27 July 2017

Periods, Panties, and Parallel Twins

Yes, yes I did just use the "P" word.

And dudes who read this blog may want to scroll on. That said, dudes who want to be educated, and perhaps show a little more understanding to a woman rider, may want to keep reading. Your choice, but you have been warned.

A couple of months ago, after listening to a Freakonomics podcast interviewing Thinx Period Panties co-founder Miki Agrawal, I busted open the iPad and ordered just over $80 of underwear. To be more specific, panties. Three pair. It took a pretty big leap of faith for me to invest that much money in three very small items, without ever having heard a review on the product from someone I actually know and trust.

I let my fellow Colorado GS Girls know I had done this, and that I would follow it up with a review at some point. One of our members mentioned that she had bought some, and really liked them, and a number of women showed an interest in knowing more.

It seems ridiculous that with approximately half of the population of people in the world experiencing periods--and having done so since The Beginning of (Wo)Man-Kind, that we are still loathe to confront these subjects. Well, I'm here to put it all out there for my friends, and call bullshit on the taboo of discussing periods.

First things first. I got the panties in the mail, and was finally able to actually put my hands on them. As they are only available via the interwebs right now, that was the most important thing to me about them--what do they feel like??? They are a three-layer panty, and I really wanted to know if they felt nice, or felt like wearing Depends or a diaper. I mean who wants to run (ride) around with massive amounts of fabric bunched up in her crotch. Not me. For point of reference, I ordered the "Cheeky," the "Sport," and the "Thong."

They feel fine. They are a little heartier than your normal pair of undies, whether you're wearing silk, cotton, nylon, wool, etc. But they aren't obnoxious. They have a nice finish around the legs and waist, so you won't see panty lines anymore than most other undies. The one exception might be if you're wearing very thin leggings over them--which I often do, but then cover with REV'IT moto pants, so who cares.

A week or so after I got them, I was leaving on a ten day moto trip. Thinking I wasn't going to be in need of them within those ten days, I almost didn't take them. But then I tossed them in the bags anyway. They don't take up much room, so why not? And as it turns out, I was glad I did.

Eight days into my trip, I was riding up to Moab, UT from Arizona, and felt the first tell-tale twinges of cramps. I thought, "What? You've got to be kidding!" It was coming a couple of days earlier than it should, and I was not interested in dealing with being on my period. I still had a couple of nights of camping and riding to do with my ADVWoman Rally staff. Ain't nobody got time for this bullshit!

After setting up camp in a campground with nothing resembling running water or even a pit toilet, my friend Kandi and I ran around the grocery store, grabbing food and drink supplies for the next couple of days. I begrudgingly also bought a box of tampons, hoping like hell I wouldn't need them, and just popped the box in the tank bag to have with me at all times.

The next morning, I decided to try the Cheekies out. I wanted to see how they felt while standing around, walking around, running around, and riding around. So glad I did! And thankfully, at a darling breakfast restaurant the next morning, I had my tank bag with me as that nasty bitch, Aunt Flo, decided to make a visit. (For the record, never has a guest been so unwanted...)

We spent the entire day, until about 4:00 in the afternoon, in a broad, dusty open area, with barely a bush for cover. And boy did those panties do their job of keeping everything in. They didn't leak. They didn't feel icky. They didn't stick to me. Though I wondered about how it was all going down there during the course of the day, I wasn't absorbed with worrying. Yaaaassssss!!!

That night camping, and the following day of riding with the ladies in the morning, and the six hour ride home to Denver went by without incident! Those Thinx panties were worth every penny!

So, you might be wondering why you would want them. You might have your period under control, you might be perfectly regular and ready for every situation. Well, congratulations to you! Just know things can change, and take a moment to read my little story of Mosquito Pass. A few people know this story, and I tell it every once in a while, should I think someone is in need of a laugh, or some sympathy.

A couple of friends--all men--were going to ride Mosquito Pass from Fairplay to Leadville. If you want to know more about this Jeep trail, you can look it up. Each year it is a little different, but it always has some rocky, technical sections. It gets above tree line and has massive, beautiful, wide open views.

So we start up the trail, and make it past the first two really rocky sections. During the second one, Josh bashed his bike on something, and once we got to a good open area, we all stopped so he could do a quick repair. Sparing you all the details--because this story is going to be long enough as it is--as I stood there chatting with my two friends--and one other guy we met as he was going the opposite direction from us--I started my period. Out of the blue. Just boom!

