Monday, December 30, 2013

Motorcycling Without a Plan

After motorcycling across America on our Road Pickle from March to October of 2013, we headed back to San Diego for some rest and to regroup. Shortly after we started this trek last spring, I looked over my laptop at my hubs and declared, "I don't want to stop," meaning let's just keep traveling until we feel like stopping. So that's what we decided to do.

I'm a huge NFL fan (Steelers, Baby!) and have been most of my life. A game of football is like life itself being played out on exhibit in a few short hours.

"The momentum has switched! They're tired now," I'll shout at least once a game.

When we arrived in San Diego we were only going to stay for 6 weeks. Now it has been nearly 12 weeks and we've just committed to another month. Beyond that, we're toying with the idea of staying longer and getting a place to lease for a few months. The momentum has shifted.


If you could spend a winter in San Diego, you would understand why. For the last 2 weeks we've had one sunny day after the other, with temps averaging about 75 F in the day and 55 F at night. In the entire 12 weeks we've been here there has been only 2 days of measurable rain, with both days coming short of 1" combined.

How can any rider leave this Nirvana?

The truth is though, we were more tired than we thought. White knuckling it in October to get here, across the last few states, sick and exhausted, we still managed to enjoy the final month of riding, but at a slower pace and in smaller chunks. Our final day, the big push of 376 miles, nearly killed me, but I'm proud of my effort. I itch to ride everyday and most days I get some riding in, but I no longer need to ride so far. Well, at least for now.

The point of Road Pickle for Highway and I is to ride where the wind blows us. We didn't have routes or plans as we crossed the country. We tried to keep things as loose as possible because we want to listen to our hearts and follow the path laid out TODAY, not some plan we made a week ago. To live in the moment is to truly be alive, which is what I long for. We are still Road Pickling, in essence, as long as we listen to the voice within that says, "Hey, I like it here. Let's stay awhile."

Business needs attended to, I have my house I want to sell, my daughter is expecting in July, and the sun is shining, so why would I leave? I love San Diego and the more I see, the more I love.

Riding across the U.S. was amazing and chances are we'll do it again. But "No Plans" is our motto, so we'll play it by ear. We might decide on a trip to Wales, or Italy, or Bolivia. These are ideas we bat around from time to time, bellied up to the bar, cuddling in a pub booth, kissing on the city sidewalks. We stroll in the evenings and talk about all of the possibilities, dreaming of our next adventure, remembering that everyday is meant to be enjoyed.

This is only the beginning. . .

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

8 Things I Love About Bikers

Bikers are Hot.

I should begin at the beginning and my beginning begins with a man and a motorcycle. From my earliest memories my father rode a motorcycle and he always had many friends to our home who rode too. These weren't just regular guys, although at the time I thought they were like everyone else.

These men were either members or friends of members of an M.C. in Fontana, CA in the late 1960's. My father was a well respected member of this social circle and was the center of my Universe. It's safe to say I have a bad case of "Daddy Worship" within me. And Daddy was a Biker.

Fast forward 40+ years later and I find myself behind bars as well, and loving it. Coming full circle I realize this is where I belong. My attraction to the lifestyle of riding a motorcycle full time has always been so powerful. Giving into that attraction has only fueled the fires of my passion for Bikers.

Here are 8 things that drive me wild about a man who makes riding a way of life:

1. Free Spirit: A Biker finds it hard to answer to anyone but his inner voice. He only has himself to please and wastes no time being a fraud to impress others. He's honest with himself first and you can trust him to be honest with you. He doesn't need approval, he has nothing to hide, so he needn't lie about a damn thing.

2. Lives Fully: A Biker wakes up and thinks only of today; yesterday is in the rear view mirror and tomorrow is too far down the road to even think about. He lives in the moment and soak up all that life has to offer, living each day to it's fullest. Living with this kind of man will help you to stay in your own "right now" and you'll find a way to enjoy your life in a richer, deeper sense than ever before.

3. Naturally Impulsive: A Biker hears that little voice in his head and responds. He will say, "Want to go see what's up that road?" or "Have you ever been to Santa Barbara?" or "Would you like to have the World's Best Hamburger?" When he asks, he's usually looking for his jacket, boots, wallet and keys, because he's ready to go right now. If you love him and want to go along, it's best not to keep him waiting.

4. Passionate: My Daddy told me, "If you want to see a man show feelings, find out what his passions are and learn about them. They you can enjoy those things together." To love a Biker one must love to hear stories of roads, rides, beer, bad weather, good friends or the World's Best Hamburger. All such stories are told with great gusto, a twinkle in his eye and a great deal of laughter. It also helps to learn to ride, or at least, learn to love being a passenger. Either way, once you're a Biker Chick, the world becomes a more beautiful place.

5. Focused: When a Biker is riding, he is only focused on his ride. When he's holding a woman in his arms, she's the whole world to him. That's where that fire and passion become the most intense for a chick like me. This is also what keeps me coming back for more.

6. Joyful: The only real therapy a Biker needs is to ride, so to spend long hours in the saddle helps settle a man's soul. He finds real joy within himself and creates a life that makes him happy. Because he longs to be honest with himself, it takes shutting out the voices of the world to hear what his soul is really saying. Once he gets those miles behind him, he's free to enjoy his life in a deeper, richer way.

7. Deep: Like all men, a Biker has deep thoughts that he must ponder. This takes thousands of miles of roaring road noise to help him sort out. He thinks about politics, religion, money (or lack thereof), relationships, philosophy, and every other major issue with the same level of importance he gives to determining where to find the World's Best Hamburger.

8. Simple: A Biker is easy to please. Give him his wallet, jacket, boots, keys, bedroll and a tank of gas and he'll be happy for a few days. Send him out the door with instructions to go have a hamburger & beer, and he'll ride 2 days to try what he's been told is the World's Best Hamburger & Beer. When he comes back with an enormous smile and you ask him how his burger was, his response will be brief, but his joy will be immense. Because a Biker leads a pretty simple life because his needs are few and easy to meet and he understands the greatest pleasures in the smallest of things.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

10 Things I Have Gained as a Biker Chick

Ladies, I can see you.

I see you watching me roll up the street on my motorcycle as you stand on street corners and sit at outdoor cafes. Your heads turn as you watch me go by and I can only imagine what you're thinking.

So many of you have approached me and asked about riding, but most of you tell me why you can't now, nor ever.

"Oh God, it must be so scary! I'd be so scared."

"I was on a motorcycle once. ONCE! I'll never do it again!"

"Is it fun?"

I'm not the "Biker Chick Recruiter", but I love to encourage women to ride. If that is your dream, if you like what you see, give it a try. You can do this! When I first started I had a very hard time. Scroll back over this blog and you'll see the progression from passenger to new rider to now. I've ridden across America twice in my first year of riding. While this may not be the norm, I'm certainly not extraordinary.

I am no more nor less special than anyone else.

Neither are you.

