Monday, May 25, 2015

Icon Raiden DKR Womens Jacket Review

Visiting the Icon offices in Portland sporting my new Raiden DKR
Riding over 1,000 miles in a month in the Icon Raiden DKR Jacket, especially designed for women, has been a pleasure. I had been wearing leather for the time I've been riding, except for a lightweight, textile, summer jacket that certainly isn't practical for touring. Leather has it's benefits, but in this case, it doesn't begin to compare with the benefits of the Raiden DKR.

I picked up this jacket in Portland, OR. When I first tried it on, it seemed really long and oddly sized for me, but once I zipped it completely and the magnetic flaps slapped shut on their own over the zipper, I realized it fits perfectly. The sleeves are a bit long for me, but keep in mind I'm rather short with short arms, so it should fit an average sized woman beautifully. One or two rolls of the sleeve and a set of gloves and the sleeves are just fine. I actually realized in the rain that once I put my gloves on and unroll the sleeves once, my arms are completely insulated from the cold and wet. What a fantastic surprise! After leather jackets that leaked, soaked up rain, and had gaps here and there, this was such a relief.

Sunny day on the road with all of my vents open, cool and comfy
Right after we visited Portland, we headed to Seattle, WA for a few days. Rain and cold followed for the next few cities, Kennewick in the Tri-Cities area of Washington, into Boise, ID for a week, into Pocatello, ID for two nights, and finally over the Grand Tetons through a snowy pass into Jackson Hole, WY. Exactly 1,044 miles later and I've had a marvelous experience with the Raiden DKR.

I wore the jacket with the vents open while riding in Seattle traffic on a warm afternoon, with temps rising into the low 80's F, and found I was quite comfortable. To the other extreme, riding over the Grand Tetons we passed snow on the roadside with temperatures dropping to 42 degrees F. That day I opted to wear a thin, long-sleeved Columbia Women's OUTERSPACED™ Half Zip top along with leggings underneath my riding pants (by another maker) and my new jacket. I inserted the quilted liners in both my pants and jacket and made certain to close all of my vents for the ride.

Riding into a storm in Idaho, but staying completely dry inside my cocoon! 
I was so surprised when we arrived in Jackson Hole and I asked my husband Steve how it could be so warm on the summit and still have snow.

"It was 42 degrees. . . " he replied.

"What? I was so warm! Wow!"

Seriously, the jacket kept me so cozy, warm and dry through all of these conditions. I'm ready to tackle 10,000 miles wearing this, as I see it as meeting all of my needs.

The Raiden DKR has the following features:

FIT: Raiden Relaxed Fit
MATERIAL: Honeycomb Ripstop Chassis with Laminated HycorTM Membrane
PROTECTORS: D3O® Impact Protectors - Shoulders, Elbows, Back
LINER: Insulated Thermolite PlusTM Full Liner - Removable
DETAILS: 2 Chest Vents, 2 Pit Vents, 1 Exhaust Vent, Sublimated Chassis, Get Blocktm Waterproof Chest Pocket Zipper, YKK® Waterproof Zippers, Double Storm Flap with Rare Earth Magnet Closure, Waterbladder Hose Routing, 3M® Reflective Accents, Rear Storage, Ballistic Nylon Paneling, Three Position Elbow Protector Pockets, Fully Taped Seams

(This information provided by the manufacturer's website.)

Beyond comfort, I'm really pleased with the pockets and their placement. I'm really an organized person so I like to have everything I need accessible and in the same place every time. I have a place for everything I need on the road; my credit cards for gas stops, my camera for in-the-saddle shots, my lip balm (OK, who am I kidding? My lipstick!) and my keys when I'm stopped. I utilize the inner pocket for my MP3 player with the holes to thread my speaker cord too.

My hubs Steve and I stopped at the Snake River at the base of the Grand Tetons
Lastly, I love the peace of mind I receive wearing armor. I've been rather cavalier about protection in the past, but after thinking about it long and hard, I realize I travel quite a few miles, thus increasing my chances of an accident. Recently I had lunch with my friend Brittany Morrow, who has dedicated her life to encouraging ATTGATT for all riders. After a tragic accident which scarred her severely and involved unbelievable pain, she started Rock The Gear and now works for Icon as a Brand Manager.

"I really care about you as a friend, and I know what could happen. Even if you don't wear Icon, wear gear that protects you! Please Sash!"

