For you beginners out there…

June’s almost over, and riding season is in full swing. This year I know many women who have gone out and bought a bike. Or have owned one for a while, but are finally ready to get out there and ride. Seriously, I know at least 6 new women riders, who are finally ready to ride, and they’ve all been asking to go on a ride with me. I’ve been thinking about doing a beginner’s ride with all of them, but in the meantime, I thought I could do a blog with beginner’s some tips. It’s likely the same tips you’ve heard before, but hopefully I’ll give you some insight, or confidence that it’s OK to be where you are in your riding.

    1. Take the Course/Learn to Ride

      This may sound silly, of course you’re going to learn to ride. But actually learn. Don’t just have your neighbor give you the basics: throttle, clutch, shifter, brakes. Find someone who is going to walk you through how the bike handles, the best way to corner, stop and U-turn. Better yet take a course! Both MSF and Harley offer courses nationwide, they are only a few hundred dollars, and are completely worth having a licensed instructor walk you through riding from the very start (even before you get on!) In both courses you learn the skills required to ride, then at the end you take the practical part of the licensing test, meaning when you finish you have your learners permit!

    2. Ride your own ride/ Ride within your abilities

      This is probably the most important thing to remember. Ever. For your entire riding life, remember this. We spend most of our lives trying to fit in, and wanting to keep up with our friends, riding is an individual activity (even in a group). It is up to you to keep yourself (and others if you are riding in a group) safe. Pushing the limits can be helpful at gaining skills but taking risks or pushing yourself too hard can have dire consequences on two wheels.

      Ride when and where you feel safe. Don’t let anyone (especially yourself) pressure you into riding outside your skill level. Quite frankly this is how many riders die, or get seriously injured. If you are not comfortable taking a turn at a certain speed, slow down. If another rider or car is making you nervous, let them pass, or back off. Trust your instincts. I know it’s hard to pull back or ride slower than your friends, but remember every single rider has been in your shoes, and most, MOST will be happy that you put yourself first and stayed safe. If they are in fact your friends they will slow down and take it at your pace. The longer you ride the better you’ll become and the more confident you’ll feel.

    3. Confidence ≠ Skill (but it helps A LOT)

      I’m sure that you’ve heard the phrase “fake it ’til you make it” and it applies to motorcycles as well. You have to believe that you can until you actually do. While there is something to be said about trusting the butterflies in your stomach, it is in your best interest to quiet your nerves. If you are riding and envisioning yourself biffing it on the turn in front of you, it will likely happen. Riding should feel natural and is easier if you’re relaxed and loose, not stiff and tense. Focus on the road in front of you and know that you possess the skills to make it around an S-curve, or to ride on the freeway, or even change lanes. When you’re feeling nervous, take a deep breath, relax, and remind yourself that riding a motorcycle is well within your capabilities.  That having been said, don’t force yourself to ride if you have a bad feeling. Don’t forget, ride your own ride.

    4. Know Simple Maintenance

      Sure you can pay someone to maintain your bike, or work on it when something goes wrong, but there is a value in knowing how to fix some things yourself. That way if you’re ever stuck on the side of the road, it’s nice to know how to troubleshoot, so you know if the issue is fixable or you’re going to need a trailer. Learn how to change your oil, if even so you know where to check if you have a leak. Know how to access your battery, in case you need a jump. Learn how to check your tire pressure, ideally you should do this before every ride. Even knowing what to look for when checking tire wear, or how to check your brake pads. Of course, unless your up to it leave the advanced work to the pros, or friends who know what they’re doing. But be somewhat engaged with the maintenance since motorcycles are so much more unforgiving of small problems.

