Dirt Bike Riding

Just a Little Something Lethal Between My Legs (…i went dirt biking you naughty people)

Imagine the fear and exhilaration of learning how to ride a bike and learning how to drive a manual car all over again, except at the exact same time, and on terrain that you would never normally learn on?

Dirt Bike Riding

Welcome to dirt biking!

And let’s be honest…if you’re going to learn how to dirt bike, why not go to a company that might know a thing or two about dirt bikes, motorcycles, having fun, etc.

Dirt Bike Riding

Welcome to the Honda Colton Rider Education Center!

When I first signed Nick and I up for a dirt-bike riding class, I had no clue what I was getting myself into.  I mean, when we went quadding in Pismo a few years ago, I had fun and it was easy for me to pick up on.

Quadding at Pismo

But I’m also a really big chicken when it comes to mechanical things that are loud, go fast, and that I somehow have to control.  So I was a little apprehensive about doing this, but I just kept telling myself, how hard could dirt biking be?  I mean…turns out I got this kick-ass outfit to wear…

Dirt Bike Riding

And, as I’ve said before, any sport that has its own shoes can’t be bad, right?

Dirt Bike Riding!

And the class size was perfect.  There were six of us plus our instructor.

Dirt Bike Riding

Teaching these classes will clearly be the death of you!  😆

Each person introduced themselves, talked about their previous riding experience and mentioned reason for taking the class.  Some people had friends that had dirt bikes, so they wanted to be able to join in the fun; others wanted to use this as a starting point for street-bike riding.

Me?  My goal was being able to ride in a straight line by the end of the day without crashing.  Some people would say I have low expectations, I like to think of myself as realistic.

Then it was time for class to begin.

Dirt Bike Riding

We started with the basics of the bike:

  • Right hand:  Throttle to control the amount of power you give to the bike (very, very little)
  • Right hand:  Hand brake (this is going to come in handy when I panic and can’t find the foot brake)
  • Left hand: Clutch  (if I ever get to a point where I even need to shift gears)
  • Left foot:  Primary brake (nope.  definitely using the handbrake and risk launching myself over the handlebars)
  • Right foot: gear shift pedal  (tiny pedal, big boot.  Who designed this stuff?)

A few observations….

Number 1:  Do not be fooled by their little size – those dirt bikes are HEAVY!!!  As in, I nearly dropped the thing when I kicked up the kickstand, heavy. Definitely not the same as the little Schwinn bike I learned to ride several (I won’t say how many) years ago.

Number 2:  Contrary to how awesomely cool I looked in those boots, they are also heavy, which makes it a bit tough to swing one’s leg over the bike the first time.  Granted not as heavy as the bike, but they are a bit bulky and awkward when you’re first getting started.

Number 3:  I forgot number three.  I was desperately trying to concentrate on not getting myself killed when the engine fired up and the entire bike started making loud, roaring, vibrating noises at and underneath me  😯

Then it was time to ride.

As I said earlier,  do you remember learning how to ride a bike – a two wheel bike with no training wheels?

Remember learning how to drive a manual transmission?

Remember how both scared the crap out of you the first time you tried either one?


Now put them together.  Except this time without dad there to run behind you holding the fender of the bike for balance, or sitting beside you helping to find the sweet spot in the clutch (never mind that the clutch is in your left hand and not your left foot), and you’re not 5 or 15 any longer and you have a much greater awareness of your own mortality and death, and lord i hope i don’t fall because i really don’t want to break any bones or end up in the emergency room because i just paid off my credit card and i can’t afford the deductible on my health insurance right now and is that a rock, no that’s a boulder, please don’t let me hit the boulder, holy crap i’m going to die, this thing is going to kill me all because i should have listened to my mother and never gone near anything motorcycle related, oh my god how did I get myself roped into this..aaaahhhhhaaaayiiiiiiii!!!!!!

And then, all of a sudden, I was cruising along in first gear.

Balanced, feet on the pegs, and not setting any speed records – but still moving, cruising along in first gear.

