05 June 2017

They're All Girls!

Finer weather has returned to the front range of Colorado, and so has that itch we all have to get out and ride. Everyone is emerging from the winter months, ready to drag the bikes out, meet up, and head out on adventures. Last weekend kind of marked the start of the Colorado GS Girl riding season, in a way none of us thought it would.

Jennifer Zakaria was hoping a couple people might want ride. Twenty-five showed up!

One of our newest members, Jennifer, posted on our Facebook page, asking if anyone was up for a ride on Saturday. Immediately, Kandi Spangler said the equivalent of "Hell yes!" and created an event to get people out and brush off the cob webs. I saw it and said I was IN and would sweep for her ride, and by the day before the event, it appeared fourteen people would be joining us.

We met at a restaurant in Golden, and pretty quickly, those fourteen showed up. Then more. Then more. Pretty soon, we had about 25 people eating, chatting, laughing, and planning out three different ride routes. Kandi and I stuck with our plan to take people out on a beginner-friendly, road ride.

Well, we mostly stuck with that plan. We left Golden with eight of us in the group--seven women and one man. Getting out of Golden was the most difficult part of the ride as it turns out. There is a bunch of construction happening at a bridge, that on a busy Saturday afternoon of tourists, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, backs traffic up past a roundabout. The group of eight of us patiently sat at that roundabout for a good, long while, waiting for the chance to get us all through, and one of my favorite moments of the day happened.

As we were sitting, a group of three men on bicycles rode past us up the sidewalk, and as they did, the guy in the back yelled to the other two, "They're all GIRLS!"

I laughed in my helmet. It wasn't a surprise to us we were all--well, mostly all...sorry, Scott--girls. But I suppose an entire line-up of women riding adventure bikes, could be a surprise. In fact, I have to say we could have made a great commercial or print ad for BMW--all seven women were riding F700 or 650 Twin GSs. And this was purely by coincidence!

We headed south, and I watched my outside temperature gauge climb to just above 80 degrees. Hello, Colorado spring day! We stopped at a gas station in Sedalia, and while a couple people topped off tanks, more of us shed layers and bought Gatorade. A discussion quickly ensued over which flavor was best. Though I usually buy something in the pale green or pale yellow color--I like my energy drink to look like urine, apparently--the store had been out and I picked up blue. What flavor was it? Blue. Seriously, what flavor even is a pale blue energy drink? No idea, I'll just call it blue.

Our first stop in Sedalia to shed layers and buy some colorful drinks.

We discussed the route we would take from there, with the lead rider, mid-sweep, and sweep (me) riders all checking they knew the route. We headed south from Sedalia, riding towards Palmer Lake, with the idea we would cut east on Noe Road. That would take us under I-25, then further east to the plains. From there, the idea was to turn north on 83, ride to Parker, and then everyone would return to her own home from there.

SUCH a fun group!

So, remember how I said we were going to do a road ride? When we looked at the map, I said I thought that one of the roads we were looking at might be dirt. But, the map made it look like it was paved...so the plans were made.

Guess what--it was not paved. We all safely and comfortably rode the short section of Noe to I-25, where we said goodbye to Scott, and discussed what was ahead. It was agreed that a few more miles of the wide, well-cared-for dirt roads would be preferable to the interstate, and we gave a few tips about turning off ABS and standing up. We also talked about weighting the outside peg in a turn/curve, but on the nearly straight road we were on, it wasn't needed much.

With Kandi leading, we made it east to 83 almost without incident. A few miles in, I was happily riding along enjoying the sweeping views of the plains. As I turned my my gaze back to the road, I see the bike in front of me lose traction in a loose, washboard area of the road. She went into a pretty good tank-slapper, dabbed her left foot, righted her bike, and continued on. She gave me a thumbs-up, and about a mile later when we got to the intersection with the pavement, I pulled up next to her and asked if she was ok. She was pretty rattled, but also feeling good about having pulled out of it.

Tess Landon--we couldn't have asked for a better day to ride!

We turned north and rode into Parker, stopping at a large gas station. We took a few pics of the group, drinks were purchased, and bathrooms were used. While we were chatting, one of the truck drivers honked his horn. I thought I should show off my Stebel Nautilus horn.

