Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Second Life of Motorcycling

Christmas Eve 2008 I went to the hospital with chest pains. I had been seeing a cardiologist for months who was trying to diagnose my cardiac issues, but to no avail. The trip to the hospital led to my death. I was on the other side for 2 1/2 minutes, but it seemed like much longer. The nurses ran the crash cart into the room and in front of my screaming 18-year-old daughter Olivia and my then husband Mark, I was paddled and brought back to life.

I've previously written about what I found on the other side.

At that time in my life I was very miserable. I was 100 lbs overweight, my then-husband was terribly unhappy every single day, and my daughter was having a very rough year. She had turned 18 in April, quit school and moved in with my mother, moved back home, then decided she wanted to meet the boy she had been talking to online. In October she bounced a check to Southwest Airlines and flew to Florida to meet him with only a packed rolling ice chest and a backpack. She had very little money and had told no one that she was leaving and where he lived.

When I got the call from her that she was somewhere in Florida, I was terrified. I didn't hear back from her for 2 weeks. Those weeks were the hardest of my life.

Along with missing my daughter terribly, my then husband became angrier than ever. All I wanted was my baby to come home safely. He just shouted and slammed doors. Perhaps that is how he was dealing with his emotions, but we had virtually no communication by that point of our marriage, so I simply kept my mouth shut and tolerated him.

On December 15th, Olivia came home after being beaten by that young man. She was sickly, tired and hurt inside and my heart broke just at the sight of her. Eight days later I died in that hospital bed.

In hindsight it makes so much sense.

Six years later I realize my life has changed entirely.

Now I celebrate my Second Life rather than Christmas. I embrace the changes I've consciously brought about in my world and am filled with gratitude for all that has come my way.

Motorcycling seems to be the vehicle of change in my life. It transforms me from dependent to independent, allowing me to choose my roads, grasping the controls, leaving me entirely responsible for my choices. On a motorcycle I can blame no one for where I go, how quickly I get there, or for any mistakes I make along the way. The entire world is in my two hands.

Things happen along the way that I don't expect while motorcycling too. There are the dangers, such as potholes, wet roads and cagers who don't see me and swerve into my lane. There are also the unexpected beauties such as pink sunsets against purple mountains, deer and elk in golden fields, and sweet, green alfalfa fields roadside.

Motorcycling is the metaphor for my life, as well as a way to live that life. When the road is cracked and rotting, I focus on the good road to find my way. When I start out on a ride I can't see my destination, but I have faith that I will get there. If I am seeing with only tunnel vision, I will miss out on something wonderful. If I'm rushing to my destination I will not enjoy the journey.

Today, instead of slamming doors, yelling and heartbreak, my road is filled with laughter, delicious meals and bright horizons. Sure, we hit some storms from time to time, but even in those I find joy in the smell of rain, the beauty of the cloudscape and the amazing sense of accomplishment I receive from enduring a harsh, wet ride.

On this, the 6th Anniversary of my Second Life, I wish you all safe riding, open roads and happy trails.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Indian Scout in San Diego

Riding Scout and trying to refrain from giggling!

The 2015 Indian Motorcycle Scout is a huge kick in the pants! I'm loving the ride, albeit temporary. Usually I would name a bike I ride, but I have refrained as this one will break my heart when I turn her back in. I may shed a few tears. . .

My Daddy really wanted a Scout. It was the only motorcycle he ever discussed with me before he died. It may have been his only regret. He never discussed anything else with me that he wished he could have done other than own an Indian Scout.

So tomorrow, I'm taking Scout to the cemetery to my father's graveside, just for a visit. I usually go visit him this time of year anyway, so I'm pleased to have this opportunity to take Scout along.

OK, so I named her Scout. It seems a little less personal than a real name. This is the "Factory Name" anyway.

Riding in San Diego is ideal for this motorcycle because of the way she handles the quick stops, the tight turns, the invasive traffic and the lightening fast freeways. Being such a quick bike, I can easily get away from the knucklehead cagers who are texting behind the wheel.


One of the perks of having Scout is the opportunity to go hang out at San Diego Indian Motorcycles and just chat with the staff. Since they are only a mile or so away, it's been a pleasure to visit them when I'm out and about. I've really connected with Geri Buan Hernandez of Marketing and Finance. We seem to have a great deal in common. The entire staff is always welcoming and friendly and I love just bursting in and starting a little trouble just to brighten my day.

Steve and I decided to start an Indian Scout website dedicated to this little beauty and my travels with her. Take a look and follow along during the two months we have with her as part of our lives as motorcycle bloggers.

