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Middletown Cycle Racing #612 #612 Rob Hancock

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Old 10-05-2009   #1
RJH_5150
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Nelson Ledges 9/26-27

The weather was not on our side most of the weekend. It sure made a lot of racers scratch their head trying to figure out what to do. A lot of them didn’t even show up. As expensive as it was to get the thing up there I am grateful Jeff’s boss let us use his RV. I wish I had gotten some pictures of it because the damn thing was huge. It completely dwarfed my 6X12 trailer. I remember Jeff asking me after we got on I-71 “Is the trailer still back there?” I told him that I didn’t know and to make a sharp turn so I could see. We both quickly agreed that it wouldn’t be the best thing to do at that moment.

We were trying to leave around 2 or 3 Thursday but as usual that didn’t happen. I don’t think we got to Jeff’s work until 5. When we get there DJ (Jeff’s boss) was under the RV working on it. I don’t exactly have a good track record with motor homes so this worried me a little (lot). With all the repairs “done”, all of our gear loaded into the RV and the trailer hooked up, we take off. Well, we made about 20 yards and we figure out that the windshield wipers don’t work. So Jeff jumps out and grabs some fuses. We get about 2 wipes and it blows the fuse again. So we drive all the way up past Mansfield at night, in the rain with no wipers. Jeff drove all the way up there because we both were afraid of my past luck with RV’s. We were both convinced that we would not make if I were behind the wheel. Other than the weather stripping screaming at us if we went over 60mph, one speaker working and the window leaking really bad, the wipers were our only issue until we got off the turnpike. Then the alternator belt started screaming at us. It was bad enough to fill the cabin up with the lovely smell of burnt rubber. We made it to the track without the belt breaking somehow and we were relieved to find out Sunday that it was just a loose belt and the alternator was fine. After pulling in and taking up half the paddock we choose our beds (there were plenty of them) and crash.

Friday was a damn near perfect day. The weather cooperated all day and we got a bunch of track time. I tried making changes all day but ultimately ended up with the same settings I had when I got there. I did change out my brake pads during lunch and was amazed how well the bike rolled and stopped. It screwed me up because I was able to brake much later and not have to squeeze the lever as hard. I about flipped myself over the bars once our twice when I squeezed the lever like I have been all year. It took me damn near all weekend to get use to them. To be honest with you I still don’t think I am use to them yet. The cool thing was that I turned the lever adjuster down to 3 and I had no brake fade all weekend. Vesrah

We spent the rest of the evening making room for all of our friends so they could all pit near us. We had everyone we hang out with taking up the entire north side of the paddock. That made things nice when the rain came in on Saturday because we were all on the asphalt and didn’t have to worry about the mud too much.

Saturday I get up and get registered and get my bike tech’d. I skipped the first practice so I can get the rims with tires I was planning on running the solo 20 with on the bike. I usually do this right before the race. I get it all together and the tires warmed up and head out to hot pit for the second round of practice. I go to pull in the brake lever and it goes right to the bar. I pump it up a couple times and the pressure comes back. I roll a little bit further, grab the lever and the same thing. The lever goes to the bar. I was thinking that the new pads needed to bed themselves into the different rims or something. I go out and do a very slow lap and they don’t get any better. “What the hell, my brakes were perfect yesterday.” I get back to the pits and put my up on the stands. I noticed the problem pretty quickly. “Damnit!, I bent a rotor”. I got really upset with my small trailer because Jeff bent one at Summet last weekend and now one of mine has fell victim to tight packing of the trailer. I really miss the big trailer with the tire rack. Anyway I look to see where it was pulling away from the pad and bent it back with a large adjustable wrench. It wasn’t perfect but it got me through practice.

During lunch I swap some rotors around and get ready for the solo 20. As soon as practice ended it started to drizzle. I think I asked just about everyone in the paddock if I should put my rain tires on. 15 minutes before the race starts the rain picks up. Jeff Kovac walks by and says, “There is your answer for ya”. I slap my rains on, swap out my suit with Jeff’s old one and head out into the rain. When I got to my grid position I ask one of the grid marshals if I was crazy. After a long pause he shook his head, smiled and said no. They through the flag and I got great start. I was leading into turn one and Gary gets around me before 2. That was the first time I rode that bike in the rain so I really didn’t what to expect so took I easy for a few laps. I caught up with Gary about the 8th or 9th lap of the race just about the same time Joe started challenging me for 2nd. He was a lot braver that I in the turns and eventually got by. I remember thinking “You can have it buddy, my bike is coming home in one piece”. He and Gary had a nice little battle and eventually Joe got ahead and pulled a gap. I wanted the race to be over so bad. The last four laps I kept thinking they were going to throw the white flag. On the last lap I was just entering the carousel and saw yellow flags waving. Right out of the exit of the carousel there was Joe and his bike in the mud. I felt really bad for him because he was riding awesome in the rain. I finished 2nd but not quite the way I would have liked it.

