Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Close Call

Deb and I were on our way home last Saturday night on the bikes between 6 & 6:30 in the HOV lane of US60 just where I-10 splits off, the traffic was very heavy in all the lanes to our right, no surprise there. Debbie is in the lead riding on the right side of the lane, I am on the left side of the lane. There were no vehicles directly in front of us in the HOV lane, so most of this takes place in the lane immediately to our right. 

Traffic is humming along at about 75 when suddenly the brake lights on most of the vehicles to our right flash bright as traffic is suddenly coming to a stop.  I say "most" because a truck just ahead and to the right of Deb isn't stopping.  When the driver realizes the traffic is stopping he attempts to avoid the hitting the car in front of him by moving to the HOV lane, then he must see Debbie and manages to swing partly back into his lane clearing our path.  All around us vehicles are slamming on brakes, screeching, smoke and that sickening thud that happens when two cars try to occupy the same space at the same time, fill the air.  The car behind the truck slams into the truck and the car in front of the truck.  The next vehicle, an SUV slams on the brakes, I'm not sure if his intention was to cut over to the HOV like the truck started to do or if his brakes locked up and the rear started to slide but in any case, the SUV is coming at me on a diagonal.  I swear I could have reached out and touched the hood.

As I said, we were hitting the brakes along with everyone else so we went from about 75 to 25 in nothing flat. Deb clears the truck, she checks to see if I'm OK, I'm clearing all the vehicles, I'm OK.  Debbie says "let's get the hell out of here" and we release the brakes and take off. This morning as I replay the incident in my mind, I realize that the SUV was not the only vehicle which stopped short of taking me out as I have a very definite sense of another vehicle behind me to the left.  Fortunately that area of highway has a breakdown lane on the left, I assume the vehicle behind us went that route to avoid hitting us. We were literally seconds from being road kill.

Training kicked in just as it's supposed to, we did all the right things.  The bikes performed exactly as expected, they stopped solidly and smoothly.  Communicators are a wonderful thing.  We often give each other a heads up when we see something going on in traffic that the other might not see.  This was no exception, a second before everything went to hell in a hand basket, I heard Debbie say "look out".  Maybe we were a bit hyper vigilant since a few minutes before we saw a highway patrol going full on with lights.  We did all the right things and I believe the hand of God had as much to do with keeping us out of harms way as anything else.  

Today, I am extremely grateful that we are both safe and sound.

Folks, please pay attention when you're driving, look ahead and stop texting, reading, or whatever it is you're doing that distracts you from the road.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

O'neill, NE and Wray, CO

Spent Sunday night in O'neill, NE were it looked like we maybe stuck for another day when we looked at the weather. Yet the morning dawned bright and sunny despite the storms of the night. We plotted a route that would take us around the bad weather hoping to make at least a couple hundred miles before getting into bad weather.

Turns out, we had a rain free day. saw some interesting parts of Nebraska. Funny thing is that it seems almost every town has a museum of some sort, one place had a clown doll museum but it was closed. Another town proclaimed itself the windmill capital only the wasn't a windmill in sight. We stopped in one little town for lunch with a pioneer museum. We walked through the public area to get to the restaurant and took some pictures I will post when we get home.

Outside of corn fields and road construction there wasn't much to see in Nebraska however, I have to say the folks are really friendly.

Landed in Wray,CO Monday night after getting in about 400 miles. Only 2 hotels in the town, we chose the one with the restaurant attached. At first we weren't even sure the place was open since it was so dead. The whole place is so dark and dreary it could be in a horror movie. At least we were fed and had a roof over our heads for the night.

Soon to be on the road again.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Anamosa, IA

This morning we left El Paso, IL to head to the motorcycle history museum in Anamosa. I didn't even know about it until some of the ladies at convention mentioned it. So we decided to add it to our agenda on the way home. Definitely worth the trip, took a bunch of pictures I'll post when I get home. Lots of really cool stuff on all brands of motorcycles.

After feasting our eyes on the beauties of motorcycle history, we putted up the road to visit J P Cycles. I swear, I can't remember the last time I saw so many bikers hanging out at a shop. We looked around picked up some new gloves before we realized that we were hungry and tired. So we checked into the hotel next door.

Not much else to report today.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Highlights of Our Trip So Far

Since we have been on the road most days I haven't had time or energy for writing so I thought this would be a good time to catch up on some of the memorable moments along the way.

