Friday, September 22, 2006

MotoFemina Award Ceremony

Here are a couple of pictures from the MotoFemina award ceremony. With us in this picture is Katherine, who literally taught us how to ride motorcycles. She's an instructor with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and she's good! It was great to have her (among others) with us from day one through the entire summer.

I'm glad someone caught this look of surprise! I might not believe I won if it weren't for seeing this picture. I've had the bike for a couple weeks now and it's finally starting to sink in.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The end of something great, the beginning of something new

The MotoFemina project culminated this past Saturday with an excellent award ceremony at the Sipapu BMW rally in north central New Mexico. Our spirits were as high as the blue cloudless sky as Laura, Synth and I mentally prepared ourselves for whatever the future would hold. As we arrived at the rally, met up with some familiar faces and began handing out flyers, I wasn’t nervous at all. I knew I would be fine with whatever happened.

The Ceremony
We stood before the growing crowd and awaited the start of the award ceremony. I could feel the heat of the late day sun as I shifted from left foot to right, back and forth. We made quite a few jokes in those last few minutes, that being the best way to ward off the nervousness I’m sure we were each beginning to feel. My mind was everywhere but on the motorcycle – wow, the sky is beautiful today…did I drink enough water?…I think I’ll faint if I lock my knees…look at all the people here.

Those thoughts drifted away as we were welcomed to the rally and Torsten (from Santa Fe BMW) introduced the project. When a representative from the panel (they met the previous evening to determine the winner) began speaking, my nerves kicked up a few notches and I had to take some deep breaths. A sealed envelope bearing the winner’s name was passed to Torsten, and I distinctly remember the sound of it being ripped open. A pause, and then…was that my name? Oh my gosh, it was!!! It’s hard to remember what I did, what I said and how many people I hugged. I do recall being urged by Laura to “go sit on your bike!” Tears brimmed for a moment, but were quickly replaced with an overwhelming joy. The moment we had all been waiting for and working towards was here. I feel so lucky, so very fortunate to have had this opportunity.

To say the least, the last few months have been liberating, enlightening and full of wide-eyed wonder. I became immersed in MotoFemina and found it a surprisingly easy place in which to lose myself. Thoughts of riding motorcycles have slowly but surely crept into my daydreams, my writing and perhaps most importantly, my future.

Just when I was sure of who I was and where I was going, I came around a bend and discovered yet another one of life’s challenges. As a part of MotoFemina, I learned so much more than how to ride a motorcycle. The MotoFemina experience has gently coerced from me some of my last layers of shyness and hesitation, strengthening my once-tender core. I can now look back and see the pre-MotoFemina Jess, the one whose external image may not have been as deep as her internal self. Not to be overlooked is the comfort and familiarity I found as a result of living this adventure with other women, women with skills!

Thanks to all who have been a part of the MotoFemina project. Each and every person I’ve met has truly enhanced the quality of my life. To be surrounded by such generous, talented individuals has been a privilege that I will not soon forget. I hope to stay in touch with you all.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Congratulations Jessica!!!

I am so happy for you Jess! Going through MotoFemina with you and Laura was a great experience and one I won't forget. I sincerely hope that all of us will stay in touch and ride together; short trips and long adventures.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

MotoFemina Sipapu Invitation

Fellow Motorcyclists:

The cast and crew of MotoFemina and the staff of Santa Fe BMW invite you to the awarding of the red 2006 BMW F 650 GS motorcycle to the winning MotoFemina contestant at:

The Land of Enchantment BMW Riders Bavarian Mountain Weekend Rally

Location: Sipapu Ski Resort

Time: Saturday September 9th at 4:00 p.m.

Please forward this invitation to your motorcycling friends.

We look forward to seeing you all ride in.

Laura, Jessica and Synth

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Motorcycle Road Trip

Well I survived my first motorcycle road trip. It was thrilling, exciting, and scary at times but what a great experience.

Synthia and I met in Seattle and rented bikes from a family business in Issaquah, WA called Mountains to Sound Motorcycle Adventures - about 15 miles east of Seattle. I got a 750 Honda Magna and Synth sported a Honda Shadow (1000 ccs I believe). We headed north on a country road on the east side of Lake Washington and boarded the Edmonds Ferry with little to no problems. We chatted with a few other riders and swapped some motorcycle knowledge. I'd been dreaming of riding a motorbike on a Seattle ferry for years. I lived in Seattle during graduate school and always watched motorcyclists load first and get off the ferries first. I was green with envy at the idea of exploring the beautiful Northwest on a motorcycle.

Once off the ferry we went North toward Port Angeles to visit a fairly prolific motorcycle writer (and rider) named David Hough. David has authored various motorcycle books including Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well. Synth and I stopped in Sequim to get gas and directions and her Shadow would not start again. There seemed to be something wrong with the starter. After a few failed attempts of trying to jump start the Shadow (picture two women in motorcycle outfits, one pushing the other down a small incline in the QFC parking lot) and a bit of frustration on the phone with the rental folks (yes, the kickstand is up) they agreed to trailer out a Triumph Trophy for Synthia and give us another day of rentals. While we waited for a bike that worked we continued on to talk to David and his wife Diana. It was a great evening, we had dinner in Sequim and mostly listened as David chatted about motorcycle stories. David, Synthia and I explored some of the rural roads in Sequim, WA. What a quaint little town. Some of the roads were literally on the water's edge. We said good-bye to David and Diana and stayed the night in Sequim after Synthia was able to get a new bike. The next morning we took off for Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park just outside of Port Angeles. It was a beautiful twisty ride with spectacular views of the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic National Park. This was my favorite part of the trip. I could feel quite a difference in the way the bike turned when I rolled on the throttle and leaned the bike through the turns. It felt so much more stable. Wow, a minor breakthrough in my riding I think.

