Tuesday, July 28, 2009

*King* of Motorcycle Travel Adverturing

Carla King is an inspiring woman that I have been following for the past 4 years.
Carla is multifaceted as a travel journalist, dispatcher, keynote speaker, teacher, author and motorcycle adventurist better known as Misadventures. Intertwining all of her many talents through motorcycling.

I had the pleasure of meeting Carla in person last week as a result of her gracious consent to my personal request to review my Style Saver Scarf. She openly obliged through email, inviting me over like an old friend, who had known me for years.
Arriving at her quaint little cottage nestled on a hillside with a picturesque view of the San Francisco Bay. I was greeted with a hug by an attractive tall, blond, slender woman in stature, with shoulder length hair and a natural soft feminine presence, that instantly allowed me to feel comfortable in her home.

I noticed her midnight blue BMW K75 parked in the drive and commented on how one of my riding friends had the same bike. She told me she loved the bike, but had plans to reconfigure the ferring because it had a tendency to act like a sail on some of the frequent blusterous days coming off the Golden Gate Bridge. After she continued on, telling me about how she was blown across several lanes one day, I thought her concept on changing the ferring was a good idea!

As I sat down on this little couch, Carla sat across from me on her ergonomic chair, which connected to her ergonomic work station, where I imagined all the Misadventure tales and tribulations were pined, plotted and transcribed for the world to enjoy.
We sat and talked informally of her recent travels to North Africa and parts of Europe, along with past travels to China and India, in addition to all the challenges of writing and self publishing her books.
I asked her about how she acquires her motorcycles while on her travels. I was fascinated to find out that numerous motorcycle manufactures loan her motorcycles to test ride while doing her travel explorations. The most famous to be ridden was the Russian Ural sidecar that she rode while solo-circumnavigating the United States in her book American Borders.

After talking motorcycles for several minutes she suddenly asked me if I liked plums and proceeded to lead me out the back door of her cottage. We entered a garden encompassed with a pastiche of pretty flowers and native succulents equipped with cozy chairs and tables to complete a peaceful, dulcet sanctuary.
Carla picked a bag full of sweet, sapid plums for me, which I later ate in two days time!

Eventually, I showed her the Style Saver Scarf and demonstrated how to put it on and the benefits the scarf offers combating helmet hair while wearing a motorcycle helmet. I would later discover that she watched and listened intently, because she wrote two articles on me, quoting several statements I had made to her. This happened within days of our meeting, I was blown away!
As we hugged goodbye after our one and half hour visit, I realized I was leaving with more than the Style Saver Scarf I had brought to Carla. With plumbs from her tree, and a signed autographed book of American Borders in tow and boundless information to take home with me.
I left feeling plenteous in more ways that I could have imagined!

To me, Carla went beyond what my expectations would be, coming from a woman so prominent in journalism, travel and as a solo international female motorcyclist.
The openness, the willingness and the time she afforded to a fellow motorcyclist and ascending entrepreneur, was nothing less than noble.

From one motorcyclist to another, I say a big behemoth thank you Carla!


Carla will be attending the AMA Women in Motorcycling Conference in Keystone CO August 19-22. For lectures on her travels, as well as book signings.
She will also be sharing in a Self Independent Publishing Workshop with one of her Wild Writing Women's group partners, Lisa Alpine in San Francisco, Sunday, October 4Th.
Carla's Link:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A New Find: Want to *Bling* up a Boring Helmet?

For those of you who are all about being the individuals that you are on, as well as off the bike- I have recently discovered Sassybiker quite by accident and her transcendent talents embellishing the most mundane, ordinary helmets into pure works of art.

Charlene uses the highest in quality Swavorski and Czech preciosa crystals in her sartorial style of personalizing each clients themes to perfection.

Whether it be a hobby, a favorite cartoon character, rock band, in memory of a loved one or just simply your name. Charlene will achieve the task at hand with ubiquitous crystals, pottery, various types of broken glass, or sentimental pieces to imbue a feeling of individualism.

