Tonight I sit here thinking over my awesome weekend and meeting new motorcycle friends. That stated, a weekend away from everyone I see on a regular basis (excluding hubster) was just what I imagine a therapist might order for a girl suffering from the weekly grind of routine and offices. Two wheels and an open road to clear my thoughts and rejuvenate my spirit did just the trick.

We booked an amazing little ranch cabin located in the cozy town of Brooksville, FL. The cabin was set on a horse ranch that included a variety of other farm animals. It felt like camping but much more comfy.  If you like doing the AirBnB thing and you’re into nature and animals, click on the link above, this place was great.

“Thanks to you I’m much obliged for such a pleasant stay…”

-Led Zeppelin

We decided on our ride down from Bama that we would take our time and avoid the interstate. This gave us the chance to take it all in. I saw an older gentleman selling Tupelo honey off the back of his pickup truck. We passed more than a couple of mom and pop BBQ joints with smells that tempted me to stop on more than one occasion, so long diet! We also took in more somber scenery in the form of property devastation from hurricane Michael. The media has all but forgotten the people of the little rural towns of south Alabama and North Florida. I will say it didn’t deter the folks who live in these parts from working to rebuild and it didn’t keep them from being friendly. Everyone who stopped to discuss our motorcycle trip with us was brimming with kindness.img_0591

I had a passenger on my ride, a tagalong from a sweet little relative who is completing a class project. Flat Stanley was a great companion, easily fitting in to my saddlebag and popping out for cool photo ops, one of which was our ride through Apalachicola National Forest. d5ea9ac0-41c0-4f09-8f99-4db8090c86bf

Sarge, my Triumph Tiger Xc, was comfortable and accommodated all of my packing needs easily. I went with soft bags over the hard case panniers due to pricing, and I attached another duffel over the rear seat. Never did I feel like the bike was overloaded nor did I feel any difference in handling with the added weight. The handlebar warmers that come standard on this particular model were nice for that early morning takeoff. I will eventually upgrade to the heated seat as well.7438e96c-35fe-4cd0-aac6-10fe081d9f2d

Hubster was riding along on the KTM Superduke and feeling pretty comfortable as well. His bike, a sport touring model, boasts a lot of power and torque, stuff hubster loves. The KTM also provides a bit more comfort than some of his previous bikes which allows him to look young guy cool 😎 with old man 👴🏻 comfort, haha. The KTM comes standard with hard side bags for storage which hubster utilized along with an additional storage bag over the rear seat. I’m finding that people often mistake his bike for KTM’s version of the adventure bike. I don’t know if that’s because he’s often riding alongside my Tiger or that KTM is so well known for their dirt and off road motorcycles.img_0537

We made an extended stop in Cedar Key, FL where I got to sample some local seafood and walk around a bit to stretch my legs. We saw other motorcyclists and had conversations about bike makes models and gear we like. I often get feedback on the height of my bike, but it’s the most comfortable bike I’ve ridden thus far. Listen up ladies, don’t let the bike size intimidate you, had I went off of looks alone I would’ve never given a motorcycle like this a chance. Rider experience is what it’s all about & while being able to touch the ground is important, being completely flat footed is not, more on that topic later.c73579f5-3a93-4128-bd91-a1c605826934

Hubster had taken the liberty of reaching out to some motorcyclists we’d been following for quite some time on social media so our plan was a morning of horseback riding at the ranch and an evening of meeting some fellow riders. Before meeting up with the other bikers to ride hubster was questioned about our riding experience. This is an important and, I feel, necessary question when riding in new groups. These were sport bike riders, a type of riding I haven’t done in a while, so upon introductions I made it clear I’d be in the back of the group. Our new sport bike friends were more than gracious and reassuring regarding the topic.img_0601img_06109dcaee03-6074-4410-9cb9-9e628dc5da53

YamahaGRL and her husband are amazing riders and they introduced us to some curves in Florida I would’ve never known about. Shout out to Florida Department of Transportation and their amazing roads, some of the best maintained roads I’ve had the privilege to ride on. I liked that YamahaGRL and her husband were sticklers for safety gear and she had the literal scars to prove just how important gear can be. As we discussed riding ability she shared that every time she becomes too arrogant in riding she gets humbled so her advice to me was keep riding and stay humble. I mentioned earlier about not always being flat footed on a bike, well YamahaGRL was on her toes at stops, but she knew her bike and her abilities, that’s what it’s all about ladies. We spent that evening getting an idea of the roads and route we’d be taking the next day when we’d be meeting up with more seasoned motorcycle enthusiasts.img_0681

That following morning we met other riders Salt, Heather, & John just to name a few and set out on our ride. I admired everyone’s riding abilities and believe it or not, Sarge kept up! Sarge may not be a sport bike but it didn’t lack the handling and power needed to get into some leans. I used every bit of my tire and was feeling confident in what my bike was capable of. This group of riders were courteous to traffic and each other, we took breaks as needed, and had an all around enjoyable experience.img_0639

Our next day was intended to be more adventure as we made our way back home. I wanted to take the Tiger down a trail I’d heard about but as chance would have it Mother Nature had other plans. It began raining about half an hour into our trip home. We always prepare for rain but I don’t love it. The right gear makes all the difference and it’s definitely time to upgrade mine. Each of our stops included a hot beverage and extended time due to the fatigue brought on by cold. Thankfully I was able to get by with the gear I had b/c the hand guards, windscreen, and hand warmers on the bike do a good job of doing their job. Despite the cold and rain, when you have the opportunity for a cool photo op you take it. We found this cool church covered in murals and took several pics.0f5ccb75-73ed-4812-af9e-fd5498d5565aa733d3d6-092b-42b2-85ab-cf58c1d8a399

