Stella Rides now my own Blog.
Some like it HOT!
Ok all you Smart Bikers! Now you can follow me on my new blog as we document new adventures during our next riding season, join in and comment and let's have some fun together. Ride Smart!
So its just about mid season for the average biker on the sunny and very dry West Coast and it seems a good time to check in on what’s been going on with me and Rumblenuts!
We’ve safely covered over 7000kms in the last few months and thanks to my new seat modifications, my journey was much more comfortable. I am truly in love with my bike and blinded to any other activity. My house is a mess, the laundry piled to the rafters and all I wanna do is ride… don’t get me wrong, I have never been a true domestic goddess anyway, but rather a lady in waiting, for the cleaning lady to arrive! Never mind the laundry! It can wait because there is still a lot of countryside to explore and I won’t rest until I've explored it.
This season’s excitement has so far been dominated by promoting Smart Biker Magazine. We have had the privilege of taking our little mag around the lower mainland and exposing our concept to the public with an absolutely amazing response! It seems there are lots of Smart Bikers everywhere we turn looking for something new and different to read. One of our trips was a beautiful ride up the Sea to Sky Highway to attend the Squamish Motorcycle Festival. This is a regular route for many riders in the lower mainland but an inaugural ride for Stella and Rumblenuts. It was an absolutely stunning ride and although there are many twists and turns, the scenery is breathtaking! Just keep your head up and you won’t miss a thing. The Squamish Motorcycle Festival was a blast and we are already looking forward for next years event. Check our events page for our slideshow of highlights.
Another interesting challenge this season has been the heat. A little bit warmer than what we are used to for the first half of the season and made slightly more difficult when you have your legs wrapped around an air cooled Harley engine. There have been many moments where I’ve said it might just be too hot to ride… but NO! Ride we must! A few things I have found to help keep the heat from wrecking your ride; covered skin stays cooler in most cases so go ahead and wear the $600 dollar jacket you bought and open the vents. Both Murd and I tried this on our trip to Squamish and other than the moments in the traffic it really was cooler. If a jackets not your style then slather on the sunscreen so at very least when you're sitting around later on the patio talking about that killer ride you just did, you wont have crispy skin to go with it. Lastly, try soaking a bandana and wrapping it around your face and when the wind hits you, it will cool ya down. Keep in mind however if you are riding in 35c/100f plus degrees the bandana will dry quickly so pack lots of water and hydrate frequently.
Most often when we are just scooting around we usually end up somewhere in the Fraser Valley; Hope, Harrison Hot Springs, Chilliwack or one of the little stops in between for ice cream and a bum rest. One of our most frequent stops these days has been our friendly Harley Dealer - Mountainview Harley-Davidson in Chilliwack B.C. We have had a few of our Smart Biker Magazine crew buy their current rides from these folks and they have been very happy with customer service. I won’t hesitate to recommend them for all your Harley-Davidson needs or just stop by and say hi, there's always a friendly face to greet you and ice cold water available to cool you down. Check out our events page to see whats happening in August.
So, summer is in full swing and we have lots of riding planned. We're meeting awesome people along the way and have discovered Smart Bikers everywhere we roll. But the most heartwarming and motivating factor has been meeting all the amazing bikers and their organizations doing good! From Bikers for Autism “looking bad and doing good” to Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A). The biker community continues to step forward and help those in need. This has been so motivating and inspirational to us at Smart Biker Magazine that we have hopped on for the ride. If you are a recognized Biker Charity Group contact us, we’d love to help. Also, look for upcoming features in Smart Biker on bikers doing good in our community.
Cold weather won't stop me!
So, here I sit, pondering the new spring season just around the corner and all the great adventures we have planned, I ask myself how on earth am I going to make it though the next several weeks of winter. The addiction to ride is so strong that I’ll roll my Rumblenuts out of the garage, slap on a day permit on the back and hit the road. A dry road that is. Free of salt and sand. The feeling of freedom still exists at any temperature but at 5 degrees celsius it can really confirm your overall need to ride and the extremes you'll brave to do so! Staying on clear roads is the key. Keep away from back country twisties during the cold snaps as hidden black ice can appear out of no where, especially shaded areas of the road that never get any sunlight.
So if winter riding is your thing there are a few things you can do to keep the cold at bay and make it even tolerable. First make sure you have the right gear, not just helmets and leather people but “winter” gear. Waterproofing anything on the wet coast is a must if you'll even brave the rain and want to keep your body dry. Full face helmets are also a good option to keep the elements out! Personally I keep Rumblenuts parked on rainy cold days and this seems to be the best solution overall. We are lucky here on the west coast of beautiful British Columbia. So far, this winter season, hasn’t seen any snow in our lower mainland and it’s become a great opportunity to get in a ride here and there between downpours. Now that I’ve said that, a good snowfall could be prevalent.
On cold clear days when the pavement is dry, riding can be really exhilarating! I personally choose to wear a heated vest under my leather from head to toe. A good vest will run you $100-$300 depending on the brand and make sure you check the warranty, there’s something to be said for a good warranty on heated gear! Also, a good pair of gloves, I wear leather snowboarding gloves, or heated if you really want to stay warm. So now that you're all bundled up with long johns on and thick socks, you're ready to hit the road!