Here are 10 things I've gained from riding my own motorcycle:

1. My confidence level has soared. Not just my confidence in my riding, but in my life. When I walk into a room, I'm no longer intimidated by anyone, ANYONE! I feel good about myself and my accomplishments.

2. I'm taking time to smell the roses. More literally, time to listen to the Universe. I listen to the roar of the motorcycle as I ride and in that are the whispers of my soul. Miles and miles of riding clears the cobwebs in a rider's head and clears up distorted vision.

3. My physical strength is better than ever. I wasn't strong when I started riding, but I'm much, much stronger now, especially in my upper body. It's the best workout I've ever had.

4. My ass has never looked better. Truth. My entire adult life I've hated my dimples-from-behind, but they are gone now. I'm sure it has to do with the strength aspect and the muscle groups I've built from riding so much.

5. I'm sporting an epic tan. The more I ride in the warm weather, the better my tan gets. Also, I've struggled with low Vitamin D level for years, but now it's at very healthy level. Low Vitamin D leads to depression and body pain (I have Fibromyalgia, so body pain is an issue) and I'm happier than ever.

6. Dudes think I'm hot. Young men, old men, most men think a chick that rides is hot, regardless of your shape, size or hair color. A strong woman who can wield a 2-wheeled rocket is a force to be reckoned with and terribly attractive to the testosterone-laden lads.

7. People treat me with more respect. I'm not sure why. I'm assuming it has to do with the strength factor or it could be my confidence has increased. Whatever it is, it's working.

8. Motorcycling is the most independent thing I've ever done. I spent many years feeling trapped in my marriage and my surroundings. Now I feel a unbelievable amount of freedom, not just when I'm riding, but every minute of every day. The biggest rule of riding is Ride Your Own Ride. When I took that responsibility and owned my choices and decisions, a tremendous amount of independence washed over me.

9. Fear is no longer my enemy. I was terrified of a laundry list of things before riding. Heights, bridges, germs, etc. That's gone. Dealing with the challenges has helped me overcome so many unhealthy habits, but the best of them has been worrying about crap.

10. The sense of accomplishment is amazing! For the rest of my life I can say I rode across America twice in my first year of riding. For me, this was an important goal to accomplish. Now that I've done that, I'm excited about what other challenges lie ahead and I'm excited to live life! The world is open for me now, roads are created for me to ride, and nothing can ever stop me now.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Motorcycling Between Love and Independence

After crossing the country twice in my first year of motorcycling, I've been able to spend a nice amount of time reflecting on all I've learned from the trip. Of course, I have no desire to settle down anywhere and I see this as a hiatus on the Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia. San Diego has been a great place to visit, enjoy the beautiful weather, see some friends, and rejuvenate. But I'm itching to get back on the trail again.

Certain obstacles stand in my way and limit my freedom. I still own my home which I have rented and I also have on the market. I'm hoping it will sell before we leave So Cal again so I can be rid of that financial burden, as well as my obligation to my renters. I feel so responsible for them, mostly because they are family and they've done so much for me over the past couple of years to help me maintain my house so I could sell it. Now that time has come and I want to be sure to repay their kindness.

I recently found out that my daughter, my one and only child Olivia, is pregnant. She married the love of her life in April of this year, just days before we left on Road Pickle. After a visit with her recently we all learned that they are expecting. When I found out I was overwhelmed with joy and fear, all jumbled together.

This week I got an offer on my house for more than I had hoped to receive. I was thrilled and started making plans. The offer required my renters to move out in 15 days, only 7 days before Christmas. The family started scrambling to make it happen and I was thrilled about the money and finally being free of my anchor of a home.

Two days later the buyers backed out. I was crushed. It was nearly impossible to remember I was no worse off than before because I felt so tied down. The burden of maintaining this home was weighing heavier all the time. I want so badly to be unencumbered and this seemed to be my final stumbling block.

A day later I received a frantic phone call from my daughter. She was hemorrhaging and possibly having a miscarriage. Her husband rushed her to the Emergency Room and I spent the night in Highway's arms, crying myself to sleep in fear that my grandchild would be gone. After a few grueling hours came the news that the baby was safe, alive and still kicking, albeit my daughter had a terribly close call. She's still on bedrest for now, but it seems she'll recover and be able to maintain her pregnancy.

As the night wore on though, waiting for the news, the heavy pull to mount up on my motorcycle and ride to her bedside weighed heavily upon my heart.

"I should be there," my head kept saying.

My husband kept me sane and reminded me that Olivia's husband David was there with her now, and I didn't need to come to her rescue as I once had. The mothering instinct never goes away, nor the desire to help my child through rough patches, but at some point my need to belong only to myself plays a part in my decision making.

Just a few weeks ago I pondered the independence of riding in this article:

I am riding my motorcycle.

I don't know if you want something, how you feel about me, if I left the water running, forgot an appointment, or if you're trying to call. I didn't see your email, your tweet, your text, your post, your comment of your photo.

I'm busy and I cannot attend to anything but motorcycle, the road, and myself.

While this is true, at some point our obligations still find us and require attention. The only way I can see to eliminate this is to isolate myself completely from everyone, building no relationships, having no commitments; a step I have no interest in making. Between love and independence lies a balance I've yet to achieve.

Except with my hubs Highway. Our relationship was built on helping one another achieve independence while still maintaining a healthy dose of interdependence. We are together by choice, not obligation, not by outward commitments. Some times that frightens me, but it is the way I want to live.

What are you holding on to? What's holding on to you? Is it keeping you from finding yourself, your calling, your own personal road?


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Monday, December 2, 2013

Get It Right

Rolling on the Interstate, nearing San Diego, during a fiery sunset, I felt completely free. The chill was just starting to settle in as the sun dropped deep on the horizon.

My V*Star 650 Gracie loved the road, chewing it like a baseball player with a new pack of bubble gum. The music of Bob Seger roared in my helmet, his words driving me as it has done so many riders over the years;

Roll, roll me away, I'm gonna roll me away tonight
otta keep rollin, gotta keep ridin',
Keep searchin' till I find what's right
And as the sunset faded
I spoke to the faintest first starlight
And I said next time
Next time
We'll get it right

Gracie began to vibrate fiercely as I reached 80 mph, rolling that throttle back. My ass buzzed in her seat as I roared between the concrete walls of the Express Lanes, completely alone in my section of freeway. Over the concrete dividers buzzed the swarm of red tailights off to my right and white headlights off to my left.

The overpass I dreaded lie just before me; an S-turn that crossed sharply over Interstate 15 to dump me onto Highway 163. With the suggested speed of 30 mph, this set of turns spooked me every time I had to take it.

"This time, we'll get it right," I told Gracie.

I kept her in 5th gear and kept the throttle steady, refusing to give into the fear. In the past I've always slowed to either 3rd or 4th gear, and stressed taking this interchange, but tonight was our night. I situated Gracie in the outside of the turn and rolled in at 70 mph.

