Women on track days
Girls on bikes used to mean pretty pillion passengers. And you blokes seemed more than happy with a stunner of a girlfriend who would sit limpet-like on your back for the ride to the races, then step off, shake out her hair and have every bloke within 100 yards drooling. We don’t mind the drooling bit, but we certainly do mind the pillion bit.
We’ve tried the leathers on for size and they fit just fine – yes, we do see you staring at us – but the next thing we want to try out for size is the reach to the bars.
Last year I ventured out to Castle Combe for my first track day. Being female and riding a fairly small bike – a Honda NC30 – I was a little apprehensive to say the least.
I’ve owned the bike for about a year and was starting to feel pretty confident with it. But there’s only so much you can learn when faced with the daily dangers of cars, lampposts and that irritating farmer who seems to think that if he spreads enough cow muck on the road I’ll stop riding my bike in the countryside. I decided the only way to get a true feeling for what it was capable of was to take myself on a track.
I thought I’d be the only female there, so after having a look around the pits, I was amazed to find there were two other girls going out. A quick chat revealed they’d both been on the track before and when I admitted this was my first time, they were both full of encouragement and more than willing to give any help they could.
When I watched one girl take her tiny Aprilia RS250 out and carve through a good majority of the lads on their ” proper ” bikes, it was obvious they were far from first-timers.
Within minutes I was on my first sighting lap, and my stomach was doing backflips. The track was huge – I’d never felt so lost on a piece of Tarmac before. I honestly had no idea which bit I was supposed to be riding on. All those hours spent watching the races had done no good at all and I came back more nervous than I was when I started.
But by lunchtime I was having the time of my life. New skills unfolded before me ready to be learnt – racing lines, braking, overtaking. A seemingly brief spell of one day had my head buzzing with a cocktail of endorphins and adrenalin.
I was hooked. Coming home with
torn-up tyres has to be the ultimate in street cred, and the track time gives you so much more confidence on the road.
Before winter was out, I’d already picked up the phone to 100% Bikes and got myself booked on a day at Cadwell. It being winter, the circuit was awash when I arrived in the morning. But believe it or not, you can learn just as much – if not more – in the wet than you can in the dry.
A friend of mine rolled her Kawasaki ZX-6R out on to the circuit with the fast group. Within minutes, someone made a snide comment about warning the other riders there was a woman in their midst.
He was right, actually – those poor guys did need warning, in the form of blue flags, as she picked straight through the field and proceeded to lap the rest. Strangely, no more comments were made.
This time I had to settle for some half-hearted wheelies over the Mountain, but give me a year or so and I want to have both wheels in the air. No doubt if I follow the instructors, I’ll do it. The 100% Bikes guys were great. They all race and they all bend over backwards to help you out. It’s staggering how much confidence can be gained from a handful of assessed laps.
So this is my message to any females out there who’ve been brainwashed into thinking they’re too slow, too inexperienced or just not welcome on the track – don’t be so daft!
Track time is the most enjoyable thing you can do with your bike and will teach you far more about it in a day’s riding than a whole month on the road. The people there always seem willing to give any advice they can to help you, whether you want to go fast or are just looking for a great day out.
You can get in touch with 100% Bikes on: 01366-325133. MCN track days also cater for women. For details, call: 01953-888789. MCN’s sister magazine, Bike, is running a women-only track day at Silverstone on October 17. To take part, call 01953-888789.