So everyone could hear the difference, I had Kandi blow her stock horn first--wheeeeeeee.


There were many "wow"s, some laughter, and Kandi declared it was her mission to install one louder than mine! My horn sounds like a freight train, so I'll be curious to see how loud hers gets.

Eventually, we all went our separate ways, feeling like we had kicked the dust off with our first real spring ride, and happy to have gotten to know some new friends, and spent some good time with old friends. The day forecasted a great riding season to come!

Kandi Spangler--my moto sister!


Ilise Merritt--a longtime CO GS Girl!
Chris Briggs--on her return from a Baja trip on her Triumph cruiser, she stopped at a BMW dealer in San Diego, traded in her bike, and bought her first GS!


Wyatt--she also rides a Ruckus!


Jennifer--she's on the fence about keeping her 700, but I think the fun day helped tip her towards keeping it.


Tess--she got the "Tank Slapper of the Day" award!
That's the smile of a happy girl!


10 April 2017

Getting Dirty With Continuing Education!

I was so busy the whole day, I didn't take ANY pictures. So, for this post, I've just got this one to share.

Some women are perfectly comfortable picking up tools and wrenching on their bikes, while some find the idea of checking oil levels intimidating. This range of comfort is not exclusive to women at all, but fewer girls are introduced to tools as children/teens/young women, and that can naturally turn to a discomfort in a woman suddenly faced with a motorcycle that needs regular checking in order to be safe.

I was very lucky growing up to have been raised in a family that drove old VW bugs and late model, oil-sucking Mustangs. My father often had automotive tools in his hand, and was no stranger to carpentry, either. When I got to my first semester in college, my dad insisted I take an automotive class. At the time, I wasn't overly interested, but boy am I thankful now!

Now, let's not go thinking this turned me into a pro. None of that means that I jumped in,all crazy gung-ho, when I was faced with a 1980 Honda CM200Twinstar I had to push the final two blocks to work THE FIRST DAY I RODE IT THAT FAR. There were a lot of small moving parts that looked nothing like the Isuzu pick-up I worked on in that class. However, I watched a lot as Josh worked on that bike, and by the time I had a much more complicated GS, I was not afraid to pick up some tools and go at her. It helped a lot that I had downloaded the service manual for the BMW, and am good at reading and interpreting instructions.

While I've had some good luck and some good help, as I've gotten together with the GS Girls over the last year and a half, I've realized that many haven't. Some people aren't interested in wrenching, and some people are so intimidated, they'd rather throw money at a mechanic to work on a bike. There is NOTHING wrong with either of those things. However, some women want to know more, and there are some very basic things that everyone should know how to do on a bike, that aren't worthy of paying someone else for.

After talking to a few women, I decided I would host a Basic Maintenance class at my house, and called another GS Girl, Kandi Spangler, to see if she wanted to help out. One of our ladies needed to learn how to fix a flat prior to a trip to Moab, so we threw that skill into a class of basic maintenance, and had ourselves a day.

On a drizzly, cloudy, cold Saturday morning, 19 people showed up at my house--15 women and four men attended! We started by discussing tool sets--ways to build them, ways to carry them--then moved to discussing the differences between an owner's manual and a service or repair manual. One of our long-time GS Girls, Robin, brought a hard copy of a service manual with the pages separated into plastic sleeves--perfect for greasy finger garage days--and I showed all of my service manuals downloaded to the iPad--perfect for taking the manual along on long trips.

We then moved to the bikes, where we went over very basic maintenance which should be performed before and/or after a ride. This was the heart of the class. We discussed checking oil and tire pressures, checking and properly adjusting chain slack, checking the air filter and coolant levels, lubing a chain, and keeping forks clean. I had all three of my bikes out, and demonstrated different things on each. I pointed out how each of the bikes was different, but required the same checks with slightly differing techniques.

We then moved on to fixing flats. As I need a new rear tire on Camille anyway, I put a nail in her. Then, it went something like this.

L: Oh no, Kandi!

K: What's wrong, Louise?

L: I have a nail in my tire!

K: Oh no! how did that happen?

L: I don't know. Could you help me fix it?

