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!

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Tired of winter? Here’s a band-aid!

A winter storm passed through this part of the country leaving everything coated with an icy glaze for a couple of days. Once the roads were cleared, people gradually got back to their normal routines. This time of year that usually means I’m commuting to work while it’s still dark. But a delay after a morning trip to the veterinarian’s with my dog meant driving my truck across a mountain as the sun was rising. I wish I could have taken pictures because I don’t think I can describe how truly incredible the view was. All the different hues of daybreak were reflected off the frozen trees, every branch sparkling as if thousands of twinkling lights had been strung throughout the woods. It was so breathtaking I’ve thought about it often, trying to make sure I’ll remember the scene and store it with other mental snapshots of mine. Small moments like this do so much to soothe the ache of waiting for better riding conditions. Even though I had to constantly watch for patches of black ice, and it had been several weeks since it was nice enough to get out on the bike, I realized how much I do love the beauty of all the seasons in the Mid-Atlantic.

Whether your winter downtime consists of a few weeks or a few months, at least it’s a good opportunity to get the bike ready for when it is riding season.  As I’ve mentioned before, there is value in taking a basic rider course from an organization like MSF. Not only will you learn important riding skills, but also tips on caring for your motorcycle. Although it’s been quite a while since I took the class, I can recall the acronym they gave for the pre-ride motorcycle inspection checklist: T-CLOCS, Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, and Stands. I will admit, I have to search that on the web to get into the full details of each category. It seems there’s no more room in my brain to store them between those photos committed to memory and about 1,583,033,206 different song lyrics. Oh, and of course, riding memories! So even if you have to refer to a list like I do, or you’re so familiar with your bike maintenance routine that it’s automatic, make sure you take advantage of foul weather days to give your ride the TLC it needs. Nobody wants to wait out the cold weather only to miss riding when a nice day arrives because there is something wrong with the motorcycle. The same goes for finding out there’s an overlooked issue with the bike that leaves you stranded on the side of the road.

When I first started riding I was guilty of taking off without spending-a minute to look over even just the basics.  During a break on a ride through Luray, my buddy “Skid” was checking out my bike and noticed some sort of blemish on the rear tire. There was a cut in the tread that didn’t appear to be leaking air, but he didn’t like it. The tear could have been made by running over something that day, but because I hadn’t given the tires a simple once over before I left home, I couldn’t be sure. There happened to be an auto-parts store next door, and he asked me to go over and pick up some Fix-a-Flat just to make him feel better in case we discovered I had a slow leak later in the day. His girlfriend walked with me, and after making the purchase we decided it was time to have a little fun. I stashed the can in my purse, and asked the cashier for a band-aid so we could introduce Skid to the latest and greatest in tire repair.

When we got back to the bikes and I appeared to be empty handed, he asked if I’d got the Fix-a-Flat. I told him I couldn’t because they were out of it, but they sold me something they said was better and even easier to use. Brandishing the band-aid and doing my best to stay serious, I explained how I was instructed to place the bandage over the cut on the tire. Skid took the strip from me, looked at it, looked at the tire, and back at me, “WHAT?”

“Yes”, I continued. “They said it would work even better if I spit on the pad first. And the best part is it only cost 8 bucks!” Poor Skid kept staring at the band-aid; he turned it over, inspected it, and turned it back again. Finally he looked up at me with an expression on his face that was all too easy to read. He was trying to figure out how to tell me I was the biggest moron on the planet without making me cry. I couldn’t take it anymore, and burst out laughing, letting him off the hook. With spring on the way, I’d advise you to invest in a service manual for your motorcycle. Do learn the basics of bike maintenance and perform them regularly. Do carry a first aid kit in a saddlebag, with band-aids included. Don’t expect them to patch a tire, but they could come in handy for minor situations like bee stings or pulling a friend’s leg!

 

 

‘Tis the Season to be Soggy?

Imagine you’re at one of your favorite biker bars and a man yells, “Uh-oh! Look what’s coming!”

What do you think you’re going to see when you look up? Maybe it’s this guy’s buddy, finally making an appearance at the ol’ watering hole? Do you expect to see everyone’s dream bike pulling into the parking lot? Or could he be pointing out that there’s a beautiful woman walking through the front door?

In the situation I found myself in, everyone turned to see someone staring out the window…at a nasty looking, black and gray line of clouds heading our way. Resembling a dropped bag of marbles, we scattered to our bikes and rolled out in all directions before the storm hit. I don’t think police sirens can even break up a party that fast!

