Friday, December 28, 2007

Harley For A Soldier

I saw this film on the Glenn Beck show that is on CNN most evenings. It was about an Iraq Vet named Jake, who was a double amputee, and wanted to ride a motorcycle again. Another double amputee named Bill, who owned a bike shop called Cool City Customs,

volunteered to build a bike with hand controls so that Jake could realize his dream and ride again. I am not one to go for heartwarming stories or feel-good pieces. This story really touched me and I wanted to write about it. Instead, I found this YouTube video of the exact show I saw. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

International Female Ride Day 2008

Women riders are finally being recognized as a significant part of the motorcycling world. Female riders have become the fastest growing market in the motorcycling industry. In 2007, organized by Motoress in Canada, a National Female Ride Day was born. When word went out that the event was going to happen, women across Canada and the US started contacting each other to arrange to ride together on May 4, 2007. They made history. Slated for the first Friday in May each year, plans are to continue and grow the event.

The organizer of the campaign, Vicki Gray is a former European female motorcycle racer, instructor and coach whose been riding since 1983.

The aim of the campaign is to raise female rider awareness, promote those who already ride, while simultaneously encouraging other females to take up the activity," says Vicki Gray, campaign organizer. "The 'day' places a spotlight on female riders," she adds.

She asks women to get on their bikes and "JUST RIDE". No matter what style of motorcycle – sport, cruiser, scooter, dual purpose, street, off-road or dirt – National Female Ride Day aims to highlight the many numbers of females currently active in motorcycling and heighten awareness of female riders, inspiring those who have not yet taken it up.

Next year it will officially become an International Event which will take place on Friday, May 2, 2008. We women who ride should make sure that on that day, no matter what the weather, we should band together and be out on the roads. That is the only way younger women and others who have never considered riding will see how fun and appealing it is, and they may discover they have a passion for riding too. I was inspired by following a female on a motorcycle one day coming home from work. She handled the bike so smoothly up our curvy roads and I was pretty impressed. A couple of months later I signed up for the MSF beginners’ course.

The event will become larger each year, and is supported by nearly all of the major motorcycle manufacturers. Local small groups may organize, as they did in 2007, as well as more established women’s riding clubs. I wonder if there will be motorcycle parades anywhere that day………

Here is a nice YouTube video showing some of the ladies who rode in the First National Female Ride Day 2007.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Weather Station

I have always loved weather - I mean observing it, paying attention to it and to the way weather interacts and affects everything. As a motorcyclist, I am very attentive to the weather at all times. When I am inside at work all day, I am looking out at the weather wondering if it is going to be suitable for riding.

I have put a new feature on my sidebar that is a nice weather station that I noticed on KT DID's blog. You can do a search for your city if you live in the US or Canada. There are many others to chose from at The Weather Network. Mine shows the weather in Seattle, WA which is taken at SeaTac Airport. I live 40 miles or so north, so my weather is sometimes different than Seattle. Usually colder and more snow/rain than Seattle. But it's close enough. I like that I can see the full forecast.

I am hoping that there are others out there who love the weather as I do. I check it frequently and look at the sky often. If you're like me, and like to see what the weather is like in other places, then enjoy. Who knows - there may be a window of opportunity to ride!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Still Riding in December

As a motorcycle rider living in the Northwest, I try to keep my rides in working order all year around. The last few weeks Mother Nature has been throwing some weather challenges at us and winter has just begun.

First, we’ve had lots of rain, more than usual for the Seattle region. This makes riding a little less attractive on those days. Second, it has been cold. I mean COLD. The temps have only dipped into the 20’s at night, but the days have been barely reaching 40 degrees if we are lucky. No matter how I try to bundle up, I always get down the road and have qualms whether I should continue or go back home to get the forgotten item that would make my ride more comfortable. Third, we’ve had a few snow showers that were unexpected, with many more to come. I, for one, don’t ride in the snow. I witnessed a few people around downtown Seattle last week who ride through rain, snow, sleet, etc.

I was able to get out and ride my Vulcan on Saturday. The sun was out, and it was cold. As I started out, my chin and neck felt the cold air hitting them. It was almost painful. I had forgotten my neck gaiter. I decided my chin would go numb soon enough, and then I wouldn’t notice it. I continued on.

The roads had been littered with gravel and debris from overflowing streams and water run-off from the floods we had last week. I knew there were a lot of places where I would need to be careful. I decided just to get the bike out and run it around town awhile, to keep everything circulating and the battery charged. I did a large loop around Lynnwood, took a stretch of I-5 and came back home another way. It felt good to be out.

The roads were remarkably clean. I had seen a few street-sweepers near my business park, and apparently they were working all over town to get the debris cleaned up. It was actually great for the motorcyclists, except for the potholes here and there where the road had given way.

I came back home and felt that I hadn’t ridden nearly enough. I worked my older bike, the Suzuki S-40, out of the garage from behind the other bikes. It hadn’t been ridden in a few weeks, so I started it up. She took a few tries, and then I had to let it warm up quite a while. Since I have the Vulcan, I am spoiled with no warm up time or choke to deal with. I finally was able to take off without the darn thing dying. I took a short ride around some hilly areas nearby, enough to get it warmed up and running smoothly. I had a happy Suzuki by the time I got back home.

It is a conscious chore to keep both of my bikes running smoothly over the winter, since I don’t use a trickle charger either. If I get them out at least every two weeks, and more often than that if the weather cooperates, they seem to run great. I usually try to do a Christmas Day ride and a New Year’s Day ride, however short. I’m looking forward to that this year too. Hope Santa brings more warm riding gear……..

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The 2007 Seattle Cycle World International Motorcycle Show

What a wild weekend! The Motorcycle Show started Friday and I had planned to go on Saturday. We intended to leave by 10:30am to get downtown and back, since we were supposed to have our first snow flurries of the year in the afternoon.

My son came over and the 3 of us left. It seemed warm out…..high 40’s maybe. We had a nice ride into Seattle. The show was at Qwest Field Events Center which is part of structure where the Seahawks play football, and adjacent to Safeco Field where the Mariners play baseball. If you ride a motorcycle to the show there is free parking, so lots of people do, otherwise it’s $10.00. This particular day with the forecast of snow, there were still an amazing amount of motorcycles in the lot.

This year seemed a little disappointing to me. In years past, the show had included more local and independent bike builders, and just lots of stuff. The event mainly showcases the 19 major manufacturers of motorcycles, ATVs and watercraft from around the world. The large names in gear and accessories were all there. It is awesome to look across the room and see all the shiny motorcycles, some on pedestals. There were smiles on every face. This year the number of females who were obviously interested in a bike for themselves was just awesome. Everywhere you looked there were females who had caught the bug and were sizing up a bike of their own. Over half of the people sitting on bikes were women, with big grins on their faces. I could imagine they could see themselves whizzing down the road with the wind in their hair.

One of the fun things I did was walk through an RV, my very first! It was quite large, and had an actual fold-down ramp in the rear. The ramp led up to a garage that you could tie down 3 large motorcycles. It was so awesome that I could see myself at least traveling in an RV sometime. There is always a wonderful collection of antique motorcycles and this year was no exception. There also seemed to be a lot of sidecar models and manufacturers. It is fun to look, dream, watch the people and just spend hours absorbed in the world of motorcycles. I was almost overwhelmed by it all.

It was quite a large event, so after walking around for a couple of hours we decided to walk down the block to the Pyramid Brewery for a bite of lunch. As we neared the exit we looked out the window and stopped abruptly.

During the couple of hours we had been inside, it had begun to snow. It was snowing heavily. The flakes were huge, and it was already sticking on the ground. We continued to walk to the Brewery. We had a fine lunch, all the while looking out the window scanning the traffic, amount of snow on the parked cars, etc. By the time we left to walk back to our vehicle the city was a winter wonderland, and a parking lot. I was amazed at a few motorcyclists, still out riding around in the snow. It was kind of slippery.

We slowly made our way back to the freeway and headed north outside of the city towards home. By the time we reached my home, we had 2 inches of snow blanketing everything. It snowed all night and was beautiful. The next day we had torrential rains for 48 hours; actually very uncommon in the Seattle area. With the snowmelt and rains there were life-threatening floods and my particular business park was evacuated yesterday. There are creeks and rivers everywhere that have washed out roads and access for thousands of people. A stretch of I-5 is flooded and closed between Seattle and Portland for several days. No motorcycling for a while here….

