Speedweek Almeria Spain 2018

Tuesday 27 November. Journey to Spain
At last the day I've been waiting for for some time: start of the Speedweek.

The Speedweek (aka Meet the Speed) is a motorcycle racing course organised by Wilco Zeelenberg, a well known figure in the MotoGP racingscene: former coach of Jorge Lorenzo and Maveric Viñales and now teammanager of the SIC Yamaha MotoGP Team. Together with some very experienced riders like Patrick van der Goorbergh (former motorcycle racing driver, now Eurosport commentator) and Henk van der Mark (father of WSBK racer Michael van der Mark and still active as -classic- racing driver), he tries to teach experienced and less experienced (like me) amateur racers to go faster on the track.

Last Saturday we brought our bikes to a distribution center where the were put into 3 trucks which would bring them to Spain. There I met René again who would accompany me with his H2.

This Tuesday the group was flying to Allicante Spain and had to take a 2,5 hour trip by coach to the end destination Mojácar near the circuit of Almería.
After a boring an luckily eventless trip we arrived in the evening at our very nice hotel Punta del Cantal.
My room had a nice view over the Mediterranean.

Wednesday 28 November. First trackday at Almería
In the morning we took a coach to the circuit, a 45 minute ride from our hotel. The weather was perfect, as it would be the whole week.
At the Almería circuit we unpacked the bikes and put them with the rest of our stuff in the pit boxes.
There were in total 72 bikers to follow the course, accompanied by about a dozen of instructors and about the same number of support personnel, so it was quite a busy place.
The riders were divided into different groups depending on their experience: group A for the very experienced, B1-4 for the experienced and C1-4 for the learners. I started in group C3 and ended at the end of the course in group B4, so I guess I made some progress...

That day we rode 5 sessions of 20 minutes each. The circuit of Almería is quite technical and has some challenging blind corners. Pretty soon that day two riders went down and had to be checked in a hospital. One had leg injuries and rode again on the last day of the course, the other had shoulder problems and didn't ride again that week.
For me all went fine and I came to realise that in that company I was one of the slower riders, or put differently, had to learn a lot. My position on the bike e.g. still sucked, hindering my cornering speed.

Thursday 29 November. Second trackday
The second day we continued where we left off: riding 6 sessions this time. We started with a track reconnaissance by foot. Jurgen told us how to take each corner, very informative.

I bought two sets of Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC2, as recommended by Wilco. Even after two trackdays the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2's that were on the bike to start with, still looked pretty good.

After the last sesson I started to get better acquainted with the circuit and I ended this day with quite some muscle ache in my upperlegs.

Friday 30 November. Last trackday at Almería
The day started chilly and it was decided that we would skip the first session for safety reasons.
For the other sessions we drove our laps behind the instructor and sometimes were allowed to pass to try it on our own. Without an experienced rider up front the circuit looked quite different and you had to find your own way. With my riding style I reached the lean limit of the tires and I really, really had to shift my position more to stay safe. I tried as good as I could with my old bones and got more or less the hang of it, but it took quite some effort.
At the end of the day we had to pack our things again because the next day we would start at another circuit, that of Andalucia, about 200 meters from the circuit of Almería.
While we were packing another group of motorcycles riders arrived to take our place.

Saturday 1 December. Rest day
After three tiring trackdays we got a rest day before we would start at the other circuit.
I took it very easy, lying a bit in the sun, exploring the village and having a good lunch with some other riders.

I didn't participate in the go kart race some other went to, fearing mayhem and more muscle ache. Listening at the stories afterwards I'm sure I made the right decision.

Sunday 2 December. Ciruit of Andalucia
The circuit of Andalucia is technical, like Almería, and has two blind corners too.
I had the Rosso Corsa's replaced by the SC2's. Not because the Corsa's were completely worn, but because I wanted to try the SC's.

Everything went fine until the 4th session. We were allowed to try the circuit on our own again and I eagerly went forward. Until the first blind corner, without someone in front of me I totally misjudged the bend and went straight into the very fine sand. Luckily I could get out again, cleaned my tires and went ahead as if nothing had happened. Until that same corner on the next lap: I again misjudged it (I know, how?, why?, stupid!!) and dove into the sand. Again. This time the bike lost more speed and fell over, me biting the dust. The bike had quite some scratches and a piece of the left fairing broke. The session had to be stopped to dig me out of the sand. Sorry for that...

The bike was brought to the workshop for a checkup and I skipped the last session.
Later I could pickup the bike again: everything was allright. Technically. Aesthetically not so...

Monday 3 December. Last day
The fifth and last last trackday. Still at Andalucia.
René and I were promoted to the faster group B4. A bit too fast for us and we took it rather easily. I especially, seen the previous day. Still had a lot of fun on this challenging circuit.
At the end of the day we had to pack our stuff again to be ready to ship back home.

In the evening we all got our certificate for attending the course. I ended up at a meager 56th place. Still leaving most of the girls behind me... ;) René was 55th.

Tuesday 4 December. Going home
At the beginning of the course I asked myself how on earth I could survive 5 consecutive trackdays. At the end of the cours I regretted it was over. I didn't get as exhausted as feared. Of course the rest day helped.
The trip back home was boring, as long trips are. We left with a temperature of 23 Celcius and arrived in Amsterdam with a chilly 3 Celcius. Back into the winter.

Zeelenberg videos
During the course some videos were made:

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