And I was caught completely unprepared.

I had recently finished my period, and was not expecting another visit for several weeks. Now, I was caught unawares and unprepared, and still had almost the whole trail to finish out, bumping and bouncing along on rocks, hoping that since Goretex doesn't let moisture in, it also wouldn't let any out. Of my WHITE AND SILVER moto pants.

Well, I made it through. We got to Leadville and had lunch, but as we headed back up and over the pass in the other direction, I couldn't concentrate. My mind wandered and I was unfocused. Pretty soon, out of the middle of nowhere, I found myself sitting across the side of the bike as it lay on its side.

I never really hit the ground, I just slid in one direction as the bike slid in the other. There was an odd, floaty feeling as I went down, and my muscles and joints just let go. I felt limp. I knew, at that moment, that would continue to happen. Knowing the area well, I begged off the return trip and said I'd do the go-around, meeting them back in Fairplay. They were all surprised, and a bit confused, but my almost immediate feeling of exhaustion that hit as I went down made me realize stopping was a necessity.

For a long time, I thought it was just me. I thought I was weird as with increasing age, I found myself becoming more clumsy and more forgetful when I was coasting along with the red tide.

As it turns out, there has been increasing research into why many women have reported feeling clumsy or foggy-brained just before and during their period. It appears to be a combination of dropping progesterone levels--causing problems with coordination, affecting vision, movement and hand steadiness--and dropping estrogen levels causing fuzzy brain and slower reaction time.

Having researched this now, I feel much better with the idea that science/chemistry is behind it, and I'm not just an idiot. It doesn't make me any happier though. I don't want to take a week away from every month because **in a whiny, sing-song voice** I'm On My Period....

So, I don't. How would I get through my upcoming ten month trip, if every four weeks we had to stop for a week because I was afraid my hormone deprived body was going to rebel against me and drop 550 lbs of loaded parallel twin, on myself or off a cliff? Boy, would it be slow going and annoying. I'll figure it out.

There are things in the future I won't do. I won't schedule myself to participate in a class where I need all the concentration I can muster on a good day to learn and complete tasks that might be new or difficult to me. There is always another class or another time.

If that is the only class and the only time, I won't be hard on myself if I struggle.

If that is the only road, I will slow myself down and forgive myself for being more cautious.

If those are my only pants, I'll pull up my Thinx and get on with it! Though, I do think they need to start making those panties with motos printed on them.

You can find Thinx at www.shethinx.com

I would put pictures of me wearing them up with this blog, but you can just go to the website and see the models wearing them. I look just like that...

10 July 2017

A Moving Memorial

A number of years ago, my friend and riding partner, Ian Mcleod, lent me John Maclean's book, Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire. In 1994, a wildfire ripped thought the mountains above Glenwood Springs, CO. Though it was originally mis-reported as burning in South Canyon, it actually burned on what is known as Storm King Mountain.

The fire was started by a lightning strike originally, and was quite small to begin with. They actually allowed it to smolder for a couple of days because it was so small. Sadly, winds shifted and ignited what was thought to be a small and unremarkable fire, turning it into a raging fire. The fire spread quickly, and crews were brought in from different wildland firefighting companies across the western U.S.

The book is well worth a read. It is head-shaking and heart breaking. By the time the fire was finally extinguished, 14 members of a hotshot, smoke-jumper, and helitack crew had been killed. It was the largest loss of life in a wildfire since Mann Gulch. Nine of those hotshots were members of a crew out of Prineville, OR.

My trip from which I've just returned found me putting gas in my bike in Prineville, a small community right in the middle of Oregon. I decided to go inside the store and ask the cashier if there was a memorial to the firefighters, and she gave me directions. A few minutes later, I pulled up to a beautiful park. A large bronze statue honoring wildland firefighters was hard to miss, but smaller and far more powerful was a path through a garden, with individual stones dedicated to each crew member from that fire.

I knew I would want to share this story and the few pictures I took with people. But this morning, as I watched the news and read stories online of fires burning all over the western U.S. and Canada, I knew I needed to get it done now.

