Tag Archives: chicks on bikes

Women have a RIGHT to Feel Safe

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook know I recently had a very visceral reaction to this article “10 Tips to Reduce Risk to Your Personal Safety on a Solo Motorcycle Trip” on Women Riders Now. To summarize the tips offered, the article basically says “Ladies, know your place in this unsafe world where your are prey and, just in case, carry a concealed weapon and prey to Jesus.”

Yeah, this is 2017 and an article’s best advice for women on a solo trip is 1.) do not camp in scary, lonely places, 2.) do not ride on scary, lonely roads, 3.) really, just avoid scary, lonely, places altogether, 4.) look tough, 5.) be ready to escape, 6.) do not look cute, wear lipstick or dress cute, 7.) be very, very cautious even when you are not in scary, lonely places, 8.) avoid the darkness (darkness makes every place a scary, lonely place), 9.) carry a concealed gun because really, it is a scary world even if you take precautions and 10.) prey to Jesus.

Here’s a pic of me looking cute, in case you didn’t think it was possible. AND it is exactly how I looked on the road.

I cringed at this article (I will save you the picture of me cringing).

Nope, it did not mention one thing about gear, extra gas (like my RotoPax tank), GPS locators (like my SPOT), emergency IDs (like my RoadID), a cooling vest for hot days (like my Bilt), a small toolkit (like this JAS Metric SpeedKit), a tire inflator (like mine from Slime) or a whole host of other gear. Check out this photo of all my gear. I can tell you all about it.

No mention of getting extra training like the Total Control Intermediate Rider Course I took at 2WheelSafety (there is a photo of me getting safety training). Actually, there was nothing really about motorcycling. Just a bunch of crap about how women need to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe in this dangerous, dangerous world.

Then, I wrote this comment on Facebook, on the article and in my own post…

I just rode solo from California to North Carolina and will continue this trip to Massachusettes in a few days after spending time with my newborn nephew. I pretty well broke every rule here, other then preparation. I’ve also solo-ed on four wheels for various long-distance and long duration trips including a trip where I only camped in the back country or a remote campsite in the middle of nowhere. I’ve even back countried solo for 14 days with nothing more than a backpack and certainly no concealed weapon because they are usually no-nos in National Parks. My pickup even broke down on a Blackfoot Reservation where I spent time hitchhiking to help then had to have it towed off the reservation for service.

I admit, I have taken some unnecessary risks on a few occasions, but I prep and research before I go.

The fear and suspicion outlined in this article first saddened me and second angered me. The idea that as women we need to even consider this as necessary precaution to prevent ourselves from getting hurt is a sad, sad, sad statement of the world and country we live in. We have to play it safe and not do the fun routes lest we make ourselves victims and be at fault if anything happens. Of course, as any motorcyclist knows, better alive than right.

It also angers me that this is the world we live in. That we all have to live like we are prey having to avoid things we love so we don’t end up attacked, injured or dead. Very few of these tips would apply to men. Articles for men about riding solo would tell them to take the road less traveled and have fun and throw caution to the wind and make is once in a lifetime trip and make memories. But now, us women get patronizing fear articles.

I am a mechanical engineer with a masters degree from MIT. I always hated the women in engineering groups that wasted my time on career balancing and making it in a man’s world and how to cook fast meals for the family. I now bristle at these articles geared toward women that encourage us to go around acting like targets for violence.

Sad and Mad.

The email response from this Women’s publication?

Sadly, it was invalidating and chose not to enter the debate about feminism and women owning their RIGHT to feel safe.

Hi Kimi, I’m saddened that you read this article, which we’ve gotten very positive responses to, as a “patronizing fear article.” In fact, the writer’s entire introduction was about each of us making personal choices, and then she outlines what she does. She never suggested that these are tips everyone should abide by. Take what you like, leave the rest. Motorcycling itself is an inherently dangerous activity, and those of us who choose to partake even while knowing this, are then faced with the choices of how to minimize our own personal risk (or not). When WRN publishes these types of articles, it is in attempt to provide readers with information to help arm them with the knowledge and tools to minimize their risk. It’s not about instilling fear, its about offering solutions and suggestions.

Name Removed, Assistant Editor

Here is my response to that.

As a professional publication, WRN should not hide behind the “take it or leave it” bit. It should own its content, especially content provided by staff. This is an article written by a staff writer for an online publication on a public forum.