She really woke me up to the possibilities. I thought about my new grandson and how much I wanted to be in his life for a good, long time. So armored gear was all I could think about. Then my zipper broke on my leather jacket, almost like a sign to change up my gear. Since Brittany had made such an impact, I reached out to her for a place to score my next jacket and now, I couldn't be happier that I did.

My only complaint about the Raiden DKR is the way I look in it. While riding it fills up with excess air, even with the vents closed and I look really puffy. Now this is a matter of aesthetics, but as a woman, it's a hard adjustment for me to look seriously unattractive. The truth is, at 4'11 inches tall and a size 16, I'm puffy enough naked, so add a few layers of clothing and an armored jacket that fills up with air, and I look like a blue and gray marshmallow going down the road.

It's a small concession for protection, warmth and a dry ride that I'm willing to make. I'm sure this jacket would look far more attractive on a taller, thinner woman.

In Blackfoot, ID so pleased with the cozy ride!
Lastly, since I'm touring around the country on my motorcycle, I find it somewhat inconvenient that this jacket isn't really something I would wear at any time other than riding. When I rode in a leather jacket, I would wear it out at night once we arrived at a destination. The Raiden, not so much. But again, it is such a slight inconvenience.

I have to accept that these motorcycle jackets are made for ultimate motorcycling, not fashion statements for women. As I already pointed out, such a small price to pay.

Overall, from a motorcycling standpoint, I love this jacket!

My book Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Give me your feedback on it once you've read it! I look forward to hearing from you.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

When My Heart Stopped

Two nights ago I had the second serious chest pain issue within a month, which seriously kicked my ass, sending me to the local E.R.

When my heart stopped and I died for 2:32 minutes on Christmas Eve, 2008, it was a monumental turning point in my life. Although it took quite a bit of time for me to make visible changes to the way I was living, it was nevertheless the point at which I decided to leave my then-husband and start living a fulfilling life.

I spent nearly a year doing everything I was told to do by my doctors, one of which was an impatient and frustrated cardiologist. He had done every test on me that he could possibly bill to my insurance, including an echocardiogram, stress tests and an angiogram. I was diagnosed with a heart murmur and atrial fibrillation.

Over the years I've not seen another cardiologist because of my miserable experience with him. This doctor admitted me to the hospital on Christmas Eve to have me wait until December 26 for my angiogram, which is how I happened to be revived so quickly when my heart stopped. Since then I've had to visit an emergency room from time to time with chest pain, but I've avoided seeing a cardiologist again.

I didn't want to stop traveling, so I convinced myself to believe nothing was wrong with me.

Over the past few years, I had been discounting these episodes as "nothing serious" because I've not had a heart attack. Each time I visit the hospital the doctors explain it isn't a heart attack and send me home. I've completely dismissed their instructions to follow up with a cardiologist, until last night.

Dr. Corson looks stunningly like Bradley Cooper, but with huge, green eyes that matched his olive scrubs. He's an intense man, and as he stood over me as I lay in the hospital bed, he kindly explained with precision the dynamics of emergency room treatment. Over the 8 hour visit other nurses and staff bustled about, meeting my needs and asking pointed questions about how I was feeling. At the end of my ordeal Dr. Bradley Cooper returned to tell me I had not had a heart attack, but there were other symptoms they recorded that needed to be addressed by a cardiologist.

Dr. Bradley Cooper, with his green-eyed severity, seemed to wake me up in a very real way.

After a few phone calls and some records shared, I managed to schedule a cardiologist appointment in San Diego on June 29th.

My summer on the road will take a pause until I get released to freely ride again. I hope to get back on the road by the end of July and head to Sturgis, but I don't know yet. I'm not making any plans other than to stay in San Diego under my doctor's care until I know it's safe to go. My only plan is to leave Boise tomorrow for Pocatello, ID for a night or two, then onto Jackson, WY for a couple of nights. After that we are heading to Dever, CO via I 80, then dropping down through Fort Collins.

I don't know what date we are leaving Denver, or a route from Denver to San Diego yet. We still have plenty of time to think about it. That's all I know about any plans.

I also know that I am heartbroken in more ways than one.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Building A Strong Women Riders Community

I've found joining the women's motorcycling community to be quite difficult at times. Even though I hope to make a positive impact on everyone I meet, I know I can't please everyone. I am finding that I, and many other women, are being ridiculed and insulted, find exclusivity, and outright "Mean Girl Syndrome" when we want to be included.

