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.