“Who’s Gonna Drive you Home…”

This little 80’s classic was the song that was playing in my head somewhere outside of Scranton NJ one rainy night. My brain is wired like a juke box, or iTunes, just less organized. I have background music playing in my head for almost any situation. This particular song got pulled from the memory because I found myself facing the forth issue on what was supposed to be a problem free motorcycle trip with my gal pals &… I was pretty far from home. The song lyrics were not comforting.

“Who’s gonna come around when you break? You can’t go on thinkin’ nothing’s wrong…” -The Cars

It started out when I left Alabama hauling Pearl in the back of my truck. We were headed to Columbus, Ohio to meet up with friends where I would dump the truck and jump on the bike and head for Babes Ride Out which was being held in Narrowsburg, NY. I was stoked. The trip from Ohio was supposed to be with a group. I arrived at my gal pal’s home and downloaded the bike when her husband asked, “Want me to connect it to the trickle charger?” I declined, issue number one. As everyone started up the engines that morning, I got nada. My hats off to the restraint that friend’s husband showed by refraining from the “I told you so” comments. He did crack a smile, but I had to laugh with him. So jumping her off didn’t work & upon connecting to the trickle charger we realized I needed a new battery. I’ve never been one to hold up a party so I insisted the other ladies set out and I’d catch up, it wouldn’t take that long to pop in a new battery. Once I finally got on the road the weather was great. I was prepared for what Mother Nature wanted to toss my way, but I don’t love being weighted down in rain gear so rain gear stayed in bags. I had an intricate bungee system (color coated) holding luggage securely to my bike, & then the rains came.I don’t love riding in rain but we do what we must. It was during the rain storm when I realized my phone wasn’t being charged as it should so I figured I’d wait out some of the storm and take a look at what was up with this phone charger. I plugged phone into a rest stop vending machine outlet while I inspected my bike in the rain. For all you military folk, I did the PMCS before I took off but issues of the day warranted another look. The rain acted as a very good distraction as I performed my maintenance checks b/c I’d like to believe had it not been for the rain I might’ve identified issue number three, maybe. I left the rest stop with a little charge and still no solution to what was wrong with the charger connected to my bike. This problem was vexing me but it was no biggie, I’d trudge on and charge the phone at every gas stop. I realized that this would severely delay my trip and there was no catching up to the group but we had taken off early and it’s not an adventure without some unknown variables along the way. First gas stop I pump gas and go in store to stretch my legs and grab drink. As I walk back to my bike, coconut water in hand, I see problem number three. My bottom exhaust pipe has vibrated loose and has been dragging the ground for a while (use RED lock tite on a Harley). So I was faced with a choice give up or push on. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little nauseated at the sight of that pipe, but when you grow up the way I did you develop a knack for rigging things together, mechanically inclined or not. I had a tool bag, I rigged it up and on I went. Oh and I had a little help from a veteran biker named Dave…As I trudged along and continued thinking about phone charger issue and having short convos with the hubster back home, we realized in attempting to jump my battery I had blown a fuse. Relief! Okay, I didn’t figure it out on my own & I didn’t have fuses, but just knowing what it was made me feel better. I had a paper map in a dry bag so that would have to suffice. It was getting dark at this point and the next stop is where I identified issue number 4. Somewhere outside of Scranton I stopped at a Valero station. I’m not real familiar with NJ but this was not a densely populated area, the Valero station was the only light that wasn’t moon or stars. When I went in to pay there was a crowd of older men laughing & socializing. They greeted me and not in a creepy way. They jokingly said, “Your group stopped by here a few hours ago.” They didn’t know it really was my group. Anyway, I grabbed another coconut water and walked out to my bike to find that the other exhaust pipe had now come off the header. UGH! The collar holding it on was thankfully still there but I had no nuts to reattach it to the bolts. Enter Steve…Steve walked out and saw my dilemma and proclaimed, “My shop is like 5 miles from here, if you follow me back we’ll find something to fit that bolt.” I politely declined Steve’s offer being that I was a woman, alone, in the middle of nowhere. I would not be following Steve back to his shop, I’ve watched enough Law & Order SVU. Steve must’ve read my expression and realized this as well and told me to hang on and he’d go grab stuff and bring it back. Steve truly was a nice guy who just wanted to help and he did. I owe Steve a beer or a pay it forward next time I see someone in need. I finally was back on the road and reunited with my gal pals just in time to get a decent night’s rest. The next morning at the hotel one of the other moto chicks had fuses. A Ducati rider with the handle RedRaven, she was awesome in her ride preparation. I had a phone again! No more reading maps like a cave woman! The rest of the weekend held more adventure, but I’ll save it for another time. Be like Dave, Steve, and RedRaven. The world could use more Daves, Steves, and Ravens. Turns out I didn’t need someone to “drive me home” but it was cool to be encouraged to get back on the road with confidence. Technology is great but it was nice to test my old map reading skills & to disconnect for a while. In the process, I found that there are still bright spots, friendly people, & that my brain radio works when my iTunes fails. Cue Poison… 🎶 Don’t need nothin’ but a good time🎶

