Sunday, April 27, 2014

Close to the Edge

"I would do anything for you Daddy. ANYTHING."

The dream I had was so real, that I could see the pores in the skin of my 23-year-dead father.

He placed his hand on my shoulder and took comfort in that declaration.

When I awoke, I shared the dream with my hubs Steve and then called my Stepmother Kathy.

Kathy and I have had a wonderful relationship all of my life. She was friends with my parents when I was a baby and after my mother divorced my father, she and my Daddy fell in love. She still loves him deeply to this day.

I knew that she would want to hear about the dream.

Kathy rode with my father and his friends in the MC for many years. I don't know if she ever rode "with" the MC, since she wasn't a member and women didn't usually ride with the club, but she did take trips with my Daddy and his friends, often crossing a number of states. Getting her own Harley Sportster in 1972, Kathy was the first woman I knew who rode a motorcycle. Although always patient and extremely kind with me, it was apparent that she was a tough woman and no one to cross. She had a rough, abusive childhood and had run off with a biker at a very young age. She and her best friend Gracie married brothers who eventually joined the MC, which brought them into our lives after a few years. She was only 18 when she first met my family and moved in with us when she was 20 when her Old Man when to the joint.

All day I thought of my Daddy and Kathy as my hubs and I rode our motorcycles from Farmington, NM headed towards Monte Vista, CO. I felt my Dad's presence with me, as if he was trying to show something to me. In my mind I asked him to show me clearly what I was missing; what he wanted me to know. The nagging feeling that I wasn't understanding something plainly obvious lingered with me every mile.

Highway and I stopped for lunch at the Pagosa Brewery in Pagosa Springs, CO. The food was delicious and the stop was warm and welcoming after a cold ride. We spoke with some locals and they told us that it was raining in Wolf Creek Pass, but if we waited too long, it might turn to snow. They indicated that was the best route to get out of town and that once we were over the summit, about 30 minutes from town, we were home free. We thanked them and jumped on the bikes, doing our best to miss the snow.

Nearly 20 miles later the rain turned to snow and I wondered how much further we had to travel. The snow was light and certainly not sticking to the road, but as we rolled slowly up the incline in 1st gear, it became thicker every moment.

"It can't be much further. . . then we'll be 'home free'. I can't quit yet. I can do this! I know I can!"

Before I knew it I was in a whiteout. The snow had begun to stick and as my V*Star "Tatonka" began to slip out from under me, that sick "Oh God I'm Going Down" feeling hit me. Time seemed to stand still.

As I began sliding on my side for an eternity, my mind clicked out thoughts.

"Hit the Kill Switch. Where's that cliff? Olivia is going to be heartbroken."

I went down on my right side and spun in a 360, sliding over 30 feet. I didn't feel a thing except the motion of sliding. No pain, no cold, no fear.

When I stood up, I saw the 200 foot cliff only a few feet away. It had no barrier or guard rail.

Highway pulled up and we both strained to pick my bike up in the snow. After he pulled, I would hold it, then he would change his footing and pull a little further. Tatonka slid about in the slick, wet snow, but I was keeping her braced on each move. We worked as a well-oiled machine until she was upright. Huffing a puffing, we tried to think of what to do to get back down the hill.

Just then, a pickup truck pulled up with a young couple. Jared was kind and insistent that he could ride that motorcycle back to Pagosa Springs. Taryn moved over to the driver's seat and was ready to drive me back as we followed the guys back down. The snow was falling faster and everything was a whiteout. From the first snowflake to this moment was less than 10 minutes.

I gave Jared all the gear I had that he could fit into, but unfortunately he couldn't squeeze into the gloves. He hopped on that bike and rolled like a pro, with Steve behind him and the pickup carrying us ladies and Taryn's little boy. Taryn shared that she and Jared were just friends and she was home for a visit to Pagosa Springs.

"I'm just so glad we could help you. We were just taking my son for a ride to help him get to sleep. I'm so grateful we came along."

