A memory of the beer drinkin’ hell raisin’ kind…

I try to be an easygoing, roll-with-the-punches type of person. It makes life a lot easier, taking any disappointments in stride and finding new opportunities through them. But finding out there won’t be an official Ocean City Bike Week 2020 blindsided me. You know the look on a kid’s face when they drop their ice cream on the sand-coated boardwalk after only one lick? Yep, it stings like that because I’d hoped the rally was scheduled late enough in this surreal year that it would escape the covid closings. While there are still plenty of scenic and fun places to go in that area, it was the band lineup that had me really looking forward to the event this year. Some of the acts will carry over to next September, some won’t. So…time to regroup, eliminate the whining noise coming from my mental engine, and indulge in a fun flashback from OC BikeFest 2019.

When you’re riding, it’s easy to come around a curve to find yourself dealing with something unexpected. Sometimes these surprises are nerve-wracking, maybe gravel or a critter in the road. Sometimes you’re shocked with something awesome like a scenic overlook. In this case, I was on two feet instead of wheels. It started under the big tent at the Inlet where we’d staked out a spot at a makeshift spool table with two other couples. Cheap Trick had finished their set, and people were packing in elbow to elbow for ZZ Top. It would be another hour and a half before they got started, and I realized I wouldn’t make it without an empty and a refill.

I told my boyfriend I was heading out to the bathroom and would grab a couple of beers on the way back. He looked around at the thickening crowd and kissed me stating it was, “in case I never see you again”. I laughed at that, took note of a few markers that might help me find my way back, and started bobbing and weaving my way through the throng of fellow rally goers. Aiming for one of the tent openings, I hunched down and slithered along trying not to annoy anyone when suddenly, I hit a clearing…literally. Once I broke into open air, I accidentally launched into someone. My left cheek came into contact with someone’s shoulder, the corner of my eye scraping across…sequins?

Sequins indeed, I turned to see a sparkling black jacket, long beard, sunglasses, and a Nudu beanie hat. I’d rammed my face into Billy Gibbons himself. As I realized I’d inadvertently crashed a VIP ZZ Top meet and greet, I looked forward to discover a small crowd of people taking pictures of one of their musical heroes. And I have to wonder if I’m in some of those shots, a shocked photo-bomber looking equally awestruck and thoroughly embarrassed. Sorry ‘bout that! Luckily I was able to find my way back to my own sharp dressed man again. Admittedly, it was after emerging at another spool table a few feet in the wrong direction where I realized, “oops…wrong people”. But ultimately, we got to enjoy the concert together. Although plans have changed for the next vacation, I’m sure it will be another great one: wrong turns, pleasant surprises and all!

Elusive N spot and other quirks…

If I’m not out riding, I like living vicariously and reading about the experiences of others on their adventures. Foster Kinn is a biker/author whose outlook and stories I enjoy. He does a great job at highlighting funny or unique interactions with people he meets while on the road. Check out his book, Freedom’s Rush: Tales from The Biker and The Beast, as well as his FB page for yourself to see what I mean. A particular observation he made a couple of years ago stuck with me, because it’s hilariously accurate:

“Saw about a dozen and a half bikers pull into a gas station. After watching them stop at the pumps, start up their bikes and ride to the front of the convenience store, stop, then fire up their bikes again and take off, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most time consuming activity bikers engage in is finding neutral.”  -Kinn

I might not have understood how funny his comment is, if it didn’t turn out to be true when trying to get the Heritage into neutral. I think of it as this bike’s particular quirk. Once I’ve come to a complete stop with the bike still running, forget about finding neutral. It’s a waste of time unless I kill the engine first. That leaves me with a just a quick opportunity to shift into neutral as I’m coasting in, before I put my feet down.

