Sunday, August 23, 2015

Funky little hamlet of Esquimalt - Lantern Festival

I live in an eclectic little bedroom community on Vancouver Island. Esquimalt is a tight knit little community with a small town vibe. I affectionately call it E-town, you've seen snippets of it when I go walking along the West Song walkway, we are just minutes away from the ocean.
Every year towards the end of summer the community is invited to make funky lanterns to celebrate summer and bring community members together. There are artists, musicians, dancers, and funky bands, and of course a Scottish piper. 
Whoo Whoo! The wise old owl. There are lanterns in the style of fish, flowers, houses, cakes, boats, everything! No motorcycles though, maybe I will have to try and create one.
A very creative jellyfish, it's made out of dryer pipe and bubble wrap. 
Jellyfish from the inside, notice the little fish in the tentacles. 

The most incredible lantern is the HMCS Oriole. The gentleman who created this artful lantern is one of Esquimalt's finer artists. The picture does not do it justice! It is spectacular.

Star lanterns
Beautiful displays at the entrance.

A beautiful elephant.

Just a little snippet of fun and festivities at the Esquimalt Lanternn festival.
Let them eat cake!
The celestial heavens.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Farkle Garage & moto zen

My life has changed so much in four years, all of it due to scootering and motorcycling. Who knew I would be an avid blogger, social media geek, learn to ride a motorcycle, become a motorcycle instructor, and now a tv show host. What a ride this had been! 

I have had so many blessings come into my life after discovering the love of riding. They say four wheels move the body, but two wheels move the soul. It is so true!    
I have found many moments of zen on the back of my scooter or motorcycle; riding with my hub, friends, and teaching new riders the art of riding. I have also been very fortunate to make new friends through riding and blogging, as well as the opportunity to be involved in great projects.

Today we were putting the finishing touches on Episode 1 of Farkle Garage, which is a show about motorcycling and the people who ride them. The world of motorcycling is diverse and unique, it has been quite an experience discovering the stories and telling them. 

This is one of my wonderful cohosts Steve Drane who is a avid racer, motorcycle builder & restorer, Harley Davidson shop owner for many years. Steve recently retired to jump back into racing. He was inducted into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame and is a motorcycle legend. Steve was instrumental in the creation of the riding school I teach for and helped create, guide, and support the Vancouver Island Safety Coucil which has been teaching new riders since the 1970's. 

We have a lot of fun in the studio, the garage rings with laughter, at times it's hard to get focussed, but it all comes together in the end. 
Cohost Clive having fun on set.

am considering doing an iron butt ride in the coming weeks and am looking forward to that adventure after being inspired by iron butt rider Clive Brown. Clive changes more tires in a year because of the kilometres he logs, almost 100,000km a year! If your butt wasn't iron before all that riding, I'm sure after hanging out with Clive for awhile  and doing the Island 1600km it definitely will be! 
(Of course you know I'd have to throw a leg over)

Today we did a segment with a member of the Victoria Police Department with Const Steve who is a police riding instructor and active duty member. Last year I was lucky to see him and his team members running the cones at NAMOA competition (North American Motor Officers Association) They are truly the 'top gun' of motorcyclists. It was pretty spectacular watching the officers run cone exercises and slow racing while their bikes are tethered together.  
Steve rides a Victory motorcycle, it weighs 985 pounds, he flicks it around like it's a 250cc bike. Oh to have those mad skills!
The other motochick cohost is Kim Robinson affectionately known as Kim Rock. We are trouble with a capital T, when we get together in studio.  Kim rides a beautiful red Ducati, she's an avid rocker. Together we are like Thelma and Louise, we could probably cause a little mayhem if they let us out of the garage!

Our technical director Orlando is a magician with graphics & editing. He rides a scooter, and is now thinking about venturing into motorcycling. Who knows maybe he'll be one of my students. 

We have an amazing crew of camera operators and assistants, they are the behind the scenes peeps who help glue the show together and without them there would be no show. (Sorry for the blurry pic - those lights are bright)

Paul B is executive producer/ videographer he is the driving force of Farkle Garage. Paul is motorcyclist who is a newly minted iron butt rider having just ridden to Sturgis and logging about 6300 kilometres for the trip. He is the creative mentor who keeps us on track with our stories and brings the show to fruition. His love of motorcycling radiantly shines through when he tells stories with video.
Farkle Garage is a show by motorcyclists about everything moto. It's fun, creative, and an amazing project to be a part of. So yes, I've been blessed by riding, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd be doing stuff like this! 