On the way down the hill, which seemed 10 times longer than coming up, I thought of my Dad and Kathy. Everything was so stressful and confusing, nothing made sense.

When we got back into Pagosa Springs and checked into the Hillside Inn, the first thing I did was call my daughter Olivia. I wanted to hear her sweet voice and reassure her that I was fine. She took it in stride, glad I was fine, seemingly not grasping how really close she came to losing me.

This morning I am sore, probably have pulled my right hamstring, but I'm filled with gratitude and a renewed sense of being. I believe my Daddy's spirit kept me from going over that cliff. I have no doubt he will make the clear what he wants me to know in the coming days.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

San Diego, CA to Farmington, NM, via Phoenix and Painted Desert

Motorcycling across the Southwest is spectacular in the springtime. People who've never spent much time in the desert don't realize the remarkable amount of color one can see on the arid landscape. My hubs Steve and I traveled from San Diego, CA, spent a few days in Phoenix, then rolled on to Farmington, NM, with a couple of stops along the way.

Day 1: San Diego to Phoenix
Rounding a turn near Inko-Pah on Interstate 8

Interstate 8 near the California-Arizona border, near Yuma

Near the Colorado River, along Interstate 8

Traveling between Yuma and Phoenix on Interstate 8

We spent 3 nights in Phoenix, but it felt like we got no rest. We were going non-stop, visiting our friends and getting to know the crew from Monkey Butt Radio. Watch our appearance on Monkey Butt Radio here.

Day 2: Phoenix and the Monkey Butt Radio/YouTube Show

Monkey Butt Radio Crew - Scooter, Mike, Guest Aaron Cutrano, Biggus, me and Highway
Day 3: Phoenix and Cave Creek Ride and Dinner at Z-tejas

We had a great day riding around Phoenix and out to Bartlett Lake with Paul. Read about it here.
Riding with Arizona Harley Dude in Cave Creek, AZ

Drinks at Cartwright's (my maiden name!) in Cave Creek with Paul, aka Arizona Harley Dude

Dinner with my high school classmate Kelly & her daughter Kassie
Day 4: Phoenix to Holbrook AZ

Our ride on Day 4 from Phoenix to Payson, then on to Holbrook was refreshing, going from dry desert filled with Saguaro Cactus to pine treed forests and finally into the tall grasses on the mesas. 

Riding from Phoenix to Holbrook AZ, so grateful to get out of the 100* F heat

This couple was having a fantastic time, weaving from lane to lane in the sweepers, and waving as we went by

When you gotta go, you gotta go. Not a restroom to be found for over 50 miles

Fantastic lunch in Payson, AZ, spent talking with a couple of off-road riders, Rienhold and JP

In the grasslands along State Highway 277 from Heber to Holbrook AZ

Day 5: Holbrook AZ to Farmington, NM

Most of Day 5 was spent in the Petrified Forest National Park. We rarely hit the road before noon, but astonishingly, we were out of the hotel by 9:30am. By the time we stopped for lunch at 2pm, we had only traveled 88 miles, with another 157 to go. But we pushed through the afternoon of blowing sand and a broken speedometer on my V*Star Tatonka, rolling into Farmington, NM at 5:30pm. 

Blackbird at the entrance to the Petrified Forest, with a crystal log

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Painted Desert in the Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

Admiring the unbelievable landscape of the Painted Desert

Sky so big, I had to stop just to take it all in

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Monkey Butts and Steel Horses

"Let's ride motorcycles today!"

This was my first thought this morning. The truth is, that is my first thought many mornings, so waking up and realizing that today is the first day of a 3 week motorcycle trip was gratifying. I know most riders plan for a trip like this for weeks, and my hubs Steve and I did a little planning, but not very much. We know which cities we are stopping in on the way to Denver and whom we are staying with while there, and when we head home, but that's about it. For us, the less planning we do, the more we are free to enjoy the spontaneity of the moments as the arise.