I didn’t have this issue with my last bike, the Sportster. Neutral was always easy to find, but there were other little problems to deal with, lovingly or otherwise. The most annoying quirk developed on a soggy return from Myrtle Beach Bike Week. At the time, I still lived in Virginia and what should have been a somewhat quick seven hour blast up the interstate turned into a much longer ordeal.  With no rain in the forecast, I’d headed back early in the morning along with a friend. As we approached the South Carolina/North Carolina border, what we thought was a short thunderstorm hit. We’d hoped to wait it out at a fast food place, but the weatherman’s notoriety at being wrong rang true once again, and it turned out this shower was in to linger for a while. The constant soaking on the ride up through the state of North Carolina wreaked havoc with my turn signals.

At some point, I realized my left turn signal was blinking and wouldn’t cut back off. When I hit the switch on the right side, they both stayed on. I figured letting them run as hazards would be less confusing to the drivers around us, and added a bonus visibility to traffic coming up from behind. So we continued north, our own little 2 bike, flashing yellow parade. Once home, a mechanic buddy went through the lighting system and fixed it. We thought so anyway. The next time I was caught in rain, the blinker came on again. And the next time I washed it, blinking! After a while, I didn’t even have to get the bike wet for the flashing to start again. If it rained, the left signal turned on and would continue for a few days. Another friend went through the wiring, and couldn’t find anything wrong. It was a quirk I came to deal with, and plan my state inspections around as I knew it would never pass if there had been recent rain!

I’ve come to think of these quirks as something that makes riding interesting, and even makes the bike more endearing to the rider. After all, don’t we encounter quirks with our friends, family, and significant others? As far as people go you’ll find loud ones, squirrely ones, those that are hard to kick into gear, and those who are full speed ahead all the time. I love them and am thankful they love me too, quirks and all!

 

Rally On…

Mild December ride in Gettysburg

Things are…different. That seems to be the understatement of 2020. Especially when discussing the COVID-19 pandemic. Those conversations tend to involve a more thorough description with a sprinkling of expletives not suitable for print here. Frustrations over some of the safety requirements are certainly understandable. To me, it seems the restrictions we’ve had to follow have not only had a negative impact on the livelihood of so many, but tend to stifle human nature itself. Take masks for example. While they may help to limit the spread of the virus, the inability to see and share smiles with others is really starting to wear on me. I miss hugs, and although I enjoy riding on my own, I’m looking forward to the day when bigger group rides and in-person gatherings are possible. One of the joys of riding that I’m most drawn to is the feeling of freedom. On the bike, I’m not too fat, thin, rich, poor, old, or young. I’m just me, living in that moment, free from being categorized and judged. I think most riders are attracted to not only that sense of freedom, but the actual freedom to move about and travel at will. The lockdown and social distancing have cramped that style and led to the cancellation of many events. I was stunned and saddened to hear Gettysburg Bike Week had been called off for 2020.

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My ol’ Sportie in Gettysburg

A favorite rally in the Mid-Atlantic Region, it’s traditionally falls over the weekend following Independence Day. It offers the usual attractions of a motorcycle event, meeting others who love to ride, games, music, and vendors. In addition the town is of course full of history, restaurants with fantastic food, and the surrounding areas provide gorgeous views to ride through. Another unique aspect in Gettysburg, the residents seem to enjoy the event as much as the bikers. I’ve always felt welcome, and discovered that the Saturday evening parade of motorcycles through downtown is yearly entertainment for a lot of the locals.
Luckily, the pandemic restrictions are easing in Pennsylvania and it appears the spirit of freedom can’t be cancelled. From what I understand through word of mouth as well as online communication, most people who were planning to attend bike week are still going. This is news that lifts my spirit more than I could’ve imagined. There are businesses like restaurants, campgrounds, and hotels that are reopening and need the patronage. After all, safety precautions are nothing new to motorcyclists. They’re considered in how we ride, the way we maintain our bikes, and what types of gear we choose to wear. I’m confident everyone is capable to make their own choices about what is safe for them regarding the virus too. So while things might be…different in that there is no “official” event scheduled, I have a feeling Gettysburg is still going to be full of fun the second weekend in July. Be safe, and Happy Independence Day!