Check out Farkle Garage on Facebook or on Twitter @FarkleGarage. 

Our first episode airs August 27th 3:00pm and 5:00pm on Shaw TV South Island - channel 4. 

Farkle Garage will be on YouTube and I will post the link for those not in our immediate viewing area.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Forget the glass slipper Princess - These boots are made for RIDING!

Most motorcyclists seem to be on the never ending quest for 'perfect' gear. Usually we all start out with basic entry level gear and progress to higher quality gear as our appreciation of our needs deepens with more riding. After a few seasons I decided being wet, cold, or too hot, just wasn't acceptable and in reality was taking away from my enjoyment and quality of riding.

My gear has come full circle and I have summer gear & cold weather gear. My needs have definitely changed since I've added teaching into the mix and also a new bike which is taller.  This is why I have a new pair of boots! 

My TCX T-Lily Goretex boots rocked my world for about 3 years, they were comfortable, waterproof and were breathable.  I do a lot of riding and they have been through a lot of Pacific Northwest rain, they have more than done the job and I was actually going to buy another pair as a replacement. The only reason I held back was I needed to figure out what to do about me being vertically challenged and needing to find a few inches from somewhere to get more foot on the ground when stopping and also getting off/on the bike.

I had two options 1) get the bike lowered, which involves buying lowering links, and cutting down the kickstand. 2) Finding boots with more sole and heel height. 

I was a little loathe to mess with the suspension on the bike because it does change the handling, and it was going to be a hassle and the cost was a little crazy.  

Enter option 2 - boots. One of my students purchased a pair of Daytonas and let me try them, it was amazing the difference they made, more foot on the ground! Now I just had to find a Canadian source to purchase them from. I checked with several local shops and no one carried them, the reason gave, "They are too high end and I have to purchase a lot just to order" blah, blah, blah. I've heard this so many times when buying gear, in fact every time and it's pretty frustrating.  I finally found two dealers in Canada, one in Alberta at Blackfoot Motosports in Calgary and the other in Ontario. After more research to figure out sizing  (thank you Gear Chic) and few phone calls and emails to Andy at Blackfoot all was set and I ordered a size 37. I placed the order on Tuesday and they arrived Thursday. 

I did a little dance around my office on Thursday and was squeeing with delight, it was all I could do not to tear down to the garage and test them out on 'The Duchess'.  I was training a new staff member for holiday relief and she thought it was pretty funny watching a grown woman go dotty over motorcycle boots.  I explained these just aren't any old boot, the are Daytonas, which are handmade in Germany and are Goretex. They are the proverbial glass slipper of motorcycle boots that every motorcycle diva riding princess would love to wear. Oh yeah baby I am that much in love with these boots!!
Some of you may be wondering what makes them so special, well they are handmade to start. There has been a lot of engineering and thought gone into the design of these boots. They have a very generous rubber sole which gives you height. There is adjustability in the calves to ensure a good fit. Very sturdy zippers with a good strong rubber pull tab. One of the biggest features for me is that they are Goretex, which when living in a rainy climate is a must. They are leather which works well with the inner Goretex boot liner. They are armored and have malleolus protection plates, shin protection and a steel shank in the sole for increased durability and protection. You are not sacrificing any safety here and it is a top of the line premium touring boot.

Calf adjustment to ensure the perfect fit.

