of the two big bolts holding the motor in the frame (there were 4 altogether). We took a look, and Phil attempted to drill it out with no success. There was no way I was going to withdraw, so I was just going to have to run it and hope the motor stayed in. Phil: “It’ll be fiiiiine! Just don’t crash.”

I therefore had to go into Saturday morning’s practice session without ever having seen the track, aside from a diagram Coop grudgingly let me look at (“Maybe go buy your own”). Practice, as usual, was spent following Dave, who disappeared immediately after the first lap. I suddenly felt deep loneliness. The turn entries were mysterious. The exits each harbored an ancient evil that called to me from the dirt on the outside of the turn. It wanted me to be with it. Twice I ran off the track as I took the corners too wide, although I stayed up and managed to get back on the track. I returned from the practice and went behind a truck and wondered why I’d ever been born.

During the first race, Novice GTU, an Apex Troll (vicious) ripped off my right knee puck. Naturally this was a clockwise track, and I put that knee down way more than my left. Each time it touched the asphalt the fuzzy Velcro where the puck should have been stuck to the track like glue, jerking me to the right and sucking all the speed out of each turn. Passed, passed, passed. I came back to the pit and might have cried, except that I had a large hole where the knee of my suit had been, and I had minutes to get ready for the next race. Cooper later said if I would have cried he would have told me to “put those tears back in your eyes”, so whew, lucky me. Kevin grabbed me an old puck and I affixed it to my knee with a small shred of remaining Velcro and one little teardrop that I’d hidden from the world.

Next up was Formula 40. This one felt better. More confident and aggressive, I passed in Turn 7 on the outside. Unfortunately I strayed too close to the Ancient Evil, whose song I’d managed to escape. I glanced at the edge of the track and immediately low-sided and tumbled head over boot. And, the other knee puck got ripped off. Passed, passed, passed. I had DNF’d F40 and slide down who knows how many slots. The crash cart came and got me and the bike and rode off to the pit. The guys helped me clean the bike off, and it didn’t look too bad. And the motor was still in! Who needs 4 engine attachment bolts? I wondered if maybe I could go ahead and take out another one! Let’s save some weight! Just kidding. We made some adjustments, tied some things together, and went back through tech. I managed to race Novice GTO without feeling too bad, except I ran off the track again and got back on. Then Middleweight Endurance, not bad, except I once again went off and got back on. Open Endurance was canceled due to rain.

Adding insult to injury, a HUGE rainstorm proved that rain flys only work if the fly is staked out from the tent (the ground was asphalt and wouldn’t take stakes). My bedding, all my clean clothes, and everything else were full of water. I slowly took every piece out and hung it up. Thank you Chris Jaech for setting me up a nice bed in his truck. I slept well.

Sunday was nominal. I ran Amateur GTU and Amateur GTO. The times weren’t very good, but I didn’t go down again, and my knee pucks stayed on. I’d dialed things so far back that I was just happy nothing went wrong. Flat is the new up.

I am discouraged. I started the season strong and confident, and now I’m sliding downward. I’m taking everyone’s advice and trying to apply it, but I’m doing a poor job. I’m inconsistent, I’m fixating, my shifting is bad, and so is my body position. I guess I’m just going to keep showing up and trying to change something.

Thanks very much to Phil, Brandon Postlewait, Kevin, Coop, and everyone who helped me pick myself and the bike up and keep going.