Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Regular Yesterday

“It’s been 2 weeks” I said.
The Elder smiles a crescent moon, and says, “We can do that, if you want”
Donning the uniform, it’s warm/enveloping/comforting.

Stairs, rails, puddles, hallway, clearing, garage door.
The padlocks click easily, and give way to my anxious fingers.
(Heart beating)
Light flushes through, and the darkness gives way
Steel, paint, leather, chrome, Spirit.

Hi My Baby.

Fingers graze over the riser, linger at the clutch, and trace the Diamond longingly. Home.
Wet ground for sure. Doesn’t matter now, does it?
(Some days are good. Some are bad. Not enough Time has passed. I know.)
I’m out, burning, and waiting. For it to subside.
Shift, 60, shift 80, my eyes start to tear, 85. Please.
I see the puddle, and The Elder’s glance back at my loud laughter.
He meant to do that.
Slowing and breathing, the quick breaths become longer, more deliberate.
Deliberate. In.
Deliberate. Out.
35, and just feeling. Sun glints and the tremendous disappointing weight

Leaves me

A thanks, and a look forward.
The release is intense.
Wait for it.
Deliberate Out.
And all I can do…is cry.

-- Mercedes Martin-Raya, who is the best rider I know.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Haven't Forgotten...

... really. I hate it when I start a new project and life conspires to ensure I ignore it! I'm rationalizing by telling myself that in most parts of the country it's already cold and even snowy!

Quick winter tip... start your bike every couple of weeks or so!! Let it run for a couple of minutes or even putt around the block if it's safe to do so. And continue to do periodic "preflights" so there won't be any surprises come Spring!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pick-Up Line

We've all done it. Hell, I've done it many times. If you're a new rider, trust me when I say that you will do it too.

One of these days, you'll find your beautiful motorcycle laying on its side. Maybe you were trying to get out of that tight spot and hit the front brake with the front wheel pushed over. Maybe you found that cleverly concealed patch of fine gravel in the turn. Maybe some oblivious cager knocked it over. Or maybe you just spaced out the side stand. Regardless of the reason... now what?

Obviously, you gotta get your machine off the ground and back on two wheels. The first thing to remember is: picking up a motorcycle is DANGEROUS. Work smarter, not harder. Just because you CAN pick it up by yourself doesn't mean you should, and if there are people around willing to help... LET THEM. Remind them that the exhaust pipe(s) are hot, and remind them that plastic parts and turn signals are NOT holding points. Remind them that the bike is heavy and the goal is to get it back up without injuries to anyone involved. Keep in mind that a back injury is a life-changing event!!

Now... what if you are alone? Let me assure you that a small woman can pick up an 800-lb bike. Yes. It's true. And with a couple of mats/towels, it's a skill you can practice with your own bike in the comfort of your own driveway or garage.

Step One: Self-Assessment. Your bike is not going anywhere without you. Take a few moments to run a self-diagnostic. Are you injured? Are you sure? Is it safe to pick up your motorcycle? Is the area in which your motorcycle is down conducive to righting it? Do you even WANT to pick up your bike? Is there help available? Asking yourself a series of questions allows you to calm down and assess yourself and the situation without the clouding influence of adrenaline. It's embarrassing to dump your machine, but the situation will quickly escalate from embarrassing to dangerous if you rush your decisions without properly assessing the whole picture. Give yourself the gift of time.

Step Two: Check it out. Are you in danger from traffic? If so, get away from your bike and wait for a law enforcement response. If not, take a good look at your surroundings. Is the bike on wet pavement? Is there sand, gravel, or loose dirt/mud? Is the ground sloped? Is there a ditch on either side of you? Again, picking up a motorcycle is dangerous, and should only be done solo in really good-to-optimum conditions. Check it out and be realistic.

Step Three: Your Bike. Shut off the engine with the cut-off switch or ignition switch. If you have a fuel supply valve, make sure it is shut off to avoid spills and leaks. It's really common to have spilled fuel and maybe even oil in these situations, so use caution. If your bike is on its right side, put the side stand down and put the bike in gear. If you bike is on its left side, make a mental note that you'll have to put the side stand down once you get it up and use caution - you don't want to get it up only to dump it over on the other side.

