Issue #4 – December 12, 2010
by Holly "Davidson"
Hello. My name is Holly and I am a motorcycle addict. There…I said it. Isn't the first step acknowledging your problem? Actually, my infatuation with motorcycles goes back over 30 years and the only "problems" I have experienced are a few minor tumbles (knock on wood), many instances of riding through bad weather, and a dead battery or two. And I have owned a custom Harley Davidson for 10 years and counting.
In July of 2011, I was stunned to be the winner of a Sturgis Prize Pack from a local radio station and motorcycle dealership. I had everything I needed to attend the 2011 Black Hills Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota: 2 10-day passes to the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campgound, CHECK! $500 worth of cool camping gear, CHECK! A $250 gas card, CHECK!
I had always dreamed of riding across the country on a solo trip, so I felt as if it were Divine Intervention that allowed me to win that prize.
Then on August 1, 2011, I set out from Charleston, SC for the trip of a lifetime (on a very comfy 2011 Harley-Davidson Road King from the rental fleet of my local dealership. That ride was a bit more suited for the 2,000 mile trip than my custom 1200 Sporty. This was the longest ride I had ever made (2021 miles!) and one I will never forget.
Just a few months after my return, I was very flattered when the folks at RealWomenandMotorcycles.com asked me to share some of the things I learned along the way. There are many subjects I could ramble on about, but here are a few things I believe are most important:
1. Know your bike. This applies whether you are riding 10 miles or 1,000. Make sure you know EVERYTHING there is to know about how that baby operates, or you may find yourself on the side of the road not knowing where to find the reserve switch to make it to the next gas station. (Or in my case, 140 miles away from home before I realized the bike had cruise control!)
2. Wear gear that fits. One of the most annoying things about my trip was that my helmet was just slightly too big…this resulted in my tightening the strap so much that it was pretty painful at times.
Invest in some eye protection that fits you and is comfortable with your helmet on.
Boots are extremely important as well. Wear boots that are designed for riding a motorcycle…not the hot 5" stiletto boots you couldn't live without on your last trip to the mall. Don't sacrifice your safety to look cool. No one looks cool when their motorcycle tips over at a stoplight because their balance was compromised.
3. Stay in your comfort zone. No matter what…I repeat, NO MATTER WHAT…do not ride faster, farther or longer than you are comfortable with. Ride your own ride and keep an eye out for "the other guy"…the one who's in too much of a hurry to let you get out of his way. If you're riding with a group, set your own pace and keep it. You can always meet up with the hot-rods and speed demons at the next destination (see tip #9).
4. Less is more. Pack only your ABSOLUTE essentials. Plan on wearing those jeans 2 or 3 times…on top, layers work wonders. Remember, most hotels and campgrounds have laundry facilities, so use them! Overloading your bike changes the dynamic that you're used to, so ask yourself, "Do I REALLY need this?" when you pack up.
5. The Weather Channel – watch it! If at all possible, plan your days around bad weather. There is nothing worse than setting out on a bright, sunny day, only to run head-on into an unexpected rainstorm or – GASP! – a vicious hailstorm (as I thankfully avoided in Rapid City on an otherwise beautiful day). Knowing there may be a chance of rain later in the day will allow you to mentally prepare for it. And don't forget your rain suit! You'll be very thankful for it when the time comes.
6. Bring tools. You don't have to be a mechanic to be able to fix a multitude of minor issues on your own bike – IF you have the right tools. I always carry a small, adjustable wrench, a pocket-sized hex wrench set and a multi-tool, which includes a flat screwdriver, a Philips screwdriver, small scissor, a tiny LED flashlight….AND a corkscrew for hotel wine emergencies too!
Spare bulbs. Depending on your bike, changing out a burned-out taillight or turn signal is usually as easy as 1-2-3. Check out your owner's manual for part numbers and ask someone at the dealership to show you how to do it. You'll impress everyone around (including yourself) when you whip out your tool set and install a new bulb all by yourself!
7. Purchase a roadside assistance plan. Even if you NEVER use it, the knowledge that help is only a phone call away is such a comfort when you're on the road! Store the number in your cell phone AND in a waterproof case located somewhere on your bike. Make sure your other important paperwork (insurance, registration, emergency contacts, etc.) is also packed away in that case as well.
8. Make a plan. Mapping out your journey may seem like you're going against the whole freedom thing…I mean, that's what cycling is all about, right? But I can assure you, after a solid day of riding, you'll be happy to have that destination in mind as you count down the final few miles of your ride. Your friends and family will appreciate it as well.
9. Have FUN! If you're not enjoying the ride, stop for a while and regroup. Think about being stuck in your cubicle at work or cleaning your bathroom at home…that will surely change your perspective!
There are many more tips I could share from my journey, but I think these are a few of the most important things to remember before you set out on your own. Being prepared always pays off! Always.
To learn more about me and/or to read more about my wild 2011 Solo to Sturgis adventure, please visit my website at www.holly-davidson.com. In the meantime, keep checking your inbox for this awesome and informative e-zine from RealWomenandMotorcycles.com. I am VERY excited about being a contributor to this informative publication and I will have many more exciting tales to share in upcoming issues….so, please stay tuned!
~ Holly "Davidson"
Holly Davidson is a hard-ridin', Harley lovin', party throwin', culinary genius and live music freak, who lives life to its fullest in Charleston, South Carolina. When she's not organizing or participating in various adrenaline-pumping activities, she poses as a very normal, single, professional entrepreneur who just happens to love to ride motorcycles. Holly stays busy with her two businesses, ADMIT ONE Event Services (www.admitoneeventservices.com) and Absolute Property Solutions (www.apscharleston.com). Her most recent passion has been to encourage and inspire other women riders (and potential women riders) by blogging about her own adventures on her website at www.holly-davidson.com, by speaking at women-only motorcycle-based events and by writing short stories and articles for various motorcycle-focused publications. Friend her on Facebook! Or contact her atHollyDavidson1@hotmail.com.