Now, I’ve been around bikes for a while now and winter riding has always been a factor of riding that I begrudgingly endured as a passenger. Understandable as just sitting on the back of 800lbs of metal getting hurled down the highway is really fricken cold! But as a rider, if your core is warm its really pretty great. My only advice at this point would be stay in the direct sun, those shady bits are stupid cold. Lastly, always know where the nearest Starbucks is and stop frequently to warm up and laugh about what a crazy fool you are for loving your motorcycle so much you're willing to brave the coldest winter day just to feel the freedom of the open road!
My first season with Rumblenuts!
My first riding season has come to an end and as I begin the process of putting my bike to bed for the winter, I reflect on what has been an incredible riding season. Three thousand and fifty three kilometers behind me and I'm happy to report I've experienced great adventures with each kilometer riding my little "Rumblenuts".
With class 6 license in hand, or should I say in my ride bag, I set off on many day trips around beautiful Fraser Valley and, along the way, honing my skills and making new friends. I also rode with old friends and found that my new position as rider (I said goodbye to being the passenger) made for an interesting change in status. Almost everyone patted me on the back saying "way to go Stella" and then came the advice; don't do this or that, you need to ride here, must go there, watch out for this and that and for the most part, it never stopped, but by the end of this season, I took from it what I needed and learned a lot. I'm so grateful for all the support from my friends.
My season, filled with new adventures, also had some failures! One of the great things about riding my own bike is the independence I feel, like the time I independently dropped my bike in the garage trying to maneuver my way past Ian's Deluxe! It was early morning, on my way to work, when I attempted to get Rumblenuts out of the garage from a rather tight space and mistakenly misjudged the "challenging" little clearance I had.
As the bike fell over, in what seemed like slow motion... I recalled the Vancouver Bike Show where I watched a rather petite 5'2" blonde lady, you know who you are, pick up a gigantic Road King! If she could do it I certainly can and that is where I was so right and so wrong. I picked the bike up, all 540lbs of it, with my butt, just as I recalled and for the most part was proud of my accomplishment as Ian ran into the garage in response to my earlier screams for help!
I recovered the bike, adreniline pumping and made my way to work, however, slowly over the next few days I discovered my painful conclusion to the mornings event made me realize that I was clearly hurt. I pulled a bouquet of muscles in my lower back and surrendered to the fact that I could no longer ride until my back healed! I missed a few rides but lessons learned, scream louder and wait for Ian to pick the damn bike up, I am better off for knowing my limitations!
On a positive note, one of my great experiences over the season was my first overnight with my new zip off saddlebags. We rode out to the Harrison Hot Springs Resort. The greatest challenge was packing light, after all I'm a girl! But I managed and we set off down Highway #7. I loved the ride even though it was short and discovered that where I once was nervous going through the twisties, I realized this was by far, the best part! We arrived at the resort and were treated very well, especially from the valets. Not always the case when you're a biker, but they welcomed us with open arms and free bike parking right up front in the valet section so we could see the bikes from our room. If we could have got the bikes up to our room, we would have been very special indeed.
I never actually saw myself as a rider. I settled in as the passenger until I realized one day that looking at the back of my husbands helmet wasn't enough for me. That settling for second best was, in fact, not true in any other area of my life so why here? I was constantly meeting other woman who, like myself, loved the act of getting on a motorcycle but never thought we could do it as the rider. Until now. For me this has not been the easiest road, so to speak, I was exuberant when I successfully passed the beginner's test just in time to start my lessons. First night in the classroom I thought these people haven't a clue and I'm going to ace this! Wow was I ever wrong..
"I can do this!"
Day one in the classroom, nervous and excited, much to my surprise, there was a significant amount of effort on my part and although I understood the basic concept I couldn't get past the nerves. I couldn't get past the voice coming over the transmitter inside my head yelling at me to do this and that and I just heard blah blah blah... The first day ended with three guys from the class getting their restrictions lifted and I went home feeling defeated. A week later, back in the parking lot, I got back on the bike! It would be different this time, I would naturally just get on and by some miracle it would all seem so easy. That is not exactly what happened. I got on and it all came back I did a circle around the parking lot and for a moment I thought here we go... WAIT! not so fast. I need to figure out this figure eight and don't forget the cones. Again the voice yelling at me inside my helmet, or so it seemed, kept the orders coming until I just couldn't take it! CRASH! I dropped the bike and with it went any self confidence I might have showed up with. I did get back on and shakily went around the parking lot, leg throbbing and heart pounding but alas, my will turned into will not and I parked the bike and graciously said good bye. Later, on my request, the instructor sent me a cheque refunding me for half the fee, and that is when I thought it was done I would remain a passenger for another season.
