American endurance driver Deena Mastracci intends to walk into the DMV in Santa Clarita, California on June 1 and get her motorcycle license, and then immediately set out on a 9,000-mile motorcycle journey as her “first ride.” But not just ANY 9,000 miles, because Deena’s route includes portions of Alaska, the Arctic Circle region, the Yukon, and finally, through the Midwestern United States where she will then conclude the ride in Pennsylvania.
Deena plans to use her journey to call attention to the work of the Motorcycle Relief Project, a nonprofit charity that helps veterans with PTSD and other injuries.
“I am taking on this challenge to show women, veterans, or anyone intimidated by something new that the best way to overcome that fear is to drive through it,” Deena states.
She’ll also set the record for the longest journey completed by a newly-licensed motorcycle rider. She’ll be accompanied by her fiance and fellow endurance driver Carl Reese, and by paramedic Jeremy Fox, both on their own motorcycles.
According to a news release posted online at PRWeb, “Followers can track her progress with live GPS vehicle tracking provided by GPS Insight, a technology leader in fleet tracking software. Mastracci’s live map is available on carlreese.net, and additional updates of her journey will be posted on Facebook and Instagram.”
So remember this past summer when I wrote about the amazing day spent hurtling through the Iowa corn with Sash and Highway? Well Tina (Sash) is now commemorating her ride across the US and back with a line of sassy t-shirts especially for women riders! Her shirts have been made with the input of the gals she met on her cross country adventures.
Sash is truly an original – if you read her blog, you know she’s often outspoken and brash, sharing her views on being a female rider and daughter of a 1%’er with her own special brand of ferocity. Her shirts definitely reflect her personality!
“Rude Biker Chick shirts are for all of the women who’ve had enough of being a doormat and are ready to take a stand and declare their independence, power and value,” says Tina. “They are to bring women together; to support, encourage, and laugh with one another.”
Sash and her husband Steve (aka Highway) base their media company in San Diego. They’re currently enjoying an extended stay in sunny SoCal, but their life is based on full-time traveling on their bikes. Their blogs and websites include www.RudeBikerChick.com, www.MotorcyclePhilosophy.org, and www.BikerNewsOnline.com, among many others.
The shirts can be seen and bought online at www.RudeBikerChick.com.
Editor’s note: I love hearing from other riders who are passionate about their favorite ride routes, especially when they’re in a completely different part of the country than me! This article was sent to me by Kathy Wilkinson, co-owner of Eco Tours of South Mississippi in Gautier, MS. Kathy’s company will lead you on a guided kayak or motorboat tour of the cypress swamps and salt marshes of her beautiful state. My thanks to Kathy for sharing her little piece of the USA with all of us!
Article & photos by Kathy Wilkinson
As the operator of a tourist attraction, I try to make the most of what little free time I get. Some weekends between tours, my husband and I get the opportunity to ride–he on his Yamaha Road Star, and I on my Suzuki Boulevard M50. One of our favorite short trips is a little loop that starts in our tiny town of Gautier on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and winds through the Pascagoula River swamp.
Heading east on U.S. Highway 90, we cross the Alabama state line, and pick up Route 188 (Alabama Grand Bay-Wilmer Road/Newman Road) in Grand Bay. This is designated as a National Scenic By-way. We head north through the farms, horse ranches and pecan orchards of Grand Bay and west Mobile, until we reach Airport Boulevard. As we cruise west to Mississippi, where the road turns into Highway 614, we cross the Escatawpa River at Brown’s Bridge, and make our way past Hurley and over to the Wade-Vancleave Road.
We meander through the beautiful cypress bottom lands of the Pascagoula River. If the river happens to be flooding, there will be high water up to, and sometimes over the roadway in places–it’s really cool seeing the swamp in a flood. Bridges cross Parker’s Lake, Black Lake, and finally the unique and pristine Pascagoula River. This river is the last large (by volume) unimpeded river in the lower 48 states–that is, no dams, levees or flood controls.
