Mid-Life Rider

rambling through mid-life on motorcycles

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Conversation with Moira Zinn: Elite Track Day Entrepreneur, Mom, Rider, Wrencher

March 10th, 2008 · No Comments

Moira Zinn is so on my list of cool people. The story about how her husband proposed to her is right out of a movie.

Moria was referred to me by FJRChick. She and her husband (the one with the great story) own Elite Trackdays down in Texas. That’s a good story too. I get a lot from this conversation, not the least of which is “follow your dream.” If not now, when?

Read and enjoy
 
Tell me a little about yourself. What do you do, do you have family, that sort of thing.

My name is Moira, I’m the proud mother of two daughters ages 10 and 13.  In past lives, I’ve been a geek, project manager and office administrator.  I’ve also worked in customer service, in call centers both on the phone and in management.  Right now, I am a full time student.  My husband has supported me with my plan of getting my degree. After being laid off in the summer of 2007, my husband and I decided to start our own company earlier than we originally planned.  I am surrounded by some incredible talent on motorcycles, I’ve included them in my company.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years. ‘d love to hear the story of starting your business.

Evan and I had this vision, both of what we loved and really disliked when we had done motorcycle track days in the past.  With that vision in mind, we had planned on starting our own company in either 2008 or 2009.  I was laid off from my job during the summer of 2007.  That opened the door for me to have the time to manage my own events. 

This year, my business has changed slightly.  I am now the motorcycle division for a new road-course almost ready to open slightly South of me.  With this opportunity, I am not only doing motorcycle track days, but building an actual motorcycle academy.  So, from here out, Elite Trackdays is about education more than just track-play-time.

When did you first ride a motorcycle?

Man, if I could remember the date, or even year, I think I would be happy!  It was probably late 70’s on the back of my father’s CB-350.  I can still remember the smell of my orange glitter three-quarter helmet… it had one of those yellow bubble shields that snapped onto the front.  *sigh*

On my own, 1992.  It occurred to me as an idea to get my Motorcycle License.  For many my age, it wasn’t a good or bad idea - it just wasn’t ever an idea.  I started on a Honda CB-1 that my ex-husband had created from a 1989 and 1990 model.  Looking back, it was probably the best motorcycle to start on.  It was small, under-powered, and not too heavy.

This feels like a dopey question, but say some things about how you experience owning and riding a bike as a woman? 

At one time, it was a novelty.  I was “different”.  Now, what makes me different is the fact that not only am I passionate about motorcycles, but I can be a good champion for that passion.  Where men are sometimes dismissed as “mid-life crisis” or “crazy” for wanting to ride.  Women are seen as “adventurous”.

Do you feel like you’re making a statement? 

I’ve never thought of it that way.

Do people respond to you differently when they find out you ride (or find out the person under the helmet is a woman)?

Yes.  

How many bikes have you owned?

Honda CB-1, Kawasaki ZX-11, Ducati 998, 748, M900

How many bikes have you ridden?

I don’t even know.  I mean, I have friends that will just throw me the keys - case and point, a girlfriend of mine had purchased a new bike and then received her orders from the Army to spend quality time in Iraq.  She gave me power of attorney for her brand new SuperHawk, handed me the keys and fled the country.  Another few friends… Triumph Speed Triple, Aprilia RSV-R, dirt bikes and track bikes alike.  I’ve been to Femmoto for three years, so the  demo opportunity grows as time goes by.

What do you own now?

Ducati 998, 748 (2002) and (1994) M900.  The 998 is my engagement *ring*.  As my husband proposed, “If I know you the way I think I do, you will appreciate a KEY ring more than a ring” as he opened a velvet box with the 998 key on a keyring.  Both the 998 and 748 are track-only.

How many miles do you expect to ride this year?

I usually put on a few hundred miles at the track every Monday and Friday.  So, about 20,000 miles on the track.  Probably less than that on the street.

Riding gear (street) of choice?

I wear a Dainese Ducati leather jacket, Suomy Spec 1R helmet, SIDI Vertigo Corse Race boots, Spidi Penta Sport Gloves, Tourmaster Cortech DSX Denim pants.

Riding gear (track) of choice?

Dainese, Suomy, SIDI, Spidi… I wear a Dainese Ducati full suit, Suomy Spec 1R helmet, SIDI Vert Corse Race boots, Spidi Penta Sport Gloves.  It has taken me quite a while to figure out fit and performance, as there seems to be a disconnect with the gear manufacturers and the fact that women actually RIDE motorcycles.

What attracted you to motorcycling? Why do you ride?

It’s just me and the bike.  I now know that it’s a way for me to remove my thoughts from an overloaded mind.  Some people will say, “Don’t ride emotional”, but I believe that is the best way to get me to relax.  When I’m on the bike I focus on riding, I don’t have the ability to focus on other things.  Therefore, it gives my mind a break from those other emotions.

You told a great story about your husband. Did one of you start riding before the other? Was it something you discussed? Were there issues? Were there deals made?

My husband and I both rode before meeting each other.  In fact, we met at a Ducati-bike-night.

Do your kids ride?

Yes.

What do you think about when you ride?

Riding, that’s all I think about.

This is perhaps an indelicate question, but how do you think about the “dangerous” part about riding?

I don’t.  I mean, I’ve had it put toward me by family and friends.  And it weighs on my mind after a close friend has been injured or lost their life.  But, it is something that I cannot dwell on.  There are so many things in the world today that can kill you.  I have decided to pay attention, bubble-wrap myself as best as I can, and proceed to live my life.  I think of it as calculated risk.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone coming to motorcycles for the first time? I’m thinking about the “mid-life” rider now?

Pay attention to the small stuff.  Start small, and take it easy.

What bike would you recommend (and why)?

It really depends on so many factors.  Street or track riding?  Size of rider?  Driving ability?  Attention to detail?

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done on/with a motorcycle?

I do my own maintenance.  I know, it sounds so very ho-hum.  But, sitting in the garage, explaining how the bikes work, what tools are needed, how do take it apart or put it together… doing all that with my daughter.  That is, by far, the coolest thing I’ve done yet.  I think her being interested and asking questions makes it all that much better.

If you could pick one place you’d recommend as a riding destination / experience, what/where would that be?

Get to the track.  Not necessarily to race, but to better know yourself with your bike without outside distractions.

If someone handed you a blank check and said “go buy a motorcycle you’d enjoy riding (not just collecting), what would you pick?

My 998 is that bike to me. Though, it would be dreamy if I could get a 1965 Ducati Mach 1 single for the street.


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