It ain’t easy bein’ cheesy…

I love to laugh. A point I made clear to my handsome man years back on a trip to Myrtle Beach Bike Week. Out for late-night beverages, he teased that I had fallen for him because he was such a smooth operator. I said no, explaining that good-looking guys with cheesy pick-up lines are a dime a dozen and I fell for him because he makes me laugh. He instantly turned to a young lady walking by and asked, “Hey! You want some cheese?!” With a giggle, she said no and continued past us in the direction of the bathroom. As we laughed over his cheesy-line failure, a friend came up and asked what was so funny. We told him, and as fate would have it, the same young lady was approaching on her way back to her friends. Not even knowing this, he turned and asked the poor girl if she wanted some cheese. “NO! No I don’t!” With that she was gone, probably with a story about encountering a bunch of dairy-infatuated freaks while at a motorcycle rally. As for us, the tale is still told whenever bad pick-up lines come up in conversation.

These past few months, keeping a sense of humor has served as a huge coping mechanism throughout all the changes in life this global pandemic has caused. Riding itself is important therapy even with a much different start to this spring season. Usually there are dozens of rides and rallies to look forward to, but so many have been cancelled or postponed. I pick up pins or patches as souvenirs from these events, Resized_20200522_163107 (1)so I had to buy one I saw online to cover what I’ll miss in person. It says “COVID-19 STOLE MY RALLIES, 2020,” and I laughed at this subtle flipping off of the virus. It came from Big Gurl Designs in Tennessee and when I received my order I was touched to find a sweet hand-written thank you note from owner Tonya. As you’re able to, please support these small and local businesses. While the cancellation of some of these gatherings rob us of a good time, they could be much worse financially for the vendors.

Since a lot of the functions hosted and attended in the motorcycle community are designed to benefit a charity or good cause, remember to find ways to support those groups as well. Bigfoot…The Social Distancing Champion’s Solo Motorcycle Ride challenge to benefit food banks provided an amusing concept to deal with adhering to separation guidelines. As well as a funny t-shirt logo featuring Bigfoot riding a motorcycle with a roll of toilet paper in his hand. I know at one point not long ago, I would have been more surprised to see fully stocked TP shelves than Sasquatch himself! In any case, hang in there as virus-related restrictions ease. Hopefully we’ll be able to get together soon to share fun, hugs, laughs, and of course…pick-up line stories!

A Wave

I’m waving at you! Not the casual, graceful, outstretch of the arm as we pass each other type of wave. It’s that YOU’RE-ONE-OF-THE-FIRST-RIDERS-I’VE-MET-ON-THE-ROAD-THIS-SEASON-AND-WE’RE-BOTH-SO-HAPPY-TO-BE-OUT-WE-LOOK-LIKE-WE’RE-ABOUT-TO-DRUNK-JOUST-EACH-OTHER kind of salute.
Because I’ve missed ya! I haven’t been writing much lately…well in this way. I’m taking a class on business writing and it’s so different than what I’m used to, it’s hard and taking up a lot of time. Add that to an already busy phase in life and THEN! Suddenly there’s an undercurrent of attention circling around a new virus that has the same name as a beer. They start referring to it as COVID-19 which I can’t seem to get right until someone points out that you can sing it to the Dexy’s Midnight Runners tune “Come on Eileen”. And that undercurrent of information swells to a daily drenching as you take in more stories and statistics and find out people are building toilet paper forts or something like that.
Before you know it, we find ourselves treading water in a dangerous global pandemic and life is completely different. In the grand scheme of things, so far I’m okay and feel very blessed for that. Everyone is facing some sort of struggle as we all try to stay safe from this virus. For me, the most difficult requirement is staying away from my dad. He lives in a senior/memory care facility that recently locked down in order to protect the residents. In-person visits are prohibited which can frustrate me to tears. He also loves to shoot pool and while I might have to remind him whether he has solids or stripes every turn, he’s still a good shot. We talk on the phone often, but I miss taking him out to play. How do I explain this change in our routine to someone who doesn’t fully understand? Hell I don’t really understand, I wake up each day feeling like I’m living a Stephen King story!
Still, I find myself counting my blessings even more than usual. Included in that count, is the ability to ride. Thank God it’s spring and warmer temps will become the norm! Feeling teary a few days ago, I took a break from stress and went for a quick scoot on the Heritage. By the time I was out of my neighborhood I could breathe easier, then once I hit fifth gear I felt every muscle release tension and relax. Not only did the ride lift my spirits, but it helped to see evidence that folks are still supporting each other through tough times. These days, regional restaurants have been forced to close for in-house dining, but can deliver or offer curbside pick up options. I rode past a local establishment that under normal conditions would be a fun stop for good food and a cold brew. It made me feel better to see they were still doing business as there were quite a few cars in the parking lot while customers waited on their to-go orders.
The more you look, the more you see these sorts of examples. When small businesses are hit with restrictions, their supporters find ways to lift them up. People are actively looking for more things to do to help each other. Efforts are underway to take care of the elderly, children, hospital workers, and truckers. I think this is going to continue. If this pandemic is a situation that is going to get worse before it gets better, I feel our positive reactions are going to increase and we’re all going to make it through this. Not only will we survive, but we’ll get to the other side even stronger.
In the meantime, remember to find ways to comfort yourself as well as others. Go for that ride, count your blessings, and find a way to lend a neighbor or a stranger a hand. We all know any road trip is full of highs and lows; this phase in our lives is the same. Be as safe as you can be, and keep in touch along the way.