On the initial trip down I noticed a sign for a state park I wanted to check out and since the rain and cold wasn’t letting up any time soon we figured why not check the place out. So glad we did! Wakulla Springs is an amazing little spot that offers river boat rides for minimal prices. There is a beautiful historic lodge in the park that has a restaurant and a nice snack bar. We took a river boat ride and saw several manatee, alligators, water fowl, and plant life. Our guide down the river was great, funny and full of facts.img_0696

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If you’re an old movie lover like me then you understand what a treat it was to learn the old horror flick Creature From The Black Lagoon was filmed here. My imagination ran wild as I could definitely see how this would’ve made a great movie setting. The condensation coming off of the river gave the area that creepy vibe, well that and the alligators. This is an area I plan to revisit when it’s not cold and raining!img_0695

This is what adventure riding is all about for me. The trips, the trails, the foods, the smells all culminating to create a wonderful overall experience. The best part, meeting new people & making new friends. The world isn’t as ugly as the news would have you believe, people can be awesome. So get out and find some adventure. I can’t wait for my next one!img_0620

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

-Helen Keller

“I’m Back In The Saddle Again”

It’s been a minute since I’ve sat to write. Winter had my bike parked and then there was that hurricane Michael business that had to be dealt with. It’s good to be back in the saddle now that my roof has been repaired (sort of) and the weather has shifted (sort of). We’re in tornado season now, ugh! Thankfully, my family and property only suffered minimal damages. I say this while realizing many others lost SO MUCH MORE. So it’s with humble gratitude that I move forward.

My maiden two wheeled ride of the season took me through areas still in recovery from storms. Blue plastic tarps and upturned tree roots are a reminder of what happened and of the resilience of people who call this area home. Humankind can be kind of amazing that way, we endure.

The storms and the loss have caused me to think on matters close to home, my family. Hubster and I have one kid who is doing well in college and our youngest who is at home. Clearly I’m a gal who sees the value in having a hobby and our youngest has expressed his interest in motorcycles so we decided it was time to introduce him.

We’ve been discussing it for several months and my mom instincts were tingling quite a bit. Every horror story scenario played through my head & emotion was in danger of taking over. Thankfully I’m married to Mr. Logical and we talked through things rationally. We are a safety first family regarding motorcycling and if our son was to eventually ride someday, why not teach him and allow him to explore this world of motorcycling while he is still under our wing?

We settled on the Kawasaki KLX 250 as a beginner bike. Basically a dirt bike with turn signals. It’s light, it’s fun, and it isn’t an overwhelming amount of power for a new rider.

This bike also comes with the added bonus of my being able to ride it a little as I explore some off road riding.

Day one with the Green Monster (what I’m gonna call the Kawi until my son names it) was great. My son took to riding like a fish to water. Within 10 minutes he understood the gears and using smooth wrist/hand movements with regards to clutch and throttle. He followed hubsters instructions well and didn’t go speed crazy as we had him do open laps around a field. He was a natural, which helped to alleviate some of my anxiety. This was probably not how hubster felt when it was my turn to take the Green Monster for a spin.

When I first got on this little 250, I was thinking, “Wow this little thing weighs nothing,” and I took off. I mean I REALLY took off! Remember that whole safety first thing I mentioned? Yeah, well I had a moment today. I wore boots and a helmet but my arms were completely exposed. Not my finest moment, a fun one but not my finest. I jumped some field mounds and even got a little air, and then I almost dumped it. My posturing was all wrong and my front end went down way too hard and I almost went with it. Pucker factor was in full effect.

Those bushes are full of briars. Thankfully I didn’t dump it, at the very least I would’ve been rocking some gnarly scuffs and scratches from the brush around the field. It was time to stop and reset and also allow hubster to calm down as well. My son got to witness what not to do and we’ve had a day long after action review led by hubster.

Later in the day I took Sarge (Triumph Tiger) off road and went a bit slower. I don’t have the aggressive off road tires on Sarge but the bike performed well, we did not get any air but Sarge handled the rough terrain with ease. This is my sweet spot. I haven’t given up on dirt biking after my maiden voyage today but the ADV bike allows me a great ride while I experience more of nature.

I am thankful for zero injuries today and also for lessons learned. Just because I ride one style of make doesn’t mean I’m an expert on another style of bike. I was also reminded that I like my skin and I paid good money for my tattoos, so GEAR, ALWAYS WEAR GEAR!

As for my son, he’s a pretty happy kid right now and he was reading the motorcycle owner’s manual on the porch with hubster this evening. Bonding with our kids is one of our biggest responsibilities as parents, it’s also the biggest joy. I kick myself constantly for not spending more time with my daughter when she was still at home.

“…and the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…”

She’s a great gal and we have a wonderful relationship, you just learn a lot of lessons on that first kid. We learned that our daughter staying busy with hobbies during school kept her focused and out of trouble & we plan to encourage our son to stay just as busy with positive activities. For now it appears he’ll like the two wheeled experience, and if that should continue to be the case I can have some peace of mind that we taught him responsibility with a bike, even if the lesson was what not to do😊.

“Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies”

I have been in the beginning stages of planning a cross country trip on Sarge (Triumph Tiger XCX) and this led to conversations with hubster about how many miles a biker can reasonably ride in a day and be able to do it all over again the next day.  From southeast Alabama to San Antonio is a trip I have made in a day several times by car.  That stretch of I10 and I are well acquainted with it’s Emerald Coast, battleship, casinos, and swamps.I wanted to ride from home to San Anton’ in one trip.  The hubster had doubts about my ability to pick up and ride the next day should I attempt it.  So I did what any good stubborn southern woman would do, I argued and decided to put my theory to the test. We were planning a trip up to Ohio to visit my daughter in college and see some of our biker pals and I figured this trip would be a great little test run.  We’d haul Sarge up on the back of the truck and I’d ride Sarge all the way back with hubster close by with the truck should my stubborn energy fail.  We took off from Columbus, Ohio early morning for our return trip and made plans to take a few fun detours.I learned a few things on this all day motorcycle ride like how I don’t care for straight interstate travel that long, how great the stock seat on the Triumph Tiger really is, and how much I love cruise control on a bike.  I learned the importance of taking breaks and stretching.  I also learned that everyone texts and drives now so that’s kinda scary.  All in all it was shaping up to be a good day until I received some not so great news from home.  This is where my story is going to take a turn from bikes to another subject near and dear to my heart and that is the subject of our beloved furry family members.About 11 years ago our family was returning from an overseas duty station and we decided we would find a four legged buddy for our daughter and that is when we met Tito.  We decided on a Boston terrier b/c I love their tenacity of spirit.  I has one as a child and I though this would be a great friend for our girl.  To say Tito is loved by my daughter is an understatement.  From day one Tito proved he was a tank.  Tito hiked his leg to pee on hubster once (only once), Tito picked fights with dobermans and German shepherds, Tito was Napoleon.  Tito was also the most loyal friend my daughter had through her formative years.  He comforted her when she cried, he became excited when she entered the room.  He made it clear to her first boyfriend that he was her pal and didn’t intend on being replaced.  He didn’t do much in the ways of tricks or good behavior but the companionship he provided our girl has been invaluable.  Tito grieved her first year away for college.We considered taking Tito with us on the trip to visit our girl but decided against it.  We chose instead to leave him home for our teenage son and other family to look after until our return.  This turned out to be a mistake.  On my ride home I got a call & using my Pack Talk I was able to answer.  I received the news from family that Tito went missing.  I was flooded with worry.  This half blind, half deaf dog was the one family member my daughter makes it a point to call and check on.  We sent her a life size cardboard cutout of Tito’s photo her first year in the dorms.  How was I going to tell her he was missing?When we arrived home late that night I was tired and wet from the rain and I stayed on the bike to do loops around the neighborhood looking for our beloved furry pal.  The next morning I crawled through swamps to find him, hubster crawled through brush and went down roads, we knocked on doors.  No sign of Tito.  We looked, we grieved, we decided that he was old and that he’d never left home before, maybe he meant to go.  Maybe Tito leaving was his way of saying goodbye.  We gave it a week of searches and questioning neighbors and then we decided that we must tell our daughter that Tito was gone.

This pivotal moment is when we considered that we didn’t want our daughter resenting our son for perceived negligence and we didn’t want her wondering and grieving about what ill fated end Tito faced.  We decided to lie.  Now as lies go you are never really done with just one lie, they must be layered and intricately webbed in order for the narrative to fit.  We told her he was old and that we woke to find that he’d passed away peacefully in his sleep.  I felt guilty when I said it, but I reconciled that it must be done.  I later had dreams about Tito being lost in the woods suffering, and that haunted me.  Lies can often bring such stress.  Tito had been with us for so long.  Tito had been attacked by a coyote only a year earlier and had survived and now our negligence led to his demise.  Our daughter must never know.  We extended the layers of lies to family and friends to ensure our girl wouldn’t find out.  It would become our dark family secret.So I must state that I know lying is wrong but I told myself that this time it was okay.  I guess the good Lord had other plans b/c this week I get a text from hubster, “Guess who decided to show up?”  The next text was a pic of our half blind boston terrier with his bent ear.  Tito was a bit skinnier than usual, a little roughed up, but otherwise fine.  Of course I was happy that Tito was back but I was also feeling guilt and stress over the next phone call I would have to make.  I decided to employ the band aid method, do it quick and get it over with.  Thankfully our girl didn’t explode into a rage, she was happy Tito was alive.  She wanted details of his current state of being and assurance that his highness (or in this case his blindness) would be escorted properly on his trips outside.  My girl was happy and Tito was home.Who knows how many more months or years we have left with “the tank” but I’m happy to have them.  Dogs are God’s way of reminding us that there is good in the world, despite our evil, despite our lies.  I wish we did better by them.  Granted, I didn’t share much in the way of bikes this week but I guess the lesson for me to learn this week is that dishonesty never pays.  My daughter understood why but now trust has been broken and that isn’t easily repaired.  She isn’t angry with us but sometimes we adults tend to overthink it and don’t give our kids credit for being able to handle the hard stuff, it’s a mistake.  Kids are resilient and truth is always the right course of action.  I guess there’s really no such thing as a “sweet little lie.” There is a such thing as tenacious little stubborn dogs. Much like I needed to prove to hubster that I could ride that many miles and still be okay (& I was… sort of) that little stinking dog proved to me he wasn’t down for the count yet. Maybe that’s why I like him, we have a share sense of stubbornness!

