The track pack

Between work, studying, parenting and gokarting my blog has kinda fallen on the wayside. 

I normally hate having such a full schedule because it stresses me out when I can’t get some time for myself to unwind and rejuvenate but everything I’m doing is important in its own right so I kinda have to suck it up and deal with it right now. 

“We probably should head out to the track on the weekend. I need the practice and you need to check your kart setup. How about Sunday?”

Even though I’ve got a tonne of study stuff to do lately, I don’t mind putting it down every now and again for gokarting. For one, it’s good exercise and secondly it’s a lot of fun. No point working hard all the time if you never get to enjoy yourself. 

“Sounds good to me my sweet. Will the kid be joining us?”

“Yeah I think so. His GF is out of town for the weekend.”

“Cool. We get to hang out as a family for a change.”
 

So come Sunday Mr X got the trailer ready whilst I made some sandwiches for lunch.
We have done this gokarting thing so many times now that we have a good little routine going. 

Mr X packs the trailer whilst I get our clothes and food together and when we get to the track I’ll unload the kart trolleys whilst Mr X gets the ramps ready and as he unloads a karts and moves onto the next, I’ll push the unloaded kart out of the way and into our area. Once the karts are out Mr X will unpack the table, along with the tool box and fuel drums, and I’ll unpack the chairs, get out our race gear and tidy up inside the trailer.

On a race days however there’s the extra step of unpacking the gazebo at the start but when it’s just a day of practice, like today, Mr X just parks the trailer up so it throws the shade over our setup. 

“So what was it again? 10 pound in the tyres?”

The last time we visited the track Mr X was told that he had too much air pressure in his tyres and this could be potentially affecting the handling of his kart. He had been a little weary about  letting them down but once he gave it a shot, and took a few laps around the track, he was quite happy with the result and now he wanted to try the same on our karts.

“I also had to switch your rear hubs out with my old ones and before you get irritated with me for changing parts, it had to be done. Your hubs are missing stuff to stop them from moving inward on your axle.”

Of course he didn’t use the word stuff but I cannot for the life of me remember the correct terminology.

“Well I’ll let it slide this time, because you’re looking out for my safety…”

Mr X chuckled and shook his head.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”
 
So after a few more adjustments we headed over to the pits. Master Z had the first run on the track with another Junior but after that it was mine and Mr X’s turn. 

“Ready?” Mr X queried, kneeling beside my kart with the starter locked into position.

“Ready.”

To which I was off and onto the track.

It always feels good getting back into the drivers seat of my kart and today was no exception. The sun was shining, the track had a bit of rubber on it and after the first lap I knew my kart had a good set up. Maybe it was the lower tyre pressures or maybe it was the shorter rear hubs. Either way I was comfortably scooting around the track though still not fast enough to keep up with Mr X. Of course I’m not hitting the corners as fast and as quick as him so no surprise there but I think with a few more practices with this new setup I do believe I can knock a few more seconds off my lap times. 

“Okay. You got me. I like the shorter hubs.”

“I thought you might. How did the rest of the kart feel?”

“Yeah, really good. It’s cornering really nice”

“Do you need me to adjust the width of the rear tyres?”

“No. Leave everything as it is.”

So that’s what he did and I continued to work on my driving whilst out on the track. I can feel myself getting around the corners faster but I know I’m still breaking too early for them. However that’s all to do with building my confidence with my kart and it will come in time. 

“Well I don’t know about you but I’m done for the day. My arms feel like jelly!”

Mr X laughed.

“I’m going to change my sprocket size and go back out. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Not at all my love. I’ll just sit back and watch.”

Which is precisely what I did for the rest of the afternoon, admiring the way the BF handled and drove his kart. Fearlessly. Since adjusting the tyre pressures his kart has been cornering like its on rails and flowing around the track smoothly. It’s beautiful to watch. Eventually I’ll get as good as him. I just have to keep practicing. 

Mr X completed a number of laps before he pulled into the pits. pulled off his helmet and sighed aloud. 

“I think Master Z is ready to go home.” I said, gazing over at our trailer and seeing the boy playing on his phone.

“That’s ok. I’ve done all I can do here today. “

Back in the bucket seat

With the track set to close for 3 weeks straight, and me with my insatiable lust for all things gokarting lately, Mr X and I decided to forgo working on the house on Sunday and hit the track. 

