Monday, July 21, 2014

2nd Annual Canadian Women's Ride Day


Sunday morning I woke up at 6:30am, which is not a usual thing in my world on weekends.  It was a cloudy day with cooler than normal temperatures and the weather forecast was calling for a 30% chance of rain, so in motorcycling terms that translates to what type of riding gear do I wear today?  How many layers am I going to need? Should I wear mesh or full textile?  After a few minutes of deciding, debating, and checking two internet weather forecasters for our region, I opted for mesh with layers and threw a waterproof rain jacket in my tank bag.  Nothing was going to get in my way today, because I was hitting the road.

Motorcycle Man couldn't believe that I had actually gotten up so early and was raring to go.  For those who know me well they know that until I get a cup of the demon bean under my belt, it could be hazardous to talk to me without it on board.  I was meeting up with girlfriends from my riding group the Moto Mama's and we were going to ride up over the Malahat up to Cobble Hill together to start the ride.  We were chatting waiting for our friends to arrive when a local Ducati group pulled up to Timmies, it seems it was a riding day for everyone!  After we finished our cups of demon bean, polished off a muffin or two we started our adventure to meet up with our sisters in the wind.

 Aren't we a fabulous looking group of moto goddesses?!  Why yes we are!  



It was the 2nd Annual Canadian Women's Ride Day created by two local motorcyclistas who own West Coast Roar, Greer Stewart and Joley Baker.  

The ride benefits several local women's charities that give women in need a hand up and empower them to make their lives better.  All of us who ride are always wanting to help others and I couldn't think of a better way than to do it than by doing something I enjoy and help at the same time by paying it forward.  This seems to be a common theme amongst most motorcyclists whether is it a local toy run, charity ride, ride for a cause, or a ride for veterans.   We have all been involved in an event or two to help others over the years.   

The Canadian Women's Ride Day is an all female event where women on everything two wheeled from scooters, cruisers, dual sports, and trikes, come out and ride.  It doesn't matter what you ride, just that you do and that you get out there and do it.  



This is only a small sampling of the bikes at the beginning during registration and more were arriving. The sound that filled the air was of laughter and the angry bee sound of the engines as women were pulling in and parking their two wheeled charriots.  The final estimate of riders was 92.  

WOW!!!  92 women all riding their own rides and getting together to share in the spirit of the road and sistership. It was pretty amazing to say the least.  We had our pre-ride briefing, road rules, and ended with a prayer of protection for all out on the road today.  Then it was time to saddle up and get going.  We were in Cobble Hill, BC, the route took us through the back roads of Cowichan Bay, Lake Cowichan and then finally to Duncan and back to the starting point. 

Registration area.

Here is my group of Moto Mama friends, we are getting the road rules and waiting for the bike blessing to start our trip.  

Here we are getting lined up in our ride groups with our road captains to start our adventure.  The line stretched a fair way around the perimeter of the parking lot, it was pretty impressive to see.  Then the engines roared to life, the throttle twisting began and  we were off down the road.  

Waiting to go with my riding girlfriend Gina.  

It was pretty funny seeing the expressions on the faces of drivers when they saw this motorcycle parade of lovely women riders.  Little kids waved at us, we honked our horns and waved back.  Everyone was riding beautifully and adhering to road rules.  We wound our way through the beautiful Cowichan Valley taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the farmland.  It was beautiful!


As we arrived in Lake Cowichan and parked our bikes to go take our group picture a member of the local constabulary showed up.  A group of 92 women riding through a small town is not very inconspicuous and it would raise more than a few eyebrows and a call or two with concerns from the citizenery.  We assured the good constable that we were not here to cause a ruckus and would be moving on pretty quick. The constable was quite good about our kidding around with him and shared many smiles and even let us take pics - thank you constable you were a good sport!

Getting a biker hug. The rider who is hugging the constable always has a lovely little 4 legged companion who goes everywhere with her.  Let me introduce you to Miss Tessie Ash!  Tessie's riding ensemble consists of doggles, leather jacket and her own helmet.  She is one styling dog who rides ATGATT!  

