RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
Hello all! Since REDRIDINGBOOTS isn’t just an informational website but also sort of a personal thing, I thought why not take you with me on my own journey in this life on 2’s. Especially the one that happens on track. Welcome to this recap of the 2022 Track Season!
I have been so inspired to write lately. Not just because I’ve been enjoying riding on the roads and meeting new people along the way, but also because you all bless me with your presence on redridingboots.com. It is heartwarming to watch it grow and to see the group of lovely souls who follow this little creative outburst online get bigger and bigger by the day.
I feel so blessed! So a sincere and very, very grateful THANK YOU to every single one of you.
So this 2022 Track Season has been awesome. To sum up our activities; we first went to Circuito d’Alcarras in Spain in March for two weeks. Is there a better way to start the track season?! Then we went to Zandvoort Circuit for one day and spent a total of 4 days on Assen. To wrap it up, we will spend 3 more days on Portimao in Portugal. I’m super excited and scared at the same time.
Just like in 2021, we started the season in Spain on Circuito d’Alcarras. We went there for 6(!) days with Racecracks. Ron went to teach and I went to ride for myself. The first weekend was amazing. I started in an ‘instruction group’ at level 2, but we were only with the two of us so that basically was a private training.
We had a nice pace, but couldn’t go full send since we were the fastest ‘group’ and had to mind the other groups. But I felt really confident. The bike had some issues changing gears from 3rd gear to second, but we thought just wasn’t riding subtle enough. Or too subtle. I wasn’t sure what was going on. After a few days, I felt like it wasn’t fully my fault and thought the bike was in some real trouble. But she still rode and it wasn’t an issue all the time, so we just went with it.
We did notice the suspension was too stiff for my body weight. We never really changed it, so it was set for Ron’s weight. Ron mentioned it to me before, but I was too stubborn to give in and change it. I personally like a bike with stiff suspension, but I had to admit I held back a bit going down the waterfall on Circuito d’ Alcarras due to heavy bumpy movement in the front. And when going hard on the brakes, it felt like the rear wheel gave me a push forward. Turned out the rear suspension wasn’t doing a whole lot and the rear tyre had to sort it out. No bueno.
We had a few wet sessions in the first weekend, but the second weekend was really, really wet. The weather wasn’t great overall. Lots of rain and wind those two weeks. But since I don’t mind riding in rain at all, we threw on the rain tyres and went for it. I transferred to the free riding group as well.
And man, did it go well! I felt super comfy. I rode a 2.05 in the first weekend on a dry track. The first fully wet session of the second weekend, I rode a 2.08. That means that I either love riding in rain or am just keeping a way too big of a safety margin on a dry track. Guess it’s a combination of both.
Suddenly, I had a few instructors following me on day two! They felt like I had a great flow in the rain and could give them a little bit of a tow. Big fun, secretly. One of them wanted to get in front of me to show me a few new things. He told me on forehand he would, so I knew he would pass me at some point.
He passed me just before the last turn. Sadly, I had gear issues again, so didn’t have a great exit. So he pulled a bit of gap between us. I went flat out on the straight and had a quick pace going into turn one. He waited for me at the end of the straight, but I didn’t expect the difference in speed to be that big going into turn one. So we had a bit of a get together. I didn’t want to crash into him and take him down, so tried to slow down. Hit the rear brake (stupid, stupid) and lost the rear. I felt the bike going and thought “F*CK”. Saw the gravel coming up, so tucked my arms in and there we went, rolling into the gravel trap.
Such a shame! The poor bike looked so sad. I felt bad, since Ron had made her all pretty again during wintertime.
They saw me going down at the end of the straight. I saw Ron running to the end of pit lane. So I waved and put my thumbs up to let him know I was okay. I doubt he noticed, but hey, at least I tried.
So there we went, on the ride of shame in the back of the pick up truck. The shape of the bike wasn’t too bad. Just lots of damaged fairings. One of the brake discs was bent, but luckily we could use the ones from the extra pair of wheels. And we had a spare clip on, handlebar grip etcetera. She was ready to roll the next day.
Got back on the bike the next day. The first two rounds it felt a bit weird to go through turn one again. But tried to shake it off as quickly as possible and felt good again after a few laps. Ended with a 2.07, and felt like that was pretty decent. Enjoyed the heck out of it. I just love that track! And the organization of both weekends was great, like it always is with Racecracks.
After getting back home, we gave the R6 some TLC. We fixed the damaged parts and Ron brought her to Dennis from Moto-Techniek to fix the suspension. Made it fit my weight etcetera.
Our R6 track bike used to be bright neon yellow and black. After crashing her, we couldn’t find that yellow colour anymore. So Ron surprised me with a different colour. And turned her into baby blue! It is supposed to be ‘pastel turquoise’ but honestly, it’s more baby blue. But she looks very cute!
