The Folly of Carrying Excess Weight

by Liz Jansen

carrying excess weightIn my dream, I was riding my black Yamaha FZ1 (two bikes ago) with a group of friends. ‘Joe’s’ bike broke down and somehow he assumed he could ride mine and take me as a passenger. In reality, Joe is a good friend and excellent on- and off-road rider who would not be so presumptive.

While testing my bike, he kept dropping it in the parking lot. I was annoyed that I was expected to be a passenger and further annoyed that he was getting my bike all scratched up. There was no way I was riding pillion, but offered him the position.

With me in the driver’s seat, we set off down a four-lane divided highway on rather rough pavement. I didn’t even feel him on the back. I was one of a few stragglers going the speed limit and occasionally someone from the group would come back to check on us—and ask what was taking us so long.

At one point, we all had to dismount and walk down a flight of very old, steep steps, with me piggybacking Joe. It took a few tries to stabilize us but we finally managed and I proceeded down the steps. Whitewashed at some point, the paint was peeling, and the steps were gravelly and narrow, uneven in tread and rise.

I struggled but made it down the first flight safely, only to see the second flight was even narrower and steeper. There was no way I could carry Joe any further and set him down.

That was the end of the dream but not of my lesson.

There’s no need to get into deep psychoanalysis to catch the meaning. Ironically, the dream came just before I published my packing list for solo motorcycle travel.

This dream was not about how much weight I carry on my motorcycle. It was a reminder of how much responsibility I accept, what I expect of myself, how insidiously the psychic weight creeps up and sucks the available energy, and how easy it is to get thrown off balance, even when my activities are well intended and aligned with my values. There’s only so much one person can do. Inevitably health issues crop up and it’s so much better to listen before they do.

The first message is to stay in control (to the extent we are in control) of your own choices. Do what’s right for you, rather than assuaging the expectations of others. Joe is a great rider and in waking time, he’d be one of a rare handful I’d let ride my bike. But this was my ride, not his, that’s why he couldn’t manage. And I was happy to help him out when he needed it.

The dream also illustrates how some choices have a limited shelf life. It was right to extend a hand to a friend and virtually no additional effort. There was absolutely no sustained need, nor was it in my best interests to continue carrying that weight once the need was over, yet I did it without even thinking.

This is not the first dream I’ve had about descending stairs. Going Down Stairs . They appear in dreams to reflect the inner work that’s happening—delving into my subconscious as I explore my ancestry and the strengths and challenges that have shaped me. Trying to do this while carrying excess weight is self-defeating. It takes focus—and courage.

Even in dreams, my motorcycle appears as my teacher. Some lessons, like the ones about carrying excess weight, take longer than others to embody. Thankfully, it’s patient and ready to carry me for the long haul.


photo credit: Fortly Textures via photopin (license)

Posted in Personal Growth Tagged with: ,

The Motorcycle Art of Surrender

by Liz Jansen

art of surrenderA motorcycle has been one of my greatest teachers throughout life. Most recently it’s become a primer for the Art of Surrender, demonstrated through riding on gravel. Even when we don’t intend to end up on the loose stuff, construction, a detour, or a wrong turn can take us there.

It’s easy to slip into the illusion that we’re in control. On the other hand, practicing the Art of Surrender and letting go is a hard lesson.  Ironically, it’s more effective in getting us to our destination.

To get the motorcycle parallel right, I sought the counsel of off-road guru Clinton Smout, world-class trainer and founder of SMART Adventures.

Here’s what he had to say. Pay particular attention to his second point as it pertains to surrender.

“The motorcycle is searching for traction in soft terrain, especially in deep sand. So our reaction as pavement riders is twofold:

Shut off the throttle because we’re scared. We don’t want more speed. That makes it worse because now all the weight goes forward onto that front tire. It tries to burrow. An analogy that I like to use is a boat in the water. When you give it throttle, the bow, the front of the water comes up out of the waves, fantastic for steering. You let off the throttle and the bow sinks in the waves, it’s horrible sluggish steering. That’s the same as our two-wheeled vehicles in loose terrain. If you can’t accelerate, at least down shift so you’re in a position with crisp throttle response. And if it’s a long expanse of sand and gravel where it isn’t prudent to keep accelerating, blips of throttle shift our weight back and keep our front end light.

