Saturday, March 30, 2013

Taking the leap, riding a motorcycle or scooter

Most of us who ride know that it takes a huge leap of faith to hop onto a motorcycle or scooter and head off down the asphalt ribbon into the unknown.  30 years of riding pillion finally brought me full circle to the front of the bike and seeing for myself what it is to ride. I finally understand what my husband sees and feels when riding.  I always wondered what it was like, but couldn't picture myself riding a scooter or motorcycle. The thought of riding was always filled with mixed emotions of fear and feelings of I can't do it. It is pretty amazing how a small kernel of doubt will hold you back or colour your outlook and perception of something. Learning to ride has been one of the most empowering things I have ever done, only coming in after having a child.

I have found a passion in riding that truly sings to my soul.  It has given me great confidence and changed the way I look at things, it has made me feel strong.  We jokingly call riding therapy and it is therapy if sorts, for me it is a balm to my soul. Every time I go out I come back feeling refreshed and clear headed.  Learning to ride has given me a new skill set and It was very challenging learning to put it all together and surpass the natural fear that comes along with it.

I have met very interesting and wonderful people. Riding has also allowed me to be involved in activities that give back to my community by being a part of a group of dynamic riders that lobbied the government for significant safety change to our local highway and another group that created an annual breast cancer ride and the local team to promote International Female Ride Day.  I have found great joy in mentoring other female motorcyclists and sharing the sense of empowerment that riding offers.

 Two weeks ago I was at the track where a new group of novice motorcyclists had just completed their motorcycle skills assessment tests and seeing them do their victory lap and the huge grins on their faces took me back to my beginnings and the pure joy of it was pretty inspiring.  I think we sometimes forget how thrilling, nerve racking and joyful learning to ride is.

If you are thinking of learning to ride I encourage you to take the leap and register in a novice course and go on the adventure of a lifetime.

Do you remember those feelings?  Do you still feel the rush of excitement?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My newest farkle

I finally found a bag for my bike, I was getting seriously tired of lugging a backpack everyday. I bought a Nelson Rigg CTB 450 Overnighter. It is a tad backpack looking, but it sits well on my seat. It is a very good sturdy bag and has a great rain cover. 

Update:  Today I used the bag for the first time and it rocked!!!  Not too much of a hassle getting it on and off the bike and it was great to have all my work stuff and not have the feeling as Trobairitz described "being strangled by a small child" that is exactly what it felt like wearing the backpack!  I have always been worried too should there be a 'come off' the bike experience that I might get hurt due to the backpack strapped to me and I can't think that landing on assorted goodies would do my spine any good. Some people have asked why I didn't go with saddle bags? The problem with older bikes is finding suitable farkles. I have had a terrible time trying to find saddle bag mounts for my '85, the universal ones don't fit and I would have to destroy the frame and I am not willing to do that.  I am still on the hunt  for these and I have my eye on a very snazzy set of bags.  I still needed something to lug stuff and for weekends away.  I need to add a bit more reflectivity too it, because it doesn't have any reflective piping on it, that is the only drawback I can see at this point.  Hmmm I wonder if I should pull out the Bedazzler? 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Too Pink or not Too Pink - women's motorcycle gear

The colour PINK  in the world of female motorcyclists can be a very loaded topic of discussion and can evoke quite visceral reactions of loathing and downright disgust when it is used in women's motorcycle gear.  I have had this discussion with other female motorcyclists and they either love it or hate it.
If I am wearing pink I prefer it to be a dark vibrant or hot pink, not the bubble gum baby pink that seems to make its way into women's motorcycle gear. Early on I did have a pale pink jacket at one point and liked it at that time, until I had a mishap with someone targeting me because of the pink coat, it clearly showed that I was a woman riding alone.   I chose that coat primarily because there wasn't a lot of choices available to me in style and colour at the time I was purchasing my gear.  It is very disappointing to go into a motorcycle shop that carries gear and see a huge men's selection of jackets, pants, gloves, helmets and boots and only 2 or 3 offerings of all that gear for women.  It's  not their fault either, it's the limited choices they are presented with right from the get go.  