Over the years I've found women to be far more sensitive to my gregarious and aggressive nature. Perhaps this is because I'm opinionated, stubborn and usually quite vocal about my beliefs and that really pisses some women off. I've stopped apologizing for being bold and started accepting the consequences of my behavior.

My honesty and forthrightness have brought some of the most wonderful women into my life, especially over the last 5 years. I feel more comfortable in my skin than I ever have. But I am learning there is always a balance. With praise also comes criticism and like most people, it can be sometimes the criticism on which I focus.

Within the women's motorcycling community there seems to be a deep sense of territory. Perhaps some of the women who have carved their niche aren't willing to share the spotlight, simply because they've worked so hard to get there. Perhaps they didn't want to carve a path for others to follow, but to simply create their own private, exclusive niche.

Certainly this doesn't apply to all of the women of motorcycling notoriety I've met. Genevieve Schmitt, Alicia Elfving, Lisa Brouwer, Brittany Morrow and Laura Klock have gone out of their way to help me on my journey as a motorcycling publisher.

I've been told I need to pay my dues, earn my place, and to wait, step back, and learn more about the industry before I try to be included. That advice has been noted, but rejected. I've been in publishing for over 10 years, had hundreds of articles published in print and online, and even though I don't know all the players in this industry, I know about publishing. How can I learn if I am not attending events, meeting people and asking questions?

In my opinion, it seems the only requirements for inclusion into this community is to:

1. Ride a motorcycle, either on front or back
2. Have a desire to meet other women riders

I'm on a mission to take personal responsibility for my behavior. If I am knowingly harming anyone, I pledge to make changes. That is not something new with me, as I've been living my life this way since I got off of drugs in 1993. I believe that my experiences in life begin with me; my attitudes, my behaviors, my choices. I am not a victim, even though at times I've felt like one. I'm doing my best to move out of self pity and into action.

So, I reached out to a few women riders whom I greatly respect to get their views on this topic. It is my hope to get to the sources that cause this friction among the women riders and find solutions for change.

Madhavi Priya Davila
Age 39
Makeup Artist, Key Holder at MAC Cosmetics
2003 Honda Shadow 750

Priscilla Griffith
Age 60
Owner of ProGuards Crash Bar Protectors
2008 Harley Davidson Peace Officers Ultra

Annette Presley, LCSW
Age 59
2007 Yamaha V Star 1100

Genevieve Schmitt
Age 51
Founder/Editor of; Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame Inductee 2001
2008 Harley-Davidson Street Glide

1. What do you see as the problem with building a strong and cohesive women riding community, if any?

Madhavi: I notice that women can sometimes be competitive with other women. This in turn leads to insecurities, jealousy etc. I've seen women purposely exclude other women they felt "threatened" by from group rides, moto events etc. A lot of times it seems certain women (the insecure ones) like to be the center of attention at meet ups, rides etc...especially if there are men on the rides. They don't want competition so to speak. It's stupid and I've never been able to grasp that way of thinking. On the other hand I've met a lot of cool biker chicks who are encouraging and love to ride with other women etc. I hang out with those ones!

Priscilla: I think we (women as a rule) are our own worst enemies. We tend to cut each other down more than give support. In the riding community there is mostly type A personalities.

Genevieve: The number of women riding motorcycles has skyrocketed over the last decade. There are millions of women riding their own motorcycles. The evolution of this is similar to the growth in women climbing corporate ladders and breaking through glass ceilings. Insofar as women identify a need to create a community around a shared passion to network, and exchange ideas, those groups will arise.

Annette: Women have generally been socialized to control, sublimate their natural competitive spirit. As a result women do not learn to express competition in a healthy way. We are raised to see other women as competition. Who is really a blonde, has bigger boobs, nicer butt, dates the football star, has the nicer house, the best behaved kids? Seeing other women as competition and threats is socialized in to us in very innocuous ways.

Media promotes comparisons to each other. Jealousy and envy are also natural emotions that occur when we want something or want to be like someone. This competition affects every female relationship we have. Our strength will come in our confidence in ourselves. Our power will come in our support and encouragement for each other in spite of our differences. I have seen Facebook attacks on someone who says they ride slower, faster, someone who doesn't wear a helmet, someone who has more followers on their Facebook page, someone who doesn't ride many miles, rides the wrong motorcycle. We are our worst enemies.

The female archetype of the "wild woman" is what I imagine when I see a woman rider. She is someone not bound by the rules that keep women subjugated. She is a threat to subjugated women, and the men who want to keep us controlled. How sad it is that we play a role in attacking each other in that same way.

