The Flying Nun

Remember about a month ago I wrote about one of the two most outrageous adventures that I have had on the TW200.  Well, I think it’s time I tell you the story about the time I earned the nickname “The Flying Nun” by my fellow T-dubbers.

It was my birthday weekend about 2 years ago and a group of us decided to go camping in Borrego Springs, CA.  This town is the home of the largest desert state park in the United States.  The park encompasses more than 600,000 acres.

So we decided to ride up the South Coyote Canyon Trail and that where the adventure began.  Here is the story in Russ’ voice:

I gotta do some bragging on my wife here. Bad as it turned out, up to this point she displayed her finest riding to date in negotiating this rock pile. Then, for some inexplicable reason the bike made a full-throttle left turn off a rock, then launched off the trail. She let go of the bike just before it went over the side, then performed a perfect pile driver head first from maybe 10 feet or so above into the smaller boulders (beneath her bike in the pic). From our vantage point I was fairly certain I had become an instant widower. The get-off looked bad. Real bad.

The view from top of Coyote Canyon

Our new friend Don and I were watching from maybe 100 feet below. We scrambled up to her location, and she was not moving. I started taking inventory, not allowing her to move, insisting that she operate first fingers, toes, etc. Finally I asked her if she could move her head. A bit irritated by the question, she said “No!”, and my heart sank.

What she meant was “No, Jerkweed!. I can’t move my neck because my helmet is wedged between these two rocks! Are you blind? Quit playing paramedic and get me outta here, you idiot!”

Both the worst and the best moments of my life within seconds of one another. We extricated her helmeted noggin from its “wedgedness”, she got up, walked it off for a while and got on with life.

Her knee’s gunna be a little jacked for a while and major portions of her anatomy are presently the same hue as her bike ( which was spared once more by the grace of TCI) and the story had a happy ending courtesy of these fellers:

Jimbo, Ronnydog and Don…my heros!

I have to add my 2 cents to this story and to tease the guys a little bit….when I crashed there were 2 other scenes unfolding as well. On top of the trail was Ronnydog and Jimbo doing a re-enactment of the Abbott and Costello comedy scene of “Who’s on First” but instead with the First Aid kits. Then Lizrdbrth and Don on the bottom of the trail were doing a re-enactment of the Chariot of Fire scene where they’re running on the beach in slow motion. The guys felt like they were running in slow motion to catch up to me as it was going down.

Ironically, while looking for pictures for this blog post, I found a picture that Lizrdbrth has mocked up on this crash but never posted it in the original ride report on the TW200forum website.

 The moral of the story being fully geared (AGATT) saved my skins and the only that was bruised were my knees.  The next day they were in the lovely shade of blue, purple, and green.

I still had the best time that weekend and I love these guys.  We have had many great weekends; camping and putzing around on our TW200.  I’m looking forward to our 2nd Annual SoCal Lizrdbrth Memorial Ride in Joshua Tree National Park where we all first met back in 2009.


Sigh, the next two weeks, I’ll be going through withdrawal of not being able to ride my motorcycle.  I’m on a business trip training our new employee who will be taking over my job.  This meant I had to leave my motorcycle back at home and rent a car so I could pack up all of my training materials to give to her.  

While hanging out at the hotel room while it is beautiful and sunny in San Luis Obispo, I noticed that I’m starting to get antsy and restless.  Damn, I want my bike now so I can cruise up and down the 101 freeway of Central Coast.

Am I the only who get this way, is this a real problem or is it all in my head? So I had to hit the internet to find a cure for my problem and came upon this survey (author unknown) and laugh my ass off.  I scored  eleven out of nineteen below so I think I might have a problem.

Motorcycling Addiction Syndrome 

Even more serious than the mania for chocolate is the growing epidemic of MAS, or Motorcycling Addiction Syndrome. Don’t laugh because you might be its next victim. Just to give you a possible heads up in case it’s creeping up on you, here are a few questions to quietly answer for yourself. 

How many of these apply to you? 