The second instinct we must fight is not to white knuckle the bars. Because again, as humans, we’re scared. When our mom’s backs were a lot hairier and we were swinging through the trees, we hung on like crazy because we were scared. On a motorcycle when things go wrong, most of us instinctively white knuckle the handlebars. It’s the worst thing you can do because you’re not going to be able to make that thing go exactly where you want. The front wheel’s only moving 2 or 3 inches. It feels like it’s going to go in the ditch but it won’t. An analogy you use is put an imaginary egg in each glove and let it wobble.

Blip the throttle or downshift to a steady throttle at a lower gear, lower your speed, and relax the grip. And the bike will go a lot straighter because it’s finding its own way. As long as it’s going west and that was your choice, let it wobble a little. It’s disconcerting and that’s why we want to slow down with gear drops.

It’s better to keep momentum and the weight to the back. It’s counter-intuitive. Who would think of giving it gas or keeping the speed when things get crazy? That’s the secret.

Let it go.”

So too with learning the art of surrender in life. It’s not about rolling over or giving up. Surrender is about taking an active role but knowing that letting go is much more effective than trying to muscle through a situation, or believe you can control the outcome with sheer will.

Hanging on may work for a while, but ultimately, you’ll find yourself more effective and less stressed by surrendering. You’ll also find out a lot more about yourself and what you’re capable of. Sometimes we’re so anxious to be in control we lose sight of who we are and how our story figures into the big picture.

Let it go. Just like the front motorcycle wheel finds it’s way through the rough stuff when you allow it to, so too will you.

photo credit: Metal via photopin (license)

Posted in Life Lessons from Motorcycles Tagged with:

Dad and My Motorcycle

Originally written a few years ago, this memory is as alive today as it was then. Dad is now 90 and walking with canes as he recovers from a hip replacement following a fall. He’s moved into assisted living, mom is next door in long-term care, and his car is parked in the underground garage. He’ll still do whatever he can (and try to do more) to help me with my motorcycle.

Tribute to Dad on Father’s Day

Dad and me selfie

Dad and me in 2013. Picture of the farm as it was in 1956 when we moved there hangs prominently behind us, framed with original barn board.


Posted in Liz's Stories Tagged with: , ,

Chapter One

by Liz Jansen 

Chapter oneOne of the things I love about writing is you never know where it’s going to take you. Much like riding a motorcycle. And like riding, you know you’re in for an adventure, you just don’t know the details. Even if I would have made an outline, crashing would not have been part of my story. I like to think the draft of Chapter One is now complete.

Twenty-two months ago I expected to be gone a minimum of 12-18 months on a solo motorcycle trip through the Americas. There was a real possibility that I might not return to my hometown, not because I thought I was going to die, but rather I might find a place where I’d like to stay for a while.

That time is up and geographically I’m still where I started. Yet I’ve put a big dent (pun intended) in what I set out to do, albeit via a very different course than I’d imagined.

My intent was to learn and write about what makes us who we are, how we’re shaped by our culture and who we are before we’re told who we are. That was about as much as I knew. I wanted to learn more about my cultural background and my connection to the land my ancestors walked. I had no idea of the course curriculum but trusted it would unfold as I went along.

I can’t say that what I’ve learned wouldn’t have happened had I continued on to South America. That didn’t transpire so I don’t know what the outcome would have been. I can only state with certainty that tracing my route on my mythical map would have looked and felt very different than it does now.

There were certain things I knew from the start—the intent of my trip, I’d be traveling by motorcycle, my plans could change at any point along the way, and there’d be many lessons. I didn’t know what opting for the road less traveled or opening up the covers of books would reveal, or who’d appear in my life as a teacher. Or the myriad of profound experiences I’d have. I didn’t know I’d crash.

Yet that crash has been a catalyst in my quest for the knowledge I was seeking. Not that I would have consciously chosen it. Not in a million years. Nor would I have chosen to break my ankle seven months later while walking.

Half of the intervening time has been spent in physical recovery and healing. Even though I can safely ride, progress has been painfully slow and there’s quite a way to go. All of the time has been one of awakening and enlightenment. Research, exploring and writing about my ancestral history has led to profound spiritual healing, healing I didn’t know I needed.

While I always appreciated the strong values and work and social ethics of my ancestors, I distanced myself from my cultural background because even as a child, the religion never felt like a fit.

