Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How To Live On The Road

Have you dreamed of living on the road, motorcycling from town to town, completely free?

We dreamed that dream, then we made it a reality.

In April 2013 my hubs Side Road Steve and I took off for a trip across the country, riding for 6 months, visiting 26 states on our motorcycles. We had named our journey Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia and wrote about the places we visited and the things we saw. After riding over 15,000 miles, we made our way back to San Diego, CA, the city from which we started, we considered staying on the road permanently.

But as time went on in San Diego, we started getting comfortable and leased an apartment for a year in March 2014. The ink hadn't even dried on the lease when I knew I had made a mistake. I tried to live with it, but within two months, I needed to bust out of the cement I had poured around my own feet. It didn't take much effort to convince my hubs to go back to a life on the road. We both decided that living the Road Pickle better suited us in many ways.

You might be asking yourself, "How can they live that way?" Here are a few logistics we've put in place over time so we can live the nomadic life.

Self Employed Internet Marketers and Publishers

Our business is publishing websites and marketing online. We not only market our own publications, we market for others as well. We also teach others how to blog for profit. All of this work can be done as we travel. We designed our business to be one that could be done with nothing but WiFi, two laptops, two cameras, two cell phones, a video camera, an external hard drive, a handful of SD cards and a whole rat's nest of cords and chargers. All of our "office" fits in one briefcase and gets set up in less than 5 minutes anywhere we stop. Any job you can create in which you can work for yourself and work from anywhere you can get WiFi would fill the bill.

Minimizing Our Inventory

We don't own much. We actually own just 11 pieces of furniture, and 4 of those things are being sold before we move in June. We probably have less household "stuff" than most 20-something newlyweds. We are minimalists, by choice. My hubs motto is, "The less I have, the less I have to manage." It's a great motto and while it took me some time to adopt this philosophy, I'm a much happier person now that I have. At this point, the less we own, the less we have to store.


Our Assistant Makes It All Possible

Our office assistant Shelli is really the glue that holds our lifestyle together. She is not only our company bookkeeper, but she also manages my personal money. Shelli receives all of our mail, sorts it and send a package to us weekly of things we need to have with us. She pays all of our bills, she manages the business invoices and payments, helps me with my insurance issues, watches my credit report and even reminds me when it's time to vote. My very own Jiminy Cricket, she even helps me manage my budget each month. I trust her entirely and I'm lucky that she's also my niece. Not everyone has someone so level-headed and organized they can rely on, so I count myself really blessed! We also store our extra belongings in her garage at no cost.

Only Paying Where You're Staying

By not maintaining a home while we travel, we aren't paying a mortgage or rent somewhere we won't be. We also don't pay utilities, insurance, landscaper, HOA dues, trash, sewer, property taxes, cable or internet. When we added up all of those costs we realized we could spend less on motels than a stationary home. For each person the costs would be a little different, so do your own math. For us, we strive to pay less than $2000 per month on the places we stay. Motels often have discounts for weekly or monthly stays, as do some hotels. A number of motel chains, such as Studio 6, provide a studio apartment with a full kitchen for less than $350 a week! Our visit in Tulsa at Studio 6 was in a lovely studio condo, fully furnished down to the dishes in the kitchen, and even had a fireplace. We also have used airbnb, a website dedicated to renting vacation rentals by owners at great prices. Overall we've had great luck with these options, only occasionally landing in a motel that we didn't enjoy. The concept of only paying where staying made so much sense once we really put it into action.


Dropping the Shopping

I like to shop as much as the next gal. Perhaps I like to shop more than most. But when I stood before a tailbag that was full, trying to shove one more thing in it unsuccessfully, I realized I had to stop buying things. A motorcycle has very clear limits on how much it can carry safely. Not only size, but weight has to be considered when packing. Riding a Yamaha V Star 650, my bike doesn't have much power. Once I put my plump butt on her, fill the saddlebags and strap on a tailbag, she's pretty much done. So I have to consider each item carefully and keep only what I'm using right now. After doing this for a few months I started to see things differently and I found I wanted to buy less things. The things I did buy became far more practical and served more than one purpose. Also, when one doesn't have a home to decorate, one doesn't buy cute trinkets in gift shops any longer to put in that home. Shopping has lost most of it's appeal for me now. I still love fashionable clothing, but one needn't forsake style for practicality.

