Sunday, October 08, 2006


Jill and I having fun at FemmotoJust got back from Femmoto, a women's-only track/demo day out at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. What a BLAST! This was really my first chance to seriously try out a sports bike (well, Sparky did let me take her Honda around the block once, but I barely got out of first gear.)

Femmoto invites a bunch of different manufacturers to the track - then you sign up ("fill out your dance card") and go 'round the track on up to five different machines. Each trial lasts, oh, four or five laps around the Classic course, which is the LVMS road course.

My first bike was a Ducati and I did NOT get along with it at ALL. Perfectly fine bike but the ergos were exactly wrong for me, and I hated it. Second bike was a 250cc Buell Blast which was akin to buzzing around on a lawnmower, and pretty laughable. But then ...

I took a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R out and fell in LOVE. Now THIS is the experience I was looking for at Femmoto! I started to get the hang of how one hangs one's butt off the seat to set up the corner and that's when the day got REALLY fun. I am still far far far from good at riding that type of bike but started to feel the rhythm and flow and enjoyed myself thoroughly.

I also tried out a Ninja 650 which has a much more upright riding position than the ZX-6R. Nice, not exactly my cup of tea. Then, for my fifth ride I was signed up to ride another Buell, but ditched it to instead swipe another ride on the ZX-6R (you're not supposed to ride the same bike twice, but no one checks that carefully) because it was just that much FUN.

If I had a spare $8K I'd love one of those green babies in my garage :)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Blue-Green belt test - Oy

The results first: I passed. Yay!
It was tough.

There were a LOT fewer people at this test than my last one - I guess August isn't a popular month for promotions! USSD tests the purple, blue, blue-green stripe, and green belts together at headquarters (everyone works out together for the first half hour or so, then the higher level belts split off and use the smaller room and the purple and blues use the big room.) As a blue belt, testing for blue/green-stripe, I'm a lower-rank in this group. There were maybe eighteen or twenty blues, and twenty-five or thirty purples. Quite small compared to some tests. It was shorter, too, because of the fewer people ... only four and a half hours this time.

Master Taylor, highest-ranked guy in the dojo and the Head Of All Instruction dude, was in a cranky mood today. Oh, it's very very very bad when the Chief High God Instructor is cranky. He decided early on that everyone's side kicks were crappy. (Well, they were.) So he has us drag out the folding chairs for his favorite excruciating drill - throwing a well-formed and well-aimed side blade kick over the back of the chair. It's easy to do once. It's hard to do a hundred times, especially when you come under the Master's watchful eye, 'cause it really starts to hurt.

After that, it was on to forms. We performed our katas and pinyans a bunch of times and got graded on them. Y'know, I just realised I never did pinyan 3 today! They never asked for that one. Well, that's OK, it's not my favorite ;)

Then we paired off and did our defensive manuvers. I got paired off with a nice older gentleman named Walt ... seriously, this guy was 65 years old, so I smacked a little old man around for a while today! Hee. That was different.

Next we did a gauntlet drill - moving down the line and blocking/counterstriking versus attack after attack after attack. The gauntlet line was about twenty people long. I forget how many times I went through; ten or more. Eeee, that really redlines the ol' heartrate by the time you get to the end of the line, I had a major stitch in my side. Thankfully, after the gauntlet, we all lined up at attention and Master Diaz had a little two or three minute lecture for us, so I had a moment to catch my breath.

Then, the instructors holler "go put on your sparring gear" and this is the point where you know you're in the homestretch, but the worst bit is right in front of you. They save sparring for last, wanting you to be tired so they can see if your technique falls apart (it usually does.) There was only one other woman at blue belt level, so we knew we would fight each other. We had to wait until the very end for it - we were the very last pair called out. Oy. I was critiqued as being too aggressive; all attack and no defense. This will surprise my sensei when he hears about it. He usually can't get me to go on the offensive enough. I need to work a LOT on this area; probably my worst part right now.

Then, finally, blessedly, we're done. They have us all kneel, talk at us a little more, and award us our belts. As always, the new belt is strange and stiff and hard to put on. It takes months of work and sweat to break them in and make them comfortable, and now I start that process with the blue-green.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

2006 Day 15

One last day to roll home. I've traversed these parts of Arizona and California enough that they have become familiar, and today I am prepared for the daylong heat of the eastern Cali desert. Yes I am lovin' this coolvest. I pull in mid-afternoon, glad to be safe and home. The aw-shucks sadness of the end of long road trip is easily assuaged by dreaming of the next ride. :)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

2006 Day 14

More I-40 westbound. Most of northern New Mexico is at a little bit of altitude so the summer heat is pretty bearable. I sort of think I am going to get as far as Williams or Ash Fork, but it's dusk approaching nightfall as I roll into Flagstaff AZ, and I opt to stop for the night. Even though the hotels are pricey, I'd rather pay a little extra than risk riding in elk country during crittertime.

