philadelphia

Oh How I Miss Riding Motorcycles in San Francisco

IMG_1170.jpeg

Long ago, there was a time when everyday was Ride to Work Day. I was forced to, parking in San Francisco is no joke. And it’s impossible to find affordable, all day car parking so two wheels is practically a must. Unless you want to sit in traffic on a bus for an hour, a motorcycle or scooter can shave a good 30 minutes off of your cross town commute.

If I go way back to 2003, when I had a scooter, it saved me money on bus far because it only cost me $0.10/HOUR to park all day. You read that right, $0.10 AN HOUR. Less than $1.00/day, which was half the rice of a round trip bus ticket. It also cost me less than 25 minutes weaving in and out of trafffic, lanesplitting down Fell Street or navigating Van Ness Avenue in the middle of rush hour.

It was one of the most freeing experiences I ever had. Now, I have lots of free, all day parking. And not a curvy hill in site during my commute. Let’s also just say that Philadelphia stop signs and traffic lights make for a pretty annoying ride.

Goldie starts to overheat after just 5-10 minutes in slow speed traffic. If I want to avoid that, then it’s a brief zip down Interstate 95, and by the time she warms up it’s ready to get off 2 exits down.

Le Sigh.

IMG_1434.jpeg

Another Day with California Superbike School

css_august2.png

In July we signed up for our first track day with California Superbike School. 

We had such a great time the first time around, we squeezed in another one before the riding season starts to freeze us out. I learned so much from them the first time, I knew going back for a second round at Level 2 would be well worth it. 

As you can see, there is no knee dragging! Ha. I'm too scared to drop my knee down at this point. But it had nothing to do with that. It all had to do with riding smoother, more consistently and with better focus. For me, it was all about figuring out how to ride more effectively so I could go exactly where I needed to without going too wide, or missing the next corner. But I think as I start to get closer to the edge of my tires that I'll need to start shifting my weight over. And I hope that with more practice next Spring I'll get there. 

michelin_power_rs_tires (1).jpg

When we went to our first day in July, we decided to get more track specific tires that we could still use on the street. We went with Michelin Power RS's and they performed quite well. No tire warmers necessary! But who am I kidding? I'm not going that fast and my bike isn't a track only bike. So I opted for something that could be ridden on the street too, just with a lower tread life than say the Pilot Power 3s. They were ridiculously sticky and it showed. 

css_august4.jpg
bell_race_star.jpg

One thing I was able to add for this track day was a track helmet! I borrowed the Bell Race Star, their carbon fiber track helmet (just below the Pro Star).  Well conveniently borrowed from work of course. I really enjoyed this helmet on the track. I didn't have the chance to wear it on the street but I have a feeling I would enjoy it there as well. :) Check out my review here.

But by the time my next track day rolls around (likely Spring, ~April) I'm going to have to start improving my body position where my butt is concerned. I struggled with trying to lean more while having my hands much higher than a traditional track bike like the rider behind me. But I feel like I learned so much more about how to manage all the excess real estate of the race track. The corners can be so spread out, figuring out how to focus where you need to without missing the corners can be daunting. 

I feel like they gave me the tools and techniques I would need to ride that track again more consistently and smoothly. But that translates to the street as well, since focusing on where you need to be while keeping track of everything around you is extremely to difficult to juggle especially with all the excess distractions. Riding on the track seems so much easier at this point. 

I'm excited to go to the track and practice what I've learned so far before heading back again for Levels 3 and possibly 4. (They have 4 levels of instruction).

If you've never done a track day ever, I highly recommend doing one with CSS as your first. You'll learn more than you ever knew possible and it'll be one of the best track day experiences you've ever had.  
 

us.jpg

An Open Letter to New Women Riders

 

So you just decided to get into riding motorcycles. WELCOME! We are so happy to have you. But before we get on the road, I just want to let you know a few things because I want you to know what you can expect. And I know there's a lot to learn. 

I've seen so many new women join the ranks of fellow motorcyclists. And I'm SO happy to see that! More women, the merrier! As a women's gear enthusiast, the focus of my message is more about you, not your motorcycle.

Something that I keep seeing that's really really difficult to swallow is the fact that many of you are simply wearing what you have in your regular closet. And this is especially disconcerting because it seems that you just don't know any better. Almost as if no one in your world has bothered to mention:

"Hey, you know that jacket you're wearing won't do anything to prevent you from breaking your elbow, or shoulder or getting road rash" or

"Hey, those boots are going to slip out from under you when you put your foot down on slippery pavement or an oil patch" or

"Hey, that open face helmet is still exposing your face and mouth, which are the most vulnerable parts in a crash" 

I feel like for some of us, this is definitely a no brainer. But that's easier when you've grown up around motorcycles, or you have a lot of motorcycle friends, or are really familiar with motorcycle culture. But when you're BRAND, spanking NEW and this is a totally alien planet to you, it's just not common sense yet. Because the little bit of motorcycling you've probably been exposed to is limited to movies, tv, movies and tv. And we can all agree that real life isn't portrayed quite right in the movies or tv.

