Penelopegrange Bennetts Commercial Manager, ruddy loves a sports bike and is steadily mastering the art of being able to rip around the track like a ninja on one, as well as fitting in lots of pootles around her native Norfolk coast. Surprisingly social and relatively normal despite working in insurance.
I didn’t know what to expect from a track day dedicated to one gender – along with the majority of the population, I think a rider is a rider, regardless of sex.
But the team at Silverstone found that women who attend the standard mixed days are often lacking the confidence to ride in the fastest groups, so have introduced a day where the levels are set slightly differently, allowing everyone to get the most out of it.
Riders attending are a combination of experienced, steady, new, speedy and competitive. It’s like any other track day, and it’s not the only one for a specific group, with plans for younger rider days, as well as events for The Bike Experience; the superb charity giving disabled bikers the chance to ride again.
After registration (with a free bacon roll and coffee), we’re into the classroom for the safety briefing and schedule. We’re then split into groups of novice, intermediate and experienced, which are smaller than most track days, with only around seven people in each. While we’d be riding on Silverstone’s small Stowe circuit, there’s plenty of room on track, and if you find you’re in the wrong group, you can easily swap.
It was raining. Not my forte, especially on track, but the instructors acknowledged and addressed the precipitation-related anxiety showing on many of our faces. In turn, each group was lead out by their leader for a 20 minute session, the first of which includes three sighting laps to understand how to handle both the bike and the circuit (and the rain).
Stowe circuit is less than a mile long, and left-hand-turn heavy. There are a couple of straights to get your speed up on, but after leaving the pit garage you’re more or less immediately into a hair pin left. You can then get some momentum before a chicane and left sweep. Some more bendy bits after that and it’s another left-hand sweep and straight past the garages.
Soggy weather aside, the track length and number of twists means speed is relatively low, but it presents an awesome opportunity to refine vital cornering skills. The soggy weather didn’t ruin my day – you learn in adverse conditions, and let’s face it, if you ride the majority of your miles in the UK, wet weather is something you’ll probably have to deal with.
Instructors are on hand throughout the day, and join you on track regularly to demonstrate road and body positioning, and give feedback between sessions. Group leaders also take classroom sessions in-between track time, where the technicalities and benefits of dropping into corners were explained. While there was no official photographer on hand to buy vanity pictures from, a great feature of the course is that an instructor will follow you, filming your progress to later discuss the finer points of your riding – it’s a superb way of understanding what you’re doing and how to improve, and you can take the movie home on a USB stick.
It’s a well organised event, running smoothly, with a good balance of time on track and breaks to minimise fatigue. The friendly and experienced instructors really made me feel looked after, knowing just how to develop each rider’s individual skills, and reassure any nervousness.
Anyone can go fast on a straight, but this course has definitely improved my cornering technique and overall confidence. The science behind leaning your body and retaining as much tyre contact as possible was explained well, with lots of opportunity to practice techniques that can transform your road riding.
Whether or not you find mixed days intimidating, you’ll feel very comfortable here. A day at Stowe costs £150, while using the national circuit is £170. To book visit http://www.silverstone.co.uk/track-days/bike-track-days/