The deciding factor for this purchase was that I gained 2" in leg length. For all you who are tall or have a long inseam this may seem like nothing, but when you are 5'3" of compactness you really get what a few inches can do for you when riding a bike with a high seat height. It makes a  difference when stopping and having more foot on the ground and it is definitely easier getting off a bike with a 31.9 seat height and not having to be an acrobatic contortionist struggling to get off the bike without tipping it over or killing yourself. It's actually pretty funny watching me get off the bike.
Comparison of the Daytona (left) to my well worn TCX T-Lily (right). You can see the difference in heel height. I was initially concerned about it and how it might possibly effect my shifting, it didn't and I didn't have to adjust the shift lever. I was a little concerned that they may not be flexible enough, but after sitting on the bike and squiggling around I found them comfortable foot position wise.
The Daytonas are cleverly designed, to give you a little more added height they have a cork insole which raises the heel counter and it adds to the height. The cork insole is pretty comfortable and has some cushion and give. They are removable so you can put a regular insole in there for all you tall people.  Daytona has also put a thin insole in to help with vibration from the bike which adds to the comfort. The toe box is roomy and not tight. They are a bit stiff, but will break in with wear, so I've been told by many lady Daytona wearers (gotta love blog land!) 
I love the generous reflective patch on the heel.  The Daytona Lady Pilot fit and finish is excellent, it's a premium product. I purchased them for $415 CDN.  All in all I am happy with my decision, now I just need to find some twisties to ride and put them through some riding. 
comparison of Daytona (left) and TCX T-Lily on right. On the balance I will say that had I not needed the extra height I would have bought another pair of T-Lily's they served me very well and stood up to the beating I put them through. They are Goretex and have been an excellent boot, they also run about $80 less, so if you are looking for a good Goretex boot without a heel, check the TCX boots out.  

So where did I leave that glass slipper????

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Summer moto rambling on Vancouver Island

We have been having the most incredible summer.  We've had long hot stretches of dry hot sunny weather.  Although ithasn't  been good for our forests as we've had lots of wild fires and at times it's almost been too hot to ride.  I know right! I bet you can't believe I said that - I said almost.  Friday I hopped on my bike ready for adventure and coaxed my hubby out for the day. We started the day off riding a technical twisty country road, steep in some places, very narrow, blind curves and steep hills.  It was fabulous and I was wishing I had my GoPro.  We met up with my friend Deb and the 3 of us were off to ride the Cowichan Valley and find a fabulous lunch somewhere.  

Deb has a brand new bike a 2014 Honda CTX700T and has been logging miles on it.  Friday was about 33C temp wise.  We were off on our adventure.  We rode through the beautiful Cowichan Valley with its lush farmland and beautiful sweeping vineyards, down to the onceanside and back into the countryside. 

We stopped at Maple Bay marina for lunch and it was delicious, so delicious I didnt take pictures.  There is a thriving floathome community with beautiful homes.  I found myself reminiscing and thinking about a lifestyle change again, longing for my time on the water.  It would be very attractive, but for the fact it was missing garage space, bikes don't do well near the ocean, pitting, corrosion, just to list a few after effects.
After a lovely lunch it was time to saddle up and explore a little more.  We continued down the twisties until the end which led us to another marina, Genoa Bay.  They have a smaller floathome community with only 12 homes and one was for sale and had an open house, I couldn't resist and we chatted with the owner and I seriously considered plonking down cash to recaputure a life I once lived.  But sometimes you can't rewind time. 

I love these whale sculptures, you see them around the island quite a bit, each is different and unique.

The hub waiting patiently for me to get saddled up. 

This is spectacular and represents the West Coast lifestyle. 

It was time to make our way home and wend our way back through the valley towards home.  It was a long weekend here and we were mindful of the traffic volume building and wanted to get home before it became too crazy. 

The weekend has been amazing, it culminated in me teaching the remainder of the my novice motorcycle students.  They all passed with flying colours and it was the icing on the cake.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Farkle Garage tv show segment - Riding with the Moto Mama's & Shaw TV South Island Victoria

Here is my first story for Farkle Garage on Shaw TV and Go Island.  Thank you to all the great women riders who are the Moto Mama's.  More importantly a huge thank you to the Producer/shooter/editor and rider Paul B, our technical director/shooter Orlando and Kim Rock cohost/moto mama and badass ducati rider! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

The flash of chrome - The roar of engines - 120 Women Riders - Canadian Women's Ride Day 2015

Sunday dawned sunny, clear, and hot.  Across Canada in cities far and wide, women were donning motorcycle gear, pulling on their helmets, climbing on their cherished motorcycles with one goal in mind, to glide through the wind together on their bikes. Imagine small groups gathering together on every kind of 2 wheeled dream machine; cruisers, sportbikes, dual sports, trikes, spyders, maxi scooters, and bikes with sidecar rigs, all with the common desire to ride together to celebrate women riders.  

