Imagine planning for months and flying for over 2,000 miles to attend a track day – in my case, a HER Track Days event – only to discover that you might not be able to participate at all.

That was my reality in April 2022 when I flew to Los Angeles, California, from Northern Kentucky to rent a motorcycle and attend a HER all-female track day. After a delayed flight turned into a canceled one, I struggled to find a way to arrive in Los Angeles at a reasonable hour.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Willow Springs HER Track Days
The Streets of Willow Springs racetrack in Rosamond, California.

After getting the last seat on a flight by sheer luck, I finally landed in LAX around noon and was ready to meet up with my accompanying friend, Ashley. After waiting for several passes of the baggage carousel without seeing my luggage, I became suspicious that my bag – containing my all-important leathers, gloves, and track boots – hadn’t arrived due to the delays and cancellations.

After waiting in a long line at the baggage office, my fears were confirmed. My luggage was still at the Cincinnati airport, and it was unlikely to arrive that night.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Marina del Ray HER Track Days
Becker spent some time exploring Los Angeles, including the Marina del Ray.

What am I going to do? I thought to myself. I had brought my Bell Race Star helmet as a carry-on, but I could not participate in the track day without the rest of my gear. It was going to be nearly impossible to find another woman’s suit that fit me in less than 24 hours.

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I texted the owner of HER Track Days, who had been instrumental in helping me plan this cross-country track day trip, and let her know what was happening. She immediately reached out to other women in the area who were attending to see if they had any spare gear that would be close to my size.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Canal in Venice Beach HER Track Days
Becker and her friend Ashley explored Venice Beach and its canals while waiting for their luggage.

Our Tour of Los Angeles

The airport said there was a chance for luggage to arrive by 11 p.m. that night, so Ashley and I toured some of Los Angeles in the meantime. We enjoyed authentic Mexican food at a restaurant that had an outdoor patio full of sand, we drank in views of Marina Del Rey and the sizeable sailboats docked along it, and I even got to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time at Venice Beach.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Venice Beach HER Track Days
At Venice Beach, Becker dipped her toe into the Pacific for the first time.

By 9 p.m., we were exhausted and still had a two-hour drive to the hotel in Rosamond, California (not to mention an early start the next morning). We returned to the airport, and they confirmed that the luggage would not be back in time. The only hope I had was that the gear the HER women had found would fit me.

HER Track Days Morning

We were at the Streets of Willow Springs racetrack in Rosamond, California, early the next morning. To say that I was nervous is an understatement. I’d spent thousands of dollars on the track day, rental bike, and flight, all of which were nonrefundable. Ashley and I had both taken off work and traveled countless miles cross-country to be here. Yet despite all of that, my ability to participate was reliant on whether the gear the women brought would fit me.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker HER Track Days Riders Meeting HER Track Days
HER Track Days riders meeting.

The track was a little hard to find, and my nerves increased as we reached the entrance. After meeting up with the owner of HER Track Days and many of the participants, I was welcomed as the person who had come the farthest. But I had some business to attend to before I could feel too excited.

Trying On the Gear

My new friends supplied me with a worn women’s track suit, full gauntlet gloves, and a pair of track boots. I put the suit on first and was delighted to see that it fit me well enough that I felt comfortable riding. Next were the gloves, which fit, well, like a glove. Finally, it all came down to the pair of track boots. I felt like Cinderella, where I only needed this glass slipper to fit to be able to ride that day.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker in Worn Suit HER Track Days
Becker’s borrowed track suit and gloves.

Pulling on the boots, I could tell that they were going to be a tad too small. At this point, the other women attending the event were just as invested in me riding as I was, so three of us squeezed and pulled and got those track boots to zip up. With that, I was ready to ride for the day.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Cinderella Boots HER Track Days
It took three women to get these borrowed boots on, but the effort paid off.

The Rest of the HER Track Days Event

Equipped with fitting gear, I tracked down the owner of my rental motorcycle company, Kneedraggrz, to get set up with my track bike. He had prepared a race-ready Yamaha YZF-R3 (Read Woman Rider‘s Yamaha YZF-R3 Road Test Review) that was fully equipped with engine upgrades, a full exhaust system, quickshifter, and more. It was bright orange, and I was in love with it before I even rode it.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Yamaha YZF-R3 HER Track Days
Becker rented a bright orange Yamaha YZF-R3 for the track.

The weather was beautiful – not too hot and not too cold – and I enjoyed lap after lap in the Advanced class all day. The track included tight turns, straight sections, and even a banked curve, which I had not experienced before.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Yamaha YZF-R3 on Track HER Track Days
Geared up and having a blast on the track.

HER’s coaching was excellent. I received tips and advice from engaged coaches who followed me on the track to see my progress. Sessions ran smoothly, the Grid Master was efficient, and overall, the entire experience was enjoyable and worth the struggle I went through to get there.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Yamaha YZF-R3 HER Track Days
In the end, the day was worth the struggle to get there.

The Return Home

Because of my delayed flights, we had to pick the rental car up at a later time. To do that, we had to upgrade to a sportscar class. We received a Dodge Charger GT, which I had been driving around Los Angeles and Rosamond. On our trip back to the airport the following day, Google Maps noticed a delay on the highway and rerouted us. I had no idea where it would take us but was stunned when the shortcut went through the gorgeous Angeles National Forest.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Angeles National Forest HER Track Days
Google Maps rerouted Becker and Ashley through the Angeles National Forest.

Ashley and I were met with beautiful scenery unlike what we see at home in Northern Kentucky and Ohio. Mountain faces surrounded us with sparse brush along the slopes. Vistas opened up around turns with cliffs and views of mountains from the distance. We stopped once to take photos and were speechless at the beauty.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Angeles National Forest HER Track Days
Cruising through the Angeles National Forest.

Most importantly, the road was a blast, complete with twisty curves and turns with varying elevation. While I wasn’t on a motorcycle, I was grateful to get to traverse the fun road in a sporty car – it was a good thing we upgraded to that vehicle after all.

It felt like Los Angeles was apologizing to us for the trouble we had been through by taking us through that magical road winding through new and enthralling landscape. I now have a bucket-list item to return to this area and ride those roads on a motorcycle instead of in a car.

They Lost My Leathers Carly Becker Angeles National Forest HER Track Days
Becker enjoying the scenery on an unexpected detour.

The Camaraderie of Motorcyclists

While there were many positive experiences on my trip, the one that stands out to me most is the camaraderie I witnessed between the track day organization owner, the rental bike owner, and all the female participants of HER Track Days. It was heart-warming to see how much they welcomed me as someone coming from afar, but even more importantly, it was unbelievable how they came together to get me the gear I needed to participate. It is not an understatement to say that I would not have been able to ride that day had it not been for them. I have found this camaraderie time and time again in the motorcycle community – whether all-female or not – and I am so grateful for my fellow motorcyclists.

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