It’s only about 80 miles long from where it starts at the confluence of the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers to where it meets the Mississippi Sound, but its watershed is about a third of the state of Mississippi.
Not long after crossing the Wade-Vancleave Bridge, we turn south onto Old River Road until we reach Mississippi Highway 57. Old River Road is shaded by ancient live oaks. It’s a little twisty in places and has great scenery/local color, but is an easy ride.
Old River Road eventually merges into Poticaw Bayou Road which runs into Highway 57. We head south on 57 through the unincorporated area of Vancleave. (Vancleave has seen tremendous growth since Hurricane Katrina, and even has a couple of traffic lights. Since the area is unincorporated, the sheriff’s department has jurisdiction, and in Mississippi, the sheriff cannot use radar.)
Depending on our time constraints and the time of day, after passing through “downtown” Vancleave, we have the choice of returning home via Gautier-Vancleave Road or continuing our adventure with a meal at The Shed. The Shed, located on Highway 57 just north of I-10, has gained some national exposure having been featured on Food Network shows Up in Smoke; Diners, Drive-ins and Dives; and, most recently, its own reality show, The Shed.
It’s an eclectic place on the bayou that is dedicated to good barbecue and great blues. (As one would expect from a barbeque joint, The Shed’s menu is for carnivores. If you’re a vegetarian like me, the menu options are very limited, but it’s still a fun place to visit with lots of character and tons of local color!)
Leaving The Shed, we head south on 57 to U.S. Highway 90, hang a left and it’s a straight shot back into the little City of Gautier. The ride is about 80 miles and passes through some of the most beautiful countryside that south Mississippi has to offer.
After our ride, I usually park the bike, stow my biker gear, don my boating gear, and then it’s back to the Pascagoula River swamp with a motorboat load of folks from Anywhere, USA!
And here’s a special insider tip for those hoping to enjoy the roads in southern Mississippi: If you come here to ride in late spring and late summer/early fall, beware the “love bug.” They’re harmless in terms of biting/stinging, but, because they swarm when they mate, they will end up spattered in pairs all over your windshield, your pants, your gloves and your helmet. Removing them as soon as possible is crucial, as their bodies are acidic and they can damage your equipment if left too long. White vinegar and water, mixed 1:1, works well to remove the residue!
Editor’s note: I was really interested to read all the comments about my piece on riding solo, both here on the blog and over on the Facebook page. Interesting points made on both sides of the question! Michelle Landry of Tylertown, MS sent me this wonderful accounting of her initial solo riding experiences, and I wanted to be sure to share it with you so I asked her to send some pictures too! This is kind of the “other side” of the story – what happens when you step wayyy outside your comfort zone, and make something great happen!
by Michelle Landry
That was when I started thinking about taking a solo trip: Stay at home and keep waiting or stretch my wings and find out if I had it in me to have an adventure alone. Needless to say, my husband was skeptical that I would actually do it and was also concerned for my safety.
I researched different routes and finally decided on the Natchez Trace. I would never be more than 500 miles from home, no commercial traffic or red lights, and plenty of history and sights on The Trace. I spent the next several weeks packing, planning, and getting my bike ready. The morning of my trip I had butterflies from nerves and excitement.
I spent the next five days and 1100 miles riding the Natchez Trace solo. I rode a few hundred miles each day and camped or stayed in a motel at night. I even met another woman riding the Trace solo! We ended up riding together a couple of days and had such a good time we decided to plan a trip together, so this past June I rode 800 miles to Tennessee where I met my new friend!
We spent the next few days riding the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We don’t have switchbacks or mountain roads where I’m from so this was really something new for me. It definitely challenged me and my biking skills but we had a great time. And we met another woman riding solo! This time I spent 2 weeks on the road and rode more than 2500 miles, over half of the miles alone.