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Community Blogger Award

I was recently honored by one of my fellow bloggers, Liz from The award is given to those bloggers who contribute to the community by making it a better place for all to enjoy. Thanks much to Liz, who herself adds immensely to the female biker community and the award is well deserved.

I would like to pass this award along to a few blogs I've been enjoying alot:

Recognition from fellow bloggers is what makes it all worthwhile....

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Coolest Headwear For Bikers

Last year at the Seattle Cycle World International Motorcycle Show there was a guy demonstrating these cool head wraps called a BUFF®. I was enthralled by the unique way these tubes of microfibre fabric could be turned into over 12 different items that were useful for motorcyclists.

The BUFF® was invented in Spain and is still produced there exclusively. There are hundreds of patterns and designs to fit anyone’s taste or interest. The buff also comes in different weights and fabrics so can be useful in any walk of life. I bought the ORIGINAL BUFF® which seems to be useful year around and is lightweight but effective to reduce wind chill while you’re riding in the cold weather.

I had to have the design with the black background, deep red roses, and small skulls interspersed among the roses. It's called Roses&Bones. I love it. I ordered it online at, because my local motorcycle shops had never even heard of the BUFF®. I guess they don’t get out much. So when I received it and opened the package, I thought it was kind of cheesy for the price I paid. I was wrong… I began to play with it and try to change it into the many configurations the package showed I became more enthralled. You can turn it into so many useful items and the more you play with it, the more items you discover.

As the website shows, it can be a neck gaiter, beanie cap, headband, hair scrunchie, mask, neckerchief, balaclava, bandana, scarf, wristband, foulard, saharaine, pirate cap, etc.

This is an amazing help to motorcyclist, horseback riders, and outdoorsmen of any kind.
It’s comfortable, thin enough to fit under your helmet, and folds up small enough to fit into your pocket easily. They can be rinsed in soapy water and air dry in minutes, or it can be machine washed, but not dried. I may have to buy another one as I seem to be wearing this ORIGINAL BUFF® constantly, even around the house!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Ride

I was alone on Thanksgiving Day this year. My better half had gone to Phoenix to visit his family and I had stayed home to prepare to cook my holiday meal for family and friends on Friday.

The sun was out and since I had no commitments, I had planned to take a long ride on my Vulcan. It was below freezing in the morning, so I kept watching the temps and waited until it got somewhere over 40 degrees before I would venture out on my ride.

Something came over me that has happened previously. As I watched the day warm and the frosty white rooftops in the neighborhood started to melt away, a feeling of doom and inner fear began to come over me. I could have easily not ridden that day, but I had looked forward to it. This time of year you have to take advantage of any dry days to get the motorcycles out and keep them running through the winter. I forced myself to go.

I put on my thermal bottoms under my heaviest riding jeans. I wore 2 heavy layers on top as well as my leather jacket with the winter lining in it. I had on my heaviest winter riding gloves, and a neck wrap tucked up over my chin and held there by my helmet strap. It was fine as I headed out.

As soon as I left home the feeling of dread left. I am getting more comfortable all the time with my new motorcycle, but still have to be careful with the handling on tight turns and the weight of the bike if I get it off balance. I headed north towards Lake Stevens off of Highway 9.

Traffic was lighter than usual by mid-day on Thanksgiving. I was comfortably warm for about 45 minutes into the ride. As I neared Lake Stevens I knew there were 3 or 4 turn-offs to get to the actual lake. There is a lovely road that encircles the lake and I thought that would be a beautiful place to ride that day and take pictures. Before I left home I had looked for my camera so I could take some photos of the lake with the snow-covered Cascade Mountains in the background. Apparently the camera had gone to Phoenix for the Holiday. I need a camera phone……..

I decided to take a particular road that turned off the highway and should have taken me somewhere in view of the lake. It didn’t. The road was scenic and headed due east and out into the countryside. I had no idea where I was or where it would take me. All of a sudden a state of panic started setting in. I came up to a stop sign and, not having a clue, I decided to go left. The road I was turning onto had a blind curve going both left and right, and I was taking a left onto a sharp incline up a hill. As I turned, I swung a little too wide and started to run off the road onto the gravel shoulder. I did keep the bike upright, kept going and corrected it back onto the roadway. During the whole thing I am muttering into my helmet, “Oh sh*t, oh sh*t, oh sh*t!” By then I continued on down that road, still not knowing where I was. I finally circled back and reached the highway I had originally been on, but had to take a right turn only which caused me to continue north. I wanted to go home…..

There was another exit a couple minutes up the road, so I turned off, got turned around and headed back home. By this time I was beginning to freeze. The cold had worked through my gloves and the fear and dread were taking the fun out of my ride.

I got home safely after riding about 1-1/2 hours. I think the fear I had was because my husband was out of town, and I was totally and completely on my own. Being out on a motorcycle puts you in a very vulnerable position. There would have been no one to call if I had had a problem. As it was, I was fine. I went home and had a stiff drink to warm up.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Windshield Weekend

My Vulcan windshield came in that I had ordered the day of the motorcycle purchase. It was very large and I was worried that it might be too big for me to see the road clearly.

Not to worry……I assembled the windshield and put it on a few days ago. It has rained here constantly since then so I was waiting for a window of opportunity to ride with the windshield and see if it made a difference in handling, etc.

I was also a little concerned that if I rode on a cold, foggy morning that the windshield would fog up and I would be blind to the road. One of my fans (I think it was my brother) suggested that I use Rain-X glass treatment to help the water bead off and hopefully the fog wouldn’t collect. I bought the ‘wipes’ and treated the windshield inside and out, the mirrors, and all of our other bikes mirrors with one ‘wipe’. It was easy and didn’t hurt the plastic that the windshield is made of. I’m going to try it on my face shield for the same reasons.

The windshield is optically can hardly tell it's there!

I took the bike out for a ride after its treatment, and ‘dude’! I really love this motorcycle. The windshield is great, with no distortion. At 5'3" I am looking through the area about 8" from the top of the shield. It was overcast and around 40 degrees. I didn’t dress warm enough and wore my favorite leather gloves. The ride was awesome, but my hands got so cold I decided to head back home because it was getting painful. I never learn that I need to overdress on the bike, just to be comfortable. It was a wonderful ride anyway, and there should be a couple of dry days this week when I plan to ride to work.

My ride looks pretty good with its new windshield……

Thursday, November 15, 2007

There's a new blog in town

I'm having so much fun with this motorcycle blog that I have decided to start up another one. This time it is about recipes.

Over the years my mother has sent me many of the recipes she used to make for us growing up. She knew what my favorites were, so wanted me to be able to cook them too. When I first got married(#1) she wrote down some recipes. I didn't know how to cook at the time, so they were the very simplest dishes.

Since that time I have lived in Nevada, Tennessee, Georgia, Washington, and California. Along the way I have collected so many good recipes that I enjoy making and eating. When I make certain dishes they remind me of where I was when I first had them. Food takes you back to the good memories, or bad, that you associate with eating the dish and who you were with.

So I have decided to write some of the recipes down so that others may enjoy them. Most are very simple, with common ingredients. All are tasty dishes that others will find delectable.

Check out the new blog: Biker Chickz Recipes . I will be adding recipes often. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Vulcan wish list

Since I bought the stock ’07 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic, I want to make it my own. I like the clean look of the bike without any accessories, but for practical reasons I need to get a few things. With the bike purchase I also ordered the Kawasaki windshield. It came in, and I picked it up last weekend. I am a little nervous that it will be too tall, since I am only 5’3”. I want it for wind resistance, but don’t want it to be so tall that if it rains I can’t see the road. I am putting it on tonight, so we’ll see. I also have an engine guard (crash bars) on order, but it is back-ordered from Kawasaki so could be a while before I see them.

I am toying with the idea of no saddlebags. I like them because it gives you something to carry things in, which otherwise have to go in a backpack for now. What I don’t like is the width they give to the bike, and the fact that you can’t really lock them. I definitely don’t like the look of hard locking side bags either. It’s all about the look…..