The Tale of Riding The Tail of The Dragon

This story begins with the hubster. Years before I began riding my own motorcycle I had heard tales of this magical motorcycle Mecca and how amazing it was. As I began riding my own and immersing myself in the motorcycle culture I quickly learned that the really cool bikers were able to swap stories of said magical place and their experiences therein. Being curious I googled it and a wave of mild discomfort flushed over me. The blind curves were intimidating to say the least & then there’s that whole “tree of shame” situation. I’m not one to give up and I had a few years riding experience under my belt so when the opportunity arose to slay this dragon I mustered up my courage and set out on what would be a rewarding experience. I had just purchased Pearl (Harley Roadster 1200) & she didn’t handle with the precision of my previous bike but I’ve always believed it’s more about the rider than the equipment. This theory of mine was backed by some YouTube vids of some Honda Gold Wing riders dragging pegs through those corners. As my previous experience on cruisers go, I found Pearl to be one of the better handling bikes. The Roadster sits up higher and is quite fun in a lean.When the day finally arrived I was greeted with rain and a chill in the air that almost caused me to lose my nerve, my pucker factor had kicked in. Thankfully I had a friend who is a more experienced rider than myself and she reassured me as she took lead. Eventually the weather did clear for us and I went through the gap at a moderate pace. I want to clarify moderate, I pushed myself to the edge of my comfort zone, I didn’t jump over it. Our speeds allowed us to lean our bikes and I even scraped pegs a few times, but I happily pulled aside & waved a few more experienced riders past as we went through, this is proper etiquette riding the gap & following the unspoken rule helped to ease my comfort level as well. I’m thankful for my patient friend!Once the dragon had been slain I could relax a bit and take in the natural beauty of the area. Mountainous countryside, babbling brooks, even some wildlife all come together to make this a truly enchanting place. This is where the spiritual part of being a motorcyclist takes over. The wind pushing against you as you immerse yourself in the landscape. All the noise of life recedes as the road, the roar of the engine, and the beauty of God’s creation become the singular focus of my mind’s eye. This is the freedom bikers share. Whether it be a Harley or a Honda, the two wheeled experience is about that freedom.

Pearl Gets a Makeover

I began my motorcycle riding on the trusty ole Honda Rebel 250.  I am not ashamed of this, I loved that Rebel, and after many conversations with other riders I have learned that many women (& men) started on that bike.  Now as much as I enjoyed the Rebel, it didn’t take me long to outgrow it.  One stressful trip onto the freeway proved that the Rebel isn’t cut out for 70mph speeds.  Onto my next bike, the Suzuki GSXR 600.  This bike had the speed I wanted and I paid for it dearly.  I mean I literally paid for it.  That wonderful black demon with pink flames landed me the biggest ticket of my life, cost me a few $hundos$, and landed me with a suspended license.  It had surgical precision in corners, speed, and it was sexy – too sexy.  A bike like that is for dating, not marrying, at least for what I wanted to do.  Enter Pearl, her official name is The Black Pearl.  Pearl is a 2016 Harley Davidson Roadster 1200.