And then I stopped and found myself shaking uncontrollably from a combination of fear and adrenaline.

Try again…step-step-roll-throttle-release clutch-feet on pegs-little more throttle and I was rolling along again.  Time and time again I practiced.  It was exciting.  It was frightening.  There were moments where I couldn’t believe I was actually driving a motorcycle….and then I’d do something stupid and start back at square one.  Sometimes I would stall (OK..quite a few times I stalled), other times I accidentally gave it much throttle and nearly launched myself into another time zone, and my turning radius was on par with that of a whale (who may still have a tighter turn than I do).

Dirt Bike Riding


In the end, I met my goal.  I was able to go in a straight line without crashing.  In fact, I went in several straight lines, and turns, and shifted gears, and was able to mostly stand up on the bike, and find the foot brake at least twice.

I’d call that a pretty successful day.

As I changed out of my awesomely cool gear (and those boots), I caught a glimpse of the next level nearby.  Hmmm.  Is there the slightest chance of more riding in my future?  Maybe something faster, leaner, meaner?  Can you see me zipping along in traffic on one of these beauties?

Dirt Bike Riding


If I can stay in first gear the entire time.


Big thanks to Nick and everyone at the Honda Colton Rider Education Center.  If you’d like to learn more about dirt biking or street riding, check out their website HERE!! 

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exercise at all levels

The Time Has Come To Step Up My Workout!

If you’ve read this blog for a little while, you know that I’m always on the look out for new challenges and adventures.  However, since quite a few of my outings include some type of food, I need to make sure I stay healthy enough to remain adventurous (otherwise, how else could I learn how to pole dance).  So when I realized that my daily cardio routine was starting to get a little stale and unproductive, it occurred to me that this was a great opportunity to find a new workout AND try something different.  Surely there was some type of exercise that I hadn’t tried that would prove to be challenging and fun and hold my interest with more intensity than a piece of cake.  So  I decided to give three different workout options a try to see which one was the best fit.

I Start By Finding My Inner Yoga Berra :

I can’t say that yoga has ever held a real strong interest for me.  No offense meant, but it’s always been just a little too…um…earthy for my taste.  But when the opportunity came up to try out my warrior pose in a completely different atmosphere, how could I not give it a try?


It’s yoga at a baseball stadium!!!

Yoga Day at the Big A

As a novice, I wasn’t quite sure if I would be able to keep up.  But as I observed my fellow yoga-goers, I realized that there were a wide variety of levels of expertise on the field – so that helped put me more at ease.  Meanwhile, the instructor was easy to follow and she made sure the practice was challenging but not impossible.  The best part was just laying on the field of a major ball field, soaking in the sun and watching the clouds roll by.

watching the clouds roll by

By the end of the practice, I felt very limber and rejuvenated – but I didn’t really feel like I had “worked out” in the traditional sense.  Good for the occasional visit, yes.  Everyday workout….not really.


Trading in Rocky Road for Rocky Walls:

I’m not going to lie, I have just the tiniest fear of heights.  And falling.  And broken bones.  But for some irrational reason, indoor rock climbing just looked like something I had to try.  Needless to say, I started questioning my decision to give this a try when I walked in and realized that the rock walls went all…the…way…up….there.  But it’s a sport that has its own shoes….

indoor rock climbing

so how bad can it be?

In addition to the whole fear of heights/falling thing, I was a bit worried at first that I didn’t have the upper body strength needed for rock climbing.  But it turns out that rock climbing is not just about arm strength; it also requires leg strength to help balance and push you upwards as well as brain power to help you figure out your next move on the fly.

Indoor Rock Climbing....or, How In The Hell Did I Get All The Way Up HERE????

Indoor rock climbing definitely challenged my muscles more than yoga, but it still felt a bit slow for me.  However, I did get a seriously cool feeling of accomplishment once I made it to the top…

Indoor Rock Climbing

Getting down, however….

