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.


  1. Sash:

    glad you weren't hurt and didn't have much damage. Did you get your crash bars installed yet, or frame sliders. If you had, most likely nothing would have been broken.

    You have to get right back on, and continue to ride or the fear just gets bigger

    It was great that you had a chance to meet up with Paul

    Riding the Wet Coast

  2. Tina, I am glad you are ok and that is the most important thing. Hang in there and don't let this throw you. You are doing great!

  3. Damn. Hadn't caught this post. Bob's right. If you don't just climb back on and ride, the demons in your head swell up into something they never were. And isn't that pretty much what the whole of life is? Grabbing our demons by the ears and thumpin' 'em on the table? :)


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