What if? What if your cell phone charger breaks and your family can’t reach you? You pack a wall charger just in case and use it when you get to a motel. What if your bike breaks down 800 miles from home . . . in a rainstorm? You call Geico or whatever towing service you made sure to get and have it towed to a garage to get it fixed. And be thankful you put everything in Ziploc bags. What if you have a minor accident on the bike? You make sure you’re ok and then use duct tape and super glue to fix a broken signal light.
I’ve had a lot of what-if’s happen but I’ve also had incredible experiences out on the road alone. I’ve ridden some beautiful roads and seen some gorgeous scenery. I’ve also met some really great people. When you ride in a group, other bikers will talk to you, but when you’re a female riding alone, everyone talks to you. Safety is always my number one concern and I have left places because I didn’t feel comfortable. You really need to listen to that inner voice. And riding alone gives you a good chance to hear her.
Each trip has left me feeling more empowered. Stronger. I’ve met obstacles and dealt with them. Yes, I would love to take a bike trip with my husband. Yes, we would have a wonderful time. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a wonderful time riding alone. I’ve discovered I’m not such bad company!
by Shirley Patterson
Okay, so we’ve been in Texas since the first of December and, although I promised to do so, I have not yet written a ride report. You may have heard that Texas is in a severe drought so while the December weather was not what we really wanted to see, the cool, damp, drizzly weeks were a small blessing. January, however, started out warm and dry so – yep, out came the bikes.
On January 20th the temperature hit 86 so it was just too great not to ride. This is not the first ride we had taken – nor is it one of the longest – but it is one of our favorites so thought I would take you all along. We winter in Kingsland, TX. For point of reference Kingsland is about 12 miles slightly northwest of Marble Falls or about 60 miles northwest of Austin. We left Kingsland taking Farm Road 1431 (the main highway between Marble Falls and Kingsland) west past Pat’s Bar and Fuzzy’s Corner (more later) and on to Highway 261 which is a great two-lane, curvy and fairly scenic road.
Our destination was the Fall Creek Winery at Tow (rhymes with cow). I mentioned the drought earlier so we pulled into the Llano County Park to see just how badly it had affected Buchanan Lake, one of the major lakes in the area. A couple of years ago a long paved boat ramp was put in at the park. Hopefully, the picture taken will show the devastation the drought has brought to the area. The ramp is now easily one to two miles from the water…folks who have million dollar “lakefront” homes are high and dry!
So, out of the park and on to Bluffton Store. This is at the convergence of highways 261 and 2241 and we usually stop here to gas up, get a Coke or a 50-cent ice cream cone – really! On to the winery. Fall Creek has a great tasting room where you can taste five wines for a fixed price of $5 per person. But, what we discovered last year was they also have a beautiful covered patio where you can simply take a glass or a bottle and sit and enjoy. This trip we decided to buy a bottle of our favorite blush and a box of crackers and enjoy the patio – c’mon, it was cheaper than the tasting! We met a couple of really nice guys who were also riding that day and they took this nice picture of me and Garry.
Finally decided to reverse the ride and head back for Kingsland. Now, last year we usually stopped at Pats for a drink but found that this year our favorite bartender, Jen, is now working at Fuzzy’s. Fuzzy’s is a beer bar (although they will serve set ups if you bring your own) but since Garry and I drink Rum and Southern Comfort respectively we have never gone to Fuzzy’s. Today, however, we stopped in to say hi to Jen. Giving a nod to the wine we had already drank, I just had a Diet Coke. By the time we left for the short 10 mile ride home it was 4:30 so decided to bypass the house for another 1/2 mile and stop in at Spykes BBQ for an early dinner. Spykes has the BEST BBQ in the area. For those of you who think Llano has the best – you have to give Spykes a try. After dinner it was a very short hop back to the house and a beautiful easy day on the bikes.
(Here’s the third installment of my gal pal Shirley’s series of ride reports from the Texas Hill Country, where she and hubby Garry are wintering along with her sister Nancy and BIL Chuck. Take a look at the pics, and be sure to note that she points out she’s afraid of heights… I’m here to tell you, she’s not kidding! This was quite an accomplishment!)
by Shirley P.