Oh and before I forget, to the family and friends that I lied to about the dog, I sincerely apologize.  It came from a good place but it was clearly wrong!

9/11 and A Biker’s Journey Home

This story begins at a time before motorcycles or marriage had entered my life. I was an 18 year old who’d just recently completed my military training to become a medic and had been stationed at the most unlikely of places for an E-2, The Pentagon. There were times the “mosquito wings” sitting on my collar garnered more attention than that of higher ranks. This wasn’t necessarily a positive thing, it wasn’t the greatest assignment for the up and coming enlisted soldier. There was a lot of visibility and little in the ways of soldiering. I lucked out at having the mentorship of some awesome NCOs and officers. I remember that day well, I still refer to it as Tuesday. I remember walking the corridor and the news screens blasting with coverage of NYC. Our head nurse that day clung to the radio we used to communicate medical emergencies in the building and with a look of grave concern stated, “We need to start evacuating this building.” This prior enlisted nurse who was now a CPT, was wise. I was not. My foolish response statement of arrogance is something I’ve regretted for years, “Haha, no one is stupid enough to attack The United States Department of Defense!” Did I mention I was young and foolish? Anyway, we all know what happened next. On that day I learned why the Army trained us like they do. What had always seemed to be senseless barking of commands had conditioned me to switch over to autopilot under stress. Check the feelings at the door and do your job, this is what it’s all about. We executed our duties as we responded to victims in the wake of the attack. My roommates at the time were Army lab techs and they jumped into action transporting emergency supplies and helping the wounded evacuate.

“Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” Adlai Stevenson

It was shortly after this when the dust and ash had settled that several of our first responders were taken to meet the firefighters and first responders in NYC. Many of their crews were still on rotating shifts attempting to pull bodies from the wreckage. They were different people than me, big city folks & here I was this little country girl from Alabama, but we were the same in that we were Americans and we wanted to help our fellow man. Maybe that’s why I like motorcycle culture so much, bikers are a diverse group of people with a shared love for helpfulness and freedom. Through this chaos I met the hubster. He, also being a soldier was deployed to D.C. in the aftermath to assist in security operations. I’ll never forget that initial meeting, he was wearing a NASCAR t-shirt tucked in with no belt when he approached me and my roommate who were dressed in our best ladies night out attire. I remember thinking, “What? Is this guy serious?” and yet, I was intrigued.

“Confidence is a stain ya can’t wipe off…” -Lil’ Wayne

NASCAR t-shirt guy had confidence, lots of it. This confidence and conviction of character would prove useful in the years, deployments, and trials to come. We planned a beautiful wedding that never happened b/c Afghanistan was waiting so we hopped on down to the courthouse in Savannah, GA & tied the knot (we realized we were both unintentionally wearing all black on this day, haha). I, like other family members left behind, pushed through the pain of loneliness & it wasn’t always pretty. As babies came and war raged on my military career came to an end. My role changed from soldier to mom, & that was just one of the many hats you have to wear when your spouse deploys. I was one of the blessed ones, the hubster came home after each deployment. He was a little worn, a little jumpy, a little deaf (like legit, one ear is like at half hearing, I now think he uses this to his advantage at night when I ramble on), but he came home. You may be wondering how does this tie into motorcycles??? Well stay with me, I watched motorcycles become an outlet for the hubster and other vets like him. It drowned out the noise & the chaos. It’s not a drug, far from it, it focuses your attention in a way that clears your thoughts. Clarity in chaos. He would come home after a ride tired and emotionally recharged at the same time. I didn’t understand this paradox. I understood the chaos life was hammering our family with and I was slightly manic. I had difficulty understanding his cathartic process and how the bike was part of that. Looking back I am so thankful that hubster had patience bringing me into his world of bikes and how it has now become our world of bikes. I am thankful that he had this outlet to throw himself into as he readjusted to life at home. Before my transition to rider I criticized what I didn’t understand, now I totally get it. I have also learned to keep learning and that criticisms and judgments are best put on hold b/c they’re often misleading.

A person of understanding delights in wisdom. -Proverbs 10:23

Despite my catchy blog page name, I’m not the most religious of people. Oh I was raised in a southern Baptist home where Jesus is Lord and Paul Bear Bryant was one of His anointed (Roll Tide), but I haven’t always walked that straight and narrow. I’m thankful for God’s grace, the ability to grow, and motorcycles among other things. There’ll be good days and bad ones ahead and in the bad ones I have found that a little prayer, patting my dog on the head, and an afternoon ride on the bike make the bad days a little better.Pain is a process and it can be one heck of a teacher. Whatever your process of dealing with it, remember that life is a gift, tomorrow is a new day, and a little wind therapy may just be what the doctor ordered 🙂

“Who’ll Stop The Rain?”

Something I’ve learned to be more interested in as a biker is the weather. While I absolutely love the feeling of being more connected with nature on a motorcycle, I’ve also accepted that I must endure some of nature’s less pleasant moments. Of course there are the bugs, changing winds, and I’ve developed some interesting tan lines from the back of a bike but the one thing that nature likes to throw at me in the most inconvenient moments is rain. It’s something all bikers have faced at some point and there’s much to be learned from the experience if you’re new to riding motorcycles. I didn’t like rain gear when I began riding, and I can’t claim to love it now but it has become an essential part of my riding gear for comfort as well as safety. I’ve burnt a few pair of Frogg Toggs pants on my exhaust pipe and I just go buy more because the price is right and I like the product. Maybe someday they’ll develop something I can’t burn up, lol!

