Monday, January 28, 2008

Blog of the Week

Motorcycle related news, reviews, motorcycle club, bike events and recommended rides
I have been honored once again. This time by having my blog featured on Clutch and Chrome as 'Blog of the Week'. The staff at Clutch and Chrome are apparently enjoying reading my blog and thought it should be featured. The Clutch and Chrome website is a great resource for all things motorcycle related. Check out the many other blogs and websites they have listed. Thanks again guys....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Fun Read: Lois On The Loose by Lois Pryce

To alleviate my frustration of not being able to ride my motorcycle lately, I decided to do the next best thing. Read about it. I love books and owning books, so I went online to see what was there. I had a gift card for Barnes & Noble. For those of you who haven’t heard of, ‘Lois On The Loose’ you are really missing out. I thought the description sounded fun so I bought it. Was I in for a surprise?

I can’t put the book down! It is written by a gutsy British lady who decides to ride a motorcycle solo from the Alaskan wilderness to the very tip of South America; as far as the roads would go. She does this on a Yamaha 250cc Serow dirt bike. The trip is remarkably thrilling to hear about, and her writing is such that you follow along as if you are riding along with her. She has a sense of humor which really comes through in the book. I’ve fully enjoyed the read, which I don’t do much of, by the way.

The book only seems to come in hardback in the US, but I’ve enjoyed that feature as I’ve held it and read it. I will be reading it again and sharing it with others, so I’m glad now that it’s a hardback. Lois has inspired me immensely, and now I am planning a longer ride than I’ve ever done. She makes you realize that anything is possible with the right attitude and a sense of humor.

You can see photos and learn more at her website- Lois on the Since writing this book she has done another ride through the African Continent on a similar small motorcycle. She has another book coming out in June, ’08 about the African trip. You can find out more about what Lois Pryce is up to at her website.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Easy Peasy Home Installation of the Vulcan Engine Guard

When I bought my new Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic, I ordered an engine guard from the dealer as an accessory, along with the Vulcan windshield. After waiting and calling for a month the windshield finally came in. They failed to call, so it was a couple weeks later that I called to find it had arrived. I installed the windshield and you can read about it here.

So, they assured me that when the engine guard came in I would again get a call. I finally called early this year and they had my part. They also had a bogus phone number for me. I drove the 40 miles or so and picked it up. When I got home and opened the box, there were two bolts in a plastic bag. One was stripped at the end.

They were a hex-flange bolt and a size you couldn't find just anywhere. We looked everywhere we could think of that sold bolts. Dave finally stopped at a place on his way home one day called ‘Tacoma Screw’. They had ‘almost’ the perfect bolt. The hex head was a little smaller, but it worked just fine.

I decided to install the guard last weekend, since it was way too cold to ride. I even closed the garage so it would be warmer inside while I worked. It was in the 30’s outside. As I worked with the icy-cold tubular chrome guard, my hands became very chilled. It was hard to feel the threads engage as I added each nut to its bolt and tried to finger-tighten it. I could hardly make my fingers do what I wanted them to do.

It’s a good thing that it was pretty easy and didn’t take a lot of work. Add a few bolts and clamps, tighten here and there, and then apply torque on 2 of them.

I think it looks good.

I came home at lunch today since I work only 15 minutes away. The sun was out and it was 39 degrees. It’s been nice and clear and sunny for days, but only in the low 30’s. I couldn’t bring myself to bundle up and get out there. Today I decided to go for it. The weather was as warm as it was going to get, and we have rain and snow in the forecast for the weekend.

I hadn’t tried out the bike since I added the engine guard. I’m always conscious of the added weight so was wondering if it would handle differently. I rode the Vulcan back to work and then home right before dark. I think it felt a little heavier on the turns, but otherwise I liked it and didn’t notice much difference in the way of handling.

Now that I’ve added enough accessories to the front of the bike, I will need to make some decisions about what I need on the rear to carry gear and stuff for a 3 or 4 day ride. I’m planning a ride down the coast this summer but have no way to carry anything on the bike. I find planning trips like this is very fun. I love poring over the maps and deciding what route we will take, having never been on any of the roads in question. That’s where the sense of adventure comes in.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Fun Place for Local Bikers to Hang Out

Today I visited a local Everett, Washington business that I had read a lot about. It was a delight. The place is called ‘Old Strokers Motorcycle Works’. It is located at 2816 Hewitt Ave, Everett. The store has been in business for almost 2 years.