Finally, I Try Booty Kicking Camp, (er…Boot Camp):

My last stop was an attempt at a fitness boot camp.  I’ve never really done “boot camp” before because the ones I’ve seen have been in the morning before the sun is up and outdoors in patchy grass parks surrounded by dirt and bugs and…nature things.  But this boot camp was held in a traditional gym at much more reasonable hours of the day and in a setting with creature comforts…like air conditioning and indoor plumbing.

The workouts are a variety of cardio and weightlifting – circuit training style:

Boot Camp Booty Kickin

The cool thing about boot camp was the wide variety of training levels.  There were newbies (like myself), and then there were the more hard-core regulars who were training for a variety of races or events.

Boot Camp Training

Seriously….how long until I’m able to do THAT???

So indoor boot camp wins.  The faster pace, weights, cardio and more regimented routines seemed to offer the challenge and discipline that someone like me needs. This is great!  I’m motivated, I’m ready!  I just know I’m going to burn off all those cookies, cupcakes and all that other crap in my system in no time.  I’m going to feel fit and fabulous!

Boot Camp Selfie
Boot Camp Selfie

…just as soon as I can peel myself up off the floor.

Medic?  Anyone?  Help?


Big thanks to Seane Corne for the awesome yoga practice; Phillip, Lisa, Nate, Junior and all the awesome people at  No Limits Sports and Fitness Academy for getting my butt in gear and to Nick at Hangar 18 Long Beach for making sure said butt didn’t fall and go splat on the ground!!

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The Side Streets Off My Road To Recovery (Day 810)

So here I am at the beginning of the days 800+ on the road to recovery.  I’m still going strong, I’m experiencing more days where I’m happy with my decision than not, and I’m finding myself more and more comfortable in my sober life with each day that passes.  It continues to be a good path that I’ve chosen; my brain is clearer, I’m better at remembering how nights end, and I appreciate more and more that my house doesn’t have that awful smell of stale beer at the end of the weekend.

All in all, it’s good to be sober.

This is not to say that there aren’t still the occasional bumps in the road.  Let’s be honest, if sobriety was easy, everyone would be doing it, right?  But drinking is fun – it’s social, it’s relaxing, it’s tasty.  Trust me; I haven’t forgotten about all of the fun parts of the bar scene.  It’s not easy to walk away from something that’s such an integral part of society.  But when the final call for last round comes in your life, realize that you’re not the first to go through it, and you won’t be the last (even though you will feel like the only sober person in the world at times).

So I thought I would share with you a few things that I’ve learned in my travels.  They’re not meant to scare you off the path of sobriety by any means; quite the opposite.  And hopefully by reading a little about what I’ve experienced, you’ll feel a little better prepared for the road ahead.

Everyone’s Path to Sobriety is Different:

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, your addiction is your own beast to fight.  There is no magic one-size-fits-all recipe to follow when you decide to quit drinking.  Everyone drinks differently, so it stands to reason that everyone will get sober differently.  When you make the decision to stop drinking, you have to also contemplate how you want your recovery to go.  Are you a cold turkey kind of person?  Do you need a support group?  Can you get by with just one or two go-to people helping you out?

Also realize that there are many different ideas about what a sober life is.  There are some some who say no form of alcohol should ever pass the lips ever again – no non-alcoholic beer, no cooking with wine, nothing; the idea being that the slightest whiff of alcohol is enough to put some into a relapse.  Others view non-alcoholic beer as acceptable (provided we’re talking 0.5% alcohol by volume – such as O’Doul’s) because it still resembles the taste of beer and is helpful in social situations.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I have had a few NA beers throughout my sobriety.  Do I still consider myself 810 days sober…hell, yes.  Ask another recovering alcoholic and they may not feel the same way. But it’s my recovery, not theirs.  Did one O’Doul’s cause me to run to the nearest pub and stick my head under a tap?  Nope.  In fact, it actually helped me maintain a sober life on a few occasions.

There is no cut-and-dry way to approach sobriety.  With a clear mind, truly take the time to think about how you want to tackle your demons.  This first step will go a long way to a long-term recovery.