NOW... if you've decided you're gonna go for it, pick up your bike!!

1. Turn the handlebars to full-lock position with front of tire pointed downward.

2. Find the "balance point" of the two tires and the engine, engine guard, or footpeg. The motorcycle will be fairly easy to lift until it reaches this point because it's resting on its side. Once you start lifting from there, you are responsible for the most of the weight of the bike.

3. "Sit" down with your butt/lower back against the motorcycle seat. Be very careful to keep your back straight and your head up. Put your feet solidly on the ground about 12 inches apart, with your knees bent slightly.

4. With one hand, grasp the handgrip of the handlebar (underhand, preferably), keeping your wrist straight.

5. With your other hand, grip the motorcycle framework (or any solid part of the motorcycle), being careful to avoid the hot exhaust pipe, turn signals, etc. If you can get a good grip, the frame directly under your seat is a good spot.

6. Lift with your legs by taking small steps backwards, pressing against the seat with your butt and keeping your back straight. On slippery or gravelly surfaces this technique probably won't work. On inclined surfaces this can be very dangerous. Maintain control while lifting and never twist your body during the process.

7. Be careful not to lift the motorcycle up and then flip it onto its other side! If possible, put the sidestand down using your foot and put the bike in gear.

8. Set the motorcycle on its sidestand and park it safely. Thoroughly check your bike for damage before riding it. If you have any doubts about its rideability, don't take the chance.

Here are some sites with video and photos to help:



Monday, August 17, 2009

ALL RIDERS: Please READ before starting YOUR BIKES

With all the people going down this season, I thought I'd post a reminder to for the riders out there. This was taken from tristatesportbikes.com and gixxer.com. Have fun and keep the shiny side up. Smart riders ride on. Stupid hurts.

1. We crash on cold tires. Respect them by giving them a few miles to warm up, especially if they're brand new. After stopping to eat or something, remember you're not the only thing that has cooled down, allow your tires sufficient time to warm up again.

2. We crash on overloaded tires. If you are new to riding or rusty after a winter layoff, applying too much throttle or brake while leaned over could be very costly. Our tires can provide amazing levels of traction but they're not immune to "lead" hands. The instinct of grabbing a handful of front brake while leaned over will put you in the guardrail.

3. We crash trying to keep up. Ultimate speed on a back road has little to do with the bike and everything to do with the rider. Once you realize this, twisting the throttle WFO to keep your friends in sight on the straights while losing them in the corners becomes a non-option. Ride your own pace.

4. We crash because we want to go fast. Sometimes, even the posted speed limit is inappropriate. Coming over a blind crest at 45mph might be too fast if you can't stop the bike before hitting the hazard you only see when it's too late. Speed reduces time to react and adds distance to react in emergency situations.

5. We crash because we bail out. How many posts have there been about entering a corner too hot, standing the bike up and running out of road before getting the bike stopped? Too hot means your brain is probably freaked out but there is still plenty of tire traction available. LOOK through the corner, LEAN the bike until hard parts drag, BELIEVE in modern tire technology.

6. We crash because we lose our focus. The bike travels 88 feet per second at 60 mph. A moment's inattention puts you that much farther into a corner. Think about the next corner, not the one you just blew. That one is over, focus on getting the next one right.

7. We crash because we rush corner entrances. Slow in, fast out works for racers season after season. It works for road riders too. Slow down a bit on your corner entrances and see how much smoother you become.

8. We crash because we can't keep up with the motorcycle. Make sure your software is the equal of your bikes hardware. The bike has the ability to go 160mph, that doesn’t mean YOU do.

9. We crash trying to look cool. If it takes wheelies, stoppies and other stunts to impress your friends...you need new friends.

p.s. Alcohol dosen't help either. Use your head.

Monday, July 20, 2009

California Riders Beware!