(I know the script sounds boring, but it was an Oscar worthy performance, I guarantee!)

So, with me reading instructions out loud, Kandi demonstrated plugging a tubeless tire. We moved on from there to fixing a tubed tire. For this demonstration, I had planned to use the front tire on Thumper. We did end up doing that, but it took FOREVER to get that damn axle out. It was, sadly, the perfect example of one of the first things I told the group that day--always expect a project to take three times as long as you think it will. Later in the day, Josh reminded me that axle is directly across from the clothes dryer exhaust, so it typically sits there getting dried out and rusting.

Oh, right.

It made me feel better recalling my struggles with it--and having to ask for help--once he mentioned that.

By the time we were done, it was nearly 4:00 in the afternoon. Slowly through the day, people had to leave to get to other commitments and their families. Seven or eight of us were ready to head inside, chow down on some more food, and just chat. Another friend who had been riding all day, made it to the house in time for food, and playing with the kitty.

It had been a terrifically fun day, and I got good feedback from people about what they each got out of it. There were a lot of great questions asked during the course of the day. And, as people asked them, I realized not only how much I had learned in a relatively short period of time on a motorcycle, but how glad I was I could share this knowledge with our amazing group.

I posted a couple of pictures on Instagram and Facebook, and got great responses from across the country. Mostly, they were responses such as, "I wish I lived closer so I could have gone" or "I wish someone out here would do something like that."

My response to all of them was that it had been a blast, and why not make it happen where you live? It wasn't too hard to organize--thank you Facebook--and it didn't take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. We shared what we knew, had a chance to catch up, and even got to meet a couple of people who were brand new to the group.

I sat down at the end of the day, and realized I had not done so since 7:30 that morning. But, rather than just being exhausted, I was exhausted AND felt great. And I'll tell you, we were having so much fun, one of my neighbor's came over to see what the fun was she was missing out on! I highly encourage people who have the skills--or maybe just a good space and a friend with the skills--to host a day like this--you'll be glad you did.


17 January 2017

The AltRider Eyebrow!

The what?

Oh, you'll see!

After a few years and more than 50,000 miles on motorcycles, I have heard some pretty good stories and seen some mind-boggling pictures of shit breaking on motorcycles. With a summer of off-road riding and coaching coming up, and a nine month trip into foreign countries waiting in the wings, I've been looking to protect that sizeable financial investment I made into my new, beautiful, BMW girl, Camille.

I have loaded up on the crash protection--which is not only protecting her, but making her look badass at the same time--and now I've got one more piece to add.

Lexan: Tough, Virtually Unbreakable. Challenge accepted! I'm pretty sure I'll be putting that to the test.

The AltRider Lexan Headlight Guard. One piece, and two reasons.

Reason one: I've seen some cracked/broken headlight pics in some posts. I DO NOT want to be in the middle of nowhere, Nicaragua, and have something shatter my headlight. First of all, that would suck and be dangerous. Second, do you know how much a new headlight assembly for a BMW F700GS costs??? A. Lot.

Reason two: I finally settled on a new windscreen for the bike in the middle of last summer. Let It Ride ordered it for me, and as soon as it came in, I had it installed and was playing with it within 15 minutes. It's a great windscreen that is adjustable, depending on the type of riding I want to do and the helmet I'm wearing, with the adjustable part able to be completely removed if I want to ride baby-heads and not run the risk of smashing the taller piece to bits. The downside to the new windscreen--my headlight reflects right back up into it, nearly blinding me at night.

I didn't notice this until I went back to work, and was commuting home after the time change. Suddenly I was riding in the dark, something I do pretty infrequently as it turns out. I'd turn the bike on in the parking garage, and the lower part of my windscreen was shooting light back into my eyes. What was worse, was hopping on the freeway and having not only the eye-level, blindingly bright headlights from pick-up trucks coming at me, but my own bike attempting to take out what was left of my vision.