So that's what me and my fellow female motorcyclists are here to tell you. The reality is that your body NEEDS gear. It NEEDS to be protected. And that you ARE vulnerable.

My elbow post accident, and that's while wearing really good gear. Just imagine what that would've been like without any at all!

My elbow post accident, and that's while wearing really good gear. Just imagine what that would've been like without any at all!

My Revit Jacket held up great in a 40-45mph lowside. It really doesn't take that much. I wasn't racing, just riding at the speed limit into an easy right hand curve.

My Revit Jacket held up great in a 40-45mph lowside. It really doesn't take that much. I wasn't racing, just riding at the speed limit into an easy right hand curve.

I was crossing the street this morning while walking my dog, and a care went speeding by down our residential street going at least 30mph when they really should be going 15mph. I had a quick vision of that person not seeing me and hitting me as I crossed the street. The tremendous force of that would've thrown me a good 20-30 feet from where I stood. And you can only imagine how my body would make out from something like that.

But now imagine wearing a full face, Snell approved helmet. And then head to toe protective gear with body armor covering your shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and spine. And then boots with ankle protection and reinforced soles, heels and toes. Now how would I make out?

As a brand new rider, it might seem like you could never get hurt because you're not "racing". I hear that SO much when people ask me about what gear they should buy. And it's quite the opposite! There are FAR MORE choices for casual, functional, real street motorcycle gear than what's available for the racetrack. Because there are probably more of us on the street. In some cases, you might get hurt far more on the street than you will on the track. The constant stop and go traffic patterns make us vulnerable to being struck as we're moving, and the last thing you want is for someone *else* to stop your motorcycle for you!

I also find it ironic that if you're riding around with just a tank top and nothing else, that you obviously are proud of your body. And have no trouble showing it off to everyone who sees you driving that motorcycle. But, the minute someone cuts you off, merges into you or turns left in front of you (which is a constant occurrence in Philly) then you're going to lose what you've just shown everyone that you value so very much.

But I want to assure you of one thing, you can absolutely look fantastic while being safe and protected. No, you won't have the exact same clothes as you are probably wearing right now on the motorcycle. But you can definitely get really, really close. If you're in it for the Look of riding motorcycles, and not the Feel, then you're in for a world of hurt. And a really expensive hospital bill, and a week / weeks / month / months off of work, and a bruised ego and whatever else comes out of you making an uninformed, uneducated choice.

And Last but certainly not Least, meet my friend Brittany of RockTheGear.org. She has an incredibly painful but inspiring story to tell which I think every new rider should read before they learn to ride their motorcycle. There's absolutely no way for me to tell her story since it can only really be told by her words. Read her story and then make see if you can still make the same decision.

Me and Brittany Morrow at the Women's Sportbike Rally East, 2015

Me and Brittany Morrow at the Women's Sportbike Rally East, 2015

If after you've figured out everything that can possibly happen, and you still choose to wear very little or nothing at all then More power to you.  And I honestly applaud your ability to take those kinds of risks, where I'm just a big wimp. There's a huge difference between knowing what's coming and making your own decisions vs. having absolutely no clue and making the most uninformed, uneducated choice that can result in living with regret.

#atgatt

(all the gear all the time)

Resources for Philadelphia Area Motorcyclists

trackday_njmp_triumphs.jpg

Often times I'm asked about riding resources in the Philly area. Everything from rider training to social riding events, so I put together this little page to help my fellow riders out.  If you live in the Philadelphia area, you might be trying to figure out where to ride. Or maybe you're wondering where to meet other folks who ride. Or maybe you're wondering where can I get properly fitted for a helmet?!

I'm going to try and collect as much information as possible and put it here, so please add a comment if you have suggestions. I can't promise everything will be posted but I'll certainly add stuff if I think it's useful, appropriate and content friendly.

Thanks!

 

Women Who Ride Motorcycles in Philadelphia

philly moto girls philadelphia women riders meetup  

Ever since I moved to Philly last January (2014), I've missed riding with my girlfriends back home. So I started a new meetup group, Philly Moto Girls. If you actually want to go riding, no egos, just out to have fun please join us! All skill levels are welcome, you just need some experience on the motorcycle in general. I recommend ~1,000 miles of street riding experience. Unfortunately our group isn't going to teach you exactly how to ride but you'll certainly get better the more you ride with us :)

Hitting the Apex, Philadelphia

If you're a fan of the Faster documentary series, then you definitely want to see this. The latest from Mark Neale (also the director of Faster) is Hitting the Apex, narrated by Brad Pitt. Maverick Moto Media is trying to bring this movie to Philly by setting up a screening in Center City on Tuesday November 17th at the Landmark Ritz Five Theater. 100 Tickets must be pre purchased in order for it to happen. If they don't sell 100, it won't happen and your credit card won't be charged. So sign up now!

