Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Two Wheels, Tacos and Friends

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Along Interstate 5 with Madhavi and her custom Honda Shadow 750
After a week from Hell, taking a ride on my Indian Scout up the California coast was just what I needed to clear my mind. My friend Madhavi and I wanted to attend the Quality Control Show in Long Beach, The Motolady's 4th Anniversary and Helmet Show. Heading out from San Diego under cloudless skies in 70 degree temps, we were both all smiles and filled with anticipation.

Certainly we could have slabbed it up Interstate 5 the entire ride and been there in a couple of hours, but we wanted to see some sights. We hugged the coast on Pacific Coast Highway, known in these parts as PCH, and even took some city streets to look around. It was challenging to fight the tourists and all the stop lights, but the breathtaking views made the extra effort worthwhile.

The Quality Control Show was absolutely Motorcycle Rider Entertainment. Guests arrived on a huge variety of customized motorcycles, ranging from Triumphs to Ducatis, Hondas to Harleys. It's very possible my Scout was the only stock bike in the bunch. My first disappointment of the night was I couldn't see most of the 200 motorcycles which sat in the parking lot because it was so dark. But this was a helmet show, not a bike show, so the real display was the helmets inside.

Madhouse Kitchen was cooking up my favorite food in the entire world; Tacos! For only a few bucks, I grubbed on tacos and checked out two-wheelers for awhile, chatting with complete strangers about customized bikes.I was in way over my head, so mostly I just asked questions.

I hauled my heiney back inside when I heard the Back Alley Barbers starting to play. The band rocked the joint to the ground and  I have a mad Girl Crush on lead singer Sara now! I hung out with Enrique for awhile, a guy I just met, chilling and talking about putting Ruffies in drinks.

Motolady Alicia Elfving really knows how to throw a shindig. Half of the helmets on display were for sale, the other half for raffle, all with mind blowing artwork. I wouldn't want to actually wear one for fear I would drop it and damage it.
Back Alley Barbers Rocked!
(Photo courtesy of Motolady)
 Icon coughed up a jacket for the raffle that I wanted bad enough to blow $15 on raffle tickets. My second disappointment of the night was that I didn't win this $500+ jacket for 15 bucks. (Ikon personnel! If you read this, please get me the Fairlady Jacket in Large!! *shameless begging*)

My third and final disappointment of the night was realizing the party was over. I had such a good time I didn't want it to end. Alicia had rounded up some other pretty cool raffle prizes, a motorcycle piƱata, and an amazing crowd of chill folks who were friendly and unapologetically cool as Hell. Alicia is not only genuine, she's dynamic, funny and brash. I love seeing her, even if it's only once a year.

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Alicia, The Motolady & creator of Braap!
During the ride home I felt really good in my skin, soaking in some sunshine, and grateful to be alive and on a motorcycle I love. With my sweet friend Madhavi along for the ride, a sense of completeness came over me, knowing she accepts me just as I am and I never need to be cautious about being myself with her. To spend time with like-minded riders after having such a shitty week being bashed by the Facebook group of Lady Bikers of California, I learned a valuable a lesson.

Just because I'm a woman who rides a motorcycle doesn't mean I fit in with all women's groups.

rockabilly-band-back-alley-barbers

I'm much more comfortable sitting in a bar with a bunch of guys calling each other "dickheads" than I am sitting in a chain restaurant with a bunch of women who are chugging wine and bitching about their lazy and cheap husbands. I seemed to have forgotten that. When I started riding I had no idea what style of rider I would be. I never intended to belong to a particular group, so along the way I've met many men and women with whom I click, and a few with whom I do not. There's nothing wrong with that. It's the way we determine our comfort zones and find places in life where we can feel safe being authentic and unabashed. I'm truly sick and tired of filtering my language and my behavior to please others. I've learned that no matter how hard I try to please others by being "considerate," eventually I will slip and say something that offends them.

The Quality Control Show was incredibly comfortable for me, even though I only knew a couple of people there. It's funny how we know when we fit in. No one needs to tell us where we belong; we just know. Traveling the country has helped to open my mind and my heart to others and to accept them as they are.

All I needed were a couple tacos, two wheels, a good friend and a long road to set me straight again.

Seriously my favorite helmet of the show!

Madhavi and I had a great time meeting other riders
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When was the last time you went to a party and hit one of these? (photo courtesy of Motolady)
I love Alicia's sass!
Enrique watched my drink for me and promised he didn't Ruffie me!
For only $4 I got a pretty hefty shot of Makers Mark in my Coke
Madhavi and I seem to read each others minds while riding, knowing when to lead and when to follow
The ride along the coast was as beautiful heading south as it was riding north


Special thanks to The Motolady for use of a few photos. 

