International Female Ride Day

IMG_20170506_205607_124Saturday (May 6th) was International Female Ride Day and since Jess was out of town, I got to organize and lead the Litas ride. The weather was set to be in the 80s, so I planned a long trip (152 miles roundtrip) up through a few canyons. I was excited and nervous; I really haven’t ever planned a ride (for anyone but myself) from start to finish, and there’s always extra pressure when it’s a Lita’s ride because I want to make sure everyone has a good time. It was also a bit last-minute, I had thought about joining in on the other ride in town, but they were just doing a ride along the westside and I was dying to get up in the mountains. So I set the route and stops and Jess sent out an email on Thursday.

The ride started at the Maverick downtown as it’s right next to the freeway on-ramp, though in the future we should maybe choose a different one as it’s also right next to the mission, and down the street from the main homeless shelter…. When I pulled in just after 10:30, I didn’t see anyone, I was a little let down but not terribly I wasn’t really expecting anyone to show up after the late notice. I filled my tank, then parked in a highly visible location, and hung my Litas shirt on my bike so girls would know where to go. By 10:45 I was feeling discouraged by the lack of other women, but knew that at least one other lady was coming to meet me.

I sat on my bike and looked up, there was a woman approaching me. She asked if I was there for the ride, and I hesitantly answered, unsure because I hadn’t seen any other bikes. She told me that there were a few other bikes over on the side of the building. I packed up my stuff and headed over to join them. As I came around the corner I couldn’t help but smile. There were four women and their bikes socializing and waiting to head out. I was excited but starting to get nervous, I couldn’t believe that women had shown up for my ride with such last-minute notice. I wondered if there were this many women in Salt Lake, how many would be waiting at the other stops. It was almost 11 when Kathleen pulled up, which comforted me, and shortly there after we geared up and headed out.

As we headed out, it was pretty cloudy and looked like it was going to rain, but the forecast was clear so I my hoodie was packed up on my back fender. I was wearing a short-sleeved distressed ACDC shirt, the temperature was perfect. As we rode south, I started to worry, I could see the rain up ahead. It was about the time we hit Draper that I felt the first drops, I first felt them on my gloves, and soon my arms. All I could think was how much this was going to hurt. Luckily this was a “soft” rain or so it seemed, as the rain hit my arms the drops exploded and felt like I was being lightly splashed. (Apparently not everyone felt that way, but I rather enjoyed it.) The rest of the ride to Orem was uneventful, except not being 100%sure of the right Maverick since my GPS was not speaking through my helmet.

We rolled into (the correct) Maverick a little later than anticipated, but before we had said we were leaving. There weren’t any girls waiting though, which was a bit of a disappointment, but also a relief. We stayed for a few minutes, and while we waited I saw one of our members Tandra ride by. (Turns out that she was looking for us, unfortunately she never found us.) Two of the girls left to go ride dirt bikes, so the remaining four of us headed out to the canyon. I had forgotten how much I like Provo Canyon, how beautiful Bridal Veil Falls is and even the walls of rock. We rolled along the curves as a group, all enjoying the ride, the open road for the first time in months. We made it to Heber before I realized Google maps had crashed, we went straight through the main intersection and I realized the mistake after about 1 mile. We pulled off, I pulled it back up and got us back on track with just a few other turns. Soon we got to the turn at Jordanelle, and headed East towards Kamas.

If you’ve never ridden the road between Heber and Kamas you should. It is a twisty curvy road that rises high above the Jordanelle. It twists along as the road rises above, there’s an overlook which is a great place for photos. Wasatch State Park lies ahead, huge rock walls on one side, and a rushing river on the other. As we rode by I noticed a beaver sitting on a log just watching the traffic pass. The road continues on through more fields, rocky passes and weathered homes. As you approach the turn for Kamas you ride up a blind hill with a small pasture on the other side. At the intersection in Francis, we turned left and shortly arrived at the Phillips in Kamas. We were later than expected, but no one was waiting. We all filled up and took a short break. I was tired and beginning to get hungry. It was only 45 miles to Kelly’s but still about an hour away.