I’m not sure what it is exactly that I’m so obsessed about gokarting lately and I want to go all the time. Maybe it’s the challenge of improving my lap times or maybe it’s the learning something new each time I go out. Anyway I’m just loving donning on my race suit and helmet and jumping in my kart and driving around the track. I’m just loving how my kart will effortlessly turn the corners with a slight turning of my steering wheel. I’m just loving how my eyes are adjusting to the landscape as I get faster and faster down the straights.

So I was all kinds of excited to learn that we were gokarting two Sunday’s in a row, even if my body was caning from the last week in my kart. I have this habit of hugging my fuel tank with my calf muscles when slipping around the corners but this is not an unusual trait as the BF does the same. However it leaves my legs aching for a couple of days afterward, not to mention my fingers and arms from clinging to the wheel. It’s a good work out and my body is slowly adjusting to it but as I get faster, new pains are arising so it’s a vicious cycle right now.

“Looks like I won’t be practicing in my kart on Sunday. My clutch plate is broken and I don’t think I’ll be able to get another in time.”

Last weekend, and on our last practice, the chain guard bolt snapped on Mr X’s gokart causing the bracket to fall into the chain and thus FUBAR-ing the chain and sprocket so Mr X decided to spend some time fixing and cleaning up his kart during the week to get it ready for our practice session for the upcoming Sunday. Unfortunately it was when he was pulling the motor apart that this discovery was made. 

“Can you ring that guy in town and see if he has one?”

Which he tried but no one answered.

“It’s okay my love. I’ll be pit crew for you and Master Z. Get your karts set up right.”

Unfortunately come Sunday morning and the kid bailed on our karting adventure in lieu of potentially spending time with his GF so it was just me then. It seemed like a lot of effort for just one karter and I expressed as much.

“It’s okay sweetie. I’ve got that work I need to do at the track anyway so I’ll get that done between your practices. You need the seat time!”
 
 
It was a fairly windy and overcast at the track when we arrived which normally I’d love because wearing a race suit all day can get quite hot but I was nervous about it potentially raining and ruining my lap times. Three weeks is a long time between practicing and I wanted to make the most of it.

“Looks like we are going the other way around the track so that will be interesting. Haven’t done that for awhile.”

Normally when we show up at the club the track was set up for anti-clockwise direction and we’d just go with it. We probably should be practicing both ways but Mr X was more interested in figuring out our kart setups first. I guess now was as good as time as any to go the other way.

“You’ll be okay. It’s a pretty cool day too so I might put the 20mm spaces in your front end.

There was only one other karter when we arrived at the track which made me a little anxious. I’m still 5-6 seconds slower than most people, more if they are light and running the new KA motors and I hate being embarrassingly slower than them. However my need to improve outweighed my fear of what people thought so once our camp was set up and I’d put on my race suit, helmet and gloves, I headed out onto the track.

The first corner I took okay, it was a tight S bend but when I was coming into the second it felt like the front end was biting too early and I nearly lost it. I figured the tyres were just cold so I persisted and kept going around the track but my next prob was I forgot where my apexes were so my lap times were all over the place. After 5 laps, and a couple of spin outs, I pulled into the pits.

“I think I need to go back to the 15mm spaces. It feels like the front end is biting too soon.”

So Mr X changed my spaces and once it was my turn I headed back onto the track. This time I had a better idea of my apexes so I took the first lap a little slower, waiting for my tyres to heat up but once I felt they were sticky I was off! 

Keep going, keep going. Don’t brake until you reach the witches hat. Brake! Turn! Accelerate out of the corner!

And the gokart slid around the turn and I was off again, heading for the next corner. 

Foot off accelerator, go wide here and turn! Wait until your exiting and foot back on the accelerator!

It was uncomfortable going around the track in a different direction at first but since I was comfortable with my gokart set up (instinctively knew how much to turn the wheel to get around corners because I knew how much it bit) I didn’t mind pushing myself to learn something new. My lap times were a bit sloppy at first as I learnt my way around but once I figured out my best path I got down to my mid range 48 second times. I was estatic!

“That was so much better and so much fun! I got back to 48’s again but I need more fuel and then I’m going back out again!”

So Mr X pushed my gokart back to our trailer and fueled her up for me whilst I checked my kart over, making sure nothing has come loose. There was another karter on the track, a cadet, so I had to wait my turn but before too long I was out there again, hugging my fuel tank as I slid around the corners.  I’m not sure why but going this way around the track made me slip around in my seat more.

Regardless, I was starting to get the hang of the track and I was learning to enjoy this direction. For instance the 6 metre corner was much easier to navigate in this direction, as well as the S bend. However the other long corner was much more difficult due to the corrogation on the bitumen, causing my foot to bounce a little on the accelerator, and it took me a fair few laps to get the hang of keeping my foot steady on the peddle.