Check her Website out and see for yourself, she is very impressive in her artistry as well as being an enjoyable, reliable person to work with.



Friday, July 17, 2009

Cindi's Motorcycling Diary *Archives*

For some unknown reason I wrote several little "motorcycle" stories that I recently found in my "Word" documents. I found this one to be kinda funny, so I thought I would share. This one is from three years ago....

A New Comer Into The Motorcycle “Lingo”

Not so long ago, I was standing with my husband amongst a group of seasoned riders at a local motorcycle rally trying desperately to understand what everyone was talking about and doing my best to keep my embarrassingly 1 1/2 years experience under wraps. I mean it’s hard enough just trying to get the riding thing down and do my best not to fall off the bike, now I have to know what the hell people are talking about when they ask me how many cc’s does my bike have and is it a twin, V twin, vertical single, opposed twin, in-line triple or an in-line 4………excuse me?
A short time later I found myself trying to make small talk with this big burly guy covered in tattoos and leathers telling me about how his new bike pulls 98.6 lbs of torque, but that he was having problems with his petcock! I smiled politely, nodding my head, wanting to excuse myself wondering why this guy would want to talk about French deserts and something that sounded way too personal to be telling to a perfect stranger, but rather consult a doctor about!

I couldn't help wonder, am I the only novice rider that’s not up to speed on the “motorcycle lingo”? Well, I am here to shed some much-needed light for all you girls (and guys) that have been in the dark as I have been, while trying to look intelligent when interacting with other fellow motorcyclists.
I did a little research on some of the basic mechanical elements and wording that have been consistently used since my kinship with motorcycling, which, I have to say, has helped to make me a more of an enlightened rider.

Okay, who could have even begun to assume that the Dry Weight of a motorcycle meant the actual weight of a bike without any fluids in it, such as oil, gas or coolants? I thought this meant before a bike got wet, by rain or before I decided to wash the bug remnants off from the last ride.
And Final Drive, one can only come to one conclusion, and that is referring to my one last hurrah on my beloved bike before I go to the big one in the sky, right? Or maybe they could be talking about the power transfer from the transmission to the rear wheel, which could be by chain, belt or shaft, hummm?

Chassis, wait don’t tell me, I know this one, I've heard of this before in regards to cars. Yes, I am almost sure of it, it’s the frame of the bike, or as I remember it; my mechanic echoing in my memory, “ It’s going to cost you a good $5,000 to straighten out your chassis after running over that fire hydrant”

And so it goes on…

Displacement or CC’s – the terms usually used in total volume by all the engines pistons, which is measured in cubic centimeters (CC)

Torque- the twisting force from the engine to the rear and front wheels. (not a French desert, like I thought!)

Horsepower- engine strength. Horsepower and Torque together are the main influences on how a bike rides and feels. And believe it or not, each horsepower unit equates how much actual “live” horse strength it has! Strange, but true!

Transmission- or the gear box, most motorcycles have 1-5 or 1-6 forward gears.
Fork- portion of the bike that holds the front tire and allows you to steer.

Petcock- this a switch that is usually located right under the left side of the fuel tank that controls fuel to the engine along with a reserve tank when main fuel has been exhausted. (This is not at all what I thought it was!)

Fairing- a plastic or fiberglass shell usually on a sport or touring bike.
Suspension- cushions the ride, which is typically on the front forks and the swing arm at the rear.

Rigid Frame- NO suspension (NO thanks!)

Slip ons- replaces the muffler on the exhaust pipes. (I thought this was a new kind of high heel a Nordie’s)

Baffel- ceramic tube with holes located inside the exhaust pipe, yes, that is baffle(ing)????

Charging output- I thought this might have something to do with my credit rating, but low and behold it was all about the limit of electrical capacity of a motorcycle i.e. how much crap can you put on it before it blows a fuse!