As I said previously, coming out of Blanco, NM we had a cool day with high winds through the mountains, tiring but still beautiful. We stayed in La Hunta after going a nerve wracking 174 miles without gas. After touching base with our friends, Clara and Pigpen, we agreed to meet in Jefferson City, MO the next night.

The next morning we are off to Jefferson City. It was for the most part an uneventful day, doing about 325 miles. Well, uneventful until we tried to find the hotel we were meeting in Jefferson City. We were following the GPS which works well if you pay attention but this was a long hot day so we weren't exactly at our best. The GPS says exit at highway 51 so we exit. The traffic light has a sign saying hwy 51 and pointing right, disregarding the GPS, we turn right. The GPS pomptly tells us to turn left, we do and we are back on the interstate and the GPS says exit, we do. Same traffic light, same right turn, same on ramp. I'm sure you get the picture. The third time around, I point out that there is a second sign that says Business 51 going straight. The right turn was further down. Still we felt as if we were going in circles. The GPS was taking us through a residential area, we didn't see the hotel anywhere. We finally find the hotel and aren't there 30 minutes when Clara and Pigpen pull in even though they had a hundred miles more to go.

Lesson learned - either follow the GPS or turn it off.

Over dinner, the four of us decide to get as close to Grand Rapids as we can the next day so our final day would be short and maybe we could detour along the lakefront for a bit. In Remingtin, IN we stop at a Super 8 thinking we could get our laundry done while there. Wrong! No laundry facilities but the did have pool tables, ping pong and video games. The desk clerk was more interested in trying to mooch a ride when she got off at 11 PM than trying to help us find a decent place to eat.

The next morning is cool, nice riding weather as we start off on the last 200 miles to Grand Rapids. At our first gas stop we decided to try too see some of the lake and stop for lunch before getting into Grand Rapids. Along the highway we saw some billboards for The Chocolate Factory restaurant, so Clara took us off at the exit. Little did we know that their July 4th parade had just ended. We were stuck in this 2mph crawl through this charming little village. The road went down alongside the marina down to the beach. By now Pigpen and I had gotten separated from Clara and Deb by a few cars. Deb is telling me where they are and what is ahead as I am sure Clara is doing with Pigpen. We have to circle the parking lot at the shoreline, which, of course is covered with sand. Then I hear Deb in my ear "we are at the stop sign at the top of the hill." When I make the turn and see the hill I groan, thinking Pigpen will get to the top ahead of me. If he goes I can slide right behind him. Unfortunately, Pigpen and I both have to stop. Traffic clears and Pigpen powers through the intersection and I am frozen. The load on the bike is weighing the bike down, I just know that I am not going to get the right combination of throttle, rear brake and clutch to pull away from the stop sign without stalling. In my helmet, I'm cussing, I not going to make this, I can't do it. Deb is right there talking me through it until I was finally able to get through the intersection. So no Chocolate Factory for us. Instead it was Wendy's where Deb had some communication issues but she can tell you about that.

That's all for tonight. Tomorrow it's the motorcycle museum then on the road once more.

I've Been a Real Slacker

We have been so busy riding and meeting and visiting that I haven't been writing much although I did manage to get a few pictures up.

Last night was the closing of the Motor Maid convention. Betty Falls and Gloria Struck were recognized for 65 years of continuous riding membership. Gloria is 86 years old and going strong. Betty is the daughter of Dot Robinson, one of the founders of Motor Maids.

Margaret Wilson, our oldest member was also recognized. She shared a story about her husband, Bill, teaching her to ride on a "machine" when her feet were several inches from the ground on each side. Bill would ride on the back with Margaret up front working the controls. What a great role model they are!

Business meeting yesterday where new officers were elected for the next 3 years. We also voted on a potential change to the bylaws which did not pass. Lots of information given on lots of topics and upcoming events.

On Wednesday, I was a checker for the Dot Robinson Road Run which was a lot of fun,especially since I was at the last check point where the riders finished. One cloud over the vent was a rider who was intentionally run off the road by a SUV. Good news is that she wasn't seriously injured and her bike is rideable. Police are stll looking for the driver.

Our traditional parade was on Tuesday evening, unfortunately the city council determined the parade route and time. As a result, the parade was through a small residential ares behind the hotel and was only 2 miles long. We had so many bikes that the front of the parade had to stop briefly while the waited for the end of the parade cleared an intersection.