Our first stop will be Phoenix to visit the three Mikes at Monkey Butt Radio. We appear on their show on Tuesday, April 22 at 4pm Monkey Butt time. The show will be available on their YouTube channel afterwards, just in case you miss it on Tuesday. This is the perfect radio show for me, I would have to say, because their motto is, "This is the only internet radio show around that is rude, crude and socially unacceptable. No holds barred topics that you want to talk about." I've heard rumors of beer and BBQ for us as well. That should make both me and my hubs a happy campers!

We will be meeting up with friends in Phoenix too; Arizona Harley Dude Paul is meeting us for breakfast at The Place and taking us on a little ride on Wednesday. My old classmate Kelly will be meeting us for dinner Wednesday as well, before we leave Thursday for a 4 day push to Denver.

We will trek through Arizona, New Mexico and then Colorado from there. My limit is 250 mile days when I ride so many days in a row (because of my Fibromyalgia pain) so my hubs planned the route accordingly. While in Denver we have family, friends, and clients to visit.

The last three days of our time in Denver will be spent at the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit, an event coordinated to celebrate female motorcycle riders.

“I have already seen the day, in that place where my vision lives; the day when women from all corners of our continent and of our world converge together. To live, laugh, love and ride! With our face to the wind, we enjoy, collaborate and inspire each other to live life with no limits and die with no regrets.”
-- Joan Krenning, founder and creator Steel Horse Sisterhood

I'm so excited to be attending on May 2-4 to hear the speakers, meet other women who ride, and inhale some of that energy that comes from interacting with other people who get why we ride! On International Female Ride Day, a Sunrise Ride and an opportunity to be included in a photo of the largest group of female riders (set to break the World's Record!), it looks to be an amazing weekend. I'm sure the 5 day ride home will be fulfilling after all of the inspiration of mingling with other female riders.

One of the best parts of this trip will be spending time with my friend Kim. Not only will we be staying at her home during our time in Denver, but Kim will be joining me at the Summit as my photographer. Kim has always been interested in photography; in fact, when we met she was our high school newspaper photographer and I was a reporter! Now, 32 years after we met, we will both be enjoying our hobbies together. Kim doesn't ride yet, but she's been talking about riding a Spyder for the last year or so. I thought she would enjoy the Summit so she would get that last shot in the arm to encourage her to get on and ride!

Over the next 3 weeks you can follow our progress on our Road Pickle Facebook Page where we'll be posting updates. Hoping to see some of you along the way!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

All Chicks Ride to Ramona, CA

Coordinating a motorcycle ride with a few chicks was the best idea I've had in months. I talked to a couple of ladies I know that ride, all of whom don't know one another, and figured out the best day. I set up a Facebook Event and hoped for the best. All 5 of us were set to take off from the Mobil station in Fallbrook at 10am on a sun-sparkling Friday morning, but unfortunately Jennifer couldn't make it.

"The person who was supposed to pick up her kids had to cancel," Barb told me.

She had read this on the Facebook Event page that I hadn't remembered to check the morning of the ride.

"I'm in no hurry to get back," Barb went on to say. "The only thing I have to do after this is bake cookies for the Bake Sale at the Temecula Harley Dealership tomorrow."

Barb was so excited to ride with some other women. Being single and just learning to ride last year, she has trouble finding ladies to ride with.

"I got my license when a couple of friends got theirs, but they decided to keep riding bitch and not ride their own bikes. I got my license and all I want to do is ride!"

Barb oogled and awed over the jacket I had brought for Diane. I had received the jacket from Motorcycle House for a review, but since I knew Diane was in the market for a great jacket, I brought it as a gift for her to wear, review, and keep. Diane loved her current jacket, but like any woman, she was in the market for something new.

Only a chick ride would start out with talk of picking up kids, bake sales and biker fashion.

When Diane arrived Barb and I began laughing at Diane's jacket.


It turns out that the jacket I ordered from Motorcycle House was identical to the jacket Diane already owned! So Barb was the big winner as I handed her the leather jacket to review. As Madhavi pulled in, our foursome was complete and we all hopped on and took off.


