Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Well, I knew it had been awhile, but I can't believe it's been a year since I blogged for real!  Once Flickr started limiting photos, it became more difficult to move photos from my phone to the computer so facebook is just an easier avenue to blog rides.

I'm going to save all the personal drama for my other blog.  I made this one specifically for saving and logging RIDES.  Used to be, for my horse ... now, for the steel horse.  Rides are getting more tricky now with this COVID-19 virus causing mass panic across the globe.  Mental health is every bit as important as physical health, as the spike in suicide death has shown.  Riding motorcycles ... NOT going to contribute to spreading this thing unless you ride in mass groups and hang all over each other after getting off your bike.  Most of us ride 2-6 people at the most, we wear full protective gear, and when we get off to take a break, we're well further than the recommended 6 feet apart.  Most restaurants have their dining rooms closed, so we're doing carry out on the sidewalk, or pack a lunch in the saddlebags.  I understand the concern of accidents taking away hospital resources; but we STILL have to drive to buy groceries and essentials and just to get OUT.  I think we're all going stir crazy already, and the time recommendations just keep increasing.  So I will ride, and I will continue to ride.  Soon enough, this will all be over and we can get back to epic road trips ... for now, they're shorter and more local rides which is all I need!

Planning for a few miles with my buddy Lenore on Thursday; it's all because of her I passed my class, I believe!  I'm bad about getting in my head when I'm in a stressful situation, and she reminded me BEFORE I attempt that dang corner, or that dang weave line to get in the friction zone.  It helped TREMENDOUSLY, and I have used that advice many times on the tight, curvy roads I've ridden on.  I'm usually the follower, so to lead a ride is always different for me.  I just hope I don't forget where to turn!

So, I thought I'd go over a few things as I approach 3 years of owning Khaleesi.  I've already hit my 3 years having my license, but I never rode on my own until I got my bike.  I've enjoyed every second I've owned my Indian.  I've had ups and downs with my riding, as has everyone I'm sure, but the ups WAY outweigh the downs!!

1.  My biggest challenge is by far my faith in myself.  I have had several minor accidents because of "bucking up" and believing in my abilities, from jumping horses to riding ATVs.  That negative reinforcement has served to teach me that I don't always have it covered.  I don't have brute strength, and I don't have height on my side.

2.  It was a long time before I FINALLY got my bike 100% dialed in.  Don't give up on your bike if it feels mostly great, but still has that something that isn't quite right.  Keep tinkering and trying things until you get it right.  I had to make improvements piece by piece, and sometimes one "improvement" would actually accentuate discomfort somewhere else.

3.  Confidence DOES come.  You may not feel it 100% of the time, but with miles comes experience.  I've learned to not be hard on myself if I feel like I've "wimped out" in ANY situation involving motorcycles.  Sometimes that "wimping out" may save your life.  We all have days that we just aren't feeling something; that may very well be God impressing upon you that today just isn't your day.

4.  Take every ride with an open mind.  Every small situation can teach you something about being a safer rider.  I didn't chronicle it on this blog, but on our big New England vacation, I wrecked my bike.  I wrecked her because I ignored early warning signs from several rides where I slid in a straight line stop due to locking up my brakes.  It took laying her down at 35 mph down an interstate off ramp to figure out how to brake properly.

And finally ...
5.  Don't fight the motorcycle.  There are hundreds of different brands and thousands of different models for every size, desire, and style of rider.  Once you've found your ideal model, trust that the machine is going to take care of you.  As you carve through canyons and zip around corners, sit up tall or tuck in tight, and let the weight of gravity get you through it.  The more relaxed and "loose" you are, the more you're able to just enjoy the ride and chew through those miles!

The one bright side of damaging a motorcycle tank is having it fixed with some custom paint!!

I've ridden a hair over 32,000 miles in 3 years so far.  I've treasured every mile.  This past week was GREAT, riding wise.  Looking forward to Thursday's ride, weather permitting of course!  Thanks for checking in, I'll try to post more here rather than just on facebook! 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

First overnight of 2019

Put a few new stickers on my new helmet

There's nothing like blogging out on the front porch with a cup of coffee.  I am so looking forward to the day that we are able to buy a house with a breathtaking view of the mountains, so I am REALLY inspired when I'm writing.  It'll come :)

I decided on the blog today because our trip was almost more of a "business" trip, so we don't have any good pictures to share.  I would say that's the biggest disadvantage to riding my own motorcycle vs. being a "hubby hugger" is that I can't snap pics while we're riding down the road.  David tried to get some GoPro footage, but the wind on Friday was No Joke.  In fact, I'd say it was literally the most windy day we've ridden in at all.  It was crazy!