When you walk inside the shop there is an instant cozy feeling, which carries through the whole place. The owners are Randy and Sandy Morris who were very friendly and sat and talked with us for quite a while. The store carries all kinds of motorcycle related gear, although on a small scale. They strive to only sell locally made merchandise, artwork, and clothing. There were some really unique items that caught my eye as I surveyed the goods.

We walked to the rear of the store, which has an espresso bar, snacks, and lots of comfortable seating. There were lots of people just hanging out there, exchanging biker stories and enjoying each others company. Some of them were from a local VME (Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts) group and they were older riders with lots of history behind them. These guys also were talking about playing motorcycle soccer! That was something I hadn’t heard of. The walls are covered with local racer photos, vintage posters and artwork, and just a lot of interesting things to look at. There is also a fireplace to keep everyone warm and cozy this time of year.

The shop organizes weekly meetups and rides when the weather looks good. They have movie nights, dinners, and other social events for bikers to keep busy with during the winter. There are a couple of women’s riding groups that meet there also, one of them being the Chrome Divas.

I don’t live real close to Everett, but I will definitely go back, hang out, and have a latte. Even the coffee is from a local independent vendor who roasts his own beans! It was one of the best lattes I’ve had in a long time. They are also adding a small kitchen so will serve sandwiches and such after March.

If you are ever in the neighborhood, the shop is located just a few blocks off of I-5 and has lots of parking. I like to support the local economy so I stand behind the small businesses in our area. Old Strokers doesn’t have a website, but their My Space page is at Their hosted rides are posted on . Check it out.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Want To Meet Others With Your Interests?

I was directed to a new website by a ‘friend’ on Biker-or-not, another social website for bikers and people who like hanging out with bikers. He has a motorcycle shop that is less than a year old in Everett, WA and is organizing rides and events and having lots of success so far. I plan to write about his shop when I visit it this coming weekend.

The website he mentioned is No matter what your interest is, there are people in groups around the country that are meeting up with similar interests. If you search for motorcycles, there are oodles of motorcycle groups and meet-ups for rides galore. It turns out there are a couple of riding groups near Seattle and various riding groups associated with the motorcycle shop in Everett. This group posts all of their events so you can plan ahead and see what you want to attend. The site is organized so that you can accept, or tentatively accept an invitation so the planners have an idea of how many will be coming. There are photos of past events and rides, and it makes you feel like joining a group because it looks like so much fun.

The website is easy to find your way around, and is set up very well. You can search for groups that are in your local area. This seems like a good way to meet others with the same interests as you, and actually meet in person and not just online. Check out the motorcycle groups here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

All Motorcyclists Were Out Today

Today was an unusual day for being Jan.13. The sun came out and dried up the roads for the first time in a couple of weeks. The temps eventually got up in the low 50’s in the sun. Western Washington has been very cold and wet lately, which makes it difficult to ride a lot. This was the day I’d been waiting for.

I first got out my little Suzuki which hadn’t been ridden in a month. She turned over after the 4th try, and then had to be warmed up for nearly 10 minutes. I took off and did a loop that I sometimes do when I am just getting the bikes out for a while. I was 2/3 of the way home and the bike started sputtering and jerking. I had filled the gas tank quite a while back, but it had only been ridden 3 short times since then. So I thought that it probably didn’t need to go to reserve just quite yet. I came down to a stop sign on a 2 lane curvy wooded road. The bike died. So I put it on reserve, started it back up, and took off again. This time it rode like charm. I decided that I needed gas, so stopped on the way home and filled up. By then the bike was warm, full, and ready to hide in the back of the garage until another sunny day.

I came home and got out the Vulcan for a real ride. Once I got my husband rounded up and ready, we took off on a ride to Fall City. We rode into Woodinville, took the road to Duvall, and followed Fall City road all the way through Carnation, and into Fall City. These are all very small towns with rural areas in between, and there are little Pubs and Cafes in every town that bikers like to stop for a meal and a break. I think it would be safe to say that today every motorcycle owner living in Western Washington was out on the roads. Literally every 4th car was followed by one or more motorcycles. There were lots of groups out riding and everyone was waving and giving the biker ‘high five’. It was such a joy to be out and a beautiful day at that.

