MOTORCYCLING: Kate's in the pink on two wheels...
Rugby rider is making a name for herself as one of the few female motorcycle road racers on the circuit
Kate Mustill was taken to her first race meeting when she was just six weeks old. So it’s perhaps inevitable that after growing up watching motorsport she would take to the track herself.
But while dad Nigel races on four wheels, Kate much prefers two and is making a name for herself as one of the few female motorcycle road racers on the circuit.
Lining up on the grid in pink leathers, on her pink bike called ‘Brian’, she’s used to attracting plenty of attention from fellow riders, spectators and of course commentators. But she loves the sport and just wants to keep racing and improving each time she goes out.
Kate’s first taste of motorbikes came almost by chance when she was 16. Her father was in hospital for two months with a broken knee and got to know the man in the next bed who was a motocross rider.
He had a road bike and when he offered to take Kate for a spin she was immediately hooked.
At 23 she bought a 125cc and secretly took her CBT test without her family knowing, before just turning up at home on the bike to surprise them!
Kate, now 37, tried a few track days and just loved the adrenaline.
She sold her road bike and is now on her third racing machine, a 600cc Honda CBR600 RR.
“It is scary and I always feel sick, anxious and nervous beforehand,” said Kate, who moved to Rugby from Wiltshire almost a decade ago and works for Kite Packaging in Coventry.
“As you start to build yourself up to it, it is nerve-racking, but the speed is exhillarating. When you’re lined up on the grid and the lights go out and you go, I just love it.
“When you’re going round the first corner, lent over, knee dragging, you get a real buzz.”
On the straight on a track like Snetterton Kate would be doing around 165mph.
“It sounds strange but you don’t really notice when you are chasing and everyone’s at the same speed,” she said.
“It’s only when you try and stop you know you are going that fast!”
Kate spent a couple of seasons competing in three-hour endurance races, in the Hottrax Series and then Clubman 600, with No Limits Racing Club.
Races involve a Le Mans start and swapping bikes and riders, almost like a relay, but with so many classes all taking part she found it frustrating not knowing how she was doing in the race.
She much prefers sprint racing, which she returned to last season with the North Gloucester Road Racing Club’s Open 600cc Class, over eight or ten laps, where everyone is battling for the same top placings.
Kate plans to race their series again this year.
“I’ve come to the sport later than most, as many start in their teens, so I don’t have any great ambitions,” she explained.
“But I want to carry on club racing and to keep getting quicker.
“A few guys are out of my league, but there are a few of us all on the same pace, so when we meet in the paddock there’s always a lot of banter.
“I’ve never encountered any problems being in a largely male-orientated sport. Everyone looks after each other, it’s all very friendly.
“Fitness is a big part it, especially as you steer with your body.
“Men are naturally stronger, so I have to put the effort in, with stamina and strength training - lots of spinning and cycling over the winter, but I enjoy it.”
Kate is very grateful to everyone who supports her, including her dad, whose business Wessex Vehicle Services supplies her race van, boyfriend Andy O’Sullivan and friends Steven Reeves and Owen Richardson.
Her sport isn’t cheap and she is hoping to find a couple of local businesses that might be interested in sponsoring her for this season, advertising on her bike or clothing.
Please get in touch with Kate by emailing: [email protected]