The only makeup I wear when riding

The weekend dawned almost frosty in the mornings, warming up to a crisp 60ish degrees.  Basically, classic Spring weather.  Our trip was to be an overnight Friday/Saturday one.  It sort of came about on accident; I suggested last weekend that we needed a hotel room w/ a hot tub to come home to, and that planted the seed for an idea.  We discussed a few overnight possibilities, but by mid week I'd already decided to scrap the idea.  We have a HUGE trip planned for July ... and this is already almost April.  So we need to save as much as we can in order to pull off what we have planned.  My creative side, David, came up with an interesting route taking us to just outside Nashville, then up into areas of Kentucky we've never been to.  We were planning to ride to Family Video stores.

You may be scratching your head wondering what is Family Video?  Well, it's basically a smaller Blockbuster Video type chain.  And yes, they're open and thriving ... the video rental business is NOT dead!  And just why would we want to frequent such an establishment?  David makes a little extra money here and there by buying and selling movie codes online.  Family Video buys their movies from places like Wal Mart, so they pull all the codes out of the movies and actually sell them.  David found out they have all kinds of sales on their codes, so he figured we could have the best of both worlds; an overnight trip w/ a hotel room and hot tub AND make a little extra money on the side.  Count me in!

We both managed to swing getting off work on Friday by noon, so we raced home (not on motorcycles; remember those frosty mornings??) jumped on our bikes, and hit the road.  Our plan was to make it to 2 of the stores before checking into our hotel for the night, then go eat, then indulge in the hot tub.  Time was on our side, because we fell back an hour as we headed west.  A lot of the route was Interstate, and it was CRAZY.  The wind was blowing so hard, the majority of our conversation back and forth was "WHOA!  This is CRAZY".  Lol.  I have finally gotten used to how much Khaleesi moves around at high speeds.  When I had only a few thousand miles under my belt, the movement would cause my heart to be in my throat, and my hands would cramp from holding my grips so tight.  Add in high winds, and the bike feels like she's literally dancing around underneath me.  But my mind was in such a serene place, it was weird.  I sat nice and tall, kept my hands relaxed on the grips, and twisted the throttle more than usual as we zoomed up and around the semi trucks.  What was interesting is I can feel the movement in my hips and core, but when I look down at my hands, the handlebars are secure and stable, NO movement in my hands.  That's why I've been able to store up my confidence, is that what I'm feeling isn't necessarily a bad thing.  David was almost feeling it more than me because he said the fairing on the Chieftan was catching more wind than he used to feel on his Vulcan.

Red Robin ... YUM!

We finally got off and rode some state roads.  The wind was marginally better, but definitely still there as these were 55/60 mph roads.  I was thoroughly enjoying myself because much of the central plateau area is not area we're familiar with.  The sheer rock formations and wide open fields gave me plenty to look at and soak in, and before I knew it, we were arriving at the first video store.  I didn't go in to any of them.  I grabbed my book (an oldie, but one I've never read; John Grisham's "The Pelican Brief"), grabbed my drink, and sprawled out on the curb next to the bikes.  I was comfortable in my layers and just took off my leather jacket at the stops.  

After David did his thing, we made our way out to Hendersonville, TN.  We've been to Nashville several times, but always IN the city.  And never on the motorcycles.  Hendersonville is roughly half an hour from downtown, and it was fabulous.  Very beautiful landscape, lots of newer stores and restaurants, and our hotel.  Let me just say, our hotel was SO nice.  It had the fanciest bathroom of any normal "chain" hotels we've ever stayed in.  Nice brown and teal carpeting, a soothing and light scent, and crisp white coverlet on the bed; NOT the big, giant puffy things that normally cover the beds.  We ate at a spot that used to be a favorite treat, Red Robin.  I'm pleased to say it was super good; the one we have out here close to us is TERRIBLE.  Bad service, filthy restaurant, and bad food :(  We stuffed our faces and made our way to the hot tub.  YESSSSSS ... :):)