1. I have gone riding when I was depressed, or to cheer myself up. 

2. I have gone on riding binges of several tanks of gas or more in a day. 

3. I ride rapidly, often ‘gulping’ roads. 

4. I have sometimes ridden early in the morning or before work. 

5. I have hidden bikes in different places to sneak a ride in without being seen. 

6. Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to ride motorcycles. 

7. Sometimes I find myself analyzing sections of roads as if I were riding, even while in cars. 

8. I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a bike nearby. 

9. At a boring party, I will often slip off unnoticed to go riding. 

10. Riding has made me seek haunts and companions which I would otherwise avoid. 

11. I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I have finished a ride.

12. I have spent money meant for necessities on accessories instead. 

13. I have attempted to complete an Iron Butt ride. 

14. Most of my friends are unapologetic motorcycle riders. 

15. I have sometimes passed out from a night of heavy riding. 

16. I have suffered ‘blackouts’ or memory loss from a bout of riding. 

17. I have wept, become angry or irrational because of a road I have ridden; or, worse, NOT ridden. 

18. I have sometimes wished I did not ride so much. 

19. Sometimes I think my riding is out of control. 

If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions, you may be a motorcycle addict. Affirmative responses to five or more indicates a serious problem…professional help is strongly advised. 

Once a relatively rare disorder, Motorcycle Addiction Syndrome, or MAS, has risen to new levels due to the accessibility of higher quality motorcycles at a relatively low expense since the end of the Second World War. The number of motorcycle addicts and abusers is currently at record levels. 


Abusers become withdrawn, uninterested in society or normal relationships. They fantasize, creating alternative worlds to occupy, to the neglect of friends and family. In severe cases they develop bad posture from riding in awkward positions or carrying heavy tool bags. In the worst instances, they become cranky bike mechanics in small towns. 

Excessive riding during pregnancy is perhaps the number one cause of moral deformity among the children of Road Racers, Tourers, Squids, Wannabes and Posers alike. 

Known as Fetal Motard Syndrome, this disease also leaves its victims prone to a lifetime of vertigo, daydreaming, emotional instability and an unnerving predilection for unsuitable leather garments. 


Recent Harvard studies have established that heredity plays a considerable role in determining whether a person will become an abuser of motorcycles. Most abusers have at least one parent who abused motorcycles, often beginning at an early age and progressing into adulthood. Many spouses or significant others of an addict become addicts themselves. 


Fathers or mothers who are road race fans, collectors, or heavy leather wearers; parents who do not encourage children to play team games, read voraciously (except Rider and Motorcyclist magazines), or watch television (other than Speedvision) in the evening. 


Premarital screening and counseling, and referral to adoption agencies is urged in order to break the chain of abuse. One percenters in particular should seek partners active in other fields. Children should be encouraged to seek physical activity by joining teams, and to avoid isolation and morbid introspection. Proximity to road maps and National Geographic magazines should be restricted. Keep two-stroke oil securely locked away and out of reach. Playing cards inserted into bicycle spokes must be looked upon as a primary initial symptom, as should inadvertent twitching of the right wrist and incessant muttering of the syllables “Udden-Udden.” Children noted exhibiting a ‘thousand yard stare’ in the direction of a setting sun are likewise considered candidates for early intervention. A preference for tiny boots and multi-colored leather diapers indicates incipient ‘motorcycle madness’ and requires urgent, immediate treatment if any semblance of normality is ever to be achieved.

 So do you think you have a problem, how many of these have you answered yes to?

Always…always…have a Plan B

The other day, I asked my friend, Ara Gureghian, who has traveled around the world on a motorcycle to give me one piece of an advice and he said “Always… always… have Plan B [and for that matter C and D…]”.    Even before my trip has even begun, this has been the case.


