Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Skyline Boulevard - Guest Post by Happy Wrench

With my blog and myself being on a bit of a hiatus at the moment I opened up a spot on my blog for a guest blogger. I would like to introduce to you Christopher Pumo. He has an awesome site HappyWrench.com where you can find an abundance of information on doing DIY on your motorcycle. Today he shares an awesome road to ride, definitely one for my Bike-it list.


Skyline Boulevard

When I daydream about a motorcycle road from my past, it is always Skyline Boulevard in Northern California.


Also known as State Route 35, Skyline Boulevard runs from Santa Cruz to San Francisco.  If you consider yourself a connoisseur or aficionado of motorcycle roads, I cannot emphasize how important it is not to miss this one in your lifetime.  Seriously, your credibility is lacking if you consider yourself a motorcycle road expert and you haven't ridden this magical road.




The road name is not a misnomer.  In fact, the road runs along the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, which separate Silicon Valley from the Pacific Ocean.  In several spots, the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean can be seen simultaneously while cruising like a badass along the mountain ridge.

All roads to the east and west climb from lower elevations (Pacific Ocean to the west; Silicon Valley to the east) in order to reach Skyline Boulevard - each side tributary is a windy and wonderful experience on its own (only rivaled by the next road over).

Road Conditions

Each road had to be carved into the hillsides through a series of cuts and fills in order to create drivable roadway surfaces.  Road surface conditions are actually pretty good considering half of each road is built over fill (minimal potholes), probably due to the fact that it "generally" does not snow here.  I saw snow once, and I was told it was a once every 5-year phenomenon.

Road debris is also not bad despite bare rock surface on the upslope side.  Car drivers in the region understand that this is a very heavy motorcycle area.  They give bikes space and are hyper aware that a motorcycle could be around the next bend.




Favorite Section

My favorite and what I consider the more remarkable section of Skyline Boulevard is the section closest to Silicon Valley, bound by Big Basin Way to the south and Kings Mountain Road to the north.  If I had to rank the streets in this region in order of greatness (east/west sections), it would be:

1. Woodside Road/La Honda Road - literally a perfect road for everyone
2. Kings Mountain Road - just as good as above, but shorter
3. Big Basin Way - amazing, just like #1 (hidden restaurant here, go find it!)
4. Page Mill Road/Alpine Road - also beautiful, but a little "tighter" turns; a little challenging on a large cruiser.
Don't get me wrong, the next roads north and south along Skyline Boulevard (92 and 17, respectively) aren't bad - they may still be some of the best roads you have ever ridden - but they are surpassed by the roads listed above.

What Makes It All So Amazing

Growing up in the Northeast, it was hard for me to imagine someplace so scenic (Skyline Boulevard) in such close driving proximity to something so congested (Silicon Valley).
To be honest, I get caught up in the hustle and bustle sometimes of life, and Skyline Boulevard was the perfect reprieve.  Leaving my office in Palo Also, I could take Woodside Road out of the valley and be atop the ridge in less than 20 minutes.  Crossing over Skyline Boulevard and heading down the other side, I could make it to the ocean in another 20-30 minutes (while passing through Redwood trees and some of the most beautiful nature, Mother Earth can provide).

As a motorcycle tourist, you could spend weeks here, because you are going to want to ride each road more than once.  Think about it like the greatest ski resort in the world - when you find a great trail, are you satisfied taking it just once?  I lived in the region for 7 years and I never got tired of these roads.  They present the very best in riding for all style of riders.
And do not forget, there is the famous Alice's Restaurant for a quick bite or meeting spot with friends.

Conclusion

To those you are looking for a motorcycle vacation, I think Skyline Boulevard is often overlooked.  Blue Ridge Parkway and the Tail of the Dragon are famous for their 318 tight curves in just 11 miles, but I think Skyline Boulevard along with its immediate tributaries could give the Dragon a run for its money in terms of curves and scenery.  Look it up, do your research, and make an informed decision before planning that motorcycle vacation.  




Author Bio:

Chris is a DIY Motorcycle Repair nut (pun intended).  He advocates getting to know your motorcycle and experiencing the rewarding thrill of success that can only come through picking up a wrench and working on your machine.  He is an active blogger on his website HappyWrench.com and an active member of many social media websites.  He began wrenching out of necessity at a young age and has continued to teach himself and others through his research and writing.  He believes anything is possible with a little ambition and patience.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A day in a life…

... head in the clouds


I am on my own for the next six weeks, well at least I have Fred. The BF left for Germany May 8th and at the moment I am kind of laid up due to some health issues. I won’t bore you with the details. I made up my mind that this was the year that I finally buy a bike for here. I could just see it; spending every free moment that I had exploring the twisties that run rampant around these parts where I live. 