Any way you get the idea of the difficult and compromising position one can be in, as a motorcyclist, talking to other motorcyclists. Especially a new motorcyclist that’s a girl!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Track side from Red Bull MotoGP Laguna Seca 2009

This past weekend the Red Bull MotoGP took place for three fun filled days at Laguna Seca Race way, in beautiful Seaside California. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the NMP medic team thanks to my dear friend, Jeannine, who is trained as an EMT ( emergency medical technician) but is currently in the midst of becoming an RN.

Our job as a NMP, is to patiently wait on specifically designated turns on the track in preparation for any and all mishaps, accidents or malfunctions that might occur while the motorcycles are on the track. If one or several were to occur, our main focus is getting the rider off the track, if he is up and mobile. If they are injured, we then ask a series of questions to the rider to try and access how bad the injury is and then take the appropriate steps until the ambulance arrives, which stands by on the premises.

Friday, July 3, was to be my first day out on the Laguna Seca track. All turn workers, NMP's and "so called" medics were to convene at 6:30 AM to pick up our fashionable orange track vests, walkie talkies and for the NMP's, a blue shirt that made us stand out from the rest of the team. We were mandated to all wear white, as to be unassuming.

My first assigned turn was turn 3 or T3, I met up with 2 turn workers from my first track side experience a few months prior at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma CA. Barb, a flag worker who had the most infectious laugh and her skills as a flag worker were nothing less than impressive. Guy, who is a chef in a Napa bed & breakfast during the week and very experienced track side worker on the weekend, with over 20 years under his belt working trackside. I loved listening to his fervid analogies of the who, what, why and where's in motorcycle racing.

I will be working two more AFM race events at Infineon, and look forward to seeing Guy and Barb and all my other new found track side friends in the near furture!

The first day at T3 ended up being penurious in our expectations of what Jeannine and I had anticipated for our three day track experience with professional racers. After sitting around for 13 hours with little to no action, let alone an actual race, we were left tired, disappointed and dreading the next two days to come.

One of the requirements for the day was doing track inspections. We were required to stand at attention on the side of the track at arms length making sure that the turn workers and 2 different groups of medics were obviously separated apart. We would stand there and wait and watch while the BMW "safety car" would go round and round the track giving a thumbs up if we had properly set out the medic bag, back board and two bales of hay covered in a form fitted tarp, along with being in our designated positions. If not, they would stop after passing, back up and with lights flashing, just for a more daunting effect, linger, for what seemed like forever, then take off again. This would go on for a half an hour or so or until we received the "stand down" signal. This ritual was required to be performed 1 to 2 times every day.

Compared to working the AFM races, I was amazed at how few races there were. AFM in one day can have upwards of 12 races, where MotoGP had a total of 4 races in 3 days. Whatever!!

The highlight of day one, was going into the "hot Pits." this is where the racer's bikes would be along with some of the racers. After getting a much needed break from manning our T3 position, Paul, a internal physician from Atwater, an avid track rider and our fearless NMP leader for the day, suggested we go into to the restricted "hot Pit" area and see the race bikes. Jeannine and I were apprehensive about the idea being we didn't have the proper tickets to enter. But, we followed him in like puppy dogs as he walked through like he owned the place.

With our uniforms and medical fanny packs strapped on, nobody questioned us as we passed through numerous check points. I guess we looked official and in search of a medical emergency, which of course, to us, would equate scoring Valentino Rossi's autograph!

Arriving at the 18 mini garage stalls where the mechanics were fervidly working on the motorcycles. Hoards of fans stammered to get a glimpse of the bikes and if they were lucky, one or all of the 18 riders, themselves. We dove right in and managed to capture some great shots of the bikes and one with me and Loris Capirossi. Yeah! Paul was happy when got his picture taken with the umbrella girls, one of which he recognized from BARF (Bay Area Riders Forum).
One thing that was surprising to me, is how short in stature and small the racers are, it was very reminiscent of horse jockeys. Not what I would expect, but made sense.