Miss Tessie waiting for the rest of us to get our act together, she wanted to go riding!


Its a beautiful thing to see bikes all lined up and parked well, this was in Lake Cowichan.  I am not sure what the folks at the local town market thought when this rather large group of women riders buzzed through their town.  Soon it was time to depart for a short meet-up in the bustling metropolis of Duncan.  We were going to regroup and all donne feather boas and ride through the town of Duncan and cause a little scandal along the way.  I have to say I have never felt like such as Diva as I did at that moment.  


There is a trick to wearing a feather boa when riding, because you really don't want to pull an Isadora Duncan.  Isadora was an actress who was famous for wearing long freely flowing long scarves, and unfortunately her demise came doing that very thing.  She was out riding in a convertible and the scarf became caught in the wheel and she was strangled and died.  So to that end keeping her fate in mind, I  was very mindful of making sure the boa was secure and passed the info on to a few other would-be Isadoras.  It was hilarious in the parking lot as everyone was fluffing their boas, there were feathers everywhere!  


We were a fine sight flying down the highway into Duncan, feather boas blowing in the wind riding in a large group. There is an art to wearing a boa when riding, you have to make sure it doesn't fly up and obstruct your view and some serious loose defeathering needs to be done before departure or you are hit by a wall of feathers from the riders in front of you.  I inhaled a feather or two inside my helmet and it was a little itchy and tickly.  I think we left a trail of red, white, and pink feathers for a good 30 miles.   It definitely caused a lot of gawping by people in the town of Duncan, because it's not every day you see 92 women  bikers riding through a small town on the Island wearing boas. There was a lot of honking and waving going on and it was a lot of fun.  


Panorama view of all the bikes in the lot.  


It was a very fun time with lots of laughter, hugs and joy.  

A wonderful professional photographer Que Mini-Mite Banh was riding a long as a passenger and took this picture of us riding through Cowichan bay.  Photo attributable to Que Mini-Mite Banh.  Beautiful! 





It was an amazing day!  Everyone had so much fun!  Nothing says Moto Diva more than me surrounded by a circle of bikes with feather boas!




Friday, July 18, 2014

Family summer evening ride and tour of Victoria's Fisherman's Wharf Floathome community

 
     The family that motos together, stays together. 

We have had some stellar summer weather and I stare out the window from my air conditioned office and wish I was sitting on my bike soaking up summer and waiting for the day to be done so we can venture forth and enjoy two wheeled family time. These are the days that  the clock ticks by slowly and time seems to stand still, how come on rainy days time seems to speed up?


My gear hangs patiently waiting for me and I stare at it all day thinking 3-2-1 BLAST-OFF!!! It's a great conversation piece at work. I have wondered if I could get my bike up to my office and sit on that instead of my steno chair - now that would be a conversation starter!  (only kidding).   When people ask me if the gear belongs to me and what I ride, I usually see a look of surprise and even a look of shock come across their faces after I say,  "Yes and a Honda Shadow" Most people say, "Wow, that's cool" or "Good for you."   Then they ask me how long I've been riding and I say almost four years and that I was a late bloomer.   It's weird because they seem genuinely shocked and I see it as just an ordinary thing that lots of women do. It's not like I am a trail blazer or suffragette - those were amazing women. 

But I digress from the intent of my post.  This summer day was like every other summer day, ripe for riding and adventure, I talked the moto family into going for an evening ride under the pretense of getting ice cream.  (They always fall for that one). So off we went.