What I do like is the look of a tall sissy bar. Not the kind with a pad (standard Kawasaki) but a tall ‘easy rider’ kind of sissy bar. Maybe 18’’ tall or so would look OK. I haven’t found any online but will continue to look for a custom one that will fit my bike. Kawasaki also makes bungee hooks that go on the rear fender side chrome, but you can’t use them if you add a sissy bar. So they make you chose one or the other. It sounds like some creative thinking is in order.
My other option is the standard sissy bar (with pad) with the luggage rack behind. I just can’t imagine the rack being large enough to actually hold anything of size. I saw a picture of a bike with a round cylinder pack right behind the rider. It looked to be PVC and seemed you could fit a weekend’s worth of clothing in it. I looked online and came up with an even better idea on I love it. I think that is exactly what I need. It even has a built in backrest for the rider! This one is the large size. I'm thinking about the medium.

The options are endless, but I like the clean look of my bike as it is. I do not like carrying a backpack everywhere I go, and it won’t hold everything I would need on even a short trip. I really dislike a cluttered motorcycle and accessories are expensive. I plan to take it slow, see what is available and will meet my needs. By next season my ride should be ‘sweet’!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How to pick up a dropped motorcycle

As happens to most riders at one time or another in their riding career, a bike gets dropped. It can be from inexperience, unexpected circumstances, going too slow in a tight turn, forgetting to lower the kickstand, gravel, etc. Even seasoned riders sometimes drop their bikes.

When a woman drops their motorcycle it is a greater challenge to right the bike, mostly because of the weight involved. If you can find anyone around to help you, don’t hesitate to ask. Just because you follow the methods described below and are ‘able’ to right the bike, first ask if anyone can help. If that isn’t feasible, try it yourself.

This You-Tube video is also a great example of what to do if your bike falls:

I have found several places on the internet that describe with pictures the safest and easiest method for a woman to use to lift up her bike. I seem to always refer to V-Twin Mama when I need advice. These are some of her links: A lady from Georgia named 'skert' who has a great instructional page on lifting your bike. She makes it look so easy in her mini-skirt and boots. She's on another BMW site with more valuable instructions. The Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center also has an excellent site with photos about lifting your bike safely.

I haven’t actually tried these methods myself so I can’t verify that they work. When I partially dropped my new Vulcan a couple of weeks ago, I remembered seeing these pictures and tried to do what they describe. I didn’t have the details I needed to be successful. Next time I will know what to do. It seems that all the advisers agree that a woman CAN lift a bike by herself if need be.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

On the road again

Our Northwest weather has been cooperating lately, and the roads have been mostly dry and perfect for riding my new motorcycle.

Last week I rode my Suzuki S-40 down to Seattle where I purchased it. I left it off for its 4000 mile service and oil change. After all the trouble I had with it dying at a stop, even after being warm, the guys found nothing out of the ordinary. Spark plug looked good, as did everything else. So then I rode it back home Tuesday evening from Seattle to my home about 20 miles north. It was a chilly 40 degrees and the sun was going down as I rode. I had bundled up knowing that it was necessary lately to ride any distance. By the time I was about 2/3 home, I started getting chilled through. My mind was thinking about a fresh, warm fire in our woodstove at home. And a hot meal…..I hadn’t eaten dinner yet. That kept me going until I got the bike home. By then it was dark and I immediately went in and started a fire.

I rode the new Vulcan last weekend and put a couple hundred miles on it. I am becoming much more familiar and comfortable with the bike. My only hesitation is when I am entering or leaving a parking lot. I still have trouble rolling the bike back if there is any hump or slight imperfection in the surface I’m parked on. I started wearing my Harley boots ( I know, I don’t ride a Harley) because they have a higher raised heel and I have a little more leverage to push off with.

So far I have ridden the Vulcan to work as much as possible. Our mornings have been slightly above freezing, so I have come home at lunch time and ridden the bike back to work because it was sunny and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. This time of year some days are just too cold and you want to be warm for the ride to work, as well as stop for my double tall non-fat latte on the way. I can’t do that when I am riding.

I love my new bike, but here are a couple of things I’ve noticed that are weird:

  • The speedometer reads about 5 to 6 mph faster than I am really going. When I am pegging the bike at 60, I am really only going about 54 mph. This sucks, because I have to calculate in my head while I am riding and I don’t like to do that. I sure don’t want to be going slower than the speed limit!

  • Almost all the chrome parts on the bike are plastic. You wouldn’t know by just looking, because they are done very well. But they’re PLASTIC.

  • When you fill the tank with gas, the gas gauge needle doesn’t go all the way to Full. That makes it kind of useless. It is only a ‘suggestion’ of how much fuel you have. And by the way, the Vulcan 900 Classic takes Premium gas. Pretty expensive these days…..

These are the things I love:

  • The floorboards. My feet are sitting on them and my legs are in the most comfortable position I feel like I could cruise forever and not be tired.

  • The heel-toe shifter. I was a little hesitant but I absolutely love it. Shifting up with your heel is a very satisfying feeling……I don’t know why.

  • I love the color and the look of my Vulcan. The sound makes me very happy too. I love to hear the low rumble that gets louder as I accelerate. It’s cool.

  • The smooth handling and shifting make the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic a pleasure to ride.

Friday, October 26, 2007

In Memory of Jasper 1992-2007

This week was bittersweet. In all the excitement of getting a new motorcycle, we had to put down our dear 15 year old cat, Jasper. It’s been a tough week.

Jasper was a friend to everyone he met, even other animals. He was happy go lucky, loved to hunt and must have scaled down literally hundreds of the rat/mouse/squirrel population in his lifetime. They were all rodents to him.

I once sat Jasper on my Suzuki seat, and he seemed to enjoy it. I wish I had taken a picture…..

We got Jasper from a lady in Berryessa, CA by answering an ad in the paper. The lady frequently rescued cats from the dumpster behind her local Safeway. She fed and box trained them, then one by one gave them to good homes. We were blessed to have found Jasper, as he had the best personality of any cat I’ve ever had. He was about 6 months old at the time. My husband was the first human he came to after we got him home. It was an immediate bond which only got stronger between them.

We moved Jasper to the Seattle area in 1993 when our work transferred us here. Once in the winter of 1996 he disappeared for 21 days during our worst winter snowstorm yet. We will never know, but we think he was trapped somewhere. After two weeks we were so distraught, we went to a shelter and adopted our cat ‘Sam’ who was living in a cage. Less than a week later, Jasper appeared. He was skinny, had a scabby nose, and was very hungry and thirsty. He never left for more than a day or two again.

Jasper will be missed greatly, as he was always on Dave if he was sitting down. If Dave was working at the computer, Jasper was always resting across the area between his lap and the keyboard. Anywhere we went in the house, Jasper would follow. He gave us an enormous amount of love, and we returned it.

So life won’t be the same without our best friend Jasper. He’ll be greatly missed by all whose lives he touched.

First few days with the new Vulcan 900 Classic

Tuesday I brought the new motorcycle home. We bought it at a dealership that was about 40 miles south of our home. Since it was such a large bike I was a little hesitant to ride it home in traffic for the first time. My husband decided to ride it home, taking any roads except the freeway. For the first 500 miles we have to take it easy and a long stretch of freeway riding was frowned upon by the dealer. It took Dave 2 hours to get it home, and by then I was sitting on my front porch along with the cats – waiting……..

He loved the ride but said his hand hurt from the stiff clutch in lots of stop-and-go traffic. So as soon as he arrived I hopped on the Vulcan for the first time. I was more comfortable riding around my neighborhood at first, where I knew the roads. I took off and rode around for about 30 minutes, stopping, shifting, turning etc. It handled great and I love the floorboards which allow a very comfortable riding position. The shifting was easy and smooth.

Yesterday I decided to ride the new bike to work and show it off. It was dark when I left home and pretty cold out (40 degrees). I rode down to the end of my street and at the stop sign promptly tipped it over. It landed propped up by the left floorboard so there was no damage. I couldn’t get it upright no matter what I tried. Cars were passing by and no one stopped to help. Finally a neighbor came down the street, stopped and helped me lift it upright again. I realized then that I am very vulnerable on this bike, and must plan every move ahead of time. I think I had been in neutral when trying to take off from the stop, instead of first gear. I turned, gunned the engine, and nothing happened except it tipped over. Once it began there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I rode on to work, and parked in a level space, I thought. At lunchtime I decided to ride a couple of miles to my old workplace to show the Vulcan off to friends there. The sun had not yet hit the space I was in, so it was wet, piled up with slippery leaves, and there was a slight hump in the back of the space that I had to roll over to get out. I found that I couldn’t roll it out of the space! My feet were slipping and sliding and the weight of the bike wouldn’t allow me to roll over the hump. I finally finessed my way out, eventually. Then I rode to see my friends and had no trouble. Later in the day I had an uneventful ride to a doctor appointment and then home safely.