Thrift Stores Have It

As I said, I still love stylish clothing. When riding more often, my clothes tend to wear out quickly. They get smelly in a way that won't wash out and often they become threadbare from being washed so often. I also become bored with certain items quickly after wearing them over and over for a few weeks. The solution became shopping at thrift stores. I donate items that are still in good condition and pick up a few things just to have something fun and new! Also I really love the different styles I find in different regions of the country. Consignment stores, vintage stores, and thrift stores offer more affordable options and usually more unique, local items. I'm not a fan of "touristy" clothing, so it's rare that I'll buy something that has a city name on it. But the cowboy boots I bought in downtown Nashville are far more characteristic of the region than a T-shirt that says Nashville. My motto is "When in Oklahoma, do as the Indians do!"

Healthcare Benefits

Before we left in 2013 I visited my doctor a couple of times and had a physical, at her request. Because I have Fibromyalgia, she is willing to refill my prescriptions for my condition while I travel, as long as I check in every 6 months. I've visited her again recently and I have her blessing to leave again, but I have a followup in 3 months. Each month when I get my meds refilled I shop at drug store for the toiletry items we need. I have a CVS card and I use it every time I shop, and I enjoy some pretty good discounts along the way. We find it convenient to spend as little time shopping for necessities as possible, so I don't waste time looking for deals. I've also had great luck finding a CVS in almost every city we've visited across the country. This is one example of utilizing a chain while traveling. Many people only eat at chain restaurants for the same reasons. With their computer system I can walk into any CVS location and they can see my existing prescriptions and refill them while I wait.

I have dozens of other tips and insights into this type of traveling. My YouTube channel hosts plenty of my videos of these tips, as well as a few "Road Videos". My Facebook page Biker Chick Tips has tips and ideas not just from me, but other riders who offer up some amazing lessons learned.

If you've ever wondered how you can cut the cord on the stationary lifestyle and hit the road full-time, follow along with us as we travel and see if it appeals to your sense of freedom.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

VikingCycle Cruise Motorcycle Jacket for Women

Recently I went on an All Chicks Ride with three of girlfriends, one of whom is Barb. The biggest topic of discussion was the beautiful VikingCycle Cruise Leather Motorcycle Jacket from Motorcycle House. As I had written previously. . .

Barb oogled and awed over the gorgeous leather jacket I had brought for Diane. I had received the jacket from Motorcycle House to 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.

Diane explained later that day at lunch how much she loved her jacket and she's enjoyed putting plenty of miles on it.

"It always keeps me warm and dry, and the leather has only gotten softer over the miles. I think I've ridden about 20,000 miles in this jacket and it's held up great! I've worn it in rain, cold and even a little snow on our way to Reno for Street Vibrations Rally last year. I'm really happy with it, actually."

I haven't had a chance to see Barb since, but last night she messaged me via Facebook to share her leather-clad-joy with me.

"Hi Sash! Thank you again for the jacket!! It's so nice!! I really love the extra long sleeves and the sturdiness of the leather! Plus the way it's cut is so flattering! I'm so glad it hides the flaws at my midsection!! Looking forward to some more wind therapy in this beauty!!"

The VikingCycle Cruise Motorcycle Jacket for Women comes with attractive braiding, durable zippers, is fully lined with a removable liner and is made of premium top quality cowhide leather.

I'm looking forward to riding with the Barb and Diane, whom I'm now referring to as the Cycle Twins, soon.



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Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Journey Begins

As she spoke, I knew in my heart I had to get on my motorcycle and hit the open road. Living in one place was killing my spirit and after living unburdened, motorcycling across 26 states, staying in hotels, motels and vacation rentals for a year, committing to a one year lease on an apartment in San Diego had overwhelmed me.

At the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit, Lisa Fedders Brouwer spoke on "Love The Journey" and setting priorities. I didn't even need to do the exercise to know which direction my life needed to head. But that night I sat down and worked the steps she had laid out, being as honest with myself as humanly possible. The conclusion was no surprise: I want to live traveling full time on my motorcycle, working on the road, and seeing America.

Last year my hubs Side Road Steve and I traveled a great deal. We crossed the country twice, coast to coast to coast, over a 6 month period. Before we left we moved out of our apartment, put our few possessions in storage, arranged for our bookkeeper to get our mail, send us packages, and help us manage our affairs as we traveled.

We were vagabonds, bohemians, traveling aimlessly wherever the wind blew us. On our self title journey Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia, we had an amazing time and even though it was exhausting, I was sorry to see it end.

