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.”

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