Gearing Up

I’ve met an interesting and diverse group of people since moving to Warrenton in October 2011. One of those is Dottie Gillman.

Me and Dottie
Me and Dottie

Hubby and I had dinner with Dottie and her husband, Jim, back in September/October. That’s when Dottie asked me about my motorcycle, told me she’d grown up on dirt bikes, and told me how much she’d love to ride again.

So, after Hubby and I enjoyed a lovely Fall Saturday of riding, I invited Dottie to join me on my bike on Sunday for a tour of the Virginia countryside.

She didn’t hesitate a second before saying yes. I showed her some of my favorite roads, we had a nice lunch together, then I showed her even more cool roads. It was such a pretty day, we just meandered around aimlessly for several hours.

Saying she enjoyed it is probably a slight understatement.

When I invited her to ride along with me during my now-annual Santa ride, she quickly agreed to be my elf.

Elf Dottie
Elf Dottie

Since she’d already had the motorcycle “bug” before riding with me, it’s only natural that she started thinking about a bike of her own. Her husband, Jim, doesn’t ride. But he knows how much Dottie enjoys it.

Just before Christmas, they settled on a 2012 Honda Rebel.

The Rebel is the perfect size for Dottie. In case you didn’t notice in the pics, she’s pretty tiny. She says it’s a re-entry bike, but I’d be surprised if she ever feels like she needs more. Especially since I don’t foresee much highway riding or long-distance travel in her future. I could be wrong, though…

Of course, as soon as she started talking about riding again, I started preaching about the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) safety course. Whether you have never ridden or are getting back into the saddle after a hiatus, their basic rider course is a must. It’s required in some states.

I also stressed safety gear. I started on that even before she rode with me.

Hubby and I used to ride in t-shirts and jeans. We’ve always worn helmets, of course. We just didn’t think we needed armor and protective gear.

We were both very lucky that we never experienced a crash, because riding like that is just dumb. Now we are much smarter and subscribe to the ATGATT philosophy… All The Gear, All The Time.

Dottie bought a helmet and gloves first-thing, but she still needed pants and a jacket. So I suggested we go to the International Motorcycle Show (IMS), which was this past Saturday in Washington, DC.


I like the IMS because all major brands are typically represented and they usually have a bunch of vendors selling riding gear and accessories. What I don’t like about the IMS is the number of people it draws. It was crowded. And LOUD. And crowded.

Dottie in her new gear.
Dottie in her new gear.

Did I mention the hordes of people? Yes, that bugs me. It’s also the reason I don’t have many images to share. It was very difficult to get clear views of anything. But, back to Dottie.

I tried talking her into pants instead of chaps, but she had her heart set on ass-less gear. Initially, she was looking at leather, but then we saw some nice, lightweight textile chaps. Although they had textile jackets to match, there were none in the size and color she wanted, so she opted for a leather jacket, which is very cool.

It all fits her very well, too.

Initially, she was going to get the gear trimmed in light pink (pants shown in the picture), which looked great, but also looked “cute.”

No real female rider wants to look cute. It’s hard enough to be taken seriously!

Ultimately, she opted for purple. Which me and some other female shoppers agreed was the perfect choice.

While there, she also talked to some folks about scheduling the safety course.

She even got some snazzy patches added to her new jacket.


I keep telling Dottie that poor Jim probably rues the day she met me. I’ve got to be her most-expensive friend.

Oh, I forgot to mention the best part… as we were approaching the ticket booth, two men said, “Hey, are you getting ready to buy tickets? We’re military and got four free tickets, but only needed two. Do you want the extras?”

As it turns out, Dottie, through Jim, is military, too. (Jim retired from the Navy.) We thanked the guys for being so thoughtful, accepted the tickets, and went in, smiling widely at our good fortune.

We milled about some, looking at stuff. I did manage to capture a few worthwhile images…

Riding is good for the soul.
Riding is good for the soul.



Now THAT is a footboard.
Now THAT is a floorboard. (Used instead of a footpeg on bigger cruiser-style bikes.)


Nice Tank Art
Nice Tank Art




I captured the winch shot to show Hubby. Not because I think we need one, but because I thought it was a nice accessory to have for solo journeys through remote areas. You ever tried lifting a fallen bike? I can’t imagine being alone and having to pull one out of a river or ditch. He still thought it was stupid.

I would’ve liked to capture more images, but there were too many effing people milling about. Did I mention the crowds? LOL.

I did manage to get a half-decent shot of this nice Can Am Spyder touring rig.

Perfect for long tours.
Perfect for long tours.