I feel like I am learning all over again. The weight of the Vulcan is twice that of my Suzuki S-40. I think it will just take a little practice. I am finding my confidence is not what it was and I am hesitant to go certain places again. Hopefully it is just a matter of time until I ‘become one’ with my beautiful 2007 Kawasaki Candy Cardinal Red Vulcan 900 Classic. I’ll have pictures next time….

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Unexpected Addition to the Garage

Since the weather has been soggy lately I have been dreaming of riding next summer. In my daydreams I am on a large cruiser motorcycle going on overnight trips and riding up and down the Pacific Coast. The sound of the rumbling rhythm in my head is from a Harley.

Since Harleys are overpriced and have a certain 'status' associated with them, I started looking online to see what other motorcycles there might be, so that I might start dreaming of a closer reality. I really need a bigger bike. Yesterday, to pass the dreary day, I talked my husband into going to this huge motorcycle dealership that is pretty far away from our home, but has the largest variety of Japanese bikes in the area. My intention was to 'look' and narrow down what type of motorcycle I wanted and could afford in the near future.

We drove down there and happily started jumping on bikes in the showroom. This place had every make, model, and color of every 2007 Japanese motorcycle on the American market. I was immediately drawn to a Honda Sabre with a flame paint job. I love flames! It just didn’t feel good to me once I sat on it. I also tried all the larger Suzuki Boulevard series, Yamaha cruiser V-Stars, many Honda cruisers, and some Kawasaki cruisers. Finally I sat on the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic. That was it!

After leaving to go eat lunch, think about it, and discuss it with my husband……..I went back and bought the bike. We decided the sale they were having was really a good deal, the bike fit well, and it had all the features that I needed in my next motorcycle. I had followed the chain of events when a fellow blogger, Rippin-Kitten had been fortunate enough to be loaned a Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom for a while. She rode it and reviewed it. It generally sounded like a fine motorcycle, looked good, and was reasonably priced. I also knew a girl in my riding group who had a new Aqua colored one. It’s a beautiful bike. The dealer had a Candy Cardinal Red one. I nabbed it.

I don’t pick the bike up until Tuesday, which is supposed to be the start of a couple of partly sunny, dry days. I got a large windshield, and engine guards added to the already cool motorcycle. It has floorboards, a real gas gauge, and a huge headlight. It also has a 5.3 gallon gas tank, fuel injection, low maintenance belt drive, and spoked wheels with disc brakes on front and back.

I am sure this motorcycle will serve me well for several years of riding pleasure. I will be looking for large leather saddlebags and eventually a small sissy bar with luggage rack behind it, for those overnight trips with lots of gear. It was an unexpected purchase, but one that I had been leading up to for a while. Now I just have to keep my husband off of it……

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Confidence Takes Time

When I first decided that I would learn to ride a motorcycle solo, I had no preconceived ideas of what I would do with that skill. It was something I had always wanted to do, but had only gotten the courage after I had been through a bout with breast cancer. After that I knew there were many things I hadn’t done yet in life, and the desire to enjoy motorcycling was one of those that became the strongest urge at that time. I have never regretted the decision or looked back.

After completing and passing the Motorcycle Safety Foundation beginners class, I got my first motorcycle and started riding as much as possible. Of course as a new rider my confidence level was pretty low. I didn’t hesitate to go out on my own, but I was careful to plan my route ahead of time. There was a particular place where a slight incline came up to a stop sign which terrorized me at first. One area close to home has 3 traffic lights as you make your way up a steep hill. I feared that I would kill the engine taking off from a complete stop on the hill. I never did. Traffic was never a fear, as I learned to drive a car in the Silicon Valley so was used to fierce congestion and high speed freeway driving. Down hill twisty roads scared me, because I wasn’t able to slow enough to my liking. I remembered from the MSF class not to brake on a curve, watch out for gravel, etc.

As for the high speed freeway driving – it still is a challenge. Since I’ve been riding for more than two years, I have stayed mostly on the back roads. It is limiting. Now I am taking longer and faster rides. My motorcycle is light and small, but fully capable of going 100mph if I wanted to – I do NOT. My only drawback is that my tank only holds 2 gallons of gas, plus .2 gallon reserve. So I have to stop every 110 – 120 miles to fill up with gas. It isn’t a problem unless I am with others who have much larger gas tanks and don’t need to stop.

Now when I take some of those same routes I took early on, they are a piece of cake. I am so much more in control of the bike, more focused, and it’s more enjoyable and thrilling. When you’re learning you have to concentrate on basic operation of the motorcycle, maneuvering through traffic, and searching for turn-offs etc. It is almost overwhelming. Now I just enjoy the ride and the bike operation comes naturally. I only have to pay attention to other drivers on the road and where I am headed.

I have a desire to keep pushing myself farther and harder so as not to set limits that will keep me from fully enjoying motorcycling. I love riding, will do it until I am physically not able to any more, and count it as one of the things providing quality to my life. Now I just need to get a bigger motorcycle………

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bikerchickz goes on vacation

I haven’t been out of town on an overnight trip all this year. My husband and I decided to fly to South Lake Tahoe, NV and do a little gambling, as well as see the beautiful scenery that surrounds Lake Tahoe. Since they have already had their first snow in the Sierras the mountains should be gorgeous. They are expecting some flurries while we are there. Some old Bay Area friends are meeting us in Tahoe so it should be a fun holiday.

We don’t plan to ride any motorcycles while we are there, but I will be taking photos of any cool bikes I see. I won’t be posting until I am back next week, so in the meantime I will amuse you with a video (pardon the country music...)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Riding in the rain

I have some new Power Trip Dakota waterproof overpants to try out so I decided that I had to ride my motorcycle this weekend no matter what the weather had in store for me. I planned to ride North about 30 miles to stop and visit my son and his new wife.

This ride would allow me to take a long stretch of I-5 which I am not avoiding anymore. It has become a personal challenge for me to ride more on the freeway and at freeway speeds. I also wanted to try out the rain gear, and it was most certainly going to rain.

I mentally planned my route, as I usually do, although I am flexible. I would ride up a 4-lane divided highway about 5 miles, then catch I-5 for the remainder of the trip. That stretch of the freeway was corrugated, chopped up, and under construction the last time I was on it. I expected a challenge.

It wasn’t raining when I left, and I wrote it off to another false weather report that the Seattle area is so famous for. I got a few sprinkles on me but the roads all the way to Marysville were dry. As I merged onto I-5 I was amazed to find that they had newly paved the road going North and it was as smooth as ‘buttuh’. At one point the new pavement ended, but it was a fairly easy transition. Traffic was light.

I visited with my son and daughter-in-law a while and then noticed it had started raining pretty hard. I decided to head home, knowing it would be a wet ride.

I went home a different route. I took Highway 9, which I have written about previously. It was a nice straight stretch of 50 mph most of the way. It was raining heavily all the way, and I was feeling kind of smug that I was warm and dry. By the time I was about 5 miles from home, the rain started streaming inside my face shield. It was getting harder to see clearly, and my crotch, legs, and openings of my jacket sleeves were feeling wet. I began to think my rain gear had failed me, and I would need a helmet ‘rain cap’ next time I rode in the rain.

I arrived safely home amid the continuous hard driving rain. I guess the Doppler radar was right after all, this time. As I got off my motorcycle, I started dripping all over the garage floor. Water poured out of my sleeve openings, and my light leather gloves were fully saturated with water. As I peeled each layer of gear off, I noticed that I was actually perfectly dry underneath. The dampness I had felt from my pants was just the cold, but I was dry after all. The helmet vents were still open on top – ooops – and the force of the rain had driven it inside the face shield. I closed all the vents when I got home, so next time I should be dry and I should see clearly. If I had been wearing my new Power Trip Dakota all-weather gloves I would have been dry in the sleeve area because they are a slight gauntlet style, and they are supposedly waterproof. I didn’t wear them because it was 60 degrees out and I thought they would be too warm.

All in all it was a fun trip, and I killed two challenges with one ride. I rode intentionally in the rain, and I took a pretty good stretch of interstate freeway with no problems keeping up with traffic. It was a great day and now I feel calm because I’ve had my riding fix for this weekend. Maybe I’ll ride in the rain to work this week too!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Rode to work today….Yay!

