Friday, June 2, 2017

Motorcycle Skills

Kern River Brewing is one of our favorite destinations in this part of California. There's great ride to reach it from any direction, along with rapidly crisp craft beer and satisfying grub waiting to be devoured, this rustic brewery has it all. 

The Kern River is overflowing it's banks this summer due to the heavy rainfall and deep snowpack in the Sierras. The water rages white over hidden obstacles drowning on the banks. The dramatic scene consists of towering cliffs carved over the years, the furious river, and the narrow road the winds beside it.CA 178 takes travelers from the Bakersfield basin up to Lake Isabella, a favorite destination for outdoorsy types.

Steve and I decided to take a ride to scout out dry camping locations for our new RV. The ATC toy hauler is 32' long and 8.5' wide, so it's important to be certain of the roads we choose to take before we get stuck somewhere. The motorcycles are the perfect scouting vehicles, not only because riding is more fuel efficient, but because it's far more fun than driving a cage, even Steve's new Chevy Silverado.

As we rode through the bright green groves flourishing in the 95 degrees outside of Bakersfield, we hoped to reach cooler temperatures at the higher elevations, but unfortunately, we did not. The ride through the canyon was not unbearably hot, but it would have been nice if it were cooler.

Nearing the end of the canyon the twisties turned tight, with a number of 15 mph signs among the curves. Back and forth, back and forth, weaving through blind corners on tilted asphalt, my V Star labored.

"The guardrails along the highway are sporadic, so losing one's focus could result not only in flying over a cliff onto rocks that will assuredly break bones, but landing in the rapids to drown in a matter of moments."

When we reached the Kern River Brewing Company for lunch, Steve carried himself with ease, wearing a bright smile.

"Did you enjoy riding?" I asked him.

It has been quite awhile since Steve had done much riding.

"Yeah, it was great. How about you?"

"I struggled. I had become so accustomed to riding the Victory Octane for the past year it seems I've forgotten how awkward my V Star can feel. I was fighting with the motorcycle, struggling to find the sweet spot in the balance, and couldn't let myself to trust her in the turns."

"I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it."

I felt bad as I could see the disappointment come over his face.

"I wasn't bad. It was just hard. I'll get used to it again. It's just going to take me some time."

He smiled and we ordered some food.

When we headed back down the canyon I was determined to diagnose my problem and fix it. I was frustrated with myself. On the ride up the canyon I had just surpassed my 60,000 lifetime mile mark, which may not seem like much to some riders, but it's quite an achievement to me for only 4 years of riding.

I changed my posture on the bike, relaxed my arms and wrists, consciously breathed deeper (I tend to hold my breath when I'm stressed), and loosened my grip on the handlebars. Right away I found my groove and relaxed into the familiar rhythm of my bike. Before I knew it I was flying through the twisties with confidence and control, as I've done hundreds of times before.

I took a deep sigh and smiled in my helmet.

"There it is! That's it!"

Even though the beauty of the canyon was stunning, I focused on the road ahead. I kept Steve far enough ahead of me to see him in my peripheral vision and still look through the turns. I don't like to follow too closely because I may come around a blind corner into a surprise.

As I rolled down the canyon, I was wondering why it seems that the decreasing radius turns are always hidden behind the blind corners and if you're going to run into gravel, it's always right after the apex of the turn.

The road straightened and I took a few glances over at the statuesque canyon walls shading the turbulent, white water. The guardrails along the highway are sporadic, so losing one's focus could result not only in flying over a cliff onto rocks that will assuredly break bones, but landing in the rapids to drown in a matter of moments. I turned my attention back to the road ahead and kept my focus on the road and my partner ahead of me.

Just as Steve glided into a shaded "S" turn I noticed beyond him an SUV speeding towards us in the oncoming lane. As I came into the turn and leaned to the right my back tire jumped up out from under me and skipped. I had hit either a bump or a pothole. I don't know which because I didn't see it in the changing light. I corrected myself as I changed the turn to the left, but instantly realized I had over-corrected. My front tire skimmed the double yellow and I knew that speeding SUV was just around the bend.


I corrected again, leaning hard to the right towards the center of my lane, throttling hard so as to keep myself from low-siding, squeezing the clutch slightly. (I've learned that covering and/or squeezing my clutch slightly in a troubled turn I have more control of the speed and throttle. I'm not certain that this is "proper" riding technique but it works for me.)

By the time the SUV appeared I was entirely back in my lane and had control again. When I caught my breath I considered what had just happened.

There are times we simply can't see what's coming. It's just part of life. When we're stressed, losing our confidence, and holding on too tightly, we become dangerous, to ourselves and others. But when we relax, find the groove, and focus on the task at hand, we can deal the bumps in the road. Had I been manhandling the bike and hit that bump, someone might be fishing my mangled body out of the Kern River today.

I believe my riding experience helped me greatly today, although I'm not so arrogant to think I had it all under control. Control is really an illusion. Experience has taught me that as well.

We're on another Road Pickle! We hope to find great breweries, tacos, steak and biscuits with gravy, as well as some roadside oddities along the way. If you don't want to miss a thing, join us by subscribing to our vlog on YouTube. I PROMISE you'll see some cool stuff!

And don't forget about my book, Rude Biker Chick, Lessons From My Daddy. Click below for more information.


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hitting the Road in the New Pickle Rig

At the gas station in Vija, AZ. This place is quiet and desolate, but takes cash only and restroom reeks like a pit toilet. Thank goodness I have my own toilet everywhere I go!
The journey from San Diego, CA to Napannee, IN to pick up our new ATC Toy Hauler has been a whirlwind of chaos. Over the last 6 weeks we've struggled with one issue after the other.