You may remember I posted awhile back, that the biggest challenge for my trip will be the added accessories such as the heated grip, heated vest or the GPS since I could not find anyone who will upgrade the TW’s stator.  I originally came up with the idea of having two batteries on the bike; one for the bike and the other one for the accessories.  The problem with that idea is how to charge the second battery while riding.  After the Horizon Unlimited event last September, another idea was presented to me with replacing the headlight which put out 55 watts to an LED light which can range from 10 to 20 watts and adding an auxiliary light for the high beams that is on a kill switch so it doesn’t draw so much power.  Then add a fuse box with kill switch to control all of the added electrical accessories and voltage meter to track it all. Well, that plan fell through as well, there a huge concern of frying the electrical system and draining the battery.  So we only were able to swap out the headlights with LED light which will allow me to run the GPS and charge one item such as a cell phone with a USB port.  However, I need to find another solution for the heated gears.

Sigh, I can deal with the 100 degree weather anytime but I’m a total wimp when it comes to cold weather.  After much brainstorming with the gentleman who worked on the electrical for me, we came up two alternative solutions.  One is that I will buy the lithium-ion battery operated heated base layer and glove liner from Venture Heat.  There are so many brands to choose from but I decided that base layer and glove liner might be the best way to go since is it smaller and lighter than the vest or jacket for storage wise.  In addition, I don’t have to carry a second set of winter gloves, I’ll just use the liner inside of my favorite winter glove.

venture-base-layer VentureGlove

Secondly, I will carry two Anti-Gravity Micro Start Personal Power Supply jump starter and battery booster. Supposedly, they will jump-start any vehicle and powers or charges any electronic devices such as iPad, cell phone, GPS and GoPro.  It will jump-start the car a couple of times on a single charge.  The reason he is suggesting two, is one for charging and the other one is for back up in case I can’t get to a place to charge the PPS units.


If the heated gears do not work as well as I hope then the worst I can do is go down into Baja for the winter and avoid the US entirely.  The beauty of not having a set itinerary is that I can adjust the sail anytime I need to.

Trails, Tracks, and a Sunset, Oh My!

Today I was at a loss as to what to write about for my weekly blog post.  So instead of doing my daily exercise to get in shape for my year-long trip (oh how I wish that I had the same perseverance to do my exercise as I do riding my motorcycle, sigh), I decided to take a hike.  This is probably a good thing since I was starting to get cabin fever with all of the winds and rain we have had lately.  Now that the hills are starting to turn green I can see the various trails calling for me to check it out. So I packed my journal, iPad, a book (Freedom on Both Ends of the Leash by Ara Gureghian and Spirit), a camera, flashlight, water and headed for the trail across the street.

Halfway up the hill, I came upon so many spin-off of the main trail that I didn’t know which one to take.  Then I heard Russ tell me to follow the tracks.  This brought back fond memories of when he used to take the kids and I camping.  Once at camp, he would take us on a hike to explore the area.  He would teach the kids how to read the animal tracks.  We would follow them for hours on end to see where they would take us to.  Also, we would come upon animal dung and he would pull out the latex gloves out of his back pocket and start shifting through the dung to see what is in there.  At first the kids were totally grossed out but when he started pulling bones, seeds and rocks out of them.  They became enthralled and it became a game to find the biggest pile of dung we could find during every camp outing.  One time, they found an entire small bird skeleton in one of the pile.


I finally made it to the top which sit between an area called Summit Valley and Honda Valley, I found a spot to sit while waiting for the sun to set behind Wrightwood.  I decided to pull out my journal and noticed that it has been awhile since I last wrote in it.  Ever since I have gotten my iPad, I have been writing less and less in my journal.  Anyway, as I get ready to reflect on my hike, I noticed how eerily quiet it was up here.  Even though, I live in a world of silence, I still hear a lot of background noise which sometimes can become too much for me to process.  I can’t naturally tune out sounds like an average hearing person can.  Now that it is quiet except for an occasional shriek from the crows, my other senses become more alive such as sight and smell.  It just rained the other days which washed away the smog and haze that lingers around.  The power line gives a sharp contrast to the bluest sky with cloud changing color of white, orange and red as the sun set.  I also love the smell of the desert after it rain which are due to the Creosote, the oldest living plant.  Some people think they smell like tar but I have to disagree.  Either you love it or hate it.  Anyway, back to the ground, I can now see that the flowers such as the California Poppy, Fiveneedle Pricklyleaf, and the Mojave Sage are now starting to sprout too.