Next year convention is in Spaertenburg and in 2013 it will be Bend,OR. Should be lots of fun, this year we blew the attendance record out of the water with over 300 member attending. Here is to breaking even more records in the future.

Thanks for a grat time Michigan Motor Maids.

More later

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Phx to Blanco,NM

Blog entry 

We left the valley a little after 6:00 AM headed towards Blanco, NM.  We were able to get out of the valley before it got too hot.  Breakfast was in Cordts Junction and on the road again.  Started to get a bit warm south of Flagstaff but not too bad, traffic has been light so we are making decent time.

North of Flagstaff on Hwy  89 we head into the high desert.  How to describe that portion of 89?  Let's just say no matter what time of year I have been on this stretch of highway is always windy, often hot and sometime rainy.  Today we had 2 of 3 no rain. Lots of wind and rain, got stuck behind a couple of slow moving vehicles with no opportunity to pass.

Stopped in Keyenta for lunch which was a disappointment. The two restaurants there had already closed for the afternoon.  We ended up grabbing a couple of sandwiches at the Cheveron station and pushed on.  Interesting note, as we were eating our sandwiches, another rider came in.  We tried to start a conversation but he was clearly uninterested in chatting.  Then, as we were leaving a couple of sport touring riders turned into my lane nearly cutting me off.  A short way down the road they passed us, then passed a string of vehicles.  A couple miles down the road we see on rider has turned off onto an intersecting highway and is on the side looking for his partner.  About 2 miles further we see the second rider on the side of the road.  I motioned that his buddy was back a ways.  Making a U-turn on that road would not be easy.

Finally into NM at Shiprock our last gas stop for the gas before we stop for the night. Deb's cousins live outside Bloomfield on a cattle farm.  At the end of a long, hot, hard day we had 1/2 mile gravel drive.

Deb's cousins live in a darling little home built by their father with a beautiful stone terraced garden with religious statues in the traditional Spanish Catholic style.  After spending a lovely time sitting outside under a tree enjoying the cool breeze, we were treated to a hearty home cooked meal including vegetables and fresh mint tea from their garden.  More visiting under the starlit sky before falling into bed.

Day 2

Spending the day in Blano with Deb's cousins, sitting outside with a lovely breeze, watching the little yorkie puppies play.  Birds chirping, the sounds of the water wheel going in the background.  So peaceful and quiet.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Love Hate Relationship With Traveling

First, let me say I love traveling be it by plane, automobile or especially by motorcycle.  Seeing new places, old places, old friends and making new ones, it's all so exciting and fun.  Never do I feel closer to God (Higher Power, Allah, Great Spirit, or whatever you choose) than when I am riding. Seeing nature in an up close and personal way, smelling the smells and feeling the feelings that you don't get in a car or plane.  Then there is the adventure of what is around the next corner, what's not to love, right?

Getting ready, I hate getting ready to travel, do I have everything I need? Am I taking things I don't need? Is there enough room? What's the weather going to be like? All very important especially on a motorcycle and in these days of charges for checked bags or overweight bags.

Then there is the list for the house sitter, packages to ship, laundry to put away, errands to run and a dozen other things.  I need two of me!  Honestly, no matter how much time I have to prepare or how prepared I think I am, I'm totally stressed until I actually throw my leg over the bike or close the car door.

By now you may be wondering, if I have so much to do, why am I sitting here blogging about it? Well, I'm having my last cup of coffee then I am off to tackle all the tasks.  My goal for the day is to have everything done and the bike fully packed with the exception of my cpap so tomorrow morning I have coffee, shower, pack the cpap and go.

Now the coffee is gone and some am I!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Memory Flash Back

Summertime...heat, swimming, no school and the 4th of July.  With the 4th of July quickly approaching, fireworks now legal in Arizona (don't get me started on the logic of THAT) and big white tents are popping up all over the place displaying the latest and greatest pyrotechnic toys.

So what's the flash you ask? The fireworks (no pun intended). As I passed one of those tents today, I had such vivid memories of when I was a kid and we would fireworks off our front porch.  I guess it must have been some time around 1970 when my mother first started selling fireworks for one of her friends.  I can't remember the woman's name but for a couple of years Mom would spend a couple weeks each summer selling fireworks off our front porch. We had the perfect location living on the main road into and out of the our small town.  All the summer and weekend people had to pass right by us on their way into town.

