Friday, September 2, 2016

Motorcycling Wild Kenai Alaska

Overlooking the ocean at the end of the spit, at the edge of Homer.
Many riders I've met dream of riding to Alaska, just as my husband Steve did in 2010. Steve rode from Menifee, CA to Fairbanks, AK and back in 30 days, covering thousands of miles. We met for the first time shortly after this excursion. He was aflame with stories of his travels, completely wide eyed and awestruck by everything he saw.

From the moment I rode my own I dreamed of taking the trip to Alaska with him.

To make it up and back during the ride season I would be required to ride gravel roads, sometimes for days in a row, under the wettest conditions imaginable. Also, there would be cold 500 mile days, many of them back to back. I can't even do that under the best of circumstances. Lastly, my challenge of finding a bike short enough for me to ride that would carry all of the equipment I would need seems impossible.

As my time in the saddle increased, I realized the Alaska ride was out of reach for me.

Amazingly, Alaska found me. Last year a rider in Sterling, AK came across Steve's blog Motorcycle Philosophy. He most likely was searching for content about riding in Alaska. After reading for awhile he came across information about our marketing company Too Much Tina Marketing. We connected and shortly thereafter I began marketing Ed's dental practice in Sterling, Moose River Dental.

Ed closing up his dental office at the end of the day. 

I've enjoyed working with Ed and his staff and helping him build his practice. But as time has gone by I've felt a disconnect with his patients and his community.

"Steve, I think I should go to Alaska."

"Go ahead. Who's stopping you?" Steve replied.

"Really? I'm going to look at flights right now!"

Within hours I had round trip tickets from San Diego to Anchorage. I discussed my plans with Ed and he invited me to stay with his wife Heather and him while I was there. He even offered up Heather's Sportster for me to ride! It couldn't get any better.

Riding home with Heather and Ed from the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. 
Two months later I was trembling as I boarded the plane. Steve did all he could to comfort me but I was simply terrified. Alaska seemed a very long distance from home. I was actually surprised by my fear. I had embraced so many challenges and adventures over the last 3 years, yet this had me in a near panic.

When I stepped off the plane and saw Ed waiting for me in the airport my fear washed away. For the next 9 days Ed and I spent almost all of our time together. We worked on his business marketing and traveled "The Kenai" (the name the locals have for the Kenai Peninsula) by truck and motorcycles. Ed was the perfect tour guide, always filled with information about the area.

When you ride a Harley, you must visit your local Harley dealership. As for us, we were meeting up with the local HOG chapter for a ride. 

We rode down to Homer and crashed a biker wedding. The bride and groom were complete strangers to us, but it didn't matter. All local HOG members were welcome. 

I think Ed was tired of selfies but Santa the Bartender at the Salty Dawg Saloon photo bombed us!
Alaska is a wild, beautiful and untamed as you can imagine. "The Last Frontier", as it is known, is just that: Frontier.


Large and dangerous wild animals live among the residents. Black bears, brown bear (also known as Grizzly or Kodiak), moose, caribou and others, each dangerous in their own ways and all deadly. Just so far this year (Aug 2016) on the Sterling Highway over 230 moose were struck by cars and killed. Many of those collisions killed those drivers and passengers of vehicles and I guarantee all of them caused serious vehicle damage.

It's hard to see but there is a caribou roadside. We had to ride slowly just in case there were others around. 
The weather is completely unpredictable, even though locals will tell you the weather forecast is usually right. A mix of sunshine and rain, clouds and blue skies filled my time. I was fortunate to visit during such a warm time with temperatures from 35 - 80 degrees.

Along Turnagain Arm

Overlooking the little town of Homer.
Even more unpredictable are the roads. Riders must stay ever vigilant for not only a moose or caribou running out from the brush, but road construction. In the areas the roads are being repaved riders may encounter deeply grooved road or asphalt completely missing with only gravel roads for long stretches.

You had better be ready to bump and grind in the potholes. You'll find them in every parking lot in the state. These are much deeper than they look, filled with loose gravel and recent rain. 
The glaciers are stunning. I had to stop and just admire their longstanding majesty. I saw quite a few around Turnagain Arm near Anchorage that just took my breath away.