I planned to buy it this month, alas it just isn’t going to happen, hopefully the delay will be for only  a couple of months while I sort out why my body decided to rebel against me.

I never realized how hard it is to fill up an entire day until now, especially without riding. I am also not able to work at my seasonal job for the time being, so the days seem to stretch even longer. I find I am becoming addicted to posting quirky, even frivolous stuff not related to motorcycles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I normally keep to motorcycle related posts and a “Good Morning”. Maybe a few comments here and there when a post catches my eye, but lately not so much, I have become almost chatty…maybe it’s the meds. LOL 

This week I tried something completely different. I accomplished fixing a stool my Dad had made me quite some time ago. (I love that stool, thanks Dad) Over the years it had become wobbly and I had been asking my BF for several years now if he could fix it. Well, I obviously have the time at the moment and besides I am just tired of waiting. Quite possibly being bored played a role for my enthusiasm to tackle this project. I broke out the ole jigsaw and a screw driver and got to work. I tried using the drill but found that I didn’t have the strength to get the damn screw in all the way, you would think a drill would have made it quick and easy, weird I know.  I couldn’t find a small level; the BF’s organizational skills of his tools leaves me baffled. My light bulb clicked on and I downloaded a Level app, it never ceases to amaze me what a phone can do nowadays.   I am sure it is not even close to being perfect  and I admit I shot a couple of screws through the wood a couple of times. (Warning: object only appears perfect at a distance) But I think it is at least level. No matter, I did it myself and for that I am so proud of me! <pat on the back> I suppose at some point I will get around to staining it.












Now when Fred takes over my computer chair 
I will have something sturdy to sit on.











I also decided to focus on my picture taking skills to fill some of my day. I am far from being a photographer, but I love taking pictures. At least this is something I can do seeing I am somewhat housebound. (Between us, I guess you know I would rather be taking pictures of a new motorcycle at awesome locations)

So, for your viewing pleasure I have complied a few photos that I have taken recently and I call them my Skydeck Series

Enjoy…


May 12 – waiting for the leaves to come


May 14 – let the sprouting begin! What a difference a few days make.


I have become fascinated with clouds…


Well, really I have always enjoyed gazing at clouds. The abstract designs that frame the clear blue atmosphere; how the dark and light gives depth to the shapes that form, while the luminous rays of the sun bounces around above them making it’s own unique mark. The sheer fluffiness; wispy, translucent cotton candy in the sky has somehow always just given me a sense of calmness. Constant motion across the heavens where mystical creatures gradually appear and then along invisible currents leisurely transform into something else. Nature and life in perpetual change. 

I am just surprised that it never occurred to me until now to memorialize those magnificent creations.










I find all of this very therapeutic, the writing, the picture taking and even taking on a small project. My heart will always be with my motorcycle rides, but for now if you bear with me and you don’t mind my ramblings, I would like to share more of my mundane days of my life with you while being laid up. Yep, all this chattiness has to be the meds LOL


What do you see in the clouds?









Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride...

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Bigger is not always better

Observations of a rider:


I would say in the last year I have taken a more active role on Facebook and joined several motorcycle groups exclusively for women. I like these exclusive groups because they are extremely supportive and for the most part keep the ‘drama’ under strict control. 

One of the most common posts I notice regularly are women wanting to move up to a bigger motorcycle after a year or so of riding. Another theme posted along the same lines is how their current ride cannot “keep up” in large group rides and this also seems to be what is fueling their desire to get a bigger bike. So I thought I would give my two cents worth on this subject.

I admit that I do not ride in large groups, and probably never will, I have an aversion to crowds. Although the one time I did ride with six other bikers and the thought of “keeping up” didn’t even cross my mind. I had never met them before but they seemed to accept my somewhat newbie skills of a first time group rider at the time. At least they never said anything directly to me. I thought they were a great bunch and as far as I knew had accepted me for me. Even if they didn’t that would be okay with me too, I am not here to impress. I just firmly believe that you should be completely happy and comfortable with what you ride. Don't try to keep up with anyone, and always ride to your own abilities. If you do ride in a group that does not understand or accepts your abilities, then maybe you are with the wrong group.

As for wanting or even thinking you need a ‘bigger’ bike I have pretty much the same thoughts. I think sometimes the pressure of other riders might be the only influence that someone starts to think that they need to move up.  Peer pressure can happen at any age. Your decision shouldn’t be based on what others think you should be riding. You really should first decide if you are even ready to make the move by taking into consideration if your rider skills at this point in time can handle a larger bike.

