07 July 2016

Just Ask My Vagina!

I know. That sounds awfully crude.

I guess I'll start this post by laying out some facts. I am a woman. (you probably have gotten that figured out, and if you've come upon this blog by accident, now you know) I ride a motorcycle. (Three actually, though not all at the same time. I work in the theatre, people. Not the circus) I'm not the best rider in the world, and I'm not the worst. I don't ride the most miles of any rider, and I don't ride the fewest. I'm a pretty "middle of the road" adventure rider.

But, I love riding, and I really love helping, encouraging, and empowering other people to ride--especially women. I think it the best feeling, knowing i helped someone learn a skill or overcome a fear, and watching that person get to enjoy riding even more than they already did.

Through Mountain Moto and the Colorado GS Girls, I get to do this regularly, and I get to see more and more women riding. And riding well! Being a part of groups like the GS Girls, Women Adventure Riders, SheADV, and Women In Motorcycling, I get to see a lot of women out riding and enjoying themselves. I also get to see them wrenching on their bikes, designing gear, going to rallies, participating in the GS Trophy, and winning the opportunity to ride through Madagascar or around the world with a small group of riders. It's truly inspiring to see what women are doing.

Motorcycling has always been seen as a man's sport. It isn't that women haven't been riding for just as long as men, but for decades, very few women rode. And for most of them, when they did they would get a pat on the head and a "Hey! Look what you can do. Nice job. Now run inside and make me a sammich, hon."

Uh huh. You know what I said is true.

But these days, the number of women motorcyclists around the world gets larger everyday. I look around and see them everywhere. I think it's awesome seeing women giving themselves the chance to do something so many of us already know is fun.

And women excel at it! Some of them ride as hard and as well as any man I've met. Then again, some women ride to have a nice time, and don't push their boundaries. The exact same can be said of men. Some of them ride as hard and as well as any women I've met, and some ride to have a good time without pushing their boundaries.

The other day as I was perusing trip pics and the like on the GS Giants page, I came across a question a man had posted asking, "Reasons to buy a R1200GS over a Ducati Multistrada: GO" I started reading through the comments--from both men and women--because I've been curious to see what people were thinking of Ducati's new Multistrada. This was a pretty loaded post, as it was posted to a GS specific website.

Some people gave their honest opinions about things such as dealership quality, ride community, accessibility to parts. Some people gave opinions based on the fact they had once been a Multistrada owner (though most of what was reported was not relevant in this case because it was bike specific and the new Multistrada Enduro is really a completely different bike), and someone mentioned he should because Starbucks has special parking for GSs. Hey, even I laughed at that one.

Then, I read one response which brought me to a screeching halt.

"Because you don't have a vagina."

Uh.... Wait, what?

My first thought was that at no time did I ever consult my vagina when purchasing a bike.

Crap! I've been doing it wrong all this time!

Somehow, it never occurred to me that my vagina might prefer a different bike. I guess when I've looked at bikes--new or used, dealership or friend's house--I haven't thought they were gender specific. Dammit! Why don't they paint them pink and blue so we can all tell much more easily??

I know, I'm being funny and silly about it. But honestly, I'm just so damn tired of shit like that. Stop referring to someone doing something badly as doing it "like a girl" or something you think is less capable as being for girls.

A woman I know--who I should mention is a badass rider-- responded with, "Is that due to a seat design issue that would make the Duc less comfortable for a man's balls?"

The guy's response to my friend was, "Don't know. Won't ride one."

Oooohhhh...he's so manly. Oh wait, nope. Just closed minded. Way to make a good showing for your gender. I'm so glad the men I know and ride with are more enlightened than that. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sure some of my male friends may have had the same thought or laughed at his response. But, if they did, they were smart enough to keep their mouths shut about it.

That's all I'm going to say on the matter. But if, in the future, you see me bent over in deep conversation with my vagina about whether the bike I'm going to ride is a good one or not, you'll know why. Feel free to take a pic and post it to all social media outlets.

28 April 2016

The Heart of Adventure

I am sitting at my cutting table at work, fuming about a post on Facebook. Yaaaaaayyyy...Facebook. The truth of what I am fuming about has nothing to do with Facebook, of course, but an attitude that seems to permeate everything in life. The idea that "the only right way to do it is the way I do it" can be found everywhere. I certainly run across it in the work I do, but of course I come across it in the world of motorcycling.