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rude Biker Chick Strikes Again

Meeting Margaret on the road a few months after the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit
The Rude Biker Chick has done it again! I've pissed off a group of women for recently writing this:

"On a side note, I was supposed to meet a group of women riders that day for a ride, but they cancelled due to the rain. Maybe they should all get Indian Scouts!"

This was written on our site Indian Scout, chronicling the adventures I'm having riding the Scout on loan to me from the good folks at Indian Motorcycles. The article, "Riding the Indian Scout in the Rain" was written to highlight my experience of riding in San Diego during a touch of rain. Keep in mind, San Diego sees less than 4 inches of rain a year, so I won't get many chances to evaluate this bike under these conditions.

The ladies had been planning this meet and greet for about 6 weeks, amid a great deal of confusion and plans that hadn't really been set it stone. The date and time had been set, but finding a place had become an issue. Finally the week had arrived, the plans were set, and the weather report shows some rain. The meet was cancelled, reinstated, then cancelled again. I was disappointed because I had been looking forward to meeting the ladies and getting some seat time. Making the most of the situation, Steve and I did some riding that day, in spite of the rain.

The backlash of the article was swift. The group leader came to me with the complaints from a few of the members claiming I was pointing them out as being wimps. The group leader was very kind and understanding and felt badly that my post in our group page had to be removed.

Frankly, I'm dumbfounded.

When I think of the women I met last year at the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit, their toughness, fortitude and their endurance, I am blown away that any group meet would be cancelled over a couple inches of rain. Most of the 300 women riding to the Summit in Denver last May endured high winds, riding sideways for 2 and 3 states. Quite a few rode in the rain, hail and snow. Margaret "Dream Catcher" Morin rode from California to Albuquerque to meet up with her Navajo sisters to ride as a group to Denver. She rode those two days SIDEWAYS IN THE HIGH WINDS all alone. The group departed from Albuquerque riding into some serious rain and cold. When they left Trinidad, CO heading north on Interstate 25, they rode in snow.

But each rider must ride their own ride. I respect that motto. I simply wasn't mentally prepared for the cancellation and then a backlash over pointing out why the meet was cancelled.

I believe in taking ownership of our choices. I do my best to stand up and take the consequences for everything I do, even when they are painful. I try not to make excuses for my behavior, my words, or my decisions. I do me and you do you.

Last year I declared that I am a Fluffy Butt rider. Iron Butts ride 1000 miles in 24 hours (or more), but I'm a proud, card carrying Fluffy Butt, riding no more than 300 miles a day. I am not ashamed for doing this; it is my choice and I stand behind it. I ride my own ride my own way.

I don't consider myself all that tough as a rider. I ride in the rain because I've become accustomed to doing so. It doesn't phase me now after all of the exciting experiences I've had on two-wheels. If these women don't ride in the rain, that's cool. They've established their boundaries and I respect that. Everyone must ride their own ride. But if they don't like me mentioning it, well, they're in for a Rude Biker Chick Awakening.

Seriously, I'm not a nice lady.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Riding Some Rough Road


Motorcyclists hit rough road in every state, regardless of how hard they try to avoid it. The gravel you didn't see around the bend can create a devastating wreck that can lay a rider up for weeks, months and possibly forever. We've all experienced those moments where your stomach drops, heart rate jumps, and the adrenaline floods our body with a near miss. Perhaps it's the cager who didn't see you, the hailstorm you didn't anticipate, the pothole you didn't see until too late, or the squirrel or rabbit who runs out at the last second.

I've learned the importance of looking for the good road, that process of ignoring the dangers and focusing only on the sweet spot of safety. But from time to time we find ourselves on a hellish road with no safe spots; the kind of road where we can't find any salvation, so narrow we can't turn back, and it seems our only options are to keep pushing forward or fly off a cliff.

My personal life is on a rough road right now. It's no secret to most of our readers that my husband Steve and I are on an emotional journey working through the traumas of abusive childhoods, previous bad marriages, and terrible relationship habits that inhibit our ability to be kind to one another. We fight like cats and dogs sometimes, regardless of all the therapy we've worked through. Our therapist Emily (who must be an angel from heaven, honestly!) has taught us both that this is all part of the process, and we are not really fighting each other, but our pasts.

