Motorcycle Dreams

I seem to be dreaming of motorcycling more and more, so I thought I would share a few of the most memorable ones.

The first one I was riding vintage BMWs with a couple of my friends through the most gorgeous forest. The ground was piled with fall leaves and shimmery gold and orange leaves fell everywhere as we rode around. I got off my bike and layed down between two fallen logs. My friends were jumping their bikes over and showering leaves everywhere. It was peaceful and magical.

The second one was after a ride that left me bruised and my KLR needing some plastics replaced. I dreamed ADV riders took me out on a ride. They swore it was easy enough for me and I followed them. They rode out to a tower in the desert. It spiraled upward and was formed of old rotted boards and trash wired together. I followed up and we made it to the top despite chunks of the tower creaking and breaking off the whole time. On the way down, a plank I was riding on broke free and I fell several stories but somehow landed rubber side down and rode off away from the tower. We went to some weird village where it flooded and we had a party. My bike started to wash away but I saved it.

I also had one of those dreams where you wake up over and over but are still dreaming. Each time I would go to the living room and there would be one or more people and their motorcycles in my living room. They weren’t people I know, just randomly generated travelers and we would talk about motorcycles and traveling, I would excuse myself to bed, then wake up to a parallel version of the same scene. The last one before I actually woke up in real life, I woke up in the dream to a knock at the door and opened it to find my best friend who moved to Germany last year. She rode this glorious teal blue (her favorite color) side car rig into my living room and we hugged. ūüôā

The night before last I dreamed I was riding through a mud bog.¬† The tire was spinning, but the bike wouldn’t move, I got off to see what the problem was and somehow all the knobs had stripped off the tire and the tire had fallen off the rim.¬† I woke up thinking “I need a toolkit on my bike”.

Last night I dreamed I went to Egypt and stayed in a fancy hotel that let the guests ride dirt bikes inside.  I had an awesome time on the grand staircases!

Farewell to the Beast

Sorry I haven’t posted in weeks. I’ve been stressed and depressed. My big blue KLR was taken from behind my work. So now I’m commuting on the DRZebra and parking it on the sidewalk with an alarm disc lock.

Insurance will cover my loss, minus a high deductible and I am consoling myself with the fact I got a ton of fun out of that bike and even with the deductible I’m getting more than I probably would have in this market trying to sell it. I guess I’m just meant to have one motorcycle now and some cash in my pocket.

He was a good bike and I’ll miss him.

Nice Rack!

I had been oggling a fancy luggage system someone was selling nearby.¬† A Denali rack with Cortech duffel and saddlebags to be exact!¬† I wanted it, but it was a little out of my budget, so I held off.¬† By some stroke of luck/destiny/insane generosity, a nice man named Richard bought the bike they were on, didn’t need the¬†luggage set and gave them to me.¬† I never ceased to be amazed by the kindness of strangers.

Aaron was kind enough to go get them from Benson for me since I was down with a cold.¬† The rack required a different subframe, so I ordered one up and he helped me install it when it came in.¬† It took a day and half to get it all converted, but damn if it doesn’t look great!

I’m so giddy about taking a big trip, this luggage¬†will hold everything I need for anywhere I want to go…

…now the only question is where to?!

And I Shall Name him ZEB!

I’m not sure why, but the moment I saw my bike, I knew he would be mine and that I would name him Zeb and put stripes on him.¬† He just looked like he was meant to be a Zebra bike.¬† I spray painted the yellow panels white, cut stripes from black reflective tape and put on a new headlight.¬†

Tada!

A¬†zebra bike of my very own, plus he’s very visible at night!

A DRZ to Call my Own!

I finally found a DRZ I really wanted and a seller willing to work with my budget. 

This bike is so sweet! Raven helped me retrieve it and she rode it a little, she said it’s a demon bike and she’s scared it will whisper evil, evil things to me while I ride.

Here’s all the specs so you can nerd out and drool!