I see it differently now. Whether I try to dissociate it or not, I can’t. Nor do I want to. That it’s a part of my energetic makeup is a fact, and nothing can change that. But my perspective and the story I tell myself about who I am has changed.

I now know I wasn’t ready when I set out almost two years ago—just like one’s not ready to ride a motorcycle until you’ve taken a course to understand how to ride; or how you take prerequisites before enrolling in more advanced courses.

These months have been like going to post-graduate school for a niche field of study. You complete your courses and thesis but when you graduate, you still don’t have all the answers. You’re only better prepared to apply the lessons that await.

In the immediate term, I’ve been here to pitch in with my 90-year-old parents’ care. Both have had significant life events this year, precipitated by dad falling and fracturing his hip. Mom, who lives with dementia, moved into long-term care because he was no longer able to look after her. Sadly they must live apart when they need each other the most. It’s been a tremendous strain yet a time of deepening relationships and understanding. I’m eternally grateful for the gift of time with them.

I’ve been able to connect with extended family in a way that would have been very difficult had I been camped on the Salar de Uyuni amid the Andes in southwest Bolivia. Lessons there would have been very different. My grandparents and their generation rarely spoke of their pre-Canada ordeals, or complained about life here—and then only in their later years when my interests lay elsewhere.

Now, by gathering and piecing together snippets of stories from kin and other descendants of that time, the stories have become much clearer—like gathering squares for a quilt and piecing them together as my grandmother and her friends painstakingly did in the church basement. Individual squares take on a whole new look when they’re part of an exquisite work of art.

Theoretically had my original plans played out, my trip would likely be over. But plans changed. What I once viewed as a detour has been an integral part of the journey—a time of intensive study and preparation.

For what, remains to be seen.


photo credit: Between the Pages . . . via photopin (license)

Posted in Adventure Tagged with: , , ,

Meet Trudy

by Liz Jansen



Photo: Lorraine Sommerfeld

In all my years of riding, through a litany of motorcycles, I’ve never named one. My Triumph Tiger is different. She needed a name. Even then, it’s taken almost a year to find the right one.

After deliberating and trying on appellations for months, none of them befitting, Trudy popped into my head, coincidentally right around the time of my birthday.

Before committing to it however, I had to research its meaning. Consider the following:

  • Some sources cite the name as having Germanic roots and others tie it being British in origin. It’s likely a short form of ‘Gertrude’.[1] It’s a perfect reflection of me and my motorcycle; I have Germanic roots; The Triumph is British.
  • Another resource quoted the meaning of Trudy as ‘spear of strength’ or sometimes ‘universal strength’.[2] Variations include Trudi and Trudie and is seen as innocent, sincere, and bright-eyed if not a bit outdated. I’d like to replace “innocent” with “curious”, a quality I admire. As far as the rest, she does have bright lights but is very much current.
  • Adored warrior.[3] I like that!
  • “People with this name have a deep inner desire to create and express themselves, often in public speaking, acting, writing or singing. They also yearn to have beauty around them in their home and work environment.”[4] Sounds like a perfect match!
  • “People with this name are excellent at analyzing, understanding, and learning. They tend to be mystics, philosophers, scholars, and teachers. Because they live so much in the mind, they tend to be quiet and introspective, and are usually introverts. When presented with issues, they will see the larger picture. Their solitary thoughtfulness and analysis of people and world events may make them seem aloof, and sometimes even melancholy.”[5] Well, the first half fits. From an inner knowing corroborated by Myers Briggs, I’m balanced between introversion and extroversion. I excel at seeing the larger picture and patterns, but I can’t ever recall being melancholy.
  • Saint Gertrude the Great was a 13th-century nun and mystic writer.[6] I’m no nun but my work draws heavily on the spirituality of motorcycling.

Meet Trudy!

It’s occurred to me I’m drawn to names beginning with ‘Tr’—Trillium, Triumph, Trudy. That’s a mystery I’ll accept without questioning. Trudy and I have many miles of open road ahead of us. There’s no point in getting bogged down in trivia.

Have you named your motorcycle?  If so, what’s the story behind the name?

(Note: I adore my Aunt Gertie, but that I’ve named my motorcycle Trudy is pure fate.)