There is a HUGE traffic jam in the opposite lanes right outside of Flagstaff, and I never do figure out what's going on. People are getting out of their cars so it must be a dead stop, all lanes shut down. I find a room quickly and check in before they can come back and snap up all the vacancies! LOL

Next: Day Fifteen

Friday, July 07, 2006

2006 Day 13

Westbound on I-40 for miles and miles and miles is pretty boring, but that's how I'm going home (this is what I get for choosing to go home in four days instead of five.) Stormy and I start off decently early, and reach El Reno OK by early afternoon, which is where we part company. Then, I hit the road and just keep going until the sun's going down and I reach Tucumcari NM. Long day.

Next: Day Fourteen

Thursday, July 06, 2006

2006 Day 12

Time to saddle up and head home. Stormy and I will ride together as far as Oklahoma, which will be a nice jaunt ... she and I ride well together. It's an uneventful day, just makin' miles westbound, and the rain is off and on but never heavy. I cover my T-bag with the rain fly, but don't bungee it down, and discover that if a loose rain fly flaps in the wind for a few hours, it'll tear itself to shreds like a flag in a hurricane. I borrow a bungee from Storm to correct it, but too late, the damage is done. Then, at the penultimate stop of the day, I forget to re-hook one end of the bungee after getting into my bags, with the predictable result of a bungee dangling from the sissy bar will get itself wound up in the rear wheel. We arrive at a hotel outside of Little Rock and I find the rear axle tightly wound up in what's left of the red elastic. Jeeeeez. Thankfully the only damage has been to the bungee itself, which has been dismembered and shredded. Coulda been much worse, I got lucky on that one. It takes a little time to get the remains out of the wheel. Jokes ensue about rubber-band-powered Hondas. ;)

Next: Day Thirteen

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

2006 Day 11

No big riding today, just a little local Pigeon Forge shopping with the gals. Amazon business today. There is celebration in the evening as Lisa becomes our newest Sister - welcome Nemo!

Next: Day Twelve

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

2006 Day 10

Head down to Chattanooga today, to see the Chickamauga battlefield. Stormy and Joker accompany me. The battle site itself is sprawling; part of the road follows the Union entrenched line and the Confederate soldier ghosts charge out of the woods on my left, in my imagination. We run out of time (I would have liked to dwell a while on Lookout Mountain) when the weather starts to threaten quite severely. Here comes the thunder.

Somehow I've gotten turned around - usually I'm a good navigator, but the mountains have confused me - and I lead the gals in the wrong direction, and even get on I-75 heading the wrong way. Takes me three exits to realise my mistake, and we turn around, only to head into a dark-looking storm filled with streaks of crackling lightning. In less than 10 miles I pull us off again, in a Circle-K parking lot, to discuss what we collectively want to do. We vote to don our raingear and go on. Looks like we're gonna get hella wet.

The downpour really comes when we are navigating the hairiest part of Chattanooga proper - I-75 merges with I-24, and trucks are changing lanes, and lanes are appearing and disappearing. Visibility is cut to almost nil, with the driving rain and the spray from the tires. I ride with my visor open and my glasses down on my nose, which is the best I can do and still I can see almost nothing. This is some of the scariest riding I've ever done, and lookit here, now a truck is coming over into my lane. My options are: a) stay where I am and get squashed, b) nail the throttle & try to get out of the way, or c) brake hard and risk a wreck from behind. I choose acceleration. Stormy goes with me, Joker can't, and we lose her in the traffic & zero visibility. I just want the hell OUTTA HERE and apparently Stormy feels the same way, she signals me to exit. Unfortunately the next offramp is a big swoopy curving one so Joker won't be able to see us getting off the road. Ah shit. There's a BP a half a block up and that's where Stormy and I take cover. This rain is so bad, the CARS are pulling off. We end up waiting for half an hour for the rain to slack.

Turns out Joker rode it out, and got out of the rain after ten miles or so. She is pissed at me for losing her, and I feel bad, but honestly don't know what else I could have done. Sometimes, all the choices suck.

I'm more happy than I can possibly express that everyone has made it back safe and sound.

On our way back, finally out of the rain, Stormy and I stop for fireworks at a local pyrotechnic stand. (My favorite? A 16-load combo box named "One Bad Mother.") We have LOTS of fun setting them off for the 'Zons after dark, while also trying to evade the security guard who has come to stop us. Hee hee hee.

