Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sash-Colored Glasses

real-biker-chickI've always been this way. I remember once my sister shouting at me, thoroughly annoyed, asking, "Why do you have to talk about this stuff?!"

I long to discuss feelings, thoughts, and memories. Pondering big and small questions, philosophising the whys and the why-nots, and wondering what makes me tick are all pastimes of mine since I was a child. This drove my family crazy, as I seemed to be the only one wired this way.

When I was older I realized that my Daddy was this way too. He had grown within himself, probably in his years of riding, and had also pondered these things, ad infinitum. He had answers that I could not understand to questions I hadn't yet asked, but one day would. He shared those thoughts with me and I, hungry for every piece of him, treasured the confusing parables to ponder later days.

As I ride now I remember his words and they make miraculous sense as I look out over the foreign landscapes of my country. His quotes, still fresh in my mind, click into place like the gears of a reassembled machine.




Whiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrr. . .

The engine runs and my life makes sense for the first time with the answers I've had stowed away all of these years. It seems I only needed to mount my motorcycle to understand the language he had spoken.

I've missed my Daddy for 22 long years. I've ached to hear his voice, smell his skin, feel his embrace. I've cried enough tears to wash myself into him and back again. Yet the ache lingers and for this ailment there is no cure.

Highway lost his father last October. We knew he was ill and the time was drawing nigh. When it came I feared the worst for Highway, as I remembered how hard it has been for me.

"I feel closer to my father now than I ever have," Highway explained. "There's no one between us now. We understand each other and he's always with me. I only have to think of him and he's there."

Motorcycle Philosophy indeed.

Highway's transition appeared so seamless, so simple. I had ached all of these years, and now I find that all I needed was to reach out and my Daddy was right there all along. I find that all I needed was to mount up and ride to understand the language of this man I've spent my life loving, missing and needing. He's right there; in every curve, along every dotted line, on every stretch of asphalt. He's there with the answers I've been seeking; my answers.





Whiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrr. . .

Katie Scarlet roars around another bend and a canyon splay out before me with cliffs of red along a sparkling, singing river. It all makes sense and I weep at the beauty. It was all so simple, so beautiful, so clear.

I only needed to flow with it, like a leaf on the river.

Riders seem to understand a special language of leaves and rivers and asphalt that others frown upon. They can sense the sun on the horizon, the storm that lies ahead, the beauty that surrounds them. I feel so blessed, so serene. It's as if now I see the world through Sash-Colored Glasses and everything is just as it should be. Just the way it always has been. Just the way it always will be.

Thank you Daddy. I love you.
Riding with My Daddy

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Making Choices

real-biker-chickI dreamed last night that I was back with my exx. I was at a hotel with him and we were packing to leave. Apparently I had promised to go home with him after we left the hotel. In the dream I looked at him and told him I wanted to go home to MY home, to be with Highway.

"You're pretty proud of yourself aren't you?" he said angrily, with a sarcastic tone.

"Yes, I am. But the best part is that I have choices now. And I get to choose what's right for me."

I walked out of the door immediately to go find my Highway.

The truth is I really am proud of all I've done for myself. On this Road Pickle trip I just crossed the 5000 mile mark of riding solo. I've ridden some tough roads, been homeless now for almost 3 months, living entirely on motorcycles, and managed to stay alive doing it. After my divorce I made more money than my exx made, more than double, within the first month of him leaving. In fact, in 2011, the year of my divorce, I sold over $2.6 million of advertising. While married to him I didn't work full time because he wanted me to be at his beck and call. He humiliated and berated me constantly for not making much money, but wouldn't give me the freedom to do so.

And all of this was my choice.

I chose to stay and put up with this horrible treatment. Just the same, I chose to leave and take a risk. Since that first risk I've taken more; many more. Everyday is a new day bringing new and exciting opportunities, and new and painful challenges. I've learned that some days are beautiful and I weep with gratitude. I've learned that some days are much harder than I expected. I've learned that some dark clouds don't bring rain, but they bring hail.

Today Highway and I rode from Taos, NM to Trinidad, CO. Around 130 miles, but 96 of those were on Route 64, a simply gorgeous road of twisties along a river. After yesterday's ride from Albuquerque, NM to Taos, I was frustrated with the pain of my fibromyalgia and the subsequent poor riding I did. Twisties were miserable yesterday afternoon and the entire second half of the day I made one frustrating mistake after another. When I awoke this morning, after the dream about my exx, I decided I was going to ride better today and feel better today. And I did.

