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Preview: Tails of the Off Track Thoroughbred

Tails of the Off Track Thoroughbred

Updated: 2018-03-21T04:17:15.974-07:00


Wishing for warm, Spring days ...


Officially a "Steel Cowgirl"This week has dawned cold and rainy for the most part.  This weekend was looking like a complete wash, but we stayed patient, bided our time, and squeezed out a rain free ride this afternoon!Layering up for a ride on the cool sideMy sister (in-law) gave me "tattoos" of 'Khaleesi', and my aunt (in-law) gave me a bell for my birthday.  David put on the tattoos and I put on the bell.  Technically, the bell really isn't low enough on the bike, but I don't believe a talisman is going to protect me anyway; my guardian angel ALWAYS rides with me, whether on a bike, a horse, or in a car.  I put the bell on because it's cute, and it's a kichy thing with motorcycles."Lady Rider"Before hitting the open road, we jetted down to one of our favorite hole in the wall Mexican restaurants and ate some yummy food. Motorcycles, Mexican food, and no margaritas!We weaved our way through Maryville traffic, cussing a few idiots out along the way.  It is SHAMEFUL the way people drive.  It truly should be a requirement for schools to teach DRIVER'S ED instead of freaking Geometry in high school.  The kids should have a comprehensive, semester long class on driving.  And adults should be required to go through it again every 5 years.Indian girl for life!David had his GoPro to record the Foothills Parkway.  We finally made our way out past the worst of the traffic made the right hand turn onto FHP.  LOVE that road, one of my favorites.  I never get tired of it.  David let me lead, and I smoothly shifted up through the gears, keeping my hands "soft" on the grips.  My eyes sought to seek out the curves of the asphalt ribbon, and Khaleesi leaned and floated through every corner without a single bobble.Fontana LakeI twisted the throttle off each curve and kept her up around 50 mph through the L shaped curves.  I always have to fight myself a little bit with wanting to be a granny through the turns, it's pushing yourself out of your comfort zone that gets you to stretch and grow as a rider."Gremlin" BellI only touched my brakes 3 times the entire trip.  The third time was as we pulled up to the stop sign at the end of the road.  David kept me in the lead as I turned down 129 and then zagged onto 72.  David directed me to a right hand side road that carved through our East Tennessee countryside and came through to 411 and then down to Greenback.Tattoos are sexy65 miles later, we thundered back into the garage.  There is talk of maybe "gutting" my catalytic converters in my pipes.  I'm not unhappy with the power of my bike; I WOULD like it louder b/c anything for cages (cars) to hear/see us better, the BETTER.  I don't really want to drop $500+ on a set of pipes just for sound.  I have a few things on my list that I want to do to upgrade her, and once those upgrades are complete, that's it.  Any additional money spent will simply be on maintenance and clothing (Ahem, helmets, gloves, and jackets).Sexy siblingsThis coming weekend we have rides planned Friday and Saturday, weather permitting.  My weather will is STRONG, so I'm hoping I can talk God into blessing us with sun to go along with the mid 60's temps.  Right now it's looking overcast with some rain, so we'll see!Mufasa just celebrated his one year anniversary in the Bishop household!Daytona bike week is happening this week.  Sure do wish we could pop on down for a few days.  In the mean time, I'll be stalking all the videos and fun things going on.  Maybe next year!Love making my bike my OWN.[...]



I MIGHT hit my goal of 10K miles by my 1 year anniversary!  Was surprised on my eldest son's birthday (4-17-17) with my amazing Khaleesi :D  We've averaged about 1000 miles a month in the warmer months, and right now it's still very erratic, weather wise.  So ... at 9030 miles here on 3/4/18, it will be close.We've passed this house about 3 times; this time we finally got a pic!  Silos built in!Not a bad year for it being my first year!  Ridden in TN, GA, NC, SC, AL, and VA.  Named roads include the Tail of the Dragon, Rattler, Back of the Dragon, Devil's Triangle, The Snake, The Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherohala Skyway, and the Copperhead.  Thousands of other non-named roads that were just as awesome, or MORE awesome than the named roads!  I have absolutely ZERO complaints, except that I wish I'd hurry up and win the damn lottery so I can quit my job and ride my bike every day!Dang dude, could you please take ANY longer?? ;)Today dawned clear and cool.  I procrastinated as long as I could until David finally gave in to my pitiful faces and we thundered out of our neighborhood around noon.  I was wearing 5 layers on top, 3 layers on bottom, face shield on the helmet closed.  My wonderful hubs kept us off Hwy 411 as much as possible, as it's just a long, boring, straight road.  We took side streets down to one of my favorite roads, Hwy 307 down into Athens.  It's just a curvy road through picturesque farm side, but there's not a lot around us like it!We motored through Athens, Charleston, and down into Cleveland where we stopped for lunch.  After our refueling, we hit Hwy 64 in Ocoee that winds next to the river that is used liberally for rafting and kayaking.  The waters were swollen and loud, and we actually saw a few kayakers shredding the rapids!  I tell ya, those peeps are crazy!  You'll never catch my butt doing that ;)  Stand up paddle board on a calm lake, or kayak down a class 1 is my only speed, lol!I'm grateful my bike practically drives herself because I was NOT looking through my curves, I was looking all around at everything!  We came up out of the river area, and followed Hwy 68, snaking our way up and over a mountain or 2.  David challenged me today; he lays into curves like they're nothing ... as he approaches a turn where he SHOULD be Slow, Look, Press, and Roll ... he SPEEDS, looks, presses, and rolls harder, lol!  I felt myself get a little bit tense; I was gritting my teeth as I twisted hard to catch up to him.  He got so far ahead of me, our radios lost each other, which does NOT happen often.  He did that last time on that road!  Apparently we have ridden that road before, but it's been long enough for me that it was like the very first time.  A fire was burning on the mountainside, and we actually went RIGHT past open flames, CRAZY!!Pit stop!68 took us into Tellico Plains, and the start of the Cherohala Skyway.  We touched the Skyway again, then turned off onto Hwy 360, which dumps us out on 411 up in Vonore.  I had adjusted my attitude, my expectations, and changed my style a little bit.  I moved my hand further up on the throttle, so that when I twisted it, I wasn't "breaking" my wrist, which makes me feel like I'm not working as hard.  360 has some LOOOOONG sweeping turns, and we flew through it 55/60 mph unless it was a "suggested speed" curve of 30 or less.  I'm pleased to say he did NOT run off and leave me this time, and I think just adjusting my hand position made a HUGE difference.  We took our side streets back to the house in just under 200 miles and 6 hours.GREAT ride today, I thank God EVERY DAY for my husband, our bikes, and our ability to ride together.  It has been SO nice to not have to worry about upsetting the hubs over spending a weekend doing horse things.  Confession ... STILL not missing out!  When I get a spare dollar or two, all I can think about it is what I can buy for my motorcycl[...]

Let's break it down ...


Including Sunday, FOUR RIDING DAYS this week!  Tuesday I left at 7:00 and went up and over Foothills Parkway before work.  It was a bit cool; I said BRRR!  Lol, it was a fabulous ride, NO complaints.Foothills ParkwayWednesday was rain, Thursday was RIDE!  It was a bit warmer; I finally broke out my mesh jacket (with the liner in it) and rode up 411 TO work, then came home Chapman Hwy to the backroads that dump me out on 321 almost to Walland.  This morning was same ride as yesterday, up 411 to work, but then afterwards David and I met up and we rode about 120 miles.Ride #1; Cherokee, NC!I rode 25 miles solo from work into Knoxville to meet up w/ David, and we headed out Northshore road into the "Hardin Valley" section of Knoxville.Ride #2; Khaleesi and I tame Foothills before a way too long day at workLOVE that area!  Great school system, nice houses, close to everything, and David had managed to find some AMAZING quiet, winding country roads with breathtaking mountain views.Love talking bikes with my patients at workI had never been on the majority of the roads we took today.  The temps this morning were chilly enough that my windshield/face shield/mirrors were fogging up from my breath.  Like yesterday, I was wearing just a thin "tech" layer under my mesh jacket with the liner ... BRRR!  This afternoon, however, I came out of everything except my T shirt and the jacket with OUT the liner.Ride #3; just back and forth to work, but I didn't go home the way I came!We twisted the throttles out towards Oak Ridge and hit an arm of "The Devil's Triangle".  We rode that SEVERAL months ago, and neither of us particularly enjoyed it.  Quite frankly, it scared me a little.  Of course, I have WAY more miles under my belt now (close to 9000), and the arm of it we did today was easy peasy.Began and ended my day today in the darkWe ended up rolling up to a cool little log cabin restaurant called "The Golden Girls Restaurant" and enjoyed a fish dinner in Clinton.  I enjoy the few times the hubs and I can steal away together.He rode in a T shirt up until the sun went down!Ended up motoring along Clinton Hwy, and hit Northshore again to literally come full circle.  FABULOUS ride, had a blast!Ride #4; about 160ish miles counting going to work and then driving out to meet upHere is our Tail of the Dragon Video.  I was pretty pleased; my ride looks smooth and controlled.  In some stretches, I felt stiff and tense, but I try to always shake out my arms so I don't make any stupid mistakes.  It was slower than David usually leads out on, but he NEVER pressured me to ride any faster; LOVE that man!Get ready to ride the Dragon with us!Jen and David ride the Tail of the DragonLet's discuss song selection.1.  "Thunder" by Imagine Dragons.  There is something about this song that just makes me dance and sing along EVERY time.  I just love it!2.  "Happy Dance" by one of my favorite Christian bands, Mercy Me.  This song selection is TOTALLY self explanatory; riding is 148% my "happy dance"!!3.  "Invincible" by Christian hard rockers Skillet.  This song is like my "fight song".  Jesus Christ is my co-rider, and He gave me the skills and the desire to ride motorcycles; when I'm flying along a curvy road, I absolutely feel INVINCIBLE.4.  "I am Free" by my MOST favorite Christian artist, Jeremy Camp.  This song is the epitome of how I feel.  Unencumbered, unburdened, and like I can just fly.  One of the facebook comments on this video is that "It looks like she's riding to Heaven".  Gave me chills.5.  "Stars" again by Skillet.  This song doesn't much pertain to motorcycles, and is more obviously a Christian based song, but it is just awesome.  Reminds me to pray continuously as my family is out and about not just riding, but also driving in our cars.6.  "Lifer" again by Mercy Me.  This song is also pretty overtly Christian, but [...]