My Moto Mama girlfriends and I met up early to ride up to Cobble Hill, BC, for the 3rd Canadian Women's Ride Day. There was a frision of excitement and anticipation in the air. There was easy chatter about bikes, the reasons they ride, what riding means to them, and the adventure we were about to undertake.  We are diverse group of women spanning all segments of society, young, middle aged, and women of wisdom. Riding experience and skill levels vary from woman to woman, with some having ridden for decades, others for a few years, and some a mere few weeks after finishing their motorcycle training courses and proudly earning their motorcycle licenses.  Friendships are formed and there is mentoring of the fledgling riders. This truly is a sisterhood where one and all are welcomed and embraced. After a few hurried gulps of coffee and of course the group photo, it was time to fire up the bikes and get on our way and get registered for the ride.

These are my sisters the Moto Mama's. They are diverse, eclectic, and amazingly talented wonderful women. Each has a story, they are generous free spirited kind women and I am proud to call each friend and sister. 

We support each other, even those across the world that we have not met, and have only read about their motorcycle dreams and life journeys. Ann R. supported a rider a world away on this very special day, she rode with a sign with the name Behnaz Shafiei on her bike.  Behnaz Shafiei is an Iranian motocross rider. In Behnaz's home country it is forbidden for women to ride with men and it goes against cultural norms. Behnaz is brave, bold, and courageous. Today in spirit she went riding with us to celebrate Canadian Women Riders and all women riders. She is one of us, our sister. Thank you Ann R. for reminding us that globally women still struggle to have the freedom to do what we do. Ann R. is an amazing female rider with many years of riding experience, a mentor, and friend to many a woman rider.  

Before long it was time to fire up the engines, and roll down the highway to the Canadian Women's Ride Day 2015.  I always find magic in the moment when the key is turned, ignition engaged, riders rolling on the throttle and then the adventure begins. 40 minutes later we rolled into the event where we met up with more moto mamas, again laughter, hugs, and cameraderie abound. We all registered, changed into our ride t-shirts, wandered around looking at all the incredible bikes rolling into the event.

This is just the beginning, a small fraction of the bikes and riders attending the event.  The parkinglot was quickly filling up and it was so exciting to see everyone arriving.  We went through the pre-ride brief and all were ready to roll.

It was beyond breathtaking seeing the diversity of bikes, every segment of the riding community was represented.  An estimated 120 women attended and rode through the picturesque Cowichan Valley. It truly was a grand sight seeing all the women riders, there were lots of waves and horn honking along the way. When we returned from our ride, there was plenty of food and music by wonderful artists; David Gogo and Mitch and the Baroness. Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame motorcyclist Steve Drane who has given so much to the Canadian and local riding community kicked off the event. 

The wonderful thing about Canadian Women's Ride Day is that the organizers Greer Stewart, Joley Baker, and the ladies who comprised the committee, did this not just as a ride, but to give back to local women's organizations that help women and their families in times of need.  Women are given encouragement, strength, courage, hope, and the tools to improve their lives, or to start over when leaving domestic abuse situations. 

Sometimes it is the small miracles that make the biggest change; a safe place to live, the opportunity to further education, but the biggest miracle of all, the restoration of self worth. 

Women share the common bonds of hope and faith in each other, and it is that connectedness that gives us strength to move forward to achieve success, balance, and enriched lives. 

The Honourable Judith Guichon, British Columbia's 29th Lieutenant Governor attended the event and addressed the women who attended the rally. Her message was one of inspiration and poignancy, as she lost her husband in a motorcycle accident on July 19th, twelve years ago. Coincidentally it is same day the rally was held. It took great courage to share this part of her life and in that moment it was received with grace and understanding of her loss by every motorcyclist at the Canadian Women's Ride Day. 
Her Honour addressing all in attendance.

Women from all walks of life shared an amazing day of riding, sisterhood, growth, and enrichment.

We know that it is not always by the power of one that things change, but through the strength and courage of many, and at times we carry the load and bring those along whose burdens have become heavy. This is what happened on Sunday, July 19th, 2015, it was more than just a motorcycle rally, it was sisterhood at its finest.  Until next year!