So we went to Zandvoort Circuit with the R6 in her new, baby blue and shiny armor. I’ve never been a real fan of Zandvoort. Ridden there twice before with the Suzuki GSX-R. Thought I gave it a go again with the R6, since she rides so differently. But again, didn’t really feel at home there.
I feel so ‘locked up’ on that track. It’s actually quite wide, but there are walls and guardrails everywhere. I know you shouldn’t pay attention to those things, but it somehow just gets inside my head. Meh.
Also had to get used to the suspension. It felt so fluffy. So bouncy. Not my thing, at all! So I was pretty grumpy that day. Not my favourite track day in terms of riding. But still I had a great day. We went with a little group of really lovely people. I enjoyed watching them ride and Ron felt great on the BMW, so is was a great day after all.
Ron went to a spontaneous extra track day in June. We took both the BMW and the R6. Since I complained about whole shifting gears problems, he took her out on track to feel it himself. And finally agreed with me; something wasn’t right.
We took her to a shop to get her checked. Turned out both the first and second gear were worn. So we got that fixed and replaced. Which did hurt our wallet.. but hey, you can’t ride with broken gears.
We were back on TT Assen again in mid August for two days with Eybis. We did that last year and really enjoyed it. Professional organization as well. So we booked those days again, with a really big group. I enjoyed it so much! The R6 felt better and better. Still had to get used to the softer suspension, but it started to grow on me. I realised Dennis from Moto-Techniek actually did a really good job. I was just wining when we were at Zandvoort..
On the 22nd of August, we had another track day at TT Assen with Racecracks. I got private instruction in group 3B from Robin (from roadracinggrunn.nl). Fun fact; we rode an 2.11 in the first session, which immediately was a new PR for me. He gave me a dozen of tips and helped me understand the most ideal lines. We especially worked on my speed at corner entry, which made a huge difference.
He helped me to ride a 2.08 all on my own. If I didn’t roll out of my pace on the last session, I would have ridden a 2.05! Felt so confident. I was just a little desperate to get over my fear of that stupid ‘knee down’ in the last session. So tried to get over that fear and voila. Had both knees down. It’s all in your head, ladies and gents..
Learned a whole lot. Thinking of getting some private lessons on track to take your riding to the next level? But not sure how much it will help you? My advice; just do it! It will make all the difference. I am beyond grateful for Robin’s help. Oh and the suspension finally made sense to me and felt great!
I wasn’t supposed to ride on track anymore in the Netherlands. But the lovely group of souls of the Racecracks organization convinced me to join them for one last day. So I did on the 4th of October.
Sadly, the gear box problems were back. This time when going back from fourth gear to the third one. It would just get stuck between them and then get back into fourth gear or just skip the third one and go into second gear.
Which actually resulted in some scary moments. It rained almost the entire day, so lots of wet track time. The rear would just loose grip and find grip again when it skipped third gear and when directly into second gear.
Again, the guys thought I probably was being too subtle with the gear lever. Or too rough on the clutch. I begged the differ and knew it was real trouble again.
So we brought the Yamaha R6 back to Dennis from Moto-Techniek, who sorted the suspension for us. He opened her up and gave us the bad news; the 3rd and 4th gear were worn as well.
We weren’t surprised but it sucks anyway. So he went on to fix her up again. After a few days he called us again, with some more bad news. Turned out basically the whole gear box mechanism was worn and had to be replaced.
Not the news you want to hear. We had to think about it for a bit. Those kind of operations are far from cheap. And I was still in doubt to whether I’d continue on the R6 or make the move to the RSV4 on track.
In the end, we decided to get the gear box fixed. I couldn’t part from it yet. And selling a bike that’s hardly shifting gears is no easy thing as well. So Dennis went on to do his magic.
So here we are! Almost ready to go to Portugal for our 2022 track season finale on Portimao. The Yamaha R6 is almost ready to rock again, thanks to the magic of Moto-Techniek. I’m super curious how she will ride. We will pick her up today, to bring her to Belgium for transport, together with Ron’s BMW and all of our stuff.
To ride at Portimão is a dream that will come true for both of us. It’s been my dream track from the moment I say the MotoGP legends ride there. It must be so scary and so exciting at the same time.
We will ride there for three (!) days with No Limits, a track day organization from the UK. We will go with a little group of friends, so we are up for big fun. To say I’m thrilled is an understatement.
Hopefully the R6 and I will be on the same page again. She is just such a feisty little bike. I adore her. I truly do. Thinking of getting yourself a track bike? Then you can’t go wrong with an R6. You won’t regret it.
So we will wrap up our 2022 track season in Portugal! And you bet I will tell you all about our experience at Portimão. Stay tuned and keep an eye out for redridingboots.com. Or stay up to date through my Instagram. Whatever suits you best!
Thank you again, for following this awesome journey and contributing to its magic. I love sharing this life on 2 with all of you. Ride on, lovelies! See you on the road, or on track. xx