Both of these problems were solved by installing the AltRider guard. I actually talked to Jeremy LeBreton, the owner of AltRider, before I bought this product. What I really wanted was the metal mesh-like headlight guard, but I could only find it listed on their website as being available in silver for the 700GS. It was available in black for other models, and I asked him why it wasn't in black for the 700. Jeremy was very honest in his answer, and in the small laugh he gave before he answered, I could tell this was something he may have been asked before. He told me his company is a small company that aims to be able to provide all they can in quality, American-made, products. But being small means they can't carry everything in every option.

It's funny to hear something like this. In this country, we can walk into a grocery store and have twenty options for ketchup. Hell, I can walk into a pet store and probably have an option for doggy ketchup. But these are mega-stores, with mega warehouses, and hundreds of retail outlets. Loads of room to store things. And honestly, I look at those twenty versions of ketchup, and I still go to a smaller store that has only two or three higher quality versions, and I pick one of those, or go home and make it myself. (True story, I'm weird.)

I did look at other companies for other options, and there is another high quality company that makes a black metal mesh headlight guard. But, as Jeremy explained to me, the AltRider version has something that makes it SO MUCH BETTER. Okay, my words not his. He just said his has an added bonus that makes it better. So I ordered the clear Lexan headlight guard, and waited for it to arrive. After I installed it, and rode around at night, I found out why it was SO MUCH BETTER.

I call it The Eyebrow. It's a simple piece of plastic that sits on top of the headlight guard, bridging the distance to the bike's headlight assembly, and preventing the light from bleeding upward, onto the windscreen. No more blinding night rides!

Installing the Eyebrow!

And, of course, the order came complete with easy-to-follow instructions, and it took me very little time to install it. (In all honesty, it took me very little time to install it because I didn't attempt to install it upside down the first time. I'm getting better...)

The clear guard has a nice looking, brushed stainless partial frame, which attaches to the mount with nifty, quarter-turn quick-release hardware I've never used before. Once the install is done, it is quick and easy to remove the guard to clean it and snap it back in place, without having to worry that it might pop off when I drop the big girl in a baby-head studded ravine. <----hmmmm...I'm starting to see a pattern here.

The only complaint I have, and it's a tiny one both literally and figuratively, is about the screw which holds the eyebrow in place. The instructions list the hardware that comes with it as being a T15 screw that you use to attach the eyebrow. The one that was sent to me was actually a size 1 combo screw. I don't know if it's because I'm girly and delicate (heh) or because I am not as experienced with tools as other people who do their own wrenching, but I found that screw difficult to use. On the plus side, I don't think I'll ever have to remove it in the life of the bike.

So, headlight guard--with eyebrow--in place, I stepped back from my bike and looked at it. I'll admit that initially I had been bummed about what I considered "settling" for the Lexan guard. It wasn't because I had concerns about its function--as it is "Tough, Virtually Unbreakable"--but more because I thought I really wanted the look of the black mesh. NOPE! Now that it's installed and I look at it, I love the clear headlight guard, and wouldn't trade it for anything!

Check it out!

DAAAAANNNNNGGGG!!! This bike is sexy!


South America Bound!

Getting ready to start the rest of the trip, ticking off this hemisphere on the bikes. Thank you Santa for the globe, and thank you Scott Henkel for the toy bikes!

I know that for most people traveling, nine months out seems an awfully long time away to start planning a trip. When one plans to pack an entire life on a motorcycle, put her household items into storage, and bail on her life for nine months, planning should have started long ago. In a way, it did. I can remember riding into Denver at the end of the Alaska trip and saying...

"Why are we stopping?? Oh right, we work in the performing arts. We have no more money or time."

The decision was made, right then and there, that five years later we would make a trip in the opposite direction

So...four years later, here I am. That trip to Alaska was my first motorcycle trip. Since then, I have made several more, found a love of off-road motorcycling, and started coaching. I LOVE motorbiking in a way that few get the opportunity to experience. I cannot wait to start on my southward journey. In the last few months, I have followed a number of people as they head south, enjoying their happiness and stocking up on helpful tips from them as they pass from country to country.

So, where do I start? Well, Josh and I started saving $$$ four years ago. A little bit every paycheck at first, then as it seemed it wasn't adding up fast enough, a little more each paycheck. I got the bike of my dreams (ish) last January. Did I love it? On the street, YES! On the dirt...well, it took me a little longer to love. I didn't love it at first. In fact, I didn't even like it. But now, I do love it.