Each morning we would help my mother set up the table with all the different fireworks.  We helped with the sales, I think that is probably where I first learned how to make change. For us kids, it was fun, for my mother I guess it was a blessing to have the extra money.  There are no words to adequately describe those memories.

A few years later, my sister and I sold fireworks for some people we babysat for the rest of the year.  They would bring a small trailer to park in front of our house and my sister and I would take turns working.  When traffic was heavy we would both work together.  This was a very small trailer, you had to step on the wheel to climb over the counter to get in.  One year, they decided on the evening of the 4th to take our trailer stand down to the beach where crowds were gathering for the annual fireworks display.

Ok, so now we have one very small trailer with one way in and one way out with 2 teenage girls as well as 2 teenage boys, located in an area where people are gathering for a celebration and drinking and business is booming.  Drinking, fireworks, maybe you have an idea where I'm going with this.  So the four of us are all working out of this small trailer when suddenly a rocket comes flying into the trailer.  Boy, you never saw four kids jump so

Ah well, this probably doesn't make a bit of sense to anyone other than me and maybe my sister. Just a fireworks flashback.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Review of Stretch Bike Shorts by All American Comfort®

Originally submitted at OneStopPlus

get your comfort wardrobe in great shape.
  • Fabulous stretch fit for comfortable support.
  • Smooth silhouette, with no bagging.
  • Full elastic waist.
  • Soft cotton/spandex knit. Machine wash. Made in USA or imported. 9" inseam.

Great for the price
By wmnrider from Glendale, AZ on 6/22/2011
4out of 5
Waist: Feels too big
Length: Feels true to length
Pros: Comfortable, Washes Well, Breathable
Cons: Not True to Size
Best Uses: Casual Wear
Describe Yourself: Casual Dresser
Was this a gift?: No
I bought several pairs of these specifically to wear under my mesh motorcycle pants. They work great for this since they a)are long enough not to bunch up in uncomfortable places and b)are lightweight and cool. They should be great for working out, walking and such.

While they fit well in the legs and hips, I found the waist and stomach to be a bit large.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


What more could I say? Thank you Leslie for a wonderful tribute to an organization I am grateful to be a part of and to the women who made it possible.

Honoring the past, riding into the future.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Land of the Giants?

Do you remember the old science fiction movies about the giant woman?  How she looked down at all the tiny people running around and away from her?  And she wonders, where on earth is she going to find clothes that fit?  Well, sometimes I feel just like that giant woman.

Most people won't know this because they are not women who have shopped for motorcycle gear but apparently the manufacturers of women's motorcycle gear have a distorted view of size.  A few years and many pounds ago at a major women's motorcycling event, female representatives of a major motorcycle manufacturer were giving away shirts.  I considered myself pretty fortunate to have scored a size large shirt with my bike company's logo.  That is, until I took it out of the package and realized it would never fit me, who at the time was about a size 12.  Instead, I brought it home to my then 20 year old daughter who was less than 90 pounds and it fit her perfectly.  And no, this wasn't a case of mislabeling the size because I actually had two different shirts from the same company that were the same size.

Over the years, I've looked for women's motorcycle gear that fits and in almost every case have had to move onto the men's gear to find something that came close. With the number of women motorcyclists growing every year so grows the market for gear that fits and protects well.  So, just for comparison, let's take a look at the size chart from a major women's wear retailer.  This shows a wide range of sizes which should fit almost any woman, unless you are very thin and very tall or heavier and very tall.  Overall, one of the better representations among women's retail.

Granted, some manufacturers are now doing "larger" sizes, unfortunately even fewer are doing taller, which is a whole other issue.  Now, let's take a look at some of the size charts from a couple of major motorcycle gear retailers.

This company offers sizes XS to XL, but wait, compare the measurements of the XL below to the XL from our retailer above.    The motorcycle XL measurement is equal to the Large, so if you are larger than a size 14 or 16, this company is not interested in your business.  Not to mention unless you are riding in perfect weather, you will probably have a couple of layers of clothing under that jacket.  As a result,  you purchase gear that allows for this layering.  So, a size 12 could easily become a 14 or 16, or a 16 a size 18 or 20 depending on the type and number of layers necessary.

