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What is Wrong With Being a Tourist?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Woman’s Perspective of The Indian Chieftain Motorcycle

From the beginning I have been in love with the Indian Motorcycle. This motorcycle is the one that will always make me turn and look. So when I heard that Polaris was bringing it back I was on-line learning everything I could about this sleek, sexy machine. I watched for the Demo truck to come to California and was one of the first in line to ride this beauty in December 2013 at the Long Beach Motorcycle Show.

Let me give you some background on who I am so you can decide if my opinion matters to you. I am a 59 year old woman that obtained my license 6 and a 1/2 years ago. I learned on and currently ride a 94 Harley Davidson Dyna Wideglide. Since beginning to ride I have put 30,000 miles on this motorcycle, the majority of which on vacation trips to as far away as Amarillo, Texas from So California. My future goal is to retire and take off to explore this country on the motorcycle with my companion Trampy Joe. Just ride and tick off the sights on my bucket list until I want to stop. So my next motorcycle will be a bagger with locking luggage, a fairing, music, and cruise control.

I have test ridden the Indian Roadmaster, Indian Chieftain, Indian Vintage Classic. Harley Davidson’s Roadglide Ultra, Ultra Classic, and the Streetglide. I thought I wanted the Streetglide Special until Indian made its return on the scene.

We will begin with just mounting the Indian Chieftain or Roadmaster. The first time I got on this bike and pulled it up from the kickstand, I nearly threw it over. The Chieftain is so well balanced that at 848 lbs., I can stand it up with just my legs. None of the turning the handlebars all the way to one side and muscling it up to a standing position. I can place my fingertips on the handlebars to keep them straight ahead and push it up with my legs.
This exceptional balance is great for the start of the experience and then translates into the ride. I never feel that I am fighting this bike or that I have to man handle it. I can put it anywhere I want while going slow. It is very easy to maneuver in the slow stuff and then when you get out on the road it is a dream.

Out on the open road this balance translates into fun. The Indian handles with ease. I can put this motorcycle wherever I want and focus on improving my line in the turns. Cruising straight roads, no problem. Riding fast through the twisties, no problem. 

I can focus on reacting to traffic or road conditions because I am unaware of any bulk to this bike. Because of that great balance you don’t have any wonky moments where you think you are going to lose it coming to a stop. You just stop, allowing you to focus on what is in front of you. I can focus on the task at hand and I feel much safer on the Indian as I feel I am in total control.

With the Thunderstroke 111 engine the power is always there. It doesn't matter what gear you are in, you just roll on the throttle and she takes off with a totally smooth transition. Inversely when you need to stop fast, just hit the brakes and the Indian comes to a smooth, straight stop. The ABS braking system prevents the possibility of a tire locking up and going sideways.

I was talking to a Salesman at San Diego Indian Motorcycle recently. He is not only in Sales but is also a Harley Davidson and Indian Motorcycle Technician. He said that Polaris has consistently built dependable machines for extreme weather and road conditions and that the same Engineers developed this motorcycle. That is why Polaris can stand behind this motorcycle and why I can have confidence that this will be a dependable machine. He shared with me some maintenance features that are easier than the competitions' bikes. As a woman one of my fears is being stuck by the side of the road. So in addition to everything else I know that buying an Indian Motorcycle is the right choice for me for dependability and ease of maintenance.

I love the adjustable windshield on both the Baggers. With a touch of a button I can adjust it down so that I have more wind in my face; or up to have more wind protection. This is a great feature that you have to experience to appreciate.

The music system is beautiful and clear and the volume self-adjusts down as you come to a stop. The controls are easy to access while riding. You can utilize your IPOD/ MP3 device, cell phone or flash drive to play music or utilize the radio. Whatever device you use is safely tucked away out of sight and harm’s way in the Fairing. The bike is also Bluetooth enabled. There are two plug- in ports on the Chieftain and three on the Roadmaster, so you never have to worry if your devices are charged.

The Roadmaster is the full dresser version of the Chieftain. I found the handling and maneuverability overall to be about the same. Because of the trunk and the hard lower covers you feel more closed in and protected on the Roadmaster. Even with the vents open I found the lower covers confining. It just depends on what level of luxury you are going for. The Roadmaster has a very comfortable dual heated seat.
The heated grips have easy access controls to adjust the level of heat to keep your hands toasty warm. I really like the beautiful, luxurious brown or black leather. The Roadmaster is just the Chieftain with full luxury and all the bells and whistles.

