Chris Walker columns from TWO magazine

Chris Walker, GP, World Superbike, British Superbike; he's done it all. And here it is, in his own words

Posted: 27 October 2002
by Chris Walker

I'm getting right good at this crashing lark. I've lost the front end eight times on the NSR500 and now I've had my first highside during qualifying at Catalunya, which is always a bit special. An oil seal popped out, dumped oil on the rear tyre and the next thing I know I'm being run over by Stigefelt. Haven't been run-over since I quit motocross and I'd forgotten how much it hurts.

I always thought it was the knobbly tyres that made it hurt so much, but it's not. Damn, it was like being thrown from a speeding train.

A nerve got trapped in the arm, and it seems to have a bit of a bend in it - but it's not broken. And then to add insult to injury I lost the front end again, at the same corner I highsided on. Always a good way to carry on. I like to get back on and fall off at exactly the same spot again so my confidence doesn't take a knocking!

People have been saying I've been looking miserable on the grid, so I've been making an effort to smile a lot. Although obviously I am miserable at the moment! On a good course of painkillers right now, which are pretty damn special. I need them, because I've either finished low down in the field or been battered to hell. Any finish is a good finish at this stage. I'm looking forward to Assen and Donington, though. They're circuits that I know, and that'll give me a bit more of a true indication of how wank I really am on a GP bike!

I come out of the garage now, and it's like walking the plank as I get near the bike. People behind me with knives and swords forcing me out onto it, and the bike's sat there like some flippin' shark waiting to devour me! It's gotta be 'rider error' though, because every other rider just pisses off during the race.

We've got a lot of restrictions on us as to what we're allowed to do to the bike set-up wise, but we're obviously missing something at the moment. It's not easy, though. You arrive at tracks you don't know, and by the time you know where the track goes you're already a day behind, and in this level of competition you can't afford to be a day behind. If we could change more on the bike it would help, definitely. The superbikes I've been used to racing have loads of adjustment built into the chassis, put the weight anywhere you wanted to. On the NSR there is no adjustment, and different bits aren't available to us: only factory riders and legends get those.

It's made a tough job even tougher. I don't have a totally unorthodox riding style, but I'm having to change everything I've learned over the last six or seven years in the way I ride a bike to suit the NSR. It's like riding someone else's bike. Normally, you know what you want the bike to do, and you make adjustments so that the bike does it. But not this time.

My confidence has taken a real battering, and confidence is what makes one rider special over another. When you're pumped with confidence, you get to the point where you're doing things on the bike that you yourself wouldn't have thought possible, and that's what makes a champion. Obviously I haven't been in a position to do that on the NSR so far. Every time I try taking a step forward, I turbo myself into a wall!

The team are behind me a hundred per cent, they know I'm trying and not just tossing off, and the British fans are still fantastic, I'm very lucky that they've stuck with me, because everyone - including myself - expected a bit more than this. But it'll come together in the end. Speaking to Doohan and McCoy, they both said that after every race weekend for the first year, they just wanted to go home. You just have to keep chipping away.

No excuse not to stop at Amsterdam on the the way back from Assen GP and stock up on porn for the lads. Actually, the last time I went to Holland to race and ended up in Amsterdam, went and bought a porn mag, and the centre pages featured the missus of the guy who was my team manager at the time! I don't think he ever saw it, actually. I never looked at her the same again. Didn't know she was into S&M...

Had a pretty hectic time recently. Red Devil, one of our sponsors, had a bit of a street party north of Barcelona, really nice little spot. Crates of Red Devil and vodka free, so got a bit wobbly, but I had to leave early and catch a flight from Barcelona to the post-TT party at Mallory Park to give a Pillion in a Million ride. I shied off it a bit at first, because the last one I did at Silverstone years ago, the bloke fell off! They ran a compo and they were like, "right Chris, you have to give this person a Pillion in a Million." So I was like, fair enough. Wasn't actually told what to do, and I was like, well, at the end of the day, he's entered a competition to go on the back of a bike with a superbike rider, so he obviously wants to be frightened to death. So I went as fast as I could for one lap, then on the slow-down lap all the marshals were gesticulating me to pull a wheelie. So I did, and the guy didn't make it. Straight off the back he was, and when I picked him up he was a bit cut and bruised. He was a top bloke, fortunately. So of course this poor girl I gave a pillion to at Mallory was told all about this. She was a bundle of nerves, but I rode so slow I reckon she could have gone round quicker!

My worst-ever pillion experiences were when I worked in a bike shop aged 17, working as a mechanic. There was this gay postman who somehow always needed a lift home when his bike was in for work, and they always made me give him a lift. He used to hang on really, really tight, and when you dropped him off at his place he'd say, "ooh, aren't you a good rider." Of course, I always took off like a shot!
Anyway, I'll see everyone at Donington for the British Grand Prix on July 8th. I'm right up for it and it's fantastic how much support I still have. I really am trying, though - just bear with me!



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