Monday, May 6, 2013

A Decision Has Been Made

Well, I've made a decision to give up dirt biking.  I won't say forever, but definitely for now.  As my main intent was for it to be a shared activity with someone special, and situations have changed, I've decided to focus instead on some of my other hobbies and activities that I've been neglecting - like street riding (which I love), making jewelry and other crafty and creative things, and spending time outdoors in other ways (like going to the beach and nature parks).

I've been hesitant to make any decisions about selling my bike (I mean, after all, it has a name - it worked it's little way into my heart pretty quickly).  I keep thinking about what if there is an off chance that I get an invite to go with some people, at least I'll have it.  And then I realize that between now and that off chance that may or may never exist, I'll still need to maintain the bike.  And I know that will not happen.  So, Kit Katt will be going to a new home sometime soon I hope; and I may take that and invest in a different street bike - we'll see (and that's a whole different story, maybe for a whole new blog lol).

I think I will keep the gear though.  If anything, at least if there is an off chance that I'm invited to go ride because someone has an extra bike, or I can borrow least I'll have my own gear.  (Plus I love that Troy Lee helmet!)

Thanks for sharing my (albeit brief) journey into dirt biking.  At least I can say it didn't kill me, and in some ways it did indeed make me stronger by getting me off my ass and into a gym (which I'm proud to say I've been going to 4-5x/week since mid December).  And who knows, I might find myself in a position again to resurrect this blog - I certainly won't rule it out.

Stay Dirty My Friends (for my dirt biking friends)
Keep the Rubber Side Down (for my street and track riding friends)
Ciao! (for everyone else)

Monday, April 1, 2013


I have a confession to make.  It's not an easy one; but then again, no confessions are easy.

I'm not sure if I like this.

Yup.  I said it (in big bold italic red font even).  I'm not sure if I like what I've gotten myself into with dirt biking and am not sure I'm going to stick with it.  Don't get me wrong, it's gotten a bit easier since the first time I tried it, especially with the last time I went (which I never did write about) and found the sand pit to play in (hard to hit any trees when there aren't any to hit; only have to worry about pinning yourself with your own bike - which I did).  But here are some of the things I'm finding difficult about sticking with this:

  • This was originally supposed to be (for me) an activity I could do with my ex.  We split before I got started with it, but I stubbornly stuck with it.  We are still friends and he's been helping me learn to ride and take care of my bike, but it seems a little awkward for me.  I know I would not have chosen this activity completely on my own to do by myself, but it did sound like something that would be fun to do with a S.O.  (It does still sound like something that would be fun to do with a S.O.)  
  • I have to rely on other people right now to get my bike around.  That means working around other people's schedules.  It's starting to feel like a chore to get everything arranged and fit peoples schedules.  
  • I'm not a morning person, and it takes me hours to really get moving.  This is proving to be not conducive to riding with others.
  • I really just want to be able to tootle* around and have fun.  I don't want to be relatively hauling ass through the woods and slam headfirst or any body part first into a tree at 15-30 mph.
  • It's not what I anticipated. I think I was anticipating something more like just the dirt pit, or even the woods bit.  I wasn't expecting the whooped out sandy trails.
  • I'm already neglecting other activities that I've enjoyed, and enjoy more, like street riding, making jewelry, going to the beach.  So it is really worth my time to work on dirt riding?
I did expect it to take time and practice.  I did expect it to be hard.  And it's proven to be all 3 of those things.  I also expected it to be fun and a shared activity; those are the areas where things are falling short.   It's fun here and there but not as much as I was hoping.  It's a shared activity but not in the way I was hoping.

At this juncture, I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to do.  I own the bike outright; I own all my gear.  I'm not in a situation where I would need to sell any of it because of financial considerations.  So do I keep what I have in the event that I occasionally get a wild hair up my ass and want to go out and get dirty?  Or do I make a decision after a while that it's just not for me and get rid of everything knowing that it's just going to sit around and someone else could either be making better use of it or letting it take up space in their garage?

I think it's a nice thought that I would keep everything and just go occasionally; but I'm not sure if it's realistic.

