Category: Firsts - Women in Motorcycling
 
At the beginning of the season, I quietly set a goal for myself to ride 2000 miles my first season riding. As of my last ride, I had ridden 1960 miles and was terribly frustrated that I hadn't met my goal. As the leaves started to fall and the weather turned more crisp, I grew resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to get to my goal.

"It's just a number," I told myself.
"You did great!" I tried to convince myself.
"It's only 40 miles, you got close enough," I repeated to myself.

Baloney.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am extremely goal oriented and will stop at nothing to achieve a goal once I've set it for myself. I just needed one more warm-enough-to-ride-without-frostbite day.

And then, like a chorus of angels singing from the heavens, my weather woman said "It's going to be almost 70 this weekend." There was MUCH rejoicing. I requested my time on babybike, made a few last minute changes to my schedule, and it was time to ride!

This morning, at 5:45 AM, I set off on babybike and headed to the ice rink for skating practice. It was a gorgeous morning. I saw the sunrise as I headed off towards Bensenville. It was a simple route- 90 to 190 to Mannheim to Irving Park Road to York to the rink. Nothing exciting, no crazy twisties or traffic- just me and the bike and a goal in sight.

After practice, I zipped back towards the garage. I pulled into the garage with 40.6 miles for my ride and celebrated with breakfast with my mentor MJ and my timeshare buddy Nora.

It was a perfect morning.

Miles ridden: 40
Miles for the season: 2000!!!!!!

Goal Achieved!'
 
So, not sure what possessed me to ride on a Wednesday but Furies Friend Shannon offered an adventure and I was ready to go. I headed out from the city and fought my way through traffic-- it took 45 minutes to go the first 6 miles, but then I finally  made it to the meet up spot.

Shannon and a new friend Carol and i left from there and headed out on our little ride. I have no idea where we were. I know we started in Villa Park and then there were roads. Curvy, fun, long stretches without stopping, roads.

And then we were at sonic. Which was really funny because I had taken the day off of work and somehow ended up about 3 miles from work.  But it was all good because it was SONIC.

Then it started getting dark and Me, being the new brave less scared of the dark and real roads me, was all bout getting home all by myself on 88 but Shannon decided to escort me part of the way, which was really  nice of her.

Firsts?
First interstate in the dark.
First "ice cream" trip
First time riding alone in the dark (after Shannon let me go)

Rode 100 miles!

Mile total: 702

 
Today was my first ever charity ride. I went on the Big Cat Ride with Woodstock Harley Davidson to Valley of the Kings Sanctuary.  The Furies were out of town, so this was a hangers-on adventure and we had a blast.

We met up at the Mobil across from HD... I had at that point already ridden TO skating practice via 90 and 190 and out by O'hare all by myself and then skated and ran and all that jazz and then hopped back on the bike to take 290 and 90 ALONE to Woodstock. GO ME!!!

The rest of the gang had just pulled in to the Mobil, so it worked out perfectly. We headed over to HD got all registered and had lunch and then shopped. I might have fallen in love with a bike that I can't afford-- a 99 Soft Tail that is so pretty i could cry. Seriously..

At this point we had Monique, Jean, Kitty, Suze,Joanna, and Me, but Jean left us as the ride started and headed to prepare for her canadian adventure.

Then there were door prizes-- Joanna won a t-shirt and then our safety briefing from our road-captain-- a gentleman named Wayne from TopCats. He was awesome. And then omg...we were off. There were 100-ish bikes (probably more) and it was AWESOME to be riding with that many bikes-- hand signals getting passed back, watching the rows of bikes go up and down and around the curvy hilly roads. It was fantastic. We encountered dead things, gravel, crazy stops, and hills and curves and roads with no lines.

Finally we made it to VOTK-- and then there was more gravel-- the parking lot. But we managed to get the bikes parked, at which point Kitty had to leave us to deal with a family situation so we were down to 4.

Then we saw the kitties! They really do roar for Harleys...it's amazing. Some of their stories are so sad-- Charlie especially. The cruelty of people just amazes me. Some people brought raw chicken legs and fed the tigers. It was pretty awesome to watch and to hear the crunch of the bones.

After some quality big cat time, the 4 of us headed down 14 to make our way home. Monique led, Suze and Joanna were in the middle and I swept. We stopped for a cold-water and non-stinky-portapot (clearly not a purple potty) restroom stop before heading back out and making our way home.

It could not have been a more beautiful day. The temperatures were perfect, the breezes not to breezy and the roads were awesome.

On a personal note, I had a lot of firsts today-- first time really riding any distance alone, first time on 90, 190, or 290. First big charity ride. First state other than IL. And today was my Longest ride ever clocking in at about 180 total miles once you add in getting to practice. I even got a patch to commemorate my big day. It was truly fantastic!

We had a great day together and an awesome ride. Thanks to each of the ladies who came out and celebrated firsts along with me!

Oh and FYI...my total miles is now up to 423 with 2 states colored in!

Here are my pictures from the day.

 
_So... today is one of the few days i'll get to ride this month thanks to a couple of minor surgeries and my crazy schedule, so I would not be thwarted in my desire to get some miles under my butt. I set out on an adventure with MJ (my riding mentor) and Nora (one of my time share buddies) that took us to my favorite place-- the ravines! Except-- the first time through we got behind a cage going- i kid you not- 10 miles per hour. so yeah-- not so much on the fun that time. Then we turned around to do them again...and a biker coming the opposite way tapped his helmet... SIGH cops...so slow way down, and no fun. FINALLY the third time through we got to ride at a more comfortable speed and it was fun fun fun!!!