I’ve traveled a few places and lived in others around the globe but I’ve gotta say the southeastern U.S. can kick out some storms that make you wonder if Jesus is about to bust the sky wide open with the apocalypse! Hurricanes, tornadoes, wind, and lighting are all formidable foes. The South has it all except snow, although I had a run in with that on a motorcycle in Ohio once. I don’t plan to get stuck in this stuff, it just happens. I once toyed with the idea of this cute open face helmet with goggles and that lasted like a whole week. It took a face full of bugs and the feeling of needle like rain drops to toss the idea (& the helmet) aside. I know the hipsters love that whole “Speed Racer” look, but the functionality leaves much to be desired. That helmet is cool on the skull in my blog logo but in reality, when donning the open face helmet I felt a little more like The Great Gazoo…Gazoo was cool, sort of. Maybe not as cool as those old crusty hardcore bikers. You know, the ones with the long white beards, tatts, and leather. Those guys laugh at the elements. The hubster and I saw one of those guys on a ride to Pensacola, FL a few weeks ago. He was riding in the rain with nothing for protection against the elements (or the road) except a pair of shades and a smile. I don’t criticize these guys, in my mind they are mysterious and wise like Gandalf……and like Gandalf they will always be cool whether they die trying to save middle earth, or in this case, their image. In any case, to each his own. Definitely not my approach. The cloud of coolness doesn’t protect my skin and other vital organs and I like keeping them all nicely protected.

Enjoying the ride is what it’s all about and preparing for the elements helps ensure that will happen. I’m learning to appreciate a little light rain while riding as long as I have the right gear. You don’t have to spend a million bucks. I have a gal pal that shared how she’d stopped at a gas station and used garbage bags and duct tape to thwart off the elements once. Ya might wanna spend a little more than that, but you get my point. Before I had a Bike with hand guards I kept an oversized pair of surgical gloves in my jacket pocket to put on over my riding gloves in the rain. They were snug and easy to carry. Speed Racer, Gazoo, and Gandalf aside, appreciation of function over fashion has kept me safe and ready to handle what nature tosses my way. Prepare for the elements, even fair weather riders can be caught off guard and if the rain isn’t something you’re used to, find a nice overpass or awning to duck under and wait it out. Do push yourself a little and learn about riding in the rain, you might find it quite refreshing on a hot dusty day!

“I Say a Little Prayer…”

I grew up in the south, a land plagued with a past but rich with culture.  Of course I’m biased, but we boast some of my favorite food, and music today (across all genres) would not be what it is had it not been for the Delta region and the blues influence.  Sometimes there is sweet in the sour, I’ll let you meditate on that a bit.  Percy Sledge recorded the ever famous, “When A Man Loves A Woman” in Sheffield, AL.  The late great Aretha Franklin recorded some of her most memorable hits at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  This particular area of Alabama boasts some other first recordings by other great artists.  Growing up in the Bible Belt, I didn’t appreciate this region’s culture nearly as much as I do today.

At the age of 18 I left this little corner of the U.S. as quickly as possible, I needed to see the world.  I saw some amazing stuff, met some amazing people, but I didn’t forget home.  I never forgot my great grand Mama Clark…

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I never forgot her blackberry cobbler or her collard greens.  I never forgot her stories of life during the Great Depression, of her picking cotton in the fields, poke salad, and drinking ice water out of mason jars.  Her work ethic has stuck with me to this day.  I won’t immortalize her, she was human like we all are.  She had her hang ups but through her strengths and her flaws I found lessons, invaluable to my life.  She loved a simple man who farmed peanuts and ginned cotton, Daddy Clark…

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Loving him during such a time couldn’t have been easy, but they made vows and they stuck it out through thick and thin, literally.  The past may have it’s dark spots but we would be in error to “throw the baby out with the bath water,” there’s much to be learned from the past successes and mistakes of those who came before us.  If time is an equalizer, then we are no better in this generation than the last, we just have different mistakes to make and lessons to learn.  Arrogance plagues our culture just as much as other evils.

However, this blog isn’t about history, family, music, mistakes, or successes as much as it is about bikes.  Today I took Sarge out for a spin down some south Alabama dirt roads and the ride got me all nostalgic.  I started the morning feeling down in the dumps.  Who knows why?  Hormones? The monotony of life?  Aretha’s passing reminding me that mainstream music is declining?  Maybe something else more personal?  Either way, I said a little prayer asking Jesus for peace of whatever it was plaguing my mind and then decided to get out and play with the off road riding mode on the Tiger to clear my head.

Anyhoo… feeling depressed, I jump on the bike and hit some dirt roads and boom, immediate mood enhancer.  I didn’t know honeysuckle was still in bloom at this time of year but there was a sweet smell from my past that hit my nostrils and flooded my memory with images of Mama Clark and Daddy Clark, growing up with little but feeling like we had a lot, family, food, and most importantly faith.  It was faith that has gotten me through every hardship that I’ve faced.

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I wasn’t really lost, I grew up on these red clay roads, but it’s been a few years.  My head stopped worrying about the daily grind of life and traveled back to a place of youth that made me happy.  A place of dirt roads, good food, south Alabama heat, and family.  I had thoughts of feeling blessed.  There’s been a lot of bad, but there’s a lot of good too, and being out in God’s creation reminded me of His blessing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time in the city but you can’t see the stars under a canopy of florescent light and smog will choke out the sweet smell of honeysuckle.  I can’t take credit for the first part of that last statement, that was a point inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King.  On two wheels I feel the wind against my body, the sweat rolling down my back, and nature inviting me in.  I feel connected to God and His creation.