The locking luggage is awesome. You can lock all the bags from a button on the tank or from the key fob as you are walking away. No fumbling with keys and fighting with goofy hinges. The mechanisms are easy to access. The trunk is deep enough to handle two full face helmets. It is illuminated for ease of finding your stuff in the dark.

I personally like the Chieftain and the full headdress logo on the tank. I like the feel of the wind and I had more fun in the turns without the added weight. The Chieftain doesn’t come stock with the lower covers and allows that free flow of air.  It feels less confining than the full dresser Roadmaster. (I may change my mind when I get out in varying weather conditions.) The Roadmaster would be more comfortable for a passenger but that is not what I am looking for. All the accessories on the Roadmaster can be added to the Chieftain, so that might be what I will do when I hit the road on a permanent basis. Maybe add the trunk at that point or the heated seat and grips. Or go for it, and trade in the Chieftain and buy the Roadmaster.
You can go to IndianMotorcyle.com and build your bike. I have done this several times and with different colors. The color I keep coming back to is the Black Indian Chieftain with the full headdress logo on the tank. I want it with a driver backrest, two inch pull back bars, highway pegs, and all the chrome. I really like the chrome caliper covers and fender guards on the black bike. I was raised with horses and this version of this bike reminds me of the Black Stallion on two wheels.

Powerful, Beautiful and Magnificent are the three words I would use to describe the Indian Motorcycle and it is definitely my choice for my next bike.

News Update: On October 28, 2016 I purchased a 2014 Indian Chieftain. It is beautiful and everything I had hoped it would be. I took my first long trip in July 2016. That story to come.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

ProGuards review by Trampy Joe

Trampy Joe gives a Thumbs up to ProGuards!

Product:    ProGuards The Original Crashbar Protectors  

Manufacturer:      ProGuards, Inc.
Web Site:   www.ProGuards.net

ProGuards protect your crash bars so the chrome is not scratched or gouged from hitting the pavement or from rocks being thrown up while going down the road. ProGuards are a plastic cover to go over the engine guards and saddle bag guards found on most cruiser motorcycles. 

They fit over the lower bend on the crash bars and provide protection against damage to the chrome in case the bike falls over. Say the kick stand gives way because it did not lock in properly or your foot slips and the bike falls over.  Your crash bars do what they were made for, to protect you engine and tank. The ProGuards protect your crash bars so the chrome is not scratched or gouged from hitting the pavement. They are not made to protect your guards in a full on crash, just to be clear.

These guards are made of polypropylene and are easily installed. The inside of the tube has a slit running the length of the tube and you slide them over your crash bars.  They fit snugly and don’t look like an add-on. 

If you had a show bike they are easily removed when the bike is on display. Just pop them off and toss them in a saddle bag.  

The only down side I found was if you have highway pegs you would have to either raise your pegs an inch or two or cut the guards down to fit under the pegs. If you cut them down it would ruin the aesthetics of the product and make them look like a home- made add on. Moving the pegs up, put them in an uncomfortable position for me.

So in conclusion I believe this product does what it claims. My suggestion is to make them in a shorter version that will fit under the pegs.    

This shows the difference in height between my normal road peg setting (right side) and if I move the peg up to work with the ProGuards (left side). Keep in mind they are made of a plastic material and can be cut to fit. Even cut I think they would give good protection.

They fit very snug and have a nice look. For under $30 I think they are well worth the cost. (My opinion)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

With Freedom Comes Great Responsibility!