Fancy shower and fancy Kohler fixtures

The next morning we went to none other than our favorite Cracker Barrel and hit the road up into Bowling Green, KY.  This part of the ride wasn't much to talk about.  We had fun seeing the different landscaping and areas.  I got lots of reading done as David made it to 5 stores.  Finally, around 5:15 central time he was done.  We got serious about riding and found a few roads that were more curvy.  KY has interesting state roads, because sometimes they turn into tiny little country routes with twists and curves and lots of farmland.  Once we hit interstate, that pretty much ended our surface roads.  The wind was better, but as the sun went down the temps were dropping and I was getting straight up cold.  I held on to the bike and we roared through the twists and curves and ups and downs of I-40 E getting back into the Knoxville area.  It is NOT just straight, flat interstate.  It is very challenging to roar through at 80 mph up and down mountains and around curves on Interstate that mostly does not have any lighting.  I kept my eyes always looking for potential problems and wildlife, but our angels rode with us and we made it home safe and sound and 100% problem free.  

A road/motorcycle trip favorite

Our Indians are so ideal for what we do.  My bike is finally perfectly set up for my preferences.  My back doesn't get tired, my helmet doesn't get buffeted by the wind, and my knees don't hurt from only having pegs to rest my feet on.  David's bike has GIANT saddlebags with lots of room for all my extras, and he is so comfortable on his, too.  He did change out the seat that came stock on his bike for one that came stock on a Chieftan Elite, and he is much more comfortable.  His stock seat was just too soft and didn't give him enough support.  His new one is also soft, but it's supportive too.  The only thing he needs now for 100% comfort is a heel shifter.  That's what he's used to, and it's what he prefers.  My bike is so beautifully neutral in all conditions.  I can cruise at 85 mph up and down hills, and I can weave and twist through tight, no center line roads.  She never hesitates, never gives me trouble, and the 120 mile limit on the gas tank is a PERFECT stopping point for getting off and stretching/getting a drink.  Our bikes also spark up conversation everywhere we go, every ride, no exceptions.  We're always thrilled to promote the brand, and to meet enthusiasts where ever we go.  Looking forward to our next "business" trip ;)

How we secured our bikes at the hotel.  Just keeps honest people honest

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Ride

I can remember the day I became 'addicted' to riding.  I was 8 years old, and I'd just been instructed on how to mount a horse.  My instructor looked me in the eye once she'd set my feet properly in the stirrups and said, "Now, this may feel weird".  As the aged gray mare took her first steps with me astride, the joyful feeling that overtook my body was one I will never shake.

I still get that thrill every time I settle aboard my bike.  She hasn't been started since December 2nd ... I don't keep her on a battery tender, and we've had several days in the 20's.  She fired right up at the first press of the button ... and we were off!

Time constraints and a need for a rear tire kept us to a minimum ride today; but ANY wind therapy in December is perfect, no matter what.  Our ride took us through Walland to Foothills towards Wears Valley; and then we whipped around and did it back the other way and ended up in Maryville.  The air was crisp but mild and the sky was a deep, cloudless blue.  The growl of my Khaleesi drowned out all other sound, and the breathtaking mountain views calmed any wayward thoughts. 

I have officially hit 10,000 miles ridden during my 2nd year riding with FOUR more months to go!  I'm at 20,020 miles total on my bike.  I'm pretty sure this number will be my goal for the next 6 more years, until Colton is big enough to ride on the back and go with us.  Projected rain the next 2 days, but we're HOPING to have good enough weather to ride up to Bristol on Saturday so I can get my tire.  Everyone is doing a New Year's Day "Frosty Toes" ride, so hoping to be able to participate!

Love my bike, so blessed to have her and to have the ability to ride and spend time w/ my hubby.  We love riding, and can't wait until our next VACATION! 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Trying new things

So, we have been trying to step slightly out of the "Jen and David" bubble, and try to ride with other people!  It's tough because many of the contacts we've made are several hours from the Knoxville area.  So to "organize" a ride is a little bit of a pain because you try to find an area convenient to "everyone", but then something happens to throw a wrench in the plans; and by "wrench", I mean the weather!  I'm not complaining because it's November 25th, and we just got home from our 4th ride over the last week, but it is very unpredictable right now.  So mainly, David and I just go whenever we feel like it, and ride wherever the bikes happen to take us.