– Racetech gold valves – forks.
– Racetech front springs – .46mm/kg (180lbs)
– Ohlins rear shock – fully adjustable
– 2 ohlins rear springs (installed on for 180lbs & one for 215lbs)

– 4.2 Gallon Acerbis tank
– Corbin seat
– Kytech aluminum rear rack
– Electric start
– Suzuki kick start kit installed

– Twin Air air filter
– manual cam chain adjuster
– JD Jet kit
– remove coast enrichner
– AP mods
– extended adjustable fuel screw
– White brothers exhaust
– protective case covers

– Fat Bars
– handlebar risers – up 1″, forward 1″
– cycra handguard
– Scotts steering stabilizer post and mount

– Pirelli XCMH front
– Bridgestone Griddy ED
– Bridgestone ultra heavy duty tubes

– Street Legal title
– Brake light via banjo pressure switch

Bike is actually a Kawasaki klx400r – identical to the drz400e

This is pretty much the best purchase I have ever made.¬† I can’t wait to tear up some dirt!

Girl on a Motorcycle

Someone once asked me what it was like being a chick and trying to learn to ride. I have thought about it quite a bit and I don’t think it’s really that different than being a guy learning to ride. You’d be hard pressed to accuse my riding buddies of going too easy on me or being afraid to damage my ‘fragile female feelings’. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that we have a few ladies in our group who ride and ride well. I imagine any misogynistic types would be shamed back into hiding fairly quickly.

If anything, fellow riders seem more apt to tell me I can do something, even if I’m less sure of myself. I’m not positive if it’s because they really have so much faith in me or if they just like watching me dump my bike trying things that are over my head.

I do have a couple funny stories regarding gender and motorcycling though, with people outside my riding group:

When I first went to look at my bike, I brought my friend Dwayne with me. He has been riding motorcycles longer than I have been alive so he seemed a good bike buying sidekick. We were both outside talking to the bike’s then-owner when his wife comes out. The guy starts spouting off that it’s a ‘Mans bike’ and I’m laughing that it’s going to be a girls bike soon! His wife turns to me with this weird expression “Wait a minute…it’s for YOU?!” … “Ummm…yes.” Then she just laughs at me and goes back in the house.

Knowing someone found the idea of my riding a KLR so ludicrous only made me more determined to ride the hell out of it and I’m not going to lie, sometimes I think of this conversation while riding and a smug little smile creeps across my face.

The other one was when I was riding solo and stopped at a gas station. A young guy comes over, walking really slowly, as one might approach a wild animal, with this look of complete wonderment. He introduced himself and we talked a bit about riding dirt, but the entire time he sustained this posture and expression of absolute amazement. Like he had just come across a unicorn and it spoke to him. We had a pretty nice conversation, but I was trying hard not to laugh at how surprised he seemed.

Enter the Beast

One look was all it took. I set eyes upon an ’08 blue KLR and I knew that it had to be mine. It didn’t matter that it was tall and I didn’t know how to shift or ride dirt, I had visions of adventure dancing in my head! A thirst that must be quenched! I imagined myself jumping on and riding off into the sunset.

Pssh, I thought,¬†it can’t be -that- different than a scooter!

Actually yes, yes it can.

My fantasies (delusions?) were dashed on the test ride. I stopped on a slight slope with my toe dangling just above the ground. My fashionably impractical scootering boots slid slowly out on the tiny gravel bits as the bike leaned further and further and got heavier and heavier until it plopped almost slow motion onto its side on the pavement. Dammit! It’s not even mine yet and I already dumped it. Apparently I wasn’t a dual sporting prodigy with an inborn knowledge of how to do this.

Like most things in life worth doing, this was going to take practice. Practice and many more embarrasing episodes of motorcycle narcolepsy.

The bike’s current owner seemed unaffected by the added scratches, but solidified in his opinion that I was insane. Probably because I got back on and did a couple laps to recoup some confidence. I was determined to ride this bike, whatever it took.


My first ride on the KLR

I returned a couple days later to put down a deposit. He was about to eat dinner and suggested I take the bike for a spin until he was done and then we could settle up paperwork. I was understandably nervous after the last episode, but excitement won out and I took him up on it.

I made it down a few side streets before coming to a stop sign. I stalled getting going again and the bike lurched forward hard. I felt as though I’d been thrown by a bull and the beast fell down beside me. Crap!