One of your taglines is “the longest running—and most comprehensive—resource for female motorcyclists anywhere.”
As a place offering this service, I assume information provided by your staff writers are part of that wealth of “resources” it aims to offer. Sure, the article offered a disclaimer that these are preferences, but the author also chose to use authority as a staff writer for what aims to be a credible publication to provide advice. This response asks me to disregard that authority, that expertise and that advice as merely a personal preference?
As a reader and consumer of WRNs content, I offered a reaction to the content WRN is providing. Invalidating the opinions of readers by claiming the publication does not offer authority on it’s advice is unfortunate. Rather than engaging in a debate about the place of women in society and stand for a feminist point of view that us women should be allowed to own our space in the world without fear and without having to take ridiculous precautions , the publication has chosen to hide from this pre-eminent issue in the world for women.
Instead of embracing how we women should behave so we stay safe, WRN should be standing up for rights of women riders to feel safe – no matter how we behave (unless we are not wearing all the gear all the time). Like so many aspects of society where men dominate (which is really all of them), WRN should produce content that proclaims women are here to ride and we are here to stay and we are here to own our place in the world of riding. Refer to content by Amber Tamblyn on sexism in the film industry. And this response to that op-ed by Mary Kate McGrath. You can also see work by Brianna Wu (who is also a motorcyclist, by the way and general BAD ASS) and Anita Sarkeesian (another BAD ASS) in the tech industry.
Now, you might say, “But motorcycling is a leisure sport and we don’t want to be controversial.” Well, in my opinion, if women have to do things like not wear lipstick or ride fun roads when alone, then our presence is already controversial. Furthermore, it isn’t just industry. Take this Serena Williams piece in Time. Or this reflection on the sexism of the Olympics.
And yes, even other motorcycling publications are tackling this issue. That is Chris Cope, a male author, writing an article on an issue about women. Funny, I thought us women would be able to articulate our perspective better than some man, but per this response, it appears a man is carrying that torch rather than a publication with another tagline saying “An online motorcycling lifestyle magazine from the female point of view.” I guess the WRN perspective from the female point of view is to avoid this type of content and invalidate the women who wish to voice our opinion that we belong with our lipstick, our cute tee, our tight jeans, our skirts and our cute bad ass selves and we deserve to feel safe no matter what.
No need to respond or worry over further reactions or contradictory or debatable response from me. I will no longer read, recommend or follow this publication. Good luck with empowering women using soft tactics.

Ultimately, ladies, I cannot say this loud enough WE HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE.

That is all.

WOMEN HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE.

WOMEN HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE.

WOMEN HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE.

No fucking gimmicks. That is all.

WOMEN HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE.

Happy Cooking and Happy OWNING your place in the world.

Kimi’s Guide to No Motorcycle Butt Pain

I fielded a lot of questions on my ride across America. “Where you riding to/from?” “Are you alone?” “No, really. You’re doing this by yourself?” “All your stuff fits in those bags?” “What do you do if you break down?” “What bike is that?” “Are you camping?” “Are you crazy?” “Are you carrying [a concealed weapon]?”

I will get to that last one in a later post because it’s facinating. However, the one question I get asked most often is, “Does your butt hurt?” Or some permutation of that like, “How’s your ass holding up?” Or “What do you do about your sore ass?” Or an insistence that “Man, your butt must hurt.”

Yes, all my stuff fits in those bags. Actually, those bags also hold my tools, tire repair kit, bike cover, rain gear, water bottles, bottle of antifreeze, chain lube and brush, helmet freshener, glass wipes, antifog, gas can and spout, first aid kit, laptop computer, kindle, disk lock, helmet lock, flashlights, fleece liner, pants liner, and my toiletries and clothes.

No, actually, my ass doesn’t hurt. And, no, it’s not because I carry my own built in padding called a big ol’ bootie. There’s more to it than that.

Usually, the question comes from another rider who is familiar with motorcycle butt pain. Often, that other rider is a weekend warrior who goes on a big ride a few times a year. They regard the sore ass as a price to pay for third hobby thinking “It is what it is.” They try custom saddles, gel cushions, air cushions, back rests, padded pants and other gadgets.

They blame the seat.

They miss the point.

Total Odometer Miles on September 15th.

Way, way, way back in July, I rode my first long distance ride to Sunnyvale. Admittedly, I ached at then end. I pondered the same ass-ache problem and questioned whether I could complete a ride across America. In the short 8-1/2 weeks since that ride, I put 5696 miles on my bike in 83 days of ownership (2 miles are owned by the dealer). Exactly 4133.6 of those miles were done in 22 day (two of which, I did not ride at all). On non-layover days, I rode 220-380 miles a day mostly on country roads. A leg took from 4-7 hours to complete.

