When I first received 'my' bike, I wasn't exactly nervous, but neither was I Hindu Cow calm. All these guys are fast and smooth. And they all had a session to familiarize themselves with CotA.
One of the most common mistakes guys make on the track is worrying about what is behind them. If half of your mental focus is devoted to what's in your non-existent mirrors, only half is left for what's in front of you. Though we weren't racing, there wasn't a guy onsite without octane in his blood. Though I'm no different, this wasn't my bike and I was not going to do anything stupid. Priority number 1 was: restrain warfare personality. No competing.
Even in pit lane, my impression of the track was that it was resurfaced using razor blades. I've never been on a smoother or more communicative surface. I also wasn't used to having tires that had been warmed, so even though the bike felt wickedly planted, I didn't trust 'em the first lap.
Turn one: the approach, even out of the pits, is uphill. Left turn, 1st gear, apex as the track flattens and drops downhill. Snake left to prepare for sweeping right, on the throttle up and under a footbridge after which the track just disappears. I rolled off the throttle, then saw a huge expanse of red/white/blue. It was stunning and unlike anything I'd seen at a track before. The track surface is painted? A moment of momentary confusion.
We tend to think that our mind follows black asphalt, but more likely I think most of us use borders to determine which direction the road goes. On the track, especially an unfamiliar one, side-reference points, such as grandstands, barriers, gator strips, sand/gravel, walls are typically what guide us through the course when memory can't. Coming up to turn three the whole track just opens wide up, with nothing but some crazy colors in front. Only problem is the track goes left and I was heading straight at speed. If they analyzed braking data for all the bikes I believe my braking maneuver recorded the highest amount of G forces....I stayed on track, but three turns in I'd made a mistake. It wouldn't have caused any issues, as it's just painted pavement, meant for running off safely. But I don't like mistakes and I'm sure Ducati doesn't appreciate them either.
That would be the last dumbshit move of the day. I picked up the layout of the track midway through the first session, but spent most of my energy trying to figure out the proper lines. Normally it's pretty easy if you do your research. Any track that's been around long enough has plenty of videos and turn-by-turn PDFs. Being so new, I was on my own. And CotA is by no means a simple track to figure out. With its share of blind, increasing radius and decreasing radius turns, turns with odd entry points and turns that require 'backward-planning' lines, it's more challenging than any other track I've been to. L
Still, a good session. Had a blast, loved the bike, loved the track, felt like I was the luckiest guy alive.
I returned to the paddock and just sat there soaking it all in. Prior to getting out on the track I was in a "look but don't touch" state. Then after the ride (not sure if the first was to be my last session or not) I entered the "touch, but don't taste" state....ARRGGHHH!!! A very real example of the process by which satisfaction of desire increases desire.
But happy, still. Very happy.