But, Camille is still pretty bare bones. I've now got more protection on her in the way of crash bars, exhaust guard, etc., but there's more to do. So much more to do to my bike, and I haven't even decided on luggage. I suppose the actual "easy" part of preparing for this trip will be what to take in that luggage. Passport, sleeping bag, a map or two, iPad for blogging, appropriate layers, four pairs of underwear, and four pairs of socks. My favorite thing about making the last part of that statement is that my non-moto friends will think, "Only 4?" And my moto friends will think, "Seriously, you're taking 4? I only need 2."

Packing will be the relatively easy part. Getting the bike prepped for 20,000 miles of unknown terrain and unpredictable weather is taking a little more time and energy. I've gotten a fair amount done, have some accessories ordered and in the garage ready for install, and still have a lot of research to do.

In my mind, there is always the struggle between what I REALLY need versus what might be helpful, or isn't needed at all, but darn it, I WANT it. I mentioned I've been following some people as they ride south (and one amazing couple who rode north) and soaking up tips like I needed three sets of my paperwork at this border crossing or at minimum, ladies, take five pairs of underwear. I've also scrutinized what they have on their bikes, what broke along the trip, and what needed regular maintenance.

I'm not going to lie, it is often exciting and overwhelming at once. I'm tackling the bike, a few items at a time. Pretty soon, I will do like I did for the Alaska trip, and start throwing things on the bed in the guest room. That will start the process of what gets packed to go, and what gets chucked out every couple of weeks as I go back in and review what I thought seemed necessary.

But, speaking of the guest room, that is a whole other matter. We've decided to rent the house out for a year. I know, the trip is only nine months, but it seems a better idea to rent the house for a year--we'll figure out where to put ourselves for the other three months once we get there. That means, though, getting the house into a rentable state. With a little work, we can rent the house for a good deal of money, covering not only the mortgage, but also our storage unit for all our stuff, and having a little safety net money left over. Sweet deal, but that means we have yet another list of things to do.

Don't get me wrong--I am NOT complaining about the prep for this trip. There is a lot to do, but I am incredibly fortunate to be able to do this kind of trip at all. A lot of work has been done, and a lot more is ahead. I hope you'll join me for whatever part of it is interesting to you, and travel along with me. I've been doing that with people like Kevin, Laura, Daver, and Daniel and Polly. Even though I wasn't doing the physical traveling, I have gotten to experience cool places through their pictures and stories. Now it's my turn to share!


Really quickly, I mentioned following people on their trips up and down this hemisphere. I've found a number of blogs, Facebook pages, and Instagram pages to follow, including those of Daniel and Polly, also known as "motosurgicaldiaries". Daniel and Polly are a young English couple who flew their 1984 BMW PD to Argentina, rode to the southernmost tip, then turned north and rode as far as was possible, to Deadhorse, Alaska. I found them on Instagram through another friend, Mark Ferguson--ExploreTheDirt--began following them, and as they got into the states, I messaged them and said they were more than welcome to stay with us if they came through Denver. It was a little selfish on my part, as I wanted to meet them and hear about their trip. To our joy, they stopped and stayed with us, and we had a small dinner party along with my friend Mark and his family.

It was truly a joy to meet them, especially after following their trip and seeing some of the beautiful places we will get to see ourselves. Hopefully, as they follow along with us, my pics and stories will remind them of the joy and experience of their own.


03 January 2017

South America preparation--More AltRider Protection

When I bought Camille earlier in the year, I made some immediate decisions about what to put on her for protection. The BMW GSs have a large number of offerings in this department, with protection made by BMW, as well as a number of other companies. My company of choice--AltRider.

Picking out my brand new bike, I had to start making the decision about what pieces I wanted to put on, and which company's offerings would suit not only my riding needs, but my installation capabilities. On Thumper, I have parts from many different companies--a veritable hodge-podge of protection. Some pieces I installed myself, and some pieces really required help from Josh. Some of the pieces came with instructions (YAY!) and some came with none. (BOO!)

