And no, it’s not the Girl’s State High School Basketball Tournament, which I swear is like a religious experience around here (GO DES MOINES ROOSEVELT, 4A!)… no, it’s even better: it’s motorcycle swap meet weekend!
It’s the weekend where we wake up, take a stretch, look in the mirror and go, “Holy CRAP – what the hell happened to you?” And then we venture over to the Iowa State Fairgrounds so we can pay $10 to get in to the 4H Building and look around at bike-related junk for sale (isn’t this kind of like paying the people at McDonalds just to look at the menu?) and give a big hi-dee-ho to all the folks we haven’t seen all winter.
I am really looking forward to it and plan to take a zillion pictures – which of course I will share with you all!
Speaking of getting in the mood for a ride, here’s something else that caught my attention this week: a short, simple video made by my friend Tim, who recorded a ride last Fall around Madison County and posted a wee bit of it on Facebook and YouTube. Yes, I know it’s just a video of Tim cruising down Highway 169 toward my favorite Iowa small town… but you have no idea how much this video – AND the sunny 50-degree day we had on Wednesday – made me want to ride!
Here is a link to Tim’s Youtube channel, just for good measure… in case you want to check out a couple more riding videos and/or videos of “puppy play time” with Bertha the Biker Dog!
Okay yes I’m rambling a bit… I’ve had a little too much Valentine’s Day chocolate, and I’ll be crashing from my sugar high very shortly. So… enjoy your weekend, I’ll see you on the “other side” of the swap meet!
Had a fun Saturday night this past weekend enjoying Ladies Night at Big Barn Harley Davidson – a nice opportunity to socialize and shop, but with the added bonus of food and drink.
The evening event included in-store specials on apparel and parts, music by One Night Stand (GREAT group, managed to turn “Another Brick in the Wall” into a funk song, then paired it with “Shake Your Booty” – more funk with “Brick House,” Prince’s “Let’s Go,” and oddly enough one of my least favorite funk tunes, “Flashlight,” which I thought had mercifully faded into the annals of music history), door prize drawings, and entertainment by aerial artist Ann Stimmel.
Now she’s worth a paragraph all her own – this gal is amazing! I had thought, when Big Barn promotions manager Amy Shane-Nichols had promised an aerial artist, that we’d walk in and see a high-wire strung across the rafters of the barn. Turns out that’s not the act at all. Instead, Ms. Stimmel shimmies up a pair of floor-to-ceiling silk fabric drapes, then proceeds to twist, turn and flip about (to music, of course) by virtue of being wrapped up in the drapes in various ways. I posted a couple of pictures on Facebook, and tried to shoot a little video with my cell phone camera (which, not surprisingly, didn’t turn out all that well). For a better understanding of what Ms. Stimmel was “up to,” see this Facebook album by Ann Martineau Breier.
The best part of the evening though, was getting to meet my fellow biker chick blogger, Stephanie – aka, Iowa Harley Girl. Now she and I have been attending the same events for years, and commenting on each others blogs for a few of those years, but had never met in person. So, it was a delight to get to hang out with her for the evening. We were also BOTH thrilled to meet a couple of fans of both our blogs – now that is a hoot, when someone steps up to you and says “Hey aren’t you that girl with the blog?”
Oh – and one other thing… something called a Mango Margarita… yeah.
How was your weekend?
(See my full album of swap meet photos over on the Biker Chick News Facebook Fan Page!)
Having had at least five inches of snow on the ground since early December, the rallying cry in Iowa right now is “I’M SICK OF WINTER!” The long, snow-covered season has really elevated the importance this year of the annual Capital City Customs Swap Meet and Bike Show.
Held in February, this event is always a sort of mile-marker along the winter highway – a “wake-up” call that Spring is coming, and it’s always as much an opportunity to just meander among “like minds” as much as it is a chance to shop for parts and leather and look at a few bikes.
The swap meet is an interesting mixture of new stuff (rude/ sassy t-shirts, patches, leather gear of every type, bike dealers represented including Harley, Yamaha, Victory and others), used stuff (tubs and tubs, rows and rows of parts), miscellany and even art. (I’ve got a post coming up introducing you to a local gal who makes beautiful hand-tooled leather seats.)
We’ve been there at times when there was plenty of room to move around, and also when you couldn’t even really stop to look because the crowd kept moving you along. This year our experience on Saturday was the latter – apparently the entire riding population of central Iowa was ready to shop!
