Sunday, September 13, 2009

Part 3 Riding Colorado and the AMA Women & Motorcycling Conf.

Day 5 Keystone CO

Today was to be an early day for Ellen, Laura, Cathy and I. We had to be at the Coach 2 Ride dirt bike school in the Tenderfoot parking lot at 8:30AM. While waiting for everyone to show up, I was able to sign up for a demo ride for later that day at the Ducati tent to finally get my chance to ride the Streetfighter, a very fast and aggressive bike. I signed up for the noon time slot, thinking that would give me plenty of time on my return from the dirt bike class that was scheduled to finish at 11:00AM.
A dozen or so women lined up on the 250 dirt bikes in preparation to go down to the dirt lot that was just down the street, to practice the rules and techniques of dirt riding. A quick 5 minute ride and we were soon standing in a half circle listening to Andrea and her assistant, Carolyn give us the needed instruction to get us started.
After gearing up and firing up our bikes, we did a lot of slow maneuvers, using the clutch and throttle. We learned how to lean and steer, stand and steer, counter balance, and ride over obstacles, among other things.
Andrea and Carolyn were great in their teachings, especially in such a large group, being we were the last class of the conference. Because we were a big class, it was taking longer in between turns and I had too much gear on for a progressively warm day. I would take my jacket, helmet and gloves off while waiting my turn, but with only one bottle of water per person and the consistent loss of fluids, I was starting to dehydrate.
At one point, I thought I was going to have to bow out and go back to the Tenderfoot parking lot. But, I had come too far and I made a commitment to complete my goal, so I pulled it together and headed for the hills with the rest of the girls!
After several hours of practicing the techniques, we were ready to then ride to up to one of the chair lifts at Keystone ski resort at the 10,000 ft level, it was pretty amazing, standing most of the way. It was mind blowing, how the center of gravity shifts when standing, the new experience had all of us beaming with big grins on our faces as each one of us arrived at our destination.
It was quite an experience and I am so glad I participated, even with being as uncomfortable as I was. Unfortunately, because we were a bigger group, it took us over our time frame and I missed my highly anticipated demo ride on the Streetfighter.
After losing out to my ride, I then went to the conference building to attend some seminar classes again. And once again, I had no success.
Feeling frustrated after losing out to my demo ride and not coming out any smarter, just hot and bothered, I rode back to the "funky" house to join everyone else. It seems, they were a lot smarter than I!
Later that evening, Laura, Cathy, Jane and I went to the closing ceremony to the AMA Conference. We had a great dinner, chitchatted a little and listened to a few of the speakers. One , was Lois Pryce, a very funny British woman with bright red hair and English lisp! She has written several books, her first being "Lois On The Loose", where she rode from Alaska to the very tip of Argentina. Traveling over 20,000 miles in 10 months on a Yamaha 220 motocross motorcycle....ALONE!
Lois was quite an amazing lady, with a very entertaining wit. Another fun filled day and we were ready for bed, so we headed back around 10:00PM and crashed!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Part 2 of Riding Colorado at the AMA Women and Motorcycling Conference

Day 3 Thursday-

We got up early to meet up with an organized ride by the Conference, to Hot Sulphur Springs, a town an hour northeast on hwy 40 from Keystone. After signing up for the ride, Ellen, Laura, Jane, Cathy and I decided to pay our $10.00 for our lunch and ride it solo, minus the group. It was a great plan for 2 reasons, we were able to ride at our own pace and we missed the crowd that was to come later.

It was a fairly straight on a long 2 lane, mostly barren hwy with rolling hills, not the dramatic mountains and trees. which had primary been my backdrop for the last 2 days. It was approximately 60 to 70 miles to Hot Sulphur Springs, an easy, fast paced ride that was relaxing, enjoying the fact that the Alaskan 5 were riding once more together. Just short of Hot Sulphur Springs, we pulled over to the side of the road where there was a sign saying "Colorado River." It looked more like the Colorado stream, but it was a kodak moment, so we took advantage of it and snapped some pictures.
We split up at this point, Ellen and Laura going on some wild goose chase to try and find a name on a sign and take a picture of it. I was never quite sure about this story, but never thought to ask. The real story was told later when they came back, telling of how they ended up scaling a steep dirt road in motocross mode on their cruisers! All for a picture to add to their collection of more pictures!