We made it out of Kamas and through Peoa without a sound from my GPS. I wasn’t concerned until the signs for I-15 stopped appearing. The road was gorgeous well maintained and low traffic, it was twisty and rode along a reservoir. I called my mom to try to verify our route. We were riding past Rockport State Park on 189, but she thought we were on 302 (along the backside) and said it would dead-end, I pull off quickly and restarted Google maps. We were close to I-80 so we pulled back on the road and were soon on the interstate. We rode past Coalville, to the I-84 interchange. The sky was cloudy again, but looked clear enough to the east. As we approached Henefer the wind picked up, and slowed us down as we went through the rocky pass and past Devil’s slide. The speed limit was 75, but we were only going 60. Luckily were able to stay on the road, and exited at Morgan and soon arrived at Kelly’s

There were only 2 other bikes at Kelly’s and the were gearing up to leave. We entered, chatting about the wind and the scenery, and I joked about needing a new phone. We ordered our food and sat on the patio, joined shortly by another group of bikers. We talked about our jobs, and our riding experiences, eager to share tips and tales from the road. The conversation died down once the food came, we were all quite famished after the long ride.

Overall it was a nice ride, not too hot or cold, and even with the wind we all did great. I found the challenges we had symbolic considering it was a ride celebrating women. It isn’t always easy but we push through and prevail.

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What’s Holding You Back?

I had a pretty standard childhood, with 2 parents that love me, not a child of divorce, I didn’t wont for anything, raised in your typical middle-class east coast family.  My parents had a pretty wild youth, but after marriage, and 3 children (all girls), they became very sensible people, very parent-like. My mother is incredibly cautious, and in turn my father is cautious if for nothing else than to appease my mother. My sisters and I were raised as city folk; as a small child I was often taken to the Science Museum, and loved it by the way. I have very fond memories of going to the Zoo, museums and any of the other education activities my parents indulged me in. We were fortunate enough to be able to go on vacation at least once a year. However, most years we headed to my father’s parents house in Alabama. We would all pile in the family van drive  days to Fairhope AL, stay for 5 days and then drive 2 days back. A few times we went to Disney World, but again never terribly adventurous or outdoorsy.

I didn’t learn to ride a bicycle until I was 7 years old, almost 8, after second grade! Anytime I got on bike, I had to wear my helmet, it was mandatory. I didn’t dare get caught riding without it not only because I was scared of my mothers wrath, but also was convinced that I would die without it. My family wasn’t terribly adventurous, we didn’t hike, camp, or fish. In fact, I grew up in a town with a river and still to this day, have not set foot in it. (And if I did I’d likely wear a life vest.) I never rode ATVs or dirt bikes. The only motorcycle I knew of in my neighborhood, belong to my neighbor a few houses down. One day during a block party, he took his bike out, and let some of us kids ride around the block. I was terrified, but someone persuaded me to try it. I HATED IT. I was scared, clung tightly to him, and hid from the wind behind him. We were barely going 25 MPH. ​

So now that you know a little background you might be wondering how I ended up becoming the mile pounding badass that you know now. How, HOW in the hell did this safety conscious little girl end up on this two-wheeled death machine?

I moved to Salt Lake City in January of 2010, to be a bird trainer at the Tracy Aviary. I didn’t bring my car because I was afraid I would get snowed in driving across country. I took the bus everywhere for a few months, but in March my friend offered to let me buy his wife’s old bike. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years, and it took a little bit of time to get used to it, but soon i was riding at least 10 miles a day, a few to work and random trips around the city. I loved the freedom it gave me, not having to do things on the bus’ schedule, and being able to get places quicker. I enjoyed the scenery,  noticing business and places I was too distracted to notice in my car.

I wanted to go further, farther and faster. I wanted to explore see more of the Salt Lake Valley ride through the canyons, but I am no mountain biker. The thought of a motorcycle crossed my mind, but I shook it off. I shook it off every time. I thought, “How could I? No, there’s no way. I am not a ‘biker.’ They’re so dangerous!” and my personal favorite, “I’m a woman, how could I ride a motorcycle.” The fact that I am a woman, actually kept me from seriously considering a motorcycle as a form of transportation. Until one day it was suggested to me otherwise. My bicycle also allowed me to stay out later, experience Salt Lake Night life. I had become friends with some people who worked at Keys on Main, and one night I rode my bike downtown, and my normal bike lock was missing so I had to lock it further down the street. I walked into the bar, and noticed my two friends Brandon and Aron decorating on the far end of the room. I walked over, helmet still in hand, and asked if they knew what had happened to my normal stand, stating I had to park my bike further down the street.
The both stopped what they were doing and looked at me, shocked. “You ride a bike?” one of them asked.

