Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sharin' the Road!

This week's guest is Shannon. As she mentions, we live in the same town. Our paths cross off and on as a result. Shannon's also a devoted believer in the value of training. I took these pictures when she came up to our Advanced Rider Training course in May. Not only did Shannon ride the Rebel for the training session, but she also rode up and back. The trip is approximately fifty miles each way. I mean no disparagement to Rebels, but that kind of mileage on one requires a certain degree of dedication, you know?

So enough from me. Here's Shannon.

Hi. My Name is Shannon, and I ride a Honda Rebel 250.

Gosh, this sounds like a support group. "Hello, my name is Shannon, and I am addicted to 250's."

Call me Balisada. My dad is part Native American, and the term is one of the few words that I know of the language. My handle could be either 'Balisada', meaning "tomcat" or (phonetically spelled) 'toot tie wogie chick'. Which means 'I have no trade goods'. Balisada sounds better than 'flat broke', so Balisada it is.

I am honored to be able to submit a guest posting. Irondad lives in the same town that I live in, so when he says the he took North Albany road one foggy day and jauntily honked at a Hummer that got stuck because the road turns left, I know exactly what road he is talking about and can more easily relate. I also think that story is still rather hilarious.

So anyways, I started riding on September 15, 2005.

I had purchased a motorcycle because I was tired of paying $3 a gallon for gas. The business where I worked celebrated "ride your motorcycle to work day", and it showed me that there were, in fact, motorcycles for short women.

It was my original intent that the motorcycle was to be used just for commuting. I was not going to be one of those 'motorcycle nuts', who was going to ride it all the time and go all these places just because I could.

My problem started when the Rebel was delivered. My sister says that when they delivered my motorcycle, I got on it and never got off.

And she is right.

I never really got off my motorcycle and I never dreamed that motorcycles could be so fun and rewarding. I do, in fact, go everywhere with it, in all kinds of weather, and go all kinds of places, just because I can.

Oh, I suppose I should explain the ears.

I have, suction cupped to my helmet, a set of tiger ears and a tail. It's part of the whole "Balisada" thing, and also because it's funny.

In case you are wondering, they don't make me more visible to drivers in their cages. I still get my territorial hexagon violated just as much as other motorcyclists.

They do make me more memorable, however. It's quite common for someone to wander into my office and stop in mid sentence - "I need to register my -- OHHH! Is that you?? I see you all the time!"

Just today, while writing this, someone has only just discovered that I am in fact "the lady with the ears".

Apparently, I am coming up in conversation among motorists. Kind of like "Hey have you seen the lady with the ears, on the motorcycle?" Of course the folks I talked to were probably being polite and what they really said in their conversation at home was, "did you see that nutty woman with the ears who was riding a motorcycle in that downpour we just had? I bet she got soaked!" (Why yes she did, but I bet she had more fun while on the road than you did. Squishy socks and all.)

One guy mentioned that he was trying to take my picture at a stoplight when it turned green and I rode off. That happens too. Not the riding off at a stoplight, but the taking a picture thing. On my way to Portland, Oregon one morning for a two day seminar (College paid me 44 cents a mile and it only costs me 4 cents a mile for gas! BONUS!), I was concentrating heavily on riding in freeway traffic. I turned to look at a car that had suddenly started pacing me, and was surprised to discover the passenger had a camera and was wanting my picture. Cool.

Also, in case you are wondering, the tail does in fact 'wag' in the wind. It depends on the wind stream, but it often will 'wag' or just stream out behind me. Kind of like a real tiger's tail when they are running.

I only started to lose ears when I had to get a new helmet. The old helmet was 'screaming yellow', and the new one is 'voltage'. Since the new one has graphics, made for a surface that was not quite flat, and those minor variations mean that I will sometimes look like a dork with only one ear. (The company that I buy my ears from is going to make a lot of money from me while I have this helmet.)

So, changing the subject, I try to take a class every year.

It keeps up the skills and my insurance company gives me a break on premiums, although the break on premiums is less than the cost of the class, it's still worth it.

This year, I took the ART class, like Irondad said earlier. The range portion was postponed due to rain causing dangerous track conditions.

( Dan's note: That's what a head turn in a corner should look like! )

The first part of the day you are in class refreshing the brain cells, and after lunch, you are on a go-cart track. I was actually glad that the track portion was postponed because I was really cold that first day! When we finally got to the second portion of the class a few weeks later, it was warmer and I was able to focus more on cornering. Which, if you want to know, I still need to work on.