After many consecutive days of rain the weather guy said we would have one sunny day today. I thought to myself, “I am riding my motorcycle to work Friday even if it is raining because I NEED to ride”.

So I woke up this morning and it was 42 degrees out and as dark and cloudy as it gets. The weather people are always wrong lately, but I trusted them on this. I got ready for work and decided since it wasn’t supposed to rain I would just wear jeans and my regular gear. Since it was pretty cold I decided to wear my new winter riding gloves. If it was sunny in the afternoon, like they said, I had my lighter gloves for the ride home.

As I started out and went down my street I felt pretty good in the cold air. The vents were all still open in my full-face helmet, so at the first stop sign I came to I reached up and closed the one near my chin. Chinny was chilly. Then I was great all the way to work. I saw no other motorcycle riders out this morning, which is a little unusual even on the cool mornings.

All day I watched for the sun to come out as they had promised. At lunchtime I walked out to the street where my business is located and took a couple pictures of the beautiful fall colors that are starting to appear. It was kind of cold and windy outside and there were giant black clouds looming overhead.
Around 2pm the sun finally broke through, the clouds blew away, and everything looked rosy for the ride home. I enjoyed my ride and the sun, and got home safely after stopping to fill up the bike with gas. I still didn’t see any motorcycle riders even though it was sunny. Was I the only one Jonesin’ for a ride? The next week or so is supposed to be rainy and stormy again but I have some new rain pants for riding, so will probably try them out this weekend no matter what the weather does.

I just have to ride……

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As a female motorcyclist, I do care about causes that promote women’s health. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It was in October, 2003 that I went for a routine mammogram and discovered that I had breast cancer. By getting regular yearly mammograms and self exams, my cancer was detected in the very early stages.

I went through a surgery, and 7 weeks of daily radiation treatments. It sapped my strength but I was still required to do my full-time job during all of this. The outcome was that I was glad to be alive, and decided waste no time doing all of the things that I had ever wanted to do.

One of these was to ride and own a motorcycle. I wasted no time once my health was back, and signed up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation beginner’s course. My husband did the same, as he was encouraged to ride too.

We took the course, passed, and immediately started looking for motorcycles so that we could continue to practice our new favorite pastime. We both got bikes and have been joyfully riding ever since.

The mammograms haven’t all been good since the original one, but have shown minor changes that required further surgical biopsies. So far, so good. It hasn’t kept me from riding and I have this drive to go farther and faster while I can. Motorcycling has become my favorite thing to do and think about.

I encourage all females over 35 to get regular mammograms and do frequent self-exams. The Breast Cancer Site gives free mammograms to women who can’t afford them. Go there and see how you can help by clicking daily on the site. Early detection is the key to saving women’s lives.

The Breast Cancer Site

Don’t wait until you have a life threatening disease to do those things you secretly want to. Just do it now!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mukilteo Lighthouse Ride

I had to get out between rain storms a few days ago and decided to take a motorcycle ride up to the Mukilteo Lighthouse and Ferry Dock. It was a foggy day, just begging me to stay in the house and curl up with a good book. This time of year the onset of fall is a harsh reminder of the dreaded dark and dreary winter in the Northwest that is sure to follow.

I had to bundle up a little more than the previous rides that I had taken just a couple of weeks ago. The sun was trying to warm things up, so I was counting on being a little more comfortable heading back home later. I put the lining back in both of my jackets, so I chose to wear the rainproof one with the armor in all the right places. I have also changed my face shield from the dark one I use in the summer, to a clear one I start using in the fall. As the days become shorter, sometimes I am riding home from work in the dark (4:30pm!!!!!) It is illegal in Washington State to wear a tinted shield after dusk.

Anyway, I took off and decided to take a stretch of freeway until I got closer to the road to Mukilteo, which is a nice straight road that passes by the Boeing plant in Everett, WA. As you reach the top of the hill, your eyes are drawn to a clear view of the water of the Puget Sound and distant islands beyond. While you slowly descend the long hill down to the waterfront, you pass by the line of cars waiting for the next State Ferry to take them across the water to Whidbey Island.

I passed all of the cars and continued down into the large parking lot for the beach, Mukilteo Lighthouse, and boat launch traffic. I parked and walked around just looking out at the view and watching people take their boats in and out of the water. Then I took a walk around the lighthouse, which is beautifully restored, but was closed by the time I got there. The sun was out over the water by then, but still a little cool.

When I had finished enjoying the peaceful sounds of the water, and I’d had enough of the wind blowing clean air into my lungs, I headed back home. I stopped at one of our friendly local coffee chains on the way and had a great hot espresso drink to rev me up for the ride back. I took a long stretch of freeway back until I was near my home town, which is something I am enjoying more and more. It is easier than it used to be. I just try not to think about what would happen if my tire blew out at such high speeds……

By the time I arrived home I had a great ride with pictures to look back on, and the bike is running pretty good right now. I think blowing it out on the freeway helped.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Greatest Motorcycle of All Time

The Honda Cub has sold more around the world than any other motorcycle has. It is a well suited bike that is used for major transportation, as well as carrying anything necessary for a large part of the civilized world.

I am glad that we are able to have larger bikes that are more for pleasure than usefulness. Most people remember having or knowing someone with one of these Hondas in their lifetime. I found this video nostalgic and fun. Enjoy....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Motorcycling and Creativity

It seems to me that there is a common thread among motorcyclists, and especially the women. We are creative and innovative when it comes to solving problems or dreaming up new ideas for things that we need for the motorcycle.

I have also noticed that many of the biker women are knitters, do stamping, are artists, photographers, and other creative passions. The stereotype of the ‘rough around the edges’ biker chick may be a little true. But we also like girl things, and we like to create things that can be enjoyed by others.

As for me, I knit, crochet, am an artist, and am learning to take photos. I have so many interests and hobbies that change with the seasons. My mind is always challenged with something new that triggers an idea and gets the ball rolling.

During the winter when the riding days are few, I spend a lot of time doing needlework indoors. I like to knit sweaters to wear when I ride my motorcycle, warm socks for my riding boots, and this year I will make some wrist warmers to fit just into my gloves. I also have many knitted scarves to keep my neck warm and that are fun to have flowing behind you as you ride down the road.

Music is another commonality among motorcyclists. Whether it is singing, playing a musical instrument or being in a rock band, people who ride have many talents.

Those of us who ride motorcycles have the common view of loving life, living it to the fullest, and watching the weather so we can ride as much as possible. By being creative we can make useful items that we can be proud of and that bring joy to others as well as ourselves.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ride to Edmonds, Washington

My brother came to visit me from California for my son’s wedding. He has ridden motorcycles for years so I was anxious to go for a ride with him.

One day we had a small window of time with no commitments so we thought we would go for a ride. I found that one of my older helmets fit him well and my husband had some gloves that he could use. He would ride my husband’s motorcycle and I would ride my own and lead.

We got the bikes out of the garage and warmed them up. My brother has an ‘80’s Ninja 600cc, and the ’69 Honda 450cc that I posted about previously. My husband rides a Honda Shadow ACE-750cc. It is a cruiser style which has a very different feel than the upright bikes he was used to.

The weather was cool and brisk, and cloudy when we left my home. Edmonds is situated on the Puget Sound so there are almost always sunny skies above the town because of the marine layer of warm air over the water. As we got closer we could see the sky open up above the water and sure enough, it was sunny when we got there. We stood and admired the Washington State Ferries, and the islands that you could see far off in the distance. The water was bright blue and a little choppy, but the only miniature crashing waves on the beach were caused from a fast boat passing by. Across the water was another peninsula with tiny houses dotting the shoreline.

We took some pictures and talked about how the cruiser’s foot pegs and controls were moved far forward from what he was used to, but he was starting to get familiar as we went along. When we’d enjoyed the view and taken ample photos we decided to leave.

We had a good ride home on a different route with a few twisties through the woods. I enjoyed riding with my brother which I hadn’t had the chance to do before.

Maybe one of these days he’ll let me try out his Ninja……

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Meeting other women motorcyclists

I’ve been riding my motorcycle for more than two years now. Mostly I ride alongside my husband or I ride alone. At first, as a new rider, I had to build up my confidence to ride farther and farther out of my neighborhood. We go for short day trips on weekends that may last three or four hours. My gas tank is two gallons, so I need to stop every hundred miles or so to fill up.