Next: Day Eleven

Monday, July 03, 2006

2006 Day 9

A bunch of us decide to go ride Hwy 129, the Tail of the Dragon, so we head out in the morning. We get a little lost on the way; wait, do I turn right or left to stay on 73? The sign says both!! (Tennessee roads can be notoriously confusing.) We eventually locate the Foothills Parkway, which leads us to the overlook. We stop for photos, then ride the 11 twisty miles down to the resort. Man, the burgers at the Gap always taste so good. It's only later that we find out that Stormy didn't know she'd been on the Dragon ... she was worrying if the road was this winding, how bad was the Dragon gonna be? LOL

We buy shirts, stickers, souvenirs to commemorate our Dragonslayer status, and then head back to Pigeon Forge via the Cherohala and Tellico Plains. Stormy's had enough of twisties (she's not feeling too hot) and opts against returning the way we came. No problem; this longer route ends up being a little faster anyway.

Next: Day Ten

Sunday, July 02, 2006

2006 Day 8

Leaving Athens, the Amazons travel up through the Smokies to reach our rental cabin digs in Pigeon Forge TN. The scenery is beautiful (oh, how I love Tennessee) but the traffic is HIDEOUS, especially through the town of Cherokee, which is having their annual tribal thing. Small-town traffic jams can be the worst; they take forever to clear out.

The traffic in Pigeon Forge itself is no better. The main drag is choked for miles. We are exhausted by the time we reach the bbq restaurant to chow down, and then head up the hill to the cabin, a road that is QUITE intimidating.

Next: Day Nine

Saturday, July 01, 2006

2006 Day 7

Today, I take the wee beastie off to Athens Cycle for needed service while the rest of the Amazons head off to the AMA Women In Motorcycling conference. I don't get to the convention center until mid-afternoon, pretty much all I have time to do is look around for a bit and meet up with a few friends who are here.

Next: Day Eight

Friday, June 30, 2006

2006 Day 6

Today takes us through Atlanta, with terrible heat, humidity and traffic. We get caught in a traffic jam that rivals any found in Los Angeles, and must pull off and take a shade break to fend off heatstroke. Stormy takes off her hearing aids and naps on the side of the road; we are jealous ;)

Late afternoon we reach Athens, our destination. Most of the Amazons are already there. The celebration & conversation goes late into the night ... the Gathering has begun!

Next: Day Seven

Thursday, June 29, 2006

2006 Day 5

The four of us hit the road early, looking to make good miles on the interstate today. The farther we travel today, the shorter tomorrow will be, in Atlanta and north Georgia traffic, which is our goal.

Crossing the Mississippi at Vicksburg, I get chills. The Civil War buff in me sees those high cliffs, and know their meaning.

We fall into a good traveling rythym, but Marti is the first to tire out with a few hours of daylight left. Carrie, Dana and I convince her to go a little farther, but she insists on taking a longish break first (the smart thing to do, safety-wise, and she is correct to do so) and we cool our heels in a gas station/deli in eastern Mississippi. It's a reminder to me to not be so darn impatient, since when we do finish our day and stop at a decent hotel in Livingston AL, we've made plenty of miles and we are on schedule. Marti is pleased ... it's her longest day ever and she is kinda proud of herself.

We eat dinner at a tiny truck stop with genuine home cooking (but they are out of half the things on the menu) & a waitress who is amazed and admirous of ladies traveling cross-country on motorcycles. She thought we were the coolest things to come thru her diner in a while ;)

Next: Day Six

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

2006 Day 4

Marti and I stop at a tiny tiny gas station in Albany TXFrom Lubbock, Marti and I head down to the Dallas-Ft Worth area, to meet up with sister Storm in Arlington. It's a lovely day riding through splendid Texas countryside - US 84 to US 180, and we have a nice time meandering through the hill country. Stormy meets us in Mineral Springs & she takes us through the metromess traffic, so we don't need to find our way to her house, a relief!

Sister Joker, who needed to leave days later than I did, has been playing catchup with us and rode two days from Indio to Dallas, a hefty bit of long-distance riding. She arrives late, safe and sound, and we all head off to bed. Four of us now, and two more days to get to our destination in Athens GA.

Next: Day Five

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

2006 Day 3

I get delayed in Roswell NM today while waiting to have a new rear tire put on. Someday I may learn to always get new rubber before a trip ... these delays are generally avoidable because I look at my tire before I leave, thinking "oh that'll make it to Athens" and then the tread starts looking way too thin when I am still a good long ways from my destination. D'oh.