We decided earlier this year to settle in San Diego for a year and perhaps travel again next year. We signed a lease and moved in to an apartment. I've been miserable and bitchy ever since. My poor hubs has been as patient as he can be, dealing with his own struggles, but everyone has their limits. We had made this decision mostly to earn money and build a client base, but it's been a struggle. Things just didn't seem to come together as I'd hoped, so I found myself pushing harder, working longer hours with less results daily.

"I'm drowning, I swear I am. . . "

Pleading with God in a hotel room, pouring over my list of priorities, I could see my life clearly again through the tears in my eyes.

"Steve, I have to go on the road. I hope you'll come with me, but I must go. I don't know if you're willing to leave with me, but I know in my heart this is the right path."

"How are we going to make enough money? We need clients. . . "

"I don't know. But I have faith it will come. I can trust my heart. The same voice that told me to be with you is telling me we belong on the road. Come with me, please."

"OK. I trust what you're saying. I want to be wherever you are. We'll make it work."

Within 2 weeks we had gained 3 new, solid, long-term clients and given notice on our apartment. We move out June 13, 2014 and plan to travel around, staying one month at a time in different cities and states. No schedule set, just finding our way around, with a few destinations in mind along the way. Just yesterday we decided to sell some of our furniture and a great deal of my clothes and shoes.

"They may as well make someone else happy, rather than sit in storage," I surmised.

"Who knows when we'll return."

My daughter is expecting my grandson and he is due to arrive in 7 weeks. I plan to be by her side, along with her husband and mine, to welcome him into the world. My daughter has encouraged me to explore, follow my heart, and ride those miles.

She and her husband David came for a visit for Mother's Day last weekend. I watched her talking with David and I began to weep.

"Olivia, will you please make sure he knows? Will you make sure the baby knows I love him, even though I won't be around? Do you understand this is what I have to do? Will you help him understand too?"

"Mom, of course!"

She laid her hand on my shoulder.

"Mom, I understand. Really, I do. I'm so proud of you! Don't worry. Baby Jackson will know and he'll be proud of you too. I love you!"

That was all I needed to feel free. Thus, the journey begins.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Riding in Pain

Motorcycling with Fibromyalgia has it's unique set of challenges. Last year when we were riding in North Carolina I learned about Candidiasis, a yeast infection that can affect the entire body on the skin. As I continued to push myself in the damp and the rain, my body swelled up and ached badly from this skin infection. Certain foods contributed to this, so I've eliminated most of them since and I've purchased better rain gear.

What I hadn't counted on was dry heat causing a flare up of my symptoms. Riding from Scottsdale to San Diego in the afternoon sun seemed like a long ride for me, but not a dangerous one. After 195 miles from Scottsdale Whole Foods where we had lunch with Genevieve Schmitt of Women Riders Now, I had to take a break at the Dateland Travel Center. I was in great pain but I couldn't understand why. I had been drinking plenty of water, eaten a very healthful lunch, rested well, but this pain was more extreme than usual.

Hopping back on my V*Star I was determined to get to San Diego to see my daughter, but when we rolled into Yuma, only 60 miles later, I could barely move. Just slowing the bike down at the end of the off ramp I nearly dropped it. My legs, arms, hand and shoulders weren't working as I commanded them to. Even thinking hard about how I wanted my body to perform didn't garner the usual results. My hubs Side Road Steve got us a motel room immediately and helped me get into bed. Howling in pain, I couldn't think straight. Confusion and fear set in.

"Do we need to go to the E.R.?" he pleaded.

"No, no, no. I just need to take some meds and rest."

Another medical bill is all I needed to add to the pain. Even with insurance, a good portion of my income goes to managing my Fibromyalgia. Between massages, physical therapy, medicines, doctor appointments, acupuncture, homeopathic treatments, creams, wraps, braces and supplements, I would estimate about 1/4 of all I earn is spent trying to ease my pain. The pain I was experiencing in Yuma was excruciating, with no end in sight.

I needed to get back to San Diego because my daughter and son-in-law were coming to visit the next day. Disappointing her wasn't an option for me, but I was truly physically beaten. I wept in bed as my hubs fed, massaged, cooled and stroked me. After a few hours the cramps and pain subsided, but I was exhausted.

The next morning we awoke at 5am and hit the road by 6am, tearing through those last 180 miles effortlessly in the cool wind. We went on to visit with my daughter and attend her ultrasound, getting little glimpses of my grandson sucking his toes.
Subsequently I determined I hadn't been wearing my wet vest and my body overheated. After seeing my doctor, she discussed this with me and reminded me that I must take extra steps to prevent my symptons if I want to continue to ride.

People ask my why I continue to ride, even though it causes me such pain.

