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  • Sarah Merrell

Now This is Girl Time: Ladies Track Day at Talladega



Over the last few months as COVID-19 unfolded, I desperately missed motorcycle events. Sure, riding popular motorcycling roads The Dragon without any traffic or crowds was nice at first, but I began miss the camaraderie and excitement of being around other motorcyclists. And I was aching for a track day. So when I learned the Sportbike Track Time Ladies Day was scheduled to proceed, I immediately registered...and then did a happy dance and proceeded to contact all my favorite sportbike girl friends to make sure they had registered, too. This particular track day is the highlight of my year! It's not only the chance to meet and hang out with a bunch of other women on two wheels, but it's motorcycle chicks who also have a shared passion for the track and the speed and chance to work on skills that comes with it. So here are some of the highlights from the weekend.


My Girl Power Moment



Sadly, my husband wasn't able to join me for the track day due to work. While I was bummed about this and missed him, it gave me a chance to put my big girl panties on and handle myself and my bike. Since this was my third solo track day, I feel like I have it down now and I've developed a sense of confidence. I loaded all my gear and my bikes by myself and unloaded them by myself. I checked my tire pressure and decided when my tires needed to be changed out. I managed my bike stands and warmers. Now don't get me wrong--I had plenty of people and friends available to help in a heartbeat. And our friend Chuck Easter helped me out with my tires and my husband gave me lots of support via text and phone. But, being capable of handling a track day on my own gave me a sense of empowerment.


Making Friends

This track day always feel like a big reunion to me. After months of stay-at-home orders through COVID-19, it was amazing to see all my friends and meet new ones. I got to pit and hang out with Anna Rigby (Redspade), Emily Prince, Brittany Easter and Aunnie Rister. But it was also great to see about over a dozen other women I love to death like Brittany Hughes, Star Reid, Jessica Martin, Nicole Burrows, Heather Trees, Caroline Pip Jackon, Hanan Salim-Cullip, AJ Jacobsen and new friends like Chloe Lrn and January Shiflett. It's a very friendly atmosphere with women coming by to say hello and chat and I made my rounds as well. I love how all of us can be competitive on track but still be friends.


Got My "A" Bump!



I've been riding in Intermediate group for a long time--years. It's been a goal of mine to bump up to Advanced group, but I've had skills I've needed to work on. I found myself doing so much passing in Intermediate though that I had no one to follow or play with, so the coaches agreed to bump me up to Advanced (YAY). I had a blast following some of the fastest girls around and I think it made me a better rider trying to keep up with them. More than anything, it gave me an excellent dose of motivation. I hope to one day ride like some of them. Dang they're fast! And I have to admit, I’m so stinking proud of my "A" sticker.


Mock Race



One of my favorite things about Ladies Day (aside from the ladies) is the mock race. It's supposed to be "just like a track session but with a starting grid." But that green flag goes down and it's full-on race mode! My start was MUCH better than the last ladies day race but still needs some improvement (I didn't have it revved high enough). And I let Chloe fly by me (doh!). But overall I was pretty happy with it and had a lot of fun. Also, I'm pretty sure I had the hottest umbrella girl--thank you to Emily Prince for being my lovely umbrella gal.


Testing Out New Rubber



I've been very vocal about how much I love my Dunlop Q4 tires. I needed fresh tires for the second day at the track--my tires were done--so it gave me the opportunity to try something different. Sportbike Tire Service recommended the Michelin Cup 2. I was told they're a fantastic track tire with just as much grip as the Q4s but more longevity. So I decided to try them. They were absolutely right. They felt identical to the Q4s in terms of grip. I didn't notice a difference at all actually. However, my tires are usually completely done after a day at Little Tally but I noticed my tires still had plenty of life left--at least another weekend of riding The Dragon. I'm looking forward to testing them out on the road. So far, I really like them.


Working on Skills



The Ladies Day marked my third time in the last year riding at Little Tally (Talladega GP Raceway). By now, I feel like I know this track well and there's a comfort and confidence that comes from knowing it. I've already written a blog post about what I like about Little Tally (you can read it here). Since I didn't have to spend time "learning" the track so much, it enabled me to really focus on my skills. Early on in the day, I worked on turning in later and using the whole track. Once I got that down, I worked on keeping eyes up and my body position. And then I started working on my braking. I can see a real difference in my riding in the photos compared to my last track day. My body position is much better, for instance. It's not a huge difference, but hey--progress is progress!


Girls Rule!

So get this--the entire Ladies Day there were NO red flags and NO crashes. Just had to mention that. You go girls!


Blown Away by the Encouragement

I'm so grateful for the encouragement of the women (and staff) at this event provided. Riding track hasn't come easily to me. I'm much more confident on the road. But over the last couple years I've really been working hard at getting better and faster on track. It was nice to have women not only giving me helpful pointers but also complimenting my riding. I can be very hard myself when it comes to my performance at the track and push to progress, so it helps to receive encouragement and positivity. It prevents me from being overly critical of myself and to lighten up and relax. And when I'm relaxed and stop picking at myself, I actually find I perform a whole lot better!


Hey, Girl. You Need to Do This!



If you're a woman who has never ridden at the track and is maybe a little nervous to do so, this is a great first track day. There are lots of coaches available to help and the women are all super helpful and non-judgemental. Or, if you're a chick who is a track day veteran, I still recommend it since it's a great way to meet other fast women. There are literally women at every level so you're certain to find women with a similar skill set to connect with--and faster and more experienced women to emulate. Check out sportbiketracktime.com for their list of track days. I've found that at every track day of theirs that I go to there are cool women to meet and hang out with. So no more excuses--do a track day! You won't regret it.

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