I have to give this company credit for manufacturing their ladies pants with a 35 inch inseam that is "adjustable" to shorter lengths.  Motorcyclists tend to wear their riding pants longer, to cover the top of their boots and provide better protection.  So this offer a great alternative for women who are a bit taller than average.

Here is a size chart from another manufacturer.  Wow, they go up to size 5XL!  Don't get excited yet, compare the numeric sizes to the retail chart above and you will realize these sizes are a full size off from those above.  I doubt most women size 10 would consider themselves a Large. Still this company does offer an expanded, if skewed, range of sizes.

One of the benefits of the increase of women riders and the limited sizes and availability of mass produced motorcycle gear for women has be the appearance of niche companies directed specifically at women motorcyclists.  These companies, usually women owned, tend to offer larger sizes and varieties of motorcycle gear.  In addition, they often  focus on fashion as well as form, designing gear that looks good as well as protects the rider.  The primary drawback is that limited production is more expensive for the retailer as well as the consumer, making these niche companies a bit pricey,

As the number of women motorcyclists continues to grow, I expect the number of options will continue to grow.  Each of us has the right and opportunity to provide feed back to your favorite motorcycle and gear manufacturer regarding our wants and needs.  I encourage each of you to make your voice heard.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Holy Cow! Time Really Does Fly!

I just realized it had been over 2 months since I updated my blog and a lot of things have happened.  So, here is a number of comments and updates on lots of topics.

Sons of Anarchy - when this show first started, I really tried to like it but just couldn't.  Then one night when the insomnia bug was running rampant, there happened to be a marathon SOA on.  So, I guess the secret, for me anyway, was to be able to watch several episodes back to back to keep the tread going in my mind.  Now, I admit it I am hooked and have watched all the seasons that are available from Netflix and eager for the new season to start.  It's like the Sopranos on bikes!

Lunch with Friends - was finally able to have lunch with a couple of friends, one of which has been a ship passing in the night for many months.  Another was a acquaintance of someone I met a few years ago.  It was nice to get to spend some time with both friends catching up.

Also got dozens of birthday wishes from friends near and far.  I am so truly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life.

Speaking of wonderful people, Southwest Motor Maids ROCK!  Motorcycling has brought some truly incredible people into my life.  In January a group of Motor Maids and significant others have spent a weekend in Las Vegas full of fun, friendship and riding. The ride was awesome, kudos to those who organized. The ride back to Phoenix as a bit chilly and quite windy, in fact as we were crossing the bridge across the Hoover Dam the wind actually blew my tank bag off my bike.

Good news/bad news - son-in-law get job in the field he actually studied, graphic design, .....wait for UTAH!  So he, Amanda and my darling little grandson, will be moving to Utah.  I guess it could be worse, it's only about 500 miles.

Another long motorcycle weekend in Tombstone, AZ hard to believe we have been here this long and we had never been to Tombstone.  The winds going down I-10 were outrageous, one gust blew Debbie and Clara clear into the next lane, which fortunately was vacant.  We got there and met with up with the rest of the group and had an awesome time.  One of the waitresses in the saloon told us her grandmother was a Motor Maid so she took special care of us.  We knew the weather was going to turn cold but who knew it was going to snow in Tombstone?  On Sunday morning we woke to a few inches of snow on the ground and bikes, so we decided to stay an extra day and do all the tourist things.

Oh, and I have also joined the ranks of the unemployed, it took me by surprise and I was terribly disappointed because I really loved my job and the people I worked with.  However, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another door opens.  While it saddens me to leave one chapter behind, I am eager to see what the next chapter will bring.  I believe the "door" has already opened.

One would think that being unemployed, I would have time to do all kinds of things but it seems like I haven't had a chance to take a breath.  Running here and there, working on the bike, taking care of Ian while his folks are looking for an apartment in Utah, working on the bike, meeting with the outplacement agency, doctor appointments for me and Ian,  working on the bike, more errands.  And of course the weather is really getting nice for riding :-)

When you get laid off, even if you know it was for financial reasons and not personal, there comes a time when you do take it personal.  Then you get it out of your system and move on. Many people we know have been unemployed for a long time and it has cause a great deal of hardship on people all across the country.  I am fortunate that being out of work for a while will not ruin us financially. On top of that, Deb supports me in finding what I want to do and not just taking a job. Now I am looking forward to the next professional chapter in my life.  Stay tuned for more details.