"Lying on the couch I'm still in pain. I don't want to die on my couch. I don't want to live on a couch. If I'm going to be in pain I would rather be in pain on a motorcycle."

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Biker Chick Tip - Packaging Sucks

When traveling, I've found that packing is one of my greatest challenges. Getting all of the things we need for months at a time into small bags and onto our two motorcycles is difficult.

Tackling the issue by addressing only what we need is only half of the battle. We also need to determine how to best maximize the space we have for the items we must carry, which takes a bit of strategy.

I've found packaging is a great space waster that you can easily fix.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Nearly Home

After spending the night in Surprise, AZ at the home of Paul the Arizona Harley Dude, I awoke to find myself nearly home. With one more day of riding, we should roll into San Diego this evening. But at this point, San Diego is just the place where I keep my things.

Home, I have found, is not what I thought it was. This three-week trip to Denver has shown me that. I feel best when I'm actually riding. I love the excitement of finding what's on the other side of the next ridge. I'm happiest rolling into a town I've never seen before.

What makes a place home?

Is it the place you find the most joy? Comfort? Peace?

Riding my motorcycle, sitting next to my husband, laughing with him in a bar, holding him on clean, white hotel sheets, sipping tea in a cafe, watching all the strangers go by. . . these are the places where I'm at peace. I feel free, joyful, excited, and alive.

How can I get this feeling everyday? What changes need be made to accommodate this sense of really living that I now crave?

I suppose we'll determine what those steps are when we get back to San Diego. I feel that we are so close to making our home on the road a reality.

Yes, I'm nearly home.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Riding In The Wind

Riding a motorcycle in the wind has never been much of an issue for me. I've ridden enough wind to be pretty comfortable with it. Today was one of those days in which I rode most of the day at either a 70 degree angle or a 110 degree angle, depending upon which way the wind was blowing. It seemed that I couldn't catch a break with a tailwind; only crosswinds, and for a short time of the 304 miles across New Mexico, headwinds.

Couple that with a migraine for 150 miles and I come out pretty tired at the end of the day.

So it makes sense that the entire day I thought about Laura Klock and her Klock Werks FLARE™ Windshield.

"They are designed to use the wind to create down force on the front wheel, giving you more traction. This is one of the things we learned racing bikes. . . about keeping the front wheel down. Most windshields just block the wind. These use the wind to make your motorcycle ride better and get better gas mileage. They are flexible too, more than any other windshield available," Laura told my hubs Steve and me as she bent a windshield in her hands in her booth at the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit last weekend.

I was so impressed, I probably would have ordered one right then, but they don't make them for the Yamaha V*Star; at least not yet.

"We are still adding windshields for different makes and models of motorcycles."

Today, I really wished for a windshield that would cut down on the fatigue of the wind. It's funny how I hadn't thought about it until I was educated about how much a particular windshield could help. Once I was put into a situation where I could have benefited from it, then I really missed it. For 304 miles of riding in the wind today, I certainly longed for a windshield that would make my day easier.

Not to mention my migraine.

Given the situation, I wanted to put Laura's logic to the test. As we rolled from Sante Fe, NM to Albuquerque, we went from 7,260 ft to 4,900 ft in elevation in only 62 miles. The decline is gradual in most places, but noticeable. The wind shifted quite a bit, but was mostly blowing as a headwind, so I leaned forward on the handlebars, using my body weight to press the front wheel down.

I found that this exhausted me by the time we arrived in Albuquerque, but it made a significant difference in the performance of my ride. I got much better gas mileage on the second tank of the day and I fought with the wind much less. This only further sold me on the idea of ordering a FLARE™ Windshield once they are available.

Listening to Laura explain the dynamics of air flow has only peaked my interest in what other products I can buy and modifications I can make to my V*Star to get the best bike possible. I'm always open to new information because I love learning.

As for the wind, I don't dislike riding in the wind. I think of it as God reminding me he is around, even when I can't see him. But I like Arizona Harley Dude Paul's reasoning best.

"Every time I get on my motorcycle the wind blows at least 70 mph."

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How To Live on the Road

I feel a deep need to determine how I can live on the road.

At the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit I attended a number of motivating workshops. In Lisa Fedders Brouwer's Full Throttle Living workshop "Love The Journey" I made a list of priorities in my life and evaluated each of them. I realized that I had forsaken my love of travel for my need of money. In the last year I went from being a motorcycle bohemian to a hard-working-networking-marketing-fool. I've been working to build my business in San Diego, the city I love. But I need to find out how I can live on the road.

