Posts Tagged ‘harley-davidson’

I’m writing to you from lovely Columbus, Ohio. I’m here on business and it’s pouring down rain. I mean the kind of rain that makes you look for a guy building a huge boat. I’m waiting for the Statue of Liberty to go floating by. That’s how much rain there is. When the plain landed, we came in over a small lake…that wasn’t here back in November when I flew in. That’s how much rain there is. I’m actually glad to be in a cage instead of on a bike. THAT’S how much rain there is.

It’s been raining in Dallas, too, and I endured plenty of wet stuff earlier in the week before I left town. I also endured a pretty serious breakdown on Coco Wednesday night. Here’s how it happened. I had my son, Noah, on the back of the bike as we rode from my office in Addison to downtown Dallas for a Mavs game. We’ve had season tickets for years (since he was and ten or so and now he’s 20) and Wednesday night was a game night. It was cold but the rain had finally stopped – just a few sprinkles. Did I mention the part about it being cold? OK. Just want to be sure the scene is properly set. 

We took the tollway there because it was fast. By the way, Noah is a terrific passenger on a bike. He’s not a big kid and he rides beautifully. Never jerks or anticipates and most importantly, he rides like he trusts me completely – which is what you really want in a passenger. But I digress. Back to complaining!

So we’ve gotten to our primary parking spot, about a quarter mile from the arena, under the bridge. We like it because it’s a quick exit when the games are over and we don’t mind the quarter-mile walk to and from the arena. Just as I turned into the lot, Coco started making a horrible grinding sound, like the kickstand was dragging. But, of course, it wasn’t. I turned it off immediately and we both got off to see if anything was dragging. Because I’m always paranoid about the oil level, I immediately checked that but it was fine. So I decided to try starting it up again and I had, hands-down the strangest bike experience ever. 

Coco has an electric ignition and to turn her on, you must (1) turn on the power switch on the tank, (2) press the “run” switch that primes the engine, then (3) press the “start” ignition button. If the bike is in neutral, as it usually is, you don’t need to depress the clutch. Well, I knew it wasn’t in neutral so I did steps 1 and 2, then pressed the clutch in anticipation of hitting the “start” button. As soon as I pressed the clutch, the bike tried to start itself. It popped like a dead battery, and ground some more. After that, nothing. That’s something seriously wrong. And scary, too, like a gremlin is in the bike.

There was something else seriously wrong. We were at a game, pretty late on a rainy cold night, in downtown Dallas, about 25 miles from our nearest friend with a trailer – and considerably further from most of our other friends with trailers. Oh, and the Mavs were getting their NBA Championship rings in just a few short minutes. There just wasn’t time for this crap!

So here’s how it went down: Tim started calling friends looking for someone who could come down to pick me up. I called Harley-Davidson Member Support (the national guys) but their offices had closed and they wanted me to leave a message. I took Noah to watch the Mavs get their rings, then I called my insurance company, Geico (I absolutely LOVE these guys now) figuring they would at least have the names of some towing services I could call. Turns out it was much better than that; I actually having towing insurance on my motorcycle policy (PLEASE don’t tell any of my friends who have towed me for free before I found out about this wondrous thing). They arranged a truck to arrive after the game was over (the game totally sucked, by the way, much like the rest of the night) and Coco was transported to North Texas Harley Davidson, our guys.

Just to make it a tad more frustrating, when the driver asked what was wrong, I told him what had happened. Then to prove it, I tried to start the bike…which started beautifully, like the day I bought her. It’s almost like she’s not my friend anymore. Fortunately (I suppose) when I depressed the clutch, it began making the grinding sound again and at least I didn’t look like an idiot. And at least I was able to drive her up onto the bed of the truck, which was very helpful. Even with the grinding noise, the clutch still worked so I figured there was something else going on. I was right, darn it. 

So I dropped it at the dealership and Tim met us up there to drive us home. Next day, I had to catch a 6:00 am flight to Columbus (I mentioned the rain, right?) and I don’t get back until late Friday night. And I have to be at work at 6:30 Saturday morning so my bike HAD to be and back home where she belongs by the end of the day Friday. I called my wonderful friends at the dealership during my layover and Daniel promised he’d take care of her. By the time I’d finished my first day of business in Columbus and called the shop to check on her, she was almost done – lots of problems, though: clutch plate, starter and one other thing I didn’t hear because I interrupted him to be sure it was all covered by warranty. It was. Whew.