Posted in Life Lessons from Motorcycles

7 Checks to Make Sure You’re Ready to Ride

by Liz Jansen

Ready to RideMore than half the riders killed on Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) patrolled roads in 2015 died through no fault of their own. It’s a staggering number and one we can change.

We can’t control the actions of others with whom we share the road. However, we can do everything in our power to make sure we’re alert, skilled, visible, and in control of our motorcycles.

Previous posts covered making sure your motorcycle and your gear are ready for the ride. Here we’ll look at the self-check—making sure YOU are ready to ride.

Do an honest self-assessment before each ride, considering:

  1. Intuition. What is it telling you about the ride you’re about to embark on and the others you’ll be riding with? Listen and follow its guidance.
  2. Skills. Do you have the skills for where you’re headed? If you’re not comfortable riding on freeways, heavy traffic times are not the times to learn. Wait until there are fewer cars on the road before venturing out. Skills take time and practice to develop so they become automatic. New riders may have all the confidence in the world, but they’re not ready to take on the Tail of the Dragon until they’ve accumulated experience.
  3. Emotional state. A motorcycle ride to cool down from a blow up with your partner is foolish. Careers, finances, family issues, and relationships can all create stress, which in turn can affect our ability to stay focused on the ride. Settle down before heading out. Even then, find a quiet place to stop, reflect, and think things through. Often times if we get out and clear our heads, ideas and perspectives fall into place as if by magic.
  4. Physical state. Don’t ride if you’re not feeling well. Headaches, colds, or digestive upsets are miserable and take energy and focus away from where it’s needed—managing the ride.
  5. Impairment. There’s no room for dulled senses or diminished processing while operating a motorcycle. While a low blood alcohol count may be within legal limits, I would not get on a motorcycle with any alcohol in my blood. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), 46 percent of riders killed in accidents have alcohol in their system at the time of their death. Fatigue, non-prescription, and prescription drugs can all impair your senses.
  6. Distractions. Although many riders appreciate the convenience and ease of chatting with their passenger or others in their group, or listening to music while riding, those are all distractions. There are enough inputs for me to process—drivers, road signs, traffic signals, road conditions, pedestrians, animals, and any warning signs I’m receiving from my motorcycle or body—without adding more. If you choose to use them, plan how you’re going to manage volume, frequency of use, and interruptions.
  7. Peer Pressure. While motorcycling can be a solitary pursuit, it’s also very social. It’s fun to ride with friends but don’t be pressured into riding beyond your skills to keep up with them. Also, if you don’t trust others in the group to ride safely, stay back. Always ride your own ride. Agree on a destination and meet them there. Everyone’s safer.

Ride Safe. Ride Aware. Ride Again.

photo credit: Mae Hong Son Loop via photopin (license)

Posted in Life Lessons from Motorcycles Tagged with:

8 Steps to Get Your Motorcycle Gear Ready for Spring

by Liz Jansen

Motorcycle gearIf you’re like me, I squeeze as much season as possible out of autumn and by the time I’m stopped, daylight is short and the temperatures quite chilly. I’m pretty good at winterizing my motorcycle; less so at making sure gear is cleaned before it’s put away.

When spring arrives, we want to get out there riding. But it’s important to give our gear a good examination before we do. We only intend to look good in it, never to test it, but if it’s called into use, we want to be confident that it will protect us.

Follow these steps to make sure your motorcycle gear is ready for the season:

  1. Make sure it still fits properly. A phenomenon that happens in my closet is that gear has a tendency to shrink over the winter. Gear should be snug but you’ve got to be able to breathe and move freely, from head to toe. Read 10 Functions to Look for in Motorcycle Jackets and 10 Functions to Look for in Motorcycle Pants.
  2. Examine it for damage. Ideally, if gear is stored properly, nothing will have nested or damaged it during winter storage. Check also for worn areas, frayed seams, or rips in the fabric. Examine both exterior and interior, especially the pockets which hold protective armor.
  3. Replace faded pieces. Fading is caused by ultraviolet damage. It also degrades the integrity of the surface, reducing its protective properties. The greater the fading, the greater the degradation.
  4. Clean it. Gear gets dirty from bugs, grime, and sweat. Periodically give it a deep cleaning by immersing it in soap and water. Read How to Wash Textile Riding Gear
  5. Treat leather apparel. Get out your favorite waterproofing product and slather some on to keep it supple and durable.
  6. Examine your helmet. Replace scratched visors, check for signs of damage, and check the date stamp. Most manufacturers recommend replacing it every five years. Production dates are noted on the helmet, either on a sticker under the liner, or stamped onto the strap. Read why here.
  7. Prepare for layering. Spring temperatures and weather conditions are unpredictable and it’s wise to prepare for fluctuating conditions. A beautiful sunny day can cool off quickly and you want to be ready.
  8. Check the battery on remote heated gear controllers. Electrics extend the season on both ends, but if the battery goes dead, it’s only as good as it’s insulation properties. Don’t get caught short. Also carry extra fuses.

