Monday, September 15, 2014

Motorcycle Blogger Bob Skoot Dead

Bob Skoot and Mrs. Skoot, Yvonne, in his last post on his blog Riding the Wet Coast 

Steve and I just got word that our Motorcycle Blogging friend Bob Skoot has died. I don't have all of the details, but it is my understanding that he passed away last night in his sleep in Nashville. He was with his wife Yvonne on a trip across the U.S. in their Corvette. So Steve and I have done what we always do in times of sorrow, and we are at our laptops writing. This is how we process many emotions and sort out our thoughts and pain.

Rather than tell you about Bob as I knew him, I would prefer to share with you some excerpts from his emails to me.

"Glad to meet you. I have been following Steve for a while, he is also on my sidebar as a blog I follow.

I think we come from similar backgrounds. Myself from a broken home, and then forced to live with step relatives until I had to leave home (sort of runaway), lived in rooming houses so I know what it is like not to have family.

Until my current family, I have always been alone though not by choice. I am not sure I am as brave as Steve to post the details, but I may get the nerve. It is who I am and why I crave to have friends and seek out the family life I never had when I was younger as I have always had to work for my money, so I grew up the hard way.

I am so thankful for my blogging friends. I think all of us are just normal people with the same desires and have the same urge to ride motorcycles. Some of us have more time than others, and some more comfortable to ride solo, and some with friends. 

 You are lucky to have found each other. I do not have the luxury of having a riding buddy. Mrs Skoot, Yvonne has a hip problem which prevents her from riding or even being a passenger as sitting on a bike hurts her hips. I don’t post all of this stuff but basically she can’t ride. She is waiting for a hip replacement operation but then she broke her wrists so we had to decline her place when a spot became available."

Bob and I wrote upwards of 30 emails over the last 2 years trying to meet up on the road, but had never been successful. I thought we had finally figured something out, as we were to meet in next week as he traveled the Million Dollar Highway. I hadn't even told Steve yet that I was trying to firm up plans with Bob as to where and when so we could ride up from Phoenix to meet him and Mrs. Skoot. Now that's not going to happen.

The sense of loss I feel is odd and yet somehow profound. Although we hadn't met, I felt a kinship with Bob; the same kinship I feel with most riders. I know he was a lonely man in many ways, but his friendships are what fulfilled him. To those of you who made a point of meeting up with him, kudos to you. I'm sure he took great pleasure in meeting each of you.

Bob never hesitated to give me advice about riding. He consistently reminded me to be careful, wear proper gear, and gave me tips upon tips about safety. Embracing this kindness and concern he had, I always thanked him, as I was truly grateful. I may not have always heeded his warnings, but I adored that he was so concerned.

Tomorrow, or even later tonight, I intend to get on my motorcycle and ride in memory of Bob. I shall roll back the throttle and feel the wind, and think of my departed friend. I hope that on the other side he feels the loving embrace of those who will miss him, be aware of the lasting, loving imprint he left upon us all, and know serenity.

Rest in Peace Bob Skoot.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bell Custom 500 Helmet: Product Review

My Bell Custom 500 helmet after 11,000 miles, just like new!
Recently I received the Bell Custom 500 helmet from Helmet City to try while riding across the western states. I fell in love with it from the moment I put it on.

It's so lightweight that it feels nearly weightless on my head. This has been wonderful since I've had so much trouble in the past with my Fibromyalgia pain in my neck and shoulders. This helmet fits my head snugly and seems to be part of me when I put it on. Often I find myself walking into a store or restaurant with it still on, forgetting it's even there.

The retro styling reminds me of the first helmet I wore in 1980, a Bell. My high school boyfriend had a motorcycle, a typical UJM, a 1978 Yamaha 600, and we went everywhere on that bike. I only wore my helmet occasionally because as a 16 year old girl, with no helmet law in California at the time, I usually just wore it when my Mom saw me getting on the motorcycle. Fortunately I had that helmet on the day we wrecked in Lytle Creek, CA, just north of our hometown of Fontana. I remember landing on my head and left shoulder, and the sound of that pavement grinding in my helmet. Fortunately we weren't hurt worse, and I have spent the rest of my life being grateful for the Bell helmet. My lower back and tailbone was broken and he broke his collarbone, but being young and healthy, we both healed relatively well.

The truth is I hadn't been wearing my helmet full time since getting my motorcycle endorsement. When reaching states where a helmet wasn't required, I found myself leaving it behind from time to time. But since I've received this Bell Custom 500, I reach for it more and more often. In fact, I would say I wear my helmet 95% of the time now! If owning a comfortable helmet means wearing it more often and perhaps saving my life one day, then isn't that worth the investment? If you don't love your helmet, really LOVE your helmet, you won't wear it if you don't have to. Especially if you're prone to riding without gear.

I opted for the flat black, having had some rather flashy helmets in the past. I've considered putting stickers on it, or painting it, but now I really love the plain styling.