As the weekend would progress on, it was fun to see the turn working crew collect autographs from the racers on their track Jerseys. Jordan, one of the NMP's who I worked with on T8 on Sunday, had his hat covered in autographs and by time I saw him on Sunday, they had migrated to his orange track jersey!

Day 2 Saturday, was a much, much better day, Jeannine and I were put on T2, a wide but tight left turn, with a clear view of T3 where we were dying of boredom the day before only to watch Casey Stoner high side from our position at T2. Figures! He managed to recuperate, with a dislocated shoulder and hip injury, and went on to race the next day and came in 4Th place.

For the most part T2 was fairly quiet with a couple low siders, but nothing exciting or serious. Still, working the track was growing on us and we were enjoying it immensely.

Day 3, Sunday, was to be race day, a whopping 3 races, 2 AMA and 1 MotoGP! It was decided by the higher powers that be (Ann), that Jeannine and I were to be split up. What??? My mentor, my confidant, my rock!! Help!!

I was assigned T8-A, the "corkscrew." As I took the draggin' wagon up to the top, where the track crested, I was blown away by how tight and steep the 2 short S-shaped turns were. As I disembarked off the truck, I could tell I was going to have the best seat in the house, okay, so I didn't have a seat, per se, but I would have gladly given mine up for the view I had!

As I talked with my new group of turn workers for the day, they had informed me that there had been little to no action on this part of the track all weekend and they didn't expect much today. I didn't care, and was actually kind of hoping that would be the case, since this was my second official race participation and I didn't want the pressure of having to rise to the occasion with the little experience I had!

When the MotoGP race began, it took awhile until they came around the tight left turn in preparation for the "corkscrew" turn, and when they did, it was the most amazing vision and sound I have ever heard in my life. The decimal difference between the AMA and the MotoGP bikes were undeniable. Even with earplugs in, which was a must with the MotoGP bikes, hearing the roar of the 800 4 stroke 240 hp engines. A purpose-built pure breed prototype racing bike with a sound that is like music to one's ear, if you are a true fan of the sport.

Witnessing these world class professional riders take the first couple corkscrew turns at the beginning of the race was jaw dropping incredible. I stood there with my hand over my mouth in awe of the artistic bravura flowing in a unison serpentine dance, banking from right to left in the S formation of the track, at an unbelievable speed. They were coming down so fast, my eyes could not keep up. As the race would progress on, and the riders would put more distance between themselves, I could always tell when Valentino Rossi was coming because of the helicopter that would consistently follow his every turn.

Dani Pedrosa, went on to take the winners podium for the Repsol Honda team. It was not to be for Valentino on this epic day.

The AMA Daytona Sport bike race was to bring the most excitement of the day. At lap 10, three riders, Jason Di Salvo, Chris Filmore and Ricky Parker went down in a domino effect in the corkscrew, which immediately brought the red flag.

As we stood there watching in shock and disbelief, we kicked into gear and ran out to try and contain some semblance of order by attempting to get all three riders and bikes off the track as quickly as possible without causing more collisions with a clear and present danger of getting hit while trying to do so. Thankfully nobody was hurt, just the bikes!

Ben Bostrom ended up taking the winners podium, with a last minute dive to the first position.

I was so impressed by the quick and responsive actions that all the track workers took in the all the chaos. They should be commended for doing such a great job. I couldn't help but notice while doing my 3 day stint at Laguna Seca Raceway, the lack of appropriate recognition that they deserve, sitting track side all day, getting very little pay and risking their lives for the riders safety. I think this should be addressed. In a BIG way!

My three day experience as a NMP medic at Laguna Seca participating in the MotoGP races was one of those ineffable moments in life that no one will ever understand unless you experience it yourself.
I loved meeting new friends, seeing current friends and seeing the intensity of the race track, up close and personally. I will treasure my gift and look forward to next year.

NMP medic and proud of it!!