To be more specific, a man posted to the GS Giants Facebook page. The GS Giants are a like minded group of adventure motorcycling riding individuals. Though GS is in the name, and most posts revolve around GSs and GS riders, we don't exclude anyone. This is the content of his post--

"Sorry to say it, but I'm bored listening to commentary about farkles and seeing pics of folks fucking-up stream beds. And the lack of posts from people who actually go anywhere in the world besides a campout is pretty disappointing. They're called adventure bikes for more than marketing reasons. So, I go back to my old 1990 GS Paris Dakar and hope for the health to resume my travels. Adios, Happy Trails!"

Some people's responses defended his or her adventure they were currently on somewhere in the world. Some responses defended an individual's attendance at a campout as being his or her own adventure. Some posted pics of farkles, some called him pitiful, some called into his question his political beliefs, and one man suggested he exit the group and begin one of his own called, "we are the best of the best adventure riders." I, of course, did nothing originally. I ignored it, thinking he had every right to believe what he wanted about the true definition of adventure.

Then, like a grown-up, I posted a picture of me flipping off the camera with both hands.

Here is the reason behind my reply. This is the dictionary definition of Adventure: ad-ven-cher --noun-- an exciting or very unusual experience.

For many people--particularly those who have just come through a long, snowy winter--a March Moto Madness campout, even if in one's own backyard, can be an adventure. For a working mom, an afternoon riding the back roads around home and stopping to watch a moose in a pond can be an adventure. Anything can be an adventure to any person, as long as he or she chooses to view it as such.

Are we all to stop calling ourselves adventurers because we don't go out into the far flung reaches of the world? I call Bullshit on that idea. Occasionally, I stop writing this blog, thinking I haven't gone anywhere exciting, or done anything adventurous. But, then I remind myself that my rides around my home state are as exciting--hey, wasn't that word in the dictionary's definition--as my big adventure to Alaska, or one of my big rides to and from California. Going out and working with a bunch of women on a Sunday afternoon to get them feeling comfortable riding their bikes off-road is an adventure to me.

So, I guess that guy's idea of adventure only includes hardcore dudes slogging through Mongolian sands or across Eastern Russia on the Road of Bones like those two dudes in that documentary. You know the one--where they had a cameraman who rode everything they did while filming, and had a full support crew. Whatever. I watch that and laugh every time someone whines or cries in his helmet. But, I still recognize that as an adventure.

If you are a hardcore, experienced rider, riding around the world and venturing off to foreign lands on your bike labeled for adventure, I'm going to ask that you keep in mind everyone adventures in a different way. Remember where you started from, financial or familial limitations you've ever had, and that desire deep in you to simply have fun on your bike.

I'll leave this off by telling you about my adventure last weekend. I flew to California and had the opportunity to do some coaches' training out at the RawHyde facility. When I got there, they had forgotten to set aside a bike for me and all that was left were 1200s. I swung my leg over and could just get the tips of my toes down. As my friend, Dusty, looked at me with doubt in his eyes and asked if I'd be ok, I said, "Yep! I'll be good." Then I rode the rest of the weekend, doing skills and drills with a fantastic group of people from all over. I may not have put thousands of miles on, or gotten myself all wadded up in a deep mud bog, but I had a great adventure never the less.

And I'm looking forward to so many more!

My weekend adventure ride!


22 March 2016

Final Farkling...for now.

One final cold afternoon found me installing the last of what I had, and the last of what I would strip from Thumper. First on the list...

Rox Risers

It helps to have three hands when doing these. If you are not someone who was born that way, I recommend getting a buddy to help.

I have these on Taz, the XT, also. When I raised the bars on Thumper, I didn't have to go far, so I used Touratech 3/4" risers. I really needed my handlebars to be in a very different place on the 700GS, though. So, I got the 2" Rox Risers and set about determining if I had enough length in my cables to install them as is. As it turns out, I did! They were a quick and easy install, and I was off and running onto the next addition.