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This was the maiden voyage of Sarge in the dirt.  Granted, we can’t really call this off road, it’s a dirt road, but I’m an off road newbie so I take baby steps and anyway not all of the dirt roads in Geneva County, Alabama are maintained regularly but I like it that way.  A little nature creeping back in is a good thing.  Don’t ask me why but I began this venture by putting the bike into rain mode???  Anyway I finally got it in the normal off road mode, and on some of the less developed roads Sarge and I had a bit of fun.  There was some back tire sliding and some choking out the motor but I managed it without dumping the bike.

The comfort I feel as a rider on this bike really allowed me the ability to take a stroll down memory lane and hit the mental reset button.  When I felt the back tire slide, it felt like controlled movement, not chaos, which allowed this off road newbie to enjoy her morning.  Maybe I was overdue for some saddle time, maybe I’ve let the media and all it’s crap seep back into my head, but I’m glad it’s out now.

“Let’s start with the church.  As you know, It’s my background, it’s a natural setting for me and it’s definitely my roots.”

“Soul is a constant.  It’s cultural.  It’s always going to be there in different flavors and degrees.”

-Aretha Franklin

As I sit here and type I’m enjoying some tunes from one of history’s great soul singers and some from country music legend Miss Patsy Cline.  They may be different ladies but they both sound amazing.  I’m thankful for different songs sang, lessons learned, motorcycles ridden, lives lived, my own roots, and being loved by a good God.  Now time to wash Sarge.  He may be rugged, but his current state will never pass the hubster’s detailed inspection…

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“The Times They Are A Changin’”

So the big news in the world of motorcycles this week is Harley Davidson’s plans to change things up over the next few years. Cycle World, details the proposed changes in their article. It’s worth a look if you’re a motorcycle enthusiast and haven’t read it yet. I say, it’s about time. I’m not quite sure about the direction they’re headed but hey, I’m an open minded gal. I remember when choppers were the craze a few years back and Honda gave us the Fury. The popularity of shows like Orange County Choppers I’m sure helped in this trend. It looked really cool until you realized that many of those shiny parts were plastic. I’m not an economist so I couldn’t give you the stats on how successful that endeavor was but it couldn’t have been too much of a flop because it was still in production as of 2017. The idea of a production chopper seemed somewhat of an oxymoron to me, but to each their own & I don’t mean that smugly.

As of late, I’ve seen insults flung about on various bike forums regarding HD & the changes and I don’t get it.  If you’re a purist and you love your brand/style of motorcycle then more power to you.  If you’re like me & open to various types of rides then changes are exciting.  Anything to get more people riding is awesome. My hope is that companies like HD look at buyer trends and pricing.  You’d be hard pressed to find a twenty something with an average income that is willing to drop $25k or more on something like a motorcycle.  HD isn’t the only pricey motorcycle manufacturer either.  Have you seen the price tags on new sport bikes?  Who wants to start life shackled with unnecessary debt?  Isn’t motorcycling supposed to be about freedom?  I hope HD considers this when marketing it’s new models.  The boomers continue to age and the millennials are the ones spending money now.  I hope the motorcycle companies give them a reason to fall in love with this hobby and keep coming back.  Nothing wrong with the past but give the young’uns something they will enjoy and can afford.

There’s an event that I have yet to attend, but am making serious plans for future attendance.  From what I have learned the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show is an event in which various Bike builders have the opportunity to showcase their hard work and ingenuity in building bikes. Crazy amazing creations that I can’t wait to view in person. Events like this inspire my imagination and creativity.  What an awesome way to interest young idealists to the world of motorcycles?  If large companies want to stay on top they may want to consider sponsoring or hosting events like this in attracting new customers. You can celebrate a brand without being a sellout.  My Pearl is a HD and once she’s rebuilt, she’ll still have the heart of an American V-twin.  Unlike monogamy in marriage, I’m allowed to love a wide array of motorcycles and still be of good moral character!  Sarge (my Triumph Tiger) is my newest fling and it’s so much fun to ride for completely different reasons.  I applaud Harley’s efforts but as far as adventure bikes go, they are going to have some stiff competition.  The idea of a HD adventure bike is really just beyond my ability to imagine as of yet, but hey who knows?  I like HD for the sound, the nostalgia, and the ability to go crazy custom on a Sporty with relative ease.

A great place to really indulge in my love of all motorcycles is the Barber Motorsports Museum. This facility boasts a wide selection of motorcycles, ATVs, a few cars, and even a lawnmower (ya gotta check out the lawnmower display). Not to mention, there is a great track at the facility as well. The hubster drags me along every year but this is one trip I enjoy.  This is a great place to introduce an interested party to the world of motorcycles.

Here’s a few shots of my little man on one of our excursions to the museum…As you can see, it’s more than just motorcycles. I don’t own stock in the place or anything but I just really enjoy it.  Mr. Barber did a fine thing with putting this collection together.

I’m a biker, I like bikes. I’m excited to see what Harley puts out, even if it’s crazy, it means they are adapting & I like to see old companies succeed. There was a great little HD mini series about the birth of the Harley Davidson brand that got me feeling all nostalgic. Not so nostalgic I’ll go out and engage in the orange and black cosplay, but the idea of a couple of regular dudes coming up with ideas in a garage is quite appealing.  Kinda like the awesome story behind the Britten motorcycle, also definitely worth checking out!  The Barber Museum actually had one of the few Britten motorcycles on display for a while.  It was a thing of beauty that you can read about here on the link, John Britten.