I have heard an opinion expressed "Serious riders don't wear pink."  I don't happen to agree with that blanket statement and think that the colour of your gear or type of motorcycle you ride or style of riding you do does not take away from the seriousness of one's riding capabilities.  We aren't all cross country riders or adventure riders, dirt or supermoto, but that doesn't diminish our skills or the road craft a motorcyclist practices.  I know some very accomplished female  motorcyclists and pink is their trade mark colour and quite honestly they could ride the pants off of anyone and these women are very involved in motorcycling as a career path, lifestyle and hobby.  If you suggested that they weren't a serious motorcyclists you better have your key in hand & get moving on your bike or pray that you could run fast!

The problem of PINK is with the motorcycle industry, specifically gear manufacturers and their myopic view of what a female motorcyclist wants.

 *KNOCK - KNOCK* pay attention gear manufacturers.  Anytime a female motorcyclist is shopping for gear she finds  the colour and style choices to be marginal at best. The industry seems to have standard colours in which they feel comfortable working with; black, white, hi viz, silver, blue, sometimes red, pink or purple.  Pull out the colour wheel and be a little more dynamic, I get tired of the same old stuff. Fit and finish aren't always there either, because it is a cut down version of male gear or they aren't taking into account the shape of a woman's body and we do not all fit into one neat little package, some are more curvaceous and others petite and others tall. I particularly have a difficult time finding pants because I am vertically challenged and even with adjustable knee armor the kneepads are still too low and pants too long, very frustrating and discouraging.  This also applies to motorcycle accessories SERIOUSLY ENOUGH WITH THE SKULLS already,  it's overdone.

Personally in my everyday clothes, I wear various shades of pink and enjoy the colour, but my wardrobe has equally as many other colours of the rainbow. (For what is worth I feel a visceral revulsion to baby blue)

Too PINK or not too PINK? That is the question, so ladies how do you all feel about PINK?

Question for the gents do you have issues with gear?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

For Deb of Ruckus Scooter Love blog

Deb I saw this little sweet thing and thought of you. Check out the customization cool little Ruck! Vancouver Island definitely the Ruckus capital of BC they are all over the island.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just a little of springtime cheer

We are two days into spring and it feels more like December. It's really cold and windy. A few places on the Island are getting snow, so much for March, I am now calling it Marcember.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Motorcyclist, Biker or Rider - what do you prefer to be called

Apparently the Oxford dictionary had a less than flattering description of a biker and changed it to motorcyclist.  It involved someone who had long hair, dirty jeans and belonged to a gang.  Pfffft Oxford you have no idea what a motorcyclist is.  I heard about this a couple of days ago, so thought I would investigate it for myself and low and behold when you go to the Oxford Online dictionary and search motorcyclist it doesn't have a definition anymore, just states it is a noun.  Hmmm I wonder if one of the dirty jean wearing long haired bikers paid them a visit and erased their data base.

I have had a few experiences, albeit minor where someone has judged me because I ride a motorcycle.  The other day whilst out riding with my Moto Mama friends we met at a local Timmies before we went off riding.  I was starving so I went in and was standing in a long line waiting to order a breaky sandwich. I am pretty undertall so I tend to blend in with the crowd in the line even wearing my hi viz traffic vest and moto gear.  Anyway a few people back there were two women standing there chatting about this and that and one of them looks out the window where all my friends were gathered and gave a snort and said in a rather derisive tone "The bikers are out."  Well I don't know about you, but I know a snide comment when I hear one.  So after I got my lovely little snacky I walked by and gave her a nod and said, "Yes we are, have a nice day."  She didn't quite know what to do when I said that, I chuckled to myself as I walked away.  She was left there gawping as I strolled out of Timmies. 