Plain old common sense dictates that if you are comfortable and perfectly happy with your current ride then moving on to bigger just for the sake of having a “big bike” probably isn’t better. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you shouldn't if the time is right. I moved up from my first motorcycle that was a 250 Yamaha V-star, but I have to admit I was very content riding on her for four years before I did. Some might think that was too long to keep riding such a small bike. But for me I was content. Eventually I realized I did need and wanted something with a little more oomph. No external influences, just me surpassing the “newbie” stage at my own pace. The 250 was a perfect beginner bike, learning to ride on it was easy because of it being lightweight and small. Although when I started expanding my horizons and started riding on roads that I had to share with huge tractor trailers, I realized that having such a lightweight motorcycle impacted me greatly. I was at a huge disadvantage and it was downright terrifying having the feeling like I would literally fly off the bike when a truck passed by! 

When it was time for me to move up I considered my vertically challenged height at 5’ 1” and the fact that I am sort of a “lightweight”. The Harley Davidson Sportster 883 XL was quite a larger bike to the Yamaha and was definitely plenty of bike for me to handle. In fact, just having to adjust to the heavy weight of it at 579 lbs., in comparison to my 250 that was only 324 lbs. was a challenge. In retrospect if I had tried different motorcycles maybe I wouldn’t have went with a Harley at all. But alas I chose a Sportster. To be honest maybe I was unknowingly influenced by outside forces, given that Harleys are known as “the legend” in the biker world, but let’s be real, there are other motorcycles out there and maybe just another brand would have been a better fit for me.

I have no regrets about my choice and have been quite content with my Sportster 883 for the last 5 years. Maybe it is just me, but I have no desire to ‘move up’ or ‘go bigger’ and I am certainly not going to be influenced by anyone around me telling me to do so. 


Strangely, lately I am considering downsizing. Weird I know, but I am on the strange side so it is perfectly normal for me. I find as I am getting older my Harley is just getting too heavy, or maybe I am just getting weak. Last year I had the opportunity to sit on a Honda Rebel 500. Wow! I think I am in LOVE. Not to mention how DANG SEXY it looks. Now that bike is all I think about. (Sorry Sporty Blue) The seat height at 27” is perfect for my condensed size and it weighs in at 408 lbs. I haven’t test rode it yet, but I think it would be substantial enough to “hug” the road.  It felt like lifting a feather when I got on and positioned it in an upright position.  Okay, that was a little bit of an exaggeration, but it was truly much easier to lift upright than my Harley.

Yes, this ole gal is seriously considering the Rebel over a Harley. This of course is my personal preference and for all you die hard Harley fans I make no apologies for uttering those words. Although there will always be a special place in my heart for my Harley. Besides, my Harley lives in Florida so who is to say I can't have a Rebel here in Canada. <sly grin>

After all, we are all bikers no matter what we choose to ride and we all share that common bond that gets our hearts revving as we ride the open roads. 





Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride...


Monday, March 26, 2018

Twisted in Florida

(03-24-18)

After yet another cold spell the warmth finally came back to Southwest Florida. Today turned into a beauty day to get twisted. Our route was an old familiar one, not a long ride but it sure felt good to be on the bike again to clear the cobwebs that were starting to collect in my head.

I call this the Buckingham Route, original huh. There are a few twisties that keep it interesting and it is just a pleasant, relaxing ride. We have done rides like this many times before to varying degrees, hopefully this is one that I haven’t showed you, and if it is just scroll on by or pretend I haven't.


My Rambling thoughts…

I apologize that my blog this year has not been the motorcycle filled adventures of years past. Many factors have impeded on my ride time this year. 

First off, I was sick for almost the first month here. But at least a trip to the clinic got me on the road to recovery.  Getting company for a few weeks also put a kink into ride time. The BF also had an emergency trip to the dentist when his tooth broke and he too ended up on antibiotics. Then the weather, it has been a roller coaster of super sweaty highs and bone chilling lows. 

At least I managed to get in a couple of quick solo rides into town to the store back. They were enough to put a smile on my face and pacify me for a time. A short time, but I relished those rides none the less.

Last weekend (3-16-18) we did a neighbourhood ride where we explored some roads that are less travelled. I really enjoyed doing that. I took lead, which is rare, I just prefer following when we are together.  We putted along side streets that we have never been down before. The BF didn’t seem to mind, but I don’t think he would make it a habit of doing this kind of a ride. Me on the other hand, I loved it and would do rides like that more often. I just like taking my time and exploring when I ride.

