Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bike For Sale

My 2009 Yamaha V Star 650 Classic is for sale. I'm selling because I won't be riding it anymore.

In fact, I won't be riding a motorcycle of my own again.

I knew this was coming. As the pain in my right hand increased in severity and length, somewhere inside I knew the pain would be the demise of my riding career.
"Your x-rays show severe wear and tear at the base of your cervical spine. The bones are deteriorating from stress, probably caused by supporting your head in the wind while riding. Not only are the nerves pinched and inflamed, the bone damage is irreversible."

That's all my doctor needed to say. In 3 sentences my life has taken a significant turn. However, I'm more comfortable with this than I thought I would be. I didn't realize until after I received the news how much I loathed the pain of riding. Every ride has come to bring a certain level of throbbing pain and numbness to my right arm. The only variable was the length of time it would last. I can deal with the pain but not with the idea of grinding away at my bones and risking paralysis.

My life has become a series of The Unexpected along each new road I travel. Steve and I embrace the chaos because there is no adventure without risk. I can choose the road but I cannot choose the condition I find it in, so I accept this twist with a serene and peaceful heart. My life is so good right now that this isn't going to ruin it. Riding is something I do, not who I am. I'm still Sash and that's enough for me. I'm not worried about what tomorrow will bring because I'm busy living today.

I had a good run. I sold my Mercedes to buy a Ninja 500, eventually trading for my V Star, rode through 35 states having only my motorcycle for transportation for 2.5 years and have a lifetime of great stories. I test rode new motorcycles, wrote articles for the leading women's motorcycling magazine, reviewed motorcycling products, been to rallies, bike nights, group rides, ridden wet roads, hot roads, cold roads, seen wind, rain, sun and snow and everything in between.

Along the way I've made wonderful friends.

What a terrific adventure this has been. We're still traveling and I'm still going to be writing about it. This isn't the end of the road but merely a detour.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Drawn to the Power of Denali

My view of Denali's South and North Peak, the two highest mountain peaks in the North America.
Denali has a magnetism so powerful that just the sight of it brought me to tears. The beauty was so profound and its size unfathomable, I was overcome.

I wept uncontrollably. In that moment, I was filled with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I was reminded of how insignificant my everyday problems really are.

This moment came after driving a couple of hours along the Parks Highway. I was unable to see the view through the trees so I figured I had better get out of the rental car and find a way to see the mountains. Once I was out of the car I came across a little path that had probably not been tread upon in a year. I hiked down the path for about a mile, through the brush and over small ridges to the base of an 25' tall boulder. I was hopeful the vantage point from the top would deliver the view I longed for.

But first I would need to scale the side of the cliff to get to the top, a skill I am certainly not adept at and was not prepared to do. I hadn't counted on hiking so far, and certainly hadn't imagined I would need to ascend a sheer wall of stone. Armed with only my camera and keys to the rental car, without even my cell phone, I considered the danger of the solitude and wildlife.

"If I fall from here and injure myself, I am bear food."

But I couldn't come this far and quit now. I knew what I had to do. I swung my camera to my back, grabbed a couple of handfuls of rock and forced myself up the side of the cliff.

I stood up at the top and saw much more than I imagined. The valley yawned out before me. Across the miles of pines Denali shone brightly under the summer sun, as if to greet me. In that moment, I was filled with humility and gratitude.

To show some perspective, this is a panorama of the valley, with Denali peaks on the left side.

I had come so far, not just this day, or this week or month, but over the last 8 years. I have pushed through so much and brought myself to this spectacular moment. I wept my thanks to the Universe, to God, to every bit of collective energy, for this, for all of this.

This is the entire panoramic view from my vantage point. When faced with a view like this, it's no wonder I was overcome.

Anyone who has spent any time in Alaska will tell you it's unlike any other place in the U.S. Not only is the size of the state remarkable, but around every turn there are astouding views. The danger of wildlife is ever present, only heightening my experience. The extremes of the 49th state define the power of its draw.

Yet, there is no part of Alaska more powerful, awe inspiring and elusive then Denali.

Less than 30% of the people who trek to this mammoth ever see the peak(s). Long time residents of the state have made countless attempts, only to be thwarted. Due to the weather systems surrounding these peaks, it is rarely visible.

Yet I was able to see it two days in a row.

The day before I visited Denali National Park, I stayed the night in Talkeetna. I sat by the river for over an hour as the clouds rolled out, taking in the beauty of Denali's southern peak.  

It was suggested to me to visit Talkeetna, a quirky town 50 miles from Trapper Creek, the entrance to Denali National Park. Shortly after I arrived at the hostel I had booked, I invited Babette, my roommate for the night, to join me at the river. As the clouds cleared we were both treated to the breathtaking sight.

Babette seemed to glow as she soaked up the warm sun and beauty of the moment.
While we sat in silence, listening to the river, appreciating remarkable view, tourist buses arrived at the river, one after another. Each tourist rushed to the shore, stood for a minute or two, took a couple of photos, then meandered into the town to shop and eat.

"Got it! I got a picture!"

The tourists came just long enough to snap a photo then promptly left to spent a couple of hours shopping in the tiny town.

They missed the best part; the true magnificence of Denali.

The more challenges I face in life, the more I find myself seeking greater challenges. Each day I'm intrigued to find what is waiting for me down the road. But at this stage of my life I am better able to stop and appreciate exceptional moments. I take the time to be present, taking in every part, the scents, the sounds, the emotions. I enjoy the rewards of my efforts. Denali reminded me that there is so much good in the world, that my worries are often much smaller than they feel, and beauty is all around us, if only we take the time to find it.