2. How have you been impacted by the negativity of other women berating you, not just in the riding community, but in your lifetime?

Genevieve: Anytime you put yourself out there as a journalist, you subject yourself to the opinions of others. I try not to let those opinions affect me. There will always be caddy, insecure people who will do their best to knock others down. With Facebook and email it's easy for angry insecure people to fire off a note without checking their emotions first. I've found in my personal and professional life, if you are always kind and deal with people with the utmost of integrity, then it's easy to identify the insecurities in others and let what they say roll off your back. I choose to come from love and end up praying for these kind of people that they can find their way out of the darkness.

Madhavi: I've experienced being pushed away by some women because of their issues etc. I try to avoid negative people like that altogether but some women are always gonna be haters.

Annette: I was raised by a single parent. She was always waiting for that man to come riding in on his white horse to rescue us. Needless to say, it never happened. There were many boyfriends that came and went as I was growing up, but no one who ever stayed. Both of my parents were alcoholic and I had no safe place. I knew I was different than most kids. I knew their families were different than mine. I tried very hard to present a "normal" appearance, but the "mean girls" we're quick to let me know when I failed. I tried diligently to win their approval, but I never did.

Women could not be trusted. I had to purpose in my own therapy to develop female relationships.

Recently, I have found some women in the Motorcycle Community to critical to different opinions. I have supported a couple of women who were attacked by others, and got very harsh messages about this. There were judgments and name calling. I left many women's motorcycle pages as a result. I only belong to pages where I see support in our differences as well as our likenesses, and encouragement for transparency.

Priscilla: I’ll have to say, I haven't had many issues with negativity. If I have I didn't realize it. I began riding with guys. They were wonderful. Once I began to go to women forums (Women Who Ride, Rumble Sisters) I began to see some of negativity.

I think it's easy for people to post a message online that the would never say in person. I have seen so many "shit storms" started that way. When I see this happening I just distance myself from those posts. Often, I will write a comment, but erase it without posting. After re-reading it, I realize it could be misconstrued. I would rather my thought go unsaid than to be misunderstood and cause harm.

3. Give me one way we could all incorporate into our lives that would build a stronger relationship with other women.

Priscilla: I think we can build better relationships by being a friend we would want to be. Less judgmental and more caring. But sometimes there are some people that you can't please or change their mind. And that’s OK.

Annette: We must get to know each other. We have to move beyond "how many miles have you ridden?", "how long have you been on the road?". These are good places to start, but then we need to go deeper. Most of us started riding because we weren't like everyone else, we have stories. We need to listen to each other's stories of failure and success and relish in the strengths embodied in women. If we don't understand, then we need to ask to understand, not to get ammunition to judge or change them. We must purpose to know each other, really know each other.

Genevieve: People we react from one of two places, love or fear. Not both. There is a lot of gray area in between, but basically, we're acting and reacting from one of those places. Fear is all about negativity, darkness. Love is positive and full of light. If we all come from love and humility, putting others' needs before ourselves, there'd be no ill will towards others in this world.

Madhavi: I work in a predominantly female environment. The beauty industry. So I lose patience sometimes when women take out their frustrations and insecurities on myself or my co-workers. I try to make a conscious effort of being more patient and helping them see their inner and outer beauty in themselves and to always remember I may not know what difficulties in life they are going through that day.

4. What are your final thoughts on this issue?

Genevieve: I'm excited about the record number of women riding motorcycles today. There are hundreds of women motorcycling groups thriving all over the US—and the world!—proving that when a woman humbles herself to another, putting another's needs before her own, good things can happen.

Madhavi: Motoladies need to unite and stick together! We gotta have each other's backs, always!

Annette: There are inexpiable things I get from my relationships with women that I will never get in a relationship with a male. My women friends "get me". They "get me" because they also have a story. They can support me because they know where I come from in a way that only a female can know. I will not ever give up seeking out female relationships. Women bikers are a unique minority. We have so much to give.

Let's meet on common ground and quit judging the differences.

Priscilla: I think first and foremost we are riders. It doesn't matter if your male, female, black, white, purple, ride cruiser, sportbike or three wheeler. We all ride for different reasons. Some ride to be with a spouse that rides, others ride to get away from our everyday life and all of us ride because it's fun.

We ride. That's the common denominator. Let's not over think it. Just enjoy it!

My book Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Give me your feedback on it once you've read it! I look forward to hearing from you.

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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...)