Happy birthday to me :)


It was SUCH an awesome weekend.  I wish I had 2 more days ... then 2 more days after that ... then 2 more ... you get the point.  Yesterday was raining and miserable, so we drug the teenager to the range and he FINALLY got to shoot for the first time.  Now ... my son has been into/out of a lot of things, and guns is one of them.  He has watched videos of how to clean them, load them, shoot them, what brands/models are for what ... he's definitely a Youtube expert on such things.  We rented a 9 mm Beretta cop issue.  He shot the first round beautifully, then the 2nd bullet jammed.  Instantly, I felt a small panic rise up inside me, but oh so calmly he ejected the bullet, lined up his next shot, and pulled the trigger.  That round fired off fine, but then the next bullet jammed.  Again, he super calmly ejected it, then shot again.  His entire "turn" went like that; fire, jam, fire, jam.  I took the gun for my turn, and same thing happened to me.  Head scratch, the range officer had no problem, and David had no problem, so I think the issue w/ Kody and I was that our wrists were moving too much.  We traded that one in for a "civillian" issue of the same gun, and had no more jamming issues.  I am so proud of Kody; he shot like he'd been doing it his whole life.  He loved it, thanked us profusely for taking him.3 MuskateersToday, we sent the baby with his grandparents for "their week" down in GA, and we headed off to Cherokee, NC!  We were eating at the Casino to celebrate all the fun February things; Valentine's Day, the 20 year anniversary of our engagement, and my birthday (which is next week) and the 1 year anniversary of owning Mufasa.   It just so happened that today was the first warm and non rainy day in a week, so of course we hopped on the bikes!  Khaleesi was purring like a kitten and rode as smooth as a baby's bottom.  Last week she got an oil change and a new front tire, both of which were sorely needed.We hit 321 and rode through the National Park up and over the mountain to Cherokee.  It was a slower and uneventful ride as there really was a LOT of traffic out and about today.  We barely saw any bikes, it was 98% automobile traffic.  I swear all I have to do is look where I want to go, and Khaleesi takes me there.  Every curve felt like it was on rails, and the slower pace meant much of the ride I actually rode with one hand, b/c when I'm like that I can sit up straighter and relieve some of the pressure on my back.  All too soon we arrived at the casino and parked in the garage.  We locked our helmets and jackets to the bikes and went in to stuff our faces.After rolling ourselves out of the casino, we decided to head back through Bryson City and down 129 to go home.  This way was a bit higher speed, as there was hardly any traffic!  I practiced holding different lines as we swept through turns at 60+ mph; it was exhilarating!  Once we got into Deal's Gap, both the resort and Killboy were closed off completely until next month; we took a super quick break, and David let me lead down the Dragon.  He was wearing his Go Pro for the first time, and he filmed me as we drove down it!  As per usual, my arms and upper back got a little tight.  I ALWAYS respect the Tail; I know there's plenty of highly experienced riders that have accidents on that road, and I never want my confidence to put me in a dangerous situation.  Thankful to God as usual, all was well and I SLAYED those 11 miles!  Despite consciously pulling my heels up in some of the steeper banked turns, I still dragged one on the ground, and as usual, that gave me a quick little scare!  It was cool watching myself drive it!  I'll post the video once we get it uploaded to Youtube.Upon arriving home, found out my birthday present had arrived!  David bought me a Daymaker headlight for Khaleesi. [...]

As often as you can!


Sooo sad it took me 38 years to figure out this fact!2 rides since my last blog post, yay!  Last week we got out on Sunday.  It was a few miles longer than yesterday, but both were super fun.  Sunday we headed south again down 411 towards the Ocoee/Hiawasee river scenic park.  Um, we finally made it down there, and it wasn't JUST a dirt road ... it was a MUD road.  We were only on it for a few hundred feet, and during just that time we were slipping and sliding BIG TIME.See the mud on that tire?  Um, no dirt roads today!So, we turned back north and hit some new roads we haven't been on!  David and I really enjoyed talking back and forth, and we enjoyed discussing the landscape as we rode through it.  David is amazing at finding curvy roads, and the route we took was really fun.  I have no idea where we were; just down 411 South towards Ocoee, lol!  Didn't go near the Cherohala this time, but it was still a great ride.  About 100 miles.Washed my baby!  Looks as good as the day she came off the showroom floorYesterday, we headed into Townsend, ate lunch at a really good spot called the Dixieland Cafe, then took the backroads into Sevierville proper.  As a bit of a last minute thing, we decided to hit the gun range!  Never shot a gun in my LIFE.  One of my highschool friends growing up had a BB gun; that's the ONLY thing I've shot, and I didn't enjoy it much because it kicked me both in the collar bone and the eye.  I did ok at the range; shot a Ruger .22.  Very comfortable gun, but I was having a hard time with my aim; had to aim WAY low, and my shots were going probably 3 feet higher than I intended.  I alternated between 5 and 10 yards.  I just had no control over the "kick" of the gun, and it kept going high.  One of my 2018 "goals" is to take the gun safety course, get my concealed carry permit, and buy a gun!  Why?  Because it's my right as an American, and even though I've been fortunate enough to never be in an endangering situation, I want to be prepared if ever I am.Baby figuring out how to load the ammoUm ... dude in a different lane was shooting a CANNON!And ... he's good at shooting too, just like everything else!Hey!  I did it!Had a good time; probably the gun I'll end up buying.We left from there and came home back roads I've been down, but not often.  We managed to dodge the vast majority of the rain; I felt SO GOOD.  Khaleesi just is the most awesome bike in the world.  I NEVER feel like I'm fighting her.  Just look where I want to go, and around the corners she goes!  Wears Valley Road has one particularly gnarly uphill right hand switchback turn; I NAILED it unbelievable perfectly.  I don't think that corner has EVER felt so good :D  The roads were slightly damp, as there were spotty rain showers in the area.  Thundered back into the clean garage 85 miles and a few hours later.  Today; RAIN.  This week, COLD.  Next weekend, COLD.  So ... not sure when we'll get out again :( Had to do surgery on my horse chaps to get them to fit around my fat thighs :(Different bandanna!Thought this was a cool shot [...]

Waaaay too little seat time!


The South has been hit by a COLD snap.  Northern FLORIDA has seen snow in the last few weeks.  I haven't started Khaleesi on any of the super cold days, but on the hand full we've reached 40, I've gone out there and fired her up.  Not one single issue thus far.  I took a SUPER short jaunt around Big Springs Road a day or 2 after Christmas.  It barely squeaked up to 40 degrees, so I layered up and went alone.  Hubs said I was crazy, he'd wait.REALLY wanted to join in on one of the many New Year's Day rides, but the high was sub 20, so yeah.  No.Today was SIXTY FIVE.  YESSSSSS!!!  I wanted to ride to work this morning, but with already getting up at 5, as long as I have to take care of the baby in the mornings, I can't ride to work.  Maybe the warm summer will change that, but for now, it's just too cold. Met the hubs, and we headed down 321 to some sweet little curvy back roads a mere 10 minutes from our house.  Went through the towns of Friendsville and Greenback, crossed over 411, took a road or 2 we'd never been down, then dead ended onto 129 just below the Dragon.  Took 129 back home.  SUCH a beautiful day, it was a perfect ride.I felt a little out of sorts at the very beginning just because I had to shake the rust off.  Also, riding in new boots is always interesting.  My new HD boots have a grippier, knobby sole on them, so I was getting a little hung up on my foot peg.  I got them figured out though, got back to shifting a little more smoothly.  David and I got radios, and we were able to talk back and forth, which was awesome! I LOVE to say I was pretty much book perfect.  No wide swinging, no missed gears, curves on rails and I got on the gas once or twice.  SO grateful and happy to get to ride.  We were out for an hour and a half and clocked right at 60 miles.  Wish we could have gone longer, but the baby was at the sitter and dark was fast approaching. Not sure when the next ride will be, but y'all can guarantee to read about it here![...]

Ridin' all our cares away!