The first turn was a breeze and I caught sight of the horizon directly ahead of me. We were headed into the sunset and for a few moments it felt like we were floating. The second turn came, this one longer and wider than the first, but with a tricky switchback at the end. We cruised through at 75 mph without a hitch.

Perhaps the sunset, with the twinkling of the first star out to the west winking at us, was a magical as it appeared, sprinkling Pixie-Biker Dust on the riders of the evening. Perhaps this was something I could do all along, had I only let go of the fear sooner. Perhaps this was just our time to get it right.


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Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Launch of Rude Biker Chick

On a weekend in Santa Barbara in 2012, we walked into a shop that makes custom T-Shirts. I had been mulling over an idea for two shirts I wanted to make for myself. Having them both made, I found that one didn't work out well at all, but the other was a huge hit. Everywhere we went, if I wore the shirt I got laughs and smiles.

All I had hoped to do was express my independence and clearly state what I wanted from life.

"It Ain't Gonna Lick Itself" the shirt boldly declared.

Most women who read the shirt exclaimed, "I want one of those!"

After hearing this 20 times, I wondered if I should make a few. After hearing it 30 times, I knew I couldn't afford to make enough to give away to everyone who wanted one.

"I'll pay for it! Just make one for me too!" I was told over and over again.

Before I knew it, women of all ages were giving me ideas for shirts they wanted made as well. Sayings that they couldn't very well say out loud, but would gladly wear across their breasts. I wrote down every one and shared them over and over again with people I met on my travels. More sayings came in, some went away, and many stuck. I mean STUCK! Like bubble gum to your shoe in July!

These were tried and true comments that got a laugh every time. All of these comments had been spoken by women across the country who had taken enough shit in life and had something to say about it.

I wanted to put the comments right across the rack, the spot where they wouldn't be missed. My hope was for a chick to wear these words with the same confidence she wears her breasts; a part of her that makes her proud to be a women!

"I don't need permission!" a young woman shouted in a bar in Newark, DE. I don't know what she and her man were arguing about, but she grabbed her bag, declared herself, and marched out of the door.

I couldn't believe how wonderful I felt for her. I ran out of the door and asked her if I could use the saying on a T-shirt.

"Yes, but make one for me too, will ya?"

Rude Biker Chick shirts are for all women, all of the women who've had enough of someone's shit and are ready to take a stand and declare their independence, power and value. The sayings on these shirts are the battle cry of the weary wives, grumbling girlfriends, abused employees, frustrated friends and left-behind lovers who won't take it anymore. They are for the mild mannered too, who don't want to shout it out, but simply wear their words as a badge of honor. They are for women to support one another, encourage one another, and laugh together.

Power To The Chicks!

Visit Rude Biker Chick and buy your T-Shirt now.


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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Roll the Throttle of My Soul

In the silence of my soul
I ride my own wormhole
Roll on that throttle, roll

Straddling the broken lines
White reflections in my mind
Cheating margins of time

4-wheeled tanks bump on
We dodge death headlong
Red light, ticking time bombs

My soul knows a secret way
Into the turns, we lay
In my machine lies my faith

Deep down the rabbit hole
I find the magic in my soul
Roll on that throttle, roll

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Motorcycle Haven

My motorcycle seemed to understand.

His words cut deep.

I'm sure he didn't know that his article would hurt me. He would never have written it if he had known. And loving him as a man and respecting him as a writer, I never want to impede his freedom of expression. But as I sat on the couch trying to suppress my agony, the tears wouldn't stop flowing. Eventually he saw me weeping and I knew I had to escape. I couldn't bear to tell him he had hurt me. I couldn't tell him what he wrote was killing me inside for fear he would now censor himself. But I couldn't stop weeping. . .

I kept my mouth shut and got dressed. Texting one friend after another to ask where they were, could I come and see them, I got no answers. It was just one of those times no one was available. Certainly, any of them would want to help if they could see my plea, but no one did.

Strapping up my boots I walked out to my steadfast motorcycle. As the garage door opened, there she stood, ready for me and my pain. I stowed my crap and started her up. Gracie roared to life, pleased to comfort me and heal my broken heart.

Moments later we careened along the nearly empty Interstate 5 owning our lane. The tears continued to flow, but my focus was now on the road. No music, no distractions, just riding.

Gracie has never let me down. Today she was my therapist, my best friend, my comforter and my haven.

The sun was shining and the weather warm enough to ride without a jacket. Typical San Diego 70 degrees and sunny in November, we chewed up asphalt and together we ran. I'm not sure if I'm running away from feelings or running into them headlong. Most rides I feel the emotions even greater and sink into the comfort of my collision course with reality. The wind tears away the lies, suppositions, fears and curses that plague my daily thinking. Only when I ride do I feel real and true to myself.

There's nowhere to hide on my V*Star. My heart is as exposed as my body to the elements. Danger lurks with every merging car and at any moment the scene can change. I must focus on what is before me and forget about the things that don't matter right here, right now, impacting my survival.

Just over an hour passed and I had ridden 40 miles of Interstate, city streets, boulevards and tiny neighborhood lanes to clear away the corrupted thinking. I felt solid and whole again. Now I could head back.

As I rolled into the garage again and parked Gracie, I patted her tank to thank her for being there for me. Serene, she was happy to rest a bit, catch her breath, and cool her fiery engine. I had ridden her hard and for that, she was grateful.

Now I could face reality again and deal with my sadness with a clearer mind and take ownership of my own feelings without imposing blame or assigning guilt. Intellectually, I know the article wasn't about me but try telling my heart that. That machine waiting patiently for our next ride is often times the only one who speaks the language of my broken heart.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Motorcycle Glimmer in the Night


Embracing my two wheels so tight,
I slay the empty miles long,
Inside my helmet, into the night,
Riding alone, my own song.

Rolling the throttle,
Nudging the shifter,
Squeezing the clutch,
Snug in my leather.

You don't know me.
You don't own me.
I am a ghost, a whisper,
A glisten, a shimmer,
A glimmer in the night,
A hot dash of light.
I am gone, untouchable,
Infinite, surreal,
I ride. . .

Rolling the throttle,
Nudging the shifter,
Squeezing the clutch,
Snug in my leather.

(Thank you for the photo ~ credit Sam Katz)


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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Motorcycle Clubs are No Joke

Seriously, this ad about Sons of Anarchy and motorcycle gangs and clubs bothers me. Perhaps more than it should. But when you think about it, this is so reckless.

I grew up with 1%'ers in my home. My father rode with an M.C., one of the original M.C.'s, and they didn't find any humor in RUBS, Posers or Wanna Be's. The friends of my father saw every rider in one of the following categories:

1. M.C. - either theirs or a rival club
2. Wanna Be's - We often call them RUBS or Posers nowadays, but to them, these were Wanna Be's.
3. Rice Grinders - The men who rode metrics, who weren't even really "riders".
4. Hobbyists - Men who loved and appreciated bikes, owned one, but were just regular guys.

The Hobbyists didn't try to look like they belonged to an M.C. In fact, they took great pains in appearing to NOT look M.C. They wore their everyday clothing and kept regular haircuts, etc. These riders did not want to be mistaken for members.