Because of the state of my hands at the end of a work day building costumes, I have a very hard time with stock grip diameters. My hands tend to cramp if I hold onto a narrow grip for any length of time. The solution? Foam grip covers! Knowing my old ones were in bad shape this past summer, Josh thoughtfully had a set sent to me in San Diego, and I went to work installing them in the parking lot of my apartment complex. It was a hot, summer day, and I stood out there sweating like crazy, trying to get the new ones on by what appeared to be very obscene means. It was a little simpler this time, and I actually had hairspray to use. I'm getting ridiculously good at putting these on quickly, which is good as they don't last forever, especially if one rides a lot.

A little hairspray helps them slide on a little easier, then dries to keep them in place. It's lube and glue all in one!
In the comfort of my own garage, I can make all the obscene movements I need to while getting the job done, with no pesky neighbors looking down upon me wondering what the hell I'm doing.

Grips on! Let's finish the handle bars.

The "Helping Louise's Hands" adventure would be incomplete without the addition of a throttle rocker. Can live without it on long mileage days.

Barkbuster Storm hand guards. These are burly and more attractive than BMW handguards at the same time. If I had Barkbusters on when I hit that deer, my handguard wouldn't have been bent out of shape the way the BMW one was on the 650GS. Once again, super clear, easy instructions and a quality product. I just found out they are coming out with new ones which have led lights in the front, allowing cagers to see you more clearly when you are approaching them. If you're in the market for new handguards, they might be worth waiting for.

The basic protective element of a Barkbuster is a super strong metal brace. I have no doubt I'll be putting it's s strength to the test later this season. Hopefully, not on a deer....
The toughest part of installing the handguards, making sure they were at the same angle! Also, please note I'm wearing my new Alpinestars Tech 7s to break them in. They don't really need it--they're super comfortable on their own.
The finished look. I'm not sure how I feel about the aesthetics of them, but then, I'm not sure I like any others any better. So, if I can't have super strong, invisible handguards, these are a good compromise.

The last step in making my stance on the bike comfortable, both for long distance road trips and off-road handling, was new pegs. Or, in this case, old pegs stolen from Thumper. I had a set of Fastways on Thumper for the four years I had her, and I loved them. They are broad, stable, and have really good grippers on them. Bonus? They can be installed in a lower position. This was important as the stock peg placement on the 700 is really uncomfortable for me. I feel like my knees are in my armpits when seated, and that they placed me far too high when standing, forcing me to bend over to grip the handlebars. Not cool. The Fastways are the perfect solution.

Each of those little grippy spikes screws in individually, and the pegs come with two different sizes--I like the short ones as it turns out. Pro tip--locktite those puppies! I lost one before I got smart enough to locktite them.

I am still researching things like windshields, radiator guards, tires, and luggage--aka, making the dream list. As soon as I get all these things, I'll set off on an adventure to my nearest Starbucks for the obligatory super-clean, tricked out GS pic. I also decided on a new front sprocket with one less tooth. I'll let you know if it's as easy to switch out as the ones on Thumper and Taz, or if the neighborhood gets regaled with my complete repertoire of colorful vocabulary. Until then, if it didn't snow 8" on Friday where you live, I hope you had some nice riding this weekend. I wrote blog posts. You're welcome.


20 March 2016

Vogue--or...What Not To Wear!!!


Vogue magazine published an article last fall, interviewing "Biker Babes." It has only recently come to my attention, but I knew as soon as I saw the article that the women featured would be what one thinks of as the stereotypical biker chick--a babe on a Harley out for a cruise on a sunny day. Besides the fact that this is the largest group of any motorcyclists I have had snub me out on the road, I begrudge no one, even them, the style bike and riding they prefer. If you are on two wheels, I want to get to know you, or at least say hi!

If you've read any of my blog, you know I belong to a different group of riders. We call ourselves adventurers, and most of us welcome any woman (or man...I suppose) who is interested in finding adventure on two wheels. Whether it happens on an "Adventure" bike or not is of no concern to me, or to most women I know and ride with. But we are a huge part of the motorcycling woman population.

So, why are we not highlighted in Vogue's "Ride or Die" article? I get it.


I don't have to wear mini denim and halter tops when I ride. I'm happy being safe. And quite frankly, that bike is sexy enough for both of us! Damn!


is not sexy like THIS.

I know, this is just a picture, but the inclusion of it makes more sense when you read the next pic down.


What is sexy to me is brains and skin. You know, simply possessing them because they haven't been splattered by a wall, or shaved off by a slide.

