Here's how my weekend went.... Friday morning I'm sitting out on pit out waiting for the green flag to drop so I could head out to practice. I had never been to this track before (I didn't watch videos nor did I even know how the track was laid out), I was sitting there on I bike I hadn't ever ridden (Ninja 250), it had brand new unscrubbed Bridgestone tires (Stickboy), and I wasn't running warmers (mine died). PLUS....I hadn't been on track in over a year. I was nervous as shit. So, I head out on track and just start looking around at others and their lines. I made SURE, that I left tons of space around me so that the experienced folks on fast bikes could get around me safely. My pace was terrible. Lol. I didn't have a clue as to where the lines were, or which gear I should be in at what point. I just tried to stay out of the way, while learning the track itself. I rolled in doing like 1:25s. Lolol. Next session was about the same. Learning the layout, staying the hell out of the way, and watching others where they braked at....or not. More on that later. Came in doing low 1:20s. During lunch, both Buras and Eberhart came to my pit and talked to me about lines, objects to aim for, what I should be doing at each corner as far as corner entry, apex, corner exit, etc. That was a huge help because after lunch I started getting down into the 1:18 range. Yeah I know, still slow as shit but I was putting stuff together. Remember...new bike, new track, old dude, long layoff, sometimes it takes a while. So, I pretty much finished the practice day in the same time range, but was finally learning how to put complete laps together. I was starting to find a groove. I actually was pleased with the stuff I learned from my buddies. Come race day, I was nervous again. My first race I bumped up from FSS to ESS to get seat time in at pace. This race was #5. My real race, the FSS race, was race #7. I gridded up at the back of the pack, intentionally, just to be out there at ten laps to get my pace right. I got an average start, and held on to the back of the pack. I started putting together a little bit of a groove as it went along. I made sure I hit my reference points that Eberhart and Buras talked about, and actually started doing some shit. I made a few passes, and got railed on by the SV650s. I safely held my ground, got into a solid pace, and just enjoyed myself. I came in bone dead last, with still slow ass laptimes of like 1:18s. But they were getting consistent. Oh, and I was panting when I came into the pits. Ten laps at that pace whooped me. I think on lap 6 or 7 I was like "Damn, shouldn't this be over yet?" Haha, holy cow, that place will whip you first time out. LOL When I got back to the pits I just jacked the bike up on a rear stand and left it sitting out on the asphalt in the sun, left it running, didn't put warmers on (I did get some for raceday I should have mentioned that my bad), and left it idling because my FSS race was the next race anyhow. I ripped my helmet off, chugged a water, had a smoke (lol), and got ready to go back out. I got a good start in my race even though I started last. I bunched up with the pack and started watching who was railing, and who was failing, and I settled into a spot. I wanted to see how long I could keep Buras and Eberhart in sight but, I got in behind someone who was REALLY parking it in the corners, but yet would find a way to motor me on the straights. Them dudes checked out and I was stuck. Coming down the front straight about to start my third lap, I got tired of having my groove effed up by a parker so coming into turn 1 I did something different. I didn't punk out. I didn't brake nor downshift and I went around the dude on the outside staying hard in the throttle. It was fricking awesome. I had finally overcome my fear of corner entry. I smiled inside my helmet and went by the dude looking at him. lol. So, I gapped that dude and found a good stride. I was laughing inside my helmet the whole rest of the race. When it was over and done with, I was doing 1:15s. Yeah I know, still slow but, look at all the variables. I took 10 seconds off my lap times in one day (with help from my friends obviously). I'm satisfied with one more day of racing I could run CLOSE to a 1:13. Man oh man that was fun as hell. I'm hurting today though. My left thigh is on fire. Haha. Well, there it is. Nothing major really. Old dude riding a new bike on a new track just having some fun. Oh, and I did get third in my race. My first ever expert podium. It beats the hell out of my novice 2nds and 1rsts. I earned my 3rd legit. The end.