If you haven’t already done so, make sure your gear is in peak shape for the season. You’ll not only look fabulous, but you’ll be protected as well.

Related Post: 10 Steps for a Spring Motorcycle Checkup

photo credit: Tulip Time via photopin (license)

Posted in Motorcycle Tips Tagged with: ,

Spring Renewal

by Liz Jansen
Spring has been late arriving here in Ontario so a road trip south to warmer temps was a welcome break from the unseasonal cold we’ve been experiencing.
Aside from loose planning, there’s no point getting bogged down in details. That only closes the door to the wonderful serendipity that happens when we’re on the road. I belong to Moto-Stays, a moto-home-sharing site—which is how I came to meet Elsie Smith in York, PA.
spring renewal
It was approximately the half-way point to Appomattox, Virginia, and the Horizons Unlimited event I was attending. There I met a kindred spirit and new friend, and spent a lovely evening sharing stories. It’s a great way to travel – so check it out and see if there are others participating along your route.
Although the weather wasn’t optimal, rain didn’t deter those in attendance at the Virginia gathering, including many new to adventure travel. A diverse gathering of people and motorcycles from eclectic to exclusive, sharing a love of travel and a zest for life. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
The most astounding feat was recounted by Dylan Samara Wickrama– an incredible round-the-world adventurer who upon arriving at the Darien Gap, constructed a raft powered by his motorcycle to take him from Panama to Columbia. One might think a two-hour evening presentation would get weary, but everyone in the audience hung on to every word in rapt attention. Seemingly insurmountable obstacles kept materializing but so did miracles—like having dolphins come to your rescue when you’re being carried off shore by ocean currents. Watch the trailer.
This year Horizons Unlimited will host 22 similar events around the world, including one in Ontario June 9-12. It makes a great destination and you always leave enriched for having been there.

Photo Credit Horizons Unlimited

Then it was time to enjoy the spring time riding through the Blue Ridge, Appalachian, and Allegheny mountains. Mother Nature was at her glorious best with everything bursting to life. Twisty roads wound beside streams tumbling over rocks as they made their way to the ocean, the chorus of birds was easily audible through my helmet, a profusion of green was everywhere, and the heady fragrance of blossoms permeated the air. I couldn’t help but feel the energy and connection!
At the end of April, the weather is pleasant and there’s hardly any traffic, especially during the week. The further up into the mountains you go, the twistier the roads, and the more you have them to yourself.
Watch for the full story to be published in print, including some of the interesting characters I met.
Wishing you health, happiness, abundance, laughter, and adventures. Safe travels, wherever your Road leads.
Posted in Adventure, Travel Tagged with: , , ,

Sisters Centennial Motorcycle Ride

by Liz Jansen

I recently sat down with Alisa Clickenger for a conversation about the epic cross-country Sisters Centennial Motorcycle Ride she’s organized for this summer. A summary of the conversation follows. You can hear the whole interview by downloading the audio MP3. Alisa will be hosting Q&A Conference calls on May 4 and 5. See the website for more details.

Alisa-in-Namibia-October-2014Alisa describes herself as a moto traveler and motorcycle journalist. She credits motorcycling with completely transforming her from a shy housewife into a bold adventuress who has ridden over a goodly part of the world. Solo.

She once led motorcycle tours for a large company and now runs her own motorcycle touring company – Women’s Motorcycle Tours – focusing on motorcycle tours for women. For 15 years, she helped Kawasaki with demo rides and is now part of the team that leads them for BMW.

She’s giving back to the motorcycle community not only by being a responsible motorcycle rider but also by empowering others to ride their own dreams, as she has.