It rined all night long. Jeff and I got up Sunday to sound of rain and went back to bed. There wasn’t one expert racer that we knew that went out for practice. We were all scrambling a little to figure out what tires to run. Jeff and I both had new tires mounted, scuffed tires mounted just incase the first race was semi wet and rains ready. There were tires and rims everywhere.

By some crazy miracle the track dried before our races started. There were still some puddles here and there but nothing you couldn’t avoid. The first race I was really nervous for some reason. More so than I have been all season. I think I was worried about bringing bike home in one piece and at the same time wanting to end the season on a high note. Most of my tension went away when I saw Jeff in his bet losing panties. Yes, you heard right, pink panties. See the story and pictures here. We were all in tears. Luckily Jeff did pretty good that race because we would have really made fun of him. He finished 3rd and I was back in 7th.

The second race Jeff and I got perfect starts and it came down to who was braver on the brakes into turn one. I grabbed the inside line and Jeff was forced to the outside. He later thanked me for holding my line because we were right on top of each other. He got around me and I did everything I could to stay with him. I kept him in my sights through the better of 4 laps until I saw Blake come around me into turn 1. He took off after Jeff and there was nothing I could do but watch him pull away. The last lap a rush of emotion flooded in “Holly shit I am still in 3rd place!” I think I told myself don’t screw up 30 times that last lap. I held on and scored my first podium in expert. Jeff kept Blake at bay and won.

Our next race was back to back so I barely had time to go through post tech and go back out for my warm up lap. I got a great start but I couldn’t ride worth a shit. I was so jacked up from the last race that I couldn’t focus. That and I got shoved wide and almost run off the track in 12 did help much either. “Thanks, I just lost 2 positions.” I kept it together and finished 6th. Jeff was 3rd behind Sam Gage and Shawn Conrad. Those three were all running in the 1:08’s that race. Very impressive, especially how green the track was.

We had a little time before the last race started. Which was bad for me because I really didn’t want to think about it. All I wanted to do at this point was bring my bike back in one piece. We took off and once again it was Jeff and I battling into turn one. We get to the carousel and out of nowhere comes Matt Kent with the best drive I have ever seen on to the back straight. I was already full throttle and had nothing for him. I get passed by Blake and Randy a little later. On the fifth lap Blake misses a shift into 13, apparently got a little confused and ran right through the puddle that was on the inside of the turn. I check up to make sure there wasn’t any parts in the track and lost my drive on to the front straight. Stymie passes me into turn one. I get a little frustrated because if I fall back any more places I will loose too many points to Randy in the championship. I chase Stymie for a couple of laps and waited for an opportunity. On the second to the last lap he went a little wide into 12 and I shot past him on the inside. I put my head down and managed to stay ahead of him and finished in 4th. Randy ended up getting Jeff at the end. It’s good thing I got back around Stymie because I would have lost 3rd place in the championship if I wouldn’t have.
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Old 10-05-2009   #2
RJH_5150
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Re: Nelson Ledges 9/26-27

I ended the season on a very high note. I finally got my first podium and finished pretty well in the points as well. I got 3rd in both B superbike and superstock classes and 5th in both C superbike and superstock classes.

Big thanks to all of my sponsors! You guys helped me have a fantastic season.
Middletown Cycle, Cinema Concepts, Worldwide Bearings, 35 Motorsports, NKY Signs, Sharkskinz and of course Localriders.com.

I also need to thank all my friends and family who helped out so much through out the season. My lovely wife has been amazingly supportive. She has kept in line when I got things mixed up. Jeff has been a great race partner. It’s hard to find someone you get along with that is as fanatical about racing as you are. Bill, man the help and support you gave has been second to none. Lastly but definitely not least my folks have been great. I welcoming the break but I but I sure within a month I will ready to get back on the track.
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Old 10-06-2009   #3
Sherpadude
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Re: Nelson Ledges 9/26-27

Great racing Rob, and congrats for a fantastic season! It's always interesting and fun reading your race reports.

Jeff
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Old 10-06-2009   #4
mglisson
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Re: Nelson Ledges 9/26-27

Nice report as usual, Rob...tks for sharing...congrats on a great season!
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Old 10-06-2009   #5
MartyM
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Re: Nelson Ledges 9/26-27

Here are some images from the races.







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