Now, I get it. I really do. This is a FASHION article, not an article about transportation safety, or an article about gear in a motorcycling magazine. However, Vogue has a huge, HUGE, population of women it reaches with every issue and I hate that it puts out there that this is the sexy way to be on a bike. And sadly, I see it every gorgeous day out on the road. I get passed by sport bikes with girls perched on the back, wearing cute dresses or short-shorts and flip flops, or women riding their own bikes in tube tops and denim shorts.

I also get that there is a culture to the Harley set, passed down through generations. A couple of the girls interviewed started to ride at a young age, with their dads. I honestly can't imagine anything better! But really, dads, aren't you better off protecting those girls by teaching them to protect themselves?

One biker babe mentioned that she will wear leather chaps--when it gets too cold to simply pull her socks up over her jeans. One other girl also mentioned that she never rides without leather--a leather handbag. **I had to actually take a moment to shake my head when I read that** Then one girl described what she wore, and how she dressed when it was hot. She actually uses the popular quote, "Dress for the slide, not the ride." IN DENIM SHORTS AND STOCKINGS!!!


Please note the large section of text...

What part of sliding across asphalt do you think stockings will protect you from? Even denim won't.

This article makes me sad and furious all at the same time. I know people will do what they want to do, and some will use their brains better than others. We all make our own choices, and to be honest, I have been known to ride in a pair of jeans on many occasions. I was glad to read this, and take some time to respond. I believe the same journalist wrote another article about MX pants being fashionable. I truly wish Vogue editors would have used the brains they no doubt do possess to hire writers who might actually know something about that which they were writing.

My real response to this article--better myself. I will be the ATTGATT girl, and I will attempt to be a better model for safe riding. Adventuring off into the wilderness, other countries, or just the next county is more fun with healthy, intact skin! I plan to keep mine that way as long as possible.

These are the women riders I find sexy. I love riding with them and trading stories of great adventure!

Bex and Brenda--CO GS Girls
Ellen--ID GS Girls
Jude--WAdvR admin


P.S.--Do you want to be sexy and safe? Try leather. Some of the sexiest women I know, including land speed world record holder, Erin Sills, wear leather. Check it out!

Erin is sexy AND badass in her leathers!



More Mods (seriously, it's still snowing--no real riding)

Call me crazy, but I like the stability of being able to get more than one toe on the ground at a time. Am I capable of riding a bike that is nearly impossible for me to touch the ground--of course I am. You should see me on the KLX--if it is standing straight up, my toes wave around in the air. It's a light bike and I can pretty easily drop a toe on one side or the other to hold it up, but the new GS is not light. I also expect, at some point, to have to put my foot down in an off-camber situation, and would prefer to have a better chance of dropping that foot and not the bike. I could have bought a lowered chassis version of this bike, but I didn't want to lose any clearance. I have bashed the bottom of Thumper on rocky steps--yay! Bash Plate!--and I didn't want to lose any clearance on this new one if I didn't have to. I also didn't want the optional low seat. I wanted a custom seat. Well hey, I've got those skills and all the correct tools. So one snowy weekend, when I wasn't riding anyway...

First step is simple. After removing the seat from the bike, pull off the cover by carefully removing staples. This seat is remarkably simple compared to my little Honda seat I did a few years ago.

I sit...here!

With the cover off, I put the seat back on the bike, sat on it, and using a Sharpie (carefully--I didn't want Sharpie marks on the crotch of my jeans) I roughly marked in the area of the seat where I comfortably sit.

Mapping out areas to be removed. On the top of that list is the ridge on each side of the seat.

Poking at the foam, I determined the levels of foam I would be able to shave away, outlining and writing those numbers in so as to remind myself as I worked.

Oh my dog--the foam really got ALL OVER! I ran the shop vac along side my project for as long as I could stand the noise.

I began carefully cutting the foam away to approximate depths, and once it was roughed in, I began smoothing it out. I used three different sized files, smoothing down with the finest at the end.

Getting there.... I love how smooth it is now--no ridges on the sides.

When the seat was sufficiently smooth, I loosely fit the cover back on and tried it out on the bike. Success! I could get the flat part of my toes on the ground on both sides--not quite the balls of my feet, but that's okay. I reattached the cover with a manual staple gun, stretching it more for a snug fit, and put the seat back on. At some point, after I determine this is the final shape I want (probably after a long trip), I will use a pneumatic stapler to finish the seat cover. There are a few areas that are too skinny to get staples from a manual stapler into. For now, it works fine.