“Yes?”

“And you parked it on the sidewalk?”

“Yeah just down the street.” They looked at each other and started for the window. I was very confused at this particular line of questioning, I couldn’t figure out what was so interesting about my bicycle.

They got to the window, and their expressions dropped. “You mean a bicycle!?”

“…yes?” I held up my helmet, “I mean I—” They cut me off and wandered off joking about my bicycle vs. motorcycle.

I paused and let them walk away. I stood there slightly bewildered but mostly deep in thought. I couldn’t believe that they thought I owned a motorcycle, that I rode one! Me, this boring, play-it-safe girl from the East Coast. I mean, really? These two men, bikers themselves, thought that little ol’ me might also be a biker. That small error in judgement was all I needed. If other people could see me as a biker, why couldn’t I be one? I started going through all the excuses I’d had before and realized they were just that. There was no reason that I couldn’t buy own and operate a two wheeled machine. If I wanted to ride one, was I really going to let other people’s opinions and perceptions going to stop me?

I didn’t buy my first bike until about 2 years later, but it was that moment that started me on my journey. I began looking for bikes later that summer, and took the Beginner Rider course the next spring. Turns out all I needed was a little change in perception, a little push and support of some good friends. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be riding if it wasn’t for this particular moment. It really makes you wonder, what’s holding you back?
This was one of those moments when you can look back and know when your life changed directions. One of those “It’s a Wonderful Life” moments, where you know that your life would be different if it wasn’t for that comment, that turn in the road. Unfortunately we don’t get that many definable moments in our lives, and I for one am grateful for this one.

Sunday Ride: Fort Buenaventura 

I spent Saturday preparing for the “Headbanger’s Fireball” i.e. 80’s rock night at Keys so I didn’t get much riding in. So Sunday I woke up and wanted to find an adventure to ride to, and Fort Buenaventura sprang to mind. Fort Buenaventura is the “first anglo settlement in the Great Basin”. It is the site of weekly “Trader post” markets (on Saturday), hosts camping (in teepees!), and on special occasions the site of “Mountain Man” acitvities. A few weeks ago my friend, Aron, attempted to show me this little historical gem hidden in the heart of Ogden, but the road leading in was closed and while that normally wouldn’t have stopped us, there were a few cars at the bottom of the hill and we were not eager to find out who was in them. I looked up the fort online to see if there were any fees, or fun activities, but there didn’t seem to be anything going on and no fee associated with entry. So I text Aron to see if he wanted to join, he did, so geared up and headed north.

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SLC Litas Season Opener

April 15, 2017

Today is the day of our “Lita’s Season Opener”. It’s a short little ride from downtown Salt Lake to Nielsen’s in Bountiful because we weren’t sure what the weather would be like. Turns out today is supposed to be sunny and clear, and a high of 57. It’s still a little chilly for a big long ride, but it should be perfect for what we have planned. I’m going to see if I can make it as long/fun as possible. I’m thinking we should head up B street into City Creek Canyon, back down behind the capitol to Victory and on up to Btown. Maybe take Orchard Dr, but when I rode it last week the road was pretty worn down. This is the proposed route. Otherwise I think we should just take 89 all the way to Nielsen’s.

It’s exciting and little stressful, we’re expecting a fair amount of new girls, and I want to make sure we make them feel welcome. Before the Litas I was alone, I had very few friends that rode and ended up riding on my own for the most part. Since then, I have met so many people that ride, and gone on so many new adventures. I want to give that opportunity to other women, so I agreed to help plan rides and events for the SLC Litas. We’ve lost a number of girls in the past due to not having regular rides, and because some feel left out. It’s hard though; since we haven’t done events frequently, when we do get together, we all want to catch up with each other. But we all really want to meet new ladies, new women who want to ride and want to be involved. Today’s our shot to welcome new girls and add some new members.