I think this next generation of motorcyclists and bike builders can bring some cool stuff to the world of bikes as well.  Mr. Britten was ahead of his time and taken too soon.  I’d love to see more of that type of ingenuity.  I’d also love to see a decrease in the brand bashing.  A week ago someone (another motorcyclist) noticed my helmet and commented, “Oh I was relieved when I didn’t see the bar and shield on your gear.  So your not one those Harley nuts right?”  I don’t care for any type of discrimination (I find that bikers are usually pretty cool folks) so let’s be nice and maybe, just maybe we can keep some of the nostalgia from the past while looking into some cool advances for the future.  Whatever your ride of choice, have fun and enjoy the road.  Life is too short to be a hater.

“🎶Come gather ’round people Wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown…🎶” -Bob Dylan

“You can’t always get what you want…”

I have been planning on another type of bike for a few months now, diligently reading and researching models and options based on the type of riding I am wanting to do.  Now before I am accused of cheating on Pearl, I am still very much attached to my HD Roadster, it’s just she’s currently undergoing her makeover and I needed a new ride, not to mention, Pearl will eventually be the beautiful southern pageant queen the bike builders, BL Machining, and I am dreaming she can become (minus the sequins and tiara of course).  It wasn’t very lady like for her to pose for this photo but here she is all naked, gasp! What can I say, she’s an exhibitionist.  So with the disclaimers out of the way regarding Pearl, let me introduce Sarge…  I’ll let you guess as to why this OD green Triumph Tiger 800 xcx is named Sarge.  I mean what can you expect from a couple of enlisted Army vets?  And besides Sarge looks good all camo & out in nature.  Here we have the Tiger in it’s natural habitat…

“Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry…

…What the hammer? what the chain, In what furnace was thy brain?  What the anvil? what dread grasp, Dare it’s deadly terrors clasp?…”   -William Blake

Much like one of my favorite poems, the Triumph Tiger also finds it’s origins in the land across the water 🇬🇧. I want to start by stating how I never even considered this bike.  I wanted a Honda Africa Twin and as these things usually go I become quite rigid in my thinking once my mind has been made up.  I had watched the YouTube vids, did image searches, read blogs, pretty much followed everything Honda AT related.  This rigid mindset was folly on my part b/c at 5′ 5″ I’m not what you’d call a tall gal, it may not have even worked out that I could ride it.  The Honda AT is a tall bike as it should be, it’s for adventures after all.  The Honda AT was to be my bike.  I had the next 5 years of adventure already planned in my head.  I read the reviews on seat adjustment for height and I have no issues tiptoeing it on hubster’s KTM.  We located dealerships, made some calls, and all that was needed was for me to finally sit on the bike in the lowered seat position, make the purchase, and ride her home. The hubster attempted suggesting alternatives but I wasn’t hearing it.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”  -John Lennon

Life has a knack for abruptly switching gears despite what you want & one would think I’d learned this lesson but, hey I’m stubborn.  I won’t go bashing a dealership by name in my blog but I will say that if you’re a salesman and you know ahead of time that a customer is driving 2 1/2 hours to your dealership then have your ducks in a row b/c they are serious about purchasing.  I also won’t re hash all the details of how my time was wasted and the blatant disregard for customer service, but long story short they wouldn’t let the Bike leave the dealership until 2 days later over a paperwork issue that, had we known ahead of time, wouldn’t have been an issue. They were also kind of pushy about having us finance through Honda instead of our bank, at a higher percentage rate, seriously?!?!?!  Never be afraid to walk away! We were polite in leaving but the salesman and staff cared little about our time and I have the final say in where I spend my money, I’d rather spend it where customers are valued.  Since we had a 2 1/2 hour drive back home I decided to do a simple Google search of other motorcycle dealerships in the area & found this little gem of a dealership, DandD Cycles. Already feeling kinda bummed, I didn’t expect to buy anything at this point but as a lover of all things motorcycle, & the lack of European bike dealers in my hometown, I thought looking at some Italian beauties might cheer me up.  We arrived and were greeted by a salesman who spoke to us a bit and gave us space to explore, he stayed close by for any questions we had.  Looking across the showroom floor I immediately spotted the Triumph Tiger 800 xcx.  I knew of this bike previously and gave it a passing glance in photos, the pics just didn’t do this bike justice.  In person I loved the look of this bike and actually preferred it to the Honda AT.  The sticker price on the bike set me back a bit, this was a bit more than I was looking to spend.  “Excuse me, Mr. Salesman…”  I’m glad this guy knew his stuff because he informed me about some standard Tiger options that I didn’t get with the Honda AT.  Items like the 12v port, gel seat, crash bars, heated grips, beefy-er skid plate, and more; all aftermarket options that I had planned on purchasing for the Honda AT.  This difference made the pricing competitive with that of the Honda, not to mention this dealership wasn’t trying to force some other financing option down my throat.  It was decided, I was buying a Tiger!  The owner, a woman, came out to greet us, as well as the service department and we discussed routine maintenance and controls.The seating position of the Tiger was comparable to that of the Honda AT but the seat on the Tiger was much more comfortable to me.  Not having ridden the AT, I can’t give any feedback on riding it, but if it is as well balanced as the Tiger then do not be intimidated by the height.  The Tiger has easily adjustable high and low seating positions, and I use the low.  I am still on tip toes but it matters little b/c this bike is so well balanced that sitting at red lights I only need my toe to merely touch the ground ever so slightly to maintain keeping the bike upright.  I’m sure most of you will know what I mean about that “point of no return” spot on a bike that when standing still if it leans too far it isn’t getting back up despite your best thigh muscle efforts, well after 2 days of riding I haven’t found that spot on the Tiger yet.  I’m sure I will soon but I’m in no hurry to get it off road quite yet, but with the variety of riding modes available on this bike I have high expectations.  Again, this bike is balanced very well.  The controls light up ever so slightly at night, eliminating that fumbling around in the dark and the joy stick on the left control easily toggles through the various display screens.  The display screen adjusts to the outside lighting.  I spent all day riding with the Alabama sun beating directly down on me and was still able to see the display screen with ease. If you are in the market for an adventure bike look at all the options available.  So far the Tiger has left me smiling.  Don’t settle for crap customer service, if you’re like me, you work hard for your money and a motorcycle purchase should be fun.  I want to thank the folks at DandD in Pensacola, FL for making the process fun, introducing me to Sarge, and allowing me to end this post with that catchy Stones tune that we began with, 🎶”…but if you try sometimes well you might find you get what you need.”🎶  I needed some wind therapy today.