Some of the other women motorcyclist blogs have inspired me to go farther and faster and take more chances on my bike. I’ve been riding safe and conservatively, which is fine. But I’ve limited myself by trying to avoid the freeway speeds when possible, and not going a great distance from home.

My solution to this was to join a local Cycle Barn Women’s Motorcycle Club. If I can meet some other female riders, I might have the opportunity to go farther and faster on the organized rides. We live in Western Washington so there is no lack of beautiful day or weekend destinations to ride.

Tonight I went to a dinner meeting of the CBWMC and met the members. There were two other new members and a total of six of us altogether. They have a few others who usually come, but the group was small. The three newest members were the only ones who rode our motorcycles. The older members all drove cars. I found that curious. Those of us who were new felt a kinship right away with the other women. They were all nice, all ages, and all confidence levels. I felt right at home as they talked about being nervous on gravel, not riding in the winter (I do), and tipping over their bikes. These were just women who like to ride their motorcycles, and like to do long weekend and even 4 day rides. It was encouraging to us new members to think of being able to do such long rides.

We parted with a plan to meet next month, aside from a weekend ride over the Cascade Mountains to Winthrop next week. Next month they have two rides which I will plan to go on and that will be all the organized rides for this year. They meet once a month through the winter and discuss and plan next years ride schedule. I can hardly wait to start riding with other women in a group. We found out we all live within 15 miles of each other, so some of us will probably meet and ride on nice weekends anyway. I can see a lot of good times down the road……..

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Wedding to remember

Sunday was one of the most happy and memorable days of my life so far. My son was married to his lovely fiancé in what was supposed to have been an outdoor wedding. As it turns out, it poured rain heavily all day leading up to and including during the wedding, picture taking, and reception.

Living in the Northwest you can expect to have your plans spoiled by rain, especially during the fall months. Luckily the bride is very organized and had a back up plan in case this happened. She dealt with the last minute changes very well.

As for the groom, good weather was critical. He had built and customized his dad's 1971 HD Sportster 1000 - "The Mule". It was in boxes of parts when he started and was just fired up for it's second life two weeks ago. The plan had been for my son and his groomsmen to ride up on their motorcycles wearing their tuxes. Rain can spoil well made intentions. They all rode to the site early in their regular clothes and were drenched completely through from head to toe when they arrived. Some didn’t have raingear. Then they cleaned up and looked dry and spiffy in their tuxes all day. Later, when the sun came out for a second, we got some pictures out by the motorcycles.

The wedding and reception were in a large barn with a concrete floor that turned out to be a great dance floor. It was located on a beautiful, grass covered acreage with a farmhouse and other red outbuildings. The setting was perfect and very scenic. It was a touching ceremony and then a fun and comfortable reception. There were lots of out of town guests and relatives who came from long distances for the wedding. The bride and groom are very loved by all.

For the wedding and reception a great trio played, called the Primo Basso Band. They play romantic Italian music with an accordion, base, and guitar. The music was very enjoyable to all age groups and put everyone in a romantic mood, as well as being quite danceable. I only saw them take one quick break all day, so they were great.

It was a perfect day in spite of the rain, and one that I will cherish always. The bikes were cool too!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wedding weekend with motorcycles

My only child is getting married this Sunday, Sept. 16. He has rebuilt his dad's 1971 HD Sportster 1000 and customized it a little. The plan is for he and his groomsmen to arrive on their motorcycles to the wedding site, in their tuxes. They will set up motorcycle parking for others who ride there. I, as the mother of the groom, will be wearing a dress, so won't be riding up on mine.

My 82 year old mother and my brother are flying in from the Bay Area today, so I will have my hands full for a few days. I won't be posting until after the weekend, unless I get some free time away from all the festivities. I plan to take alot of pictures so my next post should have some cool motorcycles in it.

So for now, here is a video I found interesting about women bikers in India:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Inner thoughts on a motorcycle

It’s funny how your mind works while riding a motorcycle. Generally you are juggling your focus between safely operating the bike, and keeping track of all the crazy drivers around you.

When you get out on an open road or a straight stretch of highway you can start to let your mind wander a little. You start to notice all the scenery around you, which you feel so much more a part of on a motorcycle. You notice how things smell such as grass, livestock, wood smoke, and the like. Your senses are so much more in tune than in a car.

I always notice dead animals along the road, and say a little “Awww” to myself for the poor critter that didn’t make it across the pavement. Sometimes you’ll notice a snake or lizard slithering along. I always talk to the animals I see and believe they can mentally sense what I am saying to them.

Sometimes when I ride a song will pop into my head and I will sing it repeatedly as I go along. This can be a song I haven’t heard in years or maybe just yesterday. It makes no sense because sometimes I don’t even like the song! The rhythm of the road seems to make music in my head….

On a beautiful morning ride I will sometimes smile big inside my enclosed helmet and blurt out loud “happy!” or “what a beautiful day!” Most days I pass an area where I have a distant view of Mount Rainier. As I look around me at all the beauty that is in the Northwest, I can feel my spirits lifting and the ride gives a great start to my day.

A lot of times while I ride along on the motorcycle, I am laying out my mental goals, planning my next post on the blog, or creating my next venture in my mind. Riding gives you time alone, time to think, and time to appreciate the world around you at that moment. You can work out a lot of problems in your mind by the time you arrive back home.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Hazards of Daily Riding

I’ve been riding the motorcycle to work a lot lately because the weather has been perfect for it. My commute is not very long, only 5 miles each way. I don’t take the freeway, but usually ride various routes on back roads.

Everyone else takes the back roads also, to avoid sitting still on the freeway. We have a terrible gridlock problem around here during commute times. I usually have a pretty fluid ride going to work in the morning. Coming home in the afternoon is a different story.

Western Washington is in a state of growth and there are a lot of jobs here. This means there is a lot of road construction going on in every direction, and lots of housing subdivisions are being built. A lot of the beautiful trees here in the Northwest are being bulldozed away for houses…’s sad to me.

So riding a motorcycle in this area can be hazardous because of all the ‘steel plates in the road’ and ‘motorcycles use extreme caution’ signs. Flaggers stop traffic and funnel it down to one lane everywhere you go. Sometimes the road is corrugated, which is tough if you’re going faster than 10 mph.

I usually try to mentally plan my route to work when I’m on the cycle. Which hazards do I want to challenge today? Depending on which direction I think will be backed up with cars, I choose to go the route I’m in the mood for.

My favorite route goes on windy back roads for a while, then up a straight steep hill past a gun range and a mountain of landfill. Then it’s down the other side of the steep hill into a major commercial area with a giant intersection. Once I am past there it is a straight, slow road (I wish people would get out of my way!) until I turn on a side road which is a fun rollercoaster of gentle ups and downs. This road is my favorite because it is rural and cool in the morning, and there are a flock of Canadian geese (hundreds) that settle in one particular field. It is a sight to see. As I come to the end of this road it opens up into a business park with lots of companies. I go down a little ways and pull into my company.

The ride to work this way is pleasant, and only frustrating if I get stuck behind a school bus on the country roads now that school has begun again. They stop at every driveway. I will avoid those routes unless I leave early enough to miss them.

Coming home the traffic is always backed up leaving the business park, and pretty much all the way home it is gridlocked. Since my bike is air cooled, I need to keep moving. It gets pretty hot sometimes sitting in traffic that isn’t moving. No lane-splitting here.

One day I followed this van home for a few miles. The driver was an old guy talking on a cell phone, and smoking a cigarette. I watched him in his rear view mirror for a while. I thought he saw me also. All of a sudden he tosses his lit cigarette out the window right into my face. I wasn’t real close, but just enough that the air caught the butt and it shot right at me. Luckily I had a full face shield on, but I was cursing him into my enclosed orb. He was oblivious.

You always have to watch out for people on cell phones and driving badly these days. If someone pulls out in front of your motorcycle, 9 times out of 10 they are on the phone. Or if they go slow, and take their time turning a corner, it’s because of a cell phone. We have a law going into effect in January restricting cell phones while driving. We’ll see if it makes it any less hazardous for us motorcyclists who are NOT on cell phones and paying attention to our driving.

