Another ride down country roads today around the outskirts of Springfield.  While riding my mind is devoid of all the crap that's usually floating around up there...so riding is good.  There's so much effort that goes into being a single parent (of a dog) that I find myself running around nonstop, picking up tennis balls, throwing them, doing endless loads of laundry (towels from wiping her feet and blankets from the couch where she spends every second when I'm not home), and deboning chickens (to put on her dog food).  I just don't know how I manage.   It's a terribly rough life that you probably can't relate to.  I mean, just the other day I was trapped under her for almost two hours while we (okay, I) watched a movie, listening to her snore and watching her drool on my blanket.  Seriously, I put up with SO much.  But I digress.

Riding is a release from my hectic life.  But, this time, while I was riding, I was thinking about how sometimes riding makes you feel like whatever you do isn't good enough.  At least to me.  It feels like I should be smarter, faster, smoother, cornering better, leaning more, that my bike should be bigger, that my clothes should be matching (and maybe not as baggy), and for the love of all that is holy, I should be fricking more confident!  Why is it that I can pack up and ride thousands of miles by myself, with a direction but no plan, and yet, when I'm with other riders (and sometimes by myself) I turn into a blubbering idiot?

Think I jest?

  1. How many times has someone yelled at you, "Kickstand!"  Me?  Many many.  Too many to count.  
  2. Ever tried to check your oil while the bike was running?  Me?  Yep.  Once.  Never again.  I'm still wiping oil off my pants.
  3. Ever gotten on your bike and spent 10 minutes trying to get it to start then you realize it's in gear??  Yep.  The MOST humiliating time I was with some FBI agents...who were waiting for me to start my bike and finally one of them asked if it was in gear.  Ooops, my bad.  I'd probably still be sitting in that parking lot if it weren't for his quick thinking. 
  4. Ever jumped off your bike at a stop light to check the tires?  I have.  Yep, seriously.  Then I forgot the kickstand was down (see item one) and four cars drove past before some helpful dude yelled, "Kickstand!"   I have never been so thankful for a helmet.  
  5. Ever checked your tire pressure at the gas station and thought, "I should be careful or I will melt my jacket"  about two seconds too late?   I have.  Yep. Seriously.  Maybe it was the smell of my jacket melting that gave me a clue.  
  6. Ever rode down a gravel road at a fast speed just to see how fast you could go...and then crash because you were going too fast?  Yep.  That's me again.  
  7. Ever have a helpful rider point with his foot that there's a big rock in the road...and he's so HOT that instead of paying attention to the ROCK you end up watching his leg and HIT THE HUGE ROCK?  Yep.  Me again.  Of course later he was "glad no one hit that rock!"   Ummm....Yeah, about that....
The more I think about it, there are only two options for what is happening when I ride.  Maybe this single (dog) parent stuff is just too difficult and it's affecting my thinking.  Or, maybe, just maybe,  RIDING makes me stupid.  Joyously stupid. 

What I want to know is if this happens to anyone else?  Please say someone has done at least ONE stupid thing in their riding life...please!!!!  





I have impressive photography skills..No?  No.   
Years ago I was looking for a pair of motorcycle pants that would be a universal pant:  one that would keep me warm in the winter, dry in the summer, that were comfortable and stylish and had adequate pockets and yet offered protection.  You probably know how difficult it is to find such a pair of riding pants.  After doing a lot of research I ended up going with the Aerostich Darien pant.  The main reason I went with those?  Simple.  A motorcycle police officer I knew in Eugene (Oregon) informed me they wore Aerostich.  I figured if they were good enough for police who wore them day in and day out, rain or shine, then they were good enough for me.  

I treasured those pants and wore them for around 10,000 miles before they simply weren’t doing their job anymore.  They  had become less than waterproof on the thighs and my boots had rubbed into the legs, threatening  to produce mini holes.  Part of the problem with the waterproofing was I’d not followed directions.  I washed those things at least once or twice a month, disregarding the instructions on using the proper detergents.  
When it was time to purchase new pants I did the same research over, hoping there would be more options and something could compare.  What I found was that Aerostich had an improved version of the Darien’s, the AD1’s.  Wondering how these pants could be improved, I contacted Aerostich and asked to demo them.  Guess what?  They sent me a pair.  