**fingers crossed**
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My Best Self

Every time I get on my motorcycle could be my last. Hell, everyday on this Earth could be my last. People ask me why I do it, and sometimes honestly, I wonder myself. I’ll be on a trip when it’s raining or cold, and I’ll think, “Why do I even like doing this? Do I even like riding? What’s the point?” But really all the answers are right in front of me. 

My motorcycle has, pardon the expression, added life to my days. It has given me confidence, and taught me about who I am. It has helped me to find people that I admire, people that I look up to, people just like me. Motorcycling has shown me who I really am and at the end of the day has caused me to love myself, to “fall in love” with me. I have found my strength, and learned a lot about who I am. It has made me stronger, made me happier and it has made me happy with my life and all my life choices. There have been many, many years that have gone by when I have been depressed and questioned what I was doing with my life, why I took this job, why did I do this or that. I don’t do that so much anymore, and as dumb as it sounds it’s because of my motorcycle. It’s shown me who I really am, what I’m made of, my mettle, my strength.

So if I were to die tomorrow, of course it would be sad. But if I die on my motorcycle (or not), you can know that it’s OK, that not only did I die doing something I loved, but without it, my last few years wouldn’t have been what they were, they wouldn’t have been as full of life, happiness, and excitement. I wouldn’t have been as happy. So even if it’s what kills me, know that was worth it. Know that without this crazy, risky, awfully dangerous thing, that I do, I wouldn’t know who I am. I wouldn’t know how strong I can be. I wouldn’t have fully realized my true self. I’m not saying that a motorcycle is part of my true self and who I am, but it is and was a tool, that helps me everyday to realize what I’m made of, where I can and what I can do and it’s amazing.  

Take me down to Key West Part 3 of 4

This is the third part of my ill planned trip to Key West. Part 1 is about the trip through Miami, and Part 2 details the ride through the Keys and my night in Key West. En route to Key West I realized that it was President’s Day weekend, and all the surrounding areas were completely booked. I hadn’t been able to find a place to stay and had ended up falling asleep on my bike, on the side of the road in Stock Key.
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10, 000 Miles

In November, Brighton hit 10,000 miles. I wrote most of this entry back in November, and have finally finished it. 

9000 miles ago I stood in exactly the same place. I rolled down the same street, on the same bike, felt the same feeling of triumph, excitement and pride. I had done it, I had reached 10,000 miles. I pulled my bike off to they side of the road, with a real shit-eating grin on my face. I had bought my bike just 9 months ago, brand spankin’ new, 0 miles. I wasn’t sure I would make 10,000 miles in one season, but with all the adventures I was going on, I knew it was going to be close. And now, here I was, my odometer reading 10000.
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SLMC Polar Bear 2017

Every year the Salt Lake Motorcycle Club puts on the Polar Bear Ride. This year was the 40th anniversary and I’m not sure they could have asked for better weather. With a high of 73, the sky was clear and the sun was shining. It was warm enough for a comfortable ride, but also cool enough that it was comfortable while waiting in line to pull chips for the poker run. This year they saw one of the biggest turnouts ever, 900 bikes, and ~1200 people. It was 140 miles from Salt Lake down around Utah Lake to Springville, and back downtown for a show at The Depot.

This year I rode with my friends that work at Keys on Main. I’ve known some of them for almost 7 years. We had agreed to meet at the club at 9:30, but having made some questionable food choices (Beto’s) the night before, I was feeling less than prime that morning. I shot off a text letting them know I was running late and to let me know if they wanted to meet at Intermountain Harley instead. Having not heard anything, I set out to for the club at 9:45. It’s not too far away and I was pulling into the back alley at 10:00 on the nose. I knew as soon as I turned they had left; the alley was empty, so I turned around and headed for Harley.