Well, it is time to pack up the journal now that I’m losing daylight and want to get back down the hill before it get too dark.  Glad I did, I got to watch the moon rise over the hills behind my house as I walked back.  


The other day while at a workshop, someone asked me what was the most outrageous adventures that I ever had on a motorcycle.  Two popped into my head very quickly, the Willie Boy adventure and the trail where I earned the nickname “The Flying Nun”.

So in the spirit of “Throwback Thursday” that seems to be popular on the social media sites, here is the story of our adventure looking for the Willie Boy’s grave site in Russ’ own words (he was a bit of a storyteller)…

First, a bit of history:

“Willie Boy” was a local Paiute Indian, and the subject of a 1909 manhunt. It was later the story line for a movie entitled “Tell Them Willy Boy is Here” starring Robert Blake and Robert Redford.

The generally accepted facts of the case are that he attempted to “steal” a bride, and killed her father in the process when the father attempted to intervene. Other accounts say that he executed her father in his sleep, and then kidnapped the girl. He later killed his unwilling fiance when she became a hindrance to his efforts to elude a posse. Eventually he also shot members of said posse, and in the end took his own life by shooting himself in the head by actuating the trigger of his Winchester with his toe as the posse finally closed in.

Locally this is a topic of much controversy to this day. Predictably, The Modern White Apologists, legitimate latter day historians, local Indian lore and the first person accounts and news articles of 1909 all present conflicting versions of the story depending upon which group has the podium, though most seem to concede the above are the basic facts.

I’m not gunna weigh in on one side or the other, but having been a semi-ardent student of the events surrounding the Willy Boy manhunt, what has always impressed me most was the fact that he successfully evaded a posse of some of the best qualified law enforcement, citizens and trackers of his day, ON FOOT, with a presumably uncooperative and far less physically capable woman in tow, over hundreds of square miles of some of the most water less and brutal terrain extant. For that, the man gains my undying admiration

So I thought I’d finally pay my respects to ol’ Willy in person…..

“It began like any other day……..”

Purple (aka Ginamarie, this is my nickname among the TW200 community) at the trail head. It was a cold, cloudy and fairly un-photogenic day in the dez, so not many pics were taken:


We only encountered two people all day. One was The Good Samaritan (more on this later), the other a dirt bike rider who forced me down when he hit my rear wheel coming around this curve. It took him about 100 yards to stop his bike, he then looked back to make sure I wasn’t dead, and blasted off again. Jerkweed.

Here’s Purple again, waiting for me to clean my shorts at the spot:


Most of the riding was loose, off-camber soft stuff. Endless, though not particularly difficult.

This was at the end of the trail. Willie Boy was cremated by his people on the spot where he fell. In more recent times someone commissioned a headstone and placed fencing around the site:


A nice, easy ride to see something I’d long postponed. It’s only 3 PM, and we got plenty of time to explore a bit before dark. 

From here, things got a little weird….

If you look carefully in the upper right corner of this pic, you’ll see the faint outline of what appears to be a goat trail…..


Being that we had this surplus of time on our hands, I decided we should have a look at that goat trail, which was at the bottom of this:


As we all well know, pics of a gnarly, dangerous ascent never appear all that gnarly. What you can’t see is that this piece of trail is over solid ledges of off-camber granite and quartz, interspersed with loose D.G., with a garnish of soft sand. This is me after riding/walking Purple’s bike down it. After the first 10 yards I realized my mistake, but I was already committed, and there was no way a TW was gunna go back UP that hill. Every foot of it was covered in skid plate scars and motor oil from others’ attempts. I could swear I even saw bloodstains on the granite 

So, I decided to leave Purple and her bike there while I found an alternate route by which we could extract her bike. Unfamiliar with the area, I set out on several dead-end canyons all of which appeared as if they would connect with the goat trail. Not a crisis situation by any means, but darkness and sub-freezing weather were definite on our short list of immediate realities. We had the situation in hand and all the emergency gear we’d need if anything went south. Purple and I have been in some tight spots before and I can rely on her to act calmly, rationally and logically on her own behalf if the situation warrants such. This was not yet one of those situations.