It’s always fun to get out of town, and see what challenges present themselves in other places we ride. Keep your eyes open and ride safe.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Destination - ride for food

Almost every time my husband and I decide to go for a motorcycle ride, food becomes the final destination. It is usually on a weekend when we’ve gotten up a little late and decide to ride for a nice breakfast at one of our favorite cafés. Then we might take a longer ride after we are fat and happy.

We plan our routes in advance, making sure that the end of our ride will bring a necessary break and a meal. Even if we are on a long ride, we make sure there is a town to stop in around meal times. Our favorite is to get lunch and we’re willing to ride quite a distance for some of our best remembered meals.

Another thing that makes us happy is to come across a farmer’s market or fresh produce stand. We love to take leftovers from our meal or fruits and vegetables home in our saddlebags.

If you’ve been following the second season of Feasting on Asphalt with Alton Brown on the Food Network, you will see we are not the only people who ride for food. This season seems to have better food stops and more interesting people along the way. What a dream job to ride around the country eating your way through it. They have a good sized group of guys riding together while they are filming on the road. It always looks like the crew can’t wait to eat but have to until they are through filming the segment.

I have many friends who ride motorcycles, and they agree that they also ride for food and a brew. It is a common thread among people who ride to plan where they will land for a meal or a beverage. If you play it by ear, still the best rides eventually involve food.

Good food is one of the joys of life. I enjoy cooking at home, but even better than that is riding your motorcycle to a food destination. Two things I love, food and motorcycle riding. It doesn’t get much better!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Washing your motorcycle

I am one of those people who like to keep my bike shiny and dust free. I am proud of my motorcycle and treat it well. If I am caught out in the rain on a ride, when I return home I take the opportunity to wipe the whole bike down.

When you actually want to wash your motorcycle, here are a few tips to remember:

  • Before beginning use small pieces of duct tape to cover your keyhole, any areas you want to protect, and any switches on the handlebars that may be open to water ingress. It doesn’t hurt these to get wet, but over time you can have problems with wire corrosion, etc.

  • Lightly rinse the bike with a gentle stream of water. Be sure not to aim the jet into your carburetor, fuel tank cap, spark plugs, or brake master cylinder.

  • Use a mild solution of regular car washing soap. It is easy on the paint job and chrome. Always use a large, soft sponge to wash the bike with and keep it soaked in the soap solution so as to avoid scratching from grit. I always use a second sponge for the lower areas and a tire brush for the wheels. This is where most of the road grime is and you don’t want to scratch the paint by using the same sponge for all. Begin from the top and work your way down to the ground.

  • After you have carefully washed everything rinse well with another gentle stream of water. Make sure you rinse all soap residues off. Now remove the duct tape pieces you added in the beginning.

  • When you are finished washing and rinsing the motorcycle well, go ahead and dry it off using clean, soft towels. Begin at the top and work your way down using a dry towel as each one gets damp. I use several and then wash them for the next time.

  • I don’t recommend waxing the motorcycle. A good wipe down in between washings should leave you with a sparkling bike that you can be proud of.

Then take your bike for a spin to dry off any hidden water drops. Now you are ready to ride for a while and show off your clean, shiny motorcycle.

Check this idea out - pretty cool!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Motorcycle Day Trip up State Highway 9

Since today is the start of the Labor Day weekend, we decided to go for a nice motorcycle ride. The weather was sunny and the sky was a clear blue, something we haven’t had enough of this summer for our weekend enjoyment.

We got a late start this morning so decided to take a nice 40 mile ride north to Arlington, WA where there was a Cycle Barn we could check out. By then we would be ready to catch a bite to eat – our destinations always seem to involve eating in one way or another.

We got the bikes out, and this time I brought the camera so I can start taking pictures of things along the way. I am not a photographer by any means, and nothing seems to look as beautiful in a picture as it does in real life. I put my saddlebags back on the bike, since they had been off while I ‘tried’ to work on the cycle and had to take the seat off.

It was a real nice cruise heading east from our town. We picked up Washington State Highway 9 just near the southern border of Snohomish County. Then we headed north. It is a very straight, two-lane road with a 55 mph speed limit most of the way. It is lined on both sides with dense trees and the occasional rural house or clearing. The section of road we were on has recently been paved and so was smooth and great for cruising.

These pictures were taken after I missed a road, and ended up on a detour road. I had to snap some of the beauty before we headed back towards the motorcycle shop we were looking for.

We found the Cycle Barn and I found some riding jeans with a skull on the back pocket that I had to have. After looking at all the shiny motorcycles, I bought the pants and we left. By then we decided it was time to eat. My better half had noticed a Der Weinersnitzel on one of the previous roads. Oh! That is from my childhood and I didn’t know they still had them. This one was new and was a combo Tastee Freeze/Der Weinersnitzel. They have many kinds of hot dogs and ice cream treats! It was yummy.

Finally we were full, happy, and ready to head
home. We had a perfect ride back passing through Lake Stevens, which is a beautiful sapphire blue lake that has parks and many residences around it. It is large enough for waterskiing and other speed boats. The areas we covered are mostly rural with more and more subdivisions popping up everywhere. We only saw one dead possum, remnants of a dead rat, and one dead raccoon on the road.

My Suzuki S40 ran pretty good all the way, but started acting squirrelly like it was going to die a couple of times on the way back while sitting at red lights. All in all it was an 81 mile round trip ride and a lot of fun. I hope to ride somewhere new tomorrow. It was fun....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Troubleshooting the motorcycle update

I know my limitations. I was all psyched up to tear into the Suzuki to see what its intermittent problem is. By all accounts I should have been able to check a few things and eliminate those issues.

So I started by taking off the seat. Easy enough. With my owner’s manual in hand, I followed step by step the process of removing the gas tank so that I could get to the spark plug. The manual failed to mention that you have to disconnect the fuel line, speedometer, etc. to lift off the tank. Duh! I felt so stupid that I hadn’t thought of that and had no idea how to go about disconnecting these things.

My husband is the type who doesn’t wrench anything, and would rather pay a professional who knows what they are doing (sometimes). So he wasn’t much help, and kept recommending that I hang up the tools and take the bike to a mechanic.

Meanwhile, I proceeded to remove my battery, fill up the cells and put it back in. No problem. That was all I could check because I couldn’t get past the gas tank. I decided to order an owners repair manual, but only could locate one online for my particular motorcycle and it was $65.00. I am considering ordering it, but then I hope to get a larger bike in the near future. Maybe I’ll just take it in……

So yesterday I rode to work again. The idle is running fast, but still occasionally wants to die when I come to a stop. I want to take a long ride over the Labor Day weekend so hope the bike will keep up with me. We’re hoping to take a ferry ride over to one of the islands and ride around there. Washington State Ferries are great fun. Motorcyclists are first on, loaded in front of the boat. Then they are first off when it arrives on the other dock. There is no waiting and a lot less expensive than going in a car.

So the saga continues. I looked at new motorcycles online today……hmmmm…..what do I want? Harleys are talking to me, but now BMWs look pretty good. Must decide.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ride for a cause

A while back I stopped at my local Brier coffee stand one morning, Jason’s Java. He is one of a handful of businesses in my small town and knows everyone. I noticed on the take-out window there was a poster about a benefit ride. I read it carefully as I waited for my double tall espresso drink to be made. Not knowing Jason very well, I said ‘thank you’ and went on to work.

The notice about the ride stayed with me all day, and when my husband got home I mentioned it to him. We had only been riding a couple of years, and hadn’t ridden in a group before. We decided to just do it.

Saturday morning came and we woke up and anxiously got ready for our ride. We started up the motorcycles and rode the half mile up to Jason’s Java. There waited Jason, with a chromed out Harley Road King in the parking lot. He was surprised to see us, but happy to have more riders for the cause. One by one the riders came and we greeted each one and introduced ourselves. Everyone was appreciating each others bikes. There were 10 of us altogether, with 2 women riders including myself.

We paid $20 each and still didn’t know who the ride was going to benefit. All the bikers were willing to pay and ride just for the opportunity to help someone in need. Jason began telling us about a local 18 year old boy who had just been stricken with multiple sclerosis and was already confined to a wheelchair. He had gone to school one Monday and was fine. By Friday he couldn’t walk. It was a sad story; and Jason went on to say that the family needed help, of course, with the medical bills. Then a man spoke up from the group and said he was the dad. We were all motivated by that point to ride…..