I have more than a photo of Denali. I have the imprint of it's powerful presence on my heart.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Treating Women Motorcycle Riders As Equals

While I believe these models are gorgeous, I don't think they represent your typical woman rider. 
In the motorcycle industry I find few things as disappointing as the use of Promo Girls at motorcycle shows.

With the International Motorcycle Show just around the corner, I've been thinking about this long accepted practice in the motorcycle industry. Not only at the shows do we see this, but many of the motorcycle publications still feature scantily clad models draped over bikes.

To use women as decorations objectifies and demeans our role in the industry. There has been a long struggle to be seen as equals for not only the female industry professionals but the everyday women riders as well.

"As of 2014, the estimated number of women motorcycle riders was 14% and women influenced up to 25% of purchases in the $23 billion industry," according to Women Riders Now.

In the news lately, we've seen great emphasis on the poor treatment of women. Tens of thousands of women have shared their stories of sexual harassment via social media with the #metoo campaign. Yet with all of this focus on women being treated with respect and as equals, women are still being objectified by the motorcycle industry.

Little has been done by the industry leaders to end the inappropriateness of using barely dressed models at the shows and in the publications. These OEMs and publishers don't recognize, or don't care, that women have historically been categorized as second-class citizens in this industry.

They certainly have noticed the growing number of women motorcycle and gear buyers. We see more and more products directed at women everyday. We also see more and more women bike builders, fabricators, publishers, photographers and writers. But this male dominated industry still has serious issues with both equality and diversity.

I often hear talk about the need to attract new motorcycle riders to this declining industry. To me, it would seem a logical direction would be to attract and keep more women riders. Women drive 70 - 80% of all consumer purchasing through buying power and influence and spend upwards of $20 trillion a year worldwide. But when something so disheartening as minimizing women's role as nothing more than motorcycle jewelry, it goes against attracting riders and purchasers.

Women are no longer content to turn a blind eye and accept that some men expect to see these models spicing up the show. If you want to attract more buyers, you had better figure out who is buying.

Would it be too much to ask the industry professionals to stop marginalizing women by ending the objectification and embrace equality?

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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Saturday, September 30, 2017

RV Booking Hell

(Warning: This blog post is rated PG-13 for crude/foul language.)

Village Camper Inn located in Crescent City was one of the gems of RV parks along the coast.

Booking RV reservations is Hell. Seriously, a living Hell.

In many ways, this whole RV life I thought I was getting into is not the bed of roses I had anticipated. I had visions of forests, babbling brooks, warm orange sunsets and serene mornings that smelled of fresh coffee and ocean breezes. Yes, I got suckered in by the brochure of Instagram posts and YouTube videos showing happy couples hiking a forest trail and kayaking a lazy river.

But that shit ain't happenin'.

Instead we find ourselves frantically trying to book a place either for some random holiday we forgot existed (like Labor Day) or to escape scorching, 100 degree heat. We search on RV review sites for 50 amp service and 4G coverage, which only exist together in a downtown park of concrete and exhaust fumes. Mornings are filled with the sounds of lawnmowers and screaming children.

If we're boondocking (staying somewhere without electric, water and sewer hookups) we sleep with the generator running to drown out the sound of semis pulling in and out all night. There are times we can't even get cell coverage in a WalMart parking lot.

Boondocking at the WalMart in Yreka, CA wasn't unpleasant, but it certainly isn't on my Places To Visit list.

Perhaps we don't have the hang of this yet.

We've lucked out with a few wonderful stays, such as Village Camper Inn in Crescent City and Gold Ranch Casino and RV Park in Verdi, NV. Each park was located in beautiful locations, perfect weather and affordable rates. The neighbors we had in Crescent City were lovely people who gave us fresh rockfish from their daily catch. We found excellent motorcycle riding nearby along the coast and in the redwood forest.

Gold Ranch Casino and RV Park in Verdi, NV lies in a beautiful setting literally on the CA/NV border.

I believe we have a reasonable criteria for our stays.

Good Reviews
Location where we need/want to be
Sites - level, spacious, etc.
Comfortable Weather
50 amp electric
4G service
Reasonable Rates
Discounts: Good Sam, AAA, KOA, monthly or weekly rate
Pets allowed

We need to run our business along the way, which requires us to constantly be connected to the internet. We cannot service our clients who have hired us to manage their marketing and websites if we can't get online, which is why 4G is crucial.

At least the rest stop near Mt. Shasta was beautiful, even if there were trucks in and out all night. 

One day each month we seem to be spending hours and hours working together, struggling to find a place to stay. We've started booking months in advance to secure something reasonable. And just fucking forget about something as picturesque as Crater Lake, Lake Tahoe, the Grand Canyon or along the Pacific coastline. If you don't book in advance or have a trust fund, good fucking luck.

Oh, you're going to visit in Yosemite and get 4G? HAHAHA!! That's hilarious!

I often have people ask me how to earn a living on the road. Well, here it is. Live full time in an RV and become an RV Travel Agent. Work for Full Time RVers who are trying to book stays somewhere other than KOA's filled with screaming kids (I've never liked kids) or a concrete parking lot without a single tree in sight. Start a business working with RV park owners to secure rentals and working with RVers who don't have the time to call 15 parks in one day, only to find out they should have called 6 fucking months ago.

And when you do start this business, call me right away. I'll pay you good money for your time. Please, just get me out of this living Hell.

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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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...)