Sunday, March 31, 2013

Not Even a Nod

For the last few years I've ridden on the back of Blackbird with my hubs Highway and learned the social do's and don'ts for motorcycling etiquette. One of the first things I learned was the way riders wave to one another. I've noticed that most riders will wave if I wave first. Whether it be the wave, the nod or the three finger high sign, all riders seem to like to be greeted, if they see me wave. Now and then I give the wave, but the other rider doesn't see it, so I understand when I don't get one back.

Since I've been riding solo I've continued to wave. I give the nod if I'm not in a situation to raise a hand, give a few fingers in I can, or the full on wave if I'm able. Nothing ridiculous, but the low hand just out to the side, often times giving the peace hand sign. Just my way of doing things; always has been.

When I was a kid, my father, a die-hard Harley rider, insisted I do not wave to the "Jap Bikes", as he called them. He rode with an M.C. so the non-American made bikes were not worthy of his acknowledgement. This man who taught me "Don't judge others by the clothes they wear or the things they own," didn't take his own advice when it came to motorcycles. Of course I respected and worshiped my Daddy far too much to much to discuss it with him, but I wasn't blind to the irony.

What has struck me funny since I've been riding solo is that I'm not getting the return waves I'm accustomed to. I'm not sure what to attribute this to: that I'm a chick with a pink and black helmet, that I'm riding a 500cc Kawasaki, that I'm riding a scarlet red bike, or all of or none of the above. But for every 10 waves I give, I'm getting perhaps 1 in return.

What the fuck? I can't imagine why this is! How am I any different riding on the back of my father's Harley, my husband's Honda ST or my own Kawasaki Ninja? What ever it is, fuck you and the bike you rode in on if you think you're too goddamn good to wave to me.

The funny thing is, I'm a barrel full of fun-monkeys and probably one of the best chicks you could ever party with. While I won't blow you or anything, I'm still know how to have a great time. Not only that, I make an awesome wingman and usually get my male friends laid when we're out. So really, it's you that's missing out on having me as a pal, even if it is for only a brief second on the road. Being a shit to me only brings you some bad karma, my friend.

So wave or don't, but I won't stop being the one to initiate the contact. I won't let the dickheads on the road piss in my Cheerios and keep me from having a good time riding. Oh, you may get my goat for a minute or so, but I'm over it pretty quick and off to my next good time. Just know, if you're one of those assrats who look down your nose at a chick like me on a Ninja, you'll never find yourself looking down on any woman as awesome as as I am sucking your tiny dick.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Falling On My Own

Walking into Village 631 was like coming home, for just a moment. Staying in San Diego temporarily while on our Road Pickle trip, staying in a motel, for some reason San Diego feels strange and not like home at all.

Perhaps it's staying in another part of town and the vibe is completely different from the one I fell in love with, or perhaps because it is temporary I can't let myself attach again. Whatever the reason, Village 631 felt comfortable, like touching down for the first time after floating for a few weeks.

The smell of coffee and pastries filled my head, Bob Dillon warbled above and the cool San Diego breeze poured in through the open front restaurant. I relaxed with a hot chai latte and asparagus quiche and fretted over this painful sense of fear that keeps lurking in my psyche. The first night in the motel I was terrified, telling Highway I was simply uncomfortable, because I didn't want to alarm him. But I really wanted to tear my hair out, tear the walls down, hide somewhere safe, in a soft pillow of home. My mind kept telling me that I am home, that this is what I wanted, to stop being afraid, that nothing had changed. As soon as Highway wrapped around me, the fear eased. I clutched my kitty blanket and drifted off to slumber, awaking with a renewed sense of adventure.

But when I'm not looking, that Oogie Boogie Fear creeps in my back pocket, climbs up my back and wraps around my throat. The choking begins, the desire to run to the pillow-of-home, the shattering confidence falls in shreds around my boots and I shutter within his grip. I feel the need to reach, touch, hold something safe.

A few days ago I was pulling off Interstate 5 after riding for a little over an hour in the cold and damp along the coast. My left leg ached that morning when I woke, so the damp only increased the pain. When I reached the end of the offramp and rolled up beside Highway and Blackbird, I eased to a gentle stop. I placed both feet on the ground and the searing pain in my left knee shot up leg. Katie Scarlet began to dip to the left and my knee buckled and gave out from under us. I shouted with all I had, trying to will that leg to stand, trying to find a strength within me I hadn't reached, to keep that motorcycle from falling. Out of nowhere a strong hand grasped my left shoulder and shoved me upright.

