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Best of 2012: A Bentley, road trip and a big bike win

Published December 25, 2012

It’s the holiday season and a time to reminisce. It has been a busy year testing cars and bikes. I feel blessed, as I’m sure all of my colleagues at Wheels do, that my work revolves around a passion for everything motorized. I do not take lightly the privilege of being allowed to test drive the newest, latest vehicles, sometimes months ahead of their release (like the 2014 Subaru Forester I drove in Japan).

My memories are fond of the Bentley Continental GT V8 I drove last July, an automobile I never really lusted after until I got behind the wheel. I called it “meticulously handcrafted rolling sculpture” and meant it.

An invitation to drive the Porsche Cayenne Diesel got me on a plane to Alaska last August, a place I’ve been yearning to visit since my mid 20s. Even though the rigours of this job (don’t kid yourself, it’s tough work — nudge, nudge, wink, wink) meant I had to get back on a plane for the return trip after just one day, the images of serpentine rivers flanked by snowy mountain peaks with ribbons of pavement disappearing into the gorges between are seared into my mind forever.

It’s time to start planning a road trip.

It’s no surprise, though, that with a background in motorcycling my most memorable moments of 2012 derive from a season of racing in the Honda CBR250R Media Challenge. The races were run in conjunction with the Canadian National Superbike Series and pit journalist against journalist in a no-holds-barred contest to determine the alpha dog of the media pack, the overlord of the track, the ruler of the two-wheeled tourney. OK, you’re getting the point: I won the championship.

Even though I won the crown, my real pleasure came from mixing it up with the kids, who rode in the parallel CBR250R Race Series.

Journalists, and young racers aged 13 to 25 years, shared the track, racing against each other but collecting points in their respective series.

Dicing for position with the top three competitors in the series, Ryan Roche, Tomas Casas and Stacey Nesbitt, often provided the tightest, most exciting racing of the weekend, regardless of the race class. And I’m not embarrassed to say that even though I may have led a few laps throughout the season, when push came to shove these kids gave me the business.

Former CBR125R Challenge winner, Stacey Nesbitt won the CBR250R Race Series Championship, which eventually led to a wild card ride in the last round of the Asia Dream Cup, held in Qatar in November. She did remarkably well there, finishing 13th and 11th in the doubleheader.

My memories of the championship are bittersweet, however, for aside from a shelf-full of trophies, I also acquired a permanent reminder of my reign over my peers: A third-degree separation of the AC ligaments in my shoulder, the result of getting inadvertently tangled up in a three-bike melee. Fortunately it happened in the very last race of the season, after the championship title was settled.

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