I know in my heart that the apex of a corner will not jump out and grab me, but I simply cannot bring myself to move closer to them. Opting instead for the middle part of the road during that part of the turn. I also think it's the whole planning thing. I see the corner but I don't start planning the turn in time. Too much time spent in a car, I guess.

I have, however, spent the last few weeks identifying the apex of all the curves that I take. It's kind of fun, seeing where I should be.

So, all in all, ART class was fun and I heartily recommend it to everyone (who lives near Oregon at least). I learned a lot. You also get to ogle the different motorcycles. I saw some pretty interesting motorcycles.

Okay, I'd better go. The sun just popped its face out and I have to think up a good reason to make a business trip somewhere far away. I think I can convince my boss to let me go to the next town over for some paper clips. I know how to get there using a lot of back roads. :)



Did you catch the part about how Ride to Work Day played a part in her getting started riding? That's coming up next month. All of us can help spread the message by showing off our bikes in the parking lot!

There's still plenty of motorcycle parking and hot coffee available around here. I'd love to have you drop by for a visit. Send me a line at and share your story with us. This has been great fun and I'm sure everyone would love to meet you!

Miles and smiles,



Jeff In NY said...

Hi Balisada - Great to see another Reb commuter. I also started to save money (over the last 2 years I have saved enough gas money to pay off 1/3 of the new bike), but am now hooked and even got some hard bags to run errands. I feel like a teen again every time I ask my wife if she is sure I don't need to run into town to pick something up :-)

I also get the same reaction in the office when the white helmet is spotted... ohhhh you're the guy that rides the tiny white bike.

Thanks for the post!

P.S. I have been aproached by 3 people so far this year for details on 2 wheel commuting as they are thinking of doing the same (yes, I bought it from the dirtbike dealer, and be sure to take the MSF class: it not only makes getting the license easier and saves you insurance money it can save your life too).

Arizona Harley Dude said...

The best part of this post is when Balisda wrote that she takes a class every year. Dan must be doing something right to get riders to not just come back, but to have them advertise the program. Great job Balisda! Greater job Dan!!!

Stacy said...

You rock, Balisada! Just wanted to say again how much I dig your helmet. Folks, it's even better seen in person, out on the road.

Conchscooter said...

you must be riding right if people see you on the road and don't follow up by yelling at you about something or other when they meet you in person.I speak from youthful experience.

Earl Thomas said...

Balisada, I must admit that you devoted Rebel 250 folks have proven me 100% wrong. I first noticed the bikes a couple of decades ago and thought, "That'll never sell here in America." I just figured that they would make a good beginner's bike and that was it. Obviously I was wrong.

I love reading about new bikers, their initial experiences and the addiction that follows.

You keep riding the wheels off of that thing, and by all means keep proving me wrong!


Dean W said...

Nice head turn!

I keep wanting to take part in "Ride to Work" day, but they keep holding it during "Ride to Laguna Seca Week". Besides, I work from home- where would I go?

Although I do think the perfect thing to do would be to gear up, then put on a big, bright-pink gorilla outfit, and go find some traffic. Let 'em ignore that one...

Balisada said...

Jeff: The Rebel is a workhorse all right. Treat it right and it return the favor. People I talk to like the gas mileage too, and once someone called it a "little harley" (he was surprised that it was not a harley).

Arizona Harley Dude: I find that the classes are needed, in my case. This last March I rode to the coast and back and was startled to find that my skills had deteriorated over the winter despite the fact that I had ridden at least once or twice a week in the winter months.

I actually felt silly the first few times I went out with the ears. Now I feel nekkid if I don't have them (I had to do that once).

I find that since people remember me (it would be better if they saw me though) I need to be polite when on the road. The most common comment I get is from a parent saying that their kids always enjoy seeing me on the road.

I too was surprised to discover that the Rebel was a valued entry level motorcycle. If you buy one used, you can sell it for almost what you paid for it when you move up. The Rebel also has a very devoted following. I have seen some pretty tricked out Rebels and some with a lot of miles on them.

Last year for Ride to Work day in a Honda Rebel forum we were talking about who would be riding to work and someone mentioned that they had the same problem that you had. I suggest the gorilla suit. It will draw attention to you. ;)