Ladies Day at Morgan Park, Warick.
First official track day for the lawnmower AND (as if ticking one thing off your bucket list wasn’t enough), thrown in a 2nd one with the try out at being a co-pilot baggage on a racing side cart! And I thought riding a motorbike at full pelt was nuts enough; that was a new level of ‘crazy’!
I’m not sure where to even start this entry coherently, for I’m still even processing feelings, learnings and internal processes for the day. It amazes me frequently how much the human body can comprehend and receive information simultaneously, then process it and act accordingly without you even being aware of it. I guess now I know why we need to sleep – this is the only way to fully percolate everything that’s happened in a day!
For anyone that is thinking about doing a track day – don’t.
Just as you breathe without having to think about it; go the full Nike add and “Just do it”. Don’t think. Just do it.
It's thrilling and chilling.
Tiring and energizing.
Tantalizing and terrifying.
It’s elation and a humbling experience.
So I thought I'd reached the lawnmower's limits.... But today it showed me I hadn't. There was still some extra roll out of each gear that managed to be squeezed out. Most chuffed with the thing, since it didn't blow up on me. AND it still didn't even finish the fuel of one tank. It’s all a bonus.
Def learnt quite a bit and took three pearls of wisdom with me to try apply to my road riding.
1. Bum back into the back of the seat & stop pretending to hump the tank while riding,
2. Tuck in low as much as possible to shift weight evenly over the bike
3. Look out better for corner markers as visual cues
4. Drop tyre pressures substantially,
5. Don't shoulder check
6. Why people like tyre warmers
…(yes, I can't count).
Trying to get all my stuff sorted and the lawnmower to Warick was an adventure in itself, in the end I managed it with much time wastage and stresses but got there in the end. The sunrise and weather couldn’t have been better, not so sunny that you become your own sauna in your leathers and not cold or rainy. A beautiful 23-25 degrees with slight cross wind.
The track was soon abuzz with brightly coloured bikes, prams, leathers, some soft toys, tools, trailers, strollers, tyre warmers, toddlers, timing transponders, pigtails or plats, and most importantly, about 60 girls and ladies getting ready for an epic day.
For me the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ that’s needed is mind blowing. And I wonder why guys give gals a hard time when they complain that chicks have too much stuff in their hand bag! Lol Mountains of the stuff (see list above). Compared to what you can only carry when touring, it just seems insane – but give it a few minutes, and every item of that ‘stuff’ is utilised to its full potential throughout the day.
Set up, briefing, unpacking and kitting up. Surprisingly that morning all nerves dissipated before I got to the track. I now think that it was due to the steady stream of information and reminders that Colonel Coleman had been feeding me for the last couple of weeks getting me prepared – taking away the worry of “do I have everything I need?” “Have I brought the right equipment” “what’s expected of me?” etc.
You can easily tell that CC has had not only coaching experience but def has a deep seated passion for bikes, racing and encouraging gals to reach their full potential. It became very obvious just by watching him helping the girls in any way they needed, making sure all the small details were taken care of in the pits – timing, tools, tyre warmers, mechanical adjustments, placement of paddock stands, reminders to keep hydrated, and of course, tips of their performance out on the track. That fluidity and quiet back up took the edge of any nerves or adrenalin that may have started to creep in.
It was soon time to get ready once everyone was put into their corresponding groups – 1 to 4.
Two warm up laps were done in corresponding groups to familiarise yourself with the track since there were so many of us novices J Five track runs/sessions for the day.
For the 1st and 2nd time(s) out on the track is a bit of mind jumbling was happening since my brain was trying to still make me flick the blinkers on for corners, shoulder check and look into non existing mirrors!
Third round of hooning round, your brain finally kicks into gear and you start to trust your now warm rubbers, the fun factor replaces all other feelings. Once you've worked out roughly where the corner markers are and what gear selection you need, as the saying goes; you're off and racing!
My competing days of years past kicked in at some point, although I can't remember when exactly. My brain fogged everything out except what was on the tarmac…I do recall at one point being stuck behind one particular lady for a frustratingly long while. She with a much bigger capacity bike and I Knew I wouldn’t be able to outgun her cylinders with my single banger; and like a cat waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting bird - watching her for her cornering patterns and waiting for her to show her weakness ... To then hit that lower gear & twist that throttle much earlier than her to make a clean, precise and 'fast' pass to clear her beastie. Move made! Check!..... whoooo!! Only to then be passed right back on the next straight! Mate! Booooo! Lol
To then do it all again next corner; wash, rinse, repeat.
And I L.O.V.E.D it!
Colonel Coleman (bravely or crazily) offered me to use one of his race machines.
But as I stood back looking at this tough metal beast with an exterior fibreglass body, I began to doubt. I just wouldn’t live myself if I were to bin it. Having seen my times drop between each session after a few chosen nuggets of wisdom CC was dishing out, I decided to ask a little more of my own beastie. I didn’t want one particular corner of the track deny me cracking the 2 min mark for a lap. So I stuck loyally to my orange and white and wrung it’s poor motor one more time.
After having taken that one elusive corner in a fluid way for the first time that day, I was elated enough to end the day on that note regardless of the lap time. Coming into the pits, CC proceeded to hold me in suspense of the outcome.
I think it may have been the glint in the eye that gave it away…. I cracked the 2 min mark by over a second.
Happy dance & claps ensued as soon as the bike was parked.………
Driving back home to the GC gave me time to re-evaluate the day.
I assume a ladies track day would be totally different atmosphere to a mixed track day. A new found appreciation for all the organisers, the pit crew, the home mechanics, the coaches, the mentors, experienced riders, and the courage of newbies to give it a go.
I ended the day with a smile on my dial, a body buzz & a dirty bike with rubber curls on the tyre’s edges, I don’t think I could have asked for more.
I’ll be back. Baby bike back!
PS. I think I finally tested the Contis TrackAttacks II well enough
Thanks Colonel Coleman for making this day, the best intro a newbie could have wanted !
OK so this is an added "aftermarth" photos from one of Colonel Coleman's good mates and awesome photographer... as you can see I look fast even though it was well within any public road speed limits... LOL
I think my face on the sidecart says "holy Sh1t this is fun/crazy" better than anything I've seen before.... !