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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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pieces of a Motorcycle Rider

In motorcycling, the parts you can see are really meaningless compared to the parts that make one who they truly are.  And perhaps the same can be said in life, of every living being. 

Today I feel as disjointed as I've ever felt. The only thing I know, right now, is that motorcycling can put together the broken pieces I become at times. I'm looking forward to leaving in a couple of days to eat up some miles, follow the lines, and find what is real in the landscape and within my heart and helmet. 

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Road To Sturgis

Sturgis 2014 is in the bag and frankly, I'm just plain tired. I'm certain I'm not the only one. Now that I'm winding down and getting down to some work, I find it a struggle to keep my heavy eyelids open.

On my way to Sturgis I picked up a nail in my tire on I90 riding from Mitchell, SD after the Klock Werks Pre-Sturgis Party. Steve and I had opted to ride from Mitchell with Kevin Bean're the morning after the party, having Steve leading the ride. Kevin followed me and we both goofed around a bit along the way. I passed the time taking in the scenery, shooting photos of packs of riders heading to the Rally, and making a few dirty gestures with Kevin, both of us laughing most of the way. Steve is a pretty focused and serious rider, so it was fun to have another joker to goof off with.

But things became serious quickly when my bike started to wobble.

About 10 minutes after fueling up my entire ride began to feel loose. I let off the throttle and gestured to Kevin that my ride was funky. He pointed to the side of the road and we made our way over, with Kevin escorting me.

Since Steve was leading, he didn't notice until we had moved into the right lane. My entire ride became unresponsive and unpredictable and I feared pushing too hard into the shoulder, opting to ease it as gently as possible.

In the mirror, I saw the large, orange semi heading towards me, so I leaned my fully-loaded V Star over as quickly and gently as I could without losing control.

Once I was on the shoulder I was grateful the scare was over, but the disappointment settled in. Kevin stayed with me until Steve could turn around and come back. We sent him on his way, as calls came in from The Sturgis Buffalo Chip from folks waiting on him to arrive. With a call to AAA, a tow truck came 2 1/2 hours later. Steve loaded my bike on the truck and I sent him ahead to check into our cabin at the Sturgis RV Park.

I arrived at Rosco's Motorcycle & ATV in Rapid City about an hour later. Now nearly 4 hours behind schedule I was grumpy, tired and hungry. The guys at Rosco's not only fixed my tire in a flash, they tightened my clutch lever and front brake, lubed up a number of items, tightened some loose nuts, and lubed my sticky back brake lever and kickstand.

The owner/mechanic Ross gave my bike a complete once over, making certain I was safe for my remaining journey, all at no extra charge, even staying 45 minutes after closing to take care of me.

I really appreciated the kind service and exceptional generosity.

This all resulted into me riding from Rapid City and arriving to Sturgis on my own. There was something magical about the moment, riding my own motorcycle, overcoming adversities, and reaching the Rally of the Pilgrims at the Motorcycle Mecca on my own two wheels.

The Rally was unsettling, amazing, boisterous, exciting, dramatic and exhausting. I'm glad I attended for many, many reason. For now, I'm glad it's over. It became overwhelming as time wore on. The quiet of our hotel in Spearfish is refreshing and peaceful.

Now I know why they only have it once a year.

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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...)