And forgive me if I'm lackluster in posting on my blog for awhile. I'm a little busy riding Scout.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Got an Indian Scout

The 2015 Indian Motorcycle Scout really stole my heart when I rode it at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. I was able to keep the bike for two days to ride it and write a review, but unfortunately those two days were rather rain filled, limiting the amount of riding I could do. Not just rain, but outright flooding in some places. I did manage some time with the Scout though and I was asked to write a review for Women Riders Now. This was an astounding opportunity granted to me by Genevieve Schmitt, publisher of the online magazine dedicated to women who ride and the men who ride with them.

I was also invited to attend the Scout Reveal Party, which took my breath away. The people in attendance were some heavy hitters of the moto-journalist industry. I had a conversation with Cyril Huze, got some advice from Peter Jones of Cycle World (he was so kind and helpful!) and spoke briefly with Roland Sands as well. When I saw Laura Klock I told her how overwhelmed I was and that she was the only person I knew there. She immediately took me by the arm and introduced me to some of these people who went out of their way to make me feel informed and included.

My love affair with the Scout continues as they have been kind enough to loan a Scout to Steve and me for a few weeks to ride, write about and enjoy. We have a few long rides planned and many short ones too. I'm going to as many bike nights and group rides as I can, not only to show off this innovative, beautiful and powerful machine, but to get feedback from others on their impressions of it.

Not only will I be riding the Scout, but Steve will be as well. This gives us an opportunity to provide more insight as to how the motorcycle performs for a rider with more experience, more technical knowledge and a more intellectual opinion than mine. I usually view things from an emotional standpoint, so Steve's pragmatic approach will help balance my unbridled enthusiasm.

The Indian Motorcycle dealerships have been offering Demo Days across the country for riders to test the 2015 lineup. December 13th and 14th San Diego Indian Motorcycle will have the demo truck at their dealership with the whole Indian 2015 line up. If you are in the area, come out and join me for some fun riding as well as free food, raffles, Toys for Tots, and a live band. I'm going to be there most of the day on Saturday talking with folks about my impressions of the Scout and meeting other riders.

Come on out and see me if you're local. If not, get your ass on an Indian! You'll be glad you did!


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Sunday, December 7, 2014

American Motorcycle Vagabond

My family has had it's servicemen over the years and I have always considered myself a patriot, but as my understanding of politics, government and my own family history unraveled, so too has my blind sense of patriotism. Perhaps some see my questioning the motives of my government as disloyal. But my direct ancestor, our nation's first President and known fighter of an oppressive government, George Washington, was quoted to say, this:

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

Steve and I have many discussions on the topics of history, politics, and freedom. Most of my ancestors were Indians, Choctaw to be exact, and Steve's mother is Japanese. We each identify with these two races primarily because of our appearances, I believe. While we both also have Caucasian relatives, neither of us look very Caucasian, leaving us to see ourselves as outsiders for the most part. In my own immediate family, I look quite different from my mother and siblings, and I have always felt like an outsider with them.


The Japanese and the Indians have so much in common in regards to their appearance, their cultures, their spiritual beliefs and their treatment by the U.S. Government. In these commonalities, along with many others, Steve and I have formed a deep bond. When we visited the WWII Japanese Interment Camp Manzanar a couple of years ago, I struggled with the amount of rage I felt. Just like my own ancestors, the Japanese were interred by the U.S. Government and had everything they owned stolen from them.

This is the power of our current government. Ask any detainee of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.

This practice continues.

So on this, Pearl Harbor Day, my inner rage rises again, reminding me that today is the day to remember the unconstitutional interment of Japanese Americans. Remember, indeed. I also remember the 25,000 Indians murdered by the U.S. Government along the Trail of Tears, the relocation of Indians. My Great-Great-Grandmother walked this at the age of 7, watching her family die along the way. I remember this proud race of Real People who were nearly wiped off the planet by the U.S. Government in many, many campaigns against my ancestors. I remember the thousands of Japanese Americans who were robbed of everything, interred and subsequently returned to poverty at the end of the war.

We remember, and many of these memories are folded into our current belief system and shape our choices today.

"Why would you get rid of everything you own and ride a motorcycle across the country?" I am asked, often.

What I rarely say, which is my truth, is that I would rather give it all away than to have it stolen from me. I would rather be unburdened so as to travel, than to be beholden to a piece of dirt, sticks, bricks or mortar, defending myself and my land. It is because I no longer believe in owning land, or property, or things; I believe these things will own me, if I allow them to. It is because I want to breathe easy with nothing rather than lie sleeplessly worrying about protecting my "stuff".

