J&P Cycles Open House: hot, sweaty fun!

Cripes I turn around and the summer’s half over! I have been MIA from this blog and all my others for a few weeks, but I am back and promise to do better by y’all who anxiously await word of my adventures. (THANK YOU for that, by the way.)

I’ve spent a few weekends working on my flower garden at home, but prior to that we did have two very nice rides around south-central Iowa that I will try to blog about at some point in the very near future.

For now I wanted to make sure to share the story of our recent trip to J & P Cycles Open House in Anamosa, Iowa.  Been trying for YEARS to make it to this event and for one reason or another it just never worked out.

This year it came up as a last minute reminder from Garry and Shirley so we decided to “just do it.”  Keep in mind the weather here up til about two weeks prior had been cool and wet (at least for Iowa in summertime). Then we hit a hot patch, which hung in there til literally about 4 p.m. on June 27. (That’s the day of the ride, for those keeping track.)

Now normally a trip to Anamosa on the bike is about a 3-1/2 hour deal, about 170 miles or so. But not for us. No, when you ride with us you have to go south to go north, which is exactly what we did. Steve and I, along with our daughter Stephanie, rode down to Carlisle to meet up with Garry & Shirley, from there to the Casey’s just outside Pleasantville to pick up Chuck (Shirley’s BIL), and from there (for whatever reason) decided to take “92 over to Washington.” Mind you, I thought this would be straight east – but it wasn’t. Turns out you just subtley keep going southeast, then, finally, just as you are crying out to the heavens “WHY ARE WE GOING SOUTH WHEN WE WANT TO GO NORTH??”, you turn left at Washington and then you are going north. And realizing you still have a two-hour ride.

So, short version, it took us about 5 hours to ride about 203 miles from Des Moines to Anamosa. That’s with our usual frequent stops for water and potty breaks, of course. Everyone likes to blame me and my tiny gas tank, but I can tell by the constant bum-rubbing that they are all secretly ready to take a break each and every time.

Anyhoo, the map shown here is NOT to give you the exact route we took – I know your eyes are too bad to actually READ it… it’s just meant to show you how far out of our way we went. (And enjoyed every minute, I think… well maybe Stephanie didn’t enjoy EVERY minute…)

So finally arrived in Anamosa and parked just inside the gate, great view of the “sea of bikes” but also a lonnnggg ways from the building and the activities. We found the water/food vendors easy enough (FREE water – bless you, J&P!) and tried to stroll/shop, but there were just too many people and it was too dang hot to be outside. After about 90 minutes or so we decided to head back home. (Yes, five hours in the saddle for 90 minutes of stompin’ around in the heat, bitching. Is it any wonder you think bikers look crabby?)

Took the most direct route home, 151 west to Marion & Cedar Rapids (hit a VERY brief patch of rain just a mile or so outside of Anamosa), then 218 South to the Interstate, then I-80 west to Newton, then 14 south to 163 (where Chuck spun off to head home to Pleasantville), and 163 west into Des Moines. Somewhere in there, the humidity shut off and it was almost cool for the last bit home. (It’s that Iowa weather – if you don’t like it, just wait around 5 minutes and it’ll change.)

Here are the rest of the photos, most of ’em courtesy of Stephanie (our official event photographer – did I mention we LOVED taking her along?).

And, just for the record, it’s two weeks later and I’m STILL sportin’ that fine burn line that shows pretty clearly where my helmet and sunglasses end and my uncovered face begins.  It’s good to be a biker chick!

Some don’t want us to celebrate being woman bikers

by on April 6, 2009
in Blowing a Gasket

This year, I’m finding it interesting that in addition to the usual articles in the media about the increase in female riders, there’s also some backlash against the women riders’ “movement” (if it can be called that).

It’s not backlash against female riders, per se (though there is likely some of that too); it’s backlash against companies that are beginning to cater to women riders, host all-womens’ rides, make products for women riders, etc.

And I ask myself, why would this not be a good thing? Why does Lizzie at Rippen-Kitten so vehemently oppose the new WildKaT bike, engineered by women, for women? Why is BikerNewsOnline critical of International Female Ride Day?

The answer is, I think, that these folks reject the idea of being seen as a woman rider. They instead favor being seen as merely a rider.

Okay for them, but I say, screw that! Blending in with the guys is not why I chose to start riding. Co-ed events are great, and yes I have my favorites and do enjoy riding with my husband. But being part of a women’s ride – that is something special. Why? Two reasons that come to mind immediately:

  • Women seek community. In all facets of life, women seek out those who share a common bond, so we can gather support, share experiences, and learn from each other. An all-women’s ride feels like more of a community, which is a key reason I started riding.
  • Women don’t always want to be wife and mom. Yes, we cherish those roles. But on a women’s ride, we can leave those roles behind for a time and just enjoy each others’ company – as women, as adults, as independent spirits. Good God, why would we NOT celebrate that?

Hey, I truly believe, “to each her own.” If you don’t like the idea of a bike built by women that takes our unique engineering challenges into account, then vote with your wallet and don’t buy one. If you don’t like the idea of a women’s informational motorcycle event, or of an all-women’s ride, then please don’t participate. And feel free to express your opinion – I will be reading, voraciously, in my quest to understand more points of view than just my own.

But hear this: there ARE some things about being a woman that make me a different rider than my male counterparts, and I choose to celebrate them and to applaud those who try to encourage my celebration.