“I think that about does it for me for the day my love. I’m exhausted and my arms are killing me. Do you think I’m getting better?”

“Of course you are. I’m wrapped with how well you are doing.”

“Yeah so am I. Thank you for setting up my kart for me. It’s only cause you’ve learnt so much that I’ve improved.”

“That’s ok. I enjoy doing it.”

Return of the Gokarter

After a long hiatus from gokarting I hit the BF up to take me out to the track again. It had been months since I’d been in my kart and thus the drivers seat and I think I was losing a little interest in the sport. We asked Master Z if he wanted to come along too but he declined under the grounds he wanted to hang with his girlfriend instead so Mr X and I headed to the track on our own. 

I think my idea was to spend a couple of hours there and come home and do my housework but I truly forgot how this motorsport can suck you in. I could have totally spent the entire weekend there and been happy about it. That’s how I roll these days.
 
“So I made some changes to your kart. I’ve put  the newer type tyres on it and have widen the rear end a little. Let’s see how you go.”

Mr X has been really keen to get me back into the sport because he knows I’ve been struggling to get faster around the corners. The idea is to get the outside wheels on the kart to lift so whenever you manouveour around a corner it turns effortlessly and you don’t lose speed/momentum. However to get the kart to do this you need to figure out the right gokart setup which differs on the size/weight of the driver. So I’m learning how to tell Mr X what’s happening when I drive the kart and he’s learning what to change to the setup. 

So after donning on the race gear and jumping into the drivers seat, Mr X started my kart and off I went. 

On previous runs at the track, on my old tyres, I’d turn the wheel into a corner only for the rear end to bite and get almost spun around so I’d have to quickly correct by turning the steering wheel the other way so I was quite surprised after a couple of laps on the newer tyres I had no probs whatsoever with getting my kart around with a only a little bit of turning of the wheel. Of course I wasn’t taking them quite as fast as Mr X but it was definitely faster than what I’d normally take them and by gosh that made me happy. Finally I was feeling like I was getting somewhere with my kart!

“So those tyres are really great. I can’t believe how quick they get hot!”

Mr X laughed as he walked around my kart, checking it out, running his hands over the tyres and noting their condition.

“Looks like they are wearing really good too sweetie. It’s funny because I took these tyres off my kart and they were chewed out a bit but I put them on your kart and they’re wearing perfectly.”
 

“Really? So looks like my alignments are all good then?”

“Yeah but I still think you need to get more lift when you get around the corners, I might widen your track a little more and see what you think.”

So that’s what he did and once my kart was ready I headed back out into the track and threw it into the first corner, once cleared I planted my foot down the straight and touched the brake just before I came into the next corner and planted my foot down again once I was free of that corner. The kart was definitely sticking really well to the track, just like the previous run but far better than our previous practice sessions. However I still didn’t feel like I could trust it to go faster into the corners as the kart kept pushing out when I accidentally tried a couple of times. 

Regardless, I was quite happy with how it was setup as it was helping me build my confidence and I was content with working on getting closer into the corner before taking my foot off the accelerator and turning. Something I didn’t feel comfortable with doing on my old tyres.

“Did you want me to make some more changes to your kart? To get it to flex more?”

“Nah. I’m beat my love. I think I’ll do another few laps and that will be enough for me today.”

But the bug had bitten me so two weeks later we were back at the track, unloading the karts and getting ready to practice.  I decided I wanted to try to get some more flex out of the kart so Mr X made the necessary adjustments to the rear end and I headed out onto the track to try it out.

It took me a couple of laps though to trust the kart because it rattled a lot more than I remembered, which is normal if you remove bolts that previously had stiffened it up but once I took that first turn at a high speed and the kart swung effortlessly around it like it was on rails, I was hooked!

So this is what it should feel like, this is what it’s all about I cheered in my head as I took another  corner and felt the kart corner effortlessly around it. Of course I still had to hang pretty tight to the wheel because there’s no such thing as power steering but I was getting used to the workout to my arms and it felt good to work those muscles.

I think I did more laps than I ever done before because I got so hooked on the drive and getting my laps time down. I’d hadn’t used the Alfano in my kart before so it was interesting to see how long it took me to complete a lap and whether I could get better a better time on the next lap. When I could feel myself getting slower I finally pulled into the pits and Mr X joined me not long after.

“Did you see me!? Did you see my kart flexing?! Now I finally get it and that was fun!”

