Thursday, August 28, 2014

Motorcycling Gypsy Life

The motorcycle gypsy life comes at a price.

It's not often I long for familiarity, but when I do, the pang hits me like a bullet in my soul, piercing any shred of wanderlust within me.

I want to be home.

This rainy day, for no particular reason, I miss having a home. I miss knowing where I keep my red scarf, using my own dishes, crawling into my own bed. I long for the streets I know, the familiar sights and sounds of a place I understand and rely upon.

Things change constantly on the road and there are days it seems to overwhelm me. Caught off guard by the storm of emotions, I'm drowning in the sense of being lost.

I don't belong anywhere,

Now I'm compelled to wander, because no "place" is home, and perhaps, no "place" ever will be again. I only know that in this moment, I have no home and I belong nowhere and it fills me with a ache to belong.

I have family, but I don't belong with them.

I have friends, but seeing them occasionally keeps them at a distance.

I have a hometown, but it's different now than when I lived there.

Motorcycling is the most individual thing I've ever done. It fills one with independence, self sufficiency and singularity. A slightly darker shade of this same sense is loneliness. One can find peace within oneself while riding, but one can also feel isolated from the rest of society. As travelers, we see ourselves outside the norm, and outside of society in many ways.

Recognizing that one is unique is not always comforting. In fact, in the glaring light of reality, it can be dreadful. The painful knowledge that I don't fit in, that I've always been different, and I will never belong hurts me. I may belong for a season, a weekend, a moment, but once I mount up to leave at the behest of my grinding wanderlust, I belong no more.

Wanderlust is a wicked ache that begs me shed all I know and go it alone. More powerful than my need to belong is my need to follow my inner voice, leading me into the dark of the unknown. No thing I've ever done is harder than looking within and following the frightening reality of my true self.

Motorcycling has opened a door I never intended to open, thrust me into a life I would never have wished for myself. To the degree that it is beautiful and fantastic, it is lonely and painful. It tries my fortitude and my character. It breaks my heart and breaks my body. It bares my soul to the torrents of singularity, compared to none, belonging nowhere, left to define myself with my own devices.

It is the hardest, bravest and most revealing thing I've lived, this traveling about rather aimlessly.

I'm glad I have my husband to travel with me. But he is on his own path, finding his own place.

If I've learned anything it has been that everything is temporary and I've been alone all this time, I just never realized it before now.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Viking Bags Motorcycle Tailbag Review

Recently I received an Viking Bags Extra Large Plain Studded Tail bag for my motorcycle travels. I ordered this bag specifically from Viking Bags because of it's size (this was the largest bag I found that would fit my motorcycle) and compatibility with my particular motorcycle.

Since I am traveling for an undetermined period of time, perhaps a few years, it is necessary for me to carry everything I need on a long term basis. In fact, I carry many items that most folks wouldn't need on a motorcycle trip. I have medicines I need occasionally and office materials I need to run my business from the road, as well as my extra weather gear for a variety of needs. The term "gear" can be used broadly, and for me this includes rain pants, gloves, jewelry, hats and scarves.

I like a few pretty things to wear and my accessories.

"The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize." Clairee Belcher, Steel Magnolias

The second reason I chose this particular tail bag is my motorcycle. I ride a Yamaha V Star 650 Classic, with a short sissy bar. I would certainly like a taller sissy bar, but I'm satisfied with the one I have. I'm only 4'11" and I would like to be taller, but you deal with what life hands you. I chose Viking Bags tail bag because it would fit over the short sissy bar.

The bag also comes with a secondary attachment for one's sleeping bag. I've found this bag to be quite useful for hats, keeping my cowboy hat in perfect shape along the way. I actually tuck three smaller hats inside the cowboy hat and they all stay still and well shaped.

As I've said, it's all about packing well!

Speaking of packing, I've certainly utilized the pockets to the maximum abilities. I've designated particular pockets for particular uses so I know where to go each time I need something. So the way many people would arrange things in drawers at home is the way I've arranged the things in my tail bag pockets.

For my Fibromyalgia pain I have a number of natural remedy creams and ointments in the front, top pocket. The very top pocket is for rain gear and the rain cover for my tail bag. We have our first aid in one bottom, front pocket and our external battery and phone chargers in the other.