Rice Grinders, or owners of a metric bike, were of no threat or consequence to the members. They were most often kids who had their dirt bike licensed for the street. Members knew that these riders just enjoyed riding and they barely gave a metric rider a glance. My Dad would tease these riders, dropping a handful of rice under their bike from his jacket pocket, leaning over and saying, "Hey, your bike is leaking." Secretly some of the members, including my Dad, admired these riders, mostly for their skill. My Dad often shared with me how much he enjoyed watching them ride.

Wanna Be's were in a dangerous category. Riders who didn't identify with a club but posed as they belonged to one were asking for an ass-beating, if not worse. Many didn't realize the dangers until it was too late. My personal philosophy is BE YOU. Boldly Embrace Your Own Uniqueness. Posing goes against that philosophy in every way. Posing as a member of an M.C., or worse, a lone rider, just taunts these members into proving their prowess within the territory. Like a naked man covered in blood running through a pride of lions, a Wanna Be strutting into a bar during the mid-1970's riding a Harley, wearing a jacket with patches (God Forbid a 3-piece patch) without actually belonging to a club, was certain death.

Netflix doesn't seem to realize these are real people, with real loyalty issues and living in real social settings. "Let's all wear cool patches and be in a motorcycle gang" is an insane statement! Given the right set, or should I say wrong set, of circumstances, anyone taking this as a serious remark, or even considering this idea, is truly The Walking Dead. There are rules, albeit unwritten rules, for starting an M.C., which must be followed. There are also clear differences between riding clubs and motorcycle clubs that anyone wishing to join a club should consider.

One night when I was 5 year old, my Dad's closest friend, Dangerous Dan, came in our front door. He was so close to our family he didn't knock, he always just walked in. I have home movies of our family from 1969 and Dan is in them. This night Dan came in late, and he looked like he had black dirt on his clothes and arms. It turned out he had knifed a man, in a bar, who was wearing a "cut" (vest with patches) that didn't actually belong to the club. His patches weren't from their M.C., but it didn't matter. He was posing. My father sat me in his recliner and took Dan's clothes and burned them in the backyard in our BBQ grill. Dan showered and my Dad rounded up some other clothes for him. The three of us were the only ones at home that night, but I wasn't afraid of being harmed. In fact, I felt very safe with these two men, because I was on their side.

I wouldn't want to be on the other side of Dangerous Dan's knife that night, or any other night.

Learn more about my Daddy, Dangerous Dan and my life growing up as the daughter of a 1%'er. My ebook, "Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy" is available for purchase here. Thanks!


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Friday, November 8, 2013

Motorcycle Lessons Learned

Riding a motorcycle (actually 2) over 16,000 miles, traveling with only the things I can carry, crossing the United States twice in 6 months, taught me a few things about riding, myself and life.

1. Only carry what you use. Not what you think you need, what you use. If I didn't use something a couple of times in a 2 week span, I left it behind, gave it away, donated it, or trashed it. That included jeans, vests, dresses, scarves, makeup, jewelry, food, etc. You use less than you think and being a consumer isn't all it's cracked up to be. Try living with less. You might just like it.

2. Rain gear only works if it's dry on the inside. Once the Coca-Cola truck tidalwaved me in Suffolk, VA in a nasty rainstorm, and the water ran from my neck into my boots, I was soaked to the bone. For the next two hours, I was whining like a little bitch, negotiating rush-hour traffic, getting lost on seaside streets. That hotel bed was the warmest, driest, happiest place I've ever been, as were many hotel beds to come. It took days to get my boots dry again. Things don't always go as planned, so rolling with the punches is all in a day's riding.

3. We really are stronger than we think. I had a couple of friends who didn't think I could last the whole 6 months. There were moments that I thought I couldn't last another hour. But I did. I learned I can do anything if I just take life by the moment and deal with what is right in front of me, mile by mile.

4. Life only exists right now. I know that sounds like existential bullshit, but it's true. When you ride so many miles, you see that only this moment is happening. Spend it wisely, because the next asshole to merge into your lane may end your day, or your life. This may be your last sunset, your last breathe, your last kiss. Make them count.

5. If you love someone, stop what you're doing and tell them. Often I would roll up next to Steve, my wonderful, patient, loving hubs, and blow him kisses. The first few times I did it he barely acknowledged me. I'm fine with that because I understand he's a manly man riding his motorcycle and didn't have time for my mushy shit. After it became a regular thing, he would wave his throttle fingers at me, never releasing the throttle. After a really bad, bad day in Colorado he blew a kiss to me. I almost crashed right there I was so overwhelmed with love and joy. You never know how you can heal old hurts with love. There were enough close calls on the road to keep it ever present in my mind that Lesson 4 is some real shit.

6. Food is really good when you're really hungry. Riding really gets me hungry. I now comprehend "working up an appetite" and how good food can taste when you've earned it. I've found little snacks that work while riding, like beef jerky in my pocket for protein and Sour Patch Kids at 3pm when I need a sugar boost. I found that duct taping the open bag to the inside of my windshield works well for easy access while riding.

7. Eat what the locals eat, go where the locals go, listen to the locals. When our friends in Memphis Ed and Juliet told us to drink plenty of water and plan our days around staying inside during the day and going out early evening, I wish I had listened on Day 1. Humidity is nothing lifelong Californian's comprehend. I thought I would die. Once I listened to them, I enjoyed Memphis much more. We also ate some amazing food along the way because we took advice from the locals, who know where to get the best of everything. The best part is, they all want to tell you!

8. You're probably a better rider than you think you. I must say, I learned the best way possible. I got on after just learning to ride and rode for 6 months straight. You can't beat that. When I almost ran into a merging car in Baltimore (asshole) and performed a STOPPIE on my fully-loaded Ninja, all I could think was, "Wow! I didn't know I could do that!!" Believe me, I didn't want to try it again anytime soon, but I found time and again that I could really ride so much better than I thought, with enough experience and muscle memory. Ride often and you will ride like it's second nature. I am now riding a V Star 650 which I maneuver so well sometimes that I blow my own mind.

9. Don't overestimate your abilities. This seems to contradict Lesson 8, but it doesn't if you think about it. I always surprised myself, but never attempted any ridiculous shit. I ride as safely as I can, all the time, but shit happens. Don't go out tempting fate, because fate is a m*&herf%cker and he'll kick your lame ass. Seriously, be safe and embrace your skills, using them only when the situation calls for it.

10. I'm addicted to those lines. I've heard this happens, but I had no idea how life changing riding so much could be. I just want to keep gobbling up more asphalt, keep swallowing those yellow lines, keep breathing air forced into me at 70 mph. A long day in the saddle wears me out, certainly, but the next day I'm usually up to ride again. Then after a day or two, I'm itching to get on to the next town. Traveling is addictive. Keep in mind I'm 48 years old, I battle Fibromyalgia and chronic pain daily, and I'm little fat. These issues make riding a bit difficult, but the joy of riding outweighs the pain and physical misery by far.

