Posted in Badass, Feeding America, Hoka Hey Challenge, Motorcycle, safety, Women Riders

A Bit About Me – Julie “Squirrel” Andrews

Larry Patten #941, Squirrel #942, Chip Parisi #942 at Black Hills Harley Davidson
Hoka Hey Riders #941, #942, and #943.

I learned to ride in the mid-90s on a 1972 Harley-Davidson Ironhead but didn’t know may other riders back then. Basically, I spent a few years operating a motorcycle. I gave up riding for a time when I become a mom. In 2015, I resumed riding, seriously this time, and became active in the women’s motorcycle rider community online and at women’s riding events. It was at one of these events I met Junie Rose. Junie has ridden every route of the 10-000-mile Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge since it began in 2010.

When the opportunity arose for me to ride the 2018 Hoka Hey, I saw it as a great way to inspire women riders to do more of what they love and challenge their limits. I’m grateful to the entire crew at Taboo Harley-Davidson in Alexandria, LA, my 2018 and 2020 HHMC sponsor, for opening this door to me and supporting women riders in general.

In 2018, online fundraising and BADASS patch sales (see link on right-side margin of this page) covered ride costs and Feeding America donations to provide “10,000 Meals for 10,000 Miles.” Feeding America is a top-rated, national non-profit network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. After the ride, I mailed a BADASS patch to every female HHMC 2018 Finisher.

Riding the 2018 HHMC on stock 2014 Dyna Glide was a challenge in every sense of the word, but I finished. Yes, in 21 days. Let’s just say it hurt the Dyna more than it hurt me. And it did hurt riding all day every day, sleeping outdoors next to the bike, navigating the route (and getting lost) without the aid of GPS. I’ve since taken a hard look at everything I could have improved on that ride. Which was…ya know, everything.

At Legend Suspensions in Sturgis, SD
At Legend Suspensions in Sturgis, S.D.

In preparation for the next Challenge, I’ve search obsessively for the best riding solutions. I’ve asked many riders and industry experts about riding gear and aftermarket parts. And I’ve been lucky to form friendly relationships with the people (who cheerfully answered endless questions) at Legend Suspensions, J&P Cycles, Klock Werks, Law Tigers Texas, Wolfpack App, Denali Electronics, and Twisted Throttle.

In addition, Ride Texas magazine and J&P Cycles’ Countersteer blog have given me opportunities to share some of what I learned. When not riding, I’m writing about riding.  Or obsessing over how I’ll make espresso on the HHMC.

This year, I will ride fully equipped and finish in fewer days. I’ll be on my ’19 Road Glide with, first and foremost, upgraded suspension and lights. Better windshield, lighter helmet, all-weather riding suit, waterproof boots. Better coffee setup.

For 2020, I doubled my charitable goal to provide 20,000 meals with Feeding America. Sales of BADASS patches, BADASS stickers, and BADASS magnets will launch February 2020 on Facebook and Instagram @womenridetheirown and @hokaheyrider942.

Posted in accessories, Hoka Hey Challenge, Motorcycle, safety

Let’s Talk about Shocks

bigstock-Damaged-Roadway-Edit-90484274-e1455671502981About two weeks prior to the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge, I was advised by the Taboo Harley-Davidson‘s service department technicians that I might consider upgrading my suspension. I was on a stock Harley-Davidson Dyna Glide, and my route on  would take me on approximately 10,000 miles of back roads. Well, I responded, I really didn’t have time remaining for that sort of thing. And…hmmm…I wondered why.

In explanation of my ignorance, I am from the Southwest. I had no real concept of road conditions after the snow melt. I subsequently learned what “ice buckles” are. And I often found myself riding slalom around potholes. And potholes filled with water? They’re nearly invisible. But you knew that. There were, in short, a great many rough road hazards.

Rather quickly, I came to understand the importance of having good aftermarket suspension and shocks. Those bumps and the occasional pothole took a serious toll on the bike. In addition, that kind of jarring ride over several days also will wear out a rider. For long distance riding, it’s important to consider not only the wear and tear on the bike, but also your own aches and fatigue.

The truth is stock suspension did not cut it.

I will summarize by simply saying I pounded that poor bike, and myself, into the ground. I have since replaced the Dyna with a touring bike, a 2019 Road Glide. I love it and I’m determined to protect it!

Although the touring bike handles much better than the Dyna, I discovered I just don’t weigh enough for the stiff stock suspension on the Road Glide even when it’s dialed down. It’s pretty clear H-D had a bigger guy in mind as their common denominator. I suspect this is an issue for many women on touring bikes, because we are generally shorter and lighter than the average male rider.

Before making an investment, however, I do my homework. I spoke with the technicians at Taboo Harley and also a trusted local shop called Xlerated Customs.  I then called Legend Suspensions, as they were recommended to me both by motorcycle techs and  distance riders. I explained my challenges.

Wow, what a great company! The person I spoke with at Legend consulted with their technicians and got back to me with a full explanation as well as recommendations. They addressed my concerns and even offered to let me try different solutions. The happy ending to the story is I’m going to meet Legend Suspensions in Sturgis next month and plan to install new suspension and shocks this year–  well before I do anything crazy like ride the Hoka Hey again.

Posted in Motorcycle, safety, Women Riders

Riding in the Driving Rain

I recently shared the following in response to an Instagram post from @empoweringwomenriders (#followthosegals).

blurry rain
When this is the view from your visor. : /

Sometimes you have somewhere to be with no ifs, ands, or buts. In those times, when you find you absolutely have to ride your motorcycle in the driving rain (pun intended), take extra precautions.

  • Trust your gut. If it looks like rain ahead, then stop and put on all the gear before you get dumped on. Because soggy boots suck.
  • Slow way down. It absolutely does not matter how fast the cars are going. Just get in the slow lane, if there is one, and/or throw on your flashers (and leave them on) and wave the cars past.
  • Increase your safety distance by a lot and don’t let anyone tailgate you. (See previous tip.)
  • Ride in cars’ tire tracks if possible.
  • Never trust a puddle.
  • Do not slam on the brakes.
  • Rough weather can stress you out and wear you down. Take a coffee break. You deserve it.

These are only a few pointers from my experience. Here are more detailed articles on the topic:

https://www.twistedthrottle.com/blog/15-tips-for-motorcycle-riding-in-the-rain/

https://motoress.com/ride/how-to/tips-for-motorcycle-riding-in-heavy-rain/

https://www.visordown.com/features/advanced-riding/wet-weather-motorcycle-riding-tips

While not rain-specific, I want to stress the evermore critical nature of protection in the rain: wear all the gear, all the time. #atgatt #helmet #nobrainer

A closing point: rain gear and weatherproof gear can differ significantly. What you wear and/or wish to carry on your bike will depend on your needs. Read this gear guide for product specifications:

https://www.denniskirk.com/learn/motorcycle-rain-gear-guide

What experiences have you had riding in the rain? Which tips would you add to the list? 🏍🖤

 

@twistedthrottle @motoress @visordown @gearpatrol @klimwomen @denniskirk