"Freedom can't be transferred from one person to another, only material things," Steve said recently.

We had been discussing someone who murdered his father and grandfather to inherit their property.

Having nothing, no home, no real property to speak of, not only leaves us unburdened, but unworried about what we may lose. To us, this is another level of freedom that few of us are able to enjoy. Perhaps this is just temporary, but isn't owning something temporary as well? Isn't all of life temporary?

Along Arizona State Hwy 80 heading north from Douglas to the New Mexico border, we rolled through a breathtaking valley in the late afternoon. At the sight of blowing golden grasses in the vast fields, I wept with wonder, my heart filled with the glory of American land at it's finest. I felt the same feeling at the sight of the plains in Kansas, crossing the Mississippi River eastward for the first time into Memphis, the noise in Times Square, the rolling hills of Minnesota, watching the Colorado Rockies actually turn purple as we rode at sunset, and the beauty of the sunflower fields of South Dakota.

These memories will never leave me, along with many others of our travels across this country I love and call home. The most American thing I have done in my lifetime is to go and see America. In these moments, my patriotism flourishes to it's greatest degree. Perhaps remembering the atrocities of our government seems unpatriotic to some, but to me, this is part and parcel of being American; to not blindly love my country, but to love it with my eyes wide open from the seat of my motorcycle as I travel across it.



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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Life Without a Windshield


"I don't think you're a rude biker chick," Doc said.

"Sometimes speaking about things others don't want to hear is considered rude, Doc. People find me rude because I want to talk about my feelings, and because I say what I think, instead of what is socially acceptable."

"Oh well, then if that's considered rude, that's what you are. Many people are offended by the truth, but that doesn't make it any less true."

I've known Doc for over 15 years. He had just started his own practice right after I had moved to Menifee and my daughter and I were a couple of his first patients. He was my family doctor for all of the years I had a family, and as his practice grew, so did my confidence in him. We also developed a long-lasting friendship over these years, including one falling out and recovery, which seems to be the hallmark of a real friendship. Although we are the same age, Doc's children are much younger than my daughter. He and his beautiful wife have had 4 kids in the last 8 years.

The nurses in Doc's office are some of my sweetest friends. The ladies have a certain toughness to them; an undeniable edge mixed with determination and tenderness that separates them from other women I know. I love these women and their honesty.

Visiting Doc and the nurses is just one of many stops I make on my weekly trips to Menifee from San Diego. They were excited to talk to me about the project that has been sucking up all of my time and energy recently.

"Rude Biker Chick ~ Lessons From My Daddy" is a non-fiction memoir I've been writing. This week I sent my final work off to my editor and it is in the final stages of production. Slated to be released as an E-book in January 2015, this is the story of the lessons I learned from my Daddy along the first year of our Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia.

Writing began last October when we arrived in San Diego, CA after riding across the country for 6 months. During that entire ride, memories of my Daddy's words were whispered in my ear along the way. His voice, whether they be recollections or new enlightenment on his prior teachings, carried me through the toughest times, as well as helped me appreciate the best of times.

In over 15,000 miles I found a part of myself that had long since been buried under years of pain and sorrow.

My goal is to have printed copies completed by March or April 2015.

Now that the grueling task of writing the book is behind me, I can get back to dedicating myself to my career and riding my motorcycle. A few nights ago I asked Steve to help me remove the windshield from my V Star.

"Why would you take your windshield off? I searched everywhere to put one on my bike!" my friend Diane asked.

"It's far more fun to ride without it! Faster, better gas mileage, lighter, easier to maneuver. I hate having a windshield, but I know it's a must for the touring."

My ride to Menifee and back to San Diego is about 160 miles of Interstate over the round trip. At 80 mph just to keep up with traffic, it's quite a workout without the windshield. By the end of the day yesterday, I was truly exhausted, but happy. Even though it is more work, riding without the heavy "sail" is worth the effort. Riding without a windshield exposes me to more of what I ride to find.

I'm finding that the more difficult the path, the greater the reward in life. Writing "Rude Biker Chick" was a tremendous amount of effort, taking time away from my business and family, as well as reducing me to a sobbing mess on a regular basis. Reliving the past proved to be overwhelming during the process, but now that I'm on the other side, I feel a tremendous freedom. A bit like riding without a windshield, writing the book exposed me to more pain and effort, but I also gained the satisfaction of achievement.

It is my goal to lighten my load and live life without a windshield to block reality.


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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...)