Along the banks of the river were dandelion laden meadows, pine trees 100 feet tall, and statuesque cliffs reaching up to heaven. My heart leaped from my chest with excitement as I spotted a herd of deer munching grass under a shady tree. I felt like a 6-year-old girl on her first family car trip, only better. I was on my own motorcycle, pulling my own throttle, making this landscape pass by me. I was exhilarated just knowing that I had brought myself to this point. With all of the choices I had made, good or bad, I was here in this moment to enjoy my life.

real-biker-chickJust before we hit Cimarron, NM the clouds I'd seen all day began to drop rain on us. Somewhere deep inside I had known today was the day; my first day of riding in the rain. I just knew we were going to get soaked by this storm. Even though we've seen other storms along the horizon during this trip, I knew an hour before that this one was going to rain on us. It seemed Highway wanted to go on without rain gear, so I passed him, turned on my blinker and pulled into a driveway to change, with Highway following. In the tiny spot of a town I found an abandoned restaurant with an awning out front to hide from the downpour under and put on my rain gear. As I finished, pulling up my boots to lace them it began to hail.

I sighed, thinking that we would stand under the porch awning to wait out the hail. Highway looked at me and asked if I was ready to go.

"Ride in the hail? Really?"

"Yes," he replied.

"You're fucking crazy, you know that? This is my first time on wet roads. This is going to hurt, isn't it. What the fuck are we doing? OK, let's go," I babbled on as I mounted up.

"You're so fucking stupid Sash," I kept saying in my helmet. "This is going to hurt so fucking bad," I continued to mutter.

For the next 15 minutes, 7 miles of straight road, we were pelted with marble sized hail. Occasionally a larger chunk would hit, each one of those bringing screams from me.

"Ouch! Mother Fucker! Ooooowwww!! Fuck this! Oh, Jesus Fucking Christ!! Fuck, Fuck, FUCK, FUCK!!" I screamed to myself.

I began sobbing relentlessly, but I refused to stop riding. I could see the blue skies ahead and I wasn't going to pussy out. With the Red River Rally going on about 70 miles behind us, we saw riders on the road coming toward us all day. As we pushed on in the hail we saw rider after rider pushing on as well. If those fuckers weren't quitting, neither was I. Besides, where was I going to hide? That awning was the last bit of cover for the next 40 miles. And I sure as hell wasn't going to turn around.

Shortly afterwards the hailing stopped and I pushed on in rain for another 10 miles. I stopped sobbing and thought about why I had ridden in the hail. It wasn't because Highway wanted to, because all I had to say was "No" and he wouldn't have gone. I said everything but "No" to him. It was because I didn't want to quit. I want to push forward through everything that is put before me. And this is all my choice.

"You stick your head above the crowd and attract attention and sometimes somebody will throw a rock at you. That's the territory. You buy the land, you get the Indians."

These words of David Lee Roth are words I've come to live by. I had always attributed this quote to be about receiving criticism. But today I realized it meant something more. Each time I mount my motorcycle I am making a choice. If I want to be proud of myself for choosing to ride 3 states and 5000 miles, then I have to accept the responsibility of choosing to ride in the hail. You buy the land, you get the Indians. I don't get to choose my weather, but I get to choose whether or not I ride. It was my choice and I did it and I'm proud of myself.

After I had done all of this thinking, I rolled up next to Highway and gave him the OK sign. He gave me a thumbs up. I wanted him to know I was doing fine and I didn't hold him responsible for my choices. We pulled over and he began pointing into the meadow. A long-horned elk stood out in the middle, lazily grazing. I felt as if I were being rewarded for pushing forward when the riding got tough.

"I'm really proud of you, you know that?" Highway said.

"You are?" I asked.

"Yes, you did what many men wouldn't have done. I'm really proud of you."

That was just icing on the cake. Highway is proud of me, but more importantly, I'm proud of myself.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Spoiling my Future

I smiled at the man I passed in Starbucks. He smiled oddly back at me.

"I just talked to him last week in here. Why did he smile so weird at me?" I wondered.

Then I realized, the man I had spoken to was in Starbucks in Tucson, AZ. Today I am in Albuquerque, NM. And that wasn't last week. It was over two weeks ago.

Everyday I wake up and ask myself three questions. Is Highway next to me? What time is it? Where am I? I rarely think about what day of the week it is, or what the date is, unless I need money. Then I wonder whether I've billed our advertisers this month or not. From time to time I walk out of our motel room and am surprised to realize I'm not where I thought I was.