Fenris' (my Street Glide Autobot) registration was up for renewal in May. Just before the registration was due, I received a notice in the mail, on State of California, Department of Motor Vehicles letterhead, stating my registration would be suspended effective July 16 if proof of insurance was not provided.

Apparently, carriers who insure California drivers are now required to submit proof of financial responsibility ELECTRONICALLY to the State. The notice advised that my insurance company had not submitted electronically (despite the fact that we have 6 vehicles registered in California and only Fenris was at risk for suspension).

Instead of paying my registration renewal online, as I was able to do, I took a day off and went to the DMV. My insurance was verified, my registration renewed, and I was assured that all was well.

On Saturday I received a notice, again on DMV letterhead, indicating that Fenris' registration was suspended as of July 16.

Outraged, I called the number listed on the notice and advised of the steps I had ALREADY taken in order to avoid this bureaucratic SNAFU. I was advised that the "OFfice of Financial Responsibility" was a "third party" and NOT affiliated with the DMV. Which, of course, prompted me to ask why the notice of impending suspension and the notice of suspension itself were both printed on letterhead clearly stating "State of California, Department of Motor Vehciles?" And why the instructions on said notices detail that payments should be made to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and not some "third party?"

The singularly unhelpful "third party" representative provided me with a fax number and adivsed I should fax my proof of insuirance right away, then immeidately call back for verification. Which I, of course, did. When I called back for verification, I was told by yet another "third party" representative that it takes 24 to 48 hours to verify my fax and enter the information into the system. They would not even verify that my fax had been received.

The moral of the story: if you receive a notice that your registration is going to be suspended because your insurance carrier has failed to electronically provide proof of financial liability, DO NOT go to the DMV to submit. Submit proof of insurance as instructed on the notice and CALL YOUR INSURANCE CARRIER to ensure that the information they have on file for you and your vehicle match the information the DMV has on file.

This has been a public service announcement from one who's spent the day being ass-f**ked by a "third party." You know that means no reach-around.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Skill Building

As a new rider, EVERY day is a skill-building day. Ride your own ride. Never outride your skill set. Ride with friends and never feel as though you have to keep up - your friends don't mind waiting for you while you build your skills at your own pace. And ALWAYS remember the basics that will save your life: maintain appropriate speed, maintain appropriate distance, keep your head up, scan as far ahead as practical, and maintain visibility.

Today, my crew and I rode about 150 miles, about half and half between freeway and city riding. It was a skill-building day, as there were many events that tested my ability as a rider and also tested my fortitude as a socially acceptable person. Had I been a brand new rider today, it might have been more of a bone-setting day rather than a skill-building day.

Face it: people aren't looking for motorcycles on the road with them, despite the fact that there are thousands of us out there. Car drivers are looking for other CARS. Car drivers are focused on where they want to go and not on who is sharing the road. Car drivers assume that the other folks on the road are as stable, protected, and practically anonymous as they themselves are. Car drivers don't always look both ways at intersections, and often start moving through the intersection before they've even looked ONE way. Car drivers don't always know where they are going and may brake erractically, change lanes often and without warning, or suddenly stop altogether. Car drivers sometimes are so fucused on making that left hand turn before the light changes that they don't notice the motorcycle traveling the opposite direction until they actually broadside it. Car drivers honk their horns for no apparent reason. Car drivers throw things out of their windows. Car drivers change lanes without signalling and cut across four lanes of traffic at 80 miles per hour because they realized they've passed their exit.

The Event of the Day today was random and sudden stopping. In a three-hour ride, four cars stopped suddenly right in front of me, each time while I had another rider directly to my left. For new riders, the REALLY important thing to remember in these situations is without power, a motorcycle has no traction. If a rider panics, pulls in the clutch and hits the brakes (probably locking up the rear wheel in panic), there is no traction whatsoever available to actually avoid a collision. 70% of a motorcycle's stopping power comes from the front brake. USE IT. Slow yourself as quickly as possible, downshift appropriately (you'll stall if you don't and then you have the same problem - no power), and SWERVE if still necessary. Power = traction and traction = stability.