Our entire family on Thanksgiving day!We had 2 short 60 mile rides after our KY jaunt.  They both were pretty fun!  We picked the better of the 2 weekend days (ahem, the WARMEST day) and went out once the baby went down for a nap (which put us around early afternoon).A Sevierville back roadOne of our rides was my "work loop" out to Foothills, down to 129, then back home.  Always a good ride.  On 129, we FINALLY stopped in at "The Dragon's Pit Stop" and went inside.  Usually when we go by there it's closed, so it was nice to finally get to go inside.The following weekend, we took a route I picked out; the back roads of Sevierville!  I knew it was going to be peak color, and I didn't want to head out towards the National Park b/c I KNEW there was going to be a ton of traffic.  So we went the opposite direction, in the general direction of my work.  We headed out 321 towards Gatlinburg, then turned off up the back roads.  LOVE them so much; one road is more like a driveway than an actual road.  There was practically zero traffic, which I was THRILLED about.  On the down side, we were at the tail end of a stomach virus in our house, so David had to cut the ride a little shorter than he wanted b/c he was starting to get a "rumble in the tummy".  Happiest when I'm out riding with my baby!We cut through Wears Valley, which has some BEAUTIFUL sights, and turned into a neighborhood of gorgeous log cabins.  We climbed up ... and up ... and UP to the top of the neighborhood.  Breathtaking views up there!  Snapped a pic, then back down to home.Could you imagine this view every day??Our longer ride was 2 weekends ago; drove down 411 S towards Ocoee; had PLANNED to go all the way to a curvy river road down there, but we left later due to warmer weather, and David underestimated how quickly the sun is starting to go down now!  So we turned a little earlier than intended, actually touching the Cherohala Skyway for about a half a mile, then hit Hwy 68, which we had never been on before.  FABULOUS road, lots of curves; Khaleesi was SUPER happy with the route ;)Last week, I rode to work on Wednesday.  Yes, you read that correctly!  It was 33 degrees in the morning, and I MADE IT.  I was sufficiently layered up to the point that the ONLY place that was cold was my finger tips.  So my gloves are too hot for 55+, and too cold for 40-.  My chin got a little cold because the way I had my jackets layered, I tunneled the wind directly up into my chin.  Slogged through work, then reaped my reward afterwards!  It was a sunny 63 degrees and I hit my usual track of FHP to 129 solo.  David thought I was crazy, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat;)The weekend was a bust b/c it was raining on Saturday and COLD on Sunday, but this Thanksgiving week has been lovely.  We layered up and headed out yesterday around noon.  After a brunch at the Cracker Barrel with half of Maryville, we walked out to the bikes to see Mufasa's BRAND NEW rear tire sitting on the rim :(  I felt soooooo deflated, lol.  However, with a save from my amazing sister in law and then the fantastic father in law, we were able to not let that tiny roofing nail get the best of us!  11:30 this morning, we again layered up and headed out.  David's patch job seemed to be holding, so we headed into Knoxville, then north up to Big Ridge State Park.  Not going to lie ... that state park is a lot of nothing!  It sits on Norris Lake, and it must have been dammed up because there was no water to speak of.  There were hiking trails, but I have no idea if there were any waterfalls or any other "grand finale" there.  Made our way out of the park down this GREAT little country mountain road.  The road leading to the state park was like Holy 10 mph right ha[...]

Winter is coming!


Winter may be coming, but GOT is a year+ away!  Anyway, I digress ...Quiet few months riding wise for us.  We have managed a minimum of 1 ride per week EVERY week so far, but the temps are dropping colder, and the dark is coming on faster.  3 weeks ago, we finally went more than 60 miles!  Our default ride seems to be 55-70 miles.  We headed west and went through the Big South Fork Rec area, then up into KY for a little.  Dropped back down into TN by way of I-75 and got stuck in HELLISH traffic :( We headed out towards Oakridge and went steadily North towards the KY/TN border.  The Big South Fork area is soooo beautiful!  It's a haven for hikers and kayakers, and for motorcyclists! I love that ride because it's more country side type riding vs. mountain riding or straightaways.  It's nice, easy curvy roads with not too much elevation.  There are a few wicked turns and twists, and the road was every bit as challenging as I remember it being, but where as I was a little bit intimidated last time, now I felt light years more confident!Khaleesi is such an amazing machine.  As she has broken in, I love her every bit as much now as I did that first time I sat on her in the church parking lot.  Turns are effortless, the ergonomics are perfect, and there is power to spare.Surprisingly, we were a few weeks away from peak color; it started out as a brisk morning, but the day warmed up beautifully.  We got a bit of a late start because I wanted to dart into Cycle Gear to get some warmer gloves (which I didn't even need ... my hands started to SWEAT in them).  Normally, we're on the road by 7/8:00.  Today, it was more like 10:00. KY was different to ride in ... the particular area we were in actually wasn't that special.  It just happened to be the area we ended up in on David's chosen route, but I still really enjoyed myself.  Not a whole lot of particularly challenging roads; no Snake, or Dragon, or Rattler ... we did hit one or two roads that at the end, we pulled up beside each other and laughed with joy.  To me, that's a perfect ride!I no longer critique my every move.  Khaleesi and I move as one most of the time.  I don't stall her, I don't have issues or problems turning left or right, and my tight right hand switchbacks?  No longer an issue :)  My back does get tired after about 200 miles; I feel like I'd really like reduced reach handlebars.  My upgrades wish list is floorboards, highway bars, Daymaker headlight, light bar with baby Daymakers, upgraded pipes, a custom seat, and reduced reach handlebars.  Not the kitchen sink!  My total mileage is around 7500 miles ... my goal is 10K+ in my first year.  I've got until April to make that goal!After about 200ish miles, we were both starting to fade a little.  It was getting late, it was Sunday which means no "day of rest", and even though our track was fun, I knew what was to come, and it was about 3 more hours. That was when we decided to jump on I-75 S ... and hit total roadblock!  I lasted about 20 minutes of sitting there in 2-5 mph traffic, and I was DYING.  Khaleesi was blowing out leg blistering heat, and my left hand was cramping so badly I was reaching over to hold the clutch with my right hand.  I told David I HAD to get off that damn interstate. We finally did, found a back road that was decently fun, wound our way back to the interstate, and blasted back home.  I went through my least favorite spaghetti interchange of I-40 through Knoxville, and we pulled into the garage about ... 7:15.  It was a gorgeous day ... cool start, but ended up low 70's.  300 miles total, felt SOOOO good! 2 60 miler rides, then 100 miles to be detailed soon![...]

Life on two wheels; rollercoaster edition


4 bikes in the garage can only mean 1 thing ...Today was our first time on a group ride of more than 7 or 8 bikes.  We had a LONG ride planned from Gatlinburg, over almost to Asheville, then back.  We were invited on the ride by a facebook friend I hadn't actually MET yet.  She lives in NC, and when she found out her group was going to be close, she invited us!  The MIL and FIL tagged along as well; they decided to visit us this weekend here in the motherland :DEver been so layered up you feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow man??We rose at O'Dark 30 per usual and indulged in our riding breakfast fare at the Cracker Barrel.  Drove to the meeting spot in Walland and waited for all to arrive.  A mixture of bikes pulled in, including an Indian Springfield and my friend's white Scout twin :)  We spoke to each other and introduced ourselves officially, then it was time to hit Foothills to the Tail of the Dragon.  Um ... 3/4 of the group decided to leave out before the leader led them ... and they turned the wrong way!  Ooops.  Luckily, my friend had stayed w/ us; we waited a few minutes, and when it became apparent they weren't coming back, we went on (per the ride leader.  Apparently this is not uncommon, lol).My awesome FIL. My steel horse obsession is all HIS fault!Foothills was its usual beautiful road.  For some reason, I was getting pelted with pea gravel.  Very annoying!  I tried to stay offset from David, but I still felt the sting once in awhile. We turned down the road that has the gnarly hills (but not the SCARY road through the Top of the World neighborhood) so we could avoid the rest of the FH traffic.10+ times down the Dragon safe and sound!I tried to "warm up" in prep for the Dragon.  I just never know how it's going to feel.  I always do fine, but sometimes the curves just feel jerky or hard.  David actually cranked down on my clutch cable and tightened it up; my shifting now felt smoother, but my handle is tighter!  I also had to relearn my friction zone b/c it engages further out now.  I did well though, didn't stall her or anything :)  I shook my head, loosened up my shoulders, and opened and closed my hands a few times as we rolled our way down the mountain and to the start of the 319 curves in 11 miles.Twinning!We pulled off to check phones for signals/text msgs since there still was no sign of the other 8 or so bikes.  After a few minutes, we did a bit of a shoulder shrug and went on since everyone knew we'd be stopping at Deal's Gap.  David was behind my friend on her white Scout with me behind him on MY white Scout.  The ride down into NC was absolutely picture perfect.  It was one of the best Dragon traverses I've done; today made time 10 or 11 I've ridden it in the 4 months I've been riding motorcycles.  It could also be a case of practice makes perfect?  Lol, I don't know, but Khaleesi rolled through the curves and the dips on the perfectly banked and well paved road without a single hiccup or botched line.  I didn't touch either of the painted lines, and it seemed super quick that it was all of a sudden over :(Girl Scout and KhaleesiWe were parked for about 3 or 4 minutes, and we saw the rest of the group motor down the hill and into the parking lot, yay!   After shopping at the Killboy store like normal, we hit Moonshiner 28 and took "the long way" to Robbinsville.  We were at the back of the pack since our little group was the new comers, so the ride was a bit slower than we were accustomed to.  It wasn't a bad ride by any means, just different.  The group had split off again; the front half going on with cars getting in between.  We found a gas station once we got to Robbinsville and figured out the restaurant to eat at[...]