I had them slip a new set of rear brakes on since mine were so bad I could barely hold her on the truck bed when is was angled down to get me on. Still need a new front tire but I’ll probably wait until that just gives out on its own…I mean now that I know I have towing insurance and all.

This whole thing has not left me a very happy Lady Biker, as you can probably imagine. Sure, it could be worse, but it could also be better. But my bad attitude is a post for another day. Why get all your ranting and complaining done in one sitting when you can have the satisfaction of spreading it out over many days?

Exactly. So until next time, wheels down and head up. And let’s add one more thing – smooth roads and healthy engines. 

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How many Lady Bikers does it take to change a light bulb? Well, it depends on what kind of light bulb it is. Take, for example, the rear light/brake light bulb on Coco. That’s not your everyday, ordinary light bulb. Finesse and skill are required. Not to mention knowing it’s out in the first place, which is not the sort of thing you can easily discern while riding. A second rider (one who doesn’t insist on leading everywhere) is required. That you only get from riding with a group – which I did a couple of weeks ago when I went on our Panther Creek Hog dinner ride. 

So I’d just learned my light was out. Now what? It was 10:00 pm Friday night – no Harley shops in this time zone are open at that time. Fortunately, my tail light was working; it was only the brake light that was out so I could still ride relatively safely, as long as I didn’t stop. Hmmm. Well, regardless, I made it home OK but headed to my favorite Harley shop–North Texas Harley Davidson–the next day so I could replace the bulb.

Turns out light bulbs – even Harley light bulbs – are surprisingly cheap. In fact, It was less than two bucks. I mean, do they not KNOW how much I’d have paid to avoid a ticket which was surely just around the next corner…right after I got rear-ended by someone who didn’t see my brake light…which wasn’t working.

So, I’ve got the bulb, my pocketbook doesn’t even know it’s been hit, and it’s time to change it out. Piece of cake, right? Whoa, Bessie. Not so fast. As with all light bulbs not in lamps, you must have a screwdriver before you can even THINK about changing anything. No problem. I’m at a Harley shop, after all. I asked my friendly service guys for a loaner Phillips, and was soon back outside taking things apart. 

Now, while I’m a chick who rides a bike (not a dainty occupation) and I was definitely wearing head to toe leather that had been through mud like an off-track racer thanks to a week of rain, I do not like yucky stuff like mud and muck, bugs, snakes, dust bunnies, mildew, dirty dishes, and, well, the list goes on and on. And guess what accumulates in a the taillight of a Harley that gets ridden in all seasons? Muck and mud. There were probably some bus in there. No dirty dishes that I saw right off, but there was a lot of nasty stuff inside that cover, just waiting to jump to freedom…all over me! Ilch!

Once I got that emptied out and got my hands somewhat dried off, it was time for the light bulb switcheroo. Well, what do you know? There’s only one bulb back there with two functions and one holder holding to it REALLY tightly. So tightly that I was afraid to pull the bulb because I was afraid the glass bulb itself would break off and I’d have to replace the whole unit…and you know THAT wouldn’t be another $1.98. I tugged on it delicately for a while, tried to pinch what looked to be plastic pieces functioning like a locking clasp, all to no avail. Finally I went back inside to the service desk for some more guidance. They said you just pull it out and when I told them I was worried about it breaking, got the reflexive “Hang on a minute and I’ll be right out there to do it for you, little lady.”

OK. He didn’t say “little lady” but he might as well have. Grrr. NO WAY I’m being beaten by a light bulb. No way! I tug a bit more and another biker rides up and parks beside me. I make a friendly, unobtrusive comment about the great Red Hot Chili Peppers tune he’s playing and he leaves it on so I can keep listening. I initially think he’s totally cool but his next words say otherwise. “What have you messed up there, little lady?”

OK. He didn’t say “little lady” either but he might as well have. Grrr. I explained what I was doing and how I was concerned that all the muck and mud and bugs and dirty dishes inside the case had caused the bulb to be stuck in the socket. He knelt down, grabbed it and pulled the light bulb out like a peach off a tree. Just like that. Of course, if he’d broken off the bulb on my bike it wouldn’t have mattered at all to him. “Turn the bike off when the song’s over,” he said, reminding me that he was also providing music for my failed attempt at rudimentary bike repair.