"Thank you," I said to Highway, shocked.

Where had he come from? I didn't even see him there, I was trying so hard to do it all on my own. He smiled and we pulled into the gas station. Throughout the day I thanked him a few times for saving Katie and me. He just smiled each time, saying nothing.

As I am writing this, I look at Highway as he sits beside me, working away on his laptop. He's finishing a work project that was overwhelming me. He had stepped in when I asked for help, without complaint, picked up the reins and handled it. I look around for Oogie Boogie Fear and he's nowhere to be found. He doesn't seem to hang around when Highway is here. I remember again that I have already found my home, my safe place, my solid ground. He's right here, on my beside me.

My father told me that learning is remembering what you already know. Doing it is demonstrating that you know it. I know Highway is my home. Now I have to demonstrate it, trust in that, trust in him. I have to trust that he's not going to let me fall.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Take That Hill


We stopped in Escondido for a short break to give my aching wrist a rest. My fibromyalgia flared up last night and when I woke this morning, I had extreme numbness in my right hand. I had no feeling except for the throbbing for over an hour. I've often thought about sleeping with a brace so I don't curl my wrists under when I sleep, which aggravates the morning numbness, but I usually blow it off. Tonight I will be sleeping with the brace. I've been seeing a chiropractor and she adjusts my wrists and suggests I wear wrist braces when I ride, but vanity has gotten the better of me.

It had to be my right wrist. The hand I need most when riding had the be the one that throbbed all day. By the time I got to my bike, which we had left in Menifee last night, my hand was feeling better. But it was only a matter of a few minutes on that throttle and my fingertips were completely numb. After 15 minutes, flying south on Interstate 15, my entire hand was numb and throbbed. I realized that I can pull in on the clutch as I release the throttle going downhill and I lose little to no speed. I have just a few seconds to bang my hand against my tank to bring feeling back again and regain my grip on the throttle.

I tried time and again to get some circulation, but to no avail. I had to stop our ride early and pull off the Interstate after only 40 minutes of riding. I felt like a failure, a wet blanket, but I simply couldn't take the pain.

"It hurts so bad," I cried to Highway as he pulled up beside me.

He took my glove off of me and rubbed my wrist, well acquainted with my pain and my needs. He had seen me shaking and banging my hand on the tank and knew what was wrong before I said a word. He lovingly massaged my wrist, hand, each finger and told me it was OK, and we didn't have to ride anymore. I felt terrible because I wanted to ride! My struggles with pain anger me, but they are a reality that we have both come to live with.

We decided to take a break, sit with our laptops, and give the medicine I had just taken a chance to work. I spotted a coffee shop across the parking lot and we headed over there and pulled into a spot, right in front, just in time to see the owner locking up. We remembered a Starbucks a few exits away, so we started the bikes back up and headed back to the Interstate.

The parking lot was incredibly crowded and we both cruised slowly in first gear, dragging our feet, ready to stop immediately. I followed Highway as he came around a corner to the parking lot exit. Before me was a very steep hill with 3 cars perched on it. I knew I would have to shoot the hill, even though I've had very little experience with them.

Highway had taught me in the past to use my back brake to hold the bike steady as I accelerated and let out the clutch. As the cars moved out ahead of us, he effortlessly climbed the hill and I stalled my bike. I started her back up in first gear, clutch pulled tight, back brake pressed, then accelerated, letting out the clutch. I heard her rev up, struggle, lurch, and then I remembered. . . let off the brake.

I started to shoot up the hill, still weeping from the pain in my hand, barely avoiding the gray-haired-lady-driver who didn't understand I only needed a little extra space. She had swung around me just in time to be in my way once I shot forward. I slipped around her and hit the top of the hill just as Highway pulled onto the street. I didn't stop, but just took a quick peek up the street and followed his lead.

We pulled up to a stop light and I realized I was laughing. Somewhere through the tears, the frustration and the pain, I was laughing at myself.

"I made it up that hill and I didn't drop her, Goddammit!! I took that fucking hill!" I shouted at Highway with glee.

Every day I ride I seem to meet another new challenge. Each challenge I can complete without hurting myself or my bike is a success. Today, I took that hill. And even though we didn't ride as far as I would have liked, today was a good day riding.