Miles ridden between Pollock Pines, CA and Swansboro, NC

All of that was on a stock seat. No springs. No gels. No air. No backrest. No bottom padded pants. No tricks.

At the end of the journey, my ass was not the achiest, sorest or most abused part of my body. My right knee and leg were achy, but I blame that on a surgeon sticking a scope in there last December. My hands were sore and I attribute that to holding the throttle. My toenails were abused, but that was because of a lack of a pedicure for 24 days. Given that, I figure I am authoratative enough to offer my guide to preventing long distance motorcycle ass ache.

Note, I wanted to call it “Kimi’s Guide to Preventing Moto-Butt Pain,” but googling ‘Moto-butt‘ offers mostly cheeky photos of ladies not wearing all their safety gear. Girl, the last place I want to risk road rash is on anything cheeky or near my cheekies. Just sayin’.

So, the longer and less fun title “Kimi’s Guide to No Motorcycle Butt Pain” resulted.

How to prevent motorcycle butt pain while on the bike.
  1. Posture: File this under “No Shit,” but I see you riders out there with the seated slump. It’s the same slump they preach about with desk chairs. It’s the same slump they harp on in articles proclaiming sitting is terrible for your health. 

    My first day out, I was achy and I certainly had motorcycle butt pain. I blame all the anticipation, excitement and nervous energy. I rode tense – shoulders tight, legs tights, neck tight. Buried in my excitement, I missed my body signals screaming “fatigue” and “relax.”

    You might consider motorcycling a physical activity, but you are just sitting. Bike geometry isn’t always helpful. Cruisers encourage riders to assume the couch position – slumped with the tailbone curled under, knees splayed wide, feet forward, shoulders curled, chin jutted, elbows out. Add some monkey bars to that and your posture just looks ridiculous. Racing bikes encourage a lay over a tank tucked position – head tilted up, legs and arms tucked, knees hugging the tank, tail bone rolled out with a back arch. Street bikes, dual sports and dirt bikes probably offer the bet opportunity for good posture with the legs under the knees and the body upright, but too often posture morphs into something similar to the cruiser position for long distance. I am not going to harp on what constitutes good posture. There’s articles galore for that, like this one. Good body posture also improves your ability to react, maneuver and turn.

  2. Undergarments: Personally, I don’t find women’s panties comfortable for long rides. I don’t like hems and seams on my cheeks where there is a vibrating engine nearby. There is no situation that I like a piece of fabric up ass-crack. Wear something comfortable that won’t cause chafing and make sure they have good moisture management. For riding, I wear men’s no-fly sport boxers. Women’s boxers are usually short with only the slightest nod to making them shorts. They aren’t boy shorts, they are hot pants and my ass crack eats them (TMI? Well, this is a blog about ass ache). I wear these men’s no-fly micro fiber ones by Jockey. I recently saw these unisex ones by TomboyX too that I might try out. I want to support small business, but I do get 2 or 3 pairs from Jockey for that price.
  3. Anti-chafing: When I did triathalons and distance bicycling, I was constantly battling chafing in my nether regions. This lead me to discover all these anti-chafing products. As I sport zero thigh gap, these products are also awesome under skirts, for wearing shorts, with bathing suits and, now, for motorcycling. I like a cream such as Mission Anti Chafe Cream. Body Glide is a good stick version. And Anti Monkey Butt makes a great powder. Chafing sucks. Use it before you ride and don’t freaking wait until your already chafed.
  4. Body Scans: Now we get into some of my take aways from my regular yoga practice. When yoga teachers talk about a “yoga lifestyle,” they don’t mean wearing yoga pants all day. They are talking about bringing those body lessons you get on the mat off the mat. On a long ride, I try to take a body scan two or three times an hour. What else do you have to do during those long hours on the open road. Take 10 conscious deep belly breaths. It activates your parasympathetic nervous system and sends your body and brain some good vibes. While you are feeling those good vibes, do a scan of your body and mental state. Anywhere achy? How’s your posture? Where’s your brain? Anything stuck? Where in the world are you? Are you taking in the world as it slides by?
  5. On-Bike Exercises – After I get those belly breaths and a scan in, I do some on-bike exercises to relieve any pressure spots, get some circulation to muscles and reposition.
    1. Peg Stands. I stand up for 20-30 seconds, then I do at least 10 peg squats. On a side note, you cruiser riders with your feet out in front and monkey bars are at a disadvantage here, which also means you are not in a optimal position for maneuvering.
    2. 20 Chin Tucks. These are not just for riding, they are for all day, everyday, during all things. This movement maintains mobility in the cervical vertebra and counteracts that chin jut common with desk sitting, smart phone gazing and, yes, motorcycle riding.
    3. 10-20 Handlebar Presses. These are less about feeling like a weighted push-up, but more about getting those precious shoulder joints and elbow joints moving to circulate blood in the muscles and lubricating joints.
    4. Neck Stretches. Admittedly, neck stretches are tough on a motorcycle, so make sure you are in a safe place to do this. Turn your chin toward a shoulder (don’t take the bike with you) and dip your nose down to stretch the upper trapezius then put your ear to your shoulder to stretch the sternocliedomastoid. Don’t over do it.
  6. Movement: Dear riders, you are on a motorcycle, not sitting in a barkolounger with a remote in one hand and a beer in the other. This should be a physical activity not something you settle into and doze off. Move your body. Sure, on long straights and stretches of big slab there isn’t much opportunity to shift around for maneuvering, but don’t just sit there getting saddle sores. 

