Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Look into the Life of IHG - One or Two Questions at a Time

Do you feel you are treated differently because you choose to ride a motorcycle and are a woman?
People are usually shocked when I tell them I ride a Harley.  I usually get the line..."Wow, you don't look like a biker."  I always want to ask what they think a biker should look like but I don't.  I don't necessarily think I'm treated differently by other bikers.  I'm treated differently by some narrow minded Yupsters but who cares!

The one thing that I thought was pretty awesome was when my Mom told me that she was proud of me for learning how to ride my own motorcycle.  It always feels good when your folks are proud of you!! 

Do you have a favorite rally or event?
My all time favorite biker event was bike night at Porky's on Douglas Ave in Des Moines.  It was the best bike night in town.  I was crushed when they tore it down to build a grocery store that they still haven't built yet.  There is just a big empty lot where Porky's once stood.  It makes me sad whenever I go by it. 
The only rally that I've attended is Sturgis.(2004, 2008, 2009)  I'm hoping in the next year or two to ride my own there!  I think that will probably be one of the greatest times of my life.  Something I've dreamt for many years.  Each time I've been to Sturgis I've cried when we leave.  It seriously has felt like home to me each year I've went.  You have to experience it to understand.  

Monday, September 03, 2012

Lady R Rides Again!

Dianna Stover was one of the first people to ever comment on one of my blog posts.  She started following my blog and I started following her blog, regularly.  It was so much fun to meet someone that was from Iowa and I found it very ironic that her father also had worked for John Deere.  The funny thing is that we both had the same thought about John Deere, as you will read below.  As luck would have it I was lucky enough to meet Dianna when she came home for her mother's 70th Birthday Party.  She is exactly like I thought she would be, super fun and so freaking nice!  I truly can't wait until we can hangout again someday and hopefully ride together somewhere in this great country of ours.  I know you are going to enjoy this interview.  Dianna is such an amazing person with the biggest heart.  I'm honored to know this Super Lady!

Give us a bio about yourself.
I grew up in Dubuque, Iowa. I'm the only girl and the oldest of four children. The fact that my parents waited 7 years to have my three brothers, resulted in my mom having the best built in babysitter ever. My dad worked very hard to provide for his family of six, and as a young child, I always thought that everybody's dad worked at John Deere. If they didn't, I thought they were weird. I remember how surprised I was when I figured out that there were a myriad of professions out there in which to choose from. 'You mean there's something else besides building tractors and farming?'

After graduating from high school, I enlisted in the Navy, where I met my hubby, whom I affectionately refer to as Harley. Even though we were never blessed with children, this past June we celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. Shew! When our Navy days were done, we tried to figure out where we wanted to go and start our new chapter of life together.

Well... southern boys have deep roots, which is how Alabama became my home for the last 27 years... y'all.

I've spent most of my adult working life in a Dental Office cleaning teeth and managing the business end of oral torture. Be afraid... be very afraid! Muwahahahahaha!

Was there something specific that drew you into the motorcycle lifestyle?
Nothing specific... other than the fact that my daddy had motorcycles, I dated boys with motorcycles, and Harley and I like to ride motorcycles. I always thought they were just another mode of transportation... with exhilaration attached! I'm not sure my lifestyle would be much different if I didn't have a motorcycle... but my house would probably be clean! As long as I'm able to fill my spare time with something adventurous, I'm happy. Right now... it's motorcycles!

What was your first motorcycle?
I was about 10 years old when my daddy got his hands on a Lil' Indian with a Briggs and Stratton motor. It wasn't street legal, but I still can't discount it as my first. I remember having lots of fun on it, running up and down our alley and tearing up the grass in the big park across the street from my house. Good times!

My first real motorcycle didn't come until February of 2006... a beautiful black and teal 2001 Suzuki 800 Intruder. I remember when I sat on it for the first time, I just knew it was going to be mine. It fit me perfectly! I had enough power to play with the big boys, while still having a very manageable bike as far as weight and height. She was the perfect first bike for me to learn my mistakes on. It was such a forgiving bike. I took my first overnight ride on the Suzi and I learned a lot about riding your own on that trip. Awesome memories! I wish I would have kept it, that was a great little motorcycle.

What do you currently ride?
For 4 years I rode a '98 Electra Glide Classic that I also loved, but just recently I acquired a 2004 Fat Boy that I refer to as... "the boy". I'm still adjusting to the downsize from the Glide, but my test drive was most memorable and I felt like I connected with it immediately.