    5. Gear Up

      As a new rider you are probably wearing full (or almost full gear) but as you gain experience, you will be tempted to shed some layers and ride slightly less encumbered. Gear choices are different for everyone and as one of my friends so eloquently put it, anyone wearing less gear than you is an idiot. It’s true, riders are never more judgey about other riders than when it comes to gear. We’ve all heard people gripe about the guy on the sport bike ripping up the freeway in shorts, flip-flop and a baseball cap, and while that is certainly not advisable riding attire, what you wear on a motorcycle is solely up to you. However, at the very least I recommend close toed shoes, pants (ideally actually denim not that stretchy thin crap), gloves and if not a helmet, eye protection. I’ll elaborate on these below even though some or all of that gear seem obvious to you.

      Close-toed shoes are crucial to being able to operate your motorcycle correctly, which you may know if you ever rode a bicycle in a pair and had them get folded up between you and the road, or got the pedal stuck in between your foot and the flop. Similar problems can arrive on a motorcycle, but your foot isn’t protected from debris, or the road if you fall, not to mention having to shift without a shoe! Pants not only protect your from painful pipe burns, but thick material like denim will protect your leg better from road rash in the event of a crash. You could go all out and buy nylon protective gear like they wear on racetracks, but there is a wide variety of protective pants between those and your everyday jean. Gloves are ideal for protecting your hands from debris and of course if you were to slide. They are also helpful if you need to adjust something on your bike. We’ve all heard the benefits of wearing a helmet, but if you choose not to, at least cover your eyes. Get some shatterproof sunglasses and clears for night riding to keep some wind, debris and other potential hazards from damaging your eyes.

      To be even safer a long sleeve jacket of leather or textile to keep your skin if you slide. There are plenty out there designed to keep you safe in the event of a crash with vents and other innovations to keep you cool. I personally don’t fully gear up on warm days, partially because I fear overheating, and because I love feeling the air on my skin especially on cool summer nights. At the end of the day though, what you wear is up to you. Wear what makes you feel comfortable, and allows to operate your bike the best you can. Gear’s entire purpose is to keep you safe and help you stay whole in the event of an accident, but you are the first line of defense. The best protection is avoiding an accident all together, so stay aware.

    6. Eyes Up

      As Peter Fonda once said (in a moto-safety video) pretend every driver on the road is “asleep, blind, or drunk.” It sounds funny but it’s true, be aware that you are essentially invisible to any four-wheeled vehicle. Watch out for other drivers merging into your lane, pulling up behind you at a light, and most importantly scan the whole scene when approaching an intersection.

      And while 2/3 of motorcycle accidents are caused by another vehicle, 1/3 were the fault of the rider. I can’t stress this enough (…obviously) you are responsible for your own safety.  Keep a safe following distance and while it seems obvious, pay attention. Get familiar with how the bike handles. Travel at a speed that you can keep the bike under control if you have to stop suddenly or swerve around a hazard. Remember this: “Motorcycling is not, of itself, inherently dangerous. It is, however, extremely unforgiving of inattention, ignorance, incompetence, or stupidity.”

    7. Have Fun!

      I mean I know this is super cliché and fairly obvious, but have fun. You wanted to ride because it’s a fun thing to do, so make sure that among everything else you’re having fun. Plus if you’re having fun you’ll relax and have a better ride anyway. And remember, we all started somewhere….



I wasn’t always so comfortable on bike. Here’s me, on my first-ever Yellowstone Run.


Babes Ride Out pt. 1

I was racing down SR-62 in 29 Palms as the sun sank deeper and deeper in the sky. Ahead of me was a perfect desert sunset; the horizon orange tinged with violet, pink, and yellow. The beauty of it filled my heart and all I wanted was to stop and take a picture to just stand still to truly appreciate it. I told myself no, I was on a mission, I needed to reach Joshua Tree Lake campground and set up camp before dark. It was the first day of Babes Ride Out, and my riding companion, Ang. and I had traveled over 600 miles; and I really didn’t want to set up a tent in the dark. Thankfully, we were almost there and our friends had arrived earlier in the day and were saving us a spot.