Victoria is a very eclectic, vibrant, and beautiful city with history at every turn in the form of architecture and cool little pockets of diversity.  We are called the Garden City and are famous for our parks and scenery, we also have one of the oldest Chinese communities in Canada, Chinatown is beautiful. I forget how lovely it is during the day to day grind.  My daily commute is through the heart of downtown and at 8:30am it's a beehive of activity and during peak tourist season it is hard to navigate around the downtown core and at times downright dangerous when on a bike.  (I avoid anything with a rental car sticker on the bumper) tonight we decided to live on the edge and drive through the tourist mayhem and taxi cab/tour bus chaos,  to head to Fisherman's Wharf for ice cream and to look at the local float home village.  

My little motorcyclista and I doing my must have moto selfie.

Awhile back I shared with  my blog followers I used to live on a floathome for 10 years in the harbour, I have been scouring my picture box and somehow they are buried somewhere in the depths of my basement.  Yes I am a hoarder and they are somewhere down in the basement of doom.  Anyway  here is my house the "The Resting Cloud" in it's current form - a Mexican Restaurant.  This breaks my heart because they have changed it so much, it used to be beautiful when I owned it, it was loaded with hanging flower baskets and railing boxes and spectacular in the summer and not this hideous colour scheme. 

An artist friend painted a picture of my house as a gift for us & this is what it looked like in it's glory days.

Our house was moored up in Cowichan Bay when we first bought it and we later towed it down to Victoria. That was a surreal experience seeing your home floating out in the ocean. The only things I took off the house that day were my wedding pictures and jewellery.  The captain said it was bad luck to take things off. Motorcycle Man sealed up the doors, rented a large bilge pump and rode on board all the way from Cowhican Bay to Victoria.  It was an 8 hour trip on a beautifully calm day. The floatation for the house was  two steel hulls built by a shipwright and the house structure built on top of that.  It was a one bedroom house that was all totalled 750sq feet of compact living with all the amenities of any other land based home with a few minor alterations. We had to be concerned with weight and weight distribution, so that meant no overtly heavy furniture.   The bedroom & bathroom where upstairs and surrounded by outside deck space. The main level had a dining room, living room and galley kitchen, an interior utility room and exterior ulility room. The main floor was designed in the shape of a cross with the dinning room being the window you see from the front, the  livingroom in the middle and kitchen on the opposite side.  There was a beautifully built wooden ship ladder to the upstairs and under that we had a small 2 seater breakfast nook with a built-in table that had a drop leaf top. It was a compact tidy lifestyle and in retrospect less complicated and simpler than our current land based life. We also had a composting toilet so we weren't flushing out into the bay. Initially we heated the house in winter with a little kick butt wood stove and had propane for a demand water heater and stove.  Eventually, we converted the heating system to a single efficient propane fireplace which was our sole source of heat.  We survived the Blizzard of 1996 and were snug as bugs in a rug, and fared better than our land based neighbours who had no power or heat for several days.  It was lovely being able to turn on the heat and not fiddle with kindling and waiting for it to catch and waiting an hour or more for the house to warm up.  We lost the romance for the wood heating during our first winter and the house being cold after sitting all day with no heat and coming home to a freezing house after a two hour commute and by that time we were too tired to light the fire so we spent many a cold night under heavy duvets. By the way for those of you wondering if we pay city taxes, we do pay property/city taxes just like every other home owner. 


A floathome is not a houseboat, because they aren't self propelling and are moored to a wharf system and hooked up to city services.  You will also note that I don't take close up pictures of the community, I won't walk down the docks because I want these folks to maintain their privacy.  


Generally floathomers are tight knit little communities, because you never know when you are going to need the help of your neighbours, particularly on a stormy night when you are out all night retying slackened lines and praying for the docks to hold together if it was really stormy. And yes, it can get pretty scary when winds are howling at 90km/h and there is a swell on.  The house does a dance  with the roll of the ocean and it can be a little unnerving at times.  

Living onboard a floathome was not without it's challenges, but the uniqueness of it  far outweighed those challenges.  A family of swans and Canadian Geese routinely came for snacks and would give their honking calls to let me know they were waiting for goodies.  We had this one Canadian Goose family with two babies, we named one Gos and the other Ling (get it gosling) We've had otters up on the deck and I have to say they are cute looking, but don't let their cuteness deceive you, they are nasty little buggers if you get too close and they are destructive too.  They went up under the siding of my friend's house ruined the inside and it was pretty disgusting. 



