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....