On this trip somethings seem consistent. Highway, Starbucks, my personal belongings. I'm tired of the clothes I've brought, but seem to care less and less about what I wear. Everything I carry around with me must be functional, in more ways than one, or I don't have room for it. But everything else seems to change. The faces, the food, the roads, the weather. . .

Two years ago I went to New York City for the first time. Highway and I spent a week in Manhattan, eating, walking, sightseeing, and falling in love. I tried hot pastrami for the first time in my life at Carnegie Deli. Of course it was ridiculously delicious. I've been told that I'm spoiled for life now, because after having the very best hot pastrami in the world, I will always be disappointed when I eat it elsewhere.

This has proven to be true.

I'm starting to embrace this lifestyle of moving, sleeping, eating, riding, working, sightseeing and meeting people. It feels fun and exciting, yet comfortable, like my favorite jeans. Getting up out of bed in the morning is a treat, planning my work, then seeing where the day takes us. I have no meetings, no appointments, no to-do list, outside of running my business. I'm floating, like a leaf on the river.

I wonder if I'm spoiling myself for ever having a home again.

I wonder if I care.

I wonder why I would. I'm so content, right here, right now.

Scarlet O'hara's final line in Gone With The Wind comes to mind.

"I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Words in the Wind

It is clear now I can't ride away
From who I was and am today
Faced again with all this life
Born of love, yet raised in strife

Each time I feel I've broken free
I look inside and still find me
Not only a broken child inside
A writer with nothing left to hide

In the abyss of hopelessness I see
A writer is what I'm meant to be
A child, a woman, a wife, a friend
With each word I etch my heart does mend

My words not easy for some to read
Turn heads away as my heart bleeds
Cover their ears while I scream inside
Disdainfully scorn the words I scribe

This writing, my heart's only voice
The pain it feels is not a choice
But I can choose to let it go
Into the wind and watch it blow

Roll back the throttle, let my pen fly
Face in the wind drying tears I cry
My words the medicine to heal the sorrow
So I won't live my past tomorrow

In the abyss of hopelessness I see a writer is what I'm meant to be. . . Thank you for reading.


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Friday, May 10, 2013

The Battle of Las Cruces

female-motorcycle-riderYou could call it "The Battle of Las Cruces". At least that's what I'll remember most of our visit here.

Highway and I have been arguing, yelling and fighting for nearly 24 hours now. We slept a few hours, but during the night I was awakened 6 times screaming from nightmares. Some of them just bad dreams, some of them memories. Memories of the man, my mother's friend whom she pimped me to at the age of 15, raping me, pissing on me and then put his cigar out on my back. I still have the scar to remind me. . . Memories of emptiness and fear and loneliness.

Highway and I worked this morning, avoiding each other, but being friendly nonetheless. As soon as I spoke about the events of last night, the fighting began again. Your girl Sash was on her knees, begging Highway to just tell her what to say so the fighting would end. Highway was at a loss, as broken as I am, struggling with the scars of his own childhood of abuse.

Being on the road does something to people. For me, I have no home to go home to. I have family and friends that would take me in, but that's not MY home. Highway is my home, but when we fight, I have to face the realities of what would happen if we weren't together anymore. Having nothing but a backpack, a tailbag, a motorcycle and myself, I realize that my life is very small. I realize that I am a ghost, a whisper, a shadow that most people forget soon after I am gone. Having no roots means having no anchor, making me nothing but a small sailboat in a storm.

motorcycle-riderAnd this was a storm. The Battle of Las Cruces waged on inside as an unexpected rainstorm rolled into town as well. The thunder clouds opened up and the rain poured. I wanted to get on Katie Scarlet and ride, but the fear of riding wet roads for the first time kept me locked in the prison of the tiny motel room, fighting, crying, begging and sobbing. I don't remember what was said before I ran out; I only remember his voice behind me, blocks from our hotel, chasing me in the rain.

Soaking wet I looked him in the eyes and explained that I'm broken. It filled me with shame to admit that there are times that I'm not strong, but just a frail, fragile girl under all of the fanfare and grandiosity. I stood in the rain, barely able to weep any longer, explaining that Sash was dead and all that is left is this broken child. The child my mother beat and pimped out and neglected. Ride as many miles as I like, run as many years as I can, fight as many fights as I have, and I still can't escape the remnants of a broken child. Highway took my hand in the icy New Mexico thunderstorm.

"You're worth coming after. You make me a better man. I can feel myself, for the first time, when I'm with you. It hurts. It hurts so much, but with you I can feel the pain, the sorrow, the emptiness and loneliness. Before you, there was only loneliness. Now, because of you I can feel the real self underneath. And I can feel love. Because of you."