Fun ride with friends!

Last week however, a friend from Murfreesboro had a ride planned for the Cherohala Skyway.  That's less than an hour from us, so I threw our hats in the ring as ready and willing to ride!  The ride hinged more on them because it's around 4 hours from west Tennessee to the Cherohala; and last Sunday was in the THIRTIES.  Um, that's freaking COLD, lol.  And no, I still don't have any heated gear!  But all was well, and we bundled up in roughly 9 layers to head south and meet.  Our friends met up with us, and we hit the road!  Cherohala to the Dragon to Foothills Parkway.  It was cold and had salt residue on the road, but nothing slippery or too dirty.  The Dragon actually had photographers even though the resort and the Killboy store are shut down for the season!  Stoked about that.  It was my little Khaleesi/2 Chieftans/1 Roadmaster ... so I was the odd one out, lol!  190 miles of perfection :D

4 little Indians

For Thanksgiving day, my evil master plan worked perfectly and we were able to have a "Biker Thanksgiving".  There were a few tense moments as we reached the apex of the mountains; there were full on icy patches ... and that road does NOT get salted, it simply gets closed.  So it was deemed passable to cars; I swallowed my trepidation, slowed WAY down, and we made it safely through all 3 spots.  As we weaved our way down into Cherokee, NC, it actually got colder.  I'm happy to say that just my finger tips and my toes got a bit chilly.  We did see Elk in NC, and the ride back home boasted NO ICE, yay!  We did Foothills Parkway for the 3rd time in as many weeks, but this time we did it from Wears Valley towards Maryville.  We like it better TOWARDS Wears Valley, you get better views that way.  But this was the first time we got to ride it with NO stop and go traffic at all.  So beautiful, VERY fun to ride!

Riding into the GSM National Park

Elk in Cherokee, NC

Cherokee has these beautiful bears everywhere

Today was a very educational day for me.  We finally got to meet up with some friends that we met last year, at the Mystery Dinner Ride.  They have a pretty good circle of friends, and had arranged to ride with several other people, and us.  It was around the Big South Fork recreation area.  That is a FUN area, and lots of challenging roads.  The rec area itself has 2 10 mph switchbacks that I've progressively gotten better at.  As those of you that have followed my riding journey thus far know, if there's anything I struggle with, it's right hand switchback turns, especially uphill ones.  Let's just say they're an experienced group of riders.  I mean, we're experienced too in the sense that we've ridden so much in the last year and a half ... but our riding experience IS roughly a year and a half of saddle time.  David did ride as a kid, but not for the last 21 years.  I have NEVER ridden the "steel horse" before 3-17-17. 

Can you see all those CURVES??

Today, I rode on what felt to me to be the very edge of control.  I am not a "hard twist of the throttle" type of rider.  I don't fiddle-fart around, but I don't lay rubber either.  10 over the speed limit is about my comfort zone.  Throw a curvy road in there, and I tend to be more of a 5 over to the actual limit kind of girl.  In fact, David will sometimes get in a forward rhythm through curves and will kind of leave me in the dirt.  But ... you don't LEARN when you never push.  It's important to ride in all types of conditions, and it's important to push the boundaries of your riding so that you can improve and grow as a rider.  I was super impressed with our leaders; They were both on Chieftans; he on a Darkhorse, and she on the gorgeous red Chieftan Elite.  They can RIDE; she stayed right with him staggered slightly just how David and I ride, and she matched her hubby curve for curve.  There were times they both smoked us.  Let me be clear, they did wait for us.  But they had to stop and wait for us, lol!  I tried as hard as I could to keep up, but as we hit the switchbacks, I had to give that up.

Made some new buddies today!

