It hasn’t been plain sailing so far in practice week and although it feels like I’m going a million miles an hour when I’m out on the track, the reality is I’m not! When I came in last night and the team told me I’d done 124mph, I was convinced they were counting wrong and couldn’t work out their stop watches or the live timing as it felt like a 127-128mph lap.
I seemed to have hit a wall with the speeds I’m doing and people are passing me like I’m a club racer. I’m obviously a few years older than I was in 2019 and I haven’t been racing much – which I’m definitely paying for – but it’s not going as well as I thought so far. At the moment, I’m really good until I get to the corners.
We’re struggling a bit for bike performance and I’m not riding the bike like I need to. My brain’s telling me what I need to do, like letting the brake off, but the hand isn’t doing it. I’m braking way too early and then not letting the brake off so that hesitancy is obviously slowing me down a bit.
I need to find more rhythm and more flow and be less hesitant. I also need to be less hard on myself as some of my laps have been interrupted by crashes and the like plus we’ve also been experiencing a bit of fuel starvation which we haven’t got to the bottom of yet. That’s the TT though and everyone has their various little issues to work through.
At the same time, it’s easier to find more time from 124mph than it is at 130mph and we’ve three full sessions to go so I just need to keep putting the laps in and build things up so that it all clicks in time for the first race.
As a team manager, there’s also a lot to think about and the days of just turning up and jumping on the bike have gone. There’s lots going on and lots to think about, particularly in these early days, so everything just needs to bed down. Once that happens, I’ll be able to concentrate more on my riding.
Some riders are also able to be quick straightaway too but then others are more slow burners. Dean and Pete obviously come into the first category whilst others, like me, are in the latter. On the one hand, you need to just focus on what you’re doing but on the other you can’t help but be drawn into what others are doing especially if they come by you on track.
I’ve been setting off first or second each night and some real doers, like Dean, have caught me pretty early which sets you back a bit. But that’s when you have to remind yourself that he’s capable of doing a 134-135mph lap. I’m realistic and know that I’m not.
Like I say, I just need to keep putting in the laps between now and the first race. The more laps you do, the more rhythm you find and the more comfortable you get. I’ve been doing it long enough to know how this place works.