After doing a fair amount of research on products, including reading reviews and and even interrogating--I mean, interviewing--some friends, I decided to start with just a couple of pieces to get me started. They would be an AltRider Skid Plate (black), and AltRider Lower Crash Bars (silver). As I installed those pieces, I took a quick couple of pics and wrote a blog post about it. (March 20, 2016)

The blog post went something like this: These pieces are awesome and they were SOOO easy to install!!

Here is Camille with the bash plate and crash bars, early in the summer at the top of Pike's Peak. I met up with the Sisters Centennial ride to commemorate the first female motorcycle ascent of the mountain 100 years ago, and rode up with a huge number of badass women riders!

Okay, I wrote a bit more than that, but that is the basic gist of it. Now, after finishing up a season of riding here in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, I started looking ahead to next year's riding season, and our nine month trip through Mexico, Central America, and South America. I'm looking to give myself the best possible opportunity to have my bike stay intact and rideable, no matter what kind of terrain and weather I put it through.

I put those original pieces through some rocky hell this summer--riding over big loose rocks getting tossed into my bash plate, dropping the bike in a nasty baby-head filled ravine, and even having my bike slam to the ground on concrete when I put my toe down to stop in an oil slick, and that foot slipped right out from under me.

Those pieces, other than having a few (ok, a lot) of dead bug bodies and some scratches, still look pristine, and my bike is in perfect condition--not a single scratch on those pretty plastics. All of the pieces are made here in the USA, and they're made completely of shot peen stainless steel. They don't rust, which is so awesome. The crash bars on my 650 have loads of scratches from our rocky terrain, and every scratch shows rust. I love, love, love that the AltRider ones don't.

All that and stickers too!

So, I ordered a few more pieces, and when the box showed up, it was like Christmas for Camille! I ordered the matching Upper Crash Bars (silver), the Lexan Headlight Guard, an Exhaust Guard (black), a Rear Brake Master Cylinder Guard (black), and an Exhaust Heat Shield (silver). Seriously, Christmas!!

Each AltRider part comes with complete install instructions. Most even have pictures for visual learners like myself. Beer, however is not included.

One night after work, I headed to the garage, beer in hand, and got to work. I installed the crash bars, exhaust guard, and exhaust heat shield. Just like the pieces I installed earlier in the year, each of the pieces had super clear, easy instructions. AltRider even threw in a small bottle of Locktite, so I didn't have to worry about whether I had any in my garage. (Which I didn't...yay, AltRider!) Within an hour I was done. That includes having to do the heat shield twice, since I installed it upside down the first time...yay, beer! Josh did help me install the upper crash bars, since four hands were really useful in that process. But, the install instructions that come with them give good tips for how to do it by one's self also.

Re-sealable bottle of Locktite. Yes! I didn't have to make a special trip out to buy any.


Heat-proof foam strips keep the shield from scratching my muffler, and my luggage from melting. Win-win!


A screwdriver does work, but why not use a little battery operated power? The drill made quick work of a tedious job!


Uh...yep. That happened. Thankfully, I noticed almost immediately and could right it before anyone knew. Sssshhhhh...don't tell anyone!



That's better!
If you'll refer back to my mention of a baby-head strewn ravine, I have to say my muffler took a pretty good hit on a big sharp rock. A sizable dent and a few scratches were a constant reminder of that day, until I put the heat shield on. Not only does it protect my luggage from burning, but it hides the unsightly blemishes! Brilliant!

Honestly, I love how badass my bike looks. I love that it took very little time to install these pieces. And, I really love that they are American made. I know my bike isn't, but considering the financial investment I made in the bike itself, I feel good protecting her with such great quality.

Here she is with that badass, burly upper crash bar installed. I love it!

Stay tuned for the next post which talks about the headlight guard. It's "virtually unbreakable" and looks awesome!



Keywords: BMW, F700GS, 700GS, 800GS, R1200GS, 1200GS, AltRider, engine guards, crash guards, fall protection, off-road, trail, overland, farkling

How Do You Like My Cones??

