Down Rider Toy Run Wrap

Sure, ‘tis the season when getting started on or even finalizing plans for Christmas will quickly become a priority for many of us. But visions of sugar-plums weren’t exactly dancing in my head as I got ready for a ride on a near 90-degree day in late September. Yet it was time for the elves of the Down Rider Fund to host their annual Toy Run. Each fall for over two decades, they’ve worked ahead to help struggling area families have a happy holiday season.

Jennifer Korrell, an event coordinator with the Down Riders, is happy to report that the run this year was a success. Seventy-four people registered for the ride which kicked off at Buckeystown Pub with additional stops in Woodsboro at JR’s, the Blue Ridge Sportsman Club and Blondie’s in Pennsylvania, and Cactus Flats in Frederick. The toys and monetary donations collected that day will be used by the non-profit organization to provide Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas gifts to local families, usually in or near Frederick County, Maryland.

Founder William “Bones” Weddle, Sr. established the Down Rider Fund with a desire to financially assist motorcyclists that have been injured in accidents, 21992874_10209579509114148_6353372915065765264_oas well as the families of riders who did not survive. The group holds several fundraising rides and events each year including a pig roast in October. You’ll need to get tickets early for that one, as a typically sold-out crowd gathers for amazing food, good music, and more. There’s also the Memory Run which occurs on Father’s Day Weekend. Jennifer points out this ride as one of their most popular, with up to 150 bikes rolling through on an emotional day as lost riders are remembered.

To find out more about how you can get involved, see downriderfund.net for a calendar of events, monthly meeting details, and contact information.

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Shenandoah Valley Biketoberfest

You know you’ll need to dig out some extra layers to wear for an upcoming ride, maybe unearth some gloves you haven’t used in months, when the wind gusts so bad overnight the ruckus wakes you up. At least that’s what happened to me on the last day of September. Fall had apparently arrived with a rattle of the windows, and quite a change in high temps from the summer-like week before. Although it stayed breezy, it was a sunny, gorgeous afternoon for a quick ride into Virginia. The plan was to meet up with friends and check out the inaugural Shenandoah Valley Biketoberfest, a benefit for the Northern Virginia Veterans Association.

As soon as I shut off the bike at the Warren County Fairgrounds near Front Royal, I could hear a band covering AC/DC. Taking that as a sign I was in the right place, I headed through the gate. Live music continued throughout the festivities thanks to regional favorites Sons of Liberty, the Rusty Highway Band, and Southern Governor. fairgroundsA number of local vendors lined the perimeter of the grounds with a variety of goods on display, the beer was cold, and food trucks served up plenty of tasty eats to keep everyone happy. Not only was a good time had by all, the success of the fundraiser meant thousands of dollars went to an organization that helps veterans.

This first SVB originated when members of Dubhgealach MC decided to host an event that would profit a good cause, the vendors and businesses in the area where it was held, and highlight the financial force of motorcyclists. Club founder Badger explained that they chose to support NOVA Veterans Association because of the percentage of assistance that goes directly to vets. The association networks to make sure veterans receive the care and benefits they’re due especially when considering the amount of sacrifice made by those who serve. He credits the MC community as a whole with the success of the function, and predicts the event will be even bigger next fall. Check out the Shenandoah Valley Biketoberfest page on Facebook, and to our military veterans THANK YOU! You are so appreciated not just when honored this Veterans Day, but all year.

Saddle Soar

I headed to the refrigerator the other day to grab a cold one, and it occurred to me things were looking a little bare. Not INSIDE the fridge, that was well-stocked with plenty of food and drinks. It was the OUTSIDE that seemed to be a bit sparse for some reason. Then I realized that a few months ago, I was sticking flyer after flyer of rides and events I wanted to go to on the side of the refrigerator as a way of saving the dates. Now those happenings have come and gone in a flash of fun, the handouts have come down, and the magnets on the fridge are looking lonely! Guess it’s time to check the calendars for the upcoming weeks and do some planning.

One rally I look forward to each September is OC BikeFest/Delmarva Bike Week. goofin off 2012There’s plenty to do which makes it easy to find something to suit your mood. You can get wild and crazy at any number of cool places, or wild and quiet by checking out the feral horses a quick ride away at Assateague. I’ve seen a lot of awesome concerts there, and I think this year promises more with Kix and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the lineup. In addition to the live shows, I’ve had a great time in Ocean City along with my boyfriend at past rallies. We’ve seen the sun rise over coffee, walking on the beach, and the celebration the sunset becomes when watching it synchronized with music at Fagers Island. But a favorite shared memory actually happened after we’d left the oceanfront and were on our way home.

He was on his Road King, and back then I was riding my Sportster. We left the beach very early that morning, between that and the fact you never know what the weather will be like each year, it was a chilly ride home. On what we figured was the final fuel stop, we decided warming up with some coffee was in order before wrapping up the last hour of the trip. As we stood next to the bikes treating ourselves to that dose of caffeine, a man came over from a nearby van to chat with us. He admitted he had always wanted to ride a motorcycle, but had a disability he felt made it too unsafe. He was the driver of the van however, turns out it was a church group out of North Carolina made up of mostly older folks. While we talked, the van passengers started filtering back to the vehicle from the gas station to join the conversation.