I personally like to be referred to as a motorcyclist.  I am definitely not a RUB (rich urban biker) in fact I would call myself a PUB (poor urban biker) .  We also face stereotyping and judgement from other motorcyclists because of the types of bike ridden or the type of gear worn, belonging to a club or not.  Also coming from the perspective of a female motorcyclist at times some of the comments  that are made are so off the wall that you are left looking at the person as if they have been dropped from the mother ship and you are shaking your head thinking "Really?!"

Frankly, I could care less what someone rides whether it be a Japanese bike, cruiser, sport bike, adventure bike or scooter.  What I do care about is how well a person rides and how much pride they take in their road craft. 

Here are my questions to all of you:

1) What do you prefer to be called?  Motorcyclist? Biker? Rider?

2)  Do you associate any negative connotations to the words motorcyclist or biker?

3)  Have you had experiences where you have been stereotyped or character judged because you ride?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bike blessing

Today I braved the rain and attended a bike blessing by the chaplain at CFB Esquimalt. It was blustery and raining, not many ventured out and there were only about six motorcyclists.

Here is the blessing and I extend it to all on two wheels. Ride safe my friends!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

That familiar hum

Last weekend I took the leap and reinsured my bike after her short winter hibernation in the Moto lair.  I had a very short ride after I laid out my $912 smackers and then parked it again for a few days because of heavy rain.  I was noticing a rough edge to my riding, so when this happens I do what I always do take it back to the lot & do 8's, practicing u-turns, swerving and quick stops and this helps smooth out the rough edges and quiets my heart.

Today I met up with a non-riding girlfriend and we had coffee and when I was done I just felt the need for some helmet time with nothing but the whine and hum of the engine.  It was a beautiful sunny day & not too cold.  Off I went into the sunshine and it felt as if Scarlet and I were meshing and riding was smoothing out.  

I love the feel of the road, the purr of the engine, the technical areas of riding smoothly.  My favorite part is when I am going up to a stop and my foot slides down and the pavement meets the sole of my boot.  To me it almost feels balletic and graceful.  I love watching other riders shift and ride, there is an art to motorcycling and scootering and only those in the club truly understand our feelings of joy and the flush of excitement at the merest thought of adventuring out on the asphalt ribbon. 

After two hours out on the bike, my soul felt still and calm.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Distracted driving

We have all been there at one time or another, dealing with a distracted driver on a cellphone, texting, eating, screaming at their kids in the back seat.  Since I started moto commuting two years ago I have had several close calls due to this type of behaviour. You have seen my rants on a few occasions.  In 2010 BC passed a law about distracted driving & electronic devices.  In the Province of Bristish Columbia it is the 3rd leading cause of death, according to ICBC stats.  In BC on average 94 people a year die resulting from MVI involving distracted drivers.  $10 billion dollars is lost annually in Canada due to distracted drivers involved in a collision in healthcare costs and lost productivity, that equals 1% of our GDP.

In 2009 the BC Provincial Government did a traffic study on this subject and one of the stunning things they found out is that a driver with an electronic device in their car fails to process 50% of the visual information in their driving environment.  That is a scary finding.  It takes a split second of inattention when driving for things to go very wrong in a hurry.  Driving is one of the most complicated things we do and requires full cognitive attention to process all of the things coming at us at any one given time when we are in control of a vehicle.  You generally have mere seconds to make decisions about evasive manoeuvres or corrections when driving.

Distracted driving isn't just about electronic devices being used in the car, it's also about the drivers who eat & drink, are fatigued, dealing with kids and pets in the car environment, personal grooming such as applying make-up or shaving (I've seen both), reaching for objects, reading and other mundane tasks of daily living that we take into our cars.

Last month police in BC issued 5,514 violations for distracted driving and the number of violations is up from 2012, police issued 4,000 last year.  Young drivers between 16 and 24 are the highest risk group for distracted driving due to technology i.e. cellphones because they are more likely to use the cellphones with texting and messaging.  The fatality rate in this age group is approximately double to that of other drivers.  This makes this age group particularly vulnerable and as parents we need to bring this message home to our kids to #Drop It And Drive.

Tomorrow I along with two other road safety advocates will be on Cfax 1070 AM discussing distracted driving.