The familiar roads gave way to new ones; we were cruising along soooo much faster than we normally do, and the curves were AMAZING!  They'd rise and fall with a twist and a flick, and it literally felt like we were on a roller coaster; so damn scary!  Haha, I was beginning to have fun, though.  I think the 1st 3rd of my ride, I was terrified.  I was gritting my teeth and having to take deep breaths to keep my arms loose so I could just let the bike follow the road.  The middle 3rd was unreal curves.  The fun rollercoaster road gave way to z shape curves going uphill.  As I approached, I let off the throttle, downshifted all the way to 1st, and turned my head over my shoulder.  For some of the turns, I actually drug my rear brake and feathered the clutch, they were THAT steep.  I felt bad for the guys behind me, as I'm sure they could have stayed up closer with our leaders.  That section was a combination of the Copperhead road and the Devil's Triangle!

East Rim overlook; gorgeous!

The final 3rd, I was finally digging twisting that throttle!  I leaned forward, shoved my heels down off the edge of my floorboards, and breathed deep.  I pushed out my destructive visions of David going down, and I pushed out the news that one of the lady bloggers I follow went down this morning, totaling her bike and breaking her pelvis in 4 places.  That crap messes with your mind!  The road was GREAT, and I looked up past David to my friend in front; I just watched how she didn't even touch the brake coming into the curve and just leaned into it.  So I quit hitting my brakes, concentrated on my lines, and trusted that my girl was going to go around the corner at speed.  Slow.  Look.  Press.  Roll.  I slowed enough to evaluate that I was fully under control, I looked as far through the curve as I could, I pressed the bars at speed, and I rolled harder on that throttle coming out than I ever have.  As we thundered to our final rest stop, David and I kept up perfectly with the leaders.  He too was getting a feel for the new ride, and trusting those tires to grip the road.

Gee, I feel like the baby of the group!

At the end of the day, you HAVE to ride your ride.  But also at the end of the day, if you never step outside your little box, you will never grow and learn and gain experience, either.  So yes, I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone.  At times, I had to tell myself to relax my jaw and stop gritting my teeth.  But my reward was a renewed faith in myself, and in my bike that we can both be aggressive and forward thinking.  I had a BLAST, and we were invited to tag along again, so we must not have lagged too badly!  I was once again the odd one out; 4 Chieftans, 1 Roadmaster, and my Scout, lol.  That's ok, I love her so much, and I love that she's not too much bike for me.  We're about 500 miles away from 20,000, HOW did that happen???  So I will 100% meet my goal of another 10K miles during year 2 of riding.  Again, year TWO.  I have to remind myself that technically, I'm still a beginner with lots left to learn.  I still have plenty of things to work on before I figure out a way to get myself a Chieftan.  I don't NEED a giant bike right now.  I think a minimum of 5 years with the Scout is what I need to gain the necessary experience to graduate up to a larger motorcycle.  As I've said since day 1; I will keep my Khaleesi forever.  I was asked today what my first bike was, and I was proud to say it's my Indian.

6 little Indians

So grateful and blessed to be able to ride roughly 711 miles since last Sunday.  We did a quick ride on Friday up to the Indian dealership so David could demo a Mustang seat for his bike; we did our "test ride" loop, and went right back so he could drop it back off, lol!  Not what he's looking for.  We then took the long way home :)  This upcoming week is going to be miserably cold with temps in the low 40's as the highs.  Not sure what the weekend will look like; if we ride at all, it will be Saturday.  Preliminary forecast looks pretty good, but that can change on a whim.

I'm sorry, was I drooling?

Finally got a NEW FHP pic

Sunday, November 11, 2018

All the things ...

Well.  Life has taken an interesting turn for us.  You know how I've said, several times, how I sure would love to get David's Chieftan before the end of the year?  Yeah, in reality, we had NO idea how that was actually going to happen.  And trade in vs. selling outright ... well, our dilemma was solved by  Mufasa getting totaled.

The prior Monday, we were given the opportunity to do fun, touristy things in Pigeon Forge!  Tuesday, we were in the ER.  And by "we", I mean David.  It was a beautiful day, and he'd decided to take his bike out and about a bit.  I'd driven b/c the morning was just a hair too cold for me, which turned out to be a good thing.  We'd JUST had lunch together.  I was back at work, working, and he called me and said, "So, it seems I've had a little motorcycle accident".  I jumped out of my chair and ran out the door.  He still doesn't know what happened.  He was on a road we've traveled on many times, it was not in a terribly curvy part, and he was in traffic.  His rear end broke loose and threatened his control, so he moved it over to the side.  When he hit the grass, the bike did a 180 and flung him off in a ditch.  He was knocked unconscious for roughly 30 minutes; the cops woke him up.