Bell Helmets also sent me two face shields to try. The 3-Snap Bubble Shield also has that cool, retro styling I love. My friend Madhavi has this style with her bright orange Bell Custom 500 and she looks so sexy in it! I wanted to try this shield because I loved the look. It looked easy to attach, but I had some trouble getting it attached firmly. I asked my husband to help me make sure the snaps were all connected properly, and sure enough, one was loose. The shield really protects well and once attached properly, a great addition to the helmet.

Bell also sent their Flip Visor for me to try. Unfortunately, the first time I wore it I didn't have my husband check the snaps. When I looked over my shoulder to check my blind spot and change lanes, it caught some wind and off it went, at 70 mph. I only wore it for around 20 minutes, and I feel terrible that possibly I hadn't secured it properly, thus losing it on the side of the road. It seemed to struggle in the wind due to the windshield on my motorcycle. I'm not sure if that played a part in losing it, but it wasn't a good fit for me all around.

My helmet now has over 11,000 miles on it, still looks almost brand new and fits just as snugly as it did the first day. It has seen some serious wind and rain with no issues. It blocks some wind noise, but not much. It keeps me completely dry, even in fierce rain. It doesn't seem to be well vented, or vented at all, so in hot temperatures, it's really hot. If you live in an area that is terribly hot, for example Phoenix, you may want to try a lighter color that reflects light instead of absorbing it.

Overall, I love this helmet and plan to wear it a good, long time. One thing I like is the versatility of the face shields, so I'm going to try another face shield in the future. But for now, I mostly wear it without one. The Bell Custom 500 is perfect for riders who want a helmet that is lightweight, simple, and comfortable with retro styling.
Wearing my helmet when it was brand new to Bike Night in Bakersfield

Trying out the Flip Shield 

Wearing the bubble shield while riding in South Dakota

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Highs and Lows of Colorado

It seems I have a Love/Hate relationship with Colorado. I love the people here but hate the weather. It's been tenuous to say the least. Out of the 18 days we've been here, there were 12 days straight of rain, some days without ever seeing sun at all. All the locals say this never happens, but that's the same thing I hear every time I'm here.

"In Colorado if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes. Because it's bound to change," the locals all chuckle.

Not funny if it prevents me from riding my motorcycle. I hate arriving anywhere like a drowned rat, but least of all, visiting clients. I find myself hiding in the hotel, avoiding another wet ride.

We stayed in Longmont and visited clients in Boulder, family in Denver and friends all around. We even had lunch with our friend Betty who lives in San Diego was here visiting her son. We had a wonderful visit with Steve's brother Mark and his wife Beverly. We met up with quite a few friends, had meetings with clients and solidified some business relationships.

We visited with Steve's Mom Maki as well, and I wish I could say it was a good visit, but it wasn't. I'm not sure what's bothering her, but she doesn't seem to want to see me anymore and she's not the type to tell a person why. So the time visiting is strained and feels very forced, making everyone tense. I feel terrible about it, because I love Steve so much and I want to see him happy, and nothing would make him more happy than to see his Mom and me getting along. But I can't change another person and no matter how nice I am, it seems to have no impact on her negativity.

We also visited be remarkable Forney Museum of Transportation in downtown Denver. The beautiful collection of vintage Indians that was recently donated to museum was spectacular. My father was a huge fan of the Scout and after recently riding the 2015 Indian Scout, I just had to visit the museum.

"Your Dad would flip if he knew you were writing the brand new scout! He always wanted a 1932 Scout. I am sure he is looking down on you and is so excited for you and proud of you. But then again, he was always proud of you."

My step mother Kathy constantly reminds me that my Dad is watching over me. She is having a great time following along with our travels and cheering me on. I've told her a number of time what an inspiration she has been for me, being a woman who was riding her own motorcycle in 1970. She took a great deal of heat from the guys she rode behind, often getting teased about her Sportster. She took it all in stride, and knew how to handle being unique.

Our time in Denver mostly working staying out of the rain rolls in every damn day. It's been a time for me to connect with old friends socialize visit client and truly reflect on what's next for us. It seems every day brings another good and new opportunities for us as individuals and our business. I certainly hope that Maki and I can resolve our differences over time. Perhaps our need to keep returning to Denver by gaining a client base here, as well as building friendships with the ladies of the Steel Horse Sisterhood (which is based in this area), is all meant to be. I'm resisting my urge to run away and doing what I can to focus on the positive here in Denver.

After a little over 2 weeks, we are hitting the road today, heading south towards Pagosa Springs. I long to slay my personal dragon which is Wolf Creek Pass. First we'll stop in Salida for a couple of days, just to see what's there, then we are going into Pagosa Springs to visit our friend Jared for a few days.

Jared is just another reminder that in spite of the weather here in Colorado, the people are phenomenal.

With Charley Rock at Nordy's in Loveland
Lunch with Betty in Westminster
With my Sister-in-Law Beverly at Joe's Crab Shack in Denver
Gabriele and Charleyn invited Asphalt Annie and me to lunch at Sweetwater Station in Broomfield
Along Route 6 for a photo/rest stop with Jason, Amy, and Brian
Steve is now doing some consulting for Duke of Duke's Smoked Meats, our client in Boulder
With Jason, Amy and Brian at the end of our ride in the Rockies, parting in Golden, CO

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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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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...)