As mentioned in my last ride report, we had a couple of absolutely beautiful days to ride at the end of January. So after doing the Willow City Loop on the 27th we took off the next day to Enchanted Rock State Park. Once again starting from Kingsland we took 1431 to the west side of town and picked up county road 3404 and again across The Slab. As mentioned in the earlier report, 3404 is about 7 miles of two lane through the country road but easy to ride and reasonably scenic. 10 miles on Hwy. 71 at 70 miles per hour to what is by now our gas up and jump off point at the junction of 71 and 16.
We filled up the bikes and bought new batteries for the camera and took off for a fairly short run to the Enchanted Rock, this is only about 13 miles south of Llano.
We paid the $6 entry fee (per person) and parked the bikes to do what we intended to be a short hike along the lower trails. Somehow, however, once you start on a trail you see a view and think maybe we’ll just go a bit further, and then a bit further and then before you know it you are only 100 yards from the summit. By this time the trail really doesn’t exist anymore and you are simply finding the easiest path across the rock face.
By this time the temps had climbed to about 80 degrees and everyone was watching the smooth rocks for the possibility of sunning rattlers! Thankfully, we didn’t stumble across any. Those who know me also know that I have a fear of heights, especially when there is what I call a “blind drop”. When we turned to start back down I wasn’t sure I could take that first step as you just had to trust that once you stepped off the first rock there would be something below it. Luckily after the first step it wasn’t so bad and soon we spotted the trail signs again.
For hikers this is totally cool and you can go any number of directions and presumably end up back at the parking lot. Once back at the bikes we decided a short trip back wouldn’t be any fun so we dug out the county road map and started off into the unknown. Taking 965 out of the Park we went about 6 miles to Welgenhausen Road. (This is an easy turn-off to miss so watch for it on your right). Welgenhaus is another well kept two-lane and we went approximately 15 miles before needing to make our next decision at the junction of Keese Sagebel Road and Keese Road.
We decided to take the left branch but after only a couple of miles we decided we had made the wrong decision and turned around. Back to the junction we now took Keese Road. All said and done this was probably the wrong decision as both would have taken us to county road 2323 which was our goal. But for the sake of adventure it was definitely the right decision. Once again signs all along the way indicated loose livestock and many times this road narrowed to one lane with no shoulders and you really hoped you wouldn’t meet anyone coming the other direction. In fact, we never met anyone the entire time.
At a couple of 90 degree turns we were sure we would end at a ranch gate and have to back track but didn’t happen and after what seemed a very long time but probably wasn’t, we did indeed come to the junction of county road 2323. I have no idea how many miles we were actually on Keese Rd. but I’d estimate no more than 15 – though it seemed longer. Once on 2323, a beautiful two-lane, it is only about 30 miles back to Llano and it brings you in right at the junction of 16 and 71.
As always, we opted for the little longer ride through town and then back to 1431 junction (yep, Fuzzy’s Corner) and on back to Kingsland. Because of the choices made we again had a great hundred-mile day. After that ride we endured several of Texas’s coldest days in the past 20 years, with highs in the 20’s and 30’s – literally unheard of here. Good news, of course, is that it was short-lived and were back to Spring-time temps before long.
Keep the faith, all, riding weather will arrive!
(As promised, here is Shirley’s second ride report from the Hill Country of Texas. For awhile there she was enjoying record cold, but being Iowans did have one distinct advantage: when the pipes froze in their cottage at their Kingsland campground, her hubby Garry knew the drill and had their running water restored in a jiffy! This report on their ride through the Willow City Loop makes me yearn for the twisties!)
by Shirley P.