I need to make a stencil. I think it will say "agirlonamotorbike"
Then I will spray paint that on each of my ten new cones! I don't know why, but I have always been moderately obsessed with traffic cones. And, I now own some!
Figuring out where and how to buy them was slightly tricky. I mean, have you ever thought about where you would purchase traffic cones, if you wanted to purchase some? Well, I hadn't either, and I suddenly wanted some. I quickly searched online to see what kind of stores would come up locally, and the first two hits were Home Depot and Lowes. They would be my last resort.
I found a local construction supply company, looked through the offerings--there are a lot of choices in traffic cones--but couldn't find out if I could just buy them, or if I had to have an account with the company.
Then my lunch break ended.
So, I sent Josh the link to the site, told him what I was looking for, and asked him to figure it out. He is really good at that sort of thing. We would have had to open an account with them--which we could have done under Powered Productions, Llc.--but ain't nobody got time for that. And as it turns out, they can be ordered from Amazon.
They showed up Friday and were on the porch waiting for me. They were cleverly disguised so no one would steal my awesome cones.
A TOTAL of 10 cones arrived in these three giant boxes. The two smaller boxes each had one sheet of packing paper laid over the top of the cones, and the larger box was completely stuffed with paper packing materials, keeping my cones safe from harm...?
Seriously, there were three to a box in the two "smaller" boxes, and four in the bigger box. In case you're wondering how small the smaller boxes were, just know that I could ship myself and my cat quite comfortably.
The morning following their arrival, I loaded the cones up onto the back of my bike and rode an hour and a half south for a Colorado GS Girls skills and games day. It wasn't a super comfy ride, but they only added about 25lbs. to the bike. Now, that 25 lbs. is no problem when it stays where you put it, but as my friend Greg Cocks found out, it feels a bit funny when it all slides to one side. Our whole group got some good laughs when he came riding back to us with the full weight of ten traffic cones all sliding to one side, telling us the tale of wondering why his bike kept pulling to the left!
Just a girl and her cones! I rode from Denver to Colorado Springs sitting in that little space between my tank bag and that pile of cones...with very good posture! Pic by Greg Cocks


The "right" way to strap cones to a bike, vs. the "other" way...


As Greg was riding around the park, he couldn't figure out why his bike started pulling to the left. Slippery, slide-y little suckers! Pic by Greg Cocks


Well, the weather is beautiful here today. I think I'll go outside and ride around my cones. Because, well, because I can!

Have you played with the Prisma app? It is so much fun, and Greg Cocks thought this was a perfect pic to "app" into fine art!


14 December 2016

FUN--the GS Girls (and Guys) way!

The riding season in Colorado can be a little on the short side, especially if one lives in the mountains. Even in the Denver Metro area, it can be challenging to ride through the winter if you and your bike are not prepared, or if you're a pussy. Not that I'm judging...

However, getting into October, there is often a feeling of "Hey! We've gotta get one more ride in!" Even though many of the Colorado GS Girls find ways to ride the whole year, we know the number riding grows smaller and smaller as the winter comes on. So we look for ways to have little events, on the bike or off, to get together with our moto sisters.

The head of the Colorado GS Girls, and one of my dearest friends, Bex Becker, asked if we should do an event three-quarters of the way through November. She and I had discussed one last "skills" day back in September, but with people being busy and me being out of town a fair amount, it was looking like November would be the date. That late in the season can be a total crap-shoot, weather wise, but it seemed the weather was on our side. Mostly.

Bex asked our friend, and fellow GS Girl Guy, Greg Cocks, if he'd help out with the day, and between the three of us and Lee Becker, we figured we'd have enough cat herders/trainers! Josh ordered me some cones from Amazon (I've always secretly wanted to own traffic cones--I DON'T KNOW WHY!), and we came up with a very loose plan for the day.

Greg came back from riding around, and said that he took a turn, and suddenly his bike kept pulling to the left. I wonder why!?!

I put together an invite for the whole CO GS Girls group and sent it out, saying we'd have a day of skills and games. The plan for the end of the season event, was simply to get everyone together, show off skills they had been working on, play some games, and just have a ball riding around a great off-road park. We had hosted an event at the beginning of the season with 13 or so newbies to off-road riding. Some were brand new to riding, some had ridden for more than 20 years on the road, and some were making a return to motorcycling in general. It had been a great day, at a great site, and we were excited for another one.

