THT Presents...Touratech Rally 2014

Touratech Rally 2014 My Kawasaki KLR650 Dualsport and I will be BACK!

Touratech Rally Plain, WA 2014
I just attended my first Touratech Rally in Plains, WA and I loved it.  The rally went from Thursday to Sunday and a ton of people showed up.  It was combined with the Overland Expo Rally, so besides having a ton of dual sports there was a bunch of super cool 4x4 expedition vehicles.

My Touratech Mug from our Goodie Bag
I was very impressed with how organized the event was and how nice the people were.  We had a great little campsite but there was no running water and no open campfires.  We had known this ahead of time so we were prepared.  We brought our little camp stoves, water and food.   The rally did have two food trucks and happened to be across from a convenient store and gas station, a hardware store and a CafĂ©.  So lots was close and easy to get too.  They had a ton of bathrooms placed all over and each one had a hand washing station inside and they kept them clean and smelling good (super bonus in my book because we were camped next to two).  They also had a cold shower station.  It wasn't drinkable water but you could wash in it after riding all day (and boy do you get dirty and dusty).  We got goodie bags when we showed up with a cool cup, stickers and two tickets we could redeem for gallon jugs of water.  We didn't know it when we checked in but found out later if you brought your new cup down and got there fast enough they would fill it with beer (makes for happy campers after a long day of riding dirt).  It was good beer too.

 They had arranged a nice group of vendors in the center of the field with a campfire in the middle and vendors surrounding it.
Vendors and Campers
The vendors were super fabulous and one  night a group was making burgers and chips to give away.  Another booth had swag (stickers and beer cozies) and free beer.  The next night another group did free appetizers and beer. I had not expected to eat and drink for free but it was a bonus.  They had some sweet deals and the campfire drawings at night were a blast.  We all got new raffle tickets each night and they had fun prizes.  I was lucky enough to win a awesome Touratech Tshirt and a $100 gift certificate on the second night.  

Wine and Chat with the Dirty Girls
They also had a dirty girls chat and wine session which I attended.  It was such a great group of supportive women who rode on and off road.  They had planned some woman only rides and everyone shared there experience level and what kind of bikes they owned.  BMW GS seemed to be the bike of choice.  I was the only one at the meet and great on a KLR but it was a lot of fun to see so many  ladies having fun.  The whole rally was very female friendly and I spoke with quite a few woman who were there on their own and planned to attend again.

Me at Sepp's Point.
Some of the things I really liked about the rally were the options to go on guided rides.  They had the course available to download on your GPS but at 7pm  each night they opened up the rides for people to sign up and go together in groups.  They had all kinds of skill levels so you could sign up for what you were comfortable with.  I didn't go on any guided rides but we were a group of 5 that did an intermediate ride on Friday and it was challenging but fun and the scenery was so pretty.  We ended up on the top of a mountain looking out over a beautiful valley and lake.  Then we went into the beautiful town of Leavenworth for lunch and shopping.

My trusty riding crew
 On Saturday we did a beginner ride along the white falls river and that was also beautiful scenery and a very relaxed ride on payment, gravel and dirt.

We stopped at all different spots to take photos and the opportunities were endless.  We also got see a bit of wildlife and my husband got to see and catch a picture of two fawns and there mom.

My husband and I at our campsite
I really loved this rally.  The whole atmosphere was so relaxing and fun.  Everyone was so friendly and I chatted with so many strangers that were there just to hang with others who love to ride on and off road.  I also got to meet in person the adventurous woman of the North Cascade Ladies Riding group on Facebook. There was of course way more men then woman and the age group was all across the board but in the end we are all just riders who love being on two wheels, with the wind in our hair or shiny heads and our soul flying free.
PS  I got to camp with my husband, my father-in-law and two of his friends and I just have to say thanks for making it so fun.  They made me laugh and smile for four days.  You guys are AWESOME and I am happy to have you as friends now.