There are some skinny areas this stapler doesn't get into well. I'm planning on finishing it after I test it on a long ride. After I do, I'll use a pneumatic stapler with the air compressor to re-assemble. It has a narrower area where the staples come out, and can get into tight little crevices.

This is a really simple thing to do on one's own. I would say the most difficult part is having the right tools for the job. One hint, some types of foam carve away easily with a serrated electrical knife. You know, the kind Mom used on the ham at Christmas. However, not all seat foam is the same, and some will just get torn all to hell. If you're going to attempt this, go slowly at first to know what you're working with, then create a custom spot for your custom butt!



FARKLES! ...and mods.

Camille is so beautiful and functional on her own, but I've been hard at work making her more my own bike. Until I got my hands on the new bike, I had forgotten all the things I had done to Thumper to make her fit me, make her more functional, and make her fun. Once I started running down the list of mods I had made on that bike, I started mentally adding up the cost and time to do everything I needed to on Camille.

Holy crap.

The list was a bit overwhelming for my little brain to wrap itself around, so I started with what I had and what I felt I needed/wanted first.


It was January in Denver. That fact alone does not cut out the possibility of riding--we have loads of sunny days free of ice and snow. But, it was still cold, and let's face it, fingers that don't function due to frostbite (and the possible outcome of gangrene and amputation...eeewwww) is a danger to motorcyclists. So, easily enough, I pulled the wiring for my Gerbings gloves off Thumper and wired Camille to keep me safe and warm. That was actually a great first project as I had to pull the plastics off one side in order to run the wiring, giving me a better look at what's under there. It's cool, I still have no idea what most of that stuff is....

Pulling the plastics off the bikes quickly tells which one has seen some dirt! It seemed wrong to put that dirty, dusty piece of wiring into the new bike, but in it went anyway.

Quickly following the "Keeping Louise Warm" adventure, I moved on to the "Protecting my precious engine" adventure. I easily, and all on my own (I'm stating that fact to remind myself what a badass I am) installed my AltRider crash bars and bash plate. I got the silver bars and black bash plate. I know most people go for a matching set, but I like how the bash plate disappears against the black engine while the silver bars look gorgeous on the white bike

Silver Crash Bars freshly unpackaged, along with all tools and hardware necessary for install.

Ok, this is where I'm going to gush about AltRider. The pieces I put on my bike are quality, look great, and come with the EASIEST instructions to follow, complete with PICTURES! Honestly, what took me the most time was locating the engine bolts I needed to pull for the crash bars. In my defense, BMW hid them behind some lovely little black plastic caps, making the bike look clean and nice, but making me look like an idiot when I couldn't find giant bolts that require a size 50 (!) torx bit. Thankfully, I was alone, so no one saw me.... Anyway, other than the hiding bolts, and the cut up finger from shoving the big bolt through the small hole in the bash plate, everything was easy-peasy. So much so, in fact that I immediately emailed them to tell them how great my experience was.

Not many tools needed for the Bash Plate. I really love how hefty this one feels compared to my other two. See the metal dish with the Tusk label, it's magnetic and essential for someone like me who just puts stuff down any old place, then promptly forgets where she put them. It was a Christmas gift from Josh!
Delicate, girly fingers and sharp moto parts are bound to clash a bit. But, you know what they say--Chicks Dig Scars.


Seat, risers, pegs, grips, barkbusters...stay tuned.


22 February 2016

Injuries--or, Getting Old AAAARRRGGGGHHH!

I have been incredibly fortunate over the years to not have seriously hurt myself on a motorcycle. Any injuries I had have come in the form of bruises after a get off on a trail. That really is the extent of it--the thing that has taken the biggest hit has been my pride. Those injuries have not stopped me from riding. In fact, it has often happened that I sustained them during a multi-day event centered around riding, and I got right back on the next day, either to ride more trails or ride home.

But injuries sustained while riding, or doing anything else, can be healed by rest or made far more severe by ignoring them.