Don’t Get Hung Up On The Finality Of Your “Final” Drink:

“Well, I wasn’t thinking about it before, but now that you’ve put the thought in my brain…,” you may be saying to yourself.

It’s only fair that I mention it though, because at some point you will think of an upcoming event or milestone and suddenly realize you’ll be facing it sober: your 40th birthday, your 50th anniversary, your new home, your new job, on and on and on.  If you get hung up on the drinks that will never be, or lament too much about your last shot – you’re setting yourself up to give up and give in.  When I start thinking about vineyards I’ll never visit or new brews I’ll never get to sample, it can be downright depressing.  But then I remember that I can’t remember my last drink; which puts into perspective why I started this journey to begin with.  The milestones will never stop – regardless of if you’re drinking or not.  But you can always learn new and different ways to celebrate the occasions, and that will go a long way to making your sobriety successful.

Side streets on the road to recovery
Me…celebrating my birthday….with coffee!

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, Sugar:

I was never a huge dessert person…until I quit drinking.  Suddenly, I was ready to order cake as an entree with pie for dessert! Why the sudden cravings?  When you drink, the alcohol can temporarily raise dopamine levels in your brain.  Guess what else increases your happy hormones?  Sugar.   So if you’re a pretty consistent drinker, your body may be accustomed to a certain level of dopamine.  When you suddenly cut the supply, your brain isn’t going to just say, “That’s cool, we can do without.”  No.  It’s going to want you to find a replacement, and find it NOW!!!!!   And unfortunately, if you’re not careful, you may trade in your alcohol addiction for a sugar addiction without even realizing it.  So when you quit drinking, if you suddenly find yourself craving sweets where you never did before – it’s OK and it’s not unheard of.

side streets down the road to recovery

Cake for breakfast is fine…so long as it’s not the entire cake!

You May Become Just A Teensy Bit Judgmental:

Don’t be too surprised if that raucous, center-of-attention, loudly-laughing person at the bar that you used to love hanging out with is no longer quite as much fun to be around as he or she used to be.  In fact, suddenly he or she has become downright annoying when you’re trying to have a conversation, enjoy a meal or watch the game out with friends.  No, it’s not your imagination – you have officially stepped into the quasi-elitist Judgmental Zone of sobriety.

You laugh, but it’s true.

It’s not their fault – just like it wasn’t yours.  After all, it’s not called “Liquid Courage” for no reason.  Alcohol takes away all your fears and inhibitions. Suddenly you are everything to everyone and beyond.  Until you’re on the other side of it.  Then the booze just makes them loud and obnoxious, and unappealing, and clingy, and dreadful.  Were you and your fellow drinkers awesome when you were drunk – hell, yeah!  Are those same people awesome when they’re partying away and you’re stone cold sober…probably not.  Don’t be too hard on them or yourself, just chalk it up to another part of your life you’ve left behind and enjoy the people watching….

…..from a distance.

side streets on the road to recovery
no idea who i can give credit to for this…just thank the internet

Finally, Don’t Be Afraid To Be “The Sober One”

As I mentioned earlier, your life and the milestones in it will come and go whether you like it or not.  As a sober person, eventually you will find yourself in a situation where people around you are drinking and celebrating, and you’re standing there with a glass of water or a cup of coffee telling person after person, “No, I don’t need a drink…thank you anyway.”  Don’t worry.  You’re not the elephant in the room.  You’re not flawed or a failure just because you’ve decided to live the sober life….

Airplane!….still funny when you’re sober

No matter what the internet tries to tell you.

In fact, you’re more self-aware than most people in the room because you’ve taken a hard look at your life and decided alcohol doesn’t need to be a part of it.  Raise a glass of sparkling water and toast your ongoing success!  Embrace your sobriety!  Be proud of it!  At the end of the night, you can still find your car (and be the one driving it home).  You’re not juggling money around in order to pay the rent.  You’re not waking up with your head on the seat and your hand in a toilet.

…not that ANY of these things has ever happened to me…. 😯

Ahh….it’s definitely good to be sober!

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