Getting back on the Motorcycle is like riding a Horse

I am so excited that the weather has turned beautiful here in Washington State. It is February and we are having a run on sunshine and warmer weather. Not quite warm but warmer then usual. This has allowed me to start my riding season very early this year. I got Mary Jane out of the garage and on to the open road this weekend. It was so wonderful. It was like sitting down to chat with an old friend you haven't seen in a while. I swear the bike sighed under me when I got on. I hugged her and said hello, let's go play. We took off to find some dirt roads and spend a little time getting two wheel therapy. It was marvelous! I had forgotten how great it was to ride.
We spent a couple of hours out on the bike and then headed home. When I was getting off the bike I felt a little stiff and didn't think anything of it. Getting up the next day was a different story. I woke up with stiff thighs. I felt like I had been out riding a horse instead of horsepower. I did a lot of tank clutching when I was standing up riding in the gravel and realize now that maybe I have gone a little soft over the winter and need to get used to riding my motorcycle again. I am looking forward to the exercise routine of my riding.

The Day my Husband Fell in Love....with his Kawasaki KLR 650 Dual Sport Motorcycle

My history with motorcycle is very short and sweet. I always thought they looked like fun, I have ridden a couple of times off road on them and my husband really wanted one. That is where it ended. I believe I might have even owned a little tiny 50cc one when I was 16 but it most have been so short lived that it isn’t a concrete memory so I can’t say for sure.  
In 2008 my husband got a motorcycle. It was a fun looking blue, black and silver Kawasaki 650 Dual Sport. It was going to be great on gas, fun to ride and something he could play on and off road with. It seemed like the perfect fit and pretty cheap too. In fact I am pretty sure he fell in love with it. He would ride it, wash it and dry it. He would need lots of accessories for it so that it would look great and run better. It would need lots of extra care and attention that I thought was a little much for something that didn’t have a heartbeat. In fact I was starting to become jealous of it. How could something so boring looking require so much love, be so much fun and have all the boys drooling over it. That was my mind frame for the summer of 2008. It made no sense and was quite irrational. In fact I look back now and wonder how I could not see what was so obvious ……

I needed my own something special to fall in love with (that didn't have a heartbeat). I needed my own steel horse, my own party on two wheels, my own toy that the boys would drool over.

Oh I got it go but how do I STOP it! Kawaski Dual Sport Adventure

My husband is a wonderful man and I think he knew all along that I needed my own motorcycle, he was just waiting for me to open my own eyes and see it. I also longed for adventure, the open road and the stigma attached with being a motorcycle rider. So one day we decided that I needed a bike and that I needed to ride his to see if it was the kind of motorcycle I wanted. We both love to go on and off road so the Kawasaki Dual Sport is great for our area here in Washington State but it is a rather large tall bike for a beginner motorcycle. I am 5’ 8” and could barely touch the ground when sitting on his bike but I am a very determined lady and if he could ride the bike, then I could ride the bike, at least that is the look I wore on my face while inside I was silently praying and quaking. My first attempts at starting off went rather well. I had a little talk with Todd’s bike and explained that if it would cooperate their would be a new friend in the garage and new accessories for it to wear. Bribing seems to work with animals and kids so I knew that the motorcycle would probably fall for it too.
Tap down into first (with your foot), slowly let out the clutch, slowing twist the throttle and your steel horse starts to move. It sounds like such an easy thing to do but it feels more like when you are supposed to pat your head and rub your belly. You can do it but it takes some practice. The two directions are opposite and it takes awhile for your brain to wrap around the idea that both hands are moving differently. When the bike starts to move and you feel all that power between your thighs it is amazing and addicting all at once. Absolutely rewarding and thrilling
…and then you have to remember how to stop all 500lbs of it. This is when the momentarily paralysis sets in and your brain shut downs. Pull on the handle brake, step on the foot brake, do it all at once, hard, fast, slow steady, which one makes it stop with you and the motorcycle still upright

Motorcycle and Dirt Get up Close and Personal.. My first attempt a riding a Dualsport