There isn't much space between the houses and you pretty much live in each other's pockets, but over time you get the hang of  living in close proximity to others. You develop the habit of looking down when passing by windows.  I wish tourists would do the same, sometimes it was more than a little invasive.  One night I was watching tv in my livingroom and I felt the house move as if someone stepped onboard, and when I looked up there was a fellow with his nose pressed against the window. He skiddadled pretty quickly when I sat up and looked at him, he had to come a fair way onboard to get to my front window.  Another time two women walked right in without knocking because my front door was open and they thought the house was empty.  Nope. Most of the time though people were pretty good and if they were really curious I usually invited them in for a tour of our tidy little sanctuary. We moved back to dry land when our wee girl was almost a year old because she was starting to toddle and I didn't want the constant worry of her falling overboard. 

I have lived on land for 16 years now and I long for those cozy winter nights and cool summer evenings sitting on the balcony of the Resting Cloud, sipping wine and watching the comings and goings of the harbour and would trade it all for my floathome and kayaks. (keeping the bikes of course)  


After our little stop & tour of Fisherman's Wharf we hopped back on the bikes to chase the sunset. It was magnificent!

View from King George a Terrace looking out over the Strait of Juan de Fuca

The Olympic Mountains of Washington State  in the foreground.

Towards the end of ride up to Mt Tolmie to look over Victoria, in the distance is Mt Doug

This shot is looking towards the Mainland (Vancouver) 

All in all it was the perfect family evening ride!  We left a little after 6:00pm and arrived home after 10:30pm feeling very contented and ready for bed.  Being with the people you love, riding, eating icecream, sunsets, warm temps, it doesn't get any better than that. I LOVE SUMMER!!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Why We Ride (Victoria film premiere)



I have a question for you that I would like you to keep in mind as you read this post and would like to read your comments if you wish to share, "Why do you ride?" 

Last week a project I was working on came to fruition.  When the doc 'Why We Ride' came out last year I really wanted to see it, but alas, it wasn't available in Canada.  A friend of mine in Vancouver contacted the film company and arranged a screening with a local theatre and she passed the details onto me and viola! 

Here I am introducing the film.

tweeted, emailed, and face booked like crazy to get the word out that we were going to have 2 nights available to view the film.  

It was fabulous!  The film has something for everyone and it really conveys a variety of reasons why we like to ride. So much so, that if there is someone in your life who may not 'get it' you may want to show them this film.  Maybe then they will understand your reasons for climbing on a two wheeled land missle and why you come home with a perma grin that lasts for hours, or why you mope during the off season (if you don't ride all year)

'Why We Ride' is a very artful beautiful collage of stories and pictures. The film gives a very good history of early motorcycling and different styles of riding from racing to street riding. The people who were interviewed for the film were diverse and interesting, their passion shone through like a beacon on a foggy night. It was very inspiring to see some of the amazing journies these folks have been on and some very inspirational stories where people overcame obstacles that would make most of us give up, but their love of riding triumphed and allowed them to adapt and continue riding. 

I particularly enjoyed Gloria Struck the matriarch of Motormaids, who has been riding since 1941.  Her goal is to still be riding on her 100th birthday! Wow I hope I am still twisting the throttle and enjoying life from the back of a bike when I make it to her age! Go Gloria!  

Very happy motorcyclists after the film

As a biker,  I felt very humbled by these folks and marvel at the depth of their passion for motorcycling.  They spoke to my soul, and I found myself nodding several times in agreement with the sentiments they expressed.  It also brought home the message it doesn't matter what you ride, Honda, Harley, BMW, dirt, street, track or off-road, we all share the same passion for the sport  and camaraderie of the road. The wave has definitely taken on a new meaning for me and if you see someone on a scooter or different brand toss them a wave, because you never know what sort of spark you might ignite with their moto passion. A female rider took the time to stop and talk to me when I was a contented 50cc scooterista and she inspired me to give getting my motorcycle license a whirl and she was a big part of the reason I am riding today.