11. Pain is temporary. The same can be said for rain, hunger and exhaustion. You'll get over it. Whining only makes that shit worse. Sash Up for Godsake and embrace your abilities to overcome your challenges. Intention and attitude make up for 90% of your life. I believed I could ride across America and I did it, against some pretty tough odds. You can get through pain, push through rain, and enjoy the sunshine when it comes around again.

12. The only person in my helmet is me. Ride your own ride. Being responsible for your actions, your choices and the outcome of such is key to enjoying the journey. Listening to my own head can be dangerous, but after enough hours alone in my helmet, I realized the great power I have when I own my life. Giving your power away by blaming others only weakens your spirit. Each day I take my life by the hair, wrestle it to the ground, stare it in the eyes, and make it my bitch! Once I owned my life no one can take that away from me. That includes owning my mistakes. When I drop that bike, or my life, it's my own doing. And when I achieve greatness, it's my own doing as well. Others can slow you down with their negativity, if you let them. You can always roll the throttle and blow past them. It's your choosing.

Learn more about my life growing up as the daughter of a 1%'er and my travels across the U.S. My ebook, "Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy" is available for purchase here. Thanks!


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Monday, October 28, 2013

Successful First Solo Motorcycle Trip

I kissed Highway goodbye and headed out on a perfect San Diego day to visit my daughter in Bakersfield. The trip is 250 miles each way, so I thought 3 days would be the perfect visit. It also gave me the perfect opportunity to try out my new Rambler Leather Jacket from Helmet City. This was my first long distance solo ride, so when the traffic came to a halt at 11am in Orange County, I felt my hopes of a smooth ride deflate.

"Damn it, I really didn't want to start lane splitting so early. . ."

For over 20 miles during mid-day, I wove my way between cars, trucks, semi's, buses and RV's northbound on Interstate 5. I'm not an aggressive lane-splitter; my personal rule is to not resort to it unless I need to put my feet on the road. So when the traffic would halt, I would split. Before I knew it I was in L.A.

Unfortunately, with all of the focus on safely lane splitting, I ended up on the 101 rolling through Hollywood.

"Oh FUCK! How in the Hell did this happen?"

This was my biggest fear. I hate L.A. traffic, even though I've grown up in Southern California and been to L.A. countless times. I know all of the freeways and I know my way around, which is how I knew I was on the wrong freeway almost immediately. Just north of the 60 Freeway there's a funky interchange where the 5 and 101 come together, then split. If you're in the left lane, you end up on the 101. And lane-splitting is always done between lanes 1 & 2. It's that simple. I was watching the cars and the freeway, not the signs.

Fortunately I knew that I could roll up into Studio City and eventually catch the 170 northbound until it connects with Interstate 5 again. So even though I was sidetracked, and very pissed at myself, I managed to just keep moving forward towards Bakersfield to visit my daughter and her new husband.

We had a great visit and after just 2 days I was headed back to San Diego again. After a huge breakfast at Donna Kaye's Cafe I geared up in the parking lot and kissed the kids goodbye. I felt good about getting on the road in the pristine So Cal weather most Americans envy this time of year. 75 degrees, sunny and slightly breezy, it was as if God kissed my forehead and sent me on my way, wishing me well.

The Grapevine is the mountain pass that starts at the mouth of Grapevine Canyon and ascends to the Tejon Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains. What used to be U.S. Route 99 is now named for the canyon it passes through with its wild grapes that still grow along the original road. With a legendary high accident rate and 6% incline up to the summit of 1,500 feet, most So Cal drivers worry about the pass more than they need to. The roads have long since been widened which helps with the seemingly never-ending stream of semi's hauling produce and fuel along the roadway. Clearly my V*Star Gracie is no match for a lettuce-laden semi hauling ass down the hill, so I intended to do my best to avoid them, as I had done heading northbound. I know most riders hate riding interstates for their lack of curves and challenges, but Interstate 5 will challenge even the most experienced rider, I'm sure, with it's heavy traffic, road construction, confusing interchanges and merciless drivers.

I stopped at a gas station about 5 miles before The Grapevine for a pee break and pop open a 5-Hour Energy drink for the ride. As I was gearing back up to traverse the mountain range, out of the corner of my eye I saw a small, red convertible slowly rolling up next to me. Making no eye contact, I balled up my left hand into a fist and felt in my right pocket for my switchblade, just to be prepared.

"Tina," the voice behind me said.

I turned to see Stumpy and his wife Tammy, old friends of Highway's from their Heatwave Riding Club. Thrilled to see familiar faces, I knelt down at his door and we chatted a bit.

"Where is Steve?" Tammy asked. "You're not out here alone are you?"

I smiled and explained that this was my first solo ride. Stumpy asked how many miles I've ridden since I last saw them in April.

"I've ridden 16,000 miles since then. . ."

"Oh, well, you know what you're doing then. You're fine," he responded confidently.

We said our goodbyes planning to meet up for dinner soon. Tickled pink I finished gearing up jumped on Gracie and headed out a few minutes after they had left the station. At the base of the pass I saw their car so I pulled in behind Stumpy and Tammy and followed them over the pass. For 50 miles Stumpy lead me through the traffic jammed Grapevine with most cars traveling around 75 mph avoiding semi's traveling around 25 mph. Erratic drivers jump lane to lane with little signalling in an attempt to dodge slower vehicles. It looks a bit like a high stakes game of Frogger, only getting squished isn't the least bit funny.

Once we hit the 210 I waved off Stumpy and Tammy who headed east and I continued south to San Diego. More lane splitting was necessary through L.A., much to my dismay, but by 5:30pm I was rolling past Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. Situated along the Pacific Ocean, the Marine Corps Base is the major amphibious base on the West Coast and takes up some of the most beautiful beach for 17 miles. There only two stops available along the stretch of Interstate 5 through the base, one being a rest stop and the other simply a viewpoint. I chose to stop at the viewpoint to catch my breath, put on my warmer gloves and a scarf, and watch the sunset.

I pulled in and immediately realized I had parked in a puddle of oil someone had spilled, making my footing precarious. I managed fine, but was pissed that my boot was now slippery.


I dug into my bag and found my camera, hoodie, gloves, scarf and hard candy. The sunset was picture perfect; one of those moments that time stands still and the whole world seems a miraculous place. Basking in my accomplishment, I felt serene and pleased.

"Steamboat! Hey, Steamboat!!"

I heard the voice shouting in front of me and when I looked up, I realized the man was shouting at me. He was reading the T-Shirt I was wearing from Steamboat Springs, just as I was zipping up my hoodie to wear under my leather jacket.

"Hey Steamboat! Can I take your photo? You just look so beautiful. I saw you pull in on that motorcycle and you took my breath away. Is that a Harley?"