How you KNOW you've married your soulmate!


Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama ... in ONE week!  I know that's nothing compared to these hard core peeps that decide to do cross country trips on their motorcycles, but for us that have only been owners since February/April, that's something to write home about! David's master plan worked beautifully; the rain held off last weekend for our VA trip, and we rode ALL weekend; it was so beautiful!  Monday, we rode to get some lunch here in town, then hit the Alcoa Hwy to visit IMOK to see their Scout Bobber.  Sadly, the bike was already sold, but they did have a Springfield Darkhorse.  Meh ... I'm just not a fan of a blacked out bike.  In fact, when we were shopping for what I thought was going to be "our" bike vs. David's bike, my only requirement is that it was NOT to be black lol.  So the Darkhorse line really doesn't interest or excite me.Upon leaving IMOK, David found a decent back way to come home, so we did get an hour or 2 of riding time in.  Tuesday was "nothing" for me, and Wednesday we took a little trip down 411 to Athens.  Athens is a cute little town; there's a road that runs through there that I have GOT to get a picture of some day; it's this crazy huge mansion type house with silos built in to it.  Very unique!  Fun road through farm land!  Didn't seem quite as curvy in full daylight ;)Thursday was laze at home and watch Netflix day, then Friday we strapped the bikes down nice and tight, then hauled them down to GA where we stayed for a few days with the in-laws.  As soon as we pulled in the driveway, we unloaded the bikes, changed our clothes, and jumped on!  Destination was a BBQ house in Lithia Springs that has the BEST brunswick stew ever.  The in laws jumped on their bikes as well and we caravanned there.  Heck, we ended up riding about 130 miles!  We didn't really detour, just took every back road we could.  Parked them for a few hours, then rode again to dinner.Saturday morning dawned PERFECT.  Kody was able to join us as my lovely SIL was roped into  offered to watch the baby.  We powered down 55 MPH roads into Alabama, hoping to find some curvy roads, but alas ... not to be found!  Veered back into GA, in the general area of where we lived for 11 years (Cartersville) and re-visited some of our old stomping grounds.  Managed to find one or two more curvy roads, then back home.  Ended up being around 180 miles or so.  Rode again to Rockmart for dinner, then came home the "long" way across a hilly back road; there were a few curves to be had, but nothing like what we're used to!Sunday it was driving back home to the MotherLand; didn't get home until around 9 pm, so no motorcycles then!  Today, I put the baby down for his nap, went straight into my room to change, then came to harass the hubs to GO FOR A RIDE!  I said I don't care, it's just a beautiful, perfect day and if you don't feel like riding, I'll just hit Foothills to 129.  He glared at me out of the corner of his eye, and out we went!The ride began with a somewhat familiar route that I take every morning to the babysitter's house ... and then he turned down a road I did NOT know.  A mere 7 or so miles from home, and the curves were already more in abundance than over the entire weekend, lol!  Just proof that the riding is better in the mountains!  Khaleesi and I felt smooth as glass and we moved as one entity through the undulations and twists of the back roads.  We ended up in the nearby town of Farragut where we wandered through the used movie/book store and made a stop by the CLOSED Costco.  We picked our way back towards home using the same, but different back roads, and it was confirmed that David is most ce[...]

Day 2; in which we earn more stickers and I learn a game changing trick!


Morning once again dawned way too early!  We headed out in search of a Cracker Barrel since we knew it was going to be an epic day.  The cool weather had me adding an additional jacket under my leather one, and off we went.After stuffing our faces with way too much food, we began the trek to Mountain City and The Snake (Hwy 421).  As we were motoring towards our destination, it took me by surprise when all of a sudden the well paved road broke out into curves and twists.  WAY more technical than BOD; in fact, my concentration was off kilter because I wasn't expecting it.  I shook off the cobwebs and hunkered down and managed to smooth out my turns.  Soon enough, we pulled into a store, and David said that was the Snake.  OH, duh, lol.  It came up way faster than I was expecting!  Like I said, very technical.After a brief stop to pick out a sticker from the store, we continued on down towards Mountain City, VA.  There were still plenty of curves and hills to be had, My brain was in a better place, and I happily twisted the throttle on the exit and making a beeline towards the next entrance.  At our next gas stop, I randomly make mention of my trouble yesterday and my difficulty with deciding whether to use front brake or rear brake when sitting on a hill.  David looked at me funny and said he'd TOLD me what I need to do ***CUE LIFE CHANGING TIP NOW***  When you're sitting there, before you pull out, let your clutch out a little.  Get it RIGHT in that sweet spot of engagement; the bike won't move.  I mean, yes, he'd told me that once before.  It did NOT, however, register what he'd said.  I thought he'd meant to hold front brake and apply throttle (cue laughing like crazy enoticon here).We rode much less exciting roads to Blowing Rock, NC and the beginning for us of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We've driven on it once, but never on a motorcycle.  As we turned on it, we vowed not to stop at every pull off and overlook because we KNOW it's beautiful, but we'll never make it if we keep stopping!It had been so long since we'd driven it, I forgot how it's almost identical to Foothills Parkway.  And there was a lot of driving traffic.  Even though the road has breathtaking views, it began to get a tad monotonous.  The cars were driving under the speed limit, yet stomped on the gas the instant a passing lane came available (cue rolley eyes emoticon here).  The turns all began to feel the same and I got SLEEPY.  I finally began to see signs for Asheville, which was sort of our daily destination; we were heading to a BBQ restaurant we'd seen featured on the Travel Channel.  Finally, our exit came up.As we drove through the streets of Asheville and entered the restaurant, David and I discussed how much we DON'T fit in with all the hipster millenials that seem to own the place, lol!  That place is probably so far left it would be in California if it could.  The BBQ, however, was outstanding.We hit good 'ol Hwy 321 and picked a path towards Maggie Valley.  From 321, we veered off onto Hwy 63 ... to my knowledge, 63 is not any sort of a "named" road, but that baby all of a sudden broke into the mountainous, curvy belly dance!  I was smiling under my helmet as I aggressively pulled my right elbow into my ribs, chasing my husband into the curves.  He tends to pull away and leave my behind; after analyzing in my head, I had determined he leaves me during the "roll" part of the curve.  So, I began "rolling" a little extra hard so I could keep his cute rear in my sights ;)  Soon enough, that road ended and much to my delight, it ended into my favorite; Hwy 209!  The Rattler is THRILLING where the Tail of the Drago[...]

Day 1: What goes up, must come down!


It has been a most amazing and unreal weekend!  David and I are off for the next week for vacation.  After waffling back and forth about a weekend in Nashville, or a weekend in Virginia, we decided to brave the weather forecast and ride the bikes to Marion, VA.  Marion is up in southwest VA, not far from Bristol.  We've been dying to ride the Back of the Dragon up in that area, but it's just a hair too far to do as a day trip (unless we wanted to iron butt it, and frankly, we're just not that hard core!)We've never done an overnight on a motorcycle, so we were happy and excited to be doing something new.  In preparation, I decided to take one of Tiki's old sheepskin saddle pads to cushion my hiney.   I barely used the pad on him, as I think it really was too thick under his saddle.  I cut off the billet straps, sewed them to the center edge of the top of the pad, and stitched a piece of grippy drawer liner just under the wither cutout.  Flipped it over so that the seat of my bike just slid through the straps and sat on the bottom of it.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  It worked absolutely perfectly.  I didn't get those seat bone "hot spots" at all, but the extra thickness of the pad did create a little bit of pressure on my knees.  Overall, it was totally worth it!  And it REALLY does keep your seat warmer in cooler weather, and cooler in warmer weather; crazy!5:00 am came way too quickly, especially since we didn't get in bed until midnight!  Strapped the duffel to David's sissy bar, loaded up the saddlebags, and North we headed!  Stayed off the interstate and took Hwy 33 to 25E to Cumberland Gap.  Cumberland Gap is right at the state lines of KY, VA, and TN.  It is some of the most breathtaking, beautiful scenery I've laid eyes on in the south.We headed up the mountain to the Pinnacle Overlook.  Um, we just kept climbing up and up!  Much to my delight, most of the tighter switchback turns were to the right, which meant that coming back DOWN, they'd be on the left!  Relief, lol.  I have thought about how I approach the tighty righties; I get WAY to the left, look way over my shoulder, shift my hips to the left, and think more about pushing forward with my left arm vs. pushing down with my right one.  It's working pretty well because I had not one bad right turn this weekend :DIt was peaceful and quiet on top of the mountain.  Only one other family was up at the overlook and they were friendly.  We gawked and took pics, went to the restroom and hiked up a small hill where we saw some deer, and then it was time to go back down the mountain.  DAAAAAANG!  It wasn't quite McCloud Mountain, but it was close!Yes, this is a real sign at the bottom of McCloud Mountain resort!!Rolled down in mostly 1st gear so I didn't have to burn up my brakes, and headed to our next destination; Tazewell, VA and the start of the Back of the Dragon.  There was this one road.  I had 2 ... um, incidents.  We had turned onto this small, country backroad, and my tripodometer was at 130 miles.  I've never gone beyond 150 miles on a tank of gas, and of COURSE, we had no cell signal.  We'd gotten part ways down the road, and David got nervous that we'd get too far gone and no gas stations.  He decided to cut back over to the main road, get gas, then go back to the back road.  He had his GPS ... that LOVES gravel roads!  The driveway we picked to turn around at was a freaking booger.  It had a sharp drop down with a gravel bottom.  I normally don't have any problems with starting out on a hill, but it rolled back on me so bad since I was at such an angle I almost choked it.  Rolle[...]

