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

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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.

One for the Moms…

Mother’s Day is Sunday!

I hope your day is filled with loving memories of Mom, and/or the chance to make new memories with your mother or your own kids.

I thought I’d share a picture of a treasured keepsake of mine that my mother made for me, along with a poem I wrote about it when I was in my twenties.

Mom still enjoys it today and maybe you will too-

Have a Happy Mother’s Day!

Holly Hopper 2

I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I…ride.

Riding the bike to work. The bandage on the boo-boo of having to go in to earn a paycheck instead of staying out to play all day. However, that check is helpful for when playtime rolls around so the funds for fun are available. And of course, any riding is good no matter the destination.

Even better, the sights along the way that I might have missed because I’d otherwise not be there.

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OCBW sunrise 2015

Like sunrises.

When we vacation at the beach, the boyfriend and I always make it a point to get up in time to see the sunrise. But I admit, on an average day off it’s more likely daylight gets started before I do. The early schedule I’ve had over the past several years has put me out before dawn to places I feel lucky to have been in right at a certain moment.

There are lots of mental snapshots I’ve stored in my head because the chance to take a photo wasn’t there. It’s a treasure to pull these memories up to always have and savor, though I do wish I had the skills to paint or draw them out to share. I’ll have to try to get them on paper at some point, it’s on my rainy-day list.

Still, I’m not sure if that would even get the full experience across. If you ride, you know part of the joy of what you’re taking in comes from a combination of senses. All I can do is try to describe a couple of these miracles I feel lucky to have witnessed.

Like one at what became my favorite stoplight.

The New Bridge in Virginia, crossing part of Lake Anna was under construction.  One lane was closed with east and westbound travelers taking turns getting through, managed by the traffic signal. That particular spring, I kept my fingers crossed that I’d arrive at the point in this cycle that would leave me sitting the longest.

I relished those chilly mornings, shutting the bike off to listen to the peepers sing as the sky got lighter. The pastel shades of dawn were reflected in the water and it would ripple as fish flipped out and back in, maybe catching a buggy breakfast. Knowing that someday this would no longer be part of my daily route made the locally infamous “wait on route 208” seem too short.

Years later my commute on the PA backroads between Gettysburg and Hanover offered up a few sunrises made spectacular by the element of surprise. Initially hidden by a tree line or hill, these scenes were revealed as I’d exit a curve. The air would turn from cool to a pocket of warmth as the day’s first rays hit me along with its majesty. Caught up in bold hues of purple, pink, and gold right along with the perfume of some nearby wildflower was enough to move me to tears.

Or was it that I’d fooled myself into thinking I was on a road trip and realized I was on a short ride to work instead?!

A bike by any other name…

Dirty 1Last fall, I saw that Thunder Press magazine was taking picture submissions for their March 2017 cover featuring personalized motorcycle license plates. I felt compelled to email in a shot of one of my old vanity tags, so I did…and basically forgot about it.

Imagine my surprise this month after the issue was released, when I found my D1RTY1 had been included!

Now I can’t help but feel like it’s time to explain how my first Harley got its names.

It started the day I first saw this particular 1200 Custom Sportster on a trip to one of the area Harley dealerships. I was walking along a row of bikes and although I know it sounds unbelievable, it was as if this Sporty came to life for second and picked me. Out of the corner of my eye I caught it performing the same type of maneuver a dog would make against another when vying for attention; a playful nudge to jostle into position and say, “Look at me.”

It worked.

A small test ride was all it took to prove to me that I liked the way this bike felt and sounded as much as the way it looked. The vibe that this machine’s personality was that of a big red Doberman, always ready to go out and play, prompted me to name it “Dobie”.

Play we did: on lots of back roads in Central Virginia, up to Atlantic City, down to New Orleans, through beaches, camp-outs, and even a few spills. Some of these adventures I’m sure I’ll reminisce on in detail at some point.  But the point I’m now trying to get to, lollygagging along here just as I do on the bike, is how its nickname originated.

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Oops…mud!  Again.

I’m always ready to admit, when given a limited amount of time and the choice, I’d wind up opting to ride this motorcycle over washing it.

The friends I rode with noticed and continually pointed out to me that my bike was usually the dirty one in the group. After this teasing revelation had been passed along to me the umpteenth time, I turned to the DMV with a sort of visual reply in mind.

D1RTY1 was available to order on a personalized plate. With Dobie’s new name tag on display, I had great fun rolling into a parking lot to meet up for a ride. When questioned if I would wash my bike anytime soon I could say, “No! I’d have to go through the hassle of changing my license plate.”

Or if I heard, “Hey, did you know your bike is dirty?”, a shrug and gesture toward the back of the motorcycle would bring a laugh when the tag was spotted.

For a bike by any other name can provoke a smile…and that is sweet.