January 27, 2011 – We were lucky enough to get two days in a row with 70+ temps so mapped out a couple of rides. On the 27th we took off about noon for the Willow City Loop. Starting from Kingsland we took 1431 to the west side of town and picked up county road 3404. This is also called Slab Road for the very reason that it dips down across a low lying portion of a river with huge slabs of granite that you can walk across. Once you cross the “slab” it is about 7 miles of country road to Hwy. 71 and then another 10 miles or so to the intersection of Hwy. 16 in Llano. This is where we always gas up before we start the long part of the journey.
Both 71 and 16 are two lane highways with 70 mph speed limits and very few passing zones so to be honest neither are my favorite routes… but I digress! Once you hit Hwy 16 it is approximately 18 miles to the Willow City Loop turnoff. The turnoff is on the left and the signage is easy to miss, so if you go, be alert and on the lookout!
The loop begins with a sign that says “Loose Livestock” and they aren’t kidding. The road is curvy, sometimes truly winding, and on a couple of occasions it’s an up & down ride through granite outcroppings on one side and cactus and cedar on the other. There were only a couple of places that we felt comfortable enough to pull over and take a few pictures.
We saw maybe three ranches or homesteads and couldn’t begin to figure out how to get to one of them! The sign was right, no fences or pens, cattle simply roam – but we didn’t have to stop for any in the road so not a problem at least on this day.
You exit the loop on State Road 1323 and it is a short 3 or 4 miles back to 16. One of our favorite finds was the Knot On The Loop Saloon just as we turned west after exiting the loop. (Like idiots we took pics of the inside but not the outside.) This is a small bar/cafe where we ate a really good cheeseburger that was absolutely loaded with tomatoes, pickles, onions and lettuce. One drink and we were on our way home.
The first 4 miles or so back on Hwy 16 is very up and down and sharply curved. This is a main route into Fredericksburg and is heavily traveled. Apparently the locals don’t pay a lot of attention to the 70 mph speed limit but really only had one jackwad in a big black truck try to run us over before things straightened out a bit. Hwy. 16 back into Llano where you can reverse the ride out or take 16 on to Hwy. 29 for another 13-14 miles and catch 1431 for the last 7 miles or so into Kingsland. (This is the route we took because stopping at Pat’s bar for a quick one on the way home has become a nice tradition.)
On Friday the 28th we took a similar route to see and climb the Enchanted Rock at Enchanted Rock National Park – that’s coming up in a future report!
(Editor’s note: THANKS, Shirley, for a great write-up and pictures!!)
My good friend Shirley has abandoned me this winter in favor of spending four months vacationing “down south.” She has partially redeemed herself by sending in this ride report from her first month in
by Shirley P.
I spent most of 2010 looking forward to my retirement date of December 3rd. That date finally came and my husband Garry and I immediately headed for the small town of Kingsland, Texas to escape the cold Iowa winter. We debated for a long time whether it was worth taking multiple vehicles, specifically so we could haul the Harleys with us. With not too much debate the Harleys won.
Although the average temperature in the Texas hill country where we are staying is 64 degrees, we have seen several days in the 70’s and on December 21 – yes, the first day of winter – we hit 80 degrees. Obviously the bikes came out and we did a great ride that I have to pass along.
At the eastern edge of Kingsland where we are staying we caught ranch road 2342 and took it about 15 miles to Park Road 4 which takes you through Inks Lake State Park. This lake is fed by the Colorado River. Park Road 4 is a beautiful curvy asphalt that winds another 15 miles through the park at a slow 35 mph, which gives lots of time to gawk.
We ended up at Highway 29 and headed west back past Buchanan Dam toward Llano. Highway 29 is a wide 4-lane highway that allows you to kick the bikes back up to the speed limit. Before you reach Llano you will come to a four-way stop called Fuzzy Corner, turn left on 1431 and head back into Kingsland. Of course, once you make the turn back to Kingsland you have to stop at Pat’s Bar for a cold one before going on home!
So, the decision to bring the bikes was definitely the right one! By the way, if you travel to the Texas hill country they actually have a map of rides. Our next one will be the Willow City Loop that Garry has ridden and says is a mix of hill country curves and maybe a bit of the feel of the Rockies on a couple of blind corners. Can’t wait for the next unusually warm day!
