Tag Archives: roadtrip

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.

Day 2: Austin to Panaca via the Extraterrestrial Highway

No knows you’re crying when you’re in a helmet…

And alone, on a motorcycle, on a two lane blacktop, in the middle of nowhere, sliding through he landscape at 75 miles per hour.

After burning off the “getting started jitters” of yesterday, there was more space between my ears for thoughts. And thoughts there were. Lots of stuff surfaced on today’s ride. Lots of feels. Lots and lots and lots of feels.

I hit the road at 6:15am. I love that hour. There is a quality to the air that crisp, cool and quiet don’t adequately capture, but my brains too dizzy to come up with more. Leaving Austin wakes you up quickly as the Lincoln Highway climbs into the Toiyabe Forest and around Mt. Prometheus. My shuffle playlist must have recognized the need for a wake up call as it offered up Run DMC and Easy-Easy to kick things off.

On the other side of Mt. Prometheus, I descended into Big Smoky Valley and hang a right between two jagged lines of mountains. The contrast between mountain line and valley is stark and sudden. Turning into Big Smoky Valley is a newly paved two-lane blacktop running straight down the valley for as far as I can see. Finding myself here, in the middle of nowhere, on two-wheels alone felt crazy and ridiculous and audacious and awesome all at once. I giggled my way along for a bit and then reveled in the vastness of Nevada and the tininess of me zipping along this black ribbon in the valley.

At my morning coffee stop in Carvers, Nevada, a trickle of a cellular signal delivered a message from my husband. He is joining me in Monday for a few days of riding in Colorado. As some of you may have surmised from previous posts, I wasn’t in in California and on this road trip just for a vacation. I exited myself there to escape my real world problems. My mother died last year, my midlife career change was stalled and my marriage was suffering. This reality break and trip was meant to be a reset.

As I pulled out of the gas station and back on to Highway 376, the gravity of our reunion after 9 weeks was suddenly overwhelming. I gushed with excitement and nervousness and then I gushed from my eyeballs.

The 100 miles of asphalt on 376 saw my laughter, awe and tears. But now, the time of existential deep thinking was over and the time for extraterrestrial discovery was underfoot. By the way, I found myself pondering an awful lot about the highway crew that paints these far off roads. Double lines, broken lines, alternating lines all put in with a lot of thought for a roads that see only a few hundred vehicles a day.

I filled up at Tonopah, Nevada (which as I found out from a Austin local means ‘greasewood water’ in Shoshone). This is the last chance for gas along the Extraterrestrial Highway (Highway 375) for another 154 miles. As I was getting anywhere from 55 to 65 miles per gallon in my 2.96 gallon tank, I thought this might be the time I would tap into my spare tank. To be sure, I was going to keep myself to 69mph for the whole distance. Off to find little green men.

Over the entire 92 miles plus a stop at the Little Ale Inn (pronounced Little Alien), I found no aliens. Although, I did have a lovely BLT. There were cows, lots of cows. It’s open range here and there are cows. When I stopped to put on my cooling vest and a new bandana, a few started might have mistaken me for an alien and started trotting my way. There were also Joshua Trees, lots and lots of Joshua Trees. Shout out to the History Chicks for keeping me company on this stretch with their Marie Curie Part I and Part II.

Not sure why aliens would have landed here, but it was worth the side trip anyway. I kept it at 60-65 mph and as I left Rachel, Nevada, my gas meter ticked down to the last dot with 40 miles to go. Part of me wanted to use the gas in that spare tank because I brought it so I could do something reckless like take off on a long stretch with no gas stations. The other part of me didn’t want to pull over and have to unload stuff to get to the tank.

In the end, I made it and managed an amazing 65 miles per gallon. Nice. At the Ash springs stop I met some fine travelers over ice cream. To Patrick, the Apache-Chippewa from New Mexico living in Vegas, if you are reading this, thank you for the new power adaptor. Your kindness warmed my heart as I headed off to Panaca.

This was a long day – 335 miles. I created new rituals around my gas stops and decided to make them longer. Take off the gloves and helmet, take off the backpack, grab a parking spot and take 20 minutes to walk around and stretch (to touches, twists, ham stretch, wrist stretch). I also paid attention to posture and leg position. It paid off. My ass and lower back didn’t ache at the end of the day. I did leave my earplugs in a bathroom in Tonopah, so my brain is buzzy tonight. Another casualty – so far scoring one every day. Gotta stop that.

I felt good enough this evening to opt for an additional 25 miles to the dinner at the next town and a side trip to Cathedral Gorge State Park . Silver Cafe is a lovely little place, but I am ready for something other than gas station or dinner food tomorrow night.

Now, off to bed with me. I am looking forward to this comfy bed at the Pine Tree BnB tonight.

Happy cooking and UFOing!