Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Finding The Apex in a Decreasing Radius Turn

I recently reached 50,000 miles after learning to ride my own 2 1/2 years ago! This moment happened as we rolled into Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Canyon de Shay) outside Chinle, AZ. It was the perfect spot for such a momentous occasion!
With my motorcycle fully loaded with gear, I realized just in time I was coming into the blind curve far too hot. My V Star 650 Classic had become such a joy to ride after so many miles, my enthusiasm had a way of getting me into more and more difficult situations on every ride.

Upon reaching what I assumed was the apex of the curve, I realized I was leaning into a decreasing radius turn. A decreasing radius turn is essentially a corner that tightens up. That means that if you take a normal mid apex line into the corner as you might on a constant radius turn, you're going to find yourself running wide unless you have enough in 'reserve' to really lean the bike over.

I didn't grab the brakes; I knew better. I leaned really hard, balancing on the edge of the tire and the asphalt, sliding and hopping closer to the edge into the marbles. Pressing down on the right bar while still balancing the sweet spot in the throttle, covering the clutch, riding that back brake just a little, leaning forward, squeezing those knees, I scraped those V Star floorboards for the very first time.

The apex appeared not a moment too soon and I found my line again, propelling both my bike and myself into the straightaway ahead, howling with laughter and yelping like a rabid coyote.

Our Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia was intended to be only 6 months of riding around the country and then returning to San Diego to reestablish a home base. But after 2 years and 6 months on the road, neither my hubs Steve nor I really want to do that. Vagabonding is incredible! We have loved meeting new people, seeing the ever-changing horizons, trying unusual and delicious foods, learning history and geography, seeing old friends and family and finding ourselves along the way. But as the riding season rolls to the end for now, I'm beginning to realize that it's time to hit some straighter roads.

Mental, emotional and physical exhaustion have been taking their toll. I wake up after having nightmares for 8 hours and wonder what I'm running from, because I'm certainly being chased by something all night. Lately the demon in my dreams is closer than it's ever been before. But every night I must run and hide because I'm too exhausted to fight it.

Initially I ran because I had so much noise in my head, I needed some long roads to sort out the sounds. But riding became an addiction, the pleasures masking the fact that I was indeed running. Each time we stopped for long, the orchestra in my mind tuned up louder and louder and rolling hard on two wheels was the only way to bring the noise to a mellow hum.

So our Road Pickle became not the short, constant radius curve I had expected, but a decreasing radius turn that required me to lean, and lean, and lean in. And as the straight road lies before me, I am tempted once again to take the easier, softer route by settling down in San Diego for a year or two. I can constantly hear the carbs of my bank account sucking in too much air,  needing an adjustment. My ever-learning-spirit needs peace. My nearly-50-year-old body needs rest and reminds me of this every evening in hotel beds. But the child within me frolics about, dances and giggles, full of wanderlust and smooches, excited for each and every new horizon.

I believe I've reached the apex, found my line, and see some straight road ahead. But there is plenty of untraveled road I've yet to see, so this is only a pit stop for now.

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 23, 2015

My Motorcycle Is My Partner

My Yamaha V Star Tatanka has taken me 30,000 miles over 2 years of riding together
As I was polishing the chrome on my Yamaha V Star 650 when I had an amazing realization about my feelings for my motorcycle. There in that moment I was overcome with a great appreciation for this machine.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my mother told me of a deep love that came over her with her first child. Just days after my sister was born, my mother looked at her and realized the enormity of her role as a mother. It hit her in one moment, this mix of a great love and huge responsibility, feeling wonderful and terrifying.

"You'll know it when you feel it," she told me.

Sure enough, my moment came when my daughter was 3 days old. I was holding her and watching my husband and mother cook dinner in my home. I looked at my tiny baby and the emotion poured over me, through me, seemingly becoming part of me. I wept as I looked at this tiny being, knowing I was responsible for every meal, every pain, every illness, every need this human would have for the next 18 years. I wept with joy and fear, just as my mother had done.

I told my daughter this story when she was pregnant just over a year ago. Shortly after my grandson was born last summer I asked my daughter if she had yet felt such a moment.

"Yes. I know exactly what you were talking about now. It was serious Mom. Very serious."

Currently I'm house sitting for a friend in San Diego who has a great garage for parking. I decided to make the most of it and wash my motorcycle. I even went so far as to buy some spray wax for the paint. In the 2 years I've owned this motorcycle, I can count the times I've washed her on one hand. But she was particularly filthy and since I had the means to do so, I thought this was a good time to get her as clean as possible.

As I was cleaning the chrome, getting in the tiny notches between the heads, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the air intake cover. Then I leaned back, taking a good look at my motorcycle as if I had never seen it before.

This maternal feeling came over me; this deep love I remember having for my child. Certainly it wasn't quite as strong as my love for my baby, but it was similar. For me, this was the strongest feeling I've ever had for a machine.

I realize I have this motorcycle to thank for all of these miles I've traveled in the last 2 years. Gratitude came over me, as did a sense of obligation. I have a responsibility to care for her, to feed her, to listen to her, to fix her problems and keep her safe. But unlike a child, my motorcycle never complains and always performs. She will also give me her all. I only need to ask it of her by twisting her throttle. Even when I have been irresponsible and pushed her beyond her limits, once I've righted her up again, she's back to work for me without complaint.

My motorcycle has been my loyal friend and partner and I truly love her for it.

My book Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Give me your feedback on it once you've read it! I look forward to hearing from you.


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Road Therapy

Steve and I are not getting a divorce.