I also don’t think I’ve seen a year we’ve received as much rain as this one! As I begin to write this, it looks like a trip to Colonial Beach, VA for Bikefest 2018 could be partially soggy. It makes me wonder if there will be ANY dry days for riding and watching the leaves fall, or more filled with rain and a transition right on into snowfall.

As winter and the holiday season draw closer, I can say some of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever been given involve riding with protection against the elements. One year, my dad gave me a rain suit. With a worried look on his face, he asked me if it was too big and if I thought it would come in handy. I told him I hoped not, but it was really going to be nice to have it just in case! Naturally it has been put to good use quite often. The larger size actually works well for layering if it’s cold. Plus, we know it’s possible for gear and leather to mysteriously “shrink”, especially after all those holiday feasts!

Whether you’re looking to give or receive, another great gift item that will elevate comfort and extend the riding season into cold weather is any type of heated gear. In the past, I had tried different tips and tricks I’d heard about in an attempt to keep warm. Then, my brother gave me a pair of heated gloves, and with a gift certificate from my mom I picked up a jacket liner to go with them. Simply connect it to the battery of the bike and it feels like riding with an electric blanket wrapped around you. This turned out to be the best solution for me, and really works to keep the ride pleasant enough to stay on the road when the temperatures drop lower. Particularly when that change is quicker and more sudden than expected, like during the aforementioned 5th Annual Bikefest at Colonial Beach.

The lingering effects of Hurricane/Storm Michael led a small group of us to delay the ride down by a day, not being fans of torrential downpours even with rain suits. With another look at the forecasted highs and lows and the chill of the heavy wind gusts that wouldn’t diminish for two days, I unpacked some of my lightweight clothes to make room for sweats and dug the heated gear out of the closet for the trek to the festival. Once there we made up for lost time, taking in all we could up and down the beach. Much like, as my friend Sharon described, a bunch of kids running amok at an amusement parkIMG_20181015_112206 desperate not to miss anything.

There were vendors and events to check out, foods to sample, and a steady stream of free live music all along this scenic stretch of the Potomac River. Area favorites like Blues Rebellion and Grindin’ Gears could be found at High Tides Black Pearl Tiki Bar and Dockside Restaurant, while The Artimus Pyle Band and Buckcherry took to the main stage at Town Hill during the weekend. The final day the breezes slowed, and I headed home with only occasional drizzle to deal with and a smile still on my face.

The best part of this rally was sharing the fun with good people and making memories to look back and laugh on. May Thanksgiving and Christmas be blessed with more of the same for everyone.

 

Where to?

1-Do you want to go for a ride?

2-Where to?

Luckily the answer to question 1 is almost always an immediate “yes”. However, getting an answer to question 2 can be a bit trickier. It’s similar to asking someone what they want for dinner. If you’ve ever argued with your family over that decision you probably already know what I mean. And if you are riding solo, there are still times question 2 could be hard to answer. It’s like the options become overwhelming. If you’ve ever made your closet resemble a ransacked crime scene while you argue with yourself over what to wear, you surely know what I mean! My fridge is once again getting pleasantly wallpapered with flyers to remind me of nearby events, rides, and rallies now that spring is here. However, when some free time comes along where a ride is certain but the destination is not, how do you answer the question, “Where to?” This year, I’m finding solutions as well as new roads by taking part in a season-long run.

The 2018 Marble Run, to benefit the Frederick County Chapter of ABATE of Maryland,marble run Inc., is underway and wraps up with an After Party on October 6th in Frederick. This scavenger hunt of sorts is simple: buy a book, ride to the participating locations, keep track of your marble colors in the book, have a good time at the party, and see if you win a nice chunk of gas money! While cash would be nice, I think the biggest payoff of this run is the adventures I’ll have, discoveries I make, and people I meet along the way. There are marble stops in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, some at places I already know and make a point to ride to often. Yet some are at cool spots that I didn’t even know were there. For example, I pass through the town of Lovettsville several times a year. Turns out there’s a great coffee/tea/shake shop just around the corner and off my usual route, that I might not have found out about if I hadn’t ridden there to score a marble.

In addition, it’s my opinion that anyone who rides a motorcycle should be involved with and support a motorcycle rights organization like ABATE. Are you unfamiliar with ABATE (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments)? Having been a member of the organization in three different states now, I can tell you it’s made up of a group of women and men who fight hard for our rights and freedoms as motorcycle riders. I encourage you to find out more about ABATE in your state, find a chapter meeting near you to attend, and join! If in Maryland, see www.abateofmd.org. Also, try your luck on the Marble Run for a chance to win at the After Party. There will be live music from regional classic rock favorites Special Delivery, a good time with others in our riding community, and the knowledge that you’re helping to protect our rights on the road. Because freedom isn’t free.

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.