I quickly snapped the new bulb in (once I now knew how hardy they are, it was easy), returned the bulb holder to its place in the light unit, screwed the cover back on, gave it a quick check which was pretty pointless in the bright sunlight, returned the screwdriver, and headed out to get my nails done like any respectable biker chick who just broke a nail trying to fix a stupid light.

So, to answer the question: how many Lady Bikers does it take to change a light bulb? One. Plus a guy with a screwdriver and one with enough nerve to just grab, pull, and walk off. Grrr. Next time, I’m pulling, too, and to heck with the consequences!

Until next time, wheels down and eyes up. Happy New Year, everyone!

When you’re a biker like me, with no car, who rides everywhere, there comes the inevitable time when your enthusiasm bumps smack up against the weather…the cold weather, that is. I can deal with the heat but the cold. Brrrrr!

Of course, as a biker, I have things to assist me…and the promise that someday, if I save my nickels and dimes (and twenties and fifties) I’ll be able to buy some things that will REALLY assist me – like heated gear. For the time being, I’m the master at layering clothes on – some mornings, when it’s really cold, I’ll have so many layers on that if I fell down, I wouldn’t be able to get myself back up! Which makes it that more important that I stay upright!

Because I’ve chosen to incorporate riding fully into my life, I’ve had to make some concessions. Or maybe accommodations is the better word. When I need to dress up for work, I have to bring clothes along (or wear a dress over my jeans, which is always good for a few bewildered stares from motorists on my route). I wear my hair short so it works under a helmet and comes out looking…well no worse than it went in. It also dries much more quickly. OK. I wear it short because I just happen to like it short but it does make the whole motorcycle and helmet thing better.

When I shop, I have to pay attention to how much I’m buying or it won’t fit on the bike for the ride home. Watermelons are especially troublesome (although I’ve done it with enough nets and riding slowly). I haven’t tried to bring a Christmas tree home on the bike yet; maybe next year.

All these accommodations are fine; they don’t really create a hardship in my life and I’m more than happy to make the effort since it means I’m out on Coco every day. 

Happy, that is, until it’s time to work out. 

In the summer time, it’s not a problem. I finish a great work out, hop on the bike in my workout gear and head home. Sweaty? No problem. It’s hot outside. The wind blows me dry and keeps me cool. Ahh.

But in the winter, it’s a different story entirely. When I finish a workout I’m sweaty and hot. I put as much gear on over my workout clothes as I can stand (which isn’t much) then head toward the doors. And then I go outside and here comes the cold — like the wall I just hit during the endurance portion of Jesus’ R.I.P.P.E.D class. So I start putting the rest of my gear on…and everything’s good, right? Not so much. As soon as I put the helmet on, the inside of it becomes an instant sauna – all steam and fog. Add rain (like tonight) and there’s no way to win. Visor up and it’s all pellets of rain like bb’s on your face; put it down and I can’t see a thing.

And that doesn’t even go into how cold the cold becomes when you’re sweaty. It’s funny but the hardest day-in-and-day-out part of winter riding for me is working out. Let’s face it. I’m usually looking for a good excuse to skip a workout, get home a couple of hours early and…eat. It’s just that much harder to make myself do what I know I need to do.

So what’s the bright side? Actually, there are a number of them. First of all, it’s a fact proved scientifically that when you work out even though you have a REALLY compelling reason (like riding a motorcycle in cold weather) not to, you burn twice as many calories and you have an automatic dispensation for your first post-workout meal. It’s free.

But wait. There’s more. I live in Dallas. Winter lasts about 32 minutes. OK, it’s a little longer than that but summer will be here pretty soon. And the winters we have aren’t that bad. It will probably get in the teens once each winter. In the 20s fewer than 20 times and the rest of the time it may be in the 30s and 40s but the sun is usually shining and we could see 70 just about any day. That’s not the kind of thing you can complain about and retain any credibility as a complainer.

Oh, and don’t discount the actual true benefits of working out: feeling better, looking better, accomplishing something in the face of great adversity. Ah. I feel so proud right now. All that and cold, too. I’m so good!

And it’s all worth it. 199 days and counting down. No, wait. It’s after midnight. 198 days. Keep working out; don’t stop. Neither wind nor sleet nor…really cold weather and rain on a motorcycle.

