Going Off-Road at the BMW U.S. Rider Academy

I’m a fan of proper training. The value of learning from qualified instructors is not lost on me, particularly when it comes to photography and motorcycling. Unlike photography, proper motorcycle training has implications beyond enjoyment and mastery of the pursuit. Health and safety are at stake when honing your riding skills. That’s why I’ve spent so much time at the Motorcycle …

Bringing Home the Baja Mañana Spirit

I recently returned from my first trip to Baja, Mexico. Intent on living my life as well as I can in the moment right now, I rode my motorcycle 1,500-miles south from my home in northern Nevada to the town of Loreto, on the Sea of Cortez. Why travel? The benefits of travel are well known but hard to measure. …

My Forty-Fifth Birthday: Celebrating with Adventure

I’ve published a birthday post every year since 2011. It’s a reflection of my outgoing year as I consider the new year ahead. In that first birthday post, I confessed to my behind-the-scenes health issue. Little did I know how much worse things would get for me. It’s ok to laugh ironically, I promise. I have at least some sense …

Motorcycling Through Northern California and Southern Oregon

motorcycling california and oregon

“Shit!… are you kidding me?!? I don’t know about this. Shit-shit-shit-shit-shit!” (Or possibly stronger oaths.) Those are the words I gasped in my headset to my riding partner as the pavement suddenly deteriorated to something formerly known as asphalt. The sand and gravel covering it didn’t help matters. The unexpectedly unruly terrain had my bike dancing over its surface like a slapstick comedian …

Motorcycling: A Metaphor for Life

Moto Metaphor - Val in Real Life

Throttle therapy is an amazing thing. Lately when I’ve been out on the bike to clear my head, I’ve been musing on how much motorcycling is a metaphor for life. The three concepts that come to mind are: Look where you want to go. Avoid target fixation. Lean and accelerate. Here’s the skinny for my non-rider friends.  And for my …

Carson City Motor Cop Competition

Carson City Sheriff's Office Extreme Motor Officer Challenge 2016

Each year, the Carson City Sheriff’s Office hosts the Extreme Motor Officer Training Challenge. This year marked the 13th anniversary of the event, designed to bring motor officers together for friendly competition, training exercises, and community connection. This year’s venue, Mills Park, proved to be a fantastic site to be able to see all of the action brought by motor officers in …

Embracing Community with Horizons Unlimited

Horizons Unlimited - Val in Real Life

When I attended my first Horizons Unlimited Travellers meeting in April of last year, I didn’t know what to expect. It ended up being a delightful feast of adventurous souls, practical knowledge, and the beginning of beautiful friendships. It was a no-brainer then, to dart off to to the Horizons Unlimited North Carolina event last October. Held at the Iron …

A Motorcyclist Wonders… Can You See Me Now?

motorcycle safety - val in real life

It’s no secret that, in spite of a lot of effort by motorcyclists to remain visible while riding, the all-too-common scenario of “I didn’t see you!” is still the predominant reason riders are involved in crashes. In the UK, there’s a motorcycling acronym: SMIDSY. It stands for Sorry-Mate-I-Didn’t-See-You. It has a flippant tone to it, but this is a very real issue …

On Being OK

val in real life

Today is the anniversary of the crash that changed my life. And yesterday I was out riding my motorcycle. It was an eerily similar scenario as far as weather and timing go: A severe-clear Sunday afternoon. Roughly 50 degrees. Streets somewhat quiet by metro-Atlanta standards. Near home, I stopped into a store to deal with some life stuff. I had …

Forty-Four: Eat the Cupcake

eat the cupcake - val in real life

Tomorrow marks my forty-fourth birthday. I view birthdays as personal new years: a time to reflect, assess, and consider the previous year. Birthdays are usually safe from the turmoil of other holidays so it’s easier to be more thoughtful. This year, more than ever, I’m grateful for the amazing support of the people who love me. And for a fabulous therapist. …