The road to this point had been long, but at least today had treated us well. We had ridden down to Mesquite separately, each meeting our own obstacles. I rode down after work and didn’t arrive until midnight. On the way I had run into traffic from 2 accidents and temperatures as low as 35. Just before dropping down into Mesquite, I was having trouble keeping the bike on course because I was so cold that if I slowed to less than 50MPH I began to violently shiver. I pushed and pushed knowing that once I hit Mesquite it would be plenty warm. Ang and I met up rather haphazardly, as she was supposed to ride to Primm with a group of our friends, but due to mechanical issues had to ride down on her own. (But don’t feel too bad… it was on a BRAND NEW Softtail.)

We left Mesquite around 10AM, and had taken our time taking time along the way since the ride to Joshua Tree was short compared to our ride the day before. At each gas stop we stretched our legs, and took videos and photos for Snapchat and Instagram to document our journey. We made ample use of  the #ProgressiveMC so that our images would be printed and available for us once we arrived. We wandered into a Tiki Bar in Vegas, and “learned” about Mining in Cima, and stopped at the infamous Roy’s even though we didn’t need gas.  Our final stop had been for dinner at Subway in Joshua Tree, our first non-gas-station-snack meal of the day. We ate fast and were quickly back on the road to Babes.

We arrived shortly, the sun was just sinking below the horizon as we were given our wristbands, and headed towards the moto-camping area. It took a few minutes but we found our group and were greeted with cheers, smiles, and most importantly, ice cold beer, 805 tallboys to be exact. I was thrilled to have made it, and be surrounded by so many friends, but impatient to get my tent set up. I grabbed my gear and started searching for a place to set up. I was almost immediately interrupted by more friends’ hugs and happy greetings. Once the excitement subsided, it was dark. My initial irritation at the idea this had dissipated. I had arrived and was surrounded by strong women who loved me and I couldn’t have been happier. For the second year in a row, I was at Babes Ride Out.

After I assembled my tent, I wandered down to the Karaoke Party that was in full swing. Disappointingly, the 805 tent was already closed, but the Progressive tent was still open so I headed over to pick up the pictures we’d posted of our trip down. I wandered the tent looking at all the photos, and reading the cards women had filled out expressing what riding meant to them. It was a unique experience, like a live Instagram; it was so inspiring to see all the different journeys and how riding had impacted their lives. After walking the tent I went around and grabbed mine, Ang’s and few other friends photos down and then headed over to pick up my early registrant gift bag before finding my friends again.

We spent sometime dancing and singing along to the Karaoke Party. A few other girls from Salt Lake got up and sang, and I headed up to say hello to Ashmore, one of the masterminds/divas behind Babes. I met her a last year when she and her friend Corrine came through Salt Lake and ridden a few canyons with some of us. She always remembers me and is always so excited to see me. Knowing how many women she must meet, I am always surprised that she does remember me, it is one of the things that makes her so amazing. We summarized our year, I was sure to ask her about meeting Norman Reedus and being featured on his show. We didn’t talk long as she was busy ensuring everything ran smoothly, so soon I was back celebrating and dancing with our group but soon the miles we had ridden set in and we were all exhausted. We headed back to our tents took some shots, and talked until one by one we retired to our tents, dreaming of what tomorrow would bring.

I was awakened by the sound of one lone bike rolling through the campsite just after 6AM. It was quiet, likely with stock pipes, but my tent was right next to the road. I fell back asleep, but not for long. I heard one bike fire up and then a few more, they began moving right away, and rolled slowly through the campsite. They were loud but they seemed to be moving in an attempt to make the least amount of disturbance. That is until they stopped and waited at the edge of tent camping. They waited there for at least 2 minutes, The longer they sat the more awake I became. Soon I could hear those around me stirring and some even yelling for the bikes to move on. Eventually I heard 2 more bikes fire up and head towards us. Finally the whole group roared out of camp but the damage had been done, half the camp was now wide awake.