Once I arrived, I was directed into a parking space by one of the club members. I dismounted grabbed my bag and headed in. I had registered the day before, so I didn’t have to wait in that line. I was determined to find the coffee. It didn’t take long, I grabbed a cup and filled it with the glorious “get up and go” I needed. I still hadn’t heard from my friends I was supposed to meet, and I began to worry they weren’t coming. Continue reading

Hug Your Baby Tonight

As the weather warms, there are many things to consider, including where we’re going, what we’re doing, and what we need to do to get on the road. But we should also be aware of the things we have keeping our bikes in our possession, and if we maybe need to update out security. As the weather warms, so will thefts, of our property (like helmets or items in our saddlebags), but also of our actual bikes. One of my friends just had her bike stolen for the THIRD time. In her defense, after the 2nd time, she added a key for the ignition (previously a push button) and moved to a building with a locked garage. But it has been stolen yet again. A few weeks ago, I walked out of my house and discovered that my cover had been disturbed, lifted of the headlight, and the pipes. I’m still not sure why my bike wasn’t stolen, but am thankful to not have walked out to an empty space where my bike normally sits.
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International Women’s Day

March 8th was International Women’s Day. I found myself thinking about inspiring women, which turns out is just about every woman. There are so many struggles that EVERY woman must face, crosses we all must bear; shared struggles as women. The oppression we face, the harassment and judgement we have all felt and been victim to, and how we all push through it every. single. day. head on, and often with our heads held high as though it isn’t happening. There are the people out there that tell us that women have won, that we have our equality and our rights, that sexism in the workplace has been all but eradicated, but we know better. We have come an extremely far (thanks to those that fought and came before, but we still have so far to go). Until our daughters are raised like our sons, until we stop pointing out every single thing that is wrong with any woman’s body, stop idealizing unrealistic and often harmful/unhealthy body goals, stop writing off women’s emotions as hormones or “that time of the month” and recognize the strength that every women possesses, the fight will not be over.

So very often am I praised for being strong, for being straightforward, for not being afraid to speak my mind, which I appreciate (rather than being told I should be more demure), but when was the last time you praised a man for doing the same? It’s not because men are more straightforward naturally. Men are not only taught to ask for what they want, but praised for taking it. Men, for better or worse, are told they are the strong ones, they are leaders, they are taught to fight for themselves and what they believe in. Young girls are taught to be “ladylike”, to be observers, to sit back and ask for help and listen when they are told “no”. From birth we are molded fundamentally different. “Strong” women aren’t just born, they can be made. We can shape our daughters more like our sons, (and it wouldn’t hurt to raise our sons more like our daughters).

Women often say the wish they could be more like me, and this baffles me. I am not special. There is nothing I do that they can’t. These women are fully capable of speaking their minds, for asking for what they want, and not allowing others to take them for granted. But they are scared. Don’t be fooled, it is frightening and uncomfortable to push against everything you’ve been taught, everything that’s kept you “safe” your entire life.But here’s a secret; nothing worth having comes easily (especially as a woman). You have to fight for respect, and even when you have it, it’s not everything. .

Often I feel as though that respect comes at the cost of being seen as a woman. That by the time men fully respect you, and see you as an equal, they no longer see your femininity. I can be quite feminine but since things like speaking your mind, and riding hard (capably, aggressively) are things usually attributed to men, many men seem to “forget” that I am a women. (Or what may be more accurate, they are intimidated/threatened by a powerful woman.) We are all taught that women are weaker, and need saving. So men typically take the role of fixers, making them feel necessary, needed. Strong women, women that clearly can handle their own issues, make many men feel useless and that threatens their masculinity.  (Even now writing this paragraph, I want to end it with “Or maybe I’m way off base…” because I’ve been taught that making such a bold accusatory statement is rude, or alienating, or even *gasp* bitchy. Would I be doubting these conclusions if I was man?)

At the end of the day, I appreciate that I know so many incredibly strong and inspiring women and that I live in a time when I, we, do not have to hide our strength just because it makes some uncomfortable (men and women). We are not jailed for our thoughts or words, or ostracized simply for being who we are, and who we want to be. We sure have a long way to go, but let us not forget to stop and appreciate how far we’ve come.

**Author’s note: Of course I recognize this doesn’t apply to all men out there. I do know plenty of men who are not threatened by strong women. Men that support, lift up and celebrate strong women, men that live with and love strong women (frustrating as that can be) 🙂 But these are men who recognize many issues that face women, and likely wouldn’t find this entry as an attack.