Though many wildland fires are started naturally--particularly this time of year--by lightning strikes, at the moment there are more than 100 fires burning in Canada which were started by people. We have all heard the stories over the years--sometimes there is some asshole who starts fires. But, more often, a human-started fire is the end product of someone carelessly leaving a campfire smoldering. A camper may not notice the slightly smoldering or quietly burning embers under what looks to be an extinguished fire. They put it out, or let it burn out, the night before. It appears extinguished the next morning as they break camp, so they leave it. Then, winds shift and blow smoldering embers into dry brush, igniting we fires.

Experienced, responsible people put their fires dead out, or choose to not have a fire during the height of the hot, dry, fire season. I choose the latter--I do not carry enough water on my motorcycle to put fires dead out when I am in a dispersed spot, so I don't start one. I have friends who are wildland firefighters, risking their lives to extinguish these fires. I do not need to risk adding to their already heavy burdens.

If you camp, and you insist on having a campfire, PUT IT OUT--DEAD OUT! Fully drown your fire with water. Stir it, adding dirt to the ashes, and fully douse it again with water. You should be able to put your hand in those coals and feel no heat. Give it a few more minutes, and add more water just to be certain. You can find very detailed instructions on how to have a responsible campfire, when they are allowed,on the U.S. Forestry Service website.

Wandering along the path, reading the stones, like the one pictured above, dedicated to each member of that crew was very moving. It made that book and its story feel more personal. I hope to never have to see a memorial like this dedicated any of my friends, or any other firefighter for that matter. I will continue to strive to be responsible. I hope you will also.


07 July 2017

3,497 Miles Solo...or was I?

Helpful hint from your friendly neighborhood moto-traveler: Take pictures with your helmet hair in the shadows. No one will be able to tell how awful it looks!

"Wow! That's a long way for you to ride by yourself..." Said the guy on the ultra clean 1200GSA, wearing almost no gear at the gas station. His wife who was sitting on a curb--unhappily hurrying down her lunch--had even less gear on, but more excitement for me and my trip.

My fourteen day, 3,497 mile trip at the end of June might have been a long way for him to ride alone, but not for me. The truth is that I might have started out by myself and finished the trip by myself, but I wasn't alone. I met loads of new people, saw some old friends, rode with friends old and new, and spent some very precious time with family.

Strangers automatically asked where I was riding from, especially after my second day in. Riding an average of 400 miles a day and camping those first few night, a person could tell I was not local. How? Well, it could have been the wealth of dried, crispy bugs on my bike, my riding gear, and my helmet. Or, it could have been my helmet hair--so attractively matted flat to my head. Maybe the Colorado license plate. Maybe a combo....

Having another person along on the trip can save you from taking pictures like this...
Ok, this one is better.

Have you ever traveled alone? It's not for everyone. But, if you can do it, a whole new door to the world of getting to know people opens up. And, if you're on a motorcycle, it opens even wider!

Take Natalie, for instance. Riding from Portland, Oregon to Plain, Washington one day, I pulled into a rest stop. Across the sidewalk and under a tree, sat a set of grandparents with their (I'm guessing on age here) 5 year old granddaughter. As I returned from the ladies room, I saw the three of them watch me pass by. I took sometime to have a snack, and as I did, the trio walked back to their car, which was parked next to me.

Grandma told me their granddaughter liked my motorcycle. I told them she could come over closer if she wanted, and she scooted right around! She told me how much she liked it, and that her name was Natalie. I wanted to let her sit on it, but the blazing sun had turned my seat into something akin to a stone in a pizza oven, and I didn't want her to burn her little legs.

What I found so completely amazing, and uplifting, as we talked about my travels and things I had seen on this trip, was the grandparents enthusiasm in encouraging Natalie to like the bike, and the idea of traveling by motorcycle. They did not indicate that they rode at all, but I would guess they were travelers. We all left that exchange with big waves, and bigger smiles! I predict a future GS Girl from that meeting!

In western Wyoming, after I left Utah, but before I headed back into Utah, I was stopped for road construction. These stoppages would happen frequently on this trip. As the car in front of me and I rolled up to the flag-holder, I cut my engine. I figured I'd be there a while, and that thought was confirmed as I heard the woman tell the driver in front of me it would be about a fifteen minute wait.

As we were waiting, her golden retriever--a certified service and therapy dog named Peaches--went walking by. As I had some time, I slid off my bike and made a new friend. As I was petting her, the flag-holder wandered over and started a conversation. She was a lovely woman, and wanted to hear all about my trip.