Shortly after we left this rest spot at Naples Ave & Meadow Road,  a Sheriff pulled us over. No, it wasn’t anything we did, he was just looking for a couple of kids on dirt bikes who were terrorizing the neighbourhood and asked us if we had seen them. We barley seen any people, let alone anyone else on a bike. 

We have gotten in a few more rides here and there this season, but they were more of the same old routes that we have been down so many times before over the years. So instead of rehashing the same routes I opted not to repeat myself, for your sake and mine. Hence the lack of entries on my blog. I really hope to get at least one really long interesting ride in before heading back north. Just the thought of going home gives me a chill and there will probably still be snow when we get back to Canada this year, uggh! 

Until next time, keep... 






Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Beating The Heat Through The Devils Garden

(02-10-18)

I hate to say it, but it has been almost too hot to ride this week! (I did say, ‘almost’) Right about now those of you who are still buried under a mountain of snow are probably cursing me. 

It really has been unseasonably hot for this time of year for Southwest Florida.  According to the “weather experts” it is about 10 degrees warmer than it normally is. I can’t remember February being so hot before. Usually I am still freezing my you know what off, and I am certainly not even thinking about shorts let alone wearing them. I will try to keep my complaining to a minimum though, because after all that is why I am here in the first place.

So, with the humidity bordering on tropical rainforest and temperatures soaring into the high 80s (30s in Celsius) I tried to focus on a route where there would be as little traffic congestion as possible. 

This was the perfect day to go through the Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest and into the farmlands. Choosing this route, the most there is to see are the herds of cattle that are scattered throughout the countryside. But as I said time and again, any road with twisties is considered a very rare occurrence, maybe even a miracle. The closest I could get with this route was a few sweeping curves, but for the most part it was just straight riding over barren flatlands. The bonus was that there was little to no traffic and not one traffic light until we got back into civilization. Ideal for a day that I am convinced I could have cooked an egg on the pavement. 


Our ride totaled 156 miles (251 km) 
I had originally planned to turn on Hill Grade Rd. but apparently it is now a private road because there was a gate across it and it was closed. Or maybe the road had been washed out. That happens around here. Anyway, it was just as well, as we rode by I noticed that it was nothing more than a dirt road.


By this point we were also looking for a place to stop for a rest, ideally near some shade. Although now that we were in the area referred to as the Devils Garden I wasn’t so sure we would find any. I knew if we stopped without a little protection from the sun on a day like today we would feel exactly like we were sizzling in the fire pit of hell. Okay, maybe I am being a little dramatic, but it would be steamy. 



Finally, we caught a glimpse of some shade trees further down. There was a road but no street sign and the pavement abruptly stopped a few feet in. I later learned the road was called Dooley Grade Rd. and if we were adventurous we could have followed it through to connect to 835.

We were not that adventurous …
Dooley Grade Rd. might actually have been a fully paved road at one time. 
But now it looked more like a trail than a road, but there was shade!

After our break we continued on to find that the 833 did work its way around to the 835 and then we were back on track. It really didn’t matter that we were taken further out of our way, after all that is what riding a motorcycle is all about. As we neared Clewiston we did run into traffic again and a few lights, but before we knew it we were moving at a good speed along 27 and 80 and the heat of the day was just a warm breeze with our knees in the wind. 

At the end of the day, it was just a perfect ride to beat the heat. 

Map Directions







Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride...

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Short Ride is Better Than No Ride

(01-12-2018)

I have been in Florida for 15 days now and haven’t had the chance for a proper reunion with my motorcycle. After getting my Sporty Blue out of storage it got so damn cold out that I had no desire to ride. (I know, blasphemy!) In my defense I was still trying to thaw out from leaving the deep freeze of -37C / -34.6F in Canada. 


Bob Mason Park, LaBelle – River Rd. 
When the weather finally warmed back up again, wouldn’t you know it, I got sick! I eventually got over that unpleasantness and feeling much better now. Today I am super excited as ride day has finally arrived! 

The first ride of the season I usually refer to as the “break in ride”. It is always a familiar route, I find an initial short run helps to jump start my muscle memory and get them pliable again. Also helps the ole’ joints to unseize from all those months of not riding. 

We settled on one of our favorites, River Road towards LaBelle. It was fairly windy, although it was such a warm wind I didn’t even need my extra hoodie. I also didn’t care that there were some dark ominous clouds moving in fast. I just needed to ride. We stopped at our favorite rest stop on this route, Bob Mason Park. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the rain to start, so we decided to cut this ride really short. We did end up getting a little wet, but managed to miss most of the clouds that wanted to split open and drown us. 

I was just so happy that I had a chance to get in some wind therapy and clear the cob webs from my head that had formed over the summer. Even a short ride can re-energize the soul. 