Then we played musical bikes.

Then, it was time to get over it and get my butt up on the interstate. So...on we went. And i was doing ok! I was up to speed (kinda) and not freaking out and all was great. I was singing hymns in my helmet and having a grand old time. (yes, I sing hymns in my helmet...i don't know why)

And then...in the distance the sky grew dark...and then it grew darker. And then the hymns in my helmet started getting new words... "no that's not a big old rainstorm coming" and "please oh God don't let it rain on me on the interstate my first time or I'll completely lose my mind" and "is the sky supposed to be that color" were popular lyrics at the time.

Good news? It never did open up and pour. What it DID however was scarier...seriously the wind was insane. Trees were bent in half, branches and leaves and god only knows what else was flying across the road, trucks were blowing around, cars were bouncing and there we were...on bikes. It was at that time that I stopped singing and started screaming into my helmet. "OMG GET ME OFF THIS INTERSTATE" and "PLEASE MJ TAKE THE TOUHY EXIT" and "WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING IS THE WORLD ENDING" were common phrases, a few might have had some expletives mixed in as well.

MJ led us off and we pulled into a parking lot and waited it out. It never did open up and pour, but MJ did get some pictures of our dramatic reenactment of the wind.

Once it passed we high-tailed it home, which was good because then there was lightening.

But hey-- my first interstate ride would not be thwarted! I DID IT!!!

:)

Thanks to MJ and Nora for the support and courage!
 
So, yesterday I went out for a ride for the first time without the supervision of a mentor rider. I had never ridden without a more experienced rider along with me before, so needless to say, I was nervous.

To calm my nerves, I did "T-clocs" on the bike-- checking the tires, fluids, etc. I found out that the tires were at 22 and 29 psi and are supposed to be at 29 and 36 according to the M.O.M., so needless to say, I took a field trip to put air in the tires. Here's a lesson for you: proper air pressure makes for better gas mileage-- i got much fur

I ended up meeting up with 2 other new-ish riders. We met up and headed out the Ravines. And here's the kicker- I led the ride. Although there were only 3 of us, leading is a whole new set of experiences. There's always something to worry about-- making sure the people behind you are still there, wondering what happened to them when they are not, making sure you're leading everyone the right way, trying to keep everyone in close formation so that they are safe, trying to make sure that you point out any road hazards, send hand signals to ride single file, signal for turns and make sure you know if you're stopping at lights or going through them on yellow. It's a lot of responsibility!

All of that said, it was a fantasic ride and we felt super empowered afterwards. It felt really good to have accomplished a ride without a "grown up" rider along with us. For me, it was my first experience of being unsupervised and it was nerve-wrackign and exhilerating all at the same time.

It was a beautiful day for zipping through the ravines and enjoying the scenery, but for me it was all about taking another step in my riding and developing more confidence.
 
So, Saturday was the day of the bike blessing. And all of the practicing and preparation for riding was now over and it was time to put the rubber on the road-- literally.

It did not begin well. My stomach had been bothering me since Thursday because I was so nervous about the ride. When I went out to gear up and start the bike on Saturday morning, a steady rain began to fall.

Rain. I hadn't ridden in the rain before.

So, I sucked it up and MJ and I headed off to the meet-up spot with Nora following behind. I was a nervous wreck. Every little shiny spot on the pavement terrified me and I did not want to be going even as fast as we were going-- and we weren't going all that fast. We made it to the gas station and then to breakfast without incident, but I was so freaked out that when i got off the bike i left keys in and the lights on.

We kind of waited out the rain hoping it would stop-- it didn't, so we set out on the way to McHenry. There were 8 of us riding together- 2 Furies: Sue and MJ, 3 ladies from the HOG group, a regular city rider and then me and Joanna. Joanna had been riding 3 weeks and had never ridden in the rain or very far, and of course I have only done one long-ish ride an that was last season. So,  yeah, we were quite a crew.

Sue led the way, i was the second bike, and somehow I managed to keep up despite being terrified out of my gourd. I didn't calm down until the nice long DRY straight stretches on route 12. But I still didn't want to go much over 45 mph.

Somehow though, we made it. I made it all the way to McHenry.

The blessing went great. It was a wonderful experience to have over 20 bikes and women there wanting their riding seasons blessed.  Click here for pictures!

After the blessing however, I was NOT ready to ride back. I was so nervous I seriously thought I was going to lose the most excellent lunch McHenry Harley Davidson had provided. And then once we got on the road, the wind was blowing across the road and kept jostling me on the back of the bike which completely and totally freaked me out. I had no idea how to deal with the wind.

It was a long, slow ride home. I was a nervous wreck the entire way home.  I was more nervous because there weren't as many bikes with us and because I was worried about the wind and about getting home on time and I just felt nervous. There was no part of the ride home that I actually enjoyed and that bothered me.

I had actually enjoyed parts of the ride out to McHenry, but on the way home I just couldn't get past my nerves and the desire to just get home and get off the bike.

All in all i rode 85 miles, had my first ride in the rain, my first group ride and my first long ride. It was a good day of firsts, but I wish I could get past the nerves and enjoy the ride.