Glaciers can be seen from Turnagain Pass. So gorgeous! Photos don't do them justice.

The clouds hugging Turnagain Pass. 

Everyone is armed. Something about all of the wildness appeals to my adventurous side, drawing me in. I realize I'm not as rugged as the residents but I'm attracted to their willingness to meet nature head on.

Bullet holes in the metal restroom sign at one of the trial heads. 

Most residents fish and hunt for the meat they eat year round. I enjoyed fresh wild salmon, reindeer stew and venison jerky. The folks of Alaska are definitely carnivores!

Flatbread and Reindeer Stew for lunch at the Fair. I love the stew, but I love flatbread so much more. 

When I arrived at the airport I started feeling very sad about leaving. The stuffed polar bear cheered me up a bit, but I knew already that Alaska had stolen a piece of my heart. I've already made plans to return next summer and stay for awhile longer.

This polar bear is in the Kenai Airport. Stuffed and mounted for travelers like me to gawk at. He's so huge that the thought of running into him in the wild is utterly terrifying. 
My ebook, "Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy" is available for purchase here. Buy your copy now or if not for you, buy a copy for a friend. The woman in your life will love you for it. Thanks!


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Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Artistry Of Motorcycling

Drawing by Heather Ewy, owner of  The Charcoal Gallery. (Not the man I met in the park.)

I met an artist drawing with charcoals and pencils while I was in the park today.

"You must be very patient," I commented. "Your work is so intricate that I imagine it must take you a great deal of time."


The sharpness of his reply surprised me.

"It's actually quite the opposite. I am patient when I am not drawing and waiting until I can draw again. It's all I can think about. It is my passion."

A shared with him how often my mind is on motorcycling when I am not actually on the bike.

"I'm really passionate about traveling by motorcycle, not just being on a motorcycle. I have to be going somewhere to get excited."

I thought about motorcycling as it's own form of art. Each rider selects what motorcycle to ride, what style of riding to do, and the gear to wear, just as an artist may select canvas, charcoal and a subject.

As the artist of my ride, I decide all of the variables. I can choose if I travel long distances, ride alone or in groups, just ride twisties on the weekend or take a long cruise under the summer stars. The development of my gear, modifications to my motorcycle, the way I pack my bags, where I go to eat, the people I choose to ride with and the roads you choose to ride. The artistry of motorcycling has an infinite number of combinations to create a unique style for each rider.

As I watch the charcoal artist sketching a rubbing at each line and shadow, I think of each one of the drawings he creates as a new expression of his reality. I think of my motorcycle, my next road, and where it will lead me next.

"You're lucky, you know. We both are."

The sound of his voice jerked me back into the moment.

"Why do you say that?"

"Anyone without passion is dead. They are missing something that they don't even know they are missing. They will never know what it is like to truly love anything. You're lucky you have motorcycling. You're lucky you have passion."

Help me out by adding a little fuel to my bank account. My ebook, "Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy" is available for purchase here. If not for you, buy a copy for a friend. The woman in your life will love you for it. Thanks!


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Product Review - Joe Rocket Women's Velocity Jacket

Recently I ordered the Joe Rocket Women's Velocity Jacket from Motorcycle House. Of course I selected the hot pink and black to suit my style! It's getting hot in So Cal and I needed a summer jacket to get through a ride. Many riders believe that simply riding without a jacket will keep them cooler, but that's not really the case. Bare arms expose one to the sun and that sun will not only burn the skin of the rider, it will also raise the body's core temperature, thus making one feel hotter.

A summer jacket not only protects me from the sun and the other weather elements, it protects me from the pavement. People don't like to think about bad things happening so many ignore the dangers. But once a good friend of mine really talked with me about the repercussions of a bad accident, I realized I wanted to protect myself more. So now I make it a point to wear gear when I ride.

The Joe Rocket Velocity comes with few features, but everything important to a rider. I actually like low-tech! The less you have, the less that can go wrong.