Enter The Good Samaritan. While I was searching for alternate trails I happened upon this woman who was riding a quad. In passing I related the situation, and asked her if she knew of a connecting trail that might lead to that spot. She said that she too was unfamiliar with the area and had actually been looking for Willy Boy’s grave site unsuccessfully all day.

Trying to be helpful she suggested that I sound my horn and that Purple would then sound hers as sort of a locating system, and that way I would know I was on the right path. I assured her that we had the situation in hand and thanked her for her suggestion, (which was a pretty good one)… but Purple is deaf.

We said adios and I thought nothing of it.

Eventually I found a way in. Predictably Purple had assessed the situation and had secured the bike and moved to higher ground in the event that she needed to solve her own problem. The route out was beyond her skill level, so I left my bike in the canyon and we rode double on her bike to the main trail. I sent her on her way back to the trail head and warm truck, while I walked a couple of miles back down the trail to my bike, then rode out.

Meanwhile, back in town The Good Samaritan (God love her, wherever she is tonight) evidently promptly called 911 the very instant she could get a cell phone signal. Purple was met at the truck by county sheriff’s officers and a helicopter had been dispatched to search for some poor missing deaf woman who had apparently been abandoned and left to freeze to death in some inaccessible canyon by her psycho boyfriend. It didn’t take more than a millisecond for her to figure out that the “missing” woman they were referring to was HER.

Anyway, she quickly cleared up the misunderstanding, the helicopter was called back, I was spared a zillion dollar bill from the county for Search and Rescue services and everyone had a good laugh once I returned to the truck and the cops were satisfied I wasn’t an ax murderer.


Actually, by the time I arrived to the landing area where the truck was, it was already dark and I was excited to see headlights thinking those people were still around. I quickly realized it was the Sheriff Department and went “uh oh”.  As I pulled up, the officer approached me; the first thing the officer said was “Can you hear me?” in a loud and over enunciating voice. This is a common question when people realized that I’m deaf.  Being a smart aleck, I told him that I can once I take off my helmet.  Luckily he was appreciative of my joke and laughed, whew.  I asked him if there was a problem and that when he told me that someone called into 911 to advise them that Russ has left me out there alone without any gears or supplies.  I started laughing and the officer said “Based on what I can see that you’re fully geared and have the necessary survival gears on your bike” I explain that we always wear full gear and go out prepared.  Then he asked me where Russ was and I told him what has happened and he said that he will let the helicopter continue the search…I quickly advised that it wasn’t necessary since I don’t want to pay for it.  He reluctantly agreed to cancel the helicopter after persistent request.  However, he wasn’t going to let me hang out alone while waiting for him just in case he was an “ax murderer”.

So here to a trip down memory lanes and where the misadventures were the best of times that we ever had.


On Sunday, when most of the country is suffering from the deep freeze, we here in Southern California have had the luxury of enjoying the high 70’s all week which mean it’s the perfect day for a ride! Sorry, I just had to rub it in. So the Ranch Rider decided to head out to Pioneertown for the day.


Pioneertown is about 4 miles west of Yucca Valley, California and 124 miles east of Los Angeles, CA. It was built in the 1940 as a live-in Old West movie set. They built the town with the typical buildings you would expect to see in an Old West movie with stables, saloons, jail and houses. The most interesting fact is that all of the houses used were also live in quarters for the actors while they were on set. They filed several Westerns movies and early television show such as The Cisco Kids and Edgar Buchanan’s Judge Roy Bean.


They even build a bowling alley called Pioneer Bowl in 1949. The bowling alley had six-lane and Roy Rogers (Russ’ idol) rolled the first ball when it first opened. They even hired school-age children as pinsetter until the installation of the automatic pinsetting equipment. Gene Autry frequently taped his show at the bowling alley. According to the Morongo Basin Historical Society, it is the one of the oldest continuously used bowling alley in California.