He was probably 10 - 15 years my senior and seemed rather enamored with my presence. After explaining that Gracie was a Yamaha, he took about 4 photos of me with his camera. I asked him to take one with mine, since he was having such a good time. Flattered and rather humbled by his enthusiasm, I took in the moment with all the grace I could muster. He went on complimenting me and left the parking lot waving out of his car window.

I was home with my hubs about 45 minutes later, thrilled to have seen my kids, run into Stumpy, and ridden my first solo trip with only good stories to tell.

"I'm proud of you," he beamed.

"I'm proud of me too."


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Sunday, October 20, 2013

First Solo Long Distance Ride

Tomorrow is my first long distance solo ride. I've traveled across the country, twice, and now I'm worried about riding 250 miles alone. I wonder if riding 250 miles in one day is even considered long distance. . .

Over the last couple of weeks I've taken rides around San Diego on my own, even traveling solo to Menifee and back, about 135 miles roundtrip, just last night. But for some reason this feels really independent for me.

I love traveling with Highway. Part of traveling for me has been sharing the experiences with someone. Before I rode a motorcycle I loved taking long drives on my own. But being married to my stick-in-the-mud-then-husband certainly limited any travel. He worried about money all of the time, so even driving 30 miles needed prior authorization. After 15 years of that bullshit, I realized I had disconnected from travel completely. It was hard for me to overcome my fears of just going places after my divorce. But once the spell was broken, I've seen many miles pass under my wheels.

I miss my daughter and her husband, who live in Bakersfield, CA, so I want to ride up and see them. Highway has work to catch up on, so I decided to just ride up on my own. When I made the decision, I gave it little thought.

"I'll come and see you next week and just stay at your place a couple nights. Would that be OK?"

My daughter enthusiastically agreed, excited to see me. Visiting my one-and-only-child after being gone for so long was important to me, as well as her.

There are a few routes I could take, but I've decided to take the most direct, Interstate 5 from San Diego to Bakersfield, breaking off on State Route 99, then Highway 58, to their place. She and her new husband David were just married in April and we left for our Road Pickle right after attending their wedding. I'm thrilled to sit and giggle with my Kittenhead.

Olivia and I have always been very close, at times, much too close. But we certainly have our mother-daughter times of oil and water. So this trip fills me with anxiety on many levels. Having Gracie to turn to for a short trip to the market will give both Olivia and me some space when I get on her nerves. I tend to piss her off quicker than a liberal at a Ted Cruz Tea Party. I'm not sure if we are too much alike, or too different, but of all the people in the world, I try my best to accommodate her. I cherish my relationship with her, so I would do most anything to keep being a good Mom for her.

Even ride 250 miles alone through L.A. traffic on a Monday.

I've scrubbed Gracie down, hopefully coaxing her into performing nicely for me for the trip. Tomorrow Highway will top off the oil, check the air in the tires and fill up my gas tank for me before I take off. I'm ashamed to admit, but I have only put gas in my tank 3 times in my riding career. After struggling with a pump a couple times, I refused to gas up my own bike. Having Highway around I haven't needed to, so I simply boycotted. Last night I filled Gracie's tank on my own for the first time before riding back from Menifee.

I'll hit the asphalt trail around 9am, which should put me there early afternoon. Wish me luck.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Being the Inspiration

We met when I was only 14 years old. I had moved to yet another city, another school and was utterly devastated to have to start again. I begged my mother to promise we wouldn't move again after this.

I had attended Fontana Junior High only 3 days when Becke approached me. Thinner and even shorter than me, which I didn't believe possible, this bouncy, high-spirited blond barks at me.

"Come here."

I obediently approached. I had decided to put out a tough exterior at this school so I didn't get bullied. It's so hard to start anywhere new when you're a teen. But I snapped to attention and obeyed her command.

"Why do you wear heels every day? I'm Becke. This is Laurie and Lori. We all wear Vans, so don't wear heels anymore. You need to get Vans. You can be our friend and have lunch with us from now on. Understand?"

"Yes. I wear heels because that's all I have. But I'll tell my Mom I need Vans. And I'll have lunch with you everyday."


Becke and I were friends from then on. She knew my deepest, darkest secrets until our Senior year of high school, when life interrupted and we parted ways. Many years later we reunited and in the last few years, have begun spending more and more time together.

A few weeks ago we were in her car, laughing like teenagers, on the way to our 30th High School Reunion.

"When I'm with you it's like time never passed. How can it be this way? How can anything feel so good? You get me! You always did. . ." I muttered.

Becke laughed and agreed. Still the vivacious blond with more personality than body, Becke knows me the way no one else ever could. Having spent more time together lately, she's subtly expressed a desire to ride her own motorcycle. Being a passenger on her husband's Harley for quite some time now has been fun for her, but once she saw my V*Star Gracie and followed our Road Pickle, something changed.

"You are too infectious lady! I've decided to take riding lessons. You make it look like so much fun! Hell, I have already picked out the bike I want!"

Overwhelmed with emotion, I had a hard time dealing with my ambivalence. Terribly flattered and incredibly humbled, I still found that I wanted to caution her against riding to protect her, as I had protected her in school.

"What if she gets hurt. It would be all my fault. . ." I pondered.

I realize that each of us take on that challenge and we are only accountable to ourselves. I had told Highway many times that I choose to ride and if I get hurt, that's my choice. But knowing I have inspired someone to do something risky suddenly brought into focus how much I still wanted to protect my dear friend, and how Highway may feel the same way from time to time.

"We should take a trip next year together! A Girl's Trip! You and me! And we can go try a nudist resort! I've always wanted to do that! That way we'll have so much less to pack and carry!" I suggested.

Teenager giggles ensued, as usual with the two of us.

I can see it now. The two of us, riding the backroads together all day, giggling the nights away poolside or around a crowded bar with strangers. It all sounds like something we would have dreamed of in school. Only now, we can make our dreams realities.

I feel like my life has come full circle in so many ways. Becke was just what I needed at 14; she brought me so much happiness and was the kind of friend everyone wants. I'm so grateful to be able to inspire her to grow and find her own brand of happiness all these years later.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Motorcycle Deafness

I can't hear you.

I'm riding my motorcycle.

I don't know if you want something, how you feel about me, if I left the water running, forgot an appointment, or if you're trying to call. I didn't see your email, your tweet, your text, your post, your comment of your photo.

I'm busy and I cannot attend to anything but motorcycle, the road, and myself.

Today, perhaps, I will not think. Today I needn't think. I will only hear the drone of my engine and feel my machine. I will feel her throttle, feel her purr, feel her gargle, choke, cough and then finally, roar. Today she and I will integrate into one being. I will eat when I am hungry, I will give her fuel when she is thirsty and I will piss when I am ready. I will ride as fast as I choose, as all of the control is within me. I will choose my roads, choose my path, choose my thoughts.

No, you cannot be part of this. No one else can be included. This is not about any other entity. This is about coming alive with my other half.

The road beckons us. It calls like a young suitor from the lawn towards a bedroom window.

"Come and dance. . . "

Yes, black asphalt, striped in yellow, I can dance today. I will fondle your curves, stretch out on your long roads, breathe in your heat and dust. Thank you for asking, as my motorcycle and I would love to dance today.