I lay there hoping that I could fall back asleep, begging for just a little longer, knowing I had a very long day ahead of me. Unfortunately the sun was rising, my tent was growing warmer, and my friends were whispering and rustling around on their tents, and I knew I wasn’t going to sleep again until that night. The handful of us that had accepted our early morning stumbled down to the main area still in our PJs to purchase coffee and some breakfast.

Live from a Housewarming Party

Summer is finally upon us here in the Salt Lake Valley, which means more rides, parties and BBQs. This week was the first time it was warm enough to ride home from the bar without a jacket too. I forgot how amazing it is to just hop on your bike and feel the cool air of night against your skin as you speed home.

I don’t have many stories this week forgive me, I spent my days enjoying the company of friends, planning my 4th of July weekend, and making summer plans for the Litas. Perhaps next week I will regale you with a tale of a past adventure. Until then check out some of my old posts or take tome to finish reading last week’s post (it wad so long). For now I’m heading back to the party.

The Swell in Photos

Photos from my trip to the San Rafael Swell and Mystic Hot Springs. Post: The Swell… and beyond

The “Wedge”

AKA Little Grand Canyon of Utah

Dino Quarry


Road to Monroe


Mystic Hot Springs


The Swell… and beyond

For the photos from this trip check out: The Swell in Photos

For Memorial Day my friend Tamara and I went on an epic camping/sightseeing weekend. Our trip began Friday night after work, we made our way to “The Wedge”. We left a bit later to avoid traffic and had dinner along the way, so we arrived way after dark. It was pitch dark, not even a moon for light. We had glimpses here and there of the scenery, it seemed to be mostly desert but we could just make out outlines of trees and cliffs on the horizon. It was slow going, as the road was dirt and gravel. We were a bit nervous as we drove “blindly” down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, somewhat comforted and somewhat unnerved by others travelling the road. I started to feel more confident as we came across more encampments, and finally signs for campgrounds for the lower Wedge campgrounds. Finally we had arrived.

I wanted to camp right on the ledge, so I insisted we keep going. Most of the spots were taken but we found a place to pull off and set up our tent.  We set up a about 3 feet from the ledge. The wind was blowing and the ground was so rocky it was hard to stake the tent down. So one of us had to stay with the tent while the other grabbed gear to weigh it down. We couldn’t see anything past the ledge, except for our shadow on the rim in the distance. And the based on the sound of rocks I kicked out of our tent space over the ledge it didn’t sound too deep. I worried maybe this place wasn’t as great as I’d been told, but figured I would wait until morning. Once the gear was unloaded, Tamara turned off the lights. We didn’t realize just how dark it was until right then; we couldn’t see the ledge. I stood in place, afraid to move until she turned the lights back on and grabbed my flashlights.

We loaded into the tent and setup our sleeping arrangements. I reached under the tent and removed more rocks, including a giant pointy rock we had failed to see right in the middle. The “fossil” as we called it, left a giant hole in its place, which was uncomfortable, but better than a 2 inch spike in our backs. We set up a Snapchat story “2 Bitches in a Tent”, to narrate our travels, set my alarm for shortly after sunrise, and giggled until we finally fell asleep.

We awoke just after 6:00 am, just as the sun was brightening the sky. I yawned, turned off my alarm, and paused unwilling to disturb the warm cocoon we had created for ourselves. But curiosity compelled me to move. I sat up unzipped our door, the rain fly and poked my head out into the chilly desert morning. I was speechless. For as far as I could see were twisty curves of layered rock set against the violet clouds, and highlighted by the sun pushing through the clouds. Behind me Tamara asked how it looked. I couldn’t even begin to describe it. I took a deep breath, and attempted to speak. All I managed was a quiet laugh, and on second attempt all I managed were the words “Oh, Tamara”. She seemed to understand, I heard her sit up and soon enough she was leaning over my shoulder taking in our view. Continue reading