Maria Costello Ladies Track Day - Silverstone
My resolution for 2014 was that, once the VFR was road-worthy, I should become as comfortable riding her as my touring bike. By the end of the summer though, I had hardly ridden her at all.
At just this time, a Ladies only track day at Silverstone was happening, with Maria Costello, the well known (well, one of a very few) female TT racer as the face of the event, which was being publicised through her Women's biking group: 'Woman on a Motorcycle' (WOAM).
I um'ed and ah'ed about booking. Track days aren't really for me was my thinking. I'm not really a speed junkie. I want to get better and improve my riding skills and I do fancy the idea of riding on track, but my ideal scenario would be winning the lottery and having the track to myself for a day! The Maria Costello day was also slightly more expensive than other track days (at £199), so if I didn't like it, that would be money wasted.
Having booked however, I was committed. Reading through the Facebook page for WOAM, I realised a number of people were staying at the Silverstone Snooze-box, so I also booked myself in so that I could meet a few people before the event. This turned out to be a good idea. About 10 of us were staying (with some OHs), and had the opportunity to meet, chat and get rid of some nerves together.
On the day, I headed to the Stowe circuit (this is the smaller inner circuit within Silverstone and great for learning). I parked up in the garage and went to sign in. There you are told which group you are in (clearly, Novice for me) and given a number so that the photographer can find the photos of you later on, as well as vouchers for food.
The day is both professionally run yet also relaxed. There is a specific tutor/leader for each group, as well as Maria and a host of officials. Everyone is friendly, there is tea and biscuits on tap, mechanical support if you need it (they also do a quick check when you aren't looking to make sure all is ok) as well as plenty of friendly advice from everyone there.
Then we were out...A few sighting laps following the leader, then a number of 20 mins sessions on the circuit, in your group (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced). I was very timid when I first went out and very aware that I was on a bike that was a few hundred cc's less than everyone else. Then on round 3 - I got it. Suddenly, the fears, stresses, etc, etc disappeared. Suddenly it was a huge amount of fun. My pretty little VFR was now aiming at apexes, turning (sort of) when I told her to and powering (I am lying now) out of corners. I was having a blast.
The coaching was provided by both the tutor for our team, the lovely (by which I mean young and good looking) Rupert as well as having Maria join every Group on an ad-hoc basis. Maria spent as much time with me, showing me the racing position as she did with some of the advanced group. I'll be honest, Rupert has done more training of beginners and led a mid way course between where I was and where I should be, bringing me on throughout the day. Having the two different types of instruction though was awesome.
Maria Costello following me... (Photograph by Bonnie Lane)
As I rode into the garage after my last and best session of the day, I desperately wanted to do another track day the very next day. With a grin from ear to ear, I can safely say, this was £199 very well spent. I'll no doubt book again in 2015.
Photo credits: Bonnie Lane