Mike Sullivan’s Women-Only trackday

I attended Mike Sullivan’s Performance School‘s Women-Only event late last July and have held off on posting an update about it for various reasons. A small part of it is that I didn’t have the pictures from it, but they are finally up here, courtesy of .

OMGZ I have a racer’s eyes! I always wanted my eyes to look like that. :P

The rest: http://studio819.smugmug.com/gallery/1762241/1/87412638.

My favorites:

The pictures are copyrighted and I need to pay to get the digital originals. I might wait until my trackday on Sep 8th to decide which pictures I want though. Still, these are brilliant images, and the very first ones I’ve had of me actually riding the bike, rather than posing on it. I always wondered what I looked like when I rode. :)

A brief list of the pros and cons of the event, in no particular order:


  • It was my first ever time on a race track and a great learning experience. It was oddly exhilerating to not have to switch on turn signals, look out for left-turning idiot drivers, dodge crazy traffic, but just ride, ride, ride on a safe enclosed circuit.
  • I got 1:1 instruction with one of the trainers, and got a lot of valuable feedback. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see one particular bad habit I had that was pointed out to me.
  • It was great to practically have the track to myself, seeing as there were only 26 riders out there – far less than a typical track day.
  • My riding style improved dramatically after this day.
  • I won some freebies! A $50 gift certificate to Skagitt PowerSports, and a 50% discount off of a rear tire from Seattle Cycle – pit I’d already broken the bank for brand new tires the week before. :|
  • I got to hang out with Wendy Leber – ranked 104 at WMRRA, and according to Mike – the fastest woman he’s seen on the track. I’d met her before and chatted, and she’s such a lovely person! It was also cool to have three brilliant female instructors.
  • I was sick the day before, and practically collapsing when I woke up at 5:30 that morning. I got my leathers on and made it to the race track on sheer willpower alone. Strangely enough, I felt perfectly fine at the track although I felt like I was holding back a little. I felt sick again an hour after I got back home in the evening. Guess someone was looking out for me that day – it would have broken my heart if I hadn’t been able to make this event.
  • The instructors said that I had very good, clean lines. :) They also said that it was great how I anticipated every turn and looked far into it. It was nice to get some compliments where I was beating myself up for being so abyssmal.
  • I have started studying Keith Code. I love Twist of Wrist 1 and am beginning to critically analyze my riding and mentally correcting myself. All the racers recommended TOW2 as they thought TOW1 was more “philosophical” than practical, but I like it a lot.


  • We were instructed to get to the track at 7:30 am, but we only got out there at about 10:00. We wrapped up at 4:00 PM with a one hour lunch break. I was rather disappointed at not having enough time on the track, and didn’t feel like I got my money’s worth. I would have given up the freebies and catered lunch for more track time. :|
  • I felt like such a squid. Some of the women on the track were so young and so fast that I cringed at how bad I was. This woman especially is someone to watch out for. You can see from the pictures how good she is. Do any of you feel this way on the track? The feeling that you got into this way too late and the young ‘uns have everything going for them? This was one of the few times in my life I felt like I was old. :|
  • I wish I had done a few trackdays before this school. My form was so bad and I never really pushed the limits of my bike. Part of this was the fear of wrecking my only bike – I think I really need to get an inexpensive race bike that I don’t mind crashing and losing for next season. The track was also unfamiliar to me, and I spent the major part of the day just learning it and getting used to it, rather than improving my riding abilities.
  • At the end of it, I still didn’t master shifting my weight on the bike, getting my butt off of it, sticking out my knee, or shift gears without using the clutch. I know it’s impossible to learn everything in one day, but I wish I had made some progress in each of these areas. I have however started working on the former while commuting to work everyday. I look like a right tool with leaning and shifting my weight while going 20mph on city streets, but it’s really the only place I can practice until my next trackday.
  • I know everyone goes through this, but I am still concerned about just trusting riders behind me to not collide into me and overtaking me safely. The instructors said that I need to get past this mental block and just concentrate on the road ahead and trust my fellow riders on the track. It’s hard for me to do though. I’m reminded of the last horrendous accident I heard about at the WMRRA novice races a couple of months ago, where there one of the riders lost control of his bike, flew up into the air and his motorcycle landed on another guy ahead of him, who had to be airlifted to the hospital. :| Scary shit.
  • I need to get in shape and really build up my core strength and endurance. I just know that it’s going to improve my riding.
  • I didn’t ride two-up with Mike Sullivan. I just couldn’t get past my mental block of never doing two-up with anyone, but I felt a little wistful when the other women who did it said that it was the scariest thing they had ever done, and they were that close to vomitting in their helmets. Maybe next time?
  • I think I hit 100mph, but I’m not completely sure as I was trying my best not to look at the speedometer. It was sobering to realize that while my bike was upto hitting 120+mph, me – the rider – was not.

In conclusion, I love the little motorcycling community. I really got a sense of that on this day, the same as I do when I attend WMRRA races. When I rode away from the track, I felt so empty – heading back to my normal life in my normal city seemed like such an anti-climax to the day.

I was hoping that I would be able to decide on this day as to whether I want to race next season, but I’m still not there yet. I don’t know if I’m able to spend that much money and time on something that could potentially get me killed. It’s not the getting killed part that I’m daunted by as much as the time and money bit though. Add to this my insecurities about my abilities although even this I could work on. I remember the first time I tried riding and how terribly bad I was, and how far I have come since. I know I can do this, and I know I can be good, but I am a little haunted by the thought of how good those other racers were – I don’t know if I have it in me to putting in the effort to get to that level. Perhaps I’ll settle for just doing trackdays regularly, rather than club racing. I’ll give myself some more time to decide. I have another trackday with Adrenaline Freaks coming up on Sep 8th. I’ll just concentrate on having a blast there, and let the decision-making rest until then.