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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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...)