Photo credit: Bryan Giardinelli, Hire The Stache

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Blow Me

As we rolled out of Adelanto, CA on Highway 395, I noticed the sign that read, "High Winds Ahead - Next 35 miles". Heading from Menifee, CA to Bakersfield, CA we had only traveled about 55 miles of our 200 mile trip. The next 60 miles or so was desert; mostly open land, with a few hills and valleys. My daughter Olivia and her fiance David live in Bakersfield, so I've made the trip a number of times by car, so I figured I knew what to expect.

The wind was cold, not bitterly so, even though temps were in the mid 50's. With my new leather vest from eBiker Leather and new full face helmet under my lined riding jacket, I felt sure I would be warm enough. I've learned that having a snugly fitted leather vest underneath keeps my entire body warmer than something long-sleeved and bulky. Living in So Cal my entire life has me rather spoiled, so cold weather is not my friend.

This was my first time riding in really high winds though. Each ride I take, I find that I'm met with some new challenge. This ride was no exception. My Kawi Ninja 500 Katie Scarlet is only 380 lbs and I wasn't carrying any gear this trip, so the two of us are just over 500 lbs. But in the gusty wind I felt like I was being tossed like a damn plastic bag. Most of that 35 miles, and then the next 40 miles (no warning about that section!) my Katie listed to the left, taking all of my strength to keep her exactly where I wanted her in the lane. Each time an oncoming semi would barrel past us on this deadly 2-lane highway, their wash would push me down, over to the right, and slap me back to the left again.

Hunkering down, making myself as flat as I could, laying my back feet on the back pegs, I hugged Katie with my knees to avoid excess wind resistance. The smaller I made myself, the less I was tossed about. It wasn't long before the initial fear I felt rose to excitement.

"Bring it Mother Fuckers! Bring it! I got this shit! Fuck you!" I screamed madly at the oncoming semi's, of course knowing they couldn't hear me.


The hard gusts slapped us sideways as I muscled my little girl to keep her on the road.

"You got this Baby Girl! Go get 'em Katie Scarlet! You're doing great. Fuck those semi's!"

Katie responded with confidence, teaching me that I could rely on her. I felt in tune with her, closer than ever, lying flat on the tank, peering over the windshield, hugging her with my all my strength. She could feel my heartbeat and I could feel her vibration beneath me. Each bump in the road, each tiny pit or pothole, jarred my tummy against her tank.



I could feel Katie wag her tail, like the silly puppy she is, joyful that she was able to please me.

We rolled into Kramer Junction for lunch and I was glad for the respite. After a bacon burger, large fries and a huge glass of ice cold water later, I felt renewed. As I put on my jacket to mount up as my husband Highway paid the bill, the waitress came to me.

"It must be hard to ride a motorcycle out there today, huh?"

"Well, it's challenging," I replied.

"Those winds are over 60 mph today! How do you keep from being blown off the road?"

"Sheer determination and just a dash of filthy sass . . ."

Photo Credit: P.S. Wagstaff, Author of Beneath The Door

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Coming Home

We've landed back where we started, in our home town of Menifee, staying with family. It's been great to see all of our friends, family and the old places. In Menifee we know the people, the places and the way of life. Just because we don't choose to live here, doesn't mean we don't still cherish this city in our hearts, because we sure do.

One thing I didn't expect is how much fun it has been to ride here. I have jumped on that bike each morning and hit the streets to my business appointments, lunch with friends, and short jaunts for this and that. Because I know each street, each stoplight and stop sign, and know exactly where I'm going, I don't have much to think about. What surprised me was how relaxed I feel, more than any other riding I've done thus far.

This is exactly what I needed. The skills that needed work, I'm now practicing in this suburban solitude, repeating things over and over, smiling all the way. As silly as it sounds, I was having trouble with left turns. A couple of sessions just riding cul-de-sacs, of which there is no shortage in Menifee, has helped me immensely. Today I rolled onto the freeway confidently at the same corner where I panicked just a week ago. Progress.

For our friends in town, it seems amusing to them to see me ride. Being Ms. Menifee Valley of 2011, most of these folks are used to seeing me primped up, complete with short skirts, heels, lipstick, crown and sash. Today I rolled into the parking lot at the Chamber of Commerce and all I got are smiles, shaking heads and the standard farewells of "Ride Safe!" I have to smile because I know my friends are so sweet and so worried. Some of the ladies I know fear they will never see me again.

Coming home before setting off on our Road Pickle trip with our new mascot Asphalt Annie has been good for us both. This portion of our lives seems to have come full circle. We've come home. Now we can leave.