I have to go. The sun is shining, my chrome is winking, my hands are twitching and it's time to ride. And today, I can't hear you.


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Friday, October 11, 2013

Riding by the Half Moon

The chill is rushing up my sleeves, inflating the chest of my jacket. My head can barely turn from the collar pushing against the helmet. Someone has been screwing with my right mirror, because all I can see is dark sky. Can't fix it now, rolling at 70 mph, amid nighttime traffic.

The traffic on Interstate 15 is heavier than I expected for 10:30 pm on a Friday heading south into San Diego. Damn, I thought the 78 was packed after leaving Churchill's Pub in San Marcos, but this is slammed. After having dinner with Trampy Joe and Diane, who I've now renamed La Chuckles, it feels good to ride home, even though I'm freezing my ass off.

I gotta get these sleeves fixed so the wind doesn't pour in. This is ridiculous.

Drivers are more erratic, it seems, than afternoon traffic. Probably been drinking, or partying, if they're out driving right now. Not all of them, but the crazy ones who drift from lane to lane.

The buzz of cars, my V*Star, and my own pulse pound in my helmet with the music on my headphones.

Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change.
Oh... oh... oh... oh... oh...
And this bird you cannot change.
And this bird you cannot change.
Lord knows, I can't change.
Lord help me, I can't change.
Lord I can't change,
Won't you fly high free bird yea.

I want to pull the throttle all the way back, scream through the cars and own a chunk of road tonight. I want to push Gracie to her limits, but I refrain. I'm following Highway back to our rental. Just relax and enjoy the ride.

My thighs are freezing. Well, they don't feel that bad. Actually, I think they may be so cold I can't feel them now. I should have brought warmer gear. Why do I do that? Just bring a jacket. . . I have gear for Chrissake. . . Next time I won't forget.

Interstate 8 is approaching, so I better get into the right lane. That's going to be a challenge since I can't see out of this right mirror. Over my shoulder, once, twice, glide to the right.

I love this connector ramp, even though it scares the shit out of me. The turn is so deep! Damn, Highway must hit that at 75 mph. What, am I doing only 60? Lean, lean, look all the way through, lean. . . woooosh! There's that tickle in my tummy! Yeah, still scares me! Ha ha ha ha. . .

The 805 south is coming quick. Change lanes to the left. . . move over ASSHOLE! Fucking dicks who drive Mercedes. I used to drive a Mercedes. Oh shit, here's our turn.

I love the way the moon looks from the bottom of the connector ramp. Pretty half moon, bright as a spotlight, glistening in the dark sky. Up the bridge. . . damn Highway takes this ramp fast! Downshift to fourth gear, third gear. . . he's so far ahead, but this damn ramp scares me more than the other. Relax, bend those arms, lean, lean, lean, woooooooosh! God I love that tickle!

Couple of exits, come into quiet city streets, not a soul in sight around here. Guess that's what one would expect for residential. Gracie purrs along on these streets, roaring in first gear from Stop sign to Stop sign.

There's the rental. Just as we left it. I should have told Highway I wasn't ready to go back so early. I wonder if he wants to go ride just a little more. . .

I love riding in the moonlight.


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Friday, October 4, 2013

The Church of My Motorcycle

SASHday is tomorrow.

SASHday is my official title for my birthday. I'll be 48 years old. I've never been happier. But happy is such a relative term.

We arrived in San Diego a couple of days ago after the longest single-day ride of our Road Pickle adventure: 355 miles in one day. For me, that's beyond a marathon. I usually top out at 250. Once I rode 300, but that was a push. This ride was bone-breaking, mostly because of my Fibromyalgia. Some days our tougher than others and this was one of them.

The push to go so far on the last day was my idea. I told Highway I could do it; not sure what I was thinking. But today I am finding bruises popping up here and there, the result of overly sore muscles filling with fluid, swelling, bursting blood vessels and leaving me incredibly sore. I truly feel like I've been beat up on days like this. But I'm not complaining, just explaining. Because it's really all fine.

"Most riders would tell you that anytime one can ride is a good day," Highway told me once.

I think about that quote often and try to appreciate the amazing opportunity I have to ride as often as I do. We've traveled over 15,000 miles in the past 6 months, stayed in over 30 cities, met people who have changed our lives, and find ourselves hungering for more. But for now a hiatus is in order to rest up my weary body. I'm still riding daily, in spite of the pain, just not as far.

I mentioned I'm happy. The truth is I am. But I'm filled with many emotions throughout a day. To expect to always be happy is like expecting the sun to always shine. To hope for joy and hope for no sorrow is unrealistic. There is no Ying without Yang. There is no day without night. How could one appreciate the stillness if there were no wind? So to wish for continuous happiness is unrealistic and truly unappreciative.

I'm pleased with my life, even though I know I have more to do. I have found a level of serenity in all things; the rain, the sun, the pain, the pleasure. I understand that the road can have gravel, and the road can be smooth. There will be days of open lanes and days of traffic. There will be twisties to careen through and there will be long interstates to traverse. I'm fine with it all. I'm done trying to push the river and willing to be pleased with what life offers.

My goal is to be a leaf on the river, to accept what comes with grace and appreciation. I have so far to go, but I'm feeling pleased with my understanding. This understanding has come as a result of riding many miles on the church of my motorcycle. I am such a lucky woman today, in so many ways, and I am filled with gratitude.

This SASHday I wish you all happiness and I hope that I can inspire you to ride far, look within, enjoy what comes and give someone a kiss today. Thank you for reading the silly ramblings of a writer, a rider, a poet and a woman on a journey.

Happy SASHday!

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Gravel in Ya Guts

The rain began falling shortly before reaching Winter Park, CO. Our trip from Denver to Steamboat Springs along US 40 had a chance of being a wet one, considering in the last week Northern Colorado had seen some of the worst rain and flooding in 25 years. We set out with the sun shining under cloudless skies, sweating under leather jackets at 80 degrees.

Soon after we turned from Interstate 70 onto US 40, the clouds began to gather above. We pushed through the rain, even when the horrendous winds began to blow. The wind was sailing American flags flatly horizontal and the raindrops on my helmet and windshield were blowing up from the bottom to the top of my helmet, even though I was riding at 60 mph.

"Holy Hell!" I shouted.

Real-Biker-ChickAt 46 degrees and rather wet, determination pushed me to keep riding, even though I considered pulling over about 20 times. I reminded myself that riding isn't about comfort, but a way of life and every ride isn't going to be rainbows, puppies and grassy meadows. When the rain let up in Granby, I took a deep sigh, hoping that was the end and I had met up to the challenge.

With blue skies ahead, we stopped briefly in Hot Sulpher Springs for a cup of tea and a restroom break at the gas station. I hopped back on rather excited to complete our jaunt. The scenery was fantastic and the temps were rising, along with my spirits. I felt that I had accomplished so much today, even though we had only ridden 100 miles.