[embed]https://youtu.be/fmT_vnJ1jzw[/embed]

And what's sexier than hearing Brad Pitt talk to you about motorcycles? :-)

Motorcycle Diets! Or A New Exhaust.

Goldie just lost about 15lbs. This new Competition Werkes GP Exhaust only weighs 3.5lbs!

Here's a quick before pic, with it's 2 pipes under my seat. I can't tell you how HOT these pipes are on my butt! Even while wearing leathers. After just 5 minutes of riding, it would get really warm. In the winter it would be awesome, but in the summer it's killing me.

Riding up Broad Street, Philadelphia

Riding up Broad Street, Philadelphia

After installing this beautiful low mount exhaust, the heat has almost completely disappeared. I can still feel hot air but it's not blowing as hard.

2012_triumph_streettriple_competitionwerkes.jpg

And bonus! It's a much lighter can. The old system was ~15lbs. I also decided to remove the rear footpegs. Those are at least 1.5lbs each. I think if I weighed Goldie, she'd probably be somewhere around 395lbs :D

Posing in front of a sunflower field somewhere in Maryland. 

Posing in front of a sunflower field somewhere in Maryland. 

God I love this bike. Some people have kids... some of us have Triumphs.

P.S. If you're searching for someone reliable and honest to do good work on your motorcycle in Philadelphia, please try Working Class Cycles in South Philly. Aaron is awesome and a great guy to work with. He mounted my exhaust without a problem (which required some cutting which I am NOT prepared to do). I'll probably bring it by next year when it's time for an oil change and 6k service too. I highly recommend his shop!

Went out for a quick 150 mile ride yesterday

triumph_street_speed_triple_scorpion_zion Went for a quick 150 mile ride to Northern PA the other day for ice cream!

We used this ride route that I put together, but only did half of it since we didn't leave early enough. So we made it to just below Bangor, PA and then headed East towards the Delaware River heading south on 32.

On the way we stopped for ice cream at Homestead Coffee Roasters. Yum! They also have a small lunch menu, ice cream and misc snacks. There's also a nice patio out back to sit and enjoy your scoops. Oh yes, we're also both testing out new helmets! He got this special edition Bell Star Carbon and I picked up a Shoei RF-1200 'Graffiti' (LOVE this helmet).

bell_star_carbon_shoei_rf_1200

I don't know why the man looks unhappy posing in front (it's also called the General Store), but he puts up a good front because we had a great time that afternoon.

homestead_coffee_pa

 

And along the way down 32, we found this cute bridge to take a couple pics on.

scorpion_zion_womens_jacket (2)

The weather was perfect, high 70s for the most part. Not hot, not cold, just right. I'm testing the Scorpion Zion jacket for WRN and it worked well that day. A full review will be coming soon, so stay tuned.

 

 

First Ride 2015 on My Triumph and Navigating with Garmin

triumph street triple R motorcycles riding pennsylvania Ahhh that was a great ride. This was my first official ride with the Philly Moto Girls (only women can be members, but significant others are always invited to join rides).  And my first long ride on the Street Triple !!

I mapped out this ridiculously insane route, but sadly, my written maps have failed me yet again. I seem to get lost on every adventure because these are all new roads for me!

I've been trying to figure out a way to navigate on my iPhone and have found a few apps that do this. Unfortunately I have found them to be clunky, with the interfaces being rather difficult as to allowing me to import my google maps. But even if they did let me do that, I would have to pull over, take my phone out and pull off my gloves. And if you know me, I don't sacrifice protection for convenience. I'm not going to give up my incredibly protective riding gloves for something that has touchscreen-ability. I love my gloves!

So I bit the bullet and on a friend's suggestion (Thanks Anthony and Kate!!) I purchased a used Garmin Nuvi 765T, the car edition. It was $80 on eBay, and I have the option to return the sucker if it lets me down. I NEED the ability to import routes, and although I could maybe do it on Navigon, that doesn't eliminate my need to remove my gloves to use the iPhone even if it's mounted on my bike.

garmin_nuvi_765T

The other benefit to this particular model is it was less than $100 and it does essentially everything the Zumo does but for less! I'll need to figure out mounting options but I just didn't want to invest $500 in something that I don't *really* need. For $80, I couldn't pass this up.

I will do a couple tests next week and post a mini review. I can't wait to use it on my trip on the 13th! I'll be heading to W. VA (weather permitting) to visit my friend Tamela Rich so we can ride together through the mountains. Yippee!

I just have to say that I LOVE this bike. It's everything I'd imagined and I just can't wait to go riding again with her. She's smooth, powerful and just perfect. We even rode some dirt together!

me_dirt_pennsylvania_triumph

 

One thing that I really love about this bike is the handling. Every corner, stop and start is smoooooooth. The throttle doesn't twitch nearly as hard as the SV and is far more smoother when accelerating and decelerating. I can't say enough good things!

I'll be doing a more comprehensive review after my long trip next week.