Steve's pickup has had a couple of mechanical issues that have caused some setbacks. We've encountered some difficult weather, illness, exhaustion, and a couple of small repairs on the toy hauler. It seems with an endeavor such as this, things always cost more than one expects.

We've been struggling to keep our work caught up on our business, packing, unpacking, digging through our storage, unpacking, putting things in cabinets, buying furniture. . .

Our list of "RV Needs" never gets shorter. We no sooner buy one item then we realize we need something else. I've heard this is never-ending. For every item we've purchased we've donated, sold or thrown out 10 times more.

It's been a huge transition. But it's been well worth it.

This morning we are parked at Sweetwater Summit RV Campground, a park run by the County of San Diego. We are finishing up the last of our business in the area and then moving on. We finally have everything out of storage and in the RV, we have both motorcycles and all of the doctor appointments are completed. From here it looks like we'll be heading to Bakersfield to see our kids.

Take a look at the video below of our toy hauler on the day we took delivery. You can follow our daily journey on Road Pickle or you can follow us on Instagram and Facebook and get more indepth adventuring on our YouTube Channel.

Travel Fun!

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

And We're Off!

Nearing Casa Grande, about 80 miles from Tucson.
We've finally hit the road! After what seemed like an eternity of purging and packing we now have all of our belongings sorted out, freeing us up to get mobile again.

My main concern was keeping the important items safe whilst Steve ditched everything else. The task of separating things for donation, for sale, trash, long term storage, RV use and temporary road use was arduous. This was my responsibility because had I left it for Steve everything would have gone down our apartment building's trash chute.

Our apartment, finally packed and ready to go.

Our focus is "smaller-living" but we both approach that differently. Steve wants to trash almost everything and only pick up what he needs along the way. And while that seems like a good idea, every now and then we realize we're missing something very, very important. This stresses me out terribly, so as a control freak I believe I can manage every item we have in our possession if I'm just given the time to sort through everything.

Some boxes, tubs, closets, drawers and cupboards took longer than others. They all took an emotional and physical toll on me. Thankfully, it's done now.

As we arrived in Tucson we climbed into bed and both slept about 18 hours the first day. Once refreshed we started getting out and about in the city, running errands and seeing friends.

We joined the ever elusive Ken at Barrio Brewing in the heart of Tucson's barrio. 

This was our first time meeting Ken face-to-face. (Yes, he dropped the menu for us, but he's camera shy.) We've been long time friends on a Google+ Community Motorcycle Riders. By far this has been my favorite online motorcycling community as we find so many like-minded riders there. Actually, we've met a few of the folks face-to-face since we started Road Pickling.

We met Wallace and Lynn at Nico's Taco joint in Marana, just north of Tucson. 

Wallace and Lynn are avid riders, owning 5 or 6 motorcycles between them. They also RV regularly so they were giving us some tips for our future vehicle. We shared lots of laughs and they have some great riding stories. Unfortunately, the night we met up with Wallace and Lynn I wasn't feeling well and I missed out on my favorite food, tacos.

By the time we got back to the hotel I was in terrible shape. I ended up in bed for a day and a half completely wiped out. I'm assuming it was the flu. Because I have Fibromyalgia I have a weakened immune system so I'm constantly getting sick. It really sucks. Luckily I wasn't out for long!

I joined Chris Black of The Adventures of Olive and Emilie at 5 Points Market and Restaurant in Downtown. We talked about kids, motorcycles, travel and RV's. Chris and I both seem to be in sync with our views on life and I value every minute I spend with her. She's been a good friend for a long time now. You'll see a little bit about Chris in the video below.

We leave tomorrow (Monday April 17) morning and have a few stops planned between here and Nappanee, IN. We're hoping for a couple of breweries, a good steak, and some roadside oddities along the way. If you don't want to miss a thing, join us by subscribing to our vlog on YouTube. I PROMISE you'll see some cool stuff!

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.


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mimi and Moto - The Motorcycle Monkeys

Recently the authors of The Adventures of Mimi and Moto, The Motorcycle Monkeys sent a copy of their children's book to me as a gift for my grandson Jackson. I can't wait to share it with him!

This adorable children's story about motorcycling monkeys is going to be a great way for me to introduce motorcycles to Jackson. Jackson and my great-niece Sophia, who will be 3 and 4 years old in July, respectively, are both fascinated and frightened by motorcycles. They love to look at them but the loud noise of the engine is too much for them. Short of buying each of them small motorcycles to learn on, I couldn't figure out how to help them relate to my all-time greatest passion.

Sophia loves the Indian Roadmaster I bought for her a couple of years ago.

That is, until Mimi and Moto rode into my life.

This furry faced duo tell the story of two road hungry riders making their way through a variety of roads. Unlike most motorcyclists, Mimi and Moto seem to love almost every motorcycle style on the road. From baggers to UJMs, sport bikes to dirt bikes, and even a sidecar, these two have the garage I would love to have! This makes the story more universal and should certainly appeal to the children of most riders.

The illustrations by Estaban Alvarado are bold and vivid, clearly depicting the distinctly different bikes. The pages are thick for little hands to easily turn. As a parent and now grandparent, I remember how important that is for young readers.

Jackson is one of the happiest people I've ever met. I can't wait to get him riding!

I'll be visiting my great-niece Sophia on Friday, so this copy will go to her, after we read it together, of course. I'll be ordering a copy from Amazon to be shipped to Jackson's house in Bakersfield. We can read it together as soon as I arrive for a visit in May.

As a Mom Who Rides, I want to see my kids and grandkids find the love of riding. Perhaps this will be a good way to help make that happen.

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 for the holidays! The woman in your life will love you for it.


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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...)