At one point, she made a comment, marveling at the idea of traveling alone--not having to go where someone else wanted you to go, or having to stop when they wanted to stop, even if you didn't. I thought about it, and agreed that it was fun to be in charge of where I went, when I stopped, how long or how far I rode each day. When you travel in a group, even two, you have more than just yourself and your own wishes to consider. There is something very freeing, and even indulgent-seeming, about traveling alone.

I really enjoyed that exchange. It was a chance for me to not only meet someone new (and a dog!), but to reflect on the opportunity of being on a trip alone.

Later that day, as I rode through farmland, interrupted by only the tiniest of towns, I got to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes of traveling alone. With music and the engine hum as background, I would slowly ride through those little towns, looking at the houses, imagining the occupants and their lives, and playing the game of "Could I Live Here?"

I would take into account such things as proximity to cool nature stuff (rivers, forest, rock to climb), how cute the main street was (do they preserve--or even have--historic buildings), and if there was a liquor store in town. The real important things.... I grew up in a small town in Northern California, so I often thought I could really enjoy small town life again. But, let's be honest, if it's not within 30-45 minutes of a real city with some good restaurants, some theatre, and a good motorcycle dealership, I'm out. Still, it's a fun game.

I am not interested in only traveling alone. I love traveling win Josh, or a small group of people. It is fun to have someone to share and compare stories with at the end of the day, or while on the road through our Sena com systems. But, every now and then, a trip alone does wonders for my soul,and I embrace it.

There will be more blog posts about this trip coming: trip route, a description and review of the Touratech Rally for those who have never been, and maybe a couple more stories. Stay tuned!


02 July 2017

It's Almost Here!!!

Who is getting excited? This girl!

So, it finally happened. This thing I've been thinking about peripherally is almost here, and I finally realized it's actually going to happen. I've known this monster trip was coming for the last five years. But, for so long, it has been a long way off. It is no longer a thing onthefar off horizon. In fact, I am less than two months away.

I went to Barnes and Noble today, and had a moment. My older brother texted me a picture this morning of me in ADVMoto Magazine. I thought I should go pick up a copy--you know my mom will want to see it--and I found myself in front of a beautiful array of motorcycle magazines. I picked up one particularly stunning magazine called Overland, and flipped through it. It's beautifully laid out, with great stories of people traveling all over the world.

As I stood there enjoying such a lovely periodical, it suddenly hit me. I'm going to be one of these people soon! I won't be standing at home or at work, reading other people's stories, and envying their adventures. On Tuesday, August 29, I get to set out on a trip that I have been planning for, thinking about, saving places on a map, and saving money from each paycheck in an account just for this purpose.

I can't lie, I got a little emotional. I stood there and said, out loud, "I get to go do this!"

Does this little moment of mine seem like a surprise? I have, after all, been thinking about if for five years. But, that's just it. For five years, it has been something so far off, something hypothetical. In the last year, I have let almost everyone know about it. Some people knew from the beginning, and either forgot about it, or like me, figured it was a nice pipe dream that would probably never come to fruition.

As I have let people know more recently--particularly riders and travelers--there has been a huge outpouring of moral support. I am ever so grateful and appreciative to everyone who has offered positive words, cheered me on, and asked for my blog address to follow along.

Our three day trip--gotta test out the gear!

Do you want to do it? Do you want to go on an epic adventure of some sort, but aren't sure how to make it happen? You can. I've just returned from what I consider an epic adventure. I spent 14 days out and rode 3,497 miles. It was 14 days, not 10 months, but it was amazing in its own way. Just before that, Josh and I rode three days and camped two nights. It was its own adventure. Take yours!

Want advice on how to figure it out? Ask someone who has done it. It is within your reach. There are a number of resources including websites and local communities where you can find people who have done it.

The first day of my recent two week trip--everyday just kept getting better!

I am so excited! It is so close. Follow along with me. I have two more rallies to attend, and a month of work before I go. It seems like a lot, but I keep reminding myself that loading up and getting on the road with Josh is actually the easy part. Come with us!


Baja California, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Antarctica, Brazil, BMW, GS, F700GS, Suzuki V-Strom, DL650, REV'IT, Mosko Moto, AltRider, Dual Sport, Adventure Touring, South America, Central America