Back to the ride. Wheels down, eyes up. And stay warm!

So you all know I was part of a challenge to win a new 2012 Harley-Davidson Street Glide. The contest involved visiting participating HD dealerships throughout the state and completing an entry form at each one. If you visited all 41 participating dealerships (which I did), you got an additional 41 entries. You also got entries for renewing your HOG chapter membership and 10 entries for going to the Harley-Davidson museum in Milwaukee (which I also did – one of the best days ever!). I had almost 100 entries by the time everything was done and I just knew I would win. I mean, how could I lose?

It wasn’t just about how many entries I’d made which should have helped my odds. It was about how worthy my quest was. I ride a lot – almost all the time. I don’t own a car so if I have to get someplace, it’s either by bike or by plane. If it’s really, really horrid (like ice on the roads, which happens a couple of times a year here) I take the bus and train to work or work from home. I borrow my father’s car occasionally when there is simply no other option. To give you an idea, I probably don’t ride in the car more than once a month.

Sounds like a worthy winner, right? Well, I agree. The only problem is fate often thumbs its nose at worthiness and does its own thing. In this case, someone from a small town West of here (Weatherford) won. I name the town only to reinforce my worthiness to win – especially compared to the unworthiness of ANYone from Weatherford. Weatherford catches on fire every summer and that bike will be burned to a crisp in six months. I’m crying already at the pointlessness of it all.

It’s interesting that when I was working to get all my entries (“work” is clearly a misnomer; I was riding the roads of Texas in the most consistently beautiful week of weather I can remember, ever), every time I left a dealership where I’d sat on all kinds of new bikes – especially the Street Glide and the Heritage Classic (my two favorites) – and got back on Coco, I realized I was perfectly content with my bike. 

Sure I’d love to have a new motorcycle and I’m still salivating a bit over the new bikes each time I go to the dealership but I actually hoped to win the bike so I could finagle a deal to get the money and not the bike. I would then use the money to pay down some debt and keep riding Coco. Of course, I was going to do a few upgrades on her (speakers, heated handgrips, maybe heated gear for me) but I knew that no matter what, I could be happy with Coco. In fact, I felt kind of disloyal just thinking about replacing her.

Still, even with all that turmoil about new bike versus old bike, I was absolutely POSITIVE I was going to win. I mean, I just knew it. I was so certain that I almost did something HORRIBLE – spent some of the money before I got it. Of course, I knew by 2:00 Saturday afternoon that I hadn’t won when I didn’t get a call telling me to come pick up my  new bike. The drawing was at 1:00, it was 2:00. I hadn’t won. I’m sure that’s what the people feel like who mortgage their homes and sell everything they have to buy lottery tickets certain if they have so much invested in it, they will win. And then they don’t win.

In life, things we are absolutely SURE will happen sometimes just don’t. A promotion we just knew was ours doesn’t come through. A financial windfall we are positive is just around the corner turns out to be more elusive than that. An invitation, an offer, you name it. We’ve all expected something that didn’t happen.

Does that mean I wasted my time pursuing a new Harley? Of course not. Our week-long motorcycle trip was one of the most enjoyable times ever. Tim and I had more fun on that trip than two people deserve. And I would never give back the trip to the museum where Tim arranged a perfect marriage proposal. If I only focused on what I missed, I’d miss what I actually got. No motorcycle is worth what I have.

Besides, I’ll probably appreciate it more if I work for it. But that won’t stop me from participating in the challenge next year…and, I’m sure, I will be absolutely certain I’ll win!

This year I didn’t win a new bike. So what!

Until next time, wheels down and eyes up. What a great year it’s been!

I just spent a week of vacation on the road, riding. If I’d placed a direct order with God, the weather couldn’t have been better (except for a couple of days of West Texas straight wind). My riding partner is simply the best. He’s an excellent Road Captain and my single gripe about never being able to choose the route is pretty weak.

By the time the week was up, I’d ridden almost 3,300 miles. I actually went about 350 miles further than honey because I took an extra trip to Austin Saturday to obtain one more passport stamp. Did I mention that I’m going to win that new Harley-Davidson motorcycle!

But this post isn’t about the trip. It’s about my new-found determination to find a way to make weeks like last week my life, not my vacation. There has to be a way to sufficiently support myself and my family that entails me riding long distances on my motorcycle. I haven’t quite figured out what that would be, but I’m convinced there’s a way.