3-D Scrapbooks

The cat needed a hug. He let me know this like he always does by sitting up on his hind legs and tapping at my shins with his paws. I picked him up and as he relished the20191223_145629 attention, wandered over to my Christmas tree. My favorite sign that the holiday season is here, it becomes this three-dimensional type of scrapbook, and I paced around it taking in all the trimming. I’m guilty of forgetting why I walked from one room to another sometimes, so it amazes me that I can remember the details of every decoration. There are those I made or remember seeing on the tree as a child. Others I recall buying and enjoy the memories of where I was at that point in my life. The most treasured ornaments make me smile because they bring to mind the person who gifted them to me.

Later I realized I had another mobile scrapbook of sorts and some trinkets that hadn’t been added on yet. That memento would be my motorcycle vest. Sure enough, I found a couple of loose pins from this year’s bike weeks, so I got busy finding spots to attach them. I reminisced on more people and places as I looked over older tokens along with patches from rallies and various events. A pin from a 911 Memorial run drew my attention. It reminded me of the first time I met a group of girls I’ve been friends with for over 15 years now. Coincidentally, some of us have recently discussed a reunion for a trip back to Tennessee. Four of us rode out that way in 2006 to investigate the famed Tail of the Dragon. 

Off we went one morning in July: Crash, MA, Linda, and me. Most of that first day was somewhat scenic and relaxing. However, the stormy moods of summer would catch up with us and we found ourselves dealing with vicious downpours in the evening hours. Thinking the first was a one-off downpour, we dodged it in the shelter of a bank drive-thru. But as we rode on a real deluge hit us on the interstate and that turned into a hiding-out-under-the-overpass-extravaganza I’m sure we’ve all been caught in at some point. When the rain finally let up so we could continue, I remember coming into Blowing Rock, NC listening to Crash’s radio. She was in front of me blasting “She’s a Beauty” by the Tubes and I can’t hear that song without smiling and flashing back to this trip.

We made it to the motel room we’d reserved tired, hungry, thirsty and soggy. Lucky too since we got to a pub just across the street before they closed for the night.

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Mannequin head camo in Asheville

While not exactly sunny, the next day was thankfully much drier. We leisurely rolled our way down part of the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville, NC, a city where it seems like there is always a cool place to head to for live music. We found one and not only had a great time listening to the band there, but I’m convinced we met the real-life version of Dale Gribble from King of the Hill. This man approached us after spotting our crappy flip phones sitting on our table. He looked and sounded just like the cartoon character as he warned that Big Brother was watching us through the devices. If that’s true, let me make it known I’d like more pictures from our adventure because I know we didn’t take nearly enough.