Picture a beautiful sunny afternoon in Balboa Park, San Diego. I am sitting at a table in the Tea Pavillion enjoying my lunch, when a woman a few tables over begins speaking very loudly on her cell phone. Her conversation quickly escalates until she is yelling into her phone, "I don't give a shit! I don't give a SHIT! I DON'T GIVE A SHIT!" Pretty quickly it was made clear to her the rest of us didn't give a shit about her problem, and she walked away telling the person on the other end, "Wait a minute, I have to move. I guess I'm being loud...."

She leaves, peace returns, and I begin to enjoy my lunch again...right up until two women at the table next to me begin talking about how constipated one of them was. Annoyed as it is humanly possible to be, I get up from my table, gather my things, and walk away. I am super glad that woman is comfortable enough with her friend to discuss her bowel movement problems, and the ensuing solution which caused a quick and unexpected exit of said problem, but I don't want to listen to that at lunch, so I made a quick exit.

I walk away, my mind reeling over the conversations I've just had to endure, glance over my shoulder looking for traffic, and step off the curb to cross the street--right into a sewer grate which dips about two inches lower than the rest of the gutter. My heel catches in the grate, my foot slides sideways, and I end the most intolerable lunch I've experienced in a long time by spraining my ankle.

Oh, come on!

I bought an Ace bandage that night on my way home from work, and when I looked at my ankle I was impressed by the level of bruising and swelling that had occurred. It was in bad shape and I was pissed.

No more high heels for me for a while. (No really. I tried about a week later and thought I was being unreasonably punished by the shoe gods for not cautiously keeping an eye out for surreptitious shoe-eating grates.)

A week and a half later, most of the bruising has gone away and it's only swollen in the evenings. I'm back at home and will be leaving in two days to go ride with RawHyde for the first time. That night as I'm making dinner, I grab the metal handle of a pan, forgetting I had just taken it from the oven, and I burn my palm and the inside edges of my thumb and fore finger--you know, all the spots that touch your grip when you twist the throttle. I contemplated crying.

Not being much of a crier, and having waited a long time to get this chance to show my skills to the Colorado RawHyde team, I get my gear together and head to Hartsel. A couple of discreet bandages and padded gloves protect my poor blistered hand, and a little brace works wonders for my ankle. I have a weekend filled with loads of fun, great people, and beautiful scenery to ride in. I twist my throttle with my finger tips, and constantly keep my foot moving around on the peg to lessen my ankle's discomfort.

See, it's doable. So why bother writing about it? Well, my hand has had no residual ill effects. The blisters went away and it healed right up. But, with hopping right on the bike and continuing to ride off-road all summer, I am currently sitting here--in February--with an ankle that is still tender from time to time.

Honestly, I can even put up with that. I'm not in PAIN pain, and I can still do all the activities I enjoy. But, I wonder how much other parts of my body compensate for my sub-conscious favoring of Bad Ankle. Last weekend, my climbing partner, Roo, and I headed to El Dorado Canyon to do some climbing. We got a pretty late start, and since the sun still sets early and it gets cold, we just quickly climbed two pitches. I rapped down one, followed by Roo and we gathered our gear we had left at the bottom of that pitch. As we got ready to rap down the last pitch and I climbed out on the edge, my knee started to hurt. It really hurt, and not in the usual overuse injury kind of pain I'm used to.

It was pretty painful to scramble out of the canyon and hike out the icy trail. Once we got out--in the car, in the brewery--it didn't feel so bad. Then I got home. Ugh! I spent that night and the entire next day sitting with my leg up, icing it, and taking ibuprofen. I looked online to see if I could diagnose my problem and there it was--

"Quadriceps tendinitis/tendonopathy...an injury which typically occurs in older athletes."

Wtf!?! The Interwebs just called me old. Well, technically "older." Still, not okay.

Before you start wondering how someone with so many health problems gets by in life, let me say I am actually a really healthy woman. I eat reasonably well, never get sick, work at a job where I am constantly moving, and in my downtime I ride and climb. I stay in pretty good shape, and even though I'd always like to lose those couple of pounds before swimsuit season, my doctor tells me I'm one of the healthiest people she sees.

As I get older, though, everything takes more time to heal. It's a hard, shitty fact to face, and I don't think I'm ready. I also think the best way for me to feel and stay young, is to behave that way. So, stay healthy and excuse me while I go act like a twelve year old!

I warned you...