— Editor’s note: Thanks to Shirley for this write-up! Additional fun in the area she’s writing about includes Longhorn Caverns, the Vanishing Texas River Cruise, wine tasting at Fall Creek Vineyards, climbing at Enchanted Rock, and much more. Top photo courtesy of Mike Probst, via Flickr; bottom photo courtesy of Miguel Rodriguez, via Flickr.
Corn Dog’s Note: Wanted to share this excellent article with you by Jordan Robertson, a freelance writer, long-time rider and concerned Mom. Be sure to add your thoughts about what make good “ground rules” for teens interested in riding, and a big THANK YOU to Jordan for offering her insights to Biker Chick News!
Preparing Your Teen to Ride
by Jordan Robertson
If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, chances are your kids will be too. They’ve grown up watching you ride, maybe helping you wash it in the driveway, dreaming of the day when they’d be able to take it out for a spin themselves. As a rider, you know better than anyone the joys of zipping down the road, feeling the bike between your knees and the feeling of freedom it offers. But you also know the dangers involved, especially when the rider is uneducated and unprepared. You’ve been an experienced rider for so long now, you may have forgotten some of the basics for someone just starting out.
My son has been saving up and recently bought his first bike, but I won’t let him get on that bike until I’ve helped him learn how to do it the right way. Here are just a few of the things your teen will need to do in order to be a safe, responsible rider:
Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
Sure, you know everything there is to know about riding. You’ve been doing it for years. But you probably also know some shortcuts, and have your own little ways of doing things that may be a little, let’s just say, unorthodox. Before you pass those on to your teenager, insist that he learn to ride the right way, taught by an experienced instructor.
Learning anything in a structured, classroom environment brings out the student in all of us. A teenager will be more likely to listen and pay attention to the instructor than to his parent who tells him what to do every day. The goal of earning that certificate at the end, and getting that feeling of accomplishment will motivate him to learn and participate.
Besides, by completing a safety course, my son is eligible for a discount on motorcycle insurance. That alone is reason enough to attend.
Wear a Helmet
Statistics show that head and chest injuries are the most common injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents. A helmet is the easiest way to prevent severe head injuries, or even death. If you require your kid to buckle his seatbelt when he’s in the car, require him to wear a helmet on the bike. It will give you peace of mind while protecting him from motorcycle injuries.
Not all states require that helmets be worn, and I know many people who think it’s not necessary, or that it just gets in the way. But this is my kid we’re talking about, and my concern for his safety trumps any state law. Once he’s an adult, it will be up to him whether or not he wears a helmet. But for now — no helmet, no motorcycle.
One of the best ways to help teenagers appreciate something they have is to make them pay for it themselves. Too often, parents buy everything for their kids, denying them the opportunity to learn the true value of their possessions. When a child has to earn and then spend their own money on something, whether it’s clothes or a vehicle, they’re much more likely to take care of it and use it responsibly.
I am requiring my son to pay for his own insurance, which is also a way to teach him about an important part of personal finances. He’ll eventually be paying for life and health insurance in addition to his vehicle insurance. I’m using this time to help him understand how it works and why it’s necessary, and to also make sure he understands how premiums can go up if he gets a ticket or is involved in an accident. The more careful and responsible he is on the road, the more money he’ll be saving, not to mention the safer he and everyone else on the road will be.
Even after taking a motorcycle safety course, and being lectured about the dangers of irresponsible riding, your kid is still a teenager, and prone to making mistakes. There may come a time when he gets a ticket for speeding, or worse, participates in road racing or other dangerous activities on the motorcycle.
Before he rides that bike for the first time, I will have a discussion about what is and is not allowed on the motorcycle, and what I will and will not tolerate. He needs to understand there are consequences for inappropriate actions, one of which may be losing the motorcycle altogether.