Mean while, Cathy, Jane and I went to soak in the natural sulphur spring pools. It was very relaxing and very HOT! As we sat, soaking in the hot stinky sulphur infused water, we would watch all these little chipmunks run around. I kept thinking of the Chip and Dale chipmunk cartoon I watched as a kid, they looked just like them. Cathy and I ended up rescuing one of the little guys, who managed to fall into the garbage can. Seems his curiosity and his tummy got the best of him, right into a practically empty waste basket with no escape! It was pretty funny watching the waste basket knock back and forth like it was alive! Actually, now that I think of it, kind of like a Chip and Dale episode!
We stayed for about and hour, as we were walking out, the women from the organized group were walking in. I love good timing! We had lunch, met up with Laura and Ellen and continued on our loop ride on hwy 40. Heading towards Winter Park, we passed through small towns such as Granby, Tabernash and Fraser. After passing through Winter Park the scenery became more and more breath taking as we started to climb into grander terrain. Ascending into the Arapaho National Forrest, and cresting at somewhere around the 13,000 ft level, I was starting to remember the warning from the locals on my first day out about keeping an eye on the road and not the scenery so much. We were going into tight turns climbing up and up with shear drops and some road work in the worst places, I was in full concentration!
Aside from the intensity, I was absolutely loving this part of the ride. Ellen and I pulled ahead and took the downside of the mountain at a fairly fast cadence, leaving the other girls to go at a more comfortable pace for their own comfort level. Although, I have to say, Cathy was not far behind me.
Ellen is one exceptional rider, she handled her Harley Davidson Ultra Glide through the tight 15 mph turns like she was riding a sport bike. She is a police officer heading the bomb squad team in Houston TX, so, being in her field of work, I can't imagine Ellen doing anything half ass!

Descending back down to the 7,000 ft level into a cute town called Empire, we once again split off, Ellen and Laura going on to Mt Evans, the highest paved road in Colorado at over 14,000 ft. I really wanted to go, but I was tiring and becoming fatigued, and with another 45 minutes to get back to Keystone, I knew I was done for the day. One promise I make to myself, is to respect my limits in riding. I have only been riding for 4 years, and although I am proud of my accomplishments in perfecting my riding skills. I know I tire easily compared to an experienced rider, because of how much more concentration that is required to take a turn correctly or just sitting on the bike for hours at a time. It wears me out a lot faster, and I make sure to be aware of this fact and call it quits when I should.
Jane, Cathy and I headed back down hwy 70, through the Eisenhower tunnel once again and down the steep grade back into the Silverthorne Valley. We got back to the house at around 4:00, Jon, Ted and John arrived soon after from their ride. We sat outside in the warm Colorado sunlit afternoon, swapping our riding stories of the day along with pictures to document our tales.

Later, when Laura and Ellen arrived back from Mt Evans, the five of us girls walked down the street from the "funky" house where there was an outside barn dance being hosted by the AMA Conference. After receiving our complimentary straw cowboy hats with a choice of Kawasaki green or a pink bandanna to adorn it, we had dinner chitchatted a little, watched the line dance lessons, the lassoing and horseshoe games and dragged our tired rears back up the street and promptly crashed in my bunk. A full day of riding the Rockies wore this girl out!

Day 4, Friday-

Today I did not have to rush, so I took a really nice peaceful hike back up the hill from the "funky" house. Came back and got ready for another day of riding. This time on demo bikes in the AMA's Tenderfoot parking lot. Jane and I rode over to checkout what bikes were available for us to demo. Sponsoring manufactures, Harley Davidson and Buell were there along with BMW, Ducati, Yamaha and Kymco scooters. I was half expecting there to be more manufactures to choose from after my experience with Femmoto, demoing 12 motorcycles on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2 days time, last October.
Today the most I managed to fit in was 3 test rides, a Buell XB9SX, Ducati Sport 1000 and a BMW F650GS. The Buell was to be my third model I had test ridden, two at the Femmoto race weekend. I have to say, I just don't care for Buell's with their clunky transmission and stiff, rough ride. I just don't see what the draw is in these bikes. The BMW was fun and surprisingly agile on the twisties. But I find with all BMW's, the ultra responsive handling it has, no matter what model. The Ducati was to be my favorite, with it's gorgeous shifting and handling, not to mention the purr of the engine is a major turn on!!

I love doing the demo rides and experiencing all different shapes, sizes and cc's in bikes, I really think it helps to improve on my riding skills, I just wish I could have had more opportunity to do more...
The lack of organization in the conference was growing more apparent to me as the days went on. My several attempts to sit in on some of the seminars was just not working out, every time I would make my way over to the conference building to catch a class, invariably, everyone would be on an extended lunch break. This happened on three different occasions. How did all the other women in attendance fit in the rides, demo's, dirt bike classes and make a class on riding solo in between? I was failing miserably at it. Trying to set up the limited demo rides was just as frustrating, trying to get the bike I wanted to ride in the time frame I wanted was time consuming and nearly impossible.

The days were passing by fast and furious and I was beginning to realize, I was not going to be able to get in everything I was planning, namely, the classes I was so looking forward to.
Came back to the "funky" house at around 5PM and Laura had graciously made dinner for all 8 of us, this was the first time during the trip we all ate together. It was really nice to sit with everyone and have a delicious homemade meal.

After dinner, Cathy, Jane, Ellen and I went for a walk down along the stream close to the "funky" house. It was so warm and enjoyable, with a back drop of a beautiful sunset glowing atop the mountains, a perfect end to a perfect day!