I had managed to make the his motorcycle go and stop (in the upright position). I practiced this a few times and I was feeling fairly confident I could drive it down the road and get it into second gear. Which is more clutch action and toe pulling it up. Do you now when you are excited and afraid all at once and your stomach is a massive attach of butterflies but a happy giggle is just waiting to burst forth. This is my state of mind and body as I venture forth down the road by myself to get the bike really moving at 25 mph. The wind is rushing in my helmet, the bike is vibrating between my legs and there is a loud humming in my head. I AM RIDING A MOTORCYCLE! I let that giggle out because its only me in my helmet and I am smiling ear to ear. I am really doing it. I am really riding this motorcycle. I see my husband smiling in my mirror as I ride forward. The joy is amazing. I cruise down the road in second gear and suddenly realize I have left Todd behind and now I need to find a place to turn around. The bike is heavy, doesn’t have reverse and I really haven’t learned to turn yet. I can only go forward seeking a great big wide spot to turn around at. I find a kinda small spot but it looks like there is enough room. It inclines slightly uphill but it’s the most room I can find on the side of the road to turn around. I put my blinker on start chanting to myself “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this” I start the turn, hit the dirt, have it half way around and it starts to tip over to the side. I start to lose my balance. Oh Sh*t, Oh Sh*t, I can’t drop his bike. He is going to kill me but the weight of the bike is too much and it falls over. I manage to leap off before it lands with a little puff of dirt. There it sits like an injured animal. I just stare at it and curse inside my head and then realize I need a plan. If I can get it up and back on it then all will be well. I bend over and try to lift it. I grunt, I groan and I strain way to hard and the bike doesn’t even move.
I realize that getting it back up is not going to happen and I start to stare down the road. Sending him mental messages to come and check on me because I can’t leave the bike and I can’t move the bike. Before long he comes up the road like a knight in shining Toyota truck to save me and his bike. When he pulls up he just smiles at me and says that after I didn’t come back he realized I had tried to turn around in this spot which was not the best idea. The incline was all wrong and really just an accident waiting to happen. He is really cool and say the bike is fine. He has added a crash cage to it (one of its many accessories) just for that reason so there is no harm done. I am pretty sure the crash cage was meant for him but I am relieved all the same that I didn’t hurt is baby but he assures me that is what a KLR is for. So what are you supposed to do when you get knocked off the horse, get back on it. Well I decided he could ride the motorcycle home and I would drive home. I had a brief moment of self pity and doubt (about 5 seconds) and then decided I really did need my own motorcycle. If I was going to drop something it should at least be my own…..

I wish my Figure looked as good as my Figure Eights

My husband thought that I should ride his bike some more (even though I had dropped it) to see if I really wanted to get the same one he had. Now his KLR650 Dual sport is fairly tall and heavy but I really loved the idea of being able to go the same places he did. The whole point of getting the bike was to have fun with him and if I had a different bike I might not be able to keep up and that was definitely not a option. So he threw me on the back of his bike and took me to a very large gravel church parking lot. Then he handed over the reins and instructed me to start doing figure eights. I was still very nervous about driving the bike. I had just dumped it and my stomach was a little queasy from it but I knew that if I conquered my fear the rewards would be worth it. I started out doing huge figure eights. Then I would start and stop and start and stop and then I would start the figure eights again. Todd just sat on the grass and smiled at me. I do have to say that I am fairly good at going forward. I really learned quickly how to time the whole clutch gas maneuver. I started to feel comfortable doing my figure eights and then he told me to go the other direction. So that started the whole worry thing again. I had nailed it going one way why did I have to go and change it up. Wasn’t one direction good enough. I found out that people tend to feel natural turning one direction but the road don’t always go in one direction so eventually you have to learn to turn the other way. Unless you plan on being a NASCAR driver because they always get to turn one way. I contemplated my NASCAR driver career and decided that I would have to just suck it up and try the other way. It wasn’t really that hard just a little uncomfortable. While I am in the parking lot doing my figure eights, the guy from the church comes out to talk to Todd about my driving. Apparently he was also a motorcycle owner and knew exactly what was going on.
They sat and chatted while I did my circles. I find that people that have their own bikes are so friendly. It is like this unspoken club that you don’t know about until you join their ranks, kinda like the wave but that’s a whole other story.
I must say that the parking lot experience went rather well and I was feeling back to my normal self. I got over the whole bike dropping incident and was back to feeling a 100% positive about getting my own bike. I was so happy riding. I also decided that I did want the same bike as my hubby, only newer and a different color. I mean I don’t mind matching but I don’t want to be too matchy, matchy. So the next big step was to go to the dealership and see what motorcycles they had for me....