I have found an odd phenomenon in riding the motorcycle. People who become someone else the minute they hit the seat.
Actually I think this happens to each and everyone one of us when we hit the seat. I think it comes from the thrill of doing something outside the norm and scary. There is an edginess and also a beauty to riding.
People who don't ride don't understand this about riding. They just find it scary. I find mostly the beauty of it, especially when you are out on the open road and there are just miles in front of you. I find that all life's cares and concerns just melt away and all that is left is the road, the bike, and a sense of oneness with the environment.
Growing up I experienced this with riding horses. I missed it for a long time until I started to ride the motorcycle. I just get lost in my thoughts and find that I can reconcile issues easily in rolling through the landscape. All of my senses are going at once. I can hear, taste, smell, see and feel the entire experience. Yet I am not experiencing the landscape from a controlled environment and therefore I become a part of the landscape. I am in my story and experience, not on the outside looking in. There is a wonderful peace that washes over me as the ride takes over and life's issues cease to be important. The road takes over and off I go.
I find that I look forward to and long for this feeling. When we take off on vacation I feel the real world start shedding away. I hate coming home and returning to normal life. I long for the feeling of the open road.
I don't however lose my sense of right and wrong and my innate moral compass. I still find a need to do the right thing by people I experience along the way. I am a total rule follower and I still consider the rules of the road and consideration for my fellow travelers. I also try to consider the people whose environment I am experiencing and they have been kind enough to share with me.
I was taught the golden rule as a child. " Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". And just because I am riding a motorcycle doesn't mean that my humanity should end. I still need to consider people who live in communities I experience. The mountain road with the great Twisty's was not put there for someone on a motorcycle to experience. It was put there to connect communities and people together that live on those twisty roads.
So just as I don't appreciate someone racing up and down in front of my house and endangering those that I love and care about, neither do people who live on the twisty roads want to be invaded by a bunch of crazies on motorcycles who are trying to push that next turn that much faster. Especially when their child or their loved one could be just around that next turn and my actions could endanger their ability to exist.
We all have to live together and share the roads and the environment. So when a Biker chooses to take the turn that much faster or pop the wheelie going down the freeway, they are not just potentially endangering themselves, but they are endangering my 22 year old son, or my wonderful crazy neighbor, or my Joe coming home from work. Just because I enjoy the thrill of riding that motorcycle does not give me the right to endanger other people in my realm that are just trying to get through life in that moment. I don't have the right to invade their space and change their personal history because I want a thrill.
So when you are out riding, enjoy the road, enjoy the motorcycle experience, but be part of the environment and know the true freedom of the road. Just remember that with freedom comes great responsibility!

Things Can be Adjusted!

Well going back a bit in my learning to ride saga, I learned that things can be adjusted. To start out I was riding up and down a dead-end street near the house. Joe would ride the bike over there and I would get on and ride up and down the street. Joe and the dogs would follow in the car. He was recording the whole thing out of boredom I am sure. At the end of the street, two Ostriches came to the fence and watched me walk the bike around in the circle to go the other way. Every week we went and did this and the Ostriches were always there. I really wonder what they thought the creature with the silver helmet and the big coat was? HaHa.
The first time I tried to turn the bike around on the narrow end. I lost it and dropped it. I just let go and stepped off. Automatic reaction from falling off many a horse in my life. I was really worried if Joe's heart would handle this. But he said he had decided to let me learn to ride on the bike, so he had resigned himself to the fact that something could happen. As it turned out it just scratched the pipe that was a cheap slip on that he had gotten for free to cut the noise down. After this however, I was to paranoid to turn the bike around by myself. So I would park. He would turn it around. I would get on and continue my ride.
So one evening he suggested I might want to try to shift into second gear. I was mortified as I had tried this but I had to lift my foot up off the peg to shift and I would be imbalanced. I was fearful of dropping the bike again and didn't believe I could do it. I went into a tissy that I wasn't going to be able to do this and might as well quit. After my tyraid, he calmly said, " I can adjust the Shifter". All I could say at that point was "Oh". He then went into the garage, I sat on the bike and he adjusted the Shifter. And I was able to shift into second gear, then third and fourth.
As time went on, I found that many issues would arise and adjustments could be made. My point in all this is that learning to ride a motorcycle is much like life in general. Things can be adjusted to make it work for you, so don't give up and stop in the process to learn something new. If I had done that I would still be riding on the back, falling asleep, with my back hurting. I wouldn't have experienced the full on sense of accomplishment that I have now. I love going riding with Joe. I love riding by myself. I love riding the twisties and going on trips. The sense of accomplishment I have from learning to ride has been life changing. My self confidence and ability to put myself out there to try new things has increased to new heights. My effectiveness in my job has increased. I am better able to lift people up and give them renewed hope that they can change things up and find a job.

So if you have the opportunity to learn to ride a motorcycle, I say Go for It!. Don't let the little things hold you back because things can be adjusted!