One long ride and 2 shorties


Well, Tennessee has fallen back into SUMMER.  Ever since our awesome ride into Kyle's Creek area, it has been low to mid 90's and HUMID. The in laws opted to join us a few weeks ago, and the hubs once again planned out a stellar ride.  We planned to journey southwest, down towards Chattanooga so that when our track was "over", we were both half way home.  We headed to the state park we'd missed on our long, epic ride a few months ago; Fall Creek Falls.  I'll remind y'all that the ride where I dropped Khaleesi was the one where we were headed to Burgess Falls and Cummins Falls, as this little tidbit will become minorly significant later.We all left as a group from our house to head west.  We decided to pay Kody to watch Colton for us as his babysitter was unavailable that day.  When little man woke up, we could definitely tell he was "off", but hoped for the best.We had a late breakfast at Chik Fil A and hit the road.  David and I swept through the curves at a good clip, but certainly not fast.  His parents fell back a little bit, as they do call him a lead foot most of the time.  By now, I'm used to it and keep up because I don't want a ride to lead to an argument, but we hung back a few times to let the others catch up.  We live in the mountains and are accustomed to the undulations and the curves at speed, but the inlaws live and ride in GA where it's a little more flat.We stopped a few times to stretch, get gas, and walk around a little.  We called to check in on the boys, and Kody said he had NOT stopped crying all day.  We offered up a few suggestions as to what he could do and asked if he needed us to head back, and he said no, they would manage.  After several hours, we finally found the park.  It's HUGE!  We found a parking spot and walked around a bit.  Realized the overlook for the falls was on the opposite end of the park, and we could in fact drive around to it, so we did.  As we were pulling out of the parking lot, my MIL got into a bit of a game of "chicken" with another car.  WE had a stop sign, but it was on a curved hill.  When David pulled out and turned right, I didn't hesitate and followed right behind him.  MIL thought about pulling out, stopped, was motioned out, then SHE motioned him on, then HE motioned again, so she went to go, then HE decided to just go on.  When she grabbed the brakes, down she went HARD.   I saw it happen in my mirrors, and I pulled over and parked really quickly, then took off to make sure she was ok.  The car went on; David was out of sight already. By the time I got to them, she was up, and the bike was up, and she was spitting mad.  All that was said was HOW could that car just go on like that?  She was a mix of anger and adrenaline, so her hands were shaking a bit, but fortunately she just had a little road rash on the arm and shoulder.  The brand new floorboards she'd just put on broke off on the right side, but other than that, just had a scratch or 2.  Fortunately, she DOES have highway bars, so she had something to prop her foot on, but I don't see how she'd be able to use her rear brake.  Thank goodness it was the right one and not the shifter board!  We got her situated and back on the bike, and we safely drove over to the overlook where she could park in the lot and go over everything with a little more of a fine tooth comb.  After taking in the waterfall, we motored down into the next town and got gas and food.By this time, it was around 6 pm and we were about 2 hours from home.  Checked in again, and baby was still miserable :(  We pulled off one more time at an overlook that reminded[...]

Curves in 5th gear


Had breakfast in Pigeon Forge at my favorite Apple Barn restaurantOne good ride this week.  I rode Wednesday to work and it was a GREAT day, but nothing special :)  I mean, it WAS special, but I didn't go "the long way" or anything like that.GIANT mothAwesome pic of Khaleesi and Cheyenne outside of Norris LakeSaturday we rode 300ish miles up north close to the KY border.  The teenager had to stay behind due to having all 4 wisdom teeth removed the day before!  He's doing good, but definitely didn't need a helmet pressing against his chipmunk cheeks. The road on the map is called "The Copperhead", but it's made up of several state roads.  Hwys 31, 63, and 66.  The first leg of the road was actually a little bit scary.  Lots of sloppy patch work, open cracks (that my front tire caught a few times), tar snakes, and a crumbling shoulder.  We also had the good fortune (sarcasm) of navigating that stretch behind a tractor trailer.  Um, 15 mph switch backs behind a tractor trailer (cue the Tail of the Dragon pics of shame!).  There WAS road construction, so at least they're fixing it, but it was dodgey riding at first!The mountain leveled out and opened up to 50/55 and we pushed the bikes to about 8 over.  It is flat out EXHILARATING to  sweep through curves at 60+.  A little counter steering goes a LONG way to smooth turns!  The cool air wrapped around our bodies as we leaned and rolled our way towards the next mountain.  I had to rig up a system for my very expensive piece of crap "made in China" Indian helmet.  (that NONE of my local dealers will help me with)  It has a visor that will NOT stay up.  When my speed gets up above 30 mph, the visor SLAMS back down.  I like to have the option of pulling it down while on the higher speed roads, but the rest of the time I like it up so I can feel like I can breathe.  So, I stuck a ... panty liner under the shield to keep it up.  I mean, it worked!  Only problem is then it's in the up position until I pull over and put it back down.  I am completely disappointed in that helmet and I will never purchase another Indian helmet again.  I like my HJC so much better, AND it was cheaper.  Live and learn!Yep, that's a sanitary napkin!:oAt about the half way point, I had my first OH $HIT moment in a WHILE.  We'd approached an intersection, and I did as I always do and backed off.  It seemed as though David was going to keep going straight, so I rolled back on the throttle and THEN he decided to turn left.  I locked Khaleesi down so bad she fishtailed right then left then right again.  David saw me in his mirrors and rolled on down and pulled over.  I managed to keep it rubber side down and we pulled off to the side.  My heart was pounding and I sort of yelled at him a little bit and the look on his face made me back off.  HE wasn't locked down, so I'm not sure why I did.  I wonder if either my tires had something on them, or if I tried to apply the breaks in a sandy area or something.   Our angels were riding with us b/c we safely executed a U turn and continued on our way.We found a cute little spot with actual motorcycle parking to eat a light lunch of fried pickles and potato skins, then pulled up and over the final mountain.  THIS mountain road was FRESHLY paved with nice bright white and yellow lines and not a single tar snake or pothole :)  We smoothly took the turns and hills and before we knew it it was back towards home.  The scariest part of the entire ride is the spaghetti junction like curves of the interstate system to twist around and through Knoxv[...]

In which I step outside of my comfort zone


Part 2, continuing the journey.  The heat wave continued through the end of the week.  Friday I again fired up the bike and let her float her way to Seymour.  The morning ride is pleasant, it's the afternoon that's brutal.  I left the mesh jacket at home and instead threw on my ATV riding jersey over my scrub top.  Nice and cool on the way there.As my work day progressed, an idea began to take shape.  I was contemplating the same route as Wednesday, but the thought of getting stuck behind a big rig discouraged me from going that way.  Unlike my human GPS husband, I have NO sense of direction.  I have to go known routes, or else I will get helplessly lost.  David and Kody were on their way down to GA which meant my entire afternoon was open.  I ran my idea past the hubs, and  he approved which TOTALLY made my day!  Changed OUT of my scrub top and into strictly my jersey which made for a LOT more air flow.  I joyfully made that treacherous left hand turn, and made my way out to 321.  This time, instead of making a right turn towards Maryville, I made a left turn towards Townsend.  The sign for Foothills Parkway beckoned to me, and Khaleesi pulled me over to that direction.  I joyfully leaned and flew through the curves of the Parkway.  It's a 45 mph speed limit where you can safely push through at around 50 with VERY little traffic.  It goes up into a mountain, and you can feel the cool air push away the heat and humidity of the valley.  It was my first time tackling it solo.  Solo is me, myself, and Khaleesi which to date was ONLY when going back and forth to work.  Don't get me wrong.  I prefer all day long to ride with David.  But he DRIVES for a living.  He's out in his work truck 10 hours a day in the heat and often with no A/C. By the time he gets off, he doesn't FEEL like driving his bike for recreation.  I get that.  Me on the other hand, works in the A/C sitting on my arse all day long.  I'm DYING to get out and feel the freedom of the wind, but since I'm most definitely still a beginner rider, David doesn't want me off gallivanting on my own for long rides ... especially since I have that little problem of being directionally challenged.  But I'm SO thankful that he approved of this ride.  It's familiar, it's challenging without being dangerous, and it fulfills the yearning in my soul to leave behind the aggravations of work and lose it all in the wind.  My compromise is that I don't mind taking a familiar route over and over if it means I get to ride :)Before I knew it, Foothills ended onto Hwy 129.  A left hand turn takes me to The Tail of the Dragon.  A right hand turn takes me home.  With no hesitation, I turned right heading back home.  I kept my speed at a comfortable one somewhere in the vicinity of the speed limit, and before I knew it, Khaleesi was safely snuggled back into the garage, and I'd clocked 80 miles solo on my experience meter.  It was a GREAT ride, ranking below every single ride David and I have taken together, but at the top of all my work commutes.The following evening, Saturday, the boys and I made a beeline to the IMOK dealership to embark on our first group ride.  KSU was 5:30 pm; a welcome time since Saturday dawned again hot and humid.  We dressed as lightly as possible with our lightweight pullovers, and met up with our "mystery" group.  We conversed with other like minded people and soon headed out to Dead End BBQ a quick 15 or 20 minute ride across town.  We enjoyed the food and the conversation, and just an hour a[...]