After the ridge we headed to a cute small town on the northeast edge of the peninsula called Port Townsend. The next ferry took us to Whidby Island then to Mukilteo. We thought we'd try to bypass the Friday afternoon rush hour traffic on I-5 and got caught in a traffic jam on some random country road north of Redmond. My clutch hand was killing by the end of the day. We got the bikes back an hour late (sorry again Brenda) and with only one minor scratch (the Pt. Townsend ferry lot pavement ate the Trophy's left signal light after Synth and I bumped saddle bags- oopsie).

We had such beautiful weather and only a few minor problems. It was an adventure and a lot of fun. Both Synth and I had quite a few "firsts" on the trip. Can't wait for the next one! More Photos

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Putting the "femme" in MotoFemina

Each time I reach for a mirror and proclaim, “ I have to put on my make-up” I elicit entertaining expressions and comments from those who know me. Travis says nothing, but his “Hmmphh!” says it all. My mom rolls her eyes - “ You know, it’s not a sin to wear makeup”. My coworkers give me make-up advice (presumably because I don’t look like I’d know how to “properly” make myself up).

If I have to wear makeup (“oh, but it will bring out your fill-in-the-blank”), at least I can do it in style! This handy makeup bag was personalized just for MotoFemina, and as you can see it contains a tiny treasure chest of goodies with the sole purpose of beautifying me for the camera (not that I couldn’t use a little beautification, but this is overwhelming!). In an effort to make sense of it all, I took the logical approach (bear with me here). When learning a new skill, there are usually tools associated with the skill whose use must become familiar in order to increase proficiency. I went through several weeks where I thought that my hands (and my face) would never get used to all those blushes, bronzers, brushes, powders and glosses. Even if I did narrowly escape eyeliner in my eye during application, the makeup removal process fixed that. Blink, blink some more, let the eye water, try to identify the speck of makeup (which feels like a small pebble), blink more. What’s the secret? Maybe perusing a couple issues of Glamour will help me retain my eyesight a while longer.

Before you think I’ve totally wimped out, check out my newest discovery. Combining motorcycling and makeup can be fun! The mirror can be adjusted for maximum lighting of the face, while the tank doubles as a vanity. I have always been a fan of functionality, and an even bigger fan of multi-functionality.

After weeks of trial and error I now consider myself to be an amateur at both makeup application and motorcycling. Who would’ve thought? : -)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Riding Away

Well, like Synth, I sold my car a few days ago. It was an exercise that opened a flood gate of thoughts and memories. I thought it would be adventurous to try and get around town on only my bicycle (that and my student loans are beginning to rear their ugly heads). I commute to work about 45 minutes each way and it has worked out to just ride my bike to the bus stop and take the communter bus. Besides how to get around and navigate a bus schedule, selling my car has forced me to think about the past a bit. I thought about all the trips and interesting places the car has taken me and about all the winter storms the car faithfully helped me travel home in. I thought about my dog Teddy, for whom I mostly bought the car. I thought about struggling to make payments on the car during and after graduate school and how secure I naivley felt I was four years ago when I bought it.

Last year I moved to Santa Fe from Seattle to start a new life. I was going through a divorce, trying to finish my master's degree and was offered a job in New Mexico. Ironically, I lost my dog in the divorce but got the car (and Daisy, the cat). I would have 1000 times over rather have kept Teddy than the car but I guess that's the way life goes sometimes. I think getting rid of the car symbolized an act of moving on and unburdening myself. Funny how something as simple as selling a car can make a person reflect. It forced me to think about things I've tried to keep way down inside me.

Learning to ride a motorcycle and riding with the women in the MotoFemina project has been the culmination of a dream of mine. Nearly every spring for the last six years I've found myself visiting showrooms and sitting on bikes and knowing that when I finished school I would be able to save money to buy one. The freedom and independence that I've felt from motorcycling is so thematic in my life right now. My new life in Santa Fe has given me the opportunity to be really alone for the first time in my life. The friends I've made and the experiences I've had since moving to Santa Fe have become part of new memories I'm making. I feel like I'm becoming part of a community in a town that can otherwise sometimes be very solitary.

Before I moved to Santa Fe I used to write and sing music a bit. For the first time since my divorce I was able to sit down and write a song the other night. It's rough for sure, but I'm just excited about the fact that I could actually put pen to paper and create something again. I can finally express feelings I've experienced the last year and a half and move on from them. I wanted to share it here with the MotoFemina folks because it has a bit to do with my experience here and with this project. To all I've crossed paths with here in Santa Fe, thanks for the advice and inspiration (and help) to create a new life for myself out here in the Southwest.