Mr X laughed, giving me a tight hug and then  checked the Alfano. He raised his eyebrow a little when he flicked through my times.

“I’m glad you had a good time and I’m pleased with your lap times. Your definitely getting better. Well done.”

And now Im definitely looking forward to our next practice session. 

Old is new again

I forgot to mention it but we did finish refurbing that chair of mine and it actually turned out rather nice. 

I was kinda unsure whether the print I chose for the cushion would look okay against the copper coloured frame but now the chair is back together and in use I definitely love the overall look. Mr X on the other hand was not overly impressed with my fabric choice, or at least that’s the impression I received when I asked him about it. Not that it matters. I’m the one sitting on it after all.
 
“Its a bunch of stags. Your butt will be sitting on a bunch of stags.”
 
I rolled my eyes at Mr X then ran my fingers over the cushion admiring the black stencil stag print against the off white background. I had loved the look of the pattern when I first spied it at the local haberdashery and my fondness for it still had not waned a few weeks on.
 
“So you don’t like it I take it?” I asked, not really wanting an answer but asking anyway. Mr X shrugged but before he could speak I got in first.

“Never mind, I think it looks quite fetching and matches the copper perfectly. And besides Stags are a majestic animal so my butt, as you so put it, will be sitting on something majestic. Just saying. ”

 
Although Mr X likes to mock me about my furniture choices he actually doesn’t really care how I furnish our home. I bought this round storage table for the bathroom so I can hide stuff like the extra toilet paper rolls and spray and I purchased my plant and this trendy wire pot plant stand for that and Mr X just shrugged his shoulders at it all.

I guess it’s easy to like my palette because it is so neutral and very minimalistic but I still like Mr X to have an input into our home as well so I think about what compliments his favourite furniture, such as these two antique sideboards with their lead light glass doors, which will look pretty against either a soft grey or bright white wall with some grey carpet on the floor. 

“Now I best finish that desk of yours before you decide you want that painted as well huh.”

Which I don’t, FYI. But he doesn’t need to know that. 

Almost Pretty

“Do you think I’ve done enough so far? I’ve only been working on it for a day and a half and the flooring did take awhile.”

Another day, another project. This one though was a bit more helpful in getting our bathroom project finished by resheeting the adjoining wall as well as replacing the rest of the walls and flooring in the toilet. Mr X and I both took a week off work to spend time together and so far no arguments. However that’s probably more to do with the lack of stress involved with this project compared to the installation of a new bathroom in a week. That was just another level of crazy.

“Look I’m just happy to have the toilet reinstated in the same day it was removed. Overall I think your travelling pretty well.” 

Mr X nodded his head, checking the room over again. Probably summing up the rest of work needing to be done.

“Hopefully the rest of the wall will be up tomorrow but they are predicting more rain after lunch…”

I scrunched up my nose in distaste but then recalled how hot it had been before the rain and shrugged off my annoyance. So we’d get a bit wet. Big deal. Better than sweating our heads off.

“Well I guess you’ll have to cut up the gyprock sheets in the shed. At least it won’t be stinking hot when you do. ”

“Or the kitchen, it’s not like I haven’t done that before.”
 
My OCD gave a shudder at those words.

 
“It’s going to look so good when it’s all done. Goodbye ugly toilet area, Hello prettiness! I even have some of the decor picked out and a plant.”

“Really? A plant?”

“Yep. To get rid of those nasty toxins in the air. If you get my meaning.”

“Uh huh.”

Penny

One thing I’m beginning to learn about home renovations is that it’s not uncommon to have more than one project on the go. For instance Mr X is refurbishing a set of windows, a door, my desk and now he’s helping me jazz up my desk chair. 

Ok the last one is meant to be my project but I’ve never used spray paint on furniture before and I didn’t want to screw it up. Mr X wasn’t really impressed at my painting suggestion but even he ceded defeat when I pointed out it was only pine furniture. Because that stuff is common. Besides I had fallen in love with the copper look (practically been obsessing over it) and what better item to practice on then a hand me down chair. 

“Ok, so instead of starting the application directly on the surface, try starting the spray beforehand and don’t stop spraying till you have moved the can all the way across the surface and a bit passed it. This way you get an even coat.”

Although spray painting itself is not hard I definitely had to think before I pressed that damn nozzle. Don’t spray too close. Don’t expect to cover the entire surface in one hit. Keep the can upright. Don’t apply too much! I think I started to get the hang of it in the end with only one screw up. Of course it happened when I wasn’t concentrating. Good thing it could be sanded out when the paint dried.