A week of firsts


Has it really only been 4 months since this happened?Me being a new rider, many things I experience will be "firsts".  That's what gains us experience, branching out and stepping out of our comfort zone to entice us to grow and learn.  This week was pivotal, growth wise, for me and I am SO grateful!A mere 3 weeks later, hitting the road for the first time!  Indian Demo TruckThe week has brought hot, humid temperatures.  The rain has held off, but the throes of summer have definitely held us hostage!  With Kody working with me this summer, I've only had the opportunity to ride on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Wednesday, I braved the heat and I FINALLY got to take my long way home!  If I'm being completely honest ... it was probably 75% fun lol.  I usually wear jeans/boots and my scrub top under my mesh armored jacket.  My jacket is HEAVY and it's black.  I get a lot of air flow, but the 95 degree temps trump that airflow.I thanked God as I successfully made the treacherous left hand turn out of my office, and down the road I flew.  Tackled a new route coming home; I've driven it in the car COMING to work, but never on the bike and never going in the direction of home.  I successfully negotiated the curves and the bright sun light and made it to the section of road with 2 stop signs; I've been unlucky enough to come down that road on the bike a few times where traffic as backed UP at those stop signs thanks to a big rig "training truck".  I don't know, I guess they make the newbies take that route to make sure they can handle uphill stop signs and a small road.  {Insert grimace face emoji here} Khaleesi's fan kicked on and I could feel the hot air blowing onto my legs.  A bead of sweat rolled down my back under my backpack, and I weaved back and forth slightly to maintain my balance as I crept along at about 2 mph.  FINALLY the traffic opened up at the light, and I decided to stay on my track to take the Big Springs loop, which is the one David took me on a few weeks ago after Colton went to bed; it's about a 25 minute back road loop.  I felt smooth as I negotiated the curves and hills of the road, and before I knew it, I was at the end of it, facing Hwy 321.  Made the right hand turn and kicked her up through the gears to quickly accelerate to 60 MPH and cruised in the hot air until I saw the small blue sign pointing the way to Allison's Catfish Restaurant, which is the side road I turn on to cut back over to Big Springs and connect the loop back home.  Just my luck, I was waved to a stop right in front of the restaurant due to some construction.  I cocked my right foot up to try and relieve the heat as once again the fan kicked on and blew the searing heat towards my thigh.  Finally, they waved us on, and I motored steadily back home.  That was a baby step for me.  Wednesday was a precursor for my Friday ride, which hadn't even fully taken root yet.  Once safely home, after I stripped off my gear, I was sweaty and tired, but I felt happy because I'd finally taken the LONG way home.  Like I said, the loop added about 25 minutes to my ride, so I managed to turn a 30 minute ride into an hour one :) Going to turn this into Part 1 for those that don't feel like reading a novel!  Stay tuned for part 2, released "Netflix" style! ;)[...]

Night riding and staying close to home


It's been a half way decent week.  Got to ride in to work both Wednesday and Friday.  I've been thinking that I tend to beat myself up over any mistakes I make ... and lately, I'm VERY pleased to say I haven't been making too many.  I've tried to keep my brain firmly planted in the present, always looking out for anything and everything.  I'm VERY interested in looking for continuing educational type classes where I can learn to master those tight cone courses, but I'm a little scared to try something like that with Khaleesi because for me, if I drop that bike it's going to be because I seriously pushed myself out of my comfort zone to learn a new skill.  She doesn't have any sort of highway bars on her, and I don't want to push the envelope too hard right now.  I want to go play in a parking lot just to really OWN and master tight parking lot maneuvers, but haven't yet because of the aforementioned excuses reasons.I've tried not to bug David to take me for a ride; if it were up to me, I'd go EVERY night after putting Colton down for bed for about an hour or so.  I love it SOOOOOO much, and I miss it when Khaleesi just sits in the garage.  He suggested heading out on Friday night for a night ride.  We didn't even leave the house until 10:00.  Definitely a different experience for me!  We headed up 321 to Foothills Parkway, and headed up the mountain.  It was DARK, which was the entire purpose.  To stargaze a little.  Much to my surprise, there was quite a bit of traffic through Maryville for being 10:00 at night.  The pulloffs at FH were also much busier than I expected!  Lots of trucks doing the same thing we were, didn't see any more motorcycles at all.  It was awesome how LOUD the bugs were, the lights over the city were great, and I just WISH we could have snapped a pic of all the stars.  If it had been less overcast we probably would have seen even more, but as it was, the sky was just gorgeous. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />This morning, we headed out to Pigeon Forge/Sevierville area.  We were a little bit limited time wise, but we made the most of it!  Did 110 miles, about 3 1/2 hours.  Great ride!  We headed out 321 and hit a backroad in Walland that we had done once before the OPPOSITE way.  It was a narrow little off camber road that was so tiny it was practically like a driveway.  Fun!  What I like about it is the fact that it is nice and curvy, but doesn't have any tight switch back turns.  Made our way out past Douglas Lake and stopped at the lovely Busch's Beans factory to take a few pics.  Took 411 from there and turned down the "long way home" road I take from work.  Proud to say I had no issues.  Turns felt amazing, curves I took without laying off the throttle too much, nice smooth stops and starts ... Khaleesi and I are working together very well :D  There's a "mystery dinner" ride leaving out of the Indian dealership next week that I hope we can do.  Planning to ride to work Wednesday and Friday again, and hoping this time I can take the long LONG way home ;)[...]

Church, 'Vettes, and and no rain!


It has been raining ALL week.  David recommended I ride on Wednesday, and I did ... and lost to the rain on the way home! On the bright side, I'm getting accustomed to the intricacies of handling a motorcycle in less than ideal conditions.  We don't ride in a bubble, have to learn to handle "real world" riding conditions.We went to church today for the first time since moving to TN.  I can't believe we've let ALMOST a year escape without darkening the door of a church, but to be honest, there's SO MANY churches around here that it's overwhelming to try and randomly pick one.  Some personal circumstances in my life prompted me to somewhat throw down the gauntlet this week, and I said we ARE going to church this week.  Kody recommended the one we went to; come to find out, his good friend's dad is actually the pastor.  It was a great service; a much needed refueling for our soul and our spiritual wellness.By the time service was over, the clouds had burned off and we decided to head out on a "short" loop.  Headed west out of the mountains for once.  Found us a nice little loop through the farmlands of Loudon and Monroe counties.We did the "orange" loop into Kingston and back through Lenoir City.  It was awesome!  Did right at 105 miles.  Ran into a huge gathering of nothing but Corvettes.  David did the math, and figured we were surrounded by about 2.5 million dollars worth of vehicles!  We followed the group for a bit; I swear, David kept running off and leaving me, and I wanted to holler at him, "WE'RE NOT DRIVING A CORVETTE", lol.  Fortunately, they pulled off into a large area where they could park and show off their purtiness, and we went on with our ride at a slightly less brisk clip.Most challenging part of our ride was 1 or 2 turns where we were practically doing a U turn when making turns.  David managed to find a side road not far from the house that was so skinny, 2 motorcycles would barely fit passing head on.  It was a beautiful day, albeit a bit warm.  I have discovered that I have a dislike of riding in just a plain shirt, whether it's a T shirt or some other type.  I am most comfortable in my mesh jacket because it's long enough in the back that I don't "flash" my buttcrack, and it's heavy enough that it doesn't flap around in the breeze and irritate my skin.We arrived home uneventfully with me sadly having no plans to ride during the week this week.  Kody has been going to work with me, which means I'm in the car.  I have to take him with me on Wed, which is normally a day he doesn't work, because he has a consult with the oral surgeon just down the street from my office.  David has shown me a short little loop that takes about half an hour that I can do once the baby goes to bed that allows me to stretch Khaleesi's legs a little bit.I'm at 100 days worth of having my license, and almost 3500 miles logged.  I'd say that's pretty good!  No plans this year to do any epic, 1000+ mile road trips.  We'll have to save up for that and maybe plan something like that next year.  Our ride today was great.  No real elevation changes, just out in the middle of nowhere, country, curvy farm type roads.  There were a few 45/55 mph roads that weren't too inundated with traffic that had a few mild curves in it.  They weren't bad; soon enough, it was back to twists.  We had the 'caution, twisty' sign on many of the 45 mph roads with no slower speed posted on it, so we were able to take the curves at the recommended speed, whi[...]