We were blessed with sunshine, scenic views, and surprisingly uncrowded curves the following morning for our journey across the Tail of the Dragon. We rode it from North Carolina to Tennessee where we spotted a hammock-sized bra draped across the grill of a pickup truck at our first rest stop. We’ve never stopped wondering about that fashion statement, or how a yellow jacket managed to get inside my clothes to sting me in the belly as we pulled into the parking lot! Eventually we headed back to Virginia, to see how close to home we could get. However, Linda’s new little GPS gadget was about as high tech as the cell phones we had back then and we wound up riding for hours in circles…still in Tennessee. At least it was a gorgeous day, and we were lost on some awesome back roads. After an impromptu pizza party in a motel parking lot and a good night’s sleep, Crash and Linda hit the interstate to get home quickly and I paired up with MA on a day-long putt making our way back from Bristol to Central Virginia.

Thankful for these experiences and friends to share them with, I hope the holidays have brought you fond memories, and dreams of upcoming chances to make new ones too. Happy New Year!

…and a bike manual in a pear tree!

The time of year for a switch back has come and gone. In this case I’m not talking about taking a day to find a bunch of crooked mountain roads with plenty of fun switchbacks to ride. I’m talking about that switch back from Daylight Saving Time to Eastern Standard. It’s when we’re out riding and find ourselves digging through our pockets and bags looking for our “clears” at around 5 o’clock instead of 8:30 pm. Unless you’re more organized than me and can better keep up with your nighttime glasses that is. A recent hunt for mine reminded me to put clear lenses on my Christmas wish list this year since I usually blank out whenever someone asks me what I would want. And so that leads me to my Top 10 List of Gifts for the Motorcycle Lover. In no particular order, except maybe a loose train of thought, these are items I’ve given and/or received to great reviews.

Clear lens glasses- Let’s go ahead and start with clears for riding in the dark or rain. It doesn’t hurt to have extra pairs to keep them handy. That way, you also have some for use as replacements if any are scratched, lost, or broken.

Bungee cords- If you’ve ever seen a couple of riders on the side of the road, forced to take their belts off their waists in order to strap down camping gear that’s come loose on a bike, you know the value of these beauties.15493302_10207375284649914_4594185885733418080_o Forget diamonds, bungees have been this girl’s best friend many times. Keep them around the garage for packing to go on a long road trip. Happiness is having a stash on the bike as well. Just in case you find yourself picking up something that won’t fit in a bag but must be tied down in order to get it home. Multi-packs of various lengths make a great gift, extra bonus points if cargo netting and zip ties are included.

Rain suit- I’m not a huge fan of riding in the rain, but this is the best gift I’ve ever hated having to use! Thanks Dad!

Heated gear- Once upon a time, another rider approached me at a party. He said that one morning as he headed down 29 south toward Charlottesville, he saw someone on a motorcycle merge into traffic ahead of him. He explained his thought was, “It’s 32 degrees out, now who is this crazy a$sh*le?!” He grinned and said when he caught up with the bike; he realized it was me, “No offense”. None taken! I got a good laugh out of it right along with him when I described how I would cheat the chill by sticking an aromatherapy heating pillow in the microwave, then stuff it down the front of my jacket for the 20-minute ride to work. Thanks to thoughtful family members, I now have a heated jacket liner and gloves. In cold weather, these extend not only the length of each ride, but the whole riding season each year. However, there are times when I catch a scent of lavender and think fondly back to that essential oil-filled quick fix for a frigid day!