Now a day, you can head out to Pioneertown to enjoy the famous mesquite barbecue, live music and dancing on the weekend. Off and on since 1972, the restaurant has been providing foods for all kind of bikers. Then in 2003, a couple of New Yorker bought the place and returned its glory day. It is now a haven for indie rock favorite with musicians from Robert Plant to Leon Russell have played there. If’s a too long of a ride, you also have the option to stay the night at the 18-room lodge on site. Each rooms are individually decorated in rustic cowboy themes with names such as “Annie Oakley” and “John Wayne”. They also have 17 corrals if you’re into the other kind of horse power.


All in all, it was a beautiful day for a ride with good friends. Thank you Ranch Riders for putting on another great ride.

Umm...Mr. Mayor?  Can you please hurry up?  We gotta go!

Umm…Mr. Mayor? Can you please hurry up? We gotta go!

Our Story

Last weekend, I ran into someone who has been following my blog and she asked “why do you always say ‘my late husband’ instead of saying his name?” I was actually shocked by her question and didn’t know how to answer it because I really didn’t know why. To be honest with you, I didn’t realize that I did that and had to go back and re-read every one of my post to just see. Sure enough, I didn’t say his name once not even in the About page. So, now let me take a moment and introduce you to my late husband, Russell E. Austin (aka Russ or Lizrdbrth) and here is our story.

My favorite picture of us!

My favorite picture of us!

Over the years, many people have asked us how we met and we always laughed and said that we met at a bar. Yep, at a bar called Incahoot. It was December, 1998 and both sets of our friends wanted to go out before the holiday craziness began. Both of us ended up being the designated drivers for our friends that night. As it turned, out his set of friends and my set of friends actually know each other. Our first introduction was when I bopped Russ in the head thinking it was one of my friend who is a spitting image of him except Russ is taller. Of course, I apologized and we ended up sitting out on the patio shooting the breeze. We enjoyed the conversations so much that we never left the patio the whole night. Our friends kept interrupting us trying to get us to back into the bar all night. When it was closing time, he was such a gentleman walking my girlfriends and I back to our car. That is when he asked for my phone number.

He called me for the first time on New Year’s Eve and asked if I wanted to go out on a date the next night. Our first date was on New Year day 1999 at the Pomona Mining Company. Once again, we became lost in conversation the entire night. He was such a gentleman that night and I was deeply impressed. He wasn’t the typical guys that I gone out with lately. He didn’t jump my pants on the first date. Later when we talked about that night, I learned it was because of the car he was driving, a Pontiac Fiero, the center console was in the way. We both laugh so hard about that.

We had a unique relationship; we respected each other independence, intellect, and sense of adventure. This independence allowed for me to pursue my career, which ended up take me over 240 miles away from each other. For five years, we endured the long distance finding places to spend the weekend together and explore the town’s history. As for respecting each other’s intellect, we learned early on to agree to disagree. For the most part, we agreed on any topics that we choose to pick apart but there were a few that we did not and we were okay with that. As for our sense of adventures, we loved to explore the local history and we traveled near and far whether it was by horse, car or on a motorcycle.

As in any relationship, we had our ups and downs but after 13 years of dating (mind you, we never lived in the same house for all of those years), we finally got married on May 14, 2011. So you may be asking, how did he finally proposed? Well, it wasn’t the kind of proposal where the guy would get down on his knees and proposes with a ring in his hand. It was during a conversations with the kids where we were discussing what to do when the lease is up on the house that I was renting, he made a comment that it was silly for us living in separate houses and that we should be a family under one house. I wasn’t really sure that I heard him correctly. Mind you, Russ has never been married nor have children of his own but helped raised mine and after 13 years I kind of figured that we would never get married. So I waited three days to ask him if I really did hear him correctly. Yep, I sure did. Yeah, I know it wasn’t very romantic but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The biggest lesson I learned from her question was that I was writing for an audience rather than for myself. The other day, I also learned that I wasn’t alone in making that mistake. Another friend of mine who is also a motorcycle writer has done the same thing. At least she figured it out before she published it unlike I did. Writing about my feelings, thoughts and emotions in learning how to stand on my own two feet again has been and still is a huge learning curve for me.