What is the Sisters Centennial Motorcycle Ride?

SistersCentennialMotorcycleRideLogoIt’s a cross-country motorcycle ride for women, starting in Brooklyn on July 3 and spend three weeks crossing the country, following for the most part the route taken by Adeline and Augusta Van Buren 100 years ago, and end up in San Francisco on July 23.

Who were the Van Buren sisters?

They were two sisters who grew up in NY in the early 1900’s and were the first women to ride their own motorcycles across the United States. They were part of the preparedness movement (preparing United States for their inevitable involvement in WWI) and did the ride partly to prove to the US government that women could help in the war effort as dispatch riders.

This was one of their many accomplishments. They were also suffragettes who helped get the vote for women. Adeline went on to get a law degree at a time when women didn’t practice law. And Augusta went on to join the Ninety-Nines—the International Organization of Women Pilots established in 1929 by 99 women pilots, with Amelia Erhart as their first president.

Adeline Van Buren

Adeline Van Buren

Gutsy ladies, and they’re such an inspiration for me.

Were the sisters already motorcycle riders?

Motorcycles had a different role in society than they do now. Cars weren’t that popular yet because they were still very expensive to manufacture. In 1916, if you were a family of means, you had a motorized bicycle. It was a very popular form of transportation.

As Adeline and August prepared for their cross-country trip, they took longer and longer journeys.

How did they think they were going to get across the country on uncomfortable and unreliable motorcycles?

The Indian Power Plus motorcycles they rode were the most reliable in the day. There was a precedent the year before with Avis and Effie Hotchkiss, the mother daughter duo who rode across the country and back in a Harley-Davidson sidecar.

There was a whole wave at the time of exploring across the country because of the advent of the motorcycle and car.

Who maintained their bikes along the way?

They went to the Indian Factory and learned from the factory how to work on the bikes. Learning the mechanics was just the beginning. The most incredible thing in my mind, Adeline and Augusta were 5’2” and 100lb, riding these 1000cc motorcycles across the country with a stock seat height of 32” inches. Starting, stopping, pushing them through mud was a monumental achievement; traveling across the country on farm roads that weren’t paved.

What inspired you to organize the Sisters Centennial ride?

AugustaPortrait RevA

Augusta Van Buren

I have a lot of women who come up to me and say they wish they could do what Ido. And I kept hearing a lot of women say they’d like to ride across the United States. That was one of my dreams a decade ago.

I’ve been yakking to my friends about leading a group of women who thought they couldn’t ride across the United States, across the United States. A couple of years ago, I bumped into the story of the Van Buren sisters again and a light went on. 2016 was approaching, the centennial of the Van Buren sisters ride—the perfect time to do it.

Listen to the audio to hear how the ride grew from 10 to 100 women.

Is it just for women?

No. We have a number of men already registered who are riding with their partners. We’re focused on a nice balance of riding, smelling the roses, feeling what it’s like to ride day after day across the country and experiencing small town America. Riders are going to be awed by how differently things run in small towns like McCook, NB.

What are some of the points of interest you’re stopping at?

Sisters Centennial Motorcycle Ride is in Ohio at the same time as the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days. The Van Buren sisters were inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame (HOF) in 2002. Now that we’re spending an extra day in Ohio, we’ll have a reception at the AMA HOF on Fri. evening. Saturday evening we get to attend the vintage races and we get to do a victory lap on the mid-Ohio race track!

We’re stopping at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa. I really believe in supporting the history of motorcycling and the people who have come before us. The only place that stuff is preserved is in these museums. National Motorcycle Museum also has a large collection of women in motorcycling.

ClassicThen there’s Pike’s Peak. Adeline and August van Buren were the first women to ride over the 14,115’ summit. We’ll summit and have a group photo at the top, come down and celebrate.

See website for a full list.

What other ways can you join the ride?

Folks can sign up as a self-guided ride and join in a variety of spots along the way. You can join in Colorado Springs for the Pikes Peak with us and ride to San Francisco (10 days). If you only have a day or two and meet us at one of the community events that’s on the website. We’re about to launch a day-rider option so folks can still come with us for a day or two.

We’ve organized a fabulous agenda for the AMA Vintage Days weekend and there are different ways to join up for one night or both.