Forgetting that Highway told me he wanted to stop in Kremmling for gas, I was surprised when I saw him make a quick turn into the Kum n Go. The turn came as we were headed downhill, just as the rain began to fall again. Halfway through my turn, I was met with 4 stopped cars in the little side street as well as Highway coming to a stop. Hitting the brakes, I knew I was in trouble when my right boot hit the wet gravel.

That sickening feeling hit me as I felt myself going down. The only thing I remember was the thud of my helmet hitting the asphalt.

Before I knew it strangers were picking me up in the street. Highway was getting help picking up my V*Star Gracie and I was getting a hug from a sweet young woman.

"Are you OK? It's OK! I've done it myself. Don't worry! You're fine!" she kept repeating. She checked me from head to toe and assured me I wasn't hurt. Helping me walk to the corner, I knew she was right.

The realization that I had just dropped my new motorcycle hit me.


After some time recovering, I told Highway we could finish the last 50 miles. Weepy and cranky, I straddled Gracie and headed back out. My hips, wrists and shoulders began to ache badly. The rain picked up again just as we left Kremmling, much to my dismay. With a lightning storm on the horizon, I wondered what would happen next. It seemed being struck by lightning would finish this day off nicely. But the beauty of the ride soothed my aches and pains, reminding me of why I love to ride.

As we were cruising down the pass, my back tire skipping from side to side along the rain-soaked highway, I spotted hail on the road, rolling through a huge patch. Grateful to be heading down the hill in the storm instead of going up to higher elevations, I reasoned that warmth and comfort lie ahead.

"Why don't I just quit? Why don't I just pull the chick routine and lie down and cry? I have all the ammo I need to just feel sorry for myself and weep myself into a soft bed and a night of pity from my husband. Yet here I am, riding in driving rain, facing a lightening storm, freezing my ass off, with another 40 miles to go. Why not just quit?"

But I knew the answer. For me, quitting isn't an option. The more I feel like quitting, the more determined I am to see it through. Determination is what brought me out of my abusive marriage, my miserable childhood and my bouts of depression. Determination is the one gift I am grateful to have received from my mother. A mean, tough and determined woman, my mother built me up to be just as mean and determined, although I've never considered myself as tough as her. But I have her to thank, I suppose, on days like these.

Of all of the things I've come to understand on our Road Pickle, it is that I like who I am and I have my mother to thank for that in many ways. Before I left I hated her, I was angry from the abuse at her hands, but now I have found forgiveness. I can appreciate her and the things she instilled in me, one of which is the determination to never quit. I still hate the things she did to me, but I can appreciate her courage and strength. If it weren't for her, I couldn't push through days like this.

I hope I've passed it on to my daughter too.

He said: "Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn't blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you Sue."

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Cagers Don't Get It

My mother would never understand, nor would my sister or my brothers why I choose to ride. Even though my brothers have ridden motorcycles on and off over the years, they would never understand why I've given up all of my possessions to devote myself to the road.

Being misunderstood by my family is nothing new, considering they've never understood a god damned thing I've ever done.

"Why do you always want to talk about this? Why can't you just forget about it?" my sister would shout. "Can't we just pretend none of this SHIT happened and be sisters? Why do you want to bring up all of the past?"

I wanted to talk about our feelings, our childhoods of abuse and abandonment, and find some sort of kinship between us. Carrie didn't want to discuss it. She wanted to run from all of it, until the times it welled up inside her and she exploded in anger. Carrie goes off like an atom bomb, destroying everything for miles. The pain she holds inside becomes too much to cope with and finally the steam has to release. Innocent victims lie in tatters around her, broken, bleeding, crawling for safety.

"We don't want to talk about your feelings TINA," my mother would repeat time and again. "That's just you, because you're not normal. I don't know why you want to talk all the time. All you do is babble. No one wants to hear it."

After all of the years of physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse at my mother's hands, I was still afraid of Suzi when I was an adult. I found myself still wanting her approval, still longing to find a place in my family structure, even though I was most clearly the black sheep.

My brothers are in and out of prison on a regular basis. In fact, each has spent approximately 2/3 of their adult lives in prison. Most of the initial crimes were for drugs, but over time their crimes became violent. Regardless of what initially sends a young man to prison it has a way of making any man a very violent, dangerous human being.

This is my family of origin. A dead father, an abusive mother, and a group of angry, violent siblings.

Fortunately, my father remarried after my parents divorced. When he died in 1990 he left behind my step-mother Kathy. She and I have a beautiful relationship built on honesty, trust, and humor. I can call Kathy any time of day or night and share stories of our travels, my sorrow, pain, or joys. She is always available for me. She calls me too, always reaching out to keep close and share her laughter and tears. I tend to take her for granted, as we all do with those we know we can count on.

So what makes Kathy different?

Kathy understands why I need to ride. This is probably because Kathy rode her own Sporster for many, many years during a time when few women rode and with men who rarely let women ride. Rolling with 1%ers most of her younger years, my Dad being one of them, Kathy learned all she knows about life with people who understood a thing or two about freedom and could smell drama and bullshit a mile away.

When I ride I feel myself. I feel my heartbreak, my challenges, my desires, my hopes, my past, my future, my dreams, my fears. I feel every bump on the asphalt and I see my road ahead of me. I can smell the dead skunks, the blooming flowers, the damp trees, the choking exhaust, the forest fires and the filthy pollution. I can feel the temperature drop, the sun on my shoulders, the rain in my face, the wind trying to push me over.

Cagers don't get it. They can't feel any of this. Insulated, safe from the realities of the road, hiding in plain sight, pretending that they are going somewhere, only to find they are playing it safe, they choose to feel nothing. And they can't understand why anyone would want to feel this way. Perhaps this is the one distinct difference between Cagers and Riders: The desire to feel.

"I think it's good that they excluded you," Highway explained to me awhile ago. "They did you a favor. You were never going to be happy being 'one of them'. Now you can be honest and be yourself."

Those words released me from my own prison. For the first time I didn't need to belong, to anyone or anything. I gave myself permission to be different, to act on my own desires, to listen to that voice within me.

I finally found my place in the world. I can feel, really get down and feel what's inside of me. And if that's "not normal" then I don't care. And anyone who thinks there's something wrong with that can fuck off and stay the hell away from me, BECAUSE I INTEND TO FEEL MY WAY THROUGH LIFE! I'm not going to "pretend" this shit didn't happen. I'm not going to "pretend" just to make you fuckers feel better about things. This is how I deal with MY LIFE! This is MY FUCKING LIFE and I'm so exhausted with trying to be something and someone who makes all of you feel good about yourselves.

Do I make you uncomfortable? I don't fucking care. You can suck my dick if you don't like it. Deal with it or get the fuck out of my way.

For me, riding is feeling. Writing is telling. I have a life where I can freely feel my emotions and freely express them. I have finally found a place to be true to myself, my nirvana.

All this time I was a rider in a family of cagers. No wonder I never fit in.

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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...)