The jacket comes with 6 points of adjustability to help it fit snugly, which it does. I can get it snug at the hips, chest and wrists with still plenty of movement around the shoulders and waist. The 2 hand pockets, 1 inside pocket keep it simple, which I appreciate. I'm always losing things if I have too many pockets. The Cooling FreeAir™ mesh shell works great and is made of a pretty solid construction.

When I'm thinking about protection, Rock Tex™ reinforced at the shoulders, ribs, elbows and forearms is important to me. The removable, contoured elbow and shoulder armor and dual density back pad were a disappointment though and were thusly removed. Perhaps I'm an armor snob now, but these pads just don't seem to have much to them. I replaced them with a set of D3O impact protectors - shoulders, elbows, back, which feel far more substantial and have a much higher crash rating.

I'm taking a 8-day ride with 3 friends in August from San Diego to the Redwoods. The entire ride will be around 2,500 miles and we will hit a variety of weather. I wanted a removable full sleeve waterproof liner, which I got in the Joe Rocket Velocity, so I only need to take one jacket. The liner and my hoodie should be all I need with my jacket for all of the weather situations we encounter. Mostly I expect blistering heat, in which case I'll wear my wet vest under my jacket.

I ordered the Viking Cycle Warlock Mesh Jacket for Steve for the summer as well. (No, that's not Steve in the photo.)

We created a video review of the jacket, which you'll see below. Unfortunately, in the video the jacket looks pink, but it is not. It's as red as the photo above. He really likes the jacket, although I don't think we do a good enough job in the video showing his enthusiasm. I guess you just have to know Steve to know THIS IS enthusiasm!

Help me out by adding a little fuel to my bank account. My ebook, "Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy" is available for purchase here. If not for you, buy a copy for a friend. The woman in your life will love you for it. Thanks!


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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Motorcyclist Hit By Driver

"Motorcyclist Hit By Driver"

We've all seen the headline and cringed. Recently there were two motorcycle riders killed by drivers in a 12 hour span in Tucson, AZ. Not only that, Tucson has seen more motorcycle riders killed by from January to June of 2016 than all of 2015.

On June 24, 2016, a group of riders in Tucson took to the streets to heighten awareness of motorcycle riders. They staged a protest on a main drag with huge signs covered with slogans and names of the dead riders.

I wonder if this will do much to impact the cagers of Tucson. Will they remember tomorrow? Will they even care?

Cagers killing motorcyclists isn't anything new.

In 1969 my Daddy was cut off by a cager who was making an illegal left turn. He was badly injured, spending a month in a coma and a year in a hospital bed in traction, most of that year in our home. He had multiple injuries including a broken spine, a shattered left ankle, a torn scrotum and the loss of a testicle.

He lost his testicle.

Most men find that to be the worst injury my poor Dad sustained. He was lucky to survive the crash, especially considering his only "gear" was a good pair of boots.

He was determined to continue riding afterwards which was the source of many fights between my parents. Because of the injured ankle he could never kick his kickstarter again with his left foot, so he did it with his right. (His buddies gave him a hard time about it, but he didn't give a shit.)

Surprisingly, he recovered well, except for that ankle. Through my childhood, some of our closest moments as father and daughter were spent removing his boots. When he came in to door I rushed to hug and kiss him and follow him to his recliner to pull his boots off and massage that ankle.

At the time of his accident I was only 4 years old. My entire life I've been aware of the notion that cagers don't look for motorcycles when they are driving.

It wasn't until I started riding my own bike that I started to believe that cagers just don't care. We aren't more important than their phones, their GPS, their hamburger, their coffee and especially their time and attention.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not bitching about this fact. I'm clearly aware of this fact (Yes! This is a damn FACT!) and I still accept the danger as part of riding. It's not a fact that I can change but I sure commend those who want to try.

When non-riders say, "Be safe on that motorcycle!" or something along those lines, I always respond with the same phrase.

"Watch for motorcyclists and that will help to keep me be safe."

Help me out by adding a little fuel to my bank account. My ebook, "Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy" is available for purchase here. If not for you, buy a copy for a friend. The woman in your life will love you for it. Thanks!


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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...)