Dirt roads, wine, and rain showers


Cheyenne (David's bike) on the left and Khaleesi on the right!So, thinking about posting my ride recaps on my horsey blog!  I no longer own a flesh and blood horse, but I do have a steel one!  In all honesty ... I'm not sure how long I will go without riding horses.  It's been over a year, and to be honest ... I'm not missing it.  If there's any blog readers that haven't toodled over to my more personal blog, since this last riding post, I have had a baby and moved to Tennessee!  We had the baby because we wanted to, and we moved to TN to be closer to family so Colton Maverick would have family around him like Kody did.  February, David got his first motorcycle and we rode together all over the place!  In March, I got my motorcycle license, and in April, I got my OWN motorcycle!  I can't even describe the joy I get out of riding my Indian Scout Sixty.  I've named her Khaleesi and riding her to work makes my whole week!Putting on the boots means I won!  We get to go riding!Today, I talked David into taking me for a ride.  I've always suffered from PVS.  Parked Vehicle Syndrome.  Now, I suffer from PMS!  Parked Motorcycle Syndrome!  I get seriously grumpy and irritable if it's a nice day and all we're doing is just sitting around on the couch.  We didn't buy TWO motorcycles for them to sit cold in the garage!  Our original plan this weekend was to sit and watch movies since the baby is at the grandparent's.  Rain was in the forecast both Sat and Sun.  After coming home early yesterday and sitting for most of the evening watching (boring) tv, when I checked the weather for today, the rain wasn't coming in until after 2.  I had to talk David into taking me for a ride!  I think David had already decided to be in this weekend, and I had to get his mindset in a different spot.The spot I suggested we ride, David said no because it's a holiday weekend, and he was concerned about us spending most of the time sitting in traffic.  Then he suggested we ride Cade's Cove.  Um, talk about a tourist spot?  With stop and go traffic?  He said it shouldn't be too bad since a lot of people are only just now coming into town.  I shrugged my shoulders and said ok!  We've ridden to Cade's Cove together when we borrowed his Mom's bike for a week, but I've never had the chance to ride my own bike there.We went all matchey-matchey in our Jimmie Johnson jerseys and our Marvel helmets.  I usually let Kody wear my Marvel helmet, and I wear my Indian helmet.  On this particular trip, however, we left Kody still asleep in his bed!  It was a nice, easy trip up into and through Townsend.  It was VERY cloudy, but the sun was determined to peek out and chase off the threat of rain.Down came a blackbird?Right at the beginning of the loopThe scrolling marquis sign along the side of the curvy mountain road leading into the Cove reminded us that the loop is closed to motorized vehicles until 10:00.  It was 9:45.  Fortunately (I guess) we were behind a super slow car, so by the time we reached the loop, it was 9:56.  They still waved us around the entrance!  Ugh.  We had to pull around and pull off, waiting for a few minutes.  There were about 100,000 bicycles that we could see all around the park, but it seemed like most of those were packing up.  We U turned to head back to the entrance of the loop, and got caught up in an apparent mama bear w/ her cubs sighting.  We couldn't see them,[...]

Strapping on the life preserver


Wow, can't believe it's been almost 2 months since I updated the blog!  I've had QUITE a few good rides, I'm still riding Kiara every Wednesday and LOVING it.  I got to ride Trainer's CCI3* horse a few weeks ago ... NOT at the walk for an hour, but for an hour w/t/c.  He's coming back from an injury and has a very specific regimen of dressage stuff he's supposed to engage in on a daily basis, and I learned what it felt like to REALLY get a 17.1 hand horse trotting forward enough to a good dressage test.  Let's just say it's NOT Like hacking a hunter ;)Did a few gymnastics over the last few weeks.  Cantered through 5 one strides with a placing pole; that was FUN, and good.  The jumps ended up around 3', so a fun ride.  Another gymnastic I did was trot a vertical with 5 placing poles; it began as 2', ended up at 3'6.  WOW!  She was amazing through it, as the jump got higher, I found I could really just sit still and she was right there for me.  The cantering gymnastic was trotting in; a placing pole to an x, one stride to a vertical, one stride to a TALL crossrail, 2 strides to another TALL crossrail.  She was actually pretty spooky, and I really had to work to help her make it through the distance AND keep her from getting wiggly.  Trainer didn't make the last big X an oxer since Kiara is a little ... um, FAT right now.  Besides, she was pretty looky-loo with those tall crossrails.I titled my blog post "Strapping on the life preserver" because today I FINALLY zipped myself into my xc vest!  It has a belt that clicks in the front, and I always feel like I'm putting on a life vest, lol.  I've been riding for a year and a half at a fabulous facility with a FULL xc course, Intro to Prelim, but I've never ridden out on it.  I had a chance once, but it was knowing full well I'd have to be "beating" the horse over every jump, so I bowed out of that one.2 weeks ago, I hacked Kiara down the course and rode her on the tracks between fences at a walk.  Holy heck, she felt like she'd spook and spin right out from under me pretty much every second of the ride.  She spooked at the tall mustard growing, the tall grass, the jumps, the wind, the rustling of leaves ... she felt VERY tense.  I kept at it until she FINALLY stretched down into my hands and took a deep breath.  Back to the barn we went.Today, I showed up when trainer said to, only to be told I was supposed to be ON at that time, not just arriving.  Grrrr. So I had to run to the pasture, grab Kiara, knock the dirt off, and rush rush rush.  I worked myself up a little bit, because I'd hoped to somewhat zen out, but it was not to be.  To top things off, I could NOT find my neck strap, so I grabbed a loose stirrup leather and put it on, but it was much tighter that I typically like; however, it was better than nothing.As we walked down, she was working HERSELF up, head up and snorting.  We made our way down, and she spooked at the other horse that was already down there throwing a hissy fit.  We made our way past the other horse, found a track that wound through the mustard, and picked up a trot.  We approached a series of jumps, and she spooked.  Approached more jumps, another spook.  Kept going, and she finally began to focus on the job at hand.  I made it all the way to the end of that particular lane, and had some room to work back and forth a little.  There was an Intro log right by the start box.  VERY tiny.  [...]

Fun with a single!


I had seen this exercise set up in the indoor before ... I just hadn't actually done it before!  It's called "The Diamond".  I'm sure we can add that little phrase after it ... "of death" ;).  At eventing barn, I've been riding Kiara.  She is so awesome, I just LOVE her.  In a lot of ways, she reminds me of Tiki (redhead w/ a mohawk), but other than the fact that she's comfortable to ride, she goes completely differently than he does.She has a bit of a sensitive, (hysterical) side.  She has passing issues just like Tiki did; if you came at another horse head on, he would at LEAST raise/shake his head, at worst, panic a little and put on the brakes/give a little bucky buck.  Kiara, on the other hand, over-reacts.  To say the least.  At best, she will raise her head and put the brakes on; at worst, she slams on the brakes, sticks her head in your face, and spins/bolts.  Yeesh!  She's almost gotten me off 3 times that way, but I'm learning to tune in more to her body language if we're not alone in the ring.  I've been purposely working on the issue, and it is getting a little better, but she will still react fairly violently w/out much warning.That being said, I warmed up in the indoor yesterday at the walk.  Way back when, when I rode her the first few times, she was pretty stiff in the jaw and had a hard time flexing at the poll.  Since that time, she now has not 1, but 2 owners, and the contact has become much more consistent.  So, I kept her in the bottom half of the ring due to another horse longeing, and I played around with moving her both directions laterally off my leg.  She came nice and deep into my hand, and really raised her withers and didn't worry about what was happening at the evil GATE.  Again like Tiki, she tends to lose her shape thru the transitions, so I worked some transitions and focused on maintaining that nice shape.  Trainer came out and set the single as poles; it's pretty self explanatory; it's a single vertical with 2 poles set as a diamond on both the take off and the landing side.  It was set in the short side of the ring.  The goal is to hit the center of all the poles on a figure 8, trotting in.  The poles went pretty well; it's an exercise that you will FAIL at miserably if you try to pull on the face too much.  It's an exercise that really encourages the rider to use leg/look to steer rather than trying to pull, because pulling creates bulging and crookedness; the point of the exercise is to be straight and balanced.After a few circuits thru, up it went as a small vertical.  To add a level of difficulty, the distance is such that you trot in, so in addition to making a super tight turn, staying balanced and straight, you ALSO have to make a downward transition!  I was so proud of her; she focused in on the center of the pole and smartly bounced right thru and up and over the jump.  I worked on landing and NOT pulling, just half halting, balancing, and looking for my turn.  Once it was smooth, walked, and pole went up.  Rinsed and repeated, then walked one more time, then up once more on the height.  We finished up w/ the vertical at 2'9.  Of COURSE  I had to jump up her neck the first time at that height, but subsequent passes thru, I actually did really well w/ sitting tall and waiting on her.  She felt GREAT, trainer was pleased.  We then went with her to "babysit" one of the young sale horses[...]

Love this Cali riding weather!