    First, get off the straights and slabs as much as possible. They aren’t that fun and getting off them is when things get fun. If you can’t get off them, then find a way to move. Do those #4 exercises more often. Shift and lean for even the smallest turns. Point and flex your toes. Kick a leg straight and do some ankle rolls. Sit forward for a while then back for a while. Tilt your pelvis to different positions to get off hot spots. The last thing you want to be is stiff and settled into one position if you suddenly need to swerve.

    Move. Your. Body

  7. Take Real Breaks – My first day out, I would fill up from the saddles and not even take my helmet off. I did stop for a sit down breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. For some reason, I felt like I had to reach my destination early. It was partly to avoid the hottest part of August days in Nevada, but I ended up sitting at a dinner for a 2 plus hour lunch stalling before I could check in. I could have ridden more, but I was achy because I didn’t follow my advice here.

After that, I got into a routine at stops. I aimed to stop every 75-90 minutes and I would just top off the tank too. I fill up then park the bike. Take off my helmet, remove my ear plugs and get off the bike. Whether it’s to the restroom or in circles with a cup of coffee in my hand, I would walk around a bit. Then, I do some stretches. Seriously, treat this like an athletic activity and do some stretches, right there at the gas station in the parking lot for all to see. Who cares, it’s my ass I am preserving so I can complete 22 days riding across the country. I like toe touches, standing torso twists (I like to use a wall assist), calf stretches, wrist stretches, side stretches and quadracep stretches among others.

How to prevent motorcycle butt pain off the bike.
  1. Set Reminders: I mentioned lots of stuff to do at various intervals. If you get zoned out or simply tend to blow things off without a reminder, set some timers. I like to use the MindBell app for this.
  2. Practice Yoga or Stretching and Mindfulness Regularly: I’ve been practicing yoga for probably 20 years, but I didn’t really start integrating it into my life off the mat until probably the last 5 or 6 years. I crave my time on the mat and try to do a structured class or self practice three times a week. But, I integrate yogic skills into as many aspects of my life as I can. I find new ways to do this all the time. But, it takes regular practice to make these skills accessible.

So, for this stuff to be habitual daily including on the motorcycle, it must be practiced. You can’t just sit on your bike and and demand your mind and body find deep breathing, body scans, good posture and effective stretching unless your body is used to doing these things daily off the bike. It doesn’t have to be yoga, but it should be a practice where you get in tough with your body, breath and mind to build both strength and flexibility. Get a regular practice, it is so worth it.

  1. Strength and Cardio: I maintain and okay baseline of fitness, but I must admit, I am remiss on my strength and cardio work lately. Yoga is not a substitute for either. My less-than-optimal fitness level shows up on the bike. I fatigue easier. I get muscle twitches at night. I carry extra pounds that make it tougher to stay ahead of sore butt syndrom. This is an area I am working on, but it is probably the most important off-bike thing I can do.

So, there you have it. All the 5696 miles of wisdom I have about fending off motorcycle butt pain on long hauls. Any one of these things probably help, but collectively, they worked for me. Motorcycling should be fun. Ending a long day in the saddle aching and sore with motorcycle butt pain doesn’t prove how tough you are, it just indicates your riding days will be numbered and limited.

So, happy cooking and long distance riding!

Post Script: I know I still have Days 19, 20, 21 and 22 to tell you about. This is just a short detour.