While riding all those miles, I had more than sufficient time to think. In fact, I probably got in more quiet thinking done last week than I’d done for the entire year that preceded it! So, we’ll start with the thoughts about how to make my vacation life my everyday life.

First of all, I wondered if there actually are people who make a living on their motorcycles? It sure seems so. Then I tried to figure out how that might be done. Here are just some of the ways I thought of that people could make a living using a motorcycle:

1. Daredevil stunt rider

2. Rebel motorcycle gang member

3. Motorcycle tester

4. Motorcycle gear tester

5. Reality TV star (they get paid for everything they do, so that would include being on a motorcycle, right?)

6. Supermodel (ditto reality TV star)

7. Motorcycle magazine writer

8. Novelist with a motorcycle-riding heroine for whom I must do constant research

OK. That’s eight possibilities. There are pros and cons to each, of course:

1. Daredevil stunt rider. Pros – lots of motorcycle time performing and practicing. Cons – you get hurt a lot (remember those movies of Evil Knievel flying off his bike and his limbs each going in four different directions. And sometimes you die. Yikes!

2. Rebel gang member. Pros – you could spend your entire life in the seat of your motorcycle and see the entire country. Cons – the police are always after you (way worse than when you just speed a little and sometimes forget to put your feet down at stop signs) and you have to hang out with scary people (e.g. criminals). And you probably break the law a lot. And mostly the women don’t ride; they ride behind and have vests that say “Property of” which totally does NOT suit me. And they don’t really get paid for anything they do – only the guys do.

3. Motorcycle tester. Pros – you get to ride all different kinds of motorcycles in all sorts of different places. Cons – There is absolutely no downside to this job that I can see. If you think of one, let me know.

4. Motorcycle gear tester. Pros – you get to wear and use all different kinds of motorcycle gear in all sorts of different places. Cons – I also can’t think of any at all. Maybe the biggest risk of this one and #3 is that you’d want everything you tested and it’s unlikely you’d get to keep any of it.

5. Reality TV star. Pros – I would get to be one of the kind of self-absorbed, spotlight-chasing people I hate, which actually sounds more like a Con. Cons – does anyone really like any reality TV star? I mean, really? Even if they ride a motorcycle? Also, I would likely have to get plastic surgery if only to create a plot line as the rest of my life is pretty boring.

6. Super model who is always in motorcycle photo shoots. Pros – I would be really thin and beautiful. Cons – I would have to GET really thin and I can’t imagine that being much fun. In fact, to be as thin as most of the ones I see, I’d probably have to be dead for a while and that means I couldn’t ride ever again, which pretty much defeats the purpose.

7. Motorcycle magazine writer. Pros – I would have to ride in order to know what I’m writing about. I’d likely have to take all sorts of beautiful rides and experience lots of local attractions. Cons – I’d have to learn more about the motorcycle itself, become an expert on how it works (which is a huge challenge since the only maintenance I know is changing the oil; oh, and I can pump my own gas. That’s pretty exciting, right?). I’m also guessing that free-lance writers are lined up for miles trying to get an in with the few motorcycle magazines that are for riders more than chopper enthusiasts.

8. Novelist writing about a motorcycle-riding heroine. Don’t laugh at me, but I’m pretty high on this one. Pros – I would have to think up romantic plot lines, write about love and  happy endings, and ride a lot to do research. Cons – let’s face it. Women’s romance novels are a dime a dozen and most of them are pretty drively. I know this because I did years of research on the genre (starting with Harlequin Romances when I was a teenager) and I’m not sure I want to write just about sex (although, again, the research part would be fine).

I am serious, though. I’ve started working out a novel idea (not a new idea, a plot idea for a novel) and who knows? Maybe I can carry it off. The next question becomes, how much money do novelists make anyway? I suppose you have to do something notable like selling a whole lot of copies of your work or having it turned into a movie. Hmmm. I read and watch The Help this summer and I know stranger things have happened. So, who knows? Maybe a new career awaits…complete with the need for a LOT of riding research.

Do you have any ideas how I can make a living riding my bike? I’m willing and able to do just about anything that doesn’t require me to be drop-dead gorgeous. Let me know what you think!

Until next time, wheels down and eyes up! Have a great ride!