Photo Credit: P.S. Wagstaff, Author of Beneath The Door

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Thursday, March 7, 2013


When I turned that key in the door for the last time, I felt my heart drop. My high-rise apartment in the sky, my little piece of heaven, wasn't going to by mine anymore. I would never again get to sink into that enormous tub, lie in bed and count the stars, or sit on my terrace and stare off into Downtown San Diego and watch the ships pull into the bay.

This was our first home together. The home where Highway asked me to be his wife, the last place I spent time with Highway's father, who passed away last year, the place where we spent our first night as a married couple . . . gone now. But it was more than that.

I wept as I drove from San Diego with the truck's final load, off to store it for the summer. I felt a little lost, as if I belonged nowhere. I kept reminding myself that this is what I wanted, to be free. I couldn't quite understand why I felt so heartbroken.

It took a good chunk of that long drive to realize what I already knew. Change is hard. Not just for me, but for most of us, change is difficult. I can want something, think about it, dream about it, but from time to time, doing it is another matter entirely. Being homeless, giving up all the comforts I've come to surround myself with, living by the seat of my pants, literally, is wildly out of character for me. But I got so caught up in making this dream happen I never considered that I might actually be scared.

Yes, I said it. Scared. I'm scared.

Just don't tell anyone that deep down inside, Sash is really a chickenshit. Don't tell everyone that I'm afraid of that open road that I long for so fervently. And by all means, don't throw it in my face when you meet me out there. Let's pretend that I am the Bad Ass that all of my girlfriend's think I am. . .

I've learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but realizing one is afraid and doing the thing that scares them anyway. Often for me it's not about being courageous, it's about sticking to my commitment, doing the task that is laid out before me, even if I'm the one that laid it there. I could back out, but I would regret it for the rest of my life.

I've had many really bad things happen to me in my life and I need to remember, I've made it through every one of them. I was abused as a little girl, I was beaten terribly and hospitalized by my boyfriend in my teens, I was raped at gunpoint by an intruder in my first apartment, my heart stopped for 2 1/2 minutes on Christmas Eve of 2008 and I came back to life, yet none of those things killed me. If I can face a man with a bandanna on his face holding a gun to my head in the darkness of my apartment, forcing me to the floor and not shed a tear, then I can face most anything. I've walked through Hell, so what is left to fear?

Fear is a liar. It tells me something might happen that will hurt me so don't move forward. Well, something is bound to happen that will hurt me in life. Life is full of ups and downs. I'm living for the ups and muscling my way through the downs.

My biggest fear since I was a teenager has been to be homeless. I've never shared this with anyone, not even Highway. I look with pity at the many homeless people in San Diego and fear that one day I'll be like them; no options, no family, no one to help me. To be homeless now teaches me that being homeless is not the same as being unloved. Quite the contrary! I've never felt more loved in my life.

I'm the richest homeless person I know. And somehow I had to get rid of everything to realize I have all I need, after all.

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Standing in my Own Way

For the last week, I've really been looking forward to today. We've scheduled a ride with friends today. I've been working out of town (out of state, actually) and had no chance to ride Katie Scarlet for over a week now. So frustrating, but from time to time, work comes first.

I'm excited to ride today, but as usual, as soon as I thought about it, my palms began to sweat and the fear of failure clenched in my gut. Pushing past this gets easier every time, but I'm looking forward to the day when I don't get this feeling anymore.

We attended a charity event for our home town Menifee last night. It was a "Celebrity Karaoke" contest to raise money for our local food pantry the Menifee Valley Community Cupboard. I'm deeply devoted to the Cupboard, as they helped me years ago when my then-husband was out of work. He had been unemployed for 1 1/2 years, and we had hit rock bottom, having no money, no credit and no food. Their annual fundraiser has local "celebrities", such as the Mayor, City Council members, business owners, perform Karaoke and compete for prizes. I performed last year (with Highway and my nephew David) and we had a blast!

This year I sang with my girlfriend and midway through our performance, I tripped onstage. Down I fell on my hip, tried to get up, and my weak knee gave out, dropping back down onstage again. I laughed through the whole thing, but I'm glad the night was over soon after. I hobbled out to our truck and woke up this morning stiff and sore.

Highway looked at me lovingly, asking with great concern, "Do you feel like riding still? You don't have to you know. It's up to you."

I want to ride. I want to push past this and get out there and learn. I know it's something inside of me that stands in my own way, making this so much harder than it has to be. Failure, quitting, whining, and trying are unacceptable to me. Doing. I will do it and that's all there is to it. Once my fear relents to my determination, I won't stand in my own way anymore.

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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...)