If you've been following along, I appreciate it and I've enjoyed sharing my story.  I can't say this is where the story ends.   It's definitely a cliff-hanger though, that may have a second season or may be one or those cliff-hangers that never resolves.  Time and plenty of thought will tell.  Until the next venture....whatever that may be, here or elsewhere.....

Stay tuned....?
(and, no, this post isn't an April Fool's joke/prank)

*Dave, I'm not sure what you're seeing in my use of the word "tootle"....but it does seem to cause comment and amusement.  Might have to explain it to me sometime :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Catching Up

So after even more slacking, two long weekend trips to sunny locales, and very little riding (street only; no dirt) I'm ready to catch up again - here and riding!  I'll admit that having a couple people comment* that they've read some of this blog is having a positive effect on my motivation to write - and planning to ride this weekend is also motivating.  In order to keep this somewhat up to date, I thought I'd do a little catching up today so that I can add a more timely report after riding this weekend.

Last time I rode was Sunday 13 January.  This was a much better riding experience than the first time I went, and have updates on gear, riding, and maintenance.

Gear Update
I had better fitting armor this trip; I did end up exchanging the medium Alpinestars Stella Bionic 2 for a size large.  The stretchy mesh of the large still fits snugly, but the armor is now in the correct places on my body - the kidney belt is actually around my kidney area, and the shoulder and elbow armor is positioned more accurately also.  The better fitting gear definitely made a difference in how comfortable I felt and how well I could breathe!

I'm a little unsure, still, about my goggles.  I specifically got sand goggles since Croom is super sandy and I would be wearing contacts (and as some of you may know, contacts + sand = major suck).  The problem I'm finding, though, is that they fog up super quick, especially when I'm stopped and breathing heavy catching my breath.   Any experienced riders have suggestions on how to combat this?

We headed out on a different trail than the first time and quickly started heading off-track into the woods.  The thought behind this was that the ground is flatter (fewer whoops) and less sandy.  Except there are now TREES, both standing and not (yikes!).  So that was a little scary at first, going around and over trees and ducking under low branches and viney stuff.  But I took my time, stopped when I needed to; plus we still continued on some trails then back off then back on.  Although I had to stop a few times to catch my breath and let my heart rate come down a little, I was able to keep going for a much longer time at one shot and overall.  I think we were out riding on and off the trails for about a half hour or so before heading back to the truck for a good rest and re-hydration   And this is when "disaster" struck.  The parking lot was in sight when we hit a bunch of largish (well, at least *I* thought they were largish) whoops and I went a little out of control and wiped out.  Broke my clutch lever clean off.  So that was the end of riding that day.  
Don't think it's supposed to look like that...

I have to say, I was pretty bummed that I only wiped out once but it was enough to kill my riding for the rest of the day.  At least it was due to a broken bike part and not a broken me part (although so far the wipe outs have been pretty light and haven't hurt)!    So, the lessons and achievements I got out of riding that day were:

  • I need to stand up more (although this might require risers to help make this easier)
  • I need to practice more (both around the yard and out on the trails)
  • I need to convince myself that in some cases faster really IS easier
  • I'm pretty darn excited that working out seems to be paying off and my endurance is better than the first time I went.
Fixed (and by yours truly)!

Although my day of riding was over fairly quickly, we were able to stop at a shop on the way home and pick up a new clutch lever so it would be ready to go the next time.  Rather than having it done for me, I asked for an explanation on how to fix it while I actually did the work.  It was a really simple fix and I might even be able to do it again by myself if I had to, lol!

So that pretty much brings me up to the present.  In the meantime, though, I did lend my bike out last weekend to a friend so she could try it out.  I think she's probably ridden it more hours now, in one day, than I have total, lol!  But I'm hoping to make that up this weekend - fingers crossed for a good, safe, day of riding.  My friend sent me a bit of video of her riding around the bowl at Croom; it looked like a pretty good place to practice without a lot of obstacles.  I think I might try that out myself this weekend; it will also let my friend ride the crap out of his bike for a while rather than putting around with me :)  Look for a report after this weekend (and I'm also going to try to start finally working on Part 5 of the story so I can post that sometime in the next month)!