Bike manual- When I first started riding, I happened to be in a dealership where I overheard a woman complain that her bike had been there for 4 days and she wanted it back so she could ride. The simple oil change she needed still hadn’t been done, and they weren’t sure when they could get to it. Unwilling to ever find myself in the same situation, I asked friends to teach me how to change my own oil and perform basic maintenance on my motorcycle. The first lesson was that everyone should have the service manual for their motorcycle. It makes the rest of the lessons much easier. Which leads me to the next gift idea.

Oil filter wrench, filters, oil- An oil filter wrench makes accomplishing the needed oil change a lot easier in my opinion. And one year, my boyfriend gave me a filter and case of oil. While non-riding friends thought practicality canceled out romance in that instance, I was thrilled. The smiles and memories on my bike long outlasted flowers or other options! 

Gremlin bell- If you’re not familiar with the legend of gremlin bells and the protection they provide bikes and riders, a quick search online will fill you in. The short explanation is that these bells are attached to a motorcycle in order to trap and drive away road gremlins that want to cause harm. These are tough little trinkets; however, the power is only activated when the bell is a gift. Have fun picking one out and give your rider a little extra safety insurance.

Bandanas- There’s no such thing as having too many bandanas because there are as many reasons to keep them on hand as there are colors and designs. It’s common practice to fold one into a do-rag to hide crazy helmet hair or wipe overnight dew off a bike seat.  But you might also find yourself rolling ice cubes into one at a convenience store to tie around your neck and make crossing a hot corner of Mississippi in August feel a lot cooler!

Lip balm- Great stocking stuffer to protect not only against windburn, but sun damage too. Pick some out, SPF included.

Gift cards- When in doubt, gift cards or gas cards are always welcome! My Mom used to worry that these weren’t personal enough. Of course, they are! After all, it’s the thought that counts and you were thoughtful enough to pick one up. Christmas is about Christ, not stressing everyone out over presents. Just BE present. Enjoy this time with your loved ones over the holidays, and Merry Christmas!

Priceless Souvenir

We’ve all experienced the symptoms: sluggish body, nausea, an ache in the chest, tearful eyes. Only in this case it’s not the flu, a hangover, or a bad breakup. It’s returning to work after going out to lunch on a gorgeous day. Walking away from your motorcycle when what you really want to do is fire it back up and ride the rest of the afternoon away. One such day, knowing it’s hard to make a quiet and unnoticeable escape on a Harley, I dragged my feet back inside the workplace. As if proving that riders are more conspicuous than other commuters, a woman in the elevator glanced at the helmet in my hand and said, “I like your bike!” She went on to explain that the day before, she’d left the building with another female coworker. “We heard this motorcycle coming through the parking lot and looked up and it was you! A WOMAN on this big ol’ bike…and we were so proud!” It brightened the rest of my workday considerably, even if she didn’t realize it. Funny how a simple comment or gesture can lift another’s spirit, whether you are on the giving or receiving end. Recently, performing a random act of kindness WHILE on that longed-for road trip left me with a priceless souvenir.

We were on our way to OC Bikefest for a much-needed vacation. Rather than take my bike this year, I opted to snuggle in behind my boyfriend. I’ve had friends say it looks strange when they see me on the back of a motorcycle, but I’ve never taken the “M” endorsement on my driver’s license to mean “man-free zone”. I love being in the wind, whether on my own, or sharing the experience. The ability and freedom of choosing how I ride is a gift I’m always thankful for! As we came to a crawl approaching the Bay Bridge toll plaza, I looked around to check out the bikes of other riders also headed to Ocean City. We passed one particular couple riding tandem and they caught my eye because they appeared to be a father/teenage-daughter duo. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was their first trip together and thought about what awesome memories they would make. My own father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s this year, so I find myself reminded daily of how truly precious a memory can be.