Listen to the audio to hear about the grand finale across the Golden Gate bridge in SF.

Tell us about the charities you’re supporting.

We’re supporting Final Salute—a non-profit that helps homeless female veterans. The Van Buren sisters’ ride was all about women entering the military. Fast forward a hundred years and women are able to serve in the military but they aren’t supported when they return home. This organization helps homeless female veterans get back on their feet.

The Womens Coalition of Motorcyclists have a train the trainer fund that trains women to train more female motorcyclists so we’re supporting them equally.


BMW Motorrad is the title sponsor. We’re thrilled to have such a premium sponsor for the event. They’re great machines, always on the leading edge and they’ve really started paying attention to women’s riding needs. There’s a BMW for everyone.

Note: BMW Motorrad has Ladies only Demo Days at 3 locations in Canada – in BC, Ontario and Quebec. Learn more.

Find out more at Sisters Centennial Motorcycle Ride.

Photos courtesy of the Van Buren Family.





Posted in Adventure

10 Steps for a Spring Motorcycle Checkup

by Liz Jansen

Updated for Spring 2016

spring motorcycle checkup

After having your motorcycle in hibernation for the winter, getting out for that first ride is one of the most anticipated rites of spring. But before you do, there are three things to do:

  • Check your motorcycle
  • Check your gear
  • Check your readiness to ride

They’re important rituals before any ride but especially at the beginning of the season.

This article will cover how to check your motorcycle before that first ride. Even if you were meticulous in winterizing it, corrosion, condensation, and critters may have caused damage while it was stored. A thorough and methodical check can alert you to areas that need attention and reassure you that it’s safe to ride.

Always refer to your owner’s manual for guidance for your own specific motorcycle.

Check Your Motorcycle in 10 Steps

  1. Tire condition. Check for tread depth, flat spots, embedded objects, bulges, damage, and cracks. They should be OK if you followed our winterizing instructions – however, it’s always good to make sure. Keeping your tires in good condition is one of the most important, and easiest, checks you can make to keep yourself safe. Read Motorcycle Tire Guide 101 from RevZilla
  2. Tire pressure. Check both tires when they’re cold and make sure they’re at the setting recommended by your motorcycle manufacturer. Tires can lose air pressure with time, especially in cold weather.
  3. Fluids. Check for any leaks before and after you’ve started it for the first time. Make sure your brake fluid is within spec, both in terms of quantity and age. It needs to be replaced periodically; fluid that is dark amber is likely due for a change. Do a full circle check, inspecting hoses, cables, and fluid levels.
  4. Oil and oil filter. Change your oil and filter unless it was done in the fall.
  5. Battery and wiring. If you’ve kept your battery on a trickle charger, it should have maintained its integrity. Examine it and make sure it is fully charged and topped up, depending on the type of battery you have. Make sure the strap that holds it in place is secure. Check the terminals and leads to make sure they’re secure and free of corrosion. Check the wiring for any signs of wear, corrosion, or damage. Make sure all the lights and turn indicators are working.
  6. Tool kit. Make sure the tools in your bike’s kit are clean, and free of rust. Double check to make sure everything is still there and replenish if necessary. You may want to add a few small frequently used items that aren’t in your kit, such as an air pressure gauge.
  7. Drive chain and sprockets. Make sure the chain is clean and well lubricated. Check the sprockets for wear and before you take it out for the first time, make sure the chain tension is set to your manufacturer’s specifications.  How to Maintain Your Motorcycle’s Chain and Sprockets from BikeBandit
  8. Air filter. If you plugged your air filter to prevent critters from nesting, make sure to unplug it now. If you didn’t, check for evidence that it’s been used as a winter residence. One season mine was full of sunflower seed shells. Also remove any plugs from your exhaust pipes.
  9. Fuel intake. If your bike is carbureted, make sure the gas supply is turned on.
  10. Brake pads. Look at each set of brake pads on your bike to confirm there’s still lots of wear left. Often brake pads have wear bars on them just as tires do. Change them now if necessary.

Even if your bike didn’t rust over the winter, to varying degrees, your skills will have.  Ease back to riding gently and safely. You want to enjoy a full riding season. We’ll cover how to check your gear and your readiness to ride in subsequent posts.

photo credit: Field of Light via photopin (license)

Posted in Motorcycle Tips Tagged with: ,

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