(At this point I will plead with other newbie readers to please take an MSF class. I really had no business trying to ride around like that without instruction. Learning the hard way is…hard. So is pavement.)

Unable to bear the shame of calling for help, I mustered all the strength within me to heft the mighty beast upright again. I put it on the kickstand and rested for a while. “You’re a heavy beast.” I panted as I slumped over the seat, completely drained of energy. I decided then that Beast would be his name. I managed to get back on and putt back without stalling again.

We settled up the paperwork and Beast was mine! Now I just had to…learn to ride it…

Scooters are a Gateway Drug

I distinctly remember a conversation from my childhood when my sister declared she wanted a motorcycle one day. I wrinkled my nose at the thought, “OH GOD WHY?! That’s stupid! You’ll die!”. She just shrugged and we didn’t talk about it again. For some reason as a child I was convinced that riding a motorcycle was a near suicidal act. No sister of mine was going to do something so foolish!

Fast forward to around a year ago. Everyone is freaking out over the gas crisis and my hand-me-down Toyota 4Runner is on it’s last leg. I drive past a scooter shop and my¬†boyfriend Sean¬†and I start talking about the benefits of two small vehicles versus one lumbering gas guzzler.

Scooters are disarmingly cute little buggers. They just look so harmless and friendly, they beg to be sat on. I took a test ride in the back parking lot and had a permanent smile glued to my face for hours. Suddenly I understood the attraction.  A few months later Sean and I had scooters of our own. My car sat parked for nearly a month until a friend asked me to pick him up at the train station. Driving my old SUV felt slow, unweildy and wasteful. I hated every second of it. I posted it on craigslist and sold it the next day.


My lovely scooter, Bella.

After a year of solely riding the scooter I have had my eyes opened to the freedoms of two wheeled travel. I became¬†addicted to the heightened sense of awareness and being in the moment that riding gives you. In my car I felt like a zombie, but on the bike I feel so alive and rejuvenated. A woman in one of my classes once asked me “Aren’t you scared?”

I replied without thinking “No. I’m too busy having fun!”

I put about 7000 miles on the scooter that year, riding in the scooter rally to Nogales and visiting my parents up near Parker Canyon Lake. I fell in love with not only the scooter, but the whole community. We joined a scooter club for weekend rides and rode in the X-mas parade with our scooters covered in tinsel and lights.


Sean in the Christmas spirit.

I was beginning to see the limits of my little 125cc scooter though. Despite her being fast enough for anywhere around town (and fast enough to earn me a speeding ticket!), she wasn’t safe or legal for the freeway and the back roads were inefficient. I found myself in Maui over the summer, couchsurfing (If you don’t know what couchsurfing is go check it out…and stay with us if you find yourself down in Tucson!) with a guy who owned a Harley. To my surprise he not only took me for a ride on the back, but even let me steer! I was amazed at the 2-up stability of the larger bike. Immediately after the ride I had to go to the airport and fly to Honolulu. As I went through security and waited to board the plane, my heart was still pounding like mad. I just sat with my eyes closed the whole flight, reliving every moment of the ride. I knew I had it bad. I needed a motorcycle.


Riding with Tim in Maui

I lusted after every motorcycle in Honolulu, several times seriously considering asking random strangers for a ride (in the end my lack of helmet and the horrible traffic were enough to convince me otherwise). Luckily, my next stop, Kauai, I couchsurfed with a nice older man who rode a Virago. He took me out on the back all around south Kauai up to Wimea Canyon. I was again impressed at the power and stability of the larger bikes as we encountered strong winds and gravel roads.


Riding with John on Kaui


The breathtaking Wimea Canyon

You would think these rides would have me longing for a bike of the cruiser variety, but I was steered towards adventure bikes by my choice of vacation reading material. I brought with me Lois on the Loose and Red Tape, White Knuckles. Lois Pryce is an amazing lady and her treks across the Americas and Africa completely blew my mind. I’ve done my share of backpacking in Europe and some in South America and the thought of combining my love of travel with my newfound love of motorcycles was enough to make me positively giddy.

I arrived home and said to¬†Sean “I think we should buy motorcycles”, his reply? “I was waiting for the day you’d say that!” and so began our search for dual sport bikes…