By AJ Jacobsen
Back in 2011, I had my first experience with a track day. After winning a spot through my riding club, I had shown up excited, scared, and nervous to finally ride my bike on a track. Friends surrounded me, and that first day was phenomenal, and laid a desire that came to fruition the following year with more track days, a race license, and the finding of my passion.
Since then, the Zoom Zoom Trackdays Women’s VIP day has been an annual event for me. This year was no different, and I looked forward to riding with “my girls” a bit, while also testing out my bike with the swapped out transmission installed. Rolling into Thunderhill Raceway around 3:30p.m. I intended to unload and get the wheels off my bike so I could get some fresh rubber installed and be ready to roll.
Luck being the b*#&# that it is, that did not go so smoothly. As I attempted to get my front wheel off, all I managed to end up doing was stripping one of the pinch bolts. Considering I had put them on not super tight, knowing I was going to be changing tires, I was dismayed. A pit neighbor let me try his easy out kit, but I was having no luck. Finally admitting defeat, I found Jim from Catalyst Reaction Suspension who, using his great machining skills and experience, finally got the bolt out – only to find that, during this time, the OTHER bolt seized in the fork!
Long story short, we ended up drilling out BOTH bolts. Thankfully I had brought my spare bolt kit and had a couple spares that I was able to use, after generously coating them with anti-seize. Wheels came off, but by this time the tire vendor was shut down for the night, so off to the Luau party we headed.
The evening festivities were awesome as usual and we all enjoyed catching up, talking bikes, swapping stories, and hanging out. Eventually we decided to truck into town for some sleep, and enjoyed some mead wine while hanging out around the cold pool with my girlfriends.
Sunday dawned – well, smokey. The fires were leaving a thick cloud of smoke, filtering the sunlight and giving a very odd “overcast” appearance to the world. Since this is the Women’s VIP day, there are always some fun activities for the ladies throughout the day, including a lunch special and a fun raffle where some awesome prizes are given away.
I headed out for the first session feeling a little rushed – between the special meeting for the ladies, and trying to get my wheels done and on, it wasn’t the relaxed morning I had hoped for, but everything was ready on time, and I headed out for a shake down run to make sure my bike wasn’t going to explode on me after all the work I had done the past few weeks.
The session went well, and I worked on adjusting to the Pirelli tires (vs the Dunlops I’ve historically been running since 2015). Bike was running well, so it was time to start figuring out how I wanted to ride it. I started playing around with the rear brake, and working on some new markers and/or remembering the old ones I had.
Overall, I had fun finally getting to ride my bike without worrying about what it was going to do. It ran and shifted like a dream, and my drills earlier this year let me try some new things to see how they worked for me.
Unfortunately, despite having some fun and the bike running well, I wasn’t breaking any records. Much to my frustration, while my times dropped from most of the track days this year, they weren’t even down to my (slow) race times, and a very long ways from any personal bests. There’s still a LONG ways to go on this bike.
Part of what makes riding and racing so much fun yet so frustrating – we finally fix a problem, or figure something else, and part of you thinks that should immediately result in finding everything you’ve lost over the past two years. Reality is that’s not the case for most of us mere mortals, and we have to keep working back to what we lost and proceed from there.
The day was successful overall, however, and I feel prepared to take on the upcoming races.
If you are a woman, or have a special lady in your life who would like to try the track, the Women’s VIP day is the perfect opportunity for her to get out there and be surrounded by a lot of other women riders!