Chirp chillin’ on the saddle bag, although he was quick to get out of the rain when it started.
(Chirp may be made of sugar lol)
FIY – In case you are wondering, Chirp is my own creation. Not to toot my own horn but I will anyway, I created the pattern and lovingly stitched him by hand. 



River Road Route from Alva to Bob Mason Park. (Our round trip was 46 miles / 74 km - Short but oh so sweet)








~~ PRESENTS TO ME ~~
Sometimes you just gotta spoil yourself. Maybe I just bought myself a few extra things because I turned 53 at the end of the year and figured I deserved it because I never thought I would make it this far LOL 

My new helmet and Harley boots are awesome.  I actually bought them a couple of months ago.  I just love my helmet, I picked it up at Royal Distributing in Barrie, ON. I could spend a fortune in that place, if I had a fortune. 


Chirp trying on the boots for size


My Harley boots I ordered online and even though I had to pay duty charges when they arrived they were worth it. 

I still have an older pair of the same boots that I still wear. I really didn’t need to “break them in” either, they were soft and comfortable the first time I put them on. 

(After my first ride, my boots now have the beginnings of the proudly worn biker toe scuff!)







I must give a Shout Out to Devas Bling who made my custom star decal for my helmet, It Rocks! 



And I would like to say a special Thank You to Lisa from BikerGirlBling.com.
I appreciated the Christmas card and was deeply touched that she added blingy hearts to put some much needed sparkle back into my life. 
(These Rhinestone Bling Hearts can also be purchased at BikerGirlBling.com) 




One cannot forget to spoil the two-wheel chariot. I have added a couple of small touches to give my bike a personal feel. 


Loving the awesome Tire Valve Caps.
Thanks a bunch for the gift Lisa! 


A bit of bling from BikersGirlBling.com This is a such a cool site to find everything motorcycle related, from accessories to clothes. It is a one stop shopping directory of motorcycle products.  

Don’t forget to check out the BikersGirlBling Blog section where you can follow interesting DIY projects, product reviews and read awesome feature stories of women and their custom rides.
(Yes, I am a little bias, I have written some feature stories for Lisa)










Steel Cowgirl silver decal on my Harley

I am a member of the Steel Cowgirl group on Facebook. This is a group that brings together women from around the world who share their passion of motorcycling. 

Regina runs the group along with the vigilant Skeeter who guarantees a drama free zone. 

Regina also offers her branded logo collection on a wide range of clothing and accessories at www.SteelCowgirl.com


The first thing I did when I got to Florida was order a T-shirt, a patch and a few decals. (I actually could have ordered them in Canada but wanted to save on the duty)


All my goodies from SteelCowgirl.com


 


Even though Chirp tried to confiscate my ‘Steel Cowgirl’ patch,
 I ultimately won the battle and sewed it on my motorcycle jacket. 

I am so looking forward to sharing another great season of wind therapy with you! 
Stay tuned for more of my riding adventures. 

New this year, Chirp will be on Instagram/thefrozencanuck.ca if you want to follow! 







Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride...

Friday, December 22, 2017

A year to remember


I have never been one to have a lot of friends, well actually I really don’t have any at all.  I am a bonafide loner, there I said it. It is okay though, I have been like this all of my life. I even can admit that I am more comfortable behind my computer screen or riding around on my motorcycle with just my random thoughts to keep me company. 

However, when I looked back on this last year it made me realize that my blog and social platforms (Twitter & Facebook) have absolutely changed that. I actually found some amazing friendships there, even if they are just virtual.

Feeling all sentimental, I wanted to take some time to thank all of my followers over the last year who have supported my motorcycle adventure blog and have put in the effort to read my ramblings. I can hardly believe that so many people out there have actually followed me, or at least they pretend to. LOL

I also wanted to tell those of you who share our mornings together (you know who you are) that it has been great getting to know you as a friend and you guys always bring a smile to my face. I couldn’t think of a better way to start my day than to share it with you all. (I just realized how reclusive that makes me sound LOL)

It is our passion for the open road that has brought us all together and this passion brings a closeness that few can understand. It brings happiness to my life to ‘Cruise through life’ and share it with you. 

Okay, enough of the mushiness. I will be gearing up soon to start another exciting year of motorcycle adventures and look forward to sharing them with all of you.

Wishing all of you a heartfelt Merry Christmas
and a very Happy New Year!


Ride Safe my friends!
Cruising Through Life & Enjoying the Ride…




P.S. I would also like to introduce Chirp, he will be accompanying me on my riding adventures this year! I still need to find him a pair of sunglasses to complete his chillin’ look. Suggestions of where to find a pair that will fit him are welcome 😊