Quick-stops are something easily practiced in a nearby parking lot. It's worth the time to practice this skill regularly... I guarantee you'll use it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

AMA Women Riders Conference



Yamaha BMW Motorad

Bell Helmets

August 19-22, 2009


Presented by Harley-Davidson and Buell

The premier women's motorcycling event in the country is heading west in 2009 to one of the best riding areas in the United States. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is pleased to announce that the fifth AMA International Women & Motorcycling Conference, presented by Harley-Davidson and Buell, will take place at the Keystone Resort & Conference Center in Keystone, Colorado, on Aug 19-22. State-of-the-art amenities and world-class riding will greet everyone who signs up. Don’t wait. Register here. Make lodging reservations here. This is going to be the best conference yet!


Tribute to Woody Woodward: Lifelong motorcyclist, activist and adventurer >>

The Women's Motorcyclist Foundation offers a tribute to longtime rider and volunteer Woody Woodford.

BMW joins demo ride lineup at conference >>

BMW Motorrad USA will be providing a demo fleet for attendees to test ride at the 2009 AMA International Women & Motorcycling Conference, presented by Harley-Davidson and Buell.

More News >>

Meet the Advisory Council :: ADVISORY COUNCIL:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First Bike? Buy it Used, for Heaven's Sake!!

Your dream bike shouldn't be your first bike.

When you're just getting started, it's easy to get caught up in the allure of the machine itself. Your friend has a Harley so you have to have a Harley. You saw the Ducati gleaming in the sun and now you can't get the color red out of your mind. You saw AMA Superbike Champ Ben Spies dragging a knee at Road Atlanta and now you know you want a Suzuki GSXR1000.

We understand. We experienced riders can waste hours talking about how great this bike is, or how much we'd love to own that one, or why this other one is more beautiful, more desirable, etc.

And yet, the best bike for you to start riding on is probably one that would never inspire lust. While you may be tempted to buy the bike of your dreams, you're probably best off buying a smaller, less expensive used motorcycle that's mechanically sound, even if it's an ugly duckling.

"What?" you scream. "You're sapping the fun out of my dreams!"

Hear us out. Here are three reasons to buy an inexpensive used bike to learn on:

  1. You're going to drop it. Yes, you will. And if you drop your dream bike, you're going to cry. And incur bills. Hey, it's nothing personal. All of us, especially when we were learning to ride, have dropped a motorcycle or two in our day. Take it from experience: It's easier to stomach the results when you're less emotionally (and financially) attached to the bike that's hitting the pavement.
  2. What you think you want now may not be what you really want later. Only after you've ridden for a while will you know whether what you really love is riding across three states on a week-long tour or riding three miles to your local bike-night hangout. Buying an expensive new bike today and selling it a year from now when you realize it's not for you is the perfect way to take a big financial hit on depreciation.
  3. You can still get your dream bike. Once you have some experience and have refined your idea of what you want in a motorcycle, you'll be better able to choose the one that's right for a long-term relationship. Plus, you can sell the cheap learner bike, probably for about what you paid for it, to another aspiring rider. Just feel the good karma spreading!!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Soooo... SHOULD You Ride a Motorcycle?

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF, see link in the "LINKS!" section) believes that not everyone is "cut out" for motorcycling. I'm not sure that everyone is "cut out" for driving a car, either, but it does seem that most people undertake the activity regardless of whether they have or ever WILL have the required skills. So, though I believe that EVERYONE could benefit from the joy of riding, here are some suggestions for a self-assessment regarding skills needed for motorcycling:

1. Are you a higher risk-taker than others you know? If you tend to need a thrill while driving a car and have aggressive or risky tendencies (following too closely, turning without signaling, talking on a cell phone, getting angry at other drivers, etc.), motorcycling may not be for you. While motorcycling improves the overall quality of life for many, for some it can lead to disaster. Thinking that accidents only happen to others is an attitude that will get you in trouble.