If there's any type of "perfect" riding weather out there, Northern California is certainly it!  I have been very pleased with Ms. Mare the past few times I've ridden her.  There was ONE day where if I hadn't slapped on my neck strap b/c I thought I was going to jump her around 3', she literally would have spooked/spun me off multiple times, but that day seems to have been an anomaly, thank goodness.  A few weeks ago, she flatted up nicely and when I hopped her over the "wingless" box/gate/pole jump that was just ONE section higher than what she'd jumped before, that girl literally almost jumped me right off her back!  She was about a foot over the 3' box, TWISTED in the air, AND drifted left about a foot, all at the same time.  Whoa.  Lol.  I bravely tried it a few more times, and it was pretty bad every time, so lowered it back down the one level and she was fine.  Silly girl!Today was the first day she'd been ridden in a week, as it's actually RAINED (yay) in Nor Cal.  The ring was still super wet, so I set up 3 9' canter poles up one long side, and set a single 2'6 vertical on the opposite long side.  On the vertical, I laid poles ON the rail, framing out a chute on both sides.  My goal was just to work on straight and simple today.  She again flatted up really nicely.  I did NOT put her in the roundpen, despite S's suggestion I do so.  I could tell her frame of mind was pretty workmanlike as I tacked her up, so I "risked" it!I didn't wear spurs today, and honestly I felt like I needed them!  She was pretty quiet.  Honestly, when I started out, she felt just a little short strided.  She warmed up well, though, and I focused on lots of big loopy circles and lots of direction changes.  I focused on feeling her stay straight from her hips thru her shoulders, and tried to work on keeping a nice consistent rhythm, especially over the poles.  She was focused well.  When I jumped the vertical, I just trotted over it, and halted straight.  Sometimes I went over the poles, sometimes I didn't.  When I cantered the vertical off the right lead, she was super!  I cantered thru the 9' poles a few times, and she did great there.  The problems began/ended off the left lead going over the vertical.  That jump is set in her "booger" spot where she likes to hop and drag right, both before and after the jump.  Sometimes she's so awful there, I can't even GET her to the jump because she's cantering sideways to the right.Today I had a little bit of an epiphany, and when she began to fall right, I took it down a level.  In the past, I may either leave that area, or get mad and start "beating her up" with my leg, or bridging my reins and trying to just out-muscle her (and we know how well THAT works!)  Today, I just took a step back, and trotted her in a big circle.  I could FEEL when she stiffened the jaw, bulged the shoulder, and began to drag.  I kept my cool, and I worked SUPER hard to connect to that right rein, NOT forcing her, NOT kicking with my outside leg, just gentle, patient circling.  I tried it at a canter when the trot felt good, and that was a bad, no go.  I went back to trot, cantering SOME of the circle, back to trot, over and over until she just DID it.  I then came out of the circle to the jump; she was quiet, she landed and tracked dead straight, halted well.  What a good girl!  I was [...]

It's PAST time for a little update!


Well.  Sorry for the lapse in coverage lately!  I've been travelling to FL for work, and the time change has had me all tired as soon as I get off work.  I'm sure the time change hasn't been helping things either!  I've ridden a few tricky horses at Event Barn that a year ago, I would NOT have achieved good results on.  Still to this day I tend to go to my hands before I go to my seat, but thanks to Trainer, I've begun to slowly back away from pulling so much.  I rode a tricky dressage pony last week that kicked my butt!  He picks up this AWFUL half tranter thing that feels so yucky.  And when I put my leg on he just wants to canter.  And when I tried to hold contact, he just stiffened his jaw against me and went around like a 16.1 hand moose.  Ugh.  After about 10 minutes, I was actually really frustrated and questioning my ability to "ride ANYTHING on the flat".  These dressage horses really are MUCH different than the hunter rides I'm more used to.Trainer was finally able to turn her attention to me and help me, so after about 15 more minutes, I was FINALLY able to get some semblance of a nice, round trot.  LOW hands, but still have elbows bent, shoulders back, LOTS of half halting, but NO pulling.  Wow.  I actually felt like how it feels to physically push a wheel barrow uphill while riding this horse.  I thought the feeling of PUSHING a wheel barrow on a horse was impossible.  Nope, in fact, when you're properly riding a dressage horse, you should ALWAYS feel like you're pushing a wheel barrow!  His canter was actually quite lovely, I had no problems with that; it's always that trot work that's hard for me to REALLY nail and do it perfectly correctly.  At the end, I felt like a tired, sore wet noodle, but I got pony going nice and forward and round, so it was all good:)I've had some LOVELY rides on the mare, most notably after switching up her bit.  S ordered a litle 2 ring gag bit, and I slapped that puppy on my bridle ASAP.  Switched her from a running martingale to a standing with the gag because I've always thought pressure on a gag rein to bring a head down is silly.  Yes, I know you're supposed to thread just the snaffle rein through the ring, but with a 2 ring elevator, you ALWAYS have some gag action; it's not like a normal snaffle gag.  The standing has done it's job perfectly.  The one or two times she threw her head in my face, it kept her from smashing it, so I'm happy :)Last week, I worked with Jade on counter canter for the first time.  I only did it on the long sides.  I practiced picking up correct lead/counter lead on the long side, switching up which one I wanted.  She got it 90% of the time, I was very happy with her.  I think her LH is getting stronger, because I used to have problems picking up her right lead.  I still do on occasion, but she's gotten better.  Got in some VERY good lateral work from her, as well as a bit of shoulder in.  I decided to break down the jump work for her and trotted virtually everything, circling inside the lines so we didn't have the shoulder bulge and drag, and EVERY jump was 2'6/2'9.  Height is NO problem for her, and the jumps don't bother her.  If I could just FIX her in between bulge and run off crap she'd be AMAZING to jump around.  Little gag bit worked GREAT and when she decided to land and bolt, I sat[...]

Appreciating what you have


If I let myself think about it too much, I feel sorry for myself that I had to sell Tiki.  I love that horse, and I always thought I would get to keep him "until his legs fell off".  But I know I made the right decision when I get the pics and emails from his kidlet.  Let me tell y'all; they've competed T, and they're going to do a P CT in Dec or Jan.  WHOA!  I always wondered if the boy had the stuff for more UL, but I was too much of a chicken to find out.  It's beginning to look like he DOES :)  So I look forward to hearing about their T competitions, and the big P move up.  It's a match made in Heaven!

I feel so fortunate to not only have Jade to ride, but also to be sitting on SO many horses at Eventing barn.  I used to keep track of all the horses I'd ridden; I wrote their names on my tack box.  It was a never ending push for me to want to sit on EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING I could.  Then I got old and fat and didn't ride much, and when I finally bought my own horse, I found that ANY motivation to sit on anything else was gone.  Just for fun, I'm going to list the horses I've ridden at Eventing barn.  I'm pretty sure I've been there just under a year at this point.  In no particular order: (updated 11-30-14)
1.  Kiara
2.  Pluto
3.  Rusty
4.  Sky
5.  Jedi
6.  Kimmie
7.  Spellbound
8.  Luna
9.  Belle
10.  Hannah
11.  Partner
12.  Connor
13.  Puffin
14.  Whisper
15.  Ricky Bobby
16.  Patton
17. Puzzle

I think of what each and every one of these horses have taught me, and it makes me so happy to say I've had the opportunity to ride them!  And if Tiki had made the trip w/ me to CA like I'd originally planned, I probably wound not have sat on even half these horses!  I've learned how to FINALLY feel what it's like to have real, true collection.  I've ridden passage and piaffe.  I've felt a perfect flying change just by the shifting of my weight.  It's been amazing!  I hope things work out to where I continue to ride where I'm at for a long, long time.  I absolutely love my horsey life right now!

Positive Progress is always good :)


Well, Ms. Mare is making positive progress, as is the Muffin Man w/ his kidlet!  They made their first Recog. T debut this weekend, and finished a strong 6th place :)  Dressage score was a 32.5, then they had 3 rails in stadium.  I know from experience that if you're a little nervous, sometimes he hangs a leg and catches a rail, whether it's 3'3 or 2'.  Probably some nerves there, since she had not ONE rail in their T CT they did a few weeks ago.  Clear with a few seconds of time on XC.  Poplar Place has some scary looking T XC jumps, so to jump around clean is amazing!  That means Tiki man in ALL his Recog outings has only had ONE XC jump penalty, and that was at his very first one for both of us, and I can tell you for a fact that HUGE nerves were in play that day.  So proud!

As for Jade, rode her last Sat, and it was quite literally the very first time I ever approached every jump with a LOOSE rein.  Normally, I'm trying hard not to pull on her as we head into the jumps, but I definitely always have contact.  Last week, it was hands forward and kick.  So proud of her, that was a huge step in the right direction.  Jumped everything w/ a little bit of height, and she didn't care at all.  The one jump she actually gave a little bit of attention to was the little red box she's hopped over a few times.  I let her first steep crossrail oxer, and she didn't even LOOK at that one, lol.  I was expecting her to make a fuss at that one, but nope!

During her flatwork, I purposely came across a diagonal and asked for a change; a little late right to left, but PERFECT left to right; opposite of Tiki man!  I did just the one change each direction, then didn't ask for any more.  Lots of pats and praise.  Didn't get to ride at all Wed due to having to help my son get his school life organized, but I'm hoping this week is finally back to normal.  Excited to be making forward, positive progress w/ the mare :)