Hold your teen accountable for his behavior and actions. It may seem harsh, but remember that stunt riding, or even just speeding on a busy road or in a residential area doesn’t just put your kid in danger. By doing those things, he’s also putting others in danger.
By preparing my son for the responsibility of owning and riding a motorcycle, I believe I am helping him become a more responsible person in all areas of his life. With a little trust, a lot of patience, and even more preparation, I’m hoping that someday soon we will be able to ride together.
I recently read a really neat story that touched on something experienced by a lot of women who ride motorcycles: the reaction of our family and friends, particularly our mothers. Now I don’t know about yours, but my mother was terrified of motorcycles. She would not let my dad own one, and she was absolutely against me owning a Honda Express when I wanted one as a teen-ager. (I eventually won that battle – I have no idea how.) She did not live long enough to see me learn to ride a “real” bike, and would have been beside herself with worry had she been here.
The story I read was written by Condi Starks, a gal from South Central Kansas who’s been riding her own for just about a year. Her current bike is a 750 Honda Shadow. But, Condi’s mom used to fret openly that riding wasn’t ladylike. I asked Condi if she would mind sharing her story here, and I’m delighted that she agreed!
My mother is very much a Diva! I mean in every sense of the word. I love her to pieces but can’t help but to just stand and shake my head at her. She loves the attention and the drama that most “Divas” feed on, that’s my mom! She had a cow when I got my bike. “Condi that just isn’t lady-like!” And then when I started shooting, she literally CRIED! And I am not even exaggerating, REAL TEARS because “I feel that you are losing your femininity!” We have talked and I “educated” her on what TRUE femininity was, and as you will see, I think she is a very good student.
A little history about my mother: She came from a level of poverty that she was always embarrassed about; my grandfather worked his butt off, but with 5 children and one of them being a “special needs” child, it required that work and dedication from my grandfather.
My mother was a pre-teen before they had an indoor toilet. So based on the “lack of” when she was a child, she created an image of what a “Perfect world” should look like and has strived to make her world as perfect as her mental image.
She dropped out of school in the 9th grade and went to work. Then a few years later she met my dad. He came from a very dignified family (mom’s dad was gruff and teetered on abusive). My dad’s family was not “rich” by any means – they were dairy farmers here in Kansas and eventually lost the farm, so money isn’t what bought them respect in the community. It was their values. This was the “Perfect family” in my mother’s eyes and she tried to mold me into THEIR image. (I don’t do so bad really but mental image is a hard thing to live up to).
My mother has since worked her way up to being the CEO of her own corporation, owning several tax franchises, and has every right to hold her head proud in her own right. But she still struggles with “Mental Image” of what is “Perfect”. And ladies on bikes, shooting guns is not the mental image she has of a “Dignified Lady.” UNTIL….
I told her “Mom, when I am on my bike I am free. And there is nothing MORE lady like than FREEDOM. I am free to be who I am, I am free from gender barriers. I am in control of my own destiny when I am on my own bike. I am not sitting behind someone putting my life in the hands of THEIR riding skills. You have always taught me to be in control of my own successes and failures, when I am sitting at the controls of my own bike I am in complete control. I have POWER, when I hit that throttle and my bike roars, it screams ‘I am WOMAN, I am FREE, I am IN CONTROL!’
“And when I pick up my gun and master the skill of shooting I am saying I have value enough to stand up for my right to be safe and secure! There is nothing lady-like in laying there letting someone rape you, there is nothing lady-like in begging for your life, there is nothing lady-like in being reduced to hoping someone gets to you in time. So by learning how to shoot I am learning how to protect the lady you created in me.”
She just smiled! Now she BRAGS about my riding and my shooting. Recently while at a family picnic with “the perfect family” one of my female cousins said “Ohhh I have wanted a bike for so many years, but how do you keep Helmet Head away?” Before I could answer, my mother answered for me. She said “That’s why you wear Doo-Rags.”
I smiled and winked at her. By George I think she’s got it!!!