The annual race pilgrimage to warmer climates, in search of track temperatures at least half compatible with a set of Pirelli SBK tyres, hasn’t occurred this year for obvious reasons, and oh man am I missing it. Even in 2020, the foreign test season managed to just sneak itself in, so this is the first time in as long as I can remember (in my professional racing career, anyway) that it hasn’t happened. It’s kind of odd because those initial trips abroad to start my physical preparations (usually about a month before testing) always act as the lighting of the touch paper in respect of my race season getting underway.
Instead, I feel like I have just been burning my own wick almost constantly – without the flame ever lighting. Hours upon hours on the indoor trainer and having lots of very lonely training sessions to contend with... without yet getting that sensation of actually going racing any time soon. I’ve managed to keep the motivation but it’s hard going sometimes. However, all that changed just the other week when I went to the PBM workshop to visit the team for the very first time this year. Seeing my beautiful Visiontrack Ducati on the work bench and sitting down for a brew with the small crew currently on site was all it took to get that fire to light. It was a much-needed kick and a fantastic realisation that very soon I’ll be back doing what I absolutely love!
One of the things I have missed about not doing the foreign tests is that whole bonding thing with the team. You usually head abroad after a winter of seeing very little (if anything) of each other, and then spend all but a month solid living in each other’s pockets in a very high pressure situation. It’s something that can become volatile at times, but that’s what helps you gain that real team spirit in getting to know each other so intimately.
The whole test thing will still happen, of course, but not quite to the same extent. We will be swapping the Spanish/Portuguese warming sun for our questionable British climate as BSB has this year (for the first time) put in place a fairly comprehensive pre-season test schedule.
That also means we will probably be heading home between the tests too, so the team bonding ‘rest days’ won’t be so prevalent but I’m retaining all but one of my 2020 crew, so I will just have one new guy to get acquainted to during the tests.
Anyway, I’m just so glad to have finally reached that sense of the race season being upon us. The ‘everyday’ has been starting to get a little bit ‘everyday’. I mean, I have been keeping myself super busy. I’m probably the busiest I’ve ever been in a very long time as I try to shoehorn a lot of pie-fingering in before the start of racing but, expectedly, of course, nothing seems to fill that void in life that racing fills. I haven’t yet found a way to generate that same level of excitement that racing brings me, and even the anticipation for racing is now starting to fill up that gap.
So that is it, guys. Finally, by the next instalment, I’ll have some actual bike action to talk to you about. I will have finished up my personal training sessions that have been occupying most of my time lately, and fingers crossed my new home gym will be fully operational after a little setback when I found the entire roof of the garage needed replacing! I’ll finally be back to ripping laps on the MX bike and getting set for testing to begin. Bring on the days when the everyday isn’t quite so ‘everyday’…