Ride Your Own Ride

Well I want to go back a bit into learning to ride the motorcycle. I recently was talking to a friend who is considering learning to ride on her own. She ask me if it was easy. I told her no it wasn't easy. Her husband said, " Oh don't tell her that". He obviously wants her to learn but thought my comment would scare her off.
Personally I think not having someone explain what you are getting into and letting them find out the hard way will scare them off. I have watched quite a few women get on the bike and try to just take off only to have the result of never wanting near the thing again. So I am going to try to relate some of my experiences so that women reading this might avoid the pitfalls and learn to ride successfully. Then they can ride and enjoy the experience as much as I do now.
     First, I was given some great advice by a dear friend, Bob. He told me to ride my own ride. Meaning not to allow someone to push me to ride beyond my abilities. I experienced being pushed beyond my abilities in trying to keep up with some friends that we were riding with before I started to ride on my own.  I want to express that they are all wonderful people and never wanted me to feel the way I did, but they rode way beyond my abilities at the time.
     I would try to keep up and simply could not. I felt they were annoyed with having to slow down and wait for me which made me feel bad for holding them up. It also caused consternation with Joe as he was pushing me to keep up also. They would race through the turns in total unison and look great. I was struggling to keep up. They would stop and wait for us to catch up and when we arrived, they would take off completely ready to go. I on the other hand became exhausted and finally just stopped somewhere and got off. I became both physically and mentally fatigued, which is just plain dangerous. When we arrived at the destination, I would get the knowing looks, like I was handicapped or something. All of this made me simply want to quit.
     Joe at this point recognized that I was not ready to ride with this group of friends. We tried it a few times with not so good outcomes. So he just said we were going to ride on our own. We started by riding around locally on the back-roads every weekend. I was the one pushing to ride now, because I was afraid I would forget how. Joe was good with this and thought it was funny that he wasn't the one suggesting riding. Then we did a ride to Phoenix and Tucson. We did a ride to Yuma. Then we did a ride to Prescott, Ariz with another couple. Each mile and each ride took me a little farther into understanding the bike and how to handle it. I learned the feel of the turns and how to get the power I needed to pull around the turns. I learned when to downshift and where to place the bike in the turn. My confidence grew and I developed experience and the muscle memory to operate the bike, so that I could focus on what was around me.
     I am extremely lucky in that Joe is an excellent Teacher. He has great patience and took the time to talk to me about the experience of each ride. He listened as I told him what I was having trouble with and gave me tips on how to improve.
    Taking this time to develop skills was necessary to my safety and to the safety of those around me. Nothing is scarier than watching a pack of bikes from the rear and see that most of them have no business riding in a group. Riding in a group takes mad skill and is not the place to cut your teeth on the motorcycle.
     Well several months ago we went on a ride with some of the friends that I had struggled to keep up with in the beginning. We started out the ride with me following Joe. We stopped at the top of the mountain and when we left I took off in front of Joe. I was able to easily keep up and match the precision of entering each turn. I did it with ease and the ride was a blast. We got to a point where the traffic had come to a halt and the only option was to split lanes. I had never done this, but I knew I could confidently put Betsy wherever I needed her to be. I simply fell in line and splitting lanes was relatively easy. I pulled up at a stop beside Joe and told him that I could keep up! I think he was a little hurt when I pulled out in front of him, but when I said that he got it. He understood that this was a major accomplishment for me and that his major work was done.
 I enjoy riding with a small group now, it is safer in traffic as a group of bikes is more visible than one bike by itself. However if the people you are riding with are unskilled the situation can be extremely dangerous. It is far more important to be alive and whole than to look cool. Don't let someone push you beyond your abilities. Make sure you ride your own ride!