Even the inside of the bag comes with an adjustable divider to organize things well, along with 6 more pockets! I've organized my things in small bags, all of which have a different appearance (so I can remember what is in which bag) and they all fit inside of this enormous Viking Bags tail bag.

When I say enormous, I mean ENORMOUS! With 4,400 cubic inches of storage space, I can carry everything I need and want on my travels. While I've found that I need less in life than I ever have, I'm still a woman, and the words of Miss Clairee regarding accessorizing still ring in my ears everyday.

We ride motorcycles, but we aren't animals.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Importance of Motorcycling

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How important is motorcycling? Does it really impact my life as much as I imagine it does?

Certainly, if I couldn't ride again, I would be heartbroken. I've enjoyed my hours in the saddle and I hope to have many years of riding ahead. But I had a full life, actually many lives, prior to motorcycling, and I believe that I would have a full life again.

At this point in my existence, I've made it more than a hobby, but a way of life. I don't own a car, nor have a home, but travel on my motorcycle full time and live in temporary quarters along the way. My husband Steve and I had made it our business, publishing motorcycle-related content in a number of publications. We've made it a priority. Often times this lends a certain pressure to keep riding.

While at this time in my life I long to ride, I know there may come a day I won't pursue it with such passion, and riding may become a chore. Genevieve Schmitt, publisher of Women Riders Now, spoke on this at the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit in May 2013. This was a revelation to me and I wondered what would happen if I came around to the same feeling one day.

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Once, I had been an abused child, living with my drug addicted mother. I became a school bully in my teens and morose, forlorn young adult filled with angst and bitterness. Poetry entered my life and I began writing at that time, finding this to be my only outlet for pain, loneliness and fear.

I turned to drugs and alcohol, quickly turning into an abusive drug addict myself. This was not much of a stretch, considering my upbringing. Having been raised on drugs and violence, much the way a Catholic is raised on guilt and prayer, it was in my blood with a stench so thick I could taste it.

After a stint in rehab, a new baby, a relapse and a brush with Officer Friendly, I grabbed onto sobriety with both hands. I dedicated my life to the 12 steps and for over 21 years I've been clean and sober. For many years it was my entire identity, filling up my life the way drugs once had.

Along with remaining sober and growing spiritually, I was a full-time parent, raising my lovely daughter Olivia. After a tumultuous first marriage, I remarried with the intent to raise my daughter in a stable home, but home life became far too stable, reaching a state of stale malevolence and bitter reality for me. When my daughter was grown and gone and I realized my marriage was a failure, I moved on to a new lifestyle, rambling about for a couple of years trying to find my way again. This is when I fell in love with my husband Steve and we found our way together.

I've had many lives with many identities over the years, only most recently becoming a motorcycle rider. The baggage I carry within my helmet is that of a poet, writer, author, business woman, mother, abused child, wayward youth, wife, divorcee, grandmother, friend, sober person, and survivor. I'm also an amazing cook, seamstress, painter, decorator, and collector of furs, china, jewelry and antiques. These other versions of who I am wriggle their way into my consciousness daily, forming the landscape of the roads I ride. I unpack them in every new city, wear them as the clothing that drapes across my skin, and memories shine through my eyes with each passing day.

In light of all of this, with the enormity of my experiences, I suppose being a rider is only an aspect of whom I've become.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sunday Riders

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Riding through the Black Hills of South Dakota should be a very enjoyable experience. This city of Deadwood reminded me much of Pigeon Forge, TN in the sense that it was crowded in the tiny city of hills. Unfortunately this made for slow going, just motorcycling in Pigeon Forge last summer, sweltering in the summer sun. While I recalled the stench of exhaust and the heat of my pipes frying my leg as I tried to make my way through the traffic, I was grateful the tourists were all gone now since the Sturgis Rally was over.

My gripe isn't with riding in the slow-goings of this touristy treasure, but leaving Deadwood and expecting a wide-open ride along the sweepers and twisties on our way to Hill City. Because what we found were beautiful roads, incredible, breathtaking landscapes. and the "Sunday Riders".

I'm not referring to Sunday Drivers; drivers of cars. I am referring to motorcycle riders who obviously ride very little and are not confident enough in their riding skills to take what I would consider a moderately challenging road. Now certainly I subscribe to the phrase, "Ride your own ride." I do not begrudge any motorcycle rider for taking a road slowly. One must ride withing their skill level. Taking a road very slow could be an issue of  comfort level, or a even just a choice to enjoy the scenery.