“You know, the grey looks good enough as a top coat. What do you think?”

Mr X sighed aloud, looking the chair over and then at me.

“I don’t know. Grey to me means that it’s not finished. Like its waiting for its final colour. But that’s the car spray painter in me talking. You can paint them whatever you want.”

Which is guy speak for I honestly don’t care. Stop asking me.

So after the undercoat was left for 24 hours to dry, Mr X sneakily applied the top coat the next day. I say sneakily because I was too busy chilling in the house at the time, trying to escape the heat wave that had blown over and the BF took it upon himself to just finish painting my chair for me. Mildly annoying because I wanted to do it myself but I also knew we only had two cans of aerosol for the job and it had taken 2.5 to undercoat the chair the day before. Chances were if I did it, we’d run out of paint because my technique needs a little work but if Mr X did it, we might just have enough to finish. 

Turns out we needed a third can. 

“Guess no new chair for me yet but on the plus side, that colour looks amazing!”

“Yeah. I like it. I think I found the colour for my gokart chassis.”

Uh oh. What have I started.

Timber

After the tree had been pulled down and the Christmas decorations packed away both Mr X and I fell back into getting stuff done to the house. Him pulling apart and sanding back another set of casement windows, me decluttering the house and moving furniture around to allow for future work to progress. 

There is still some work to do on the bathroom but finishing that requires us to now work on the toilet area next door to it. We purposely didn’t tackle this when we took on the bathroom reno (there wasn’t enough time) but I’m pushing to make it happen now so I can get my 1200mm long mirror fitted to the adjoining wall and install our fancy pendant light . 

And yeah it’s all about my vanity, k?

So after Mr X finished gluing the window frame back together and set it to the side to dry, he then went looking for our old back door and whether we could potentially use it for the toilet area. This room has a sliding door which shares space with the bathroom as well but that door is flat and kinda boring and I was interested in something a little bit different. 

“I thought it was wider. Is that really going to work?”

After Mr X pulled the door out of storage and dusted it off I came outside to check it out. I vaguely remembered what the door looked like when we packed it away oh so long ago but  for some reason I imagined it to be bigger. 

“Should do. I’ll sand it back and clear coat it. It’s a nice lump of wood. Should come up fairly nice.”

Although I wanted to use an old door for this project I was kinda counting on painting it white. There are already two different shades of wood in the bathroom at present and anymore may just kill the colour palette of the room.

“Oh. I thought we’d just paint it white again. You know, since it’s just a door.”

Mr X just looked at me in reply.

So I’m not too sure who is going to win out of this dilemma because although I know I can get my way when I want, I’m not too sure it’s for best. In the past the BF has made some really good decisions about our reno’s, against my own ideas I might add, which have turned out rather well. Maybe I should go with this one too and see how it pans out.

Plan B

As another year ended and a new one began my thoughts turned to my studies and which subject I should sign up for next. 

Last year I thought I’d sign up for two,  Engineering Statistics and Mechanical Analysis, because I was ready to take on the extra work load both physically and mentally, but then Mr X’s work place decided to down size their work force (he kept his job but many others didn’t) and then our dog got cancerous tumours removed (and she has to go back because theyre not happy with the margin they got on one of the three) and after that I kinda thought less about completing extra subjects and more about securing work for Mr X in the event things went South. I know I could manage the bills in a worse case scenario but I’d rather not do so for too long. We both like our spare cash and it keeps for a happy relationship if we have some.

“Hey, I know we’ve discussed it before but I really think you should get your electrical license. Not so much to bring in extra money but just encase your job ever gets made redundant.”

Even when my body lays dormat my mind is always switched on, thinking and planning, planning and thinking. The boyfriend knows when I’m doing as much and often reads my face before I announce my thoughts aloud. It’s pretty cool how he does that. I guess he really does know me.

“I’ve been thinking about it as well actually and asking my boss about what’s involved in getting your license. He focuses mostly on installing aircon’s and whatnot but I think I’d like to concentrate on industrial work if I was to work for myself. Much more interesting then commercial stuff. Worth more money.”

As Mr X spoke I couldn’t help but do a little happy step/jump and grin at him adoringly. Just when I think I’m the only one whose thinking ahead about our future, out of his mouth pops this.

“Well I’ll help you pay for it and I’ll do all the books for the business when you need me to. ” 

My words made Mr X smile and he reached around me and hugged me tight. I’m fairly generous when it comes to this man but that is what girlfriends do and besides, he is definitely worth it.

“Ok, it’s settled then. Plan B.”

Mr X could only grin at me in reply.