November 20 dawned a beautifully sunny, if somewhat chilly, day. I rode the hour and a half to the event site in about 25 degree weather. I was really happy with my new gear! My REV'IT base layers and Neptune Suit kept me toasty! It's been a long time since I wore black gear, but it came in handy as I rode south in the sunshine. I was worried I'd have a tough time keeping my hands warm, so I threw my Gerbings gloves into my tank bag just in case. Never needed them. The new REV'IT Pegasus 2 gloves, along with my grip heaters kept my fingers from getting too cold. I so LOVE my new gear!!!

It was a slightly awkward ride down to the springs with nearly 30lbs of traffic cones!

I arrived at RAM Off-Road Park in Colorado Springs, to see a whole bunch of lovely friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in months, and in one person's case, more than a year. If you live on the Front Range of Colorado, especially in the Springs area, this is a must-visit place. It only costs $10 to get in for the day, and there is so much fun and wonderful terrain to ride.


We had a gorgeous sunny Colorado day. It may not have been typical for this time of year, but we grabbed hold of it and played. We did a few basic skills and had a "slow race". We had riders of every skill level with us--people with tens of thousands of miles under their belts, and people who had never ridden more than a few yards standing up. It was fun to see one of the riders, Lea, who had gotten her endorsement five days before our first event this season, looking confident and tackling everything we threw at her with skill and grace.

Slow races!
Bettina trying out Greg's 1150GS.

One killer highlight from the day was when Jen dropped her bike. I know, this doesn't seem like something that should be a highlight, but it was. She had never dropped it before, and doing it in this environment, she got to learn that it was a much less scary thing than she had been imagining it would be. She only did it once, and we taught her how to pick it up--using a friend to help--and now she sees that her bike didn't get hurt, and it wasn't as terrible as she had always though it would be. She was our hero for the day!

Our hero, Jen!

We rode and played the whole morning, then took a lunch break back at the staging area. We were greeted by three very happy-to-see-us doggies, and one of our GS Girls who joined us had brought stew to share with everyone!

Greg took Chris's 2-stroke out for a test ride. Who needs a sidestand???

As we all got back on the bikes to head out for more fun, someone asked if I could carry their water bottle for them. I said it was no problem, tossed it in my dry bag with all my other stuff, and we took off.

I didn't check to make sure the cap was REALLY tight...

At the end of the day of playing, Greg and I went back to round up the cones. I opened my dry bag to get the ratchet straps out, and water came pouring out. So much for a dry bag! Unfortunately, my Pegasus gloves were in there, and were soaked. I knew I had my Gerbings in my tank bag, but all too late I realized I didn't have the cords for them. Well, they'd have to do all on their own.

Pouring the water OUT of my dry bag. Oops.

I was so excited about the fact weather was not going to run us out that day, that in my mind, we could play until the sun went down. It didn't even occur to me that would be so much earlier than other events we had done--due to it being late in the year--and that I would have a very chilly hour and a half ride home in the dark. Oh well, live and learn.

Because we were riding in a shared space, I demonstrated the technique for uphill restarts. Everyone practiced on flat ground until they had the steps down smoothly, then we rode on to the trail with a sandy hill to restart on. It was a great success, and a teaching technique I may implement more often!
L-R: Crystal, Lea, Bex, and me. This picture cracks me up when I think about the fact one of the guys who attended asked me if this was my little bike...
Loading up and relaxing!

Bex and Lee Becker kindly offered to take my 30 lbs. of cones home in their trailer, and get them to me at the next GS Girls meet. I gladly accepted, knowing I would have a much more comfortable ride home that night. That ride home was the only truly cold part of the day. Though it was in the low 40s--considerably warmer than my ride south that morning--the lack of sun, and the fact I had to wear my back-up gloves, meant my hands were cold!

Greg and I rode back to the Denver area together, and parted ways just as traffic in his direction got super crappy. I arrived home to a picture he texted me of the amazing breakfast he ordered at a restaurant, while he let the traffic subside. I was exhausted, so I ordered pizza, ate two slices, and fell asleep on the sofa. It had been an exhausting, but oh-so-fun day!

Greg's dinner at The Breakfast King! That's one order...