My issue lies with the amount of vehicles they hold up behind them. 5, then 10, then 12 vehicles strolling along at only 40 miles per hour when the posted speed limit is 65. On top of being incredibly selfish for everyone stuck moving at that pace, this can be dangerous. If someone got rear-ended in a blind corner because they were traveling so slow, the rider wouldn't even know the harm they caused.

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We followed these riders nearly the entire 40 miles into our destination of Hill City. Once we hit town other vehicles behind us turned onto side streets to avoid the slow-goings of the center of town. We rolled up to a restaurant which was an historic saloon for lunch and the Sunday Riders parked across the street from us. It was all I could do to not bitch them out.

My only request to you if you're going to ride slow is to PULL OVER in the turnouts and let others get by. We don't all want to go as slowly as you. And the way you can tell you are holding up traffic is if you have a few cars behind you. It never hurts to let them pass and besides, you certainly have the time don't you? After all, you aren't riding like you're in a hurry.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pieces of a Motorcycle Rider

In motorcycling, the parts you can see are really meaningless compared to the parts that make one who they truly are.  And perhaps the same can be said in life, of every living being. 

Today I feel as disjointed as I've ever felt. The only thing I know, right now, is that motorcycling can put together the broken pieces I become at times. I'm looking forward to leaving in a couple of days to eat up some miles, follow the lines, and find what is real in the landscape and within my heart and helmet. 

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I am grateful for this life, just feeling a bit lost. . . 

God help the woman who does not love her sisters, for she will know great loneliness. 

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Road To Sturgis

Sturgis 2014 is in the bag and frankly, I'm just plain tired. I'm certain I'm not the only one. Now that I'm winding down and getting down to some work, I find it a struggle to keep my heavy eyelids open.

On my way to Sturgis I picked up a nail in my tire on I90 riding from Mitchell, SD after the Klock Werks Pre-Sturgis Party. Steve and I had opted to ride from Mitchell with Kevin Bean're the morning after the party, having Steve leading the ride. Kevin followed me and we both goofed around a bit along the way. I passed the time taking in the scenery, shooting photos of packs of riders heading to the Rally, and making a few dirty gestures with Kevin, both of us laughing most of the way. Steve is a pretty focused and serious rider, so it was fun to have another joker to goof off with.

But things became serious quickly when my bike started to wobble.

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About 10 minutes after fueling up my entire ride began to feel loose. I let off the throttle and gestured to Kevin that my ride was funky. He pointed to the side of the road and we made our way over, with Kevin escorting me.

Since Steve was leading, he didn't notice until we had moved into the right lane. My entire ride became unresponsive and unpredictable and I feared pushing too hard into the shoulder, opting to ease it as gently as possible.

In the mirror, I saw the large, orange semi heading towards me, so I leaned my fully-loaded V Star over as quickly and gently as I could without losing control.

Once I was on the shoulder I was grateful the scare was over, but the disappointment settled in. Kevin stayed with me until Steve could turn around and come back. We sent him on his way, as calls came in from The Sturgis Buffalo Chip from folks waiting on him to arrive. With a call to AAA, a tow truck came 2 1/2 hours later. Steve loaded my bike on the truck and I sent him ahead to check into our cabin at the Sturgis RV Park.

I arrived at Rosco's Motorcycle & ATV in Rapid City about an hour later. Now nearly 4 hours behind schedule I was grumpy, tired and hungry. The guys at Rosco's not only fixed my tire in a flash, they tightened my clutch lever and front brake, lubed up a number of items, tightened some loose nuts, and lubed my sticky back brake lever and kickstand.

The owner/mechanic Ross gave my bike a complete once over, making certain I was safe for my remaining journey, all at no extra charge, even staying 45 minutes after closing to take care of me.

I really appreciated the kind service and exceptional generosity.

This all resulted into me riding from Rapid City and arriving to Sturgis on my own. There was something magical about the moment, riding my own motorcycle, overcoming adversities, and reaching the Rally of the Pilgrims at the Motorcycle Mecca on my own two wheels.

The Rally was unsettling, amazing, boisterous, exciting, dramatic and exhausting. I'm glad I attended for many, many reason. For now, I'm glad it's over. It became overwhelming as time wore on. The quiet of our hotel in Spearfish is refreshing and peaceful.