I had asked Diane to lead the ride the first half because I realized I have very little experience leading. I can look at a map and remember one or two turns, but I don't usually have the presence of mind that my hubs does to lead for hours on end. Diane refers to my hubs as the Human GPS, the big joke being we can be in the middle of the desert and he remembers which unmarked side road to take to go see the hidden ghost town 10 miles from the highway.

"Just turn left at the 4th cactus. . ."

Diane giggled when we all wanted her to lead. She was surprised to find that with 4 years of experience and about 20,000 miles of seat time, she was the most experienced rider in our group.

"Well, you've ridden across the country twice!" she giggled.

"You've been riding longer than all of us," I told her.

"OK, well, as long as no one minds where we end up, I'll lead."

"You know that they say Diane. You're never lost on a motorcycle."

The route was beautiful and being that it was a Friday, traffic was nearly non-existent. The weather was perfect as we rolled along the graceful sweepers into Ramona for lunch at the Ramona Cafe. From there Madhavi had to head south back to San Diego to get to work, but we were all pleased she was able to get out for half the day to ride. Madhavi rides everyday, everywhere, even though she's only been riding for a year now. Before she met her boyfriend Louis, she wasn't really interested in another relationship. She turned him down the first time he asked her out.

"I said, 'No, I think I'll just keep dating my motorcycle. . .'"

But being persistent paid off for Louis and now they are not only dating, but ride together often.

As we rolled out of Ramona, I felt confident enough to take the lead and give Diane a break. The roads were even more beautiful than the first half of the ride, and I was in pure heaven. Riding my motorcycle with my friends riding theirs, watching the world unfold before me with the grace of springtime, and feeling the warm sunshine on my back and the wind pushing against my chest, I felt a serenity that only comes to me in the pew of two wheels.

In Temecula we waved goodbye to Barb as she headed off to bake cookies. Diane and I went to a local pub and talked for a couple of hours before I headed off to San Diego alone. When I came in the door that evening, I remembered my hubs coming home from a day-ride with friends a few years ago. I remembered his tired, dirty face, huge smile and slow, dragging posture of a day well spent. When I went into the bedroom to undress I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw that same rider in myself.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guest Post: Nadine Lajoie, Motorcycle Racer

Recently I met and worked with Nadine Lajoie, a former motorcycle racer and self-made, successful woman. Initially I was attracted to Nadine because of our shared passion, motorcycling. But I found she was truly so much more ~ Success Acceleration Coach, International Speaker, Award-Winning Entrepreneur &
Best-Selling Author known as the “Champion Motorcycle Racer who Sings like an Angel”. I asked her to contribute to Sash Mouth to share her insight and story about taking her passion and turning into a career.
Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to this blog because for me, passion is really important and that is why I'm still alive and here. We all share the same passion: motorcycle riding. I guess for most of us, riding a motorcycle means freedom, calmness and peace when we in the zone. It is kind of an escape from our day-to-day problems, challenges, at work or at home. It relieves stress and I even have one friend who is a psychologist and she prescribes riding on a motorcycle to her clients who are dealing with a lot of stress... It is too bad that too many people are against motorcycles because the media just shows the negative side.

Let me share a little bit of my story, before I became a female champion motorcycle racer and also finished 3rd at Daytona against 75 men! I want to encourage anyone, especially women, who are still on the fence about buying a motorcycle. I bought my first motorcycle at the age of 31 (so, it's never too late to start!) and no dealership wanted to sell me a sport bike because I didn't even touch the ground (I'm only 5'1") and I was not able to lift the 400 pound "beast" straight up properly. I finally found a used YZF 600 online and I asked the guy to bring the bike to my home with one of his friends and to park it in the living room for the winter. The next summer, I failed my first driver's license and almost failed a second time; supposedly I was not fast enough! But I was really careful not to go over the speed limits.
With the bike in the living room, I had no place for the Christmas Tree, so I put lights all over my bike and this still brings me great memories. This was my gift to myself because I had a surgery on my knee the day after and I was not sure if I could still play volleyball at the Canadian Championship level again. I was already old and after my 5th knee injury, chances were not so good. So I had to find another passion and focus on something else.