By the time I got to him, he had been given a provisional "clear" from the ambulance EMT's.  He was most definitely concussed, but not much else was going on.  That day, he was fully dressed in all his gear, gloves included.  We swung by the house so he could change, and made our way out to the ER.  Thankful for a great staff that didn't keep us there all night.  Once the CT scan pronounced his head and spine clear, we went back home.  In the ensuing days, it was determined that Mufasa would be put down.  I think I was more sad than David!  It hurt my heart to see him there in the "boneyard".  Unfortunately, Kawasaki Vulcans are a dime a dozen, and the cost to repair them with the overpriced OEM parts quickly overwhelm the value of the bike.  

He hit on the right side


We'd come to grips that our riding season was over.  Figures, because I'd JUST put the last piece of the puzzle on Khaleesi; pipes.  My friend that sold me her floorboards still had her pipes, and I bought them off her.  David gave me his blessing to ride by myself some, but I was sensing a trend; his dad was riding alone BOTH times he went down.  David was riding alone when HE went down.  So, my thoughts of riding alone weren't so favorable.  But I did go on a short ride, and had a blast.  A week later, we were frantically getting off work and running into Knoxville so we could bring home a new family member; Viserion.

RC Components exhaust!  Soooo loud!

Everything just fell perfectly into place for it to happen.  It wasn't something we were planning, to be sure, but it all worked out.  Viserion turned out to be David's birthday gift; he brought her home the day after his birthday.  Well, almost, lol!  We'd JUST pulled out of the IMOK parking lot, and the check engine light came on followed by a very obvious engine cutting in and out.  We hooked a quick U turn and booked it back to a closed dealership (6:05), but thankfully, we were able to grab our sales guy as he was leaving.  Will unlocked the doors, wheeled Viserion back inside, and said he'd give us a call the next day once they figured out what was going on.

First ride!  Heading down to GA

I can not tell you how much my heart flutters to see 2 Indians in the garage!

Riding the Trail of Tears

Turns out it was just a fouled spark plug, so they replaced both and we were good to go!  My heart was racing as I followed David home; IMOK is off a very busy highway, and the traffic around town right now is so bad with lots of tourists in for the leaf season.  My heart was in my throat until he finally pulled her into the garage.

That gray paint is gorgeous; it's so sparkly, like mine!  NOT a matte finish.

The next day, we left out to ride the beasts down to GA.  It was a lovely ride; very windy and blustery, but we were properly layered up, so no big deal.  David did great; his back was HUGELY bruised up and very sore from his fall, and he did skin his knee.  His jeans were flapping around and irritated his wound on the knee, but other than that, he did great on the ride.  We did 347 miles.  Already, it's time for the 500 mile break in service!  Time flies when you're having a blast!

Yesterday was FREEZING, but today it actually got up to low 50.  We hit the road to ride the NEW section of Foothills Parkway.  They have been working on that 16 mile stretch of road between Walland and Wears Valley since the 1960's.  They FINALLY finished the connecting bridge; yesterday was opening day.  Today, it was sooooo crowded!  We knew it would be, though.  I wanted to do it 1.  Because the weather was ok enough to ride for an hour or so.  And 2.  Because the Fall color is still beautiful!

Foothills Parkway

The missing link series of bridges

Viewing Townsend

We were on the uphill side ... in traffic.  FUN, lol!  Very unique challenge to keep it in 1st, moving along about 2 or 3 mph up a mountain, on an off camber road.  My clutch hand got pretty tired, but I wasn't dying or anything.  We got to the end and came home through Wears Valley instead of turning around and coming back over the Parkway, like our original intention. 

This costume garnered more attention than any other!

We'll have to capture the bikes with the views NEXT time

My thespian acting again!  A Midsummer's Night Dream

The day she came home ... a mini tribe!

The "usual" side of Foothills

We've reached full on "off season".  This week is going to be rainy with highs in the 40's.  We will keep the girls gassed and ready for a ride at a moment's notice.  HOPING Thanksgiving day will be decent; we're going to Harrah's Casino in Cherokee for dinner; it would be awesome to ride the bikes since the in-laws will be available to drive the babies!  We'll just have to see.