He gently led me back to the motel. After making a cup of tea for me and embracing me for awhile, he mounted up to ride to the pharmacy for me, picking up my prescriptions and getting something for dinner. I have hear when soldiers enter the military they are broken down before they are built up. I never knew what that was like until this moment. So there I stood in the cold Las Cruces rain, running nowhere, realizing I had nowhere to run, knowing that the heartbreak would always follow me. I'm as broken as I've ever been. I have no fight left in me.

But that's what I came to find on this trip; myself. What lies underneath the perpetual activities of everyday life. Ironically I ride my morotcycle to stop moving and listen to the sound inside my own helmet. Take everything I own away from me, work my body until it's so sore and bruised I can hardly move, take me away from everything and everyone I know, and see what's left. I found a broken child.

I can't say where it goes from here. It frightens the Hell out of me that I don't know. . . I guess we'll all find out together.


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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Male Riders and Female Riders

Biker-Chick-titsAfter riding for a couple of years now, both passenger and solo, I've learned a great deal about the views of riders across the board. The least spoken view which really seems to be an underlying, festering problem is often the issues male riders have riding with female riders, and visa versa.

I believe most men believe women should ride if they want to ride. But fitting into the culture of male riders is much like breaking into the Old Boys Club. If resistance is felt by the men, it's probably not for the reasons women tend to assume. I don't believe that any negative feelings or appearances are from prejudice, as many women may think. It's not about doubting a woman's ability to handle a motorcycle, or their right to do so. I think it really goes to the differences between the way men and women work in society.

Many men complain among themselves that women take too long to get on and off the motorcycles. I'm guilty of this, often. I've done my best to limit my prep time getting off to go into a place and getting back on again. My dear, patient, poor hubs often waits while I adjust my helmet, turn on my music, zip my jacket, put on my gloves, find my glasses and THEN start the bike up. Believe me, my process used to be longer, but I've done my best to shorten it from 5 or 6 minutes to about 3 minutes. When he reaches for the check in the restaurant, I start my process right away. Often times I can walk out and jump right on now. Aside from that, I can't tell you how many times I think I'm geared up to walk out the door and realize I have to pee one more time. Seriously, this angers me probably more than it irritates him. But he is very patient and for that I'm grateful.

He told me a story about Loni, a woman he once rode with, who took nearly 15 minutes to go from getting TO the motorcycle to getting ON the motorcycle to leave. Arranging saddlebags, changing jackets, putting on lipstick, etc., caused the other riders in the group to wait, just baking in the sun. To be fair, anyone holding up a group for this kind of time, male or female, should realize this is just damn rude. But chicks like this give biker chicks a bad name.

I get a great deal of advice from male riders about how to ride. I love getting advice, but many women find it insulting. They compare the amount of advice men give to each other to the amount of advice men give to women and assume that men are being condescending. But not me. Most men like to care for women, help them, and know they are safe. How can any woman find this insulting? I love to be cherished, so when I see or hear advice, I heed it and am grateful that anyone, male or female, wants to help me. To me, I listen to advice, heed it, and use what I choose to use. Just getting advice doesn't require one to adhere to it.

Another observation I've made is the desire for women to belong to men's riding and/or motorcycle clubs. To me, this has very little to do with riding and more to do with the invasion of women into a men's social group. I don't think many women regard the importance of men having their own place to be with men and bond. Men need each other, just as women do, to help one another establish their male identities. Respecting that boundary that men choose to set down is crucial for respecting men in general. The relationships between men is sacred, in all cultures, and always has been and always will be. In my humble opinion, I don't see any reason for any woman to want to invade that. I realize this is not a very feminist viewpoint, but it is my viewpoint, nonetheless.

To be honest, I've not met a man yet who doesn't think I should ride. Most men look at Highway in astonishment and envy assuming he has "coerced" me into taking this 6-month journey. The idea that a woman would follow a man traveling on motorcycles for 6 months enthralls them, with most remarking they wish their wives would do this. I'm flattered to be regarded so highly, but the truth is, this is my trip as much as it's my hubs.

Lastly, I will never in my life understand a woman who doesn't want her husband to ride. I've heard it all and I don't want to argue the point. I get it, you know, what the reasons are, but I just can't understand WHY a woman would want to fight this with her man. My personal belief has always been to let a man BE A MAN! To set rules for him, argue, undermine, belittle, bargain, or manipulate a man into behaving a certain way only emasculates him. It is a form of neutering him, in the purest sense. I don't want to be married to a chick, or a unic. If I didn't want a man with balls, I wouldn't have married one. Let a man be a man! His opinions, beliefs, ideals and desires are as important to him as his dick. Let him own that!