But the road has been very long, it's becoming rather narrow, and due to exhaustion, I've been eyeing that cliff as an option. I've considered taking my V Star and pulling a Jax Teller, ending it all as a semi's hood ornament, but I just can't. Even though I've struggled with suicidal thoughts all of my life as a result of my mental illness, I don't think I could ever follow through. Especially now, I know I couldn't.

Mental illness runs in my family and I am Bipolar. I've been treated and stable for many, many years, one of the few patients who take my meds like clockwork. I realized long ago that I could have no quality of life without being diligent in my healthcare. But sadly, my beautiful daughter is also Bipolar. To make matters worse, she has also been recently diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Over the years Olivia has struggled with suicidal thoughts and attempts as well. I spend a great deal of time in fear that I will get that phone call I dread most and she will have taken her life.

But as I wrote, I don't think I could ever follow through, as much as I want to. I have so many people I would disappoint, a few who may be scarred for a lifetime. What message would it send to my daughter if I killed myself? At this point the pain in the living has not exceeded my endurance.

I think of myself negotiating one of those treacherous roads right now. I hope it will be one of those roads which will end at a warm roadside diner with a bowl of chili, a hot cup of tea and some smooth road thereon out. But for now I'm in the potholes and gravel, cursing and grinding my tires along the rugged path.

Among the people who are in your life everyday are those who struggle with mental illness. Most talk to no one, due to the stigma attached with this often mystified disorder. A few struggle with thoughts of suicide, even though they may never tell anyone, and some of those people will one day take their lives. I hope that you will be encouraged to reach out to those in your own life whom you see in pain and perhaps help them along the way of their rough road. As any rider knows, sometimes when the road is shit, it can be better if you just don't have to travel it alone.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Second Life of Motorcycling


Christmas Eve 2008 I went to the hospital with chest pains. I had been seeing a cardiologist for months who was trying to diagnose my cardiac issues, but to no avail. The trip to the hospital led to my death. I was on the other side for 2 1/2 minutes, but it seemed like much longer. The nurses ran the crash cart into the room and in front of my screaming 18-year-old daughter Olivia and my then husband Mark, I was paddled and brought back to life.

I've previously written about what I found on the other side.

At that time in my life I was very miserable. I was 100 lbs overweight, my then-husband was terribly unhappy every single day, and my daughter was having a very rough year. She had turned 18 in April, quit school and moved in with my mother, moved back home, then decided she wanted to meet the boy she had been talking to online. In October she bounced a check to Southwest Airlines and flew to Florida to meet him with only a packed rolling ice chest and a backpack. She had very little money and had told no one that she was leaving and where he lived.

When I got the call from her that she was somewhere in Florida, I was terrified. I didn't hear back from her for 2 weeks. Those weeks were the hardest of my life.

Along with missing my daughter terribly, my then husband became angrier than ever. All I wanted was my baby to come home safely. He just shouted and slammed doors. Perhaps that is how he was dealing with his emotions, but we had virtually no communication by that point of our marriage, so I simply kept my mouth shut and tolerated him.

On December 15th, Olivia came home after being beaten by that young man. She was sickly, tired and hurt inside and my heart broke just at the sight of her. Eight days later I died in that hospital bed.

In hindsight it makes so much sense.

Six years later I realize my life has changed entirely.

Now I celebrate my Second Life rather than Christmas. I embrace the changes I've consciously brought about in my world and am filled with gratitude for all that has come my way.

Motorcycling seems to be the vehicle of change in my life. It transforms me from dependent to independent, allowing me to choose my roads, grasping the controls, leaving me entirely responsible for my choices. On a motorcycle I can blame no one for where I go, how quickly I get there, or for any mistakes I make along the way. The entire world is in my two hands.

Things happen along the way that I don't expect while motorcycling too. There are the dangers, such as potholes, wet roads and cagers who don't see me and swerve into my lane. There are also the unexpected beauties such as pink sunsets against purple mountains, deer and elk in golden fields, and sweet, green alfalfa fields roadside.

Motorcycling is the metaphor for my life, as well as a way to live that life. When the road is cracked and rotting, I focus on the good road to find my way. When I start out on a ride I can't see my destination, but I have faith that I will get there. If I am seeing with only tunnel vision, I will miss out on something wonderful. If I'm rushing to my destination I will not enjoy the journey.

Today, instead of slamming doors, yelling and heartbreak, my road is filled with laughter, delicious meals and bright horizons. Sure, we hit some storms from time to time, but even in those I find joy in the smell of rain, the beauty of the cloudscape and the amazing sense of accomplishment I receive from enduring a harsh, wet ride.

On this, the 6th Anniversary of my Second Life, I wish you all safe riding, open roads and happy trails.

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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...)