I assume this particular model of HD is their attempt at breaking into the cafe racer style of bikes that are so popular with the hipster crowd right now.  No hating on the hipsters, they know a cool thing when they see it.  I originally wanted a Triumph Bonneville T120, but I made a stop into a local HD dealership (Dothan, AL) where I explained my previous bike and the Triumph I wanted to go look at (nearest dealer was Tallahassee, FL).  I was greeted with a salesman who didn’t try to put me on a “girl bike” but instead listened to me and suggested HD’s model that he thought might fit what I was looking for.  Now while I appreciate a good machine and the nostalgia behind the HD brand, I am not the black and orange underwear donning, shield and bar t shirt kinda gal.  I love all motorcycles as you can see.  The guys at the HD dealership did provide me with amazing customer service and it was love at first test ride.  I bought Pearl that day.

I have since taken Pearl all across the southeast, to Ohio, and to the Catskills of NY with some other biker friends.  It was on this last trip from Ohio to NY that I learned some very valuable lessons.  Lesson number one: trickle chargers are always a good thing.  Lesson number two:  a tough woman can listen to an equally tough man and lose no cool points in the process.  Lesson number three:  HD’s vibrate!  This third lesson was a key element in my decision to give Pearl her makeover and add another bike to my collection.  Pearl treated me well, she is comfy and mechanically sound.  Her really cool aftermarket exhaust & air filter however, was another story.  The exhaust vibrated off the bike not once, but twice on my trip (thank God for my military preparedness habits & having tools) and my air filter was open so when the torrential rain came somewhere in NJ, my bike began to stall even with the rain sock (which looks more like a shower cap than a sock).  Pearl has not been put out to pasture, no far from it.  I have decided that she is going to be my trophy bike.

I have been blessed to know some really cool artisans and I absolutely love having the people I know work on my bike.  They have worked on small details like my air filter design (Alabama Pines LLC), the custom heat wrap (Area 51 Customs Dothan, AL), and my revolver bar ends (B&L Machining), all which give the bike more character.  It is the ingenuity and courage of regular people like this that has also inspired me to give Pearl this makeover.  Sure I liked her when she was stock, having just left the showroom floor, but making her my own is going to be an exciting process.  Here she is all dirty from her last trip and ready for her makeover…IMG_8501IMG_8498

“Motorcycles are dangerous,” I hear it all the time, “Well it’s not you but the cars that don’t see you,” all the cliched reasons why this isn’t a practical hobby for a mother, wife, or just for a woman in general.  Funny thing how the hubbs doesn’t get this speech quite as often.  It’s expected behavior for the hubster, a veteran, a hunter, a thrill seeker, being a motorcyclist is just the next thing on the list of “dudedom” and few question it.  Not the case with me however.  I am also a veteran, I love the outdoors, and I enjoy jumping on my bike and getting lost in the scenery, I just happen to have boobs.  It’s all good though, people misinterpret what they don’t understand & it seems to me that many don’t understand the need for adventure or the actions behind fulfilling that need.

“You do not need a therapist if you own a motorcycle, any kind of motorcycle!”

-Dan Aykroyd

IMG_7337.jpgMy personal journey of highs and lows have made me realize that “mother’s little helper” is found on two wheels and other positive forms of adventure seeking as I get outside of myself and connect with the world around me.  Thankfully the hubster is so secure in his masculinity that my adventure seeking antics are fully encouraged, sometimes it’s together and sometimes I go it alone.  Whatever the case, I love making the most of “this thing called life.”  Cue Prince music…

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“There are stars in the Southern sky Southward as you go, there is moonlight and moss in the trees down the seven bridges road…”       -The Eagles

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