As in life, when you are driving, you need to focus on your path, being attentive to all your surroundings, drive and anticipate all other unconscious or "motorcycle hater" car drivers around you. Your eyes need to be everywhere at the same time, on your peripheral vision, and not just focused on your next corner or next detour that life brings to you or your business.

Motorcycle Tip - Adjusting Your Chain: to make your chain last longer, adjustment is really important, so it's best to do it frequently. To find the right tension, you can put your screwdriver between your sprocket and your chain to tighten the big axel bolt. With this technique, you will avoid the back and forth between adjustments after you tighten the bolt.

Focus on your path, your goals, your motorcycle passion and use the same analogy for your life and business. I will share with you in my next article why passion saved my life. This is also why I became an international renowned leadership trainer and you can experience the ultimate breakthrough of your life at my 2-day business training events at the racetrack. You will have the opportunity to be on the back of a race bike up to 150 mph and ride in tandem with a professional motorcycle racer! Your riding skills will improve while you are having a breakthrough for your life and business.

Get more information about our next dates and reserve now for a special offer for Sash's readers by clicking  here. 

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Motorcycling Pressure

"Riding my motorcycle in the wind doesn't bother me. Every time I ride, the wind blows at least 80 mph." ~ Arizona Harley Dude, Paul

Climbing up from Downtown onto the mesas of San Diego, the tangle of highways and interstates cross over one another in a weave of commuters. The mass exodus begins daily around 3pm, culminating into a nightmarish parking lot of tired cagers, paying little attention to the drive, checking their phones, exhausted from another cubical-bound-shitty-day, wanting to be anywhere but in this God forsaken metal and asphalt turmoil. The pressure is on to get home to suburbia and attend to their suburban-lifestyle-duties so they can get back Downtown in the morning to do it again. That pressure lingers in the air, a stench so thick a rider can taste it through the cage exhaust.

Ride those same roads at 10am any day and while the lanes are nearly clear, the pressure remains. The slight change in the altitude, perhaps through some barometric principal, creates a pressure that blows into me as I try to reach the 'burbs. Climbing up the mesa, my Yamaha V*Star lags, not from the grade of the hill, but from an undeniable wind that blows against me.

"You don't belong up here. Go back. Go back. . . "

I hear a voice within me pushing me away from my destination on the mesa.

The wind blows hard against me, pressing upon my chest, tossing my head from side-to-side, forcing me to work for every inch of Interstate. After losing momentum, I roll the throttle forward, yank in my clutch and kick Tatonka down into 4th gear. Rolling back the throttle I feel the power pick up, and we grab our place in lanes. The struggle is short lived as we level out in Clairemont Mesa, home of Korean B.B.Q., Mitsuwa Marketplace, Target and Cycle Gear. The air shifts, giving Tatonka room to catch her breath and kick up into 5th again.

It's at this point that Downtown is surely behind me.

I love Downtown. The bustle of too many people in such a small place, the crazy homeless people who dance for money or beg silently with cardboard signs, the dark, loud bars, the drunken college kids, the out-of-towners who have no idea how to drive a city street; I love all of the energy they bring. If you don't live there you don't know how very quiet the streets are at sunrise, or where you can score free appetizers, pizza and tater tots on a weeknight, or where the best parking can be found.

Living Downtown means walking most everywhere; the market, barbershop, drug store, dry cleaners, post office, bank, library and of course, out to dinner. Before I lived Downtown I was afraid of the homeless, had never heard of a döner, and had never had a private theater in my apartment building.

No matter how beautiful or ugly the past be, moving forward can be hard if one keeps looking back. As the pressure of the climb up the mesa blows against me, it gives me one more reason to long for what I've left behind.

Motorcycling is about the road ahead. I just need to remind myself that I'm not losing my past. I always carry my memories. It's a good thing they are small and easy to pack for the ride.

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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...)