This was the roaring, overwhelming signal that pounded in my head from my heart over the entire 4 day event. Somehow I've forsaken my identity again to meet other needs, and I can't live with this decision. It was our intent to stay in San Diego a short time and then move on again. We returned from our 6 month road trip in October 2013 and intended to be out on the road again by April 2014.

Then I got the call. My daughter and her new husband are expecting their first child. She needs me and I want to be there for her, and to meet my grandson. So my hubs Steve and I looked at each other and decided to get digs that were more permanent. Then I buried myself into working locally in an attempt to fortify our financial reserves. We have always worked from the road, but this was an opportunity to grow our business in a different direction. I intended to gain local clients and be able to still travel a little, now and then.

My niece Shelli manages our business office for us. She does the bookkeeping, gets our mail, keeps all of my finances in order and is the perfect assistant. She also rents the house I still own and takes care of our storage when we are gone. I'm deeply in love with Shelli's family, her husband David and her 4 kids are as precious to me as my own daughter's family. I love being so close to her and the kids, feeling that wonderful family feeling.

But I'm miserable and that's a reality I need to face.

I need to live on the road. At this point in my life I can't live a lie. The money will come, if I have faith. I'm not really driven by money, but just in my ability to continue living this life. I just need to make enough for that.

I met some incredibly inspiring women at the Summit, all of whom inspired me to live my authentic life. All of whom show me through their experiences that each moment meant to be lived fully and right now.

I may be waiting for my grandson, but I'm no longer putting my life on hold. I'm not painting myself into any more corners. I want to ride! Ride far and ride long. I want to travel and see America. I haven't seen enough, done enough, met enough people, been enough places. . .

Today I am working in a motel lobby, riding my motorcycle, taking photos and I don't even know where I'm sleeping tonight. Today, I'm heaven. This is the life I want.

Today I start working towards learning how to live on the road.

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit Highlights

Attending the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit in Denver, CO from May 1 - 4 was an incredible event for female motorcycle riders, both new and experienced. With between 275 and 300 in attendance, the event was inspiring for the ladies, both passengers and riders. Many riders came from out of state, converging from Florida, California, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas and various other states. Women told the stories of their travels, shared laughs and hugs, and learned from the inspiring speakers. 

Bikes beginning to arrive on Friday
Old friends meet
Fast Andie Gaskins invited me to sit on her drag bike
Posing on the Red Carpet
Ladies line up their bikes for the Firefighter Bike Wash
Waiting in line in comfort
Masyn is a celebrated rider in Colorado
A shirtless firefighter gives Tatonka a scrub down
Sherri, former Physics teacher, gets a push, just to watch the firefighter's "low coefficient of giggledge"
Gathering of riders
Panel of Speakers L to R: Chelsey Hall of Modern Madame, Fast Andie Gaskins of Fast Andie Drag Racing, Sarah Shilke of Shuberth, Genevieve Schmitt of Women Riders Now, Jasmine Clark of Blue Creek Motorcycle Training, and Jessi Combs of All Girls Garage on the Velocity Channel
Laura Klock, who appeared in "Why We Ride" and land speed record holder,
shows me windshields from Klock Werks
Bikes lined up at Vendor Tent
Lisa Fedders Brouwer speaks on Full Throttle Living
Lining up for the Sunrise Ride
Riding to Red Rocks
Arriving at Red Rocks right at dawn
Hamming it up
Aloha seems happy to have recently relocated to Colorado from Hawaii
My roommate Holly was the best roomie ever!
Ellie rode from Chicago (with Michelle) attempting an Iron Butt Ride,
but got a room after 730 miles, arriving in Denver the next day
Lisa isn't just a great speaker, but a pretty good rider too
Ladies line up along the rail for a group photo
Riding back to Rocky Mountain Harley Davidson for a group photo
Lisa loves her Harley
Inspired to ride by these ladies
Some of us broke off in smaller groups for rides
Sarah with Shuuberth Helmets taught us about aerodynamics
Modern Madame is a Christian based women's motorcycle apparel company
Rebel Girl is in the house!
There were sport bikes too!
Deb rolled in from Wisconsin
Jodi and Holly were both volunteers for the Summit
Every morning the Sheraton provided an amazing breakfast
Laura enjoyed meeting all the riders
As did Lisa
Bikes getting packed up to head home
There's nothing more beautiful than a woman who rides
The rider on the VStrom cruised the parking lot looking for a friend
Riders grab a photo with Jessi Combs
The hardest part was saying goodbye to all the lovely women

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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...)