In checking the grid position sheets for the Gen X Superbike race, I come upon one other EX500 in the ranks, along with the FZRs and Honda Hawks I mentioned before. I assume I will beat that EX handily, as I have several others already this season. My assumption would be wrong, so wrong in fact that this would signify the beginning of a rivalry to last the remainder of the season, and nearly be my undoing. For now I remained blissfully ignorant of the struggles to come.
Eyes narrowed to slits watching for any twitch from the flagman, then the race finally begins. I get a good start, fourth or so off of the line. The leaders are close, but I am too jaded to have hope that I can hang with them. As we round Turn 3, the infamous Keyhole, and onto the back straight, my cynicism proves correct. Given the chance to stretch their legs the Hondas and Yamahas are gone, a couple of slow starters making their way past me as well, including the goddamn EX. The bike that I am supposed to beat without missing a beat is now in front of me, and pulling ahead.
Try as I might I cannot catch that stupid Kawasaki. I stare at his tail section in disbelief as this bike and unknown rider become the objects of my focused hatred. To be beaten by faster machines is one thing, but I refuse to accept that a bike on equal footing with mine can outrun me. That means it is purely my fault and my riding is sub-par. The race ends with me in a lousy sixth place and the other EX500 just ahead in fifth. A long, restless night follows with a lot of soul searching, trying to figure out if I had it in me to beat him tomorrow.