After a few ladies asked me questions about how it was to ride by myself and what I wear to keep warm, one of them wanted to know if she could pose next to my bike for a picture.

“Sure, you can sit of them if you wa-“

That was all it took, before I could warn them about hot parts or anything they were off as if afraid we’d change our minds. It was like watching a few dozen elderly transform into a wild pack of kindergarteners set loose on a jungle gym for the first time. We juggled cameras thrown at us, taking picture after picture as they scrambled on and off the bikes squealing, laughing, and striking poses. Finally, once everyone had their turn and the chaos fizzled out, we parted ways as they all waved frantically while we rode off. Much later, as we reminisced about our vacation, we realized that in the middle of the parking lot confusion neither of us had taken pictures of them with our OWN cameras.

I regret that oversight,fagers island sunset 2012 but the memory works to the front of my mind a few times a year, especially around OC Bike Week. It brings a smile to my face as big as the ones we saw on them that day, joy as contagious as theirs continues to lift my spirit. And that’s my kind of post-ride saddle “soar”.

MAWMR or Bust

How is it something cyclical like the passing of time can suddenly seem so sped up? I mean as far as I know the rhythm of an hour is still sixty minutes, there are twenty-four hours in a day, and a week consists of seven days. Yet the summer weeks seem to be rolling by at full throttle. Maybe it has something to do with the weird weather this year; eighty degree days in March, cold rain in May- our seasonal context clues were a bit mixed up and it was July before we knew it! Or maybe it’s simply that time truly does fly when we’re having fun. Fall promises to be busy as well with October just a short trip straight ahead. Not only will the leaves start to turn shades of red, orange, and gold, you’ll notice pink popping up everywhere.

That’s because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Just as we hope drivers will watch out for us on the road all the time and not just in May when it’s Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, I hope this cancer is something you’re on guard against for more than 31 days out of the year. Some don’t have a choice, it’s always on their mind as they fight to beat it. For others, it seems like advice on what age to start or how often to have screening tests varies. With breast cancer in my family history, I faithfully grit my teeth and go in for the tata-flattening vise of a mammogram annually. If you haven’t experienced one, it’s not THAT bad. I do have to confess I won’t look down though in case seeing the pale crepe that used to be the right or left boob might shake my resolve to keep rescheduling! Nah-I wouldn’t stop practicing a little self maintenance, but it is nice when the opportunity comes along to fight cancer AND have a good time instead.

In June, I was ready for a reunion with a group of good girlfriends/old riding buddies. This year we chose to get together during the 25th annual Mid-Atlantic Women’s Motorcycle Rally, or MAWMR. IMG_20170802_222028 (1)The ladies that organize this rally do so not only to give women the opportunity to meet others who love to ride, it’s a fundraising event to help women who are victims of cancer. There are two Pennsylvania-based charities that benefit from MAWMR: Help for Oncology Problems & Emotional Support, or H.O.P.E., and the Pink Out Women’s Cancer Fund. This time the festivities were held in Front Royal, Virginia, a place that’s always given me the impression of being biker-friendly. A feeling that was reinforced on this trip when I got to the area and someone spotted me checking my tires at a convenience store air pump. He ran over to warn me that he thought the gauge was off on the machine and more air is pumped in than it reads. I kept my own pressure gauge I was using as backup hidden in my hand and simply thanked him
for his trouble. I’ve never trusted the accuracy of these parking lot contraptions, just consider myself lucky when they’re working at all and it’s a bonus if they’re free to use! Then it was on to MAWMR!

The hospitable vibe continued once I arrived, not only from the organizers and attendees of the rally but from the hotel staff. And as it turned out, the Mayor of Front Royal was set to lead the Parade of Chrome that weekend as part of the event. MAWMR consisted of another few days  that seemed to spin by quickly and offered up lots of adventures, like taking advantage of riding great area roads, (Skyline Drive IS right there). You could opt to park your bike to go on a river tubing excursion or take to the air on a zip line tour. 2017 also brought us games, themed parties, vendors, workshops, and inspiring post-dinner talks from Ursula Wachowiak, Tamela Rich, and Danell Lynn. Sound like your cuppa? While different Mid-Atlantic states have hosted the rally in the past, it will be in the same month and town next spring. See mawmr.org for more information and pictures.

And as far as breast cancer goes, don’t just assume guys are excluded. I have to admit I didn’t realize male breast cancer existed until as recently as ten years ago, when Peter Criss revealed he was a survivor. (If you’re not a fellow KISS fan, he’s the original drummer aka Catman.) Statistically, a very small percentage of men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Still, while the wet-tee contest winning bust might not be there, breast tissue is. If a lump ever forms or any other unusual changes become apparent, it’s better to be safe and have it checked out than to ignore it. So, EVERYBODY take care- on and off the road! That way no matter how fast the cycle of seasons seems to be moving, we’re up for spending the time on our motorcycles.