Now I know why they only have it once a year.


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Monday, August 4, 2014

Indian Scout at Sturgis

I've been holding my breath for the Indian Scout reveal. I've also been holding my tongue, which I found was really difficult to do. Not because I was invited to the reveal and I knew for two weeks that Indian Motorcycles was revealing a Scout, but because of the other bit of news I have about the Indian Scout.

I will be riding the Indian Scout at the Biker Belles Ride in Sturgis tomorrow. Women Riders Now has been gracious enough to ask me to ride the 2014 Scout and provide feedback for a review. If you're interested on my thoughts on riding it, I'll post the link to my article on WRN as soon as it is up and you can read it there. I'm so thrilled to be asked and I can't wait to have it under me.

Biker Belles participants will be riding from The Lodge at Deadwood as they take to the road on their sixth annual ride, Tuesday and ending at The Legendary Buffalo Chip. The signature Buffalo Chip event was created to raise funds for South Dakota charities, and it does so by bringing together women, their families and friends to celebrate the role women play in shaping the culture, sport, art and history of motorcycling. The ride will lead it's participants to a special catered reception, fashion show, auction and live music by Iron Cowgirl Missy throughout the reception.

These last few weeks have been an amazing series of opportunities and adventures for my career and my life. I'm holding on to the handlebars and soaking it all in right now, realizing my life is at a turning point. I'd like to think there's a purpose in all of this and an opportunity for me to help others achieve the goals in their lives. This morning as I watch another South Dakota sunrise over the small city of Sturgis, bloated with bikers, campers, and tents, I can't wait to see what happens next!

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The 2015 Indian Scout

Another fortuitous meeting! Genevieve from Women Riders Now, Joan from Steel Horse Sisterhood, me, LeAnn, Ang from Ride-Stop-N-Go and Wendy, all in The Lady Road Dog's Made in America Store on Main Street, Sturgis

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sturgis Rally 2014

I've been at Sturgis just 2 nights and it lives up to it's billing. With so much happening I find waking up this morning exhausting.

In this emotional hangover I can see why this rally began here. The sloping, green hills and cool, fresh mornings set a rider up for a day of possibilities. I can imagine our forefathers camping in tents or sleeping on the ground under makeshift shelters, stretching tired, aching bones from hours of hardtail travel. At the height of the day's heat, one finds it hard to remember how beautifully cool the morning breaks, nor how ear-bustingly loud the night ended amid engine roars and drunken howls. The scope of the day seems to exceed the length of a human's spirit in temperatures and emotions.

Everything goes. It seems nothing is forbidden here except screwing with another's bike.

"Thou shalt not touch another's motorcycle."

The commandment that lives within us the moment we swing a leg upon our ride. No on need teach us this, nor even speak it. Perhaps we know this motorcycle-respect deeper in our souls than we do any other human kindness we really should know. As I watch the beaten zombies wander to the campground restrooms at dawn, I'm reminded that many of us treat our motorcycles better than we do ourselves, and sadly, one another.

Climbing the length of my arm en mass are wristbands, the magic passage to events here and there. With a sunburned nose and shoulders, dry mouth and sour stomach, I'm facing the dawn with the painful realization of my behavior yesterday. Realizing I need to pace myself since I'm here for the entirety of the event, I make a pledge to myself.

Today I'll take it slower, eat better, wear sunscreen and drink more water. Hell, I might even wear my helmet when I ride from campground to campground!

After all, this is Sturgis, and any crazy thing may happen here. Even commonsense.

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Riding into Sturgis with Kevin Bean're, the Legendary Buffalo Chip's Mayor of Fun

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At the Lady Road Dog Made In America shop with the Steel Horse Sisterhood ladies Leanne and Joan, along with my cabinmate Stephanie

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Found my card in Kat's "backpocket" at Bikini Beach an hour after we met

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One happy guy at Bikini Beach

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Beautiful tattoos at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip

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Jersey Steve, Kat and Kevin Bean're judge the Rope Swing contest at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip's Bikini Beach

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Karlee Cobb tries on Bean're's hair for a bit

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Mike Wolfe and I at the Indian Reveal

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The Wall of Death performers at the Indian Scout Reveal

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The 2014 Indian Scout 

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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...)