The trailer is HUGE. It would hold way more stuff than a standard car trunk. There were also side bags and dual trunks on the bike for storage.

Top and front openings.
Top and front openings.

What I like best about the trailer is that it opens on the front as well as the top, for easier access.

Of course, Hubby’s long been pondering a large touring bike — Honda Goldwing or BMW K1600 — for our retirement years. So he thought the Can Am set-up was ridiculously over-priced at $35,000.

I was disappointed that there weren’t more vendors offering gadgets for sale. All I left with was a new set of Rokstraps. But, in my opinion, those are a must-have for any rider. You know, in case I decide to buy anything BIG during a journey.

It was a fun day, but I was exhausted afterward. Which is why I didn’t write this post until today.

Jim was happy about Dottie’s purchases. He wants her to be SAFE, as we all do.

I’m looking forward to seeing Dottie on the road. Aren’t you excited for her, too?

It’s always cool to see women take the plunge, but it’s even cooler when the woman is a grandmother and is not the least bit afraid to start riding.

Way to go, Dottie!

10 Replies to “Gearing Up”

  1. So cool that you have a new riding buddy. I think the purple was a good choice for Dottie. For the life of my I can’t think of why there isn’t any women’s riding gear in more basic colors such as beige or even brown. And good luck finding hi-vis for women around here.

    While I enjoy the motorcycle shows, I am like you, the amount of effing people is really annoying. Good that there is that much interest in the bikes so that the shows will continue, but we found there were a lot of toddlers and small kids running amok at the show last year and that frustrated us some too.

    All in all, it looks like a good day spent with a great friend. And hey, you got to see some bikes too.

  2. Hello Kathy, what a beautiful blog about the birth of our riding adventures to come! God willing, I will be able to pursue this passion once again and feel alive once again! Riding is such an invigorating experience and always filled me with such joy and adventure. It’s never to late to fulfill your passions. I look forward to our continued friendship and the many more friendships I will experience through the joy of riding. I enjoyed our day at the bike show and I am happy I am now completely covered with safety gear. BTW, when I tried my chaps on for Jim I didn’t unzip them. I slid into the chap legs first then belted up…much, much easier especially with my hands. You live, you learn, you RIDE!

  3. Brandy, I forgot to mention the kids. Ugh. I’m one of those folks that think kids don’t belong at events like that. And, if someone does bring a child or children, don’t let them just run wild. although many adults have the same manners as a toddler, so you just can’t win…

  4. Kathy:

    I agree about the two “hotties” buying tickets. If I had extra tickets I would have given them to you too.

    I’ve never thought of you as an expensive friend. You go to swap meets, flea markets and buy old items to refurbish “as new” . I think of you as thrifty and artistic to turn those junk items into desirable items to fondle and display.

    The problem at busy events is not the children, it’s the adults who don’t supervise them nor train them to be respectful of others

    and to Dottie, welcome to our riding fraternity and may you have many miles of enjoyment with your new bike and riding gear

    Riding the Wet Coast

  5. My favorite subject! Glad you and your friend got to enjoy the show. I saw it last month in NYC.

    Purple is a great accent-color for biker-gear. And the Rebel is an excellent choice for her. We want to feel comfortable on a bike, not intimidated, and the Rebel’s small size suits her. Good luck to her. And nice photos.

  6. Rebel’s are excellent beginner bikes, get back to it bikes and for those who are more petite.

    Dottie, I am glad you are wearing gear! My only suggestion that I would make is that you get some kevlar jeans. Having been a person who has slid across the pavement I can tell you that denim does not cut it and abrades very quickly and you at some point in a slide are going to end up sliding across the pavement on your buttocks and it is gonna hurt and you will have no protection there. Don’t mean to scare ya, but honestly having been there and done it if I can save you the grief then I am happy about that.

    Happy riding!

  7. Bob, I’m relatively inexpensive personally. But Dottie has spent quite a bit since meeting me. LOL. You are so right about the kids, too. Ugh.

    ShyB, I think the Rebel is perfect, too. I’ll be surprised if it’s not enough for her in the long run even. I like the purple accents, too.

    Dar, hopefully she won’t experience that. But you know the old saying… it’s not “if” you’ll go down, it’s “when”!

  8. I hear ya about the old saying. I have a friend who rides a look Suzuki DR200 and she has taken that crazy little bike on long trips down long stretches of highway and it has been amazing. The Rebel is an awesome bike. My honda is only 500cc, and honestly I don’t feel the need for bigger or more (However my inner moto diva is telling me I need an adventure touring bike or side car rig)

    I love the purple gear too, I think would rather have gear with purple accents instead of pink. Hope she loves her little rebel!

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