Champion Motorsports in Roswell is strangely devoid of tschokes with aliens on 'em. Why? I was hoping to pick up gifts here, but only come away with a refrigerator magnet for my sister.

Thank you, whoever suggested fuel bottles to meHeading eastbound once again, I come out of the mountains and into the flat plains that start here in east New Mexico/west Texas. Yes, it's flat, and open, and a whole lotta nothing out here! I get into a long stretch of no towns & no gas stations, and realise it's going to be a close thing to make it to the next fuel pump on Hwy 380. Thankfully Brownfield TX comes into view (out here you can see the towns from ten miles away or more) but the wee beastie's engine sputters to a halt about two miles outside the city limits. Today I am prepared ... it would have been a bummer to have to walk those two hot miles, but I am carrying 30 oz of gasoline in a campstove fuel bottle and that's plenty to get me into town. Hooray! I really hate running out of gas ;)

Tonight's stop is in Lubbock TX, where I am meeting Marti. I have great difficulty finding the hotel and make three literal circles around the area before I find the right one-way road to get me there.

Next: Day Four

Monday, June 26, 2006

2006 Day 2

Madonna wears Doc Martens.So today, heading back east, I am getting off the interstate because ... well, because interstates are boring. I ride around the Painted Desert and then head through Arizona via hwy 60. There's a Madonna of the Trail in Springerville AZ, good photo op! Next, it's into New Mexico and up into mountains, where I get rained on pretty good in the interestingly-named Pie Town NM. Coming down out of the storm, I find myself looking at the Very Large Array on the great desert plateau. Stopping point for the night is Socorro NM. This is very pretty country through here.

Next: Day Three

Sunday, June 25, 2006

2006 Day 1

Off on another trip cross country - I am heading for Athens GA and the AMA Women in Motorcycling event, and the Amazon gathering in Pigeon Forge TN. I ride as far as Flagstaff today, my usual stopping point on the I-40 route. Nothing particularly eventful, which is fine.

This is the maiden run for my new cool vest (an evaporative cooling system I got from and it is WONDERFUL. In fact I do believe it saved my life today. It was 115° when I went through Needles CA midday and that's killin' heat, but I never had to stop and never got fuzzy-headed (my first manifestation of heatstroke.) I must have drunk two gallons of water today, or more. That's the desert for ya.

Next: Day Two

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Joker is an Amazon

Today was a great day for riding around Big Bear in beautiful weather, and oh yeah, the best part of all ... Joker's initiation. Welcome to the Sisterhood. :)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

WWF in Henderson NV

The Raven Clan of the Rumble Sisters held their annual Wild West Fest this weekend in Henderson NV. (Californians, the Mountain Lion clan, always crash their party, and they come to our Meet In The Middle event in October.) Whew, was it hot! Temps are way up early this year. The thermometer in Baker CA was standing at 108° when I passed through on Friday. I gotta get me one of those cool vests for traveling this summer.

Jill snapped this pic of me at Hoover Dam, while I was looking for a parking spaceI did a little riding around Hoover Dam - wanted to make the loop around Lake Mead Nat'l Park but the road is under construction, and stripped down to gravel and dirt for miles at a time. No thank you! I'll come back and visit when the road is complete.

The WWF had a great turnout this year, and we even had a few special guests - Jo came all the way from Canada, and Ice and Suz flew in from Virginia! Our desert heat and lack of humidity just about KILLED them. They turned their rented bikes in after one day, 'cause conditions were just a bit too extreme for them. Smart girls. It is infinitely better to hang out by the pool than to try to ride in heat you can't handle.

It was great to see everyone again, and ride safe sisters!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Quake wins first home game of 2006

This year I am prowling the sidelines as an official photographer for the California Quake. Check out the photos.

The Quake won the game, 59-6, over the Tucson Monsoon, a new team in the IWFL. Tuscon looks like they will have some good talent once they get past their raw newbie jitters. Their quarterback, Vanessa Rodriguez, has a hell of an arm. Look for the Monsoon to improve before the end of the year.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

My newest sister Stork

Just got back from Flagstaff AZ, where we welcomed our newest sister Stork into the Amazons. The weekend was wonderful, but the bike is running like hell. Headwinds killed my mileage and I ran out of gas not once but twice on I-40. That's what I get for being stubborn about thinking I can make it to Seligman, LOL (under perfect conditions I can go from Needles to Seligman without stopping. How often are conditions perfect??)

The wee beastie needs a new clutch. It's starting to slip more and more. Also, this is the first time I've taken her to high altitude since rejetting and performance in the mountains is MUCH worse now. Gotta get these kinks ironed out before the trip to Georgia.