Life is to short not to have fun and I LOVE FUN!

When we got back home from practicing I was exhilarated. I had made up my mind that a bike was in my future. I was going to be one of those chicks that ride. I was going to be a chaps strutting hot mama. I have always admired how chaps make your booty look awesome and I couldn’t wait to be part of that group. I envisioned myself pulling up on my motorcycle, pulling off my helmet and letting all my hair flow down like in a really good shampoo commercial. Heads would turn, people would point and I would swing my leg off the bike and hold my helmet as I walked on by. As you can tell I have a really great imagination and sometimes I like to keep reality at bay. That didn’t last long as I started to research where to buy my bike and how much it would actually cost. As I called around to the local dealership the price seemed reasonable. The Kawasaki KLR650 Dual sports would be around $5200. That was the average price and that was with the sale of $300 off. As I contemplated the purchase I started to have buyers remorse. I personally get buyers remorse before I even buy something. Is it worth it, should I buy it, am I being a responsible person and can I really afford it? I had just closed down my business and had got a “real” job but it felt like I needed to be a little crazy. I needed to have something special that my husband and I did together but would it still be special if I couldn’t afford it? I told my inner angel and devil to stop arguing and decided that life too short not to have fun and I LOVE FUN, so I was getting a motorcycle.

Green Highlight are no reason Not to get a Motorcycle

We headed to our local motorcycle shop called Mt Baker Moto Sports and started checking out bikes. I had my heart set on a all black bike and my husband assured me that they came in all black. That was true and not true all in the same sentence. They had the 09 Kawasaki KLR dual sport in black but it came with lime green accents. For some reason this really turned me off. I didn’t want a lime green bike, I wanted an all black sleek looking bike that I could wear any kind of gear on and we would look good (my bike and I)

I just have to let you know that my mind tends to get a little irrational when making any purchase over $200 dollars. I am not usually a person who worries about matching my vehicles but some reason a silly thing like green stickers was going to be the reason I could not get the bike. It really did seem like a valid excuse not to make the purchase. If I was going to spend the big bucks it should be exactly what I wanted and lime green accents was definitely not it. My husband listened to my concerns, gave me that special smile and assured me that they were just stickers and we could take them off. *Poof* there went my excuse to be irrational and we were back on track. I did sit on a few smaller bikes but they just didn’t feel right so we decided to get the exact model my husband had just a year newer. I loved the idea of having my own brand new bike and then I started to worry my husband might claim the new one. It was prettier, newer and all black but he assured me that I could keep it because his bike was all rigged out just the way he wanted it. I started getting that nervous giggly butterfly excitement feeling. We were really going to get me my own motorcycle. I was going to be part of that special group of people that ride. I was going to be able to ride next to my husband on all those fun trips he did. I was going to be able to turn onto a dirt road and ride to the top of a mountain. I pictured myself like a super hero at the top gazing out across the vast rolling hills out into the wild unknown with my cape blowing in the wind.

Its amazing how a girl can fall in love with her very own Kawasaki KLR 650 Dual Sport

When the moment came to hand over the money and sign on the dotted line I couldn’t believe it. I was the new proud owner of a brand new black (with green highlights) 2009 Kawasaki KLR650 Dual Sport motorcycle. This was the newest, nicest, most expensive thing I had purchased just for myself. It felt wonderfully terrifying. I had just been handed the keys to a brand new world of adventure and awesomeness. I was truly stunned and excited. I could see all these new experiences opening up for me.
They asked us to come back for the bike so they could get it ready and washed for me. We decided my husband would ride it home and I would go get my permit. I really did want to be the first person to ride my motorcycle and I was momentarily tempted to just go for it. Must have been my new bad ass motorcycle attitude they handed me with the keys but in the end I knew it would be smarter to let him get it home because we live 30 minutes from the bike shop and I hadn’t actually gone over 35mph yet. I am also a real stickler for rules and I knew I wouldn’t be able to ride the bike without the permit. My conscience wouldn’t let me break the law and if I was riding and being illegal all at the same time then I would probably pass out from the stress. Thankfully I read the book, passed the test and got my permit so I headed home to go for my first ride…..