We took off and rode the back roads from Brier, which is located north of Seattle, WA. We headed east towards the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. We rode lots of twisty, cornfield bordered roads. The feeling of riding in a group was wonderful. It was a little hard to resist going faster than the group. I felt that I was holding back, but got used to it after a while. What wonderful farmland and fields we saw. We stopped in the town of Duvall, where there is a little ‘biker bar’ that any biker in this part of the state has probably been to. We had some refreshments, took some pictures of all the bikes lined up outside, and started back. In all it was a 3 ½ hour ride.

When we returned to Jason’s Java the dad asked if we wouldn’t mind going up a few blocks to his home. His son loves motorcycles and knew we were riding for him that day. We all started up again and rode up to the house which was located in a culdesac. We rode round and round in a circle and revved our engines as loud as we dared. One guy did the ‘tire burnout’ in the center of the circle. The front door of the house opened and out walked the mother, pushing her son in a wheelchair. His eyes were lit up, but sadly he couldn’t even speak or do anything but make a few noises. We each introduced ourselves and hung around for a little while. Then we rode off, revving our engines as we left.

I think we made his day……he sure made all of ours.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cat on a motorcycle

Here is the picture that gave me the idea for this weeks poll over on the right sidebar. I found it amusing and endearing, mostly because I love cats and own three. None of mine would go for this, but the biker cat seems to be up for anything.

Some people have a dog that would go anywhere the human goes. Why not a motorcycle ride?

It's probably not safe for an animal to be on a motorcycle, but if your companion wants to ride then they should be able to enjoy it with you.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Troubleshooting my motorcycle this weekend

It has come down to this. I am going to have to tear into my motorcycle this weekend and see what is going on with it.

About two months ago I was riding to work regularly when the weather was nice. I stopped at a red-light in town one morning and I was first in line. All of a sudden my bike just died. That had never happened before. I couldn’t start it up right away. It would just wind and wind but not turn over. Before the light turned green I rolled it over towards the sidewalk on the corner of the street. Now that I was out of traffic it still wouldn’t start. I looked across the side street and saw a parking lot. I assumed I would have to call someone. So I rolled across the street, luckily there was a slight downward slope. I parked it, waited a couple of minutes and finally wound it up, gave it a good rev and she started up. I went on to work from there, muttering to myself along the way.

I took it home and read the owners manual. I decided to adjust the idle screw because it didn’t seem to be idling fast enough to keep going. I turned it a little until I could hear the engine sound like it would keep running. It had been fine until yesterday.

The Suzuki had always been very dependable especially since I bought her new back in 2005. It’s a Boulevard S-40, the smallest in that series. I did have to fill up the brake fluid reservoir after about a year of riding. It turned out the front brake pads were down to nothing after only 1400 miles. I do shift down to slow the bike so I was pretty surprised to see them shot so soon. I bought new ones and put them on, with a little help from my husband. I then filled the fluid reservoir and they have been perfect ever since. I think the first ones were paper thin to start with….

The other thing I did was adjust the tension of my drive belt which I love because you never need to lube it. I’ve changed the air filter and, of course, added oil. I have all the stuff to change the oil so will be doing that soon. It’s due around 4000 miles and I’m at 3600 miles now.

Tomorrow I plan to check the spark plug, and look at the carburetor. The bike only has one spark plug, but it is under the gas tank. I’ll have to lift it up to get to the plug. The seat has to come off to get to everything else. I like working on the bike if I can figure out what to do. I always refer to the manual, which has been pretty helpful so far. Now I’m not sure what the problem is. The bike died again twice yesterday at stoplights on my way back to work after meeting friends for lunch. I adjusted the idle up once again to make sure I could get home.

The other thing it is doing is hesitating a little like a bucking bronco in lower gears. When I get up past 4th gear it seems Ok. It also backfires a lot more while going downhill. I am not sure what is going on but I ride it all year and use good gas always.

If anyone has a suggestion of what else I should try, let me know. I hate to take the bike to the Suzuki dealers. They don’t respect the smaller bikes and the last time they gave mine back to me with big greasy handprints all over my tank! As you can see its white – I was not happy. Grrrrrr. I take very good care of my ride and I’m proud of it. I will take it to a different dealer next time that I can’t do something myself.

Meanwhile, I’m having fun trying….

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My brother's 1969 Honda-450cc

Here is a picture of my brother’s bike. A friend gave him boxes of parts and said he hadn’t ridden it in many years. My brother is very industrious, so meticulously cleaned and reassembled the long lost motorcycle. It is nearly all original. He rides it every day to work when it isn’t raining. If you live near Santa Cruz, California you may see him cruising around on the Honda. He says everyone stops him and asks about it

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

When you ride

There is a feeling that comes over you when you ride a motorcycle. It’s an emotion that all is well with the world and everything will be ok. As you ride along with the wind hitting your chest you feel powerful and strong - invincible.

There is no sense of time on a motorcycle. It doesn’t matter how long it takes when you’re enjoying the ride so much. Your sense of smell is awakened every second you are riding. You’ll smell freshly cut grass, dairy farms, dead carcasses, sweet honeysuckle along a country road, fresh air, salty ocean air, car exhaust, and the local dump. These are just a few of the things you will experience for your olfactory pleasure along the way.

You are unencumbered on a motorcycle and nothing is restricting your view. You become part of the landscape as you move along. It makes you feel closer to the earth. You see things in a whole new way and come to appreciate the beauty while you pass it by. On a bike you can stop anytime you have a notion.

Riding a motorcycle is very freeing; meanwhile you are developing a complete sense of control. I find it very calming to ride. When I am full of stressful energy taking a ride seems to pipe me right down and I come back home calm and relaxed. Then I am ready to tackle anything.

I love to ride alone because I can go where my imagination takes me. I can change direction on a whim or change my mind and try a new route, not sure where I will end up. It’s completely up to me. Riding alone lets you have time to think.

I also love to ride with my husband because we stop and enjoy places together along the way. We take turns leading depending on who knows the way to where we are headed. We’ve discovered a lot of new places to go just by heading in one direction and seeing what we can find. Bikers have a great sense of adventure and a need to keep seeing new things and finding new places to go.

So as you ride, enjoying nirvana in your mind, keep your eyes on the road ahead.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It’s raining outside…….

I am a fair weather biker in most respects. I don’t mind if it starts raining on me when I am on my way home from anywhere. If I am going to work or elsewhere, I am really not equipped with rain-gear so usually my pants will be soaked by the time I arrive – wet crotch is no fun. I also don’t like to get my motorcycle splattered with road grime in the rain, at least not on a regular basis.

Here are a few suggestions of things to do when you can’t get out and ride:

  • Watch some old classic biker movies such as “Easy Rider” with Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda, “The Wild Ones” with Marlon Brando, “Hells’ Angels on Wheels” with Jack Nicholson, and “The Wild Angels” with Peter Fonda. “The Big Book of Biker Flicks: 40 of the best Motorcycle movies of all time” by Jack Wooley has these movies and more for your amusement and pleasure. These are fun to watch, very stereotypical, and you’ll recognize other actors who went on to do greater things.

  • Read a good book on motorcycling. One that I read which encouraged me to ride was “The Perfect Vehicle: What it is about Motorcycles” by Melissa Holbrook Pierson. She describes the riding experience wonderfully. Other fun books are “Biker Billy Cooks with Fire: Robust recipes from Americas’ most outrageous television chef”, “Biker Billy’s Freeway-A-Fire Cookbook: Life’s too short to Eat Dull Food”, and “Biker Billy’s Hog Wild on a Harley Cookbook: 200 fiercely flavorful recipes to kick-start your cooking from Harley riders across the USA” all by Bill Hufnagle. Lastly, “Harley and Davidson Family Recipes: Celebrating 100 years of Home Cooking” by Margo Manning.

  • I also enjoy the Motorcycle magazine, “Rider”. Each month there is an article about a ride somewhere in the US. There are lots of pictures, and good articles, and it is mostly just about riding any motorcycle.

  • Research your next dream bike. If you are like me you will always be thinking of the motorcycle you want but can’t yet afford. Read up on the one you think you want. Go down to the motorcycle dealer and check it out. Sit on it, and ask questions about it. If it’s raining you probably won’t take it for a test ride, but you can go back when it is sunny!

So these are just a few suggestions to kill time when you can’t get on your bike and ride. In those situations you can still enjoy the riding spirit, keep riding foremost in your mind, and have a few laughs – while watching those old biker movies.