Realizing we were edging closer to one of the toll booths, I started digging cash out of my pocket. As we finally approached a window, I heard a bike pull up behind us. Glancing back I was pleasantly surprised to see it was the twosome I’d noticed before. I handed enough money to the attendant for two bikes to cover our fee as well as theirs, and we were off to maneuver through the rest of the bottleneck. Before everyone made their way back to open road and once again got up to speed, I turned back to smile at the pair. The teen’s face lit up with a big grin and she gave a shy wave as her dad looked up and mouthed a thank you. The expression on her face made my day, leaving me with a huge grin of my own the rest of the way to the beach. Having to concentrate on the road, my boyfriend missed most of that exchange. When I described it to him later, I told him the feeling it left me with made that $4.00 toll the best money I’d spend our whole vacation. It’s definitely a highlight of the trip I’ll always remember.

Now, November brings with it a couple of introspective holidays for me: Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for our Vets and the sacrifices they make to protect the cherished freedoms we have. And each year I grow even more grateful for the time I am able to enjoy with my loved ones. Please keep Veterans, family and friends, and even complete strangers in mind when you are inspired to commit a random act of kindness. You’ll be glad you did- paying it forward is such a great gift not only to others, but also to yourself.

Mammaries…light the color in my face…

Does anyone remember Super Bowl XXXVIII? Not so much the game itself, I don’t remember who won or even who played for that matter. Oh- but I do remember the end of the performance from Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at halftime. My friend and I were left squinting at each other, wondering if we’d seen what we thought we saw. We had…it was a flash of boob. Not only did that little peek at a chunk of fatty tissue cause a lot of controversy, the incident eventually led to the development of the term “wardrobe malfunction”. I guess it’s the politically correct way to say that without meaning to, you had your privates flopping around in plain sight of the public.

Although wardrobe malfunctions can happen anywhere, they can obviously be an issue for any woman choosing to ride in the wind at high speeds on a motorcycle. Especially in the summer months when we’re not bundled head to toe in layers and leather to keep warm. In my somewhat embarrassing case, I hadn’t thought about how a change of bike design could affect the airflow around me enough to displace clothing. I first learned to ride on a Suzuki Savage, and when I switched to an HD Sportster, I found the breeze coming around the windshield hit me at a totally different angle. Instead of flipping back, my hair would fly straight up. Maybe that should have warned me some tank tops could do the same?

Instead, I learned my lesson on Route 33 near Ruckersville, Virginia one beautiful day. No particular place to go, just riding a loop before heading to work that afternoon. I was comfortable in a previously well-behaved tank top, and a hoodie zipped at my waist. That way the sweatshirt wouldn’t flap up in the air and stream behind me like a cape, while also keeping any lingering late-morning chill off my arms. Heading north on 29, I had to stop at a red-light before turning east at 33 toward Barboursville. A couple of dump trucks coming from the other direction had the right-of-way. They turned left in front of me, each driver giving me a huge smile and friendly wave.

I made the turn and as I followed them, I wondered if they waved because they rode too and were wishing they were on their bikes instead of working. Then I wondered where the next passing lane was because they were going so slow. Then I realized they were either losing some gravel out of the trucks or kicking it up off the road on me. I could hear occasional pings against my bike windshield and tank, so I wondered if it would scratch the paint. THAT’S when I finally looked down. To my relief the bike was fine, but um, hellooo-oo BOOBIES!! I did have a bra on at least, but STILL! Not exactly a full-coverage style. With the hoodie on and only zipped at the very bottom, the material flapping around my sides led me to believe nothing was wrong.

In actuality, my tank top had been blown up and was now scrunched under my chin like some sort of scarf. This left plenty of room to fall out of the open front. Red-faced and swerving, I clawed at the shirt to yank it back down as I pulled over and zipped the hoodie up to my chin. On rides afterward, friends I shared the story with couldn’t resist teasing and asking if I was “doing a boob check” when they caught me tucking my head and looking down to make sure everything was in place. Consider this your friendly reminder to get another type of boob check.

October, aka Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is on the way. It’s a good time to make sure your yearly breast exams and screenings are up to date. And if you find yourself with a wardrobe malfunction on the road, try not to let it bother you too much. In the grand scheme of things there are more important things to worry about. I’m just glad mine didn’t happen in front of a Superbowl-sized enough audience to prompt a whole new word for flashing!