My first live bike race

Silverstone is looking glorious in the sunshine and I’m getting more excited by the minute. The reason for my trip: my first ever bike race.

When I said that I wanted to attend some more racing events this year, I didn’t quite expect myself to be watching the opening rounds of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship just a week and a bit later. Alas, that’s where I found myself on a beautiful Easter Sunday. And boy, what a day it was.

I’m no bike expert – my knowledge is severely lacking when it comes to the technicalities and regulations. All I knew was to expect something thrilling. I’m pleased to say that the thrill factor delivered beyond all previous hopes.

I arrived at the circuit at half past eight in the morning, and already the queues to get in were long. This was a good sign; it was going to be a good day.

I trundled over to Copse, still in awe of the magical surroundings. I calculated that this was my eighth trip to the home of British motorsport, and it still felt just as spectacular as the first.

I explored the paddock, being surprised at how open the teams were. They wanted to make the experience best for the fans, and this was enforced once more by the pit lane walk held later that morning.

Thanks to Sam at TSL Timing – the company that time pretty much most events on the motorsport calendar – I got to see how the races were started and ran from race control and the time keeper’s room.  I have been a fan of motor racing for over a decade now, but still – perhaps naively – I didn’t realise how much of a vital role the timekeepers play.

The bike racing itself was phenomenal. The speed those guys went…wow. I just kept on muttering every time they went past. The leans, the cornering, the sheer amount of balls they had. It was incredible. 

The last lap incident in the opening BBSB race had everyone gasping. I couldn’t believe that the racing had been pushed this far. It was on the limits. Truthfully, this is how competing should always be. Yet, with superbikes, this was more evident than ever.

This leads me on to some things I learnt from this day.

Firstly, expect the unexpected. Just when it looked like the front runners had been decided, a crash would change everything. Take the drama between Tarran Mackenzie and Jason O’Holloran – before the day I wouldn’t have expected the race leader to be out of the race on the final lap.

Secondly, the riders astonished me. The way they drove gave me goosebumps – as well as causing my heart to be in my mouth. It was shocking to see how they’d get up and walk away from big impact accidents. I wouldn’t be brave enough to sit on a bike, let alone push 110 mph. Quite simply, bike racing is bravery taken to a whole new level and I have the utmost respect for the riders after seeing what they do in the flesh.

Fun in the sun: bike racing at Silverstone

Finally, the sound is extremely special. Motorsport always produces excellent sounds and smells, but it was different this time. It was loud and it was raw. I loved it.

My first experience of live bike racing was fantastic. As always after a full-on day at the track, I was drained, with blisters and ringing ears. However, the event was incredibly good and yes, I have fallen hook, line and sinker for the art of bike racing.

So, one thing is for certain: I’ll be watching more two wheeled action in the future. Does anyone want to join me?

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