So, the following season I did get on the back of the bike a few times but something in me had changed. I no longer felt the desire to sit there staring at the back of his head wishing I had the view from the front! If only I could be the rider...Well, a full year and a half after the first attempt at learning to ride I enrolled in the Pacific Riding School Course and began my second journey to learn to ride, yes my confidence was weak but I just pushed passed the fear and just showed up for the first day. Traffic school. I couldn't believe how in-depth it was and how much more I learned than the previous school. So, then on day three, we moved outside to the parking lot where my true fear reared its ugly head. What if I crash and burn like the last time? But the instructors were completely different, they made it fun and slowly the fear eased and my whole perspective changed. "I can do this" was the mantra now running through my head! And then on day three... I passed the MSA had my restrictions lifted and bought myself my first motorcycle, a 1996 Yamaha 250! Of course I wasn't able to ride it home myself so Ian did. I continued through the Pacific Riding School program and took some additional parking lot training, just to be sure... I then successfully maneuvered the two road rides ending with the BIG RIDE into the black zone also know as downtown Vancouver. The pivotal moment for me was the ride home that night. We left the city late so it was completely dark when we came home via highway 99 and through the Deese Island Tunnel, at 100k! I'm not going to lie, I was terrified but at the same time it gave me such tremendous confidence as I now knew I could do it all.
Looking back on my journey I am thrilled that I didn't allow the demons to get to me and that even if I wasn't able to believe in myself at one point I always believed in the instructors at Pacific Riding School. I just believed in their ability to teach me and the rest is history. I am now a fully licensed rider and am safely and confidently maneuvering any motorcycle situation and by the way having the time of my life.
In the beginning...
Someone get me off this pillion!
When Ian came to me five years ago and said he wanted to buy a Harley, I didn’t exactly run to the nearest Harley dealership to pick out my new leathers or book my next tattoo. Quite frankly, I wasn’t hip to the idea at all.
“So, let’s get this straight”, I said, confronting my new Easy Rider. “You’re just going to pony up the cash and drop it on a steel horse to ride off on the weekends while I stay home, hoping you don’t wrap yourself around a pole”. Several seconds of silence an he burps out “Kinda, but I’ll ride really safe”.
He muttered something about it being his freedom fifty five thing. He always wanted one, had to have it, you only live once, blah, blah, blah. I recalled the stories he’d tell me about a 650 Yamaha he had in the early eighties and how he once lost it in a turn and slid off the road. Messing up the bike and his ego. Luckily he walked away.
I wasn’t going to stop him, I thought the whole idea rather sexy, but I quickly came to the realization that there would be no hope in hell I’d get on the back. No way, not going to happen. But the thought of getting left behind while he rode off playing weekend warrior sucked.
It wasn’t soon after the big announcement that I tagged along to the dealership with him to check out a blue Fatboy advertised on the local dealers web site. Apparently, as far as he was concerned, was the one and only. One that I couldn’t imagine getting on the back of, but admiringly, thought it was very bad ass.
So there I was, excited, strolling in and there it is front and center. I thought he was going to run up to it like a ten year old looking at his first two wheeler. Then he stopped cold. SOLD. A nice little card sat on the seat, I wasn’t sure if he was going to smack the card off the seat or cry, but he turned to me and said, “Damn it, lets get out of here”.
I wasn’t sure whether to just walk away to the motor clothes department and check out that awesome blinged out purse that caught my eye or smack him upside the head. So I decided on the latter. “We’ve come all this way” I said, “and your giving up just like that?” I persuaded him to at least wander around and see what other bikes might be available and it wasn’t until we covered the entire floor that we finally came upon a 2007 Deluxe.
All of of a sudden the thought of a Fatboy had vaporized and for a brief moment I thought I should look for a kleenex to wipe the drool from his chin. A recently returned last years model, low kms, loaded with the bags, the windscreen, engine guard and a price right up his freedom fifty five alley. The sales guy came over and the best thing out of his mouth was, “I guess you’ll never know if it’s the bike for you until you sit on it.” This was it, we couldn’t get to the bank fast enough.
The only snag was he didn’t have a license.
After my initial shock of the financial commitment and absorbing the fact we had another vehicle to insure, I soon engulfed myself with the “what if” factor. What if he falls down, what if he runs off the road like he once did, gets hit by a cage, hits a deer, deer hits him, or what if I have to take care of him for the rest of our lives because of an accident, or say goodbye forever.
I’m questioning this motorcycle thing.
I endured two riding season’s before the time came to climb aboard. I loved sharing those seasons with him as I watched him go from dropping the bike on the second day of having it in the garage, to putting on the kms to safely take on a passenger.
I had already bought my first Harley jacket, a Bell (DOT), and had my eye on the boots.
It wasn’t until we got fully started in the parking lot when I discovered the size of the back seat, or, the pillion as they call it. More like a leather covered brick. The pegs were later to be discovered as a royal pain in the archillies and my first ride was, to say the least, a tear jerker. I tried so hard to be that biker tough ass bitch that I don’t know who ever started that, but I knew that the next four hour ride was going to really hurt.
I bought the boots, then ordered an upgraded Deluxe Back Seat, the Butt Buffer on-line and became one happy Harley enthusiastically awesome biker type chick.
But, I soon got tired of looking at the back of his helmet. And that's when my life changed!