Got a chuckle out of a sign at the entrance – “Free H1N1 in the Annex”… noticed good bargains on used windshields, unused Sturgis t-shirts from past years, leather gloves, and several other items. Stopped as often as we could to look and consider purchases, but ultimately we didn’t buy anything except our entrance fee. (Which, by the way, was up by two bucks this year – worth it!)
The bike show portion of the event is always interesting, too. These are not usually the concept bikes and high-dollar customs you’ll see at Rat’s Hole – although I have no doubt they were each a major investment for their owners. Rather, they are highly personalized bikes by people who just love to build and ride. Sometimes a bike seems like it’s been entered just to show off a paint scheme. Other times you can tell the whole machine has been built from some kind of visionary scratch.
In every case, the bikes in the show are earnestly built by folks who just want to show you what they’ve done to their machines. I especially liked the memorial bike built to honor those killed in action (KIA) in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the pair of bikes by Jason Crooks featuring his signature “jelly bean tank.” (Okay, Jason probably doesn’t call it a jelly bean tank – that’s just me. And I admit I’m biased here – Jason’s been a family friend for almost 20 years.)
SO – bottom line, it’s been a hell of a winter around here. And the swap meet was one big, fat “WE MADE IT!” – a finger-flipping, you could say, offered collectively by the winter-weary bikers of central Iowa.
And now that it’s past, even as the snow continues to fall, it feels like we’re finally on the downhill slide to Spring.
Were you there? What’d you like? Who’d you see? What’d you buy?
… but we couldn’t ride… the first picture below shows what’s at the end of our driveway – an 8-foot wide swath of ice! This end of our yard and driveway are not in the sun, so they won’t be clear until probably late April! (Also, we are getting another winter storm tonight so the whole @#$ yard will be back to ice by tomorrow morning!)
Then, this picture shows the road on the other side of our house. It’s unpaved, and the picture doesn’t even begin to tell the story of how rutted and sloppy it is. So, while we did see a few bikes while we were out and about today, we certainly didn’t get to ride.
We took probably our last ride of the season over the weekend – Sunday was beautiful, sunny with a high in the mid-60’s… so we took a scenic ride with Kristin, Hollie, Howard, Brenda and Cassie down to Indianola and Lake Ahquabi just a few miles south. Fall colors are nearly done (there are still a few really amazing trees here in town, though), and it’s getting dark pretty early what with Daylight Savings Time over… plus it’s the height of lust-crazed deer season and that always makes things interesting – but we had a great day riding with no troubles.
I’ve got a little over 13,000 miles on my bike now – it had 4900 when I bought it. I put the saddlebags back on recently and I’ve got some thoughts for things to do/add over the winter, so we’ll see what the PB looks like come spring.
So what’s in store for the off-season? Oh the usual shopping for chrome, leather, etc. LOL But also, I’ve put my name in the hat to be an officer in the local HOG chapter (new member ambassador – does that sound like me or what??) so I’m looking forward to see if that comes to pass.
I also have lots of blogging fun in store so hang in there with me, just because it’s too cold to ride doesn’t mean the blog goes quiet!
Remember my brave proclamation back in November? Well, I give up. I have officially crossed the line from understanding, tolerating, and barely holding on through winter… and am officially over-the-edge. A biker chick can only take so much, and I admit: I’m overcome by cabin fever. Crazy. SICK of winter! I know, I know… I said was gonna chat, and shop, and plot road trips, and all that other crap, to keep from going nuts. And it worked… for awhile. So what happened? Well it wasn’t a slow descent, I can tell you that. It was a distinct *SNAP.* What happened was the culmination of the events of the past week. Here’s the list: we got our latest edition of “Hog Tales” in the mail. Mother Nature dumped the second snow-and-ice storm on us in a two-week period. And “Wild Hogs” debuted and we braved the weather to go and see it on opening day. So I’ve been reading all about other people’s biking adventures, and how much their bikes mean to them, and all the great destinations that await… and I’ve been trudging through hard-packed/drifted snow with an inch-thick ice underlay just to get to my car… and I watched Travolta & crew travel cross-country, braving the locusts and the accidental fires and confrontations with the Del Fuegos (but they were on BIKES, so that hardly counts as strife!)… and now I’m officially in bad-weather-complaint mode. So just for the record, WINTER SUCKS!! I’m ready to ride.
