Thursday, August 28, 2014

Motorcycling Gypsy Life

The motorcycle gypsy life comes at a price.

It's not often I long for familiarity, but when I do, the pang hits me like a bullet in my soul, piercing any shred of wanderlust within me.

I want to be home.

This rainy day, for no particular reason, I miss having a home. I miss knowing where I keep my red scarf, using my own dishes, crawling into my own bed. I long for the streets I know, the familiar sights and sounds of a place I understand and rely upon.

Things change constantly on the road and there are days it seems to overwhelm me. Caught off guard by the storm of emotions, I'm drowning in the sense of being lost.

I don't belong anywhere,

Now I'm compelled to wander, because no "place" is home, and perhaps, no "place" ever will be again. I only know that in this moment, I have no home and I belong nowhere and it fills me with a ache to belong.

I have family, but I don't belong with them.

I have friends, but seeing them occasionally keeps them at a distance.

I have a hometown, but it's different now than when I lived there.

Motorcycling is the most individual thing I've ever done. It fills one with independence, self sufficiency and singularity. A slightly darker shade of this same sense is loneliness. One can find peace within oneself while riding, but one can also feel isolated from the rest of society. As travelers, we see ourselves outside the norm, and outside of society in many ways.

Recognizing that one is unique is not always comforting. In fact, in the glaring light of reality, it can be dreadful. The painful knowledge that I don't fit in, that I've always been different, and I will never belong hurts me. I may belong for a season, a weekend, a moment, but once I mount up to leave at the behest of my grinding wanderlust, I belong no more.

Wanderlust is a wicked ache that begs me shed all I know and go it alone. More powerful than my need to belong is my need to follow my inner voice, leading me into the dark of the unknown. No thing I've ever done is harder than looking within and following the frightening reality of my true self.

Motorcycling has opened a door I never intended to open, thrust me into a life I would never have wished for myself. To the degree that it is beautiful and fantastic, it is lonely and painful. It tries my fortitude and my character. It breaks my heart and breaks my body. It bares my soul to the torrents of singularity, compared to none, belonging nowhere, left to define myself with my own devices.

It is the hardest, bravest and most revealing thing I've lived, this traveling about rather aimlessly.

I'm glad I have my husband to travel with me. But he is on his own path, finding his own place.

If I've learned anything it has been that everything is temporary and I've been alone all this time, I just never realized it before now.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Viking Bags Motorcycle Tailbag Review

Recently I received an Vikingbags Extra Large Plain Studded Tail bag for my motorcycle travels. I ordered this bag specifically from Viking Bags because of it's size (this was the largest bag I found that would fit my motorcycle) and compatibility with my particular motorcycle.

Since I am traveling for an undetermined period of time, perhaps a few years, it is necessary for me to carry everything I need on a long term basis. In fact, I carry many items that most folks wouldn't need on a motorcycle trip. I have medicines I need occasionally and office materials I need to run my business from the road, as well as my extra weather gear for a variety of needs. The term "gear" can be used broadly, and for me this includes rain pants, gloves, jewelry, hats and scarves.

I like a few pretty things to wear and my accessories.

"The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize." Clairee Belcher, Steel Magnolias

The second reason I chose this particular tail bag is my motorcycle. I ride a Yamaha V Star 650 Classic, with a short sissy bar. I would certainly like a taller sissy bar, but I'm satisfied with the one I have. I'm only 4'11" and I would like to be taller, but you deal with what life hands you. I chose Viking Bags tail bag because it would fit over the short sissy bar.

The bag also comes with a secondary attachment for one's sleeping bag. I've found this bag to be quite useful for hats, keeping my cowboy hat in perfect shape along the way. I actually tuck three smaller hats inside the cowboy hat and they all stay still and well shaped.

As I've said, it's all about packing well!

Speaking of packing, I've certainly utilized the pockets to the maximum abilities. I've designated particular pockets for particular uses so I know where to go each time I need something. So the way many people would arrange things in drawers at home is the way I've arranged the things in my tail bag pockets.

For my Fibromyalgia pain I have a number of natural remedy creams and ointments in the front, top pocket. The very top pocket is for rain gear and the rain cover for my tail bag. We have our first aid in one bottom, front pocket and our external battery and phone chargers in the other.

Even the inside of the bag comes with an adjustable divider to organize things well, along with 6 more pockets! I've organized my things in small bags, all of which have a different appearance (so I can remember what is in which bag) and they all fit inside of this enormous Viking Bags tail bag.

When I say enormous, I mean ENORMOUS! With 4,400 cubic inches of storage space, I can carry everything I need and want on my travels. While I've found that I need less in life than I ever have, I'm still a woman, and the words of Miss Clairee regarding accessorizing still ring in my ears everyday.

We ride motorcycles, but we aren't animals.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Importance of Motorcycling

How important is motorcycling? Does it really impact my life as much as I imagine it does?