Eye Candy and Speeding Tickets

When writing my stories and sharing adventures I like to keep it real. If you’ve read previous posts of mine and you’ve seen the pics I’ve shared, I have not always looked my cutest. It’s not that I don’t wanna look cute, I’m a woman, it’s just that it’s hard to look cute when your outfit is covered in dead bugs and you’re rocking the helmet hair. As I’ve added years my appearance has changed and it’s something I’ve learned to love about myself. Every line on my face tells a story, those stretch marks are a testament to the body that carried my children, and the extra pounds – well maybe I don’t love them quite as much, but I’m not loosing any sleep over it. I’m comfortable in my skin & it is my sincere desire that every woman feel that same level of comfort. Society is kinda obsessed with appearances & women’s bodies are used as marketing tools all the time. Women are more than just eye candy. Us gals have plenty to offer the motorcycle community besides swimsuit pics. I’m not hating on the bike models, if ya got it, flaunt it (within reason ladies, lol). There once existed a time I flaunted it a little at the hubster’s request. That girl was a little younger, a little lighter, and a little new to motorcycling. The woman today appreciates so much more about the art of motorcycling and has come to love this hobby for many other reasons besides just looking cute while going fast. Side note, the girl of my youth appreciated equality among the sexes as much as the woman today. Like that saying goes, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” It’s nice to have a talented photog friend that helped in subjecting the gander (hubster) to a request of my own.I miss that Victory Hammer! It was a beautiful muscle cruiser. On it’s own that Bike was eye candy. The Victory had a solid V-twin & showcased a beautiful example of an American muscle cruiser. I don’t miss it in the corners however. With a wide back tire that looked so good, turning that bad boy was like wrestling a pig 🐷. The hubster sure was pretty sitting on it though! Another example of some motorcycle eye candy was a previous bike I owned. The younger me rode a Suzuki GSXR 600. She was named Black Betty but I now refer to her as the Pink demon. She got me in so much trouble! I lost my license for a year due to that bike. I wasn’t even trying to speed. I was only in 4th gear and I was pulled over for doing 107 in a 55mph zone. It was hot outside, I saw the exit for home, and with a twist of the wrist my fate was sealed. The officer that pulled me over was ticked b/c I guess he’d been chasing some other sport bikes that day. Other cops stopped to survey the scene, not sure why except that they were curious about the pink flames, it’s not like little ole me posed a threat. I remember the ticketing officer smiling while holding up his radar gun like a trophy buck he’d just taken down as the other officers looked and laughed. The officers were nice but I wasn’t laughing. I asked the cop why he tagged me with the radar if he’d been after the other (faster) bikes and his response was, “Honestly, because that pink helmet was an easy target for my radar.” I purchased a black helmet the very next week.

“Life in the fast lane, surely make you loose your mind…” -Don Henley

Flash and pizazz are certainly fun. Looking cute while going fast is fun, but I enjoy the freedoms of a law abiding lifestyle so I’ve slowed it down just a bit. I’ve also passed on any ideas about being a motorcycle model, other gals can have that, I only hope the other gals actually start the bike up and take it for a spin because it’s super fun and what better way to familiarize oneself with what you’re selling. There are so many great riders who are women & I have been blessed to call them friends. In my early years of riding it was a female who mentored and encouraged me as my skills as a rider developed. I must admit that receiving constructive feedback from a fellow woman was much easier on my pride than from the hubster and other dudes. It wasn’t just my pride but other issues like female riding postures, gear, etc. Although minor, some of the differences between what works best for a dude vs. a chick was best discussed with another chick. The hubster means well but my tiny hands need a more delicate riding glove, unlike his Grape Ape man hands. A few things before I end, I caution against going 107 in a 55mph zone, that’s what a track is for. As for the pink helmet, it did serve the purpose of being highly visible, which is a good thing in traffic. Finally, in compliance with Equal Opportunity directives (geese, ganders, and such) guys – you all have the potential to look cute with your ride as well, but please fellas keep it clean 😂! Cue Sammy Hagar 🎶…I can’t drive 55…🎶

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