2. Can you ride a bicycle? This is a prerequisite for enrolling in the MSF's Basic RiderCourse and generally a good gauge of your ability to maneuver a motorcycle. Bicycling, like motorcycling, is a physical activity that involves balance and coordination. And speaking of coordination …

3. Can you drive a stick-shift car? This is not a requirement, but it may make learning to ride easier because almost all motorcycles have manual transmissions. If you can’t get the hang of shifting gears but still want to enjoy a powered two-wheeler, you might want to start out on a motor scooter. Motor scooters generally have automatic transmissions and come in many sizes, from simpler models with an engine size of 50 cubic centimeters (cc) to powerful 650cc models.

4. Do you see well? Riding a motorcycle requires special perceptual skills that rely on good vision. Have you had an eye examination recently? Do you tend to see things that are far away later than other people you know? The ability to see well ahead is important for safe riding.

5. Are you mechanically inclined? Today’s motorcycles are very reliable machines, but with all the bolts, nuts, and mechanisms out in the open, and only two tires connecting you to the pavement, you need to be able to inspect your equipment and make the occasional minor adjustment. You don’t need to be a master mechanic, but it helps to know your way around a tire pressure gauge and a wrench. Most everything a rider needs to know is in the motorcycle owner’s manual, and if you’ve never read your car owner’s manual, that could be a sign that motorcycling is not for you.

6. Are you safety-minded? If you routinely find yourself bandaged up after doing simple do-it-yourself projects around the house, or think it’s acceptable to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, the unique challenges of motorcycle riding may not be compatible with your decision-making. Riders can control their situation only if safety is a high priority. Millions of motorcyclists ride millions of miles without incident, and they likely take safety seriously.

7. Do you respect machinery and other equipment that has risk? For example, when using a lawn mower or chainsaw, do you maintain it properly and wear eye/ear/hand protection when needed? If you’re not serious about safety in connection with simple machinery and equipment whose improper use can lead to serious injury, you may not respect motorcycling enough to follow safety precautions. Successful riders know that safety isn’t a matter of luck, but a matter of doing the right things to minimize risk.

8. Can you focus? Inattention is a major cause of crashes. Safe motorcycling requires dedicated attention to the immediate task and a keen awareness of everything going on 360 degrees around you. Rush-hour traffic aboard a motorcycle is not the place to be daydreaming. For instance, if you find yourself overusing your brakes because you were caught off-guard, or are often surprised by a passing car or truck you didn’t see, your situational awareness could be less than adequate.

9. Can you handle your car in an emergency? Drivers don’t often have the need to brake hard or swerve to miss a crash, but it’s important to have the skills to be able to do so when needed. On a motorcycle, having these types of skills is essential because other highway users tend not to see motorcyclists in traffic, especially around intersections.

10. Are you willing to invest some time in learning to ride the right way before hopping on a bike? Your best “first ride” is a basic beginner's course (such as the MSF's Basic RiderCourse) where you can familiarize yourself with the safe operation of a motorcycle. You can even take the course as an experiment, to help you better understand the dynamics of good riding and to determine if motorcycling is right for you. No riding experience is necessary to take a course, and they have small (250cc) motorcycles for you to ride while learning. It's worth the money adn time, and will even get you a break on your insurance.


Let's Ride!

Welcome to We Ride Our Own!

With gas prices in constant fluctuation (and again on the rise), the popularity of motorcycling has increased exponentially in the past few years. Hand in hand, the number of women riders is also on the rise!

I ride every day. I LOVE it. And though I loved riding as a passenger on my husband's bike also, there is no greater fun than riding side by side.

Everywhere I go, women ask me, "aren't you scared to ride your own?" The answer, of course, is a resounding NO - and this website is dedicated to the women who ride, the women who WANT to ride, and the women who WONDER what it's like. We'll talk about safety, about choosing the right bike, about legal issues, about biker protocol, and of course about style! We may even have guest posters from time to time, from long-time riders to first-time riders to women dead-set against riding. I hope to have some relevant links, ads, and resources as well.

Welcome! Let's ride!