I need to call in out-to-play…

IMG_20170601_134104I know I’ve put a positive spin on riding to work here before. Still, there are days when you fantasize about accidentally missing the exit to your building on purpose in order to have yourself a little adventure instead. And when you find forgotten poker run directions crumbled up in the bottom of a jacket pocket it makes it even harder to resist turning that to reality. Especially if this particular run introduced you to new roads you’d like to revisit. Even if you have a losing hand in the game, that’s always a winning situation!

At least the opportunity to stay out and play all day is right around the corner, come on weekend!

Does a fox whisper in the woods?

Slumber Party – Whether you’ve been an active participant at one or just in the vicinity, those two words should evoke memories of all-night whispers, laughter, and music. But what would happen if a few hundred women had a sleepover in the woods and most of them arrived by motorcycle? You wouldn’t have to worry about keeping it down to a whisper then, now would you? I had to get my answer to that question and a few more. With a tent strapped to the bike and all the bags full of supplies, off I rode one weekend in May.

My friend Bev had turned my attention to this event online ahead of time, The Fox Run Moto Camp Out in Lancaster, PA. It was inspired by a cross-country ride that founder Lucy Sarah took in 2013 to a motorcycle show in California. She met a lot of female riders there, and wanted to host something similar that united women and brought them together in one area.new sticker for Stevie

So, what does happen when over 300 bike-loving, adventure-seeking women go camping? For one, you reunite with friends and make new ones. I hadn’t seen Bev in years and it was good to catch up. I also got to meet some of the awesome women she rides with in a network formed to help moto-fixated women connect, The Litas.

What else do you do at The Fox Run? Ride in beautiful Lancaster County taking care to watch for horses and buggies. Cheer on burlesque dancers then turn to oooh and ahhh over a fire dancer. You yourself dance half the night away to fantastic entertainment. Do yoga. Swap trip stories and check out all the bikes. Shop from sponsoring vendors for riding clothes and gear, food and drink, and more. Like Tarot readings. I had to take advantage of the opportunity to have my cards read by a professional and Hope Diamond was amazing. She gave me lots of insight, as well as some sound advice I’ve been reminding myself to take heed of ever since.

Lucy highlights competing against Marina Grubb in the slow races as one of her favorite memories this year. She and the team of organizers are already planning for the third annual Fox Run next spring. Plus, an inaugural co-ed Moto Camp Out is in the works for late September 2017 to coincide with Open House happenings in nearby York, PA. For details check out thefoxrun.co

If I only had the list- I mean nerve…

The older I get, the more I seem to forget. Then again, maybe my memory was never the best to start with…I don’t remember. See how vicious that cycle can be?

I’m sitting at my desk which is covered with a smattering of Post-it notes, reminders of all sorts of things scribbled all over them. I’ll admit there is a bit of a festive feel, like the Memory Fairy marched by tossing giant-sized confetti my way to help me out. But it’s a beautiful day and I’d rather be riding.

Since I can’t head out yet my alternative is to ignore the multi-colored lists and dream of trips that are on the way, or reminisce about others past. Thankfully some of those stick in my mind as easy as the words of a song I can sing along to even if it’s been twenty years since I heard it last.

There are people you meet that can make certain rides memorable. A chance encounter with one such person has left me with words I’ll never forget. It happened during an outing where about 6 or 7 of us girls had taken the scenic route to a bike show. We stopped at a bar and grill on the way back and were seated at a long table in a section set up for larger parties. There was some sort of a celebration going on next to us, but I didn’t pay much attention to anything outside of our own shenanigans.

At one point, I thought a fly had landed on my shoulder, and I still thank God I looked back instead of swatting at it because I would have smacked her hand. No bug there- I was facing a tiny, elderly lady from the other occupied table who had come over and tapped me. Thinking we must have gotten loud, (who us?), to the point of disturbing her I got ready to apologize.

Instead she leaned over and said, “I just wanted to let you know I think what you ladies are doing is wonderful, and I wish I’d had the nerve when I was younger.”

It took me a second to realize she was talking about riding motorcycles rather than scarfing down burgers. The boots, bandanas, vests, and the like must have given us away. Still, I wasn’t sure what to say at first. Usually if someone tells me they want to ride a motorcycle I tell them to do it. Given her apparent physical limitations I realized that response would have been asinine so I simply thanked her. Little did either of us know how many times I’d think of her and thank her after that. Basically, any time I just needed that extra nudge to get my nerve up to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.

The man who had helped her walk over, (her son I think), gave us all a good laugh with a story about the one and only time he ever got on a bike. Decades before, his buddy bought a motorcycle and offered to give him a ride. He got on the back, then wound up on his back after falling off when the friend sped away. Meanwhile the older woman stood and beamed at all of us as if we were actual members of her family. I suppose in a way we are, kindred spirits or sisters looking for adventures big and small. I hope she had many of her own, even if none of them involved riding motorcycles.IMG_20170526_203335

What about you? Plenty of things beyond our control can stop us from doing something we want to do. There are also goals we wish we could reach, and the main obstacle is simply working up the nerve. Think of what you would like to experience before it’s too late and go for it.

With that it’s about time for me to switch gears from looking back to planning for rides coming up, which means making more sticky lists of things I’d better not forget to do or pack. Now if only I could remember where I put my pen.