How do you feel when you are riding?
For me, it's like recess for my senses and the roads are my playground. What I see, what I smell, what I hear, what it feels like on my face... all of that gets pretty amazing sometimes and I find myself almost giddy with happiness to be riding. I'm able to give my mind a break from the stress and demands of daily life by simply putting a couple hundred miles on the odometer. I've realized over the last couple of years, that life can throw you off balance at any time. Losing control of things you really didn't control anyway, suck. For me, finding that balance again is praying to God and riding. Riding through some beautiful countryside, smelling hay and honeysuckle, listening to the rhythm of the rumble sure can clean the cobwebs... and free the spirit. Talk about rejuvenation!

Is there a motto that you live by?
Housework done properly... will kill you.

Why Harley Davidson?
I like the way they sound. I like the way they look. I like the way they ride. I like the bad boy attitude that still spills over on them. I'm very happy to be a Harley owner.

Do you feel you are treated differently because you choose to ride a motorcycle?
Not really, but I tend to be an optimist. If I think someone has an attitude, I figure they'd have one whether I was on a motorcycle or not. Maybe that's naive of me, but I really don't run into much problem. The fun part about riding, though, is when other women ask me about my bike, or what it's like to ride. That's very cool.

Is there really a motorcycle “wave” or is it just something we do to freak non-riders out?
Ha! I'm not sure about that, but I wave at all riders... I'm just friendly that way. Harley laughs at me because I like to throw out an upside down peace sign. Groovy... right? smiling...

Do loud pipes really save lives?
The jury may still be out on this one, but I tend to think so. If my loud pipes grabs the attention away from someone's cell phone convo, text message, music, or general passenger distractions, you just might gain that split second... and sometimes a split second is all you need.

Do you have any mentors or heroes?
I'd have to say my Dad was my mentor and my hero. I'm so much like him, I'm predictable. I even followed in his footsteps and served in the Navy like he did. I always thought it was cool that I was born in a Naval Hospital, and 18 years later, I "swore in" on Pearl Harbor Day. When he died two years ago, it was no doubt, the greatest amount of sadness I've ever felt in my life thus far. It shook my world for a while, but now, when I'm out riding my motorcycle, I see him everywhere. Not only did he retire from John Deere Tractor Works, he was a big collector of all that was yellow and green. I never noticed before, how much John Deere green you can see on a typical country road... Hi dad!

Do you have a favorite rally or event?
Since we have friends that live in Panama City, Florida, we've been to almost all the Thunder Beach Rally's for the last 10 years, and we've attended the Emerald Coast Bikefest in Holt, Florida several times. But my favorite was the Angel City Rally in Unadilla, GA. It was set up like an old western town and it had the best layout of all of them. Plus, the ride over to Georgia is a nice one. Rallies are pretty such the same, I'll admit, but they do make great back ground noise while getting together with friends we don't see all the time. That's the best reason to go... and I get to wear my "hair"!

Do you have a favorite place to ride and why?
The mountains! Especially when it's summertime and we can escape the heat. We're less than a days ride from the foot hills of the Appalachian Mountains and there are lots of places to go. Places like Ft. Payne, AL, Chattanooga, TN, Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee NC are all blessed with beautiful mountains and great roads, it's truly a rider's delight. The mountains are definitely my favorite.

What is the wildest thing that has happened to you on the road?
I wish I could tell you it involved guns and high speed chases, but... what comes to mind instead was the day I was attacked by a wild turkey! I was leading Harley down the Natchez Parkway during the summer a couple of years ago, taking in the amazing scenery and enjoying a leisurely pace on the Glides. All of a sudden, a big (and I mean really big!) wild turkey started to target me from the left side of the road. She must have had some little turkey chicks close by because she looked pretty intimidating coming across the left lane bobbing her head rapidly like she was on a serious mission. I tried to startle her by revving my motor and adjusting my speed, but I didn't do anything but piss her off. Right about the time I thought she was close enough to peck my leg, she flew up in a flurry of feathers right along side of me and carried herself back to the side of the road. Shew! Checking myself for turkey turd, I came away from my wild encounter clean and unscathed. Harley, who was following, said it was quite an amusing Kodak moment. Thanks honey... I think.

What has your most memorable ride or trip been?
When I rode the Tail of the Dragon for the first time. It was the most awesome experience ever! Although, there are many roads up in that area that are just as challenging and fun, it's the notoriety of the Dragon that makes it special. I think everyone who loves a good ride and a bit of a challenge, should ride the Tail of the Dragon at least once in their lifetime... just to say you did.