Pockets! Pockets!  I love pockets!
The first thing I noticed about these pants were they were stiff.  Practically standing up by themselves.  I was informed after wearing them for awhile that would diminish, but I actually didn’t have any issue with that.  According to Aerostich’s website (http://www.aerostich.com/ad1-motorcycle-pants.html) the pants are made with HT600 Denier nylon Gore-Tex fabric and have improved water resistance with a front fly inner gusset.  A.D.1’s have more flexibility in the knees than the Darien pants and come with more pockets that are designed to ensure your keys and whatnots don’t fall out when you take them off.  There is a cargo pocket with a waterproof zipper on the right thigh which I found particularly handy for my ATM card and gas receipts.  A.D.1.’s  come with a money belt,  a reflective adjustable ankle tab for cinching in or loosening the ankle width, and full length zippers down the sides to make them easy to pull on and take off.

What better way to test these pants than a trip from Oregon to Texas?  I took a last minute trip in August which, according to all the Debbie Downer’s out there, is the hottest and worst time to travel the southwestern United States.  Monsoons in Arizona?  One hundred degree heat in Texas?  Phooey.  Still, I wouldn’t be discouraged.  On the way to and from Texas I rode through Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.  My trip was around 4,500 miles and along the way I suffered through 109 degree heat, lightening storms and torrential downpours that came without any real warning. I was able to ride through it all without stopping to put on rain gear because my A.D.1 pants were waterproof.  And more importantly, they didn’t leak.  Not one bit.  During the entire trip I simply wore a pair of thin workout pants under my A.D.1’s.  They were short, capri style, and at times my knees were bare against the knee pads.  Unlike another pair of motorcycle pants I have tried, these Aerostich pants don’t have knee pads that are made of rubber and therefore rub against your skin causing a rash.  I was totally comfortable in the rain, sleet, and 109 degree heat, which I found to be shocking.  When I was a little hot I loosened the ankle strips which allowed air to flow into the pants (although it was mostly hot air, it still helped).   

I’ve been wearing these Aerostich pants non stop.  Riding to work the other day in the Oregon rain I was reminded of how great these pants are.  After about 7,000 miles of usage, the A.D.1’s are still like new.  Not one issue.  No broken zippers, no leaks (not even in the pockets).  These pants do everything you need them to do and more.  They fit like jeans, are comfortable, and have enough pockets to hold your wallet, keys, and anything else you can stuff inside.  I love these pants so much I wish I could marry them.   

The A.D.1 Aerostich motorcycle pants come in sizes  30-44 (long and regular) and are priced at $297.00 (US).  You can order them from Aerostich’s website at http://www.aerostich.com/

Runkle is the owner of a set of Pelican cases...you know, those almost ugly black things sticking off the sides making the rear end shockingly larger than my own?? (Whew, what a relief!)   We've had the cases for about a year now and thought it was time to offer ya'll a review.   

There are too many options for hard cases which just left me confused.  Top opening, side opening? Plastic or metal?  Tall or short?   Why do so many options have to complicate things?  And what about capacity?  How much room do I need?  I have no idea.  Less space than a dead body would take up but more than a gallon of milk?   

Confused by options, I did the most logical thing I could think of.  I showed photos of the boxes to my female friends.  The big question wasn’t which is more functional or which is more reasonably priced.  Instead, I wow’d them with this:  “Which is prettier?”    I know, my methods probably left something to be desired.  But, if it works, don’t mess with it.  That wasn’t the end all and be all of my decision.  I’m not that much of a girl.  I made sure to do some more research on the winning set, just to ensure I wasn’t stuck with a lemon.  

Eventually, after all my very scientific research, Caribou Motorcycle Luggage (http://cariboucases.com/store/?name=Home) won the contest.   I had determined that the most important quality in a set of luggage for my needs was the ability for the cases to be easily removed.  I didn’t want to unbolt, unscrew, or otherwise mess with anything.  I wanted a quick release so if I were just riding around the back roads by my house I wouldn’t have to necessarily be stuck dragging the bags along.  The second thing I was looking for was a good warranty.   Third, I wanted them to be 100% waterproof all the time, anytime.  
Just twist and the bags slide off
Caribou Motorcycle Luggage met my hard case specifications.  How can you argue with a company whose slogan is, “Worlds Toughest Motorcycle Luggage”?  I mean, geez, the military uses Pelican cases!  The luggage has a lifetime warranty, as do the seals.  Want to remove the luggage?  Turn the knob and suddenly you have a suitcase with a top handle.  (Okay, and a couple screws sticking out the back but no one is perfect.)  The price? This luggage was among the most reasonably priced I found.  I paid $798 US and $35.00 for shipping and handling.
According to Caribou’s website, the cases are “made from super tough case material with a heavy duty watertight O-ring lid seal that won’t crack or shatter like hard plastic, will not dent & leak like aluminum luggage.”   Yada yada.  All I heard was "drop the bike and the case will be fine."
Caution:  Wide Load (or as I like to put it, one way to make your arse look smaller)
I bought the 36 liter but the luggage also comes in 35 and 40 liter side opening cases.  The latches on the 36 liter luggage system have push buttons in them and are very easy to open and close.  The width of the bike with the cases on is about 38”.  The installation would have been a breeze had it not been for the BMW bolts on the bike.  I couldn’t get the bolt off the top of the bike and had to call in a reinforcement, but he was able to remove the bolt with minimal trouble.  He even went so far as to finish the installation on one side (when you’re a girl weird stuff like that happens and I’m not about to decline help).  


