Dedicated to the women who RIDE THEIR OWN motorcycles  

Liverpalooza Motorcycle Ride

by Amanda

Greetings from Tigard, Oregon!

Just wanted to send recap of my latest motorcycle ride...don't worry as it's much shorter than any other road trip account. I signed up my fellow 5-O Harley Sportster riding friend for the 3rd annual KUPL Liverpalooza ride to ensure that she would commit and to enjoy the anticipation that accompanies any fun event. This was to be my first group ride, and hers too. The ride was a fund raiser event for Hepatitis C research, so this was also considered my volunteer work for the week. Never having participated in such a large ride, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew it couldn't be bad considering a country western station sponsored it.

Kelley and I met up at Starbucks in Beaverton, with ominous skies overhead. We were both expecting to be rained on during our ride and were decked out in our leathers. I had applied Langlitz leather protector to my over-pants and jacket and treated my windscreen and visor with Rain Off. I had already printed off directions to Latus Motors so we ended up making only one wrong turn. I was able to figure out my mistake after yanking the directions out of my jacket pocket, along with my silk glove liners, and reading them while riding. Kelley was able to stop and retrieve my glove liners as she is a trained observer too...what a team.

We rolled into the parking lot of Latus Motors on NE Beech, through the gauntlet of goatee-sporting, leather-clad, do-rag wearing riders. I got nervous just riding by the rows of bikes, chrome glinting and the sunlight trying to poke through the clouds. I thought valet parking was in order to avoid clumsily hitting a parked bike, causing a domino effect of carnage. I kept thinking about the hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the blood, sweat, and tears, invested in the bikes parked there.

I narrowly missed backing over Kelley's foot parking my own bike. She ran into the store to get her license plate for her brand new bike, and I started peeling off layers as I was already working up a sweat, and the rain hadn't started to fall. The only people I recognized were other cops, including a woman from my police academy class who is now a motor officer for Clackamas County Sheriffs Office.

It was a treat to enjoy the sights and sounds of all the other bikes, the people that rode them, and the camaraderie of those that enjoyed them. Portland Firefighters hosted a pancake breakfast complete with Starbucks coffee. Several firefighters wore their "No Whining" shirts and were duded up (I know it's not a real word) to ride their Firefighter-Special Harley Road Kings. KUPL played good tunes and handed out prizes based on a drawing of those registered for the ride. I had planned on cloudy and overcast so had only brought my nighttime riding glasses, but with the sun teasing us, I purchased yet another pair of sunglasses (must be my 5th pair in two months). I had removed my sissy bar bag the day prior so I could wash my bike and left it off so that nothing detracted from the beauty and simplicity of just the bike.

A Portland Motors Sgt. briefed us on the plan for the ride which would end in Woodburn at the drag strip. The best information he provided was that the riders would not have to share I5 freeway with any other traffic as motor officers from both Clackamas County Sheriff's Department and Portland Police motors would shut down all on ramps as the riders passed. I was relieved to hear that the average speed for the ride would be between 50 and 60 mph and riders would ride two abreast on the road.

When the word was given to mount up and get started, the roar of the engines coming to life was fantastic, bringing smiles to our faces. We counted not more than 10 women riding their own bikes (it was hard to tell on a couple of them) with the rest of the women complimenting the men on their bikes and riding as accessories. Of course. I have been there, done that, and loved it, but this was a new experience riding my own in a group ride.

We hit the road, two by two, thundering out of the parking lot and onto the highway. The sun was shining...who wouldn't want to be me (as Keith Urban sings). I was riding with gauze bandages around both my lower and upper arms, covering cuts and abrasions received the day prior when my Toyota Camry was rear-ended at a red light. The air bags had deployed, burning my right arm in patches, and my wrist watch had been shoved up my left arm , leaving long cuts along the inside of my arm which the powder, accompanying the deployed air bags, burned. My friend and I ended up walking away from my totaled car with only minor injuries and no need for an ambulance so I felt especially fortunate. I was happy not only in having a bike to ride but in having the physical ability to enjoy it. During the accident on Saturday I had dwelled only for a moment on what might have happened if I had been rear-ended by the van while riding my bike. Especially after observing the damage the van had

done to my car, causing my car to rear-end the car in front of me, causing that car to rear-end the car in front of it. One occupant had been transported to the hospital and three out of the five cars involved had to be towed. Pushing more morbid thoughts aside, the discomfort of my arms was overshadowed by the sheer pleasure of riding.

It was a rush just to be the only vehicles on the highway, with bikes stretched out as far as I could see in front of me and bikes streaming out behind me in my mirrors. The motor officers would leap frog from on-ramp to on-ramp signaling Code 4 when cars and trucks were stopped, and it was safe to pass by. Some of the stopped drivers got out of their vehicles and watched, waved, and took photos. The motor officers sped up alongside us in the inside lane and a support vehicle rode in the outside lane taking pictures of the riders. If you spot a photo of an old guy with a pony tail under his skull cap helmet riding with his left foot kicked up on the instrument panel, I am directly behind him with the leather fringe on my jacket snapping in the wind, wearing a full face candy apple red helmet.

I could feel my neck and back tightening up, not only from the effects of my car accident, but the intense concentration of keeping a safe buffer zone behind the bikes in front of me, looking for brake lights to flicker on or the hand signals of other riders that we were slowing down, as well as focusing on keeping a safe and steady distance from the bike beside me. It was a new experience to actually share a lane with another bike, especially one that was emitting a deafening roar. I would love to see a video of all the bikes on this ride, commandeering the highway, looking like a kick-ass force to be dealt with.

When we arrived in Woodburn, the bikes filed into the parking lot (no cars or Vespas allowed) parking in row after glorious row of steel horses. Mine shone like the gem it is as it was one of a kind with 98% of the bikes being Harleys (only a couple sport bikes in the group). A guy parking his Harley next to my bike commented on how good looking my bike was and that he had seen one like mine in Vancouver. Imagine his shock when he learned it wasn't a Harley!

Kelley and I peeled off the top layers of clothing to avoid roasting in the sunshine, mingled and hydrated, enjoying the people-watching at its finest. Spotting numerous Gypsy Jokers flying their colors and walking around like they owned the place, Kelley and I were tempted to go undercover and infiltrate the motorcycle gang as Washington County's Interagency Gang Team was nowhere to be seen at the gathering. This would have involved smoking marijuana with them, so we decided against it. We both agreed that we would eat our guns before wearing a leather jacket reading "Property of (fill in a gang member's name here) " on the back. I shouldn't talk too much since my fascination with motorcycles started with watching Grease and then Grease 2, over and over (and over) as a kid. Women didn't ride their own bikes in those movies, but it was the ultimate cool to be associated with the guys that rode.

We did spot some great T-shirt slogans. My favs included "8 out 10 women are battered, but I still prefer my plain", "Tell your boobs to stop staring at my eyes", and "15 grand and 15 miles don't make you a biker". I laughed out loud just walking buy and reading these hilarious shirt logos. Kelley bought several cutsie T-shirts that might have fit me when I was 10, and I bought some stickers for my mountain bike.

Overall, we had great time, perfect weather, dry roads, no hassles, and it only took a few hours of time and about 100 miles for the event. I would recommend doing this again, even if you have to rent a motorcycle to participate.

Livin' to laugh and lovin' to ride,


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Thank you, Amanda!

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