Two Wheel Woman: And so it begins

  So to begin my story, lets just say I have had some experience in my life. Some really great and some not so great. I started out life in a very rural community with two parents, a half sister, and lots of horses and dogs. My father used to say that life was good if it was filled with Kids, Horses, and Dogs.
        Well I had 4 kids, the horses have woven their way in and out of my life, and the dogs have been a constant. And now my kids are grown, I can't afford to keep a horse and I am to busy to do the animal justice, so I have moved on to a Harley. A 94 Dyna Wide-glide to be specific. Her name is Betsy, she takes me where I want to go, and I don't have to feed her daily. I can leave her in the garage and she is always happy to see me and ready to go explore the roads out there with me.
          I am going to back up a bit and talk about the beginning of the transition to be a Two Wheel Woman. I was going through a divorce. My kids were getting close to adulthood and really didn't want to be saddled with a needy single Mom. A friend of mine said " Why don't you try a dating site, You have been mentally divorced for a long time". So I went on Match.com for a couple of months. After a couple of rocky starts, I met the love of my life, Joe. Joe is a truck driver, single, very self sufficient, and a grown up. He is a lot of fun, has a dry sense of humor, and we have been together constantly since we met. I truly found my soul-mate in him.
     Another thing we have in common is a great wanderlust. We both enjoy exploring the world and seeing what is around the next bend. And Joe is into Harleys, in fact he had two when we met. I think purchasing the Bikes was one step in his midlife crisis. He first bought the Wide-Glide as it was his ideal bike. He rode it to Sturgis. Then he got the idea he wanted a bike with places where he could lock up his stuff. So he bought the Road-glide and the Wide-Glide was relegated to the back of the garage. He was always going to sell it to pay off the Road-Glide. But we all know how that goes. You can't sell an old friend.
     A few months after I met Joe, we went on a trip to Yellowstone that he had planned with some friends. I rode on the back and a whole new world opened up to me. Travel on a motorcycle is completely different from a car. It is much more like being on a horse, but faster. We went 2500 miles on that trip and I was hooked. But after a while riding on the back became boring and painful. We started riding with people that never stopped and I was getting kind of over it. I found myself complaining at the end of the ride and I don't like that whiny side of myself.
     I also had a few female friends that were riding their own bikes. I watched them while I was riding on the back and thought that I could do that. I then voiced this to Joe. Well suddenly Betsy (the Wide-Glide) was getting a tune up and getting her rotted gas lines replaced. She was all clean and sparkly again. Joe was reminiscing about his trip to Sturgis with her and their other travels. He had me get on her and ride her up our steep driveway and then coast back down the driveway. Getting used to the weight of the bike and braking.
     Then we moved on to a dead-end road near the house. He would ride over to the road and I would follow in the car with the two dogs. We would switch when we reached the road and he would follow me in the car. I rode up and down the road at what I thought was blazing speed. It was actually 15 to 20 miles per hour and I never shifted out of first gear. There was an Ostrich farm at the end of the road and two of the big birds would come over and watch the crazy lady ride. I often wonder what they thought.
     I then progressed to a business park close to home. I learned how to shift and turn without going into the oncoming lane. I spent several hours working the slow stuff in parking lots, etc. When I finally could make those turns comfortably I was able to branch out to more open road.
     I had obtained my driving permit to ride a motorcycle when I started this whole process. About three months in I decided it was time to just get the license. I enrolled in a basic driver course near my home. This was one of the better decisions I made and I would highly recommend anyone do this prior to going on the open road. I was taught a great deal about how to handle the bike effectively in the class and how to be pro-active when things went wrong.
Well now I have been riding for about 3 years and Betsy and I have traveled about 20,000 miles together. I love the open road and the feeling of peace I get from riding through the corners and feeling the wind and sun upon my face. I really can't get enough of riding.
     My intent for this blog is to document my experiences on the motorcycle and life in general. So please feel free to join me and follow along. I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I do.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What is Wrong With Being a Tourist?

    I am posing the question What is wrong with being a Tourist?
The thing that Joe and I really enjoy about the motorcycle is to go wandering and touring out to parts unknown. We both have a wanderlust bug and we find ourselves wanting to explore every nook and cranny along the highway. He will be rolling along and suddenly the blinker goes on and off we go down some side road to see a cabin where Mark Twain once lived or an old ghost town like Bodie. A lot of times we go on trips where our destination is (what his father would have called) a tourist trap. And I have to say, I like tourist traps!

    Both of us were only children of older parents. I found that this meant that I spent a lot of time in my head and as an observer of the world around me. When I was younger, I often felt cut-off from the world beyond the borders of the small community where I grew up. My mind wandered off to places that I wanted to visit, see, touch, and experience.
    Now that I discovered the motorcycle and since I met Joe, we have started on this journey to act on the possibilities that we fantasized about when we were kids. We both want to stop at the tourist traps that were forbidden to us as were flew past when traveling with our parents. We have stopped at several of these places and have encountered really amazing experiences and really interesting people. Some are better than others but all of them have value.
    I think that we as Americans miss out on a lot as we wiz by in our rolling cages. It has become un-cool to stop at what are considered "tourist traps" even though these "tourist traps" are all part of Americana and the people that are unique and very much American. We rush to our destination and do nothing once we get there, having missed out on the juicy bits along the way.

    Since discovering the motorcycle I now understand the statement, "it is about the journey not the destination". On the motorcycle the destination is just a reason to get on and ride. The main focus always turns out to be all the stops along the way and the people you meet. Tourist traps are just an excuse for a "butt-break". At the end of the day the conversation is more about the experiences along the way than about the reason we went riding in the first place.
So again I pose the question: "What is wrong with being a tourist"?
Frankly I love being a tourist and I plan to continue experiencing this country and all the touristy stuff it has to offer. My goal is to retire, ride my Indian Chieftain and spend the rest of my days being the ultimate tourist. For my part I plan to embrace my inner tourist. Do you want to go with me?