*Thank you JC and Deanna!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Seems like I'm kind of slacking lately...OK, yes, I've been slacking lately.   In lots of areas.  Work.  This blog.  One of my other hobbies (making jewelry).  Riding my street bike.

On the other hand, I've also been setting up "dinner out" nights for my friends.   Planning a mini-vacation (OK, long weekend).  Um, that's about it.  So, yeah, slacking.

With that in mind, thought I'd stop in for a quick note just to say that I'm still here and I do have stuff to still talk about.  I did end up going riding the other Sunday, so I have a report from that as well as putting together Part 5 - What Doesn't Kill Me....  I'm hoping I'll have some down time this weekend, maybe sitting by a pool in Miami, to work on some of this.  

Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Bad" Weather and Gear/Bike Updates

"Bad" Weather
Grrrr.....!  For days, everything and everyone was predicting 60-70% chance of rain all day last Sunday throughout the entire greater Tampa Bay area.  As a result, my friend and I decided to make other, indoor plans rather than go dirt biking like initially planned (OK, plus we both ended up sleeping in rather late on Sunday - like 10:30 am late).  Wouldn't you know it - beautiful temps and sunny - all day. Because of our late start and other plans, we didn't go out on the bikes Sunday.  Which means I couldn't try out....

My "New" Gear
As you may recall from Part 1 - The Gear, I would have further updates on my gear.  This is the first of those updates.  While out on my first day riding last month, the kidney belt of the medium Alpinestars Bionic 2 armor ended up working more like a bustier on me (yeah, I know guys, and the problem with that is.....?!  Trust me - I got that comment when I reordered, lol!) rather than protecting my kidneys while I was riding.  It also felt constricted in the shoulders while riding, so I decided to exchange the medium for a large.  I haven't tried the large out riding yet, but just trying it on I feel like it may function more like it's supposed to because it is a little broader in the shoulders, the back protector is longer, and the entire item is longer and as a result seems to fit my entire torso better.  I was pleased that even though it's wider and longer, the mesh doesn't seem to fit much different than the medium, which was my greatest worry.  Of course, the real test will be riding - so we'll see what the weather holds for this upcoming Sunday.....!

Bike Updates
No riding also means I didn't have a chance to try out my updated handle bars, clutch, or brush guards.  The brush guards I decided to add as an optional accessory for when we start getting off the trails or ride trails that have a bit more branchy stuff in the way. I bought the Trackside brush guards from Cycle Gear; they weren't terribly expensive and seem basic but I feel that is just fine for me being the noob I am.  We also replaced my handle bars; they weren't in terrible condition when I bought the bike, but the bars were bent a little and new ones were, again, a relatively inexpensive fix.  Clutch was a bit wonky and had issues with finding neutral; that is now fixed.  Still waiting, though, for the back-ordered left peg to come in.    Also need a heat shield so I can avoid burning a hole in my pants again (luckily I have a GR patch to cover that up!)  And, of course, *need moar stickers*!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

This first week is already shaping up to be a busy one (beware - shameless, but fun, plugs ahead):
  • bike night on Wednesday (Tampa area - come on out and meet fellow riders - it's not a club - it's just an informal regularly scheduled place and time, set up by a local forum, to meet up with other guys and gals that like to ride - sportbikes, dirtbikes, a few standards.  You don't even need to have a bike, plenty of people cage* it due to work schedule or they only have an off-road (track or dirt) bike or weather or because they're currently bikeless for whatever reason.  Here is the link for more information: Meet n Eat - O'Tooles - Brandon)
  • dinner plans on Thursday
  • dragstrip* on Friday
  • Girl Riders ride on Saturday (check it out - it is a street ride open to all ladies, all bike types, and all skill levels:  Girls Ride Tampa)
  • and (finally!) most likely some dirt biking on Sunday!  
Needless to say, I'm going to enjoy the quiet of today.   

I'm also going to try to work on the next installment (Part 5: What Doesn't Kill Me.....) this week and post it up before Sunday so I can try to get myself back on track here.  So, really, this is just a quick note to wish you all a Happy New Year, encourage some of my Tampa area readers to attend some local events, and let you know more posts and riding will be coming soon!  

Happy New Year - Get Dirty!

*See Side Notes - Happy New Year