All along the ride I am passing up lovely photogenic scenes of rivers, farmland, snow-capped mountains, and Mount Rainier in all her glory. Could I get the husband to stop? Could I pull over along the gravel shoulder of the road in a split second while cars were following me? I saw about 20 shots and places in my mind that I will go back to and take photos. Today it was really all about the riding, so I didn’t mind not stopping. I did get a couple of shots from the roadside in Fall City, which happened to be across from a great little Bar & Grill that served a hamburger on a bun as big as your head! I know where we’ll be riding next summer when we get the urge for a great burger.

The round trip was about 100 miles. There were lovely, smooth and gently curving roads. Plenty of cars out on them, but we didn’t care. It was good just to be out and actually feel the warmth of the sun, and my face shield didn’t fog up once!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Northwest Motorcyclist

I found this picture today here and had to post it. This is what happens when you ride alot in the Northwest rain......You turn green and start hoppin'

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Winter Depression and Motorcyclists

I’ve been reading a lot of motorcycling blogs lately. In doing so, I have discovered a few new ones that I didn’t previously know about. That has been exciting to find new people in different parts of the country who love to ride motorcycles and blog about it, so others of us can come along for the ride.

The sad thing that I have noticed is the winter depression that starts to invade the motorcycling blogs. I have noticed people talking about selling their bikes! And there are several blogs who are closing their doors and folding. It is sad to see a good blog go. There are many who have not updated for months, or even years, and are still on people’s blogrolls. I can imagine that if you aren’t riding and you begin to let other interests take priority, then blogging about motorcycles can become a chore.

I am still trying to ride on the warm (?) and dry days(!) and it still depresses me to think about how long it is until Spring. The days here are getting longer (yay) and soon it will be light for a while after I get home from work. That is when I try to sneak in a ride in the evenings. Soon we’ll be getting more dry days and temps should start to creep up in the daytime. Then the weekend rides become a reality again.

It is frustrating not being able to ride enough in the winter. I find that as I go to sleep at night, I start imagining myself getting on my motorcycle. I think about what it’s like to take hold of the handgrips, and taking off down the street. I shift gears, dream about the wind whistling through my helmet, and the feeling of whizzing down the road to freedom. In my mind I can go there, take a ride, and come back home safely and satisfied. I dream about where I may go next summer. The maps are poured over and the imaginary routes are pondered.

As you sit in your warm home and wish you could ride to parts unknown, remember that you can be there in your mind. Spring will be here before we know it, and then we’ll all forget the winter blahs and hit the roads once again. And those of you thinking about getting rid of your bikes………think long and hard. If you really don’t enjoy riding, that’s one thing. If someone (a spouse, for instance) is ‘making’ you get rid of your motorcycle……you have bigger problems!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year’s Day Ride 2008 and All Is Well

For the last 2 weeks I have had a virus that laid me out and made me want my mommy. It began with a fever, then a weird rash, and then I was stricken with viral arthritis. If anyone has ever had it you can relate. It affected my hands and arms mostly, and for a few days I was in agonizing pain and could not straighten my curled hands or move my arms much. The virus eventually passed and now I am slowly getting back the use of my hands and building up my energy and strength.

Needless to say, with the sickness and the rain/snow we’ve had lately, I haven’t been able to ride my motorcycle. I had made a commitment to ride on Christmas Day, as it is a personal tradition of mine. That didn’t happen……..

On New Year’s Day, I always try to ride as a tradition to start the New Year out right. I hope this will continue my riding good luck throughout the year. The weather cooperated for once and it turned out to be a warm 47 degrees with overcast skies. I grabbed my new camera, which I couldn’t wait to try out, and my husband and I went for a ride. My starting mileage on the Vulcan for 2008 was 381 miles. That's sick!

We cruised down the eastern shore of Lake Washington to a park on Juanita Beach.

There were mass quantities of ducks.

You can see the Seattle skyline across the Lake.
The ride was wonderful, as it was so exhilarating to be out on the bike. The cool air was clean and I made sure to open a few vents in my helmet. I didn’t even need to wear my thermal layer under my jeans. The traffic was light and I guessed it was because there were lots of football games on all day, and others were recuperating from the night before.

On the way home we took the freeway I-405. On my new bike I love to take the freeway and go fast, and challenge the on and off-ramps. The windshield keeps the wind from whipping my head around, so eases the pressure on my neck. As I was riding I felt that moment of Zen when you know you are at peace and harmony with the earth. The ride was so fun and I came home with a new attitude and a few ideas for some longer rides that I want to do in 2008.

So as I look back on New Year’s Day I have a sense of well-being and hope for the future and good things happening in 2008. The day’s ride was much needed and left me with a feeling of peace and calm. Ohmmmmmm………..