Overall, I am very happy with what I paid for, given they are hard cases.  The luggage  holds a lot more than I had anticipated.  It comes in basic black but you can also order tan and yellow.  The installation was easy, despite the instructions on the Hepco Becker side luggage rack being in German.  The only issues on the rack installation I had was the fact that the rack fits behind the mounts near the license plate and not in front.  The photos didn’t clearly show that view but my capable helper figured it out.


I was wondering how I’d like the side openings but so far, I haven’t had any issues.  I have had numerous comments about how UGLY the bags are and I really think they are an acquired taste.  I prefer these bags over the metal hardcases I've had on prior bikes and have never, not once, had an issue opening them due to pressure changes.  That's a big bonus.  
Friday we had a break in the clouds in Eugene, OR.  This was actually the second (and reportedly last) day of sunshine for awhile so I did what any self respecting rider would do...I rode.  I rode to work and noted the blue skies in Lowell and the fog and gloom in town.  I parked the bike at work, a little cold but still harboring high hopes for the day.  Each time I walked outside I saw Runkle sitting all alone, the sun making the paint glisten and the longing in my heart becoming intense.  Finally, I couldn't take any more.

That's BLUE sky behind me!!!!
Around 1:00 PM the birds were singing to me, "Ride! Ride! Ride!"  I'm sure it wasn't my imagination...normally the voices in my head say other things like,  "Don't cut him" and "He's so precious!"   So I did what any self respecting, voice hearing chick who rides a motorcycle would do...I rode!!!

I geared up and took off.  I was rewarded with an awesome ride...home.  Geez, working for a living bites!!!!   Of course, my patience and kindness to the Universe (shut up naysayers) paid off and I was able to take off early and hit the road again!!!  (Tomorrow I will be typing like a fool making up time but trust me, it was worth it!)

Ya'll remember I grew up around here?  Well, I moved away in 1998 and haven't been back.  In fact, I am not sure what I'm doing here now.  Anyway, I don't know where to ride so when someone suggested Camp Creek Road I figured, "Why not?"  From Springfield I followed a Squid (Stupid Quick and Dead) bike to Marcola Road and rode the 8.7 miles of curvy goodness to the town of Walterville.  Walterville is not impressive and in fact, makes Lowell look like a bustling metropolis.  From Walterville, it was back on Camp Creek Road as I tried to keep up with the Squid with more experience and more courage (and maybe less of a concern about crashing because I KNOW his front wheel came off the pavement at least twice).  We hopped over to McKenzie View Drive and rode into town.  Camp Creek Road and McKenzie View Drive are both excellent little jaunts that don't take very long but are very rewarding.  Twists, turns, and a great stretch along the river. WIN WIN.  Of course, the ride home was a bit of a drag...rush hour traffic on main roads...BLAH BLAH.   The Squid and I parted ways before I hit the freeway and as he rode away I couldn't help but hear the voice in my head, "He's so precious! I wonder if he has a dog!!!"  Thanks Squid, for the great ride! Maybe I'll run into you again...

At home, I had just enough time to change clothes and to kiss Trout goodbye (why, yes, she was a little pissed off) as I rushed off to a friend's house for a BONFIRE and a birthday party!  You got it!! The first bonfire of the season and we NEEDED it.  The darkness had caused a severe drop in temperatures and as we all sipped (not gulped) our beverages (you know, soda, limeade and the sort), we huddled near the fire and ate pulled pork sandwiches.  Everything was groovy, even when (or especially because) we convinced Brad to jump over the fire.  (Warning:  Kids do not try this.  It's not funny at all. Really.)

Unfortunately, all good days must come to an end just as the sun must set.

This wasn't just a good day...it was awesome.  It had everything a moto chick could ask for:  Lots of laughter, good friends, awesome food, and motorcycles.

I think I may start listening to the birds more often.

Me:  "What's that?"
Birds:  "You should have a margarita."
Me:  "Well, if you say so."

Well, you heard the birds.





