Savvas Kosmidis NEHA-KSCC Burke Mountain HillClimb 06/07/2015 Race Report In the order to get ready for the TT and Manx GP at the Isle of Man I have been looking for several similar events in the USA that I can attend. Visiting other race tracks the last 2 years has helped me a lot with adapting quickly to new conditions but the race track is nothing even close to the Isle of Man. I had to get some experience with taking a race bike on real roads, which by the way is nothing like riding a street bike fast. I found out about MAX BMW and their Ascutney event which happens once a year but I needed more practice than that. after a lot of research i was able to get in contact with some great people from New England HillClimb Association and Killington Sports Car Club. They were nice enough to listen to my story and allow me to enter their events. The first event that I could attend was this past weekend at Burke mountain, VT. I had never been in that are before but I was very excited to get there. I arrived at the campground Friday afternoon. There were a few cars, no motorcycles but people started showing up shortly. I met a very nice lady at registration who explained a lot to me about HillClimb, the issues they are having, and why some car guys may not want motorcycles in their events. Shortly I met Sherman Baumann, President of the Killington Sports Car Club, one of the “old school” HillClimbers and an awesome man. Sherman is brutally honest and has a great sense of humor. He took all the rookie, including me, on a back of a pick up truck for our rookie orientation where he explained in his own unique way the challenges of the course and the safety rules we have to follow. I have to admit at this point that every single person I interacted with there was very friendly and welcoming. Some guys even offered me to take their car up for a run. Friday night came quick and my good friend Gino and his wife had taken a trip up to their cabin in NH in order to support me for this event and give me a nice place to stay. I left the mountain around 730pm to head to the cabin and for the first time ever the legendary ambulance had a surprise for me. 2 miles away from the mountain (and about 40 minutes from the cabin) it just shut off. It wouldn’t start and it sounded like fuel as not getting to the engine. I tried a few things and about an hour later I got it running again. Seems like the issue was old fuel and/or water in it. Nothing a little water remover and fresh diesel couldn’t fix. Arriving at the cabin i was welcomed from my amazing friends, a beautiful view and a very warm fire. Couldn’t ask for much more. I caught up with Gino an Kate, had a great dinner and went to bed. Satuday: In the hillclimb events if you miss the riders meeting you are not allowed to run for the day! I though that was a great rule so I made sure I was up early in order to be there in time. Riders meeting took place at 730am. They informed us that they will be splitting us in two groups A and B and the motorcycles will be the end of A group. The first format would have been Group A would do a fam run to check conditions and all, come back down and do timed runs. Saturday is practice only so your times mean nothing other than setting a good point for yourself to see how fast you can go. Sunday is the actual racing with points and everything. I was pitted with the MAX BMW crew and my two new friends Joe Warner and Andrew Phillips. Also another great young man I met there who is the faster guy on a motorcycle at Burke, Fletcher Rood and his KTM 625! Awesome people all of them. Very friendly, very knowledgable and welcoming, passionate about the sport and happy to have a new guy join them. It rained heavily Saturday night so the course was wet and cold, with leaves and dirt in several spots. I decided to do the first few runs on my loyal Suzuki SV650 Supersport on Rain tires. At this point i didn’t even know if I would have the option to run warmers, so I was thinking of not riding the Kawasaki EX650 at all since it was on race tires. First run on the SV was a blast, the rain tires got warm quick, and provided enough flexibility when met with rocks/sand/leaves that kept the bike stable enough. The course is very tight and very aggressive. I had never ridden in similar conditions. They were turns with 15% incline and 180 increasing radius with leaves and bumps right on the apex! talk about challenging. Yet the first thing everyone told me when I got back was that I have a huge smile on my face! God that was fun! I want more of that. I was so pumped to be there and have completed my first run, i could not hide my happiness. Group B went out and thats where it all went south. Crashes are hard to clean up at a hillclimb since there aren’t many spots for the ambulance or the tow truck to be at, so they usually wait at the bottom of the hill. So if someone crashes at Turn 21 (not random selection of turn) the the tow truck has to drive almost at the top of the hill to pick up the wreck. And thats exactly what Group B did. So we didn’t get to run for another 1.5 hour. I went out on my second run and had even more fun, started to drag my knee in certain turns and getting more used to the bumps and riding in first gear. The SV was predictable, solid and very forgiving! Lunch time arrived and the KSSC guys got pizza for everybody. I had decided to take the Kawasaki out after that for what it seemed to be the 3rd and final run of the day for us. We got permission to go a few feet behind the start line in order to use warmers and not have the bike go through mud and gravel to start finish line (the pit area is an actual camping area). Gino hooked up the generator and threw my warmers on. We only got 15 minutes on the warmers but I was confident to ride easy and smooth enough. I pulled up to the start line and I was told to shut my bike off, because the rider in front of me crashed. 20’ went buy and nothing. 25 minutes later they tell me I can go. At that point I didn’t want to take any risks and gave up my run and called it a day. Gino and I jumped on his truck and went up the Hill to pick up the crashed motorcycle. Brought it back down, packed for the fallen rider and Gino and his wife took him to the hospital. I packed the rest of my stuff, and headed over to the cabin to meet with them again for the night. My brother Panos, came from Worcester too on Saturday night to join the fun and support my efforts. Saturday night was nothing less than great friends, great food & drinks and a nice warm fire.