Are there any lessons that you’ve learned on the road that stand out the most?
No matter what... ride your own ride. The minute you start pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, your in trouble. I'm also a big believer in Motorcycle Safety Training... and helmets. I'm not one to tell others what to do, but I know for a fact that a good helmet saved my husbands life. You'll never see me riding without one.

Do you like riding with a group or are you more of a lone rider?
Definitely alone. The only time Harley and I are riding in a group, is when we're riding with our pals in Panama City. Otherwise, we are a club of two. I've seen way too many crazy stuff happen on big group rides and it just doesn't interest me. Don't get me wrong, I love to stand on the sidelines and watch a parade of riders go by and feel the rumble of their motors in my gut, but in those circumstances, that's where I prefer to be... on the side. Otherwise... it's just me, and my two Harleys. Life is Good!

What has your greatest accomplishment been?
Honestly... I'll have to say... being married for 32 years. Like I said earlier... Shew!

If you knew this was your last day on earth, what would you do?
Surround myself with my family and closest friends, let them know I love them and how much they've meant to me, and thank God for all my earthly blessings.

When you are not riding what do you enjoy doing?
My other passions are writing and photography. I have a dream of retiring from the dental field and spending a lot more time doing those two things. I've started many projects, but nothing is anywhere near to the point of completion for sharing (or selling). Story of my creative life!

If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?
I procrastinate... very badly! I mean... why do it now, when you can do it later... maybe.

Do you feel you are a role model for the women of the motorcycle community?
Not really, but if I meet a woman who shows an interest, I encourage her to try. I love knowing that I don't have to rely on someone else to take me out and ride. I met this little girl and her family while on vacation this summer, and her mom said she loved to count motorcycles while they traveled. If they see more than 7, she announces to them, it's a good day! I suspect she will be a rider one day. Just look at that smile!

Do you have any advice for women that are thinking about moving to the front of the motorcycle?
Motorcycle Safety Training Class! The best way to earn the respect of other riders, is to show them you have their safety in mind, as well as your own. You'll gain the confidence you need to become an experienced rider after you've put a few thousand miles or so on the odometer. Just like anything else we've ever learned to do, the more you practice, the better you get.

You just recently got back on two wheels after a little hiatus. What was that like and how do you feel now that you are back in the saddle again?
Kind of surreal, actually. After Harley's wreck last summer, our unified decision to give up the motorcycles wasn't easy, and only came after much pain and deliberation. It was almost a year to the day, later when Harley announced to me that he thinks he wants to ride again. Hmmmm... this time the deliberation came with much joy and anticipation. I remember having butterflies in my stomach the whole afternoon after making arrangements to test ride a motorcycle, but by the time I heard the rumble of the motor and popped it into first gear, those butterflies had flitted elsewhere. I felt much gratitude to be on a bike again.

Long story short... Harley acquired a 2008 Ultra Classic Electra Glide and I got a 2004 Fat Boy. Two weeks later we took off on our "Reunion Ride" and put 2,211miles on the odometer in seven days, covering six states. Woo Hoo!! Lady R... rides again!

Tell us about your blog Southern Comfort.
I started my blog over 4 years ago under the title "Glider Rider" as a creative outlet for my writing and photography while sharing the places I ride to, and my experiences as a woman rider. The beautiful highways and country roads around my home state, Alabama, have always been the focus of my blog mixed in with fantastic road trips and rally times with friends. But then, I had sold my Electra Glide, and wasn't riding anymore and I felt like I needed to change the name to something less specific. For some kooky reason, I decided upon Southern Comfort. I thought it would provide a great umbrella for a variety of topics written by a mid-western transplant living her life in the south. Now that I'm back on two wheels, our weekly rides in the countryside will probably once again take precedence, but I'm not changing it again. So... Y'all come by now, ya hear?

Do you have any pets?
Harley and I have a collection of three cats, Scrappy Kat, Romeo, and Dusty; and two Papillions, Bandit and Joker. I'm eccentric about my "babies" and I don't care who knows it. Besides... how many kids out there are always happy to see you when you come home! I rest my case! ha!

The bolded links are links to Di's blog and posts she has written.  Di's blog is so wonderful.  You will spend hours reading, laughing and sometimes wiping a tear or two. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview Lady R!  You are truly one of the female riders that I look up to.  Thank you for all the encouragement you gave me along the way to keep on following my dream of getting on two wheels!  I'm so glad that you are back on two, too!  I know it's one of the things that makes your heart sing!