These are my fancy dog walking rain boots...just the thing for a quick ride in the country...
Just got back from a small ride around Fall Creek/Lowell.  There's a steak on the barbie and I'm ready for a margarita to toast my blessings.  Thought it would be fun to check out some of those places I haven't seen since I moved away...and geez how 20 years have changed things.  Covered bridges that were closed back in the day have been restored...but the paint hasn't taken away those memories from long ago.

There were big bridges....

Pengra Bridge
Unity Bridge, near the world famous Fall Creek Tavern (ok it's not famous).
And little bridges....

One of two small bridges...um..why are there tiny bridges??


Lookout Point
I stopped by Lookout Point, where "back in the day" (sucks I'm now old enough to say that) many a night we ended up and did some things I don't think you should know about.   I took some photos of Runkle and saw a boy (who I will call Muddy Cute Dude) who had just finished a mountain bike ride.  His face was mud splashed (duh) and his smile was wide.  We started talking and I'm so totally sure that he fell in love with me (or maybe it was the bike?).  He showed me his bike and I showed him mine (sounds a little dirty, eah? They were!).  His has fancy 20 inch wheels and a frame that weighs 18 pounds!  My side bag is more than that!!!  When we parted ways I felt a bit of sadness, considering what may have been.  That's the great thing about being single...there's always a chance for "what may have been".  And of course, that's always better in my mind!

I stopped at my old high school to take some photos and as I was getting back on the bike, Muddy Cute Dude (MCD) drove by in his truck and honked...and I am sure, just so totally sure, that had I jumped on my bike and chased him down he would have asked for my number (or more likely called the police).

I then rode to my Dad's house, where he had to point out the four bikes in his garage were "real" bikes and the BMW (Runkle) in the driveway was not.  Now why did I move home again???  I asked him how he liked the trip to Texas last summer on his bike and he was reminded his bike didn't leave town.  Aww, it's the little things.
Bikes in Dad's garage...the one on the table is a custom job by my Dad...
It's supposed to rain again tomorrow and all through the weekend.  March will soon fade away and before we know it, summer will be covering us with sunshine.  Get ready, people, it's almost time to RIDE!!!

(And you know I'm going to be riding to Lookout Point looking for MCD and his bike...)   Stalk much?


 BMW's at Trooper Tony's Life Celebration
Forgive me while I rant about something totally motorcycle unrelated but worthy of a rant.

My Father tells me a story about my Great Great Grandfather who was a sheriff in 1936.  Reportedly, Great Great Gramps was gunned down and killed inside the very market where as a high schooler I used to buy my candy bars in Lowell, OR.  Great (x2) Gramp's gun and badge are tucked inside my Father's safe.  Dad pulls them out for viewings now and then, proud to have a piece of our family history and still harboring questions about that fateful day in 1936.  I guess there are some questions that never get answered.

If you are from the Pacific Northwest you have probably heard about the recent murder of Washington State's  "Trooper Tony" while he was on patrol.  It is just one more law enforcement tragedy that we must all learn to live with.  In Pendelton, OR the town is most assuredly still questioning Correctional Officer Herron's senseless killing.  In Eugene, OR, Officer Kilcullen's one year anniversary is quickly approaching, and in the small town of Rainier, OR, residents still drive past the place where Chief Painter's life was taken.  In Pierce County, WA, Deputy Sheriff Wright is remembered as well. All of these officers, husbands, fathers and friends were murdered while doing their jobs and trying to keep us all safe.

A sea of Blue: LEO's send off Trooper Tony  
There are times when life seems to hold more tragedy than happiness, more sadness than bliss.  The death of yet another police officer, murdered in the line of duty, is a perfect example of one of those times.  According to the Officer Down Memorial Page (http://www.odmp.org/) the year 2012, being only two months over, has been witness to 20 line of duty deaths.  These twenty tragedies across the United States have affected police, parks and correctional departments, public safety and sheriff's offices and been the cause of countless tears, questions, and sorrow.  They have widowed many,  left children parentless, and yet also have given communities the opportunity to come together and show their support and love, often from people who have never or will never meet the families of those left behind.  I am thankful for everyone who takes a moment to stop and remember those who have been killed in the line of duty, who offers a helping hand to those friends and family members left behind,  and for every officer who continues to patrol the streets, to investigate the crimes, and to rescue innocent puppies.

In order for these men and women law enforcement officers to continue to make a difference they need our support.  They need citizens to speak up and do their part.  To make the call when they witness wrong being done or when the crazy neighbor gets worse.  We all need to stop looking away and start looking at making a difference. Show up.  Be counted.  Give when you can and what you can.   Above all else, appreciate those in blue, brown, green and tan, who wake every morning knowing the job they have to do may take them away from their families; yet they do it anyway.

May they never be forgotten.