Last night at dinner we were warding off the cold (36 of the past 37 days here have had daytime highs below 30 degrees, including 15 that were in the single digits) by recalling the two Caribbean cruises we’ve been on. Ah the top deck, staring out at the endless ocean as real-life worries were set afloat… the beaches of white sand and pristine aqua-colored water… the islands… what *were* the names of those islands?? We quickly realized that these trips were 8 and 10 years old, respectively, and wondered if there wasn’t something more recent we could draw upon for warm recollections. That put us onto the subject of last summer’s Sturgis trip, and we conjured up the hottest day of that journey with some reluctance. It was about 111 degrees as we cruised across a corner of Montana, returning to Belle Fourche after our visit to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. The trip to Devil’s Tower had not been all that pleasant – crowds and traffic were awful, tempers were short, and it was a day where I was feeling like we’d traveled far but seen nothing – except for a giant volcanic nipple poking up out of the Earth. This return stretch was, despite the heat, a blessing as it proved to be a little-traveled route. Very little. Vast open spaces stretched away from each side of the asphalt ribbon (was THIS where Woody Guthrie was walking and trying to think of a rhyme for “gulf-stream waters”? If so, it’s no wonder he came up empty!). You could look out onto a grassy range and imagine covered wagons actually lumbering their way west. And it was hot. The kind of hot where you soak your bandana and wear it under your helmet to keep your head cool… and sit in a little mom-and-pop convenience store seemingly in the middle of nowhere, drinking a sports drink even though you HATE sports drinks, because you’re pretty sure you left your electrolytes in a chemical toilet back at the Volcanic Nipple gift shop.
August 10, 2006 might not’ve been the best day to conjure up happy memories, but it was just what we needed to keep cabin fever at bay. We’re supposed to see temps in the 40’s by next week… I may just go soak my bandana!
Crap! Well it had to happen, we got a little snow here yesterday and contrary to what’s SUPPOSED to happen in November, it seems to be sticking! So, the off-season’s definitely here, and I thought this would be as good a time as any to offer some suggestions for how to survive the winter when you HAVE a winter and can’t ride. Here’s what I’m planning to do to make sure I don’t go nuts!
January was a particularly mild month around here, and folks are asking me if I got to ride the bike. I did – three different times! – and managed to put a little over 100 miles on it in a month when temps are normally in the teens. The next question always seems to be, “Doesn’t it piss you off to be teased like that?” Meaning, predictions are that Feb. will be closer to normal winter time weather. On the contrary, I’m not pissed at all. Those mild January days were a gift, and I for one took advantage of them as best I could. But I’m a realist: I know that February isn’t normally a month for motorcycles, so I don’t expect the whole winter season to just disappear simply because we got lucky a few times. Having the opportunity to ride in January was exhilirating, and I think I can now hunker back down for a month if necessary safe in the knowledge that the end of February is not too far away and that the next month – March – is Spring.
Speaking of February, Punxatawny Phil saw his shadow so according to the legend that means there’ll be six more weeks of winter. Which leads me to wonder: who comes up with this crap?? I can’t help but ask every year why we rely on a giant rodent to reaffirm what we already know: February is a winter month, and it’s always gonna be that way! I think this somehow constitutes cruelty to animals, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t PETA be involved? I mean we’re disturbing the natural hybernation cycle of an innocent animal for our own selfish purposes. Sure seems to me like someone should be standing by, ready to throw paint on those uppity Pennsylvanians who rattle Phil out of his slumber every Feb. 2. I would travel there and do it myself, but I’ve been busy teaching my Parakeet to predict the Lottery numbers. He hit the PowerBall number last week, so I figure it’s only a matter of time.
Just a short jaunt today to try out the new Mustang solo seat… have you ever noticed that when you ride or drive on a brand new street in your hometown that it just feels really weird, like you aren’t even in the same city? There has been so much development and expansion here in Des Moines these past few years, and there’s a new road that runs along the south end of our downtown area – not just a resurfaced road, but an entirely new road that never existed until just this past year. It’s 3 lanes wide in each direction, with lots of attractive landscaping on both sides – built BIG for anticipated traffic, although today (a Sunday AND a holiday) there was no one else – and it just feels really strange! Anyway, awesome short ride, love my new seat! Hoping to rack up many more miles this year!