I've had quite a few people contact me with deep concern as to my last post about our relationship. After traveling together for the last 2 1/2 years, living in hotel rooms, depending upon each other for so much, Steve and I needed a break. The circumstances under which he left were painful for me and I had a very difficult time watching him go. I had my daughter, my son-in-law and my grandson come to visit for a week which was was also stressful. So my point of view when I wrote my most recent post was a bit skewed.

Steve has been on the road for 12 days now. He contacted me after being on the road for 5 days and I think we've talked almost every day since. We're still talking about things, working things out, and trying to sort out our feelings, but we're not breaking up.

Living on the road isn't easy. We've lived in fine hotel rooms, eaten the best food, seen various landscapes, each more astounding than the last, and yet none of it has been easy. Even with money, comforts, and love, the difficulties of life creep in and tear at the fiber of our hearts. We work together, live together, socialize together and sleep together. We've done too much together and not enough alone.

Money only solves so much. And I'm sorry Beatles, but you need more than love. There are those vagabonds who say they only need the road (there was a time when I would agree with them), but even that left me weary and unfulfilled. My physical pain played a part in that road-weary state and broke down my determination and spirit. I tore at Steve in frustration, with no one else to vent my anguish towards, and wore him down too.

I'm still carrying some baggage from my past. The emotional scars have hardened parts of me that simply will never heal, so they must be managed. It was brutal for me to learn that I can never fully heal this road rash from the crashes of my life, destined to live with these scars forever.

Steve carries his own baggage from his past. It is heavy now and he's working to unburden himself. But this has become a painful process for both of us.

Taking different roads was important for our survival. I became a little lost during my solo travel. I became sidetracked and angry, sullen and finally, very depressed. I spent 3 days in bed, moping and watching television, which is entirely unlike me.

Today was a different day. While talking on the phone with Steve this morning, I mustered up every bit of strength I could and at his encouragement I got out of bed and met a friend for lunch. Then I took a 60 mile ride to get a pair of kevlar jeans for riding. I bitched and moaned to Steve that it wouldn't make me feel better, but I was wrong. That asphalt, rubber, steel and sunshine did the trick. Road Therapy wins again.

I love that motorcycle. I love Steve. Yes, we hit some shitty road and I didn't have high hopes, but that was because I wasn't seeing things clearly.

Have you ever just mounted that motorcycle, ridden less than a mile, and sighed with great relief? That huge sigh that comes about when you just know that things aren't as bad as you thought?

Today I sighed that way.

Everything is going to be alright.

My book Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Give me your feedback on it once you've read it! I look forward to hearing from you.


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Saturday, July 11, 2015

We Will Know When We Arrive

Currently I'm staying in So Cal to tend to personal business, feeling essentially grounded for about 6 weeks while having medical tests done. While I'm here, I'm finalizing the sale of my home, organizing and separating the few things we have stored here and getting them moved into storage space. This also gives me time to visit my small family and a few local friends, as well as get some work done.

Steve left today for a solo motorcycling trip. I had actually encouraged this trip and up until last week, I was excited about him going off to wander about on his own.

"There's no reason why you can't continue to ride just because I'm stuck here. I WANT you to go! Really!"

I meant that when I said it.

Then last week I was blindsided with new information like a semi plowing through an intersection over me.

Steve had decided he wanted not only to take a trip, but for the most part, we would to stop having contact during the time he was gone. Steve will let me know when he is ready to speak and I am not to contact him at all. This "Radio Silence Solo Ride" came as a shock to me in our therapist's office.

"Steve needs time alone, and by alone, I mean, he doesn't want to be required to text or call you. I think it's best for him. This is what he wants and needs," our therapist informed me as the three of us sat in her office.

Steve simply nodded, staring at the floor.

Stunned, I simply agreed to the terms. I would never want to stand in his way, take away his freedom, or stifle him. I reasoned what's best for "us" as a couple is to make him happy.

I never wanted to be one of those selfish, demanding wives who confined her husband, taking away the things he enjoyed. As a people pleaser it is my habit to please others first, before even considering how I feel. So I really meant it when I told him to go and ride solo.

But the "Radio Silence" has left me feeling hurt, manipulated and cheated. It's as if I signed an agreement and then someone pointed out the small print on another page. I couldn't go back on my word. I couldn't sit in the therapist's office and say, "Oh no then! If that's the deal, I'm out!" That would make me a "bad wife", the kind of bitch I don't ever want to be.

So I swallowed my feelings and wished him well as he left this morning. And even though I was terribly sad about him leaving, I never shed a tear.

I keep reminding myself this is all part of the journey. I'm trying to look at all of life's ups and downs as part of one long road that leads me to a wide variety of landscapes. And while this particular section of road may seem dark, it has actually shed a bright ray of light on a few hidden puzzle pieces. Right now, I don't have a full picture yet and I'm still gathering and sorting pieces, but I'm certain this time apart will be productive.

In my life I've learned these painful times can often bring the greatest opportunities for realization and growth. In fact, it seems the worse it hurts, the greater the life change that accompanies the pain. Now that Steve is out on the road and taking this time to himself, I hope he too sees what he couldn't see with me around and experiences his own kind of growth.

I also hope he realizes he will be returning to a different person. Having gone through this pain of feeling rejected and unimportant will have an impact on me. In fact, it already has. We have hit a fork in the road and only miles will tell where we will end up.

I have no intention of sideswiping him when our paths intersect again, but I'm making no promises, because right now, I can't see the road ahead. I can only see what's in my headlight and this is a brand new road I'm on.

I guess we'll both know when we arrive.

My book Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Give me your feedback on it once you've read it! I look forward to hearing from you.


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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...)