Notice the fellow in the background with his arms raised - that was his response to "How'd you like the movie?"  

It was magical sitting in the theatre when the movie was finished people clapped and cheered.  The most memorable event of the evening for me was when an elderly fellow came over shook my hand and hugged me and thanked me for getting the movie to Victoria.  I suspect he was a rider in his younger days and he  relived the passion of his youth in that 89 minutes sitting in the theatre.  That was best moment of the night for me.


When I am asked "Why I ride?" I usually give the stock answer, "Because it makes me feel free and empowered." It does do that, but in thinking this over it is actually more than that.  I feel very connected with my surroundings. I love the intoxicating scents when passing a field of wild flowers or the pungent smell of loamy soil in the fall, or a whiff of the ocean.  I also find myself taking more time to enjoy the surroundings and quite frequently stop to look at things, take pictures and savour the moment.  My soul takes wing when I am on my bike and all my troubles melt away, and I truly live the moment.  I have also found my strength and courage to step out of my comfort zone.  Riding allows me to mentor other riders and that is the best part, it's incredible when you see the spark catch and the motorcycling passion ignite .  So that is why I ride.

PS: I happen to have a wicked addiction to riding twisties. :) 

Why do you ride? Yup I want to know why.

Check out http://WhyWeRide.com 

*The movie is available on iTunes and Amazon for purchase.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Out for a Sunday tootle! 270km ride


Today was EPIC!!!!  Moto Man and I decided to go for a rip. At first it was going to be a little jaunt, but then it grew and grew, because of the perfect weather conditions. It was GORGEOUS today and you could actually hear angels singing! I swear this day was just sent for motorcyclists.  We ended up riding  the Pacific Marine Loop - aka the ride to Port Renfrew.  

 It was a day so dazzling that it makes you glad you have a motorcycle license and an adventuresome spirit.  I also put my new mesh Alpinestars Stella jacket through it's paces and it was perfect.  I love my summer mesh gear!  


I swore I would never buy any gear with pink, but this totally sung to my inner diva and fit so well, it was meant to be.  Moto Man says I am very visible with the white on the back and my arms.  I am very pleased.


Everything was perfect today, it was a day when you and the bike are one, the scenery was breathtaking, the scents intoxicating and you didn't want the day to end.  I could have ridden for forever today, beautiful back country roads and multitudes of twisties!  The only problem with the 'perfect' ride is we didn't really stop for pictures.  I am going to get the GoPro out for the next ride and we are definitely getting a Sena so I can tell hubs I'd like to stop and take some pics.


The scenery was beautiful and at times a little distracting.  I think at one point we hit about 35 degrees Celsius when we were up in the back country of Mesachie Lake area.  Even with the mesh it was a little toasty and the next helmet I get is going to be white or silver. At times even when doing 80km/h I had to open the visor because my face felt like it was in an oven. I had a great sunscreen on and no nose burn this time! Always remember the sunscreen!!! It was so hot when we stopped for gas at Lake Cow I bought water and poured quite a bit if it over my head & neck.  


Totems at Renfrew



Mr. Elusive doesn't like his picture taken so I had to be fast!

Looking back at the twistiest part of the twisties. 


You can't see the huge grin, but let me assure you it was there! 


If anyone was to ask me "Why We Ride" it would be beause of a day like today, it was a gift of summer bliss spent with my hubby.  


There were plenty of riders out on everything two wheeled and a lot of waves were passed back & forth with gusto. Today  was the day the wave wasn't the casual little affair it usually is, but almost like a fist pump or a salute of joy to riding.

All totalled on our little jaunt we did about 270 kilometres today. Now the bikes are tucked safely in the moto lair after their long adventure today.