Please share with me your viewpoints on this subject, openly and honestly, in the comments below. I'm excited to hear them all. If I'm wrong, in your opinion, I want to hear it.


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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Highs and Lows

Biker-Chick-Mt-Lemmon-ArizonaRiding up Mt. Lemmon was almost as much fun as riding up Kitt Peak, but not quite. After meeting Arizona Harley Dude at The Tom Mix Memorial on Route 79 just outside Tucson, AZ, he and Highway and I rode up Mt. Lemmon. The road from Tom Mix to the base of the mountain was filled with high winds, then traffic, traffic and more traffic. By the time we hit the base of the mountain, I was sick of other cars.

Luckily, I didn't see one in front of me the entire trip up the mountainside.

With Highway leading and Arizona Harley Dude behind me, for the 29 miles up and back I was able to really focus on taking the twisties. Being so new to this type of riding, and who am I kidding, any kind of solo riding, this was one long learning experience. I focused on finding the sweet spot in each curve, leaning my body weight so I didn't have to use my arms so much, relaxing and breathing through each turn instead of holding my breath. From the base to the top of the 7,700 ft summit, I loved every second of the ride.

I felt cocooned, safe and secure riding with these two experienced riders. It gave me the freedom to stretch my limits just a bit and realize I could do better than I thought. I took turns a little faster all the time, staying within my own abilities. The very last turn coming down the hill, I panicked a little and hit my back brakes, with poor Arizona nearly rolled up onto my backseat. Thank God he's such an experienced rider or we would have both been hurt.

Biker-Chick-Kitt-Peak-ArizonaA few days before Highway encouraged me to try Kitt Peak. Just off Route 86 stands an observatory at the top of the mountain. Only 12 miles from base to summit which was also 7,700 ft in elevation, I watched Highway's tail lights, taking the turns just as he does, watching for rocks spilling off the cliffs, and breathing, breathing, breathing. I find that this is my biggest obstacle - holding my breath. This is something I do when I'm stressed, so I'm working now on getting over it. Once I breathe, I find I bend my elbows better, lean better and ride better overall. Just something as simple as breathing, something I do everyday, and I forget to do it.

The exhilaration I felt at the top of each peak pumped like carbonation through my veins. Little champagne bubbles of excitement jittered throughout my entire body leaving me giddy.

"I did it! I can do this!" ran over and over in my mind.

I literally felt like patting myself on the back I was so proud. Standing at the top of Kitt Peak I couldn't help but be proud of how far I've come, literally and figuratively. From being terrified in San Diego traffic just a few months ago to standing boldly on an Arizona peak, pride and gratitude welling up inside of me.

The day after we rode with Arizona, I wanted a little "me" time, so I headed off alone to a local Tucson coffee house we had come across. Relaxed and purposeful, I gleefully cruised up to the shop. As I pulled into the parking lot I spotted my parking space and glided towards it. I never saw the white car until it backed out and hit my front wheel, in a flash of disbelief. Just enough inertia to send me off balance, I slammed into the concrete as the car sped away. With my leg pinned under the bike, my first thought was to hit the Kill switch. My second thought was trying to figure out how to get this bike off of me. My entire leg was under the motorcycle, the same motorcycle I can't lift alone, even if I'm standing beside her. My third thought was concern about the leaking gasoline I was smelling.

Two men ran over and lifted me and the bike in nearly an instant. Then one man ran back to his car to chase the driver who was speeding away. He came back moments later explaining she simply got away. The man who stayed with me rolled my motorcycle into a parking spot and helped me into the coffee shop. I kept repeating I was fine and thanking them until they left. I sat for a long time, evaluating what had happened and making certain I was fine before I called Highway. I didn't want to frighten him.

Biker-Chick-Tucson-ArizonaAs it turns out, only a few bruises on my calf and shin and a broken turn signal on Katie Scarlet. But getting back on her a few hours later, I could feel nothing but fear all over again. My stomach clutched and I heard myself yell out to Highway in terror.

"I can't. I can't ride. I'm too scared."

He was too far down the parking lot to hear me, so I kicked her into first to catch up with him. I followed him up the street and back to our motel. And before I knew it, I was back on the road. The real ride, it seems, is just getting up and riding another day.

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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...)