Butterflies and Motorcycles Don’t Mix!

I have to admit that my stomach was an absolute mess with fear and anxiousness. I was so worried about riding my own brand new motorcycle. What if I dropped it? What if I forgot how to stop? What if I hit the gas instead of the brake? What if… What if… What if… It seemed I could question myself forever and let the fear take over but I didn’t. I took one look at my husband huge proud smile and I knew I could do it. If he said I could do it then by golly I was going to. For some reason I decided it would be a good idea to film and I really wanted to keep a video journal of my whole experience with this new adventure. My husband was so encouraging and excited for me. He knew that this would be something we would love as a couple and something I would love as soon as I got my bike out of the garage and on to the road. We backed the bike out of the garage and he showed me how to get it started. Thankfully its only a button (yeah) and its very easy to push. I put on my brand new jacket, his old helmet and my gloves. Took a deep breath and tried to mount my motorcycle and didn’t meet with much success. The bike is very tall and Todd added a bag to the back so as soon as my foot went up it ran into the bag and halted. I clumsily hopped back and stared at my bike. How could my first attempt to get on fail. I laughed inside my helmet. I could do this. It was a machine and I was the master. Todd told me to put my foot on the peg and then swing over. Whoa, that was a lot easier and now I was on the bike. Instantly my gut went crazy again but I told it to shut up and off we went.. But not really because I stalled. Started to laugh inside my helmet and hit the on button again. We were ready for the second time. I eased the clutch out, gently turned the throttle and got it to go forward. I was riding! I got it on the road and started to follow Todd. It was amazing. The wind was
 blowing, my eyes were watering and my nose started to run. Then it occurred to me to shut the visor. Instantly I was high, high on life, high on adrenaline, high on my accomplishment and absolutely amazed that a mom could be out riding her own badass motorcycle. I started to giggle inside my helmet.

It was like all FIVE of my SENSES had just woke up from a coma

We decided I would start on the slower back roads so we crossed the freeway and headed for a nice twisty road. I got the bike up to 40 mph and it was awesome and scary. We were riding next to the river and as soon as I relaxed I started to experience the ride. I could smell the water coming up at the bridge, I could feel the air temptature change and I could smell the fresh cut grass and I could see so much more around me.  It was like all five of my senses had just woke up from a coma. The air even tasted different from inside my helmet. I couldn’t believe what a rush it was to really live this road, this ride, this adventure and I was only going 40 mph. I spent a lot of time trying to keep up with my husband. He is such a natural that he just flies along looking totally relaxed. He would check his mirrors, see was I lagging behind and then slow down. I wasn’t trying to go slow I was just so busy looking, feeling and hearing everything for the what felt like the first time. Then it happened. We came up to the two turns that haunt me to this day. They are 90 degree turns that say go 15 mph and they make me nervous every time. Todd just rides into like they are nothing so I was cruising behind him when they came up and when I got into the turn it scared the crap out of me. I had to lean really hard and I swear I was looking at pavement a little to closely and then as soon as you get straight again you have to veer the other direction. I made it but my heart was beating quite quickly when I was done. It was thrilling and scary all at the same time. Which is really what my bike feels like to me most of the time.

Did my overly excited chest flutter wave give me away?

I was riding along behind my husband and I got my first wave. It was so exciting. I had heard about the wave but I hadn’t experienced it on my own bike. I felt so accepted at the moment. I was now a motorcycle rider. I wanted to wave back but the thought of letting go of the handle bars was terrifying. I had a death grip on them and I am pretty sure I was cutting the circulation off in my hands but I decided to be bold. I brought my hand up over the handle bars and gave a totally girly wave. It was like I was seeing my girlfriend across the airport and I did that totally over stimulated back and forth excited wave. The other rider looked a little startled and just kept on riding I was so proud of myself. I had gotten a wave, waved back and still had my new baby going straight and upright. Yeah for me! My first day of riding was a success. I was now even more addicted and very excited and still a bit terrified.