Certainly, if I couldn't ride again, I would be heartbroken. I've enjoyed my hours in the saddle and I hope to have many years of riding ahead. But I had a full life, actually many lives, prior to motorcycling, and I believe that I would have a full life again.

At this point in my existence, I've made it more than a hobby, but a way of life. I don't own a car, nor have a home, but travel on my motorcycle full time and live in temporary quarters along the way. My husband Steve and I had made it our business, publishing motorcycle-related content in a number of publications. We've made it a priority. Often times this lends a certain pressure to keep riding.

While at this time in my life I long to ride, I know there may come a day I won't pursue it with such passion, and riding may become a chore. Genevieve Schmitt, publisher of Women Riders Now, spoke on this at the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit in May 2013. This was a revelation to me and I wondered what would happen if I came around to the same feeling one day.

Once, I had been an abused child, living with my drug addicted mother. I became a school bully in my teens and morose, forlorn young adult filled with angst and bitterness. Poetry entered my life and I began writing at that time, finding this to be my only outlet for pain, loneliness and fear.

I turned to drugs and alcohol, quickly turning into an abusive drug addict myself. This was not much of a stretch, considering my upbringing. Having been raised on drugs and violence, much the way a Catholic is raised on guilt and prayer, it was in my blood with a stench so thick I could taste it.

After a stint in rehab, a new baby, a relapse and a brush with Officer Friendly, I grabbed onto sobriety with both hands. I dedicated my life to the 12 steps and for over 21 years I've been clean and sober. For many years it was my entire identity, filling up my life the way drugs once had.

Along with remaining sober and growing spiritually, I was a full-time parent, raising my lovely daughter Olivia. After a tumultuous first marriage, I remarried with the intent to raise my daughter in a stable home, but home life became far too stable, reaching a state of stale malevolence and bitter reality for me. When my daughter was grown and gone and I realized my marriage was a failure, I moved on to a new lifestyle, rambling about for a couple of years trying to find my way again. This is when I fell in love with my husband Steve and we found our way together.

I've had many lives with many identities over the years, only most recently becoming a motorcycle rider. The baggage I carry within my helmet is that of a poet, writer, author, business woman, mother, abused child, wayward youth, wife, divorcee, grandmother, friend, sober person, and survivor. I'm also an amazing cook, seamstress, painter, decorator, and collector of furs, china, jewelry and antiques. These other versions of who I am wriggle their way into my consciousness daily, forming the landscape of the roads I ride. I unpack them in every new city, wear them as the clothing that drapes across my skin, and memories shine through my eyes with each passing day.

In light of all of this, with the enormity of my experiences, I suppose being a rider is only an aspect of whom I've become.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sunday Riders

Riding through the Black Hills of South Dakota should be a very enjoyable experience. This city of Deadwood reminded me much of Pigeon Forge, TN in the sense that it was crowded in the tiny city of hills. Unfortunately this made for slow going, just motorcycling in Pigeon Forge last summer, sweltering in the summer sun. While I recalled the stench of exhaust and the heat of my pipes frying my leg as I tried to make my way through the traffic, I was grateful the tourists were all gone now since the Sturgis Rally was over.

My gripe isn't with riding in the slow-goings of this touristy treasure, but leaving Deadwood and expecting a wide-open ride along the sweepers and twisties on our way to Hill City. Because what we found were beautiful roads, incredible, breathtaking landscapes. and the "Sunday Riders".

I'm not referring to Sunday Drivers; drivers of cars. I am referring to motorcycle riders who obviously ride very little and are not confident enough in their riding skills to take what I would consider a moderately challenging road. Now certainly I subscribe to the phrase, "Ride your own ride." I do not begrudge any motorcycle rider for taking a road slowly. One must ride withing their skill level. Taking a road very slow could be an issue of  comfort level, or a even just a choice to enjoy the scenery.

My issue lies with the amount of vehicles they hold up behind them. 5, then 10, then 12 vehicles strolling along at only 40 miles per hour when the posted speed limit is 65. On top of being incredibly selfish for everyone stuck moving at that pace, this can be dangerous. If someone got rear-ended in a blind corner because they were traveling so slow, the rider wouldn't even know the harm they caused.

We followed these riders nearly the entire 40 miles into our destination of Hill City. Once we hit town other vehicles behind us turned onto side streets to avoid the slow-goings of the center of town. We rolled up to a restaurant which was an historic saloon for lunch and the Sunday Riders parked across the street from us. It was all I could do to not bitch them out.

My only request to you if you're going to ride slow is to PULL OVER in the turnouts and let others get by. We don't all want to go as slowly as you. And the way you can tell you are holding up traffic is if you have a few cars behind you. It never hurts to let them pass and besides, you certainly have the time don't you? After all, you aren't riding like you're in a hurry.

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About Sash

People call me "Sash" because I'm a former beauty queen in my old home town. My father used to ride in an MC which got me interested in the culture. After my last divorce I said "goodbye" to Susie Homemaker and became the rude biker chick I always felt inside. (Read more...)