To fringe or not to fringe …was that even a question?

So I think the time has come to look for new chaps. The bottom seam on mine are coming apart, the snaps are broken and they’re starting to be ineffective.

For using those of you who don’t know, I prefer chaps with fringes on them. Some people ask me whether the fringes are just for looks – and I explain to them the story of why I prefer fringes. 

I grew up on the prairies in Canada, and as some of you know the prairies in Canada can be very very cold during the winter times. What this means is that you have to learn that the weather can’t keep you inside or limit what you want to do. On the prairies we got lots of snow during the season and that meant that winter sports was something that I learned to do at a very early age. One of my favourite pastimes was snowshoeing. Every winter I would go out snowshoeing with my father or friends. And I learned that the value of having a jacket with long fringes was almost a necessity . On the prairies the first nations would wear buckskin jackets with extra long fringe. When I am asked why I was giving the explanation that when  snowshoeing, if a person got a stick through the gutting/webbing, it would render the shoe useless. Therefore the long fringe  was not for looks –  they were for necessity. The extra long fringe that adorned  the jacket were used for a temporary fix on the webbing of the snowshoe until a more permanent fix could be made.


Fast forward to riding. I noticed quite a few of the old bikers used to wear chaps with fringes. Because I’m that kind of a person, I asked why do you wear chaps with fringes? That’s when I was told by an old-time biker the reason he wore fringes was because when riding if it started to rain, the fringes acted as a wick to pull the water away from the chaps and shake it off. If there’s no fringes he explained that the wind would actually blow the water around the chaps to the back and then drive the water up and across the underside of the thigh into the crotch. Sounded reasonable but a little bit improbable. And I do admit I am a sceptic. 

Shortly after that, I was riding and got caught in the rain storm. My chaps didn’t have fringes and sure enough as I watched the water kicking up from my front tire, it hit my chaps, wrapped around to the back and because of the wind from the road as well as the front of the engine, it drove the water to the backside of my leg, up the back, under the thigh and to my crotch and my seat.  A great deal of amusement was had when we stopped at a restaurant and the only spot that was wet for me when I peeled off my chaps was my crotch.

Needless to say, I made sure my next pair had fringes.  Low and behold – the next time it rained, my crotch did not get nearly as wet. 

It pays to listen to the ones that have been riding for a while. They know what they are talking about. 

So very soon I will be on the hunt for a new pair of chaps, and – yes – they will have fringes. 

Travel safe. Ride well. 

The Nature of Things

horizon-prairie

For the last 6 months I have noticed a growing trend of photographs showing up on the internet. These photos show grinning stars perched on or astride bikes. Most of them customs jobs or unique models. In some ways it tickles my fancy, in others it  disappoints me. It is the classic case of 6-of-one and half-a-dozen-of-the-other.

When did biking become ‘fashionable’? When did it become the ‘in’ thing? Most of these notable faces have never ridden a motorcycle until it became the status symbol of the new century.

I never rode to be fashionable or “In”. I got on a bike because it was a benchmark for me. I grew up with 2 brothers who owned and rode bikes. I fell in love with motorcycles sitting on the tank of a 1970’s bike in front of a brother who was taking me a ride around the block. Granted at that time it was probaby only going 5mph. And he probably caught hell from Mom when he got home. And there was no such things as helmet laws.

That started me on a journey. I fell in love with motorcycles not just for what they represented and what they gave to me. I fell in love with the wind in my face, the smell of seasons, bug guts on my clothes, stiff leather in my hands, rumbles that were so deep they seemed timed with the thump of my heart in my chest.

When I was 16 I tried to get my father to co-sign on a loan for my first vehicle. It was a 1980 parrot green 250 Kawasaki. In the dusty back lot of a dealership the salesman put me on a bike, told me to ride around until I got used to it. Even then I recall seeing my Dad and the salesman talking as I fought with the clutch-brake-gas combination. When I finished my short foray around in the dirt, reluctantly I got off the bike and walked to the car with my father. That was when the real lesson started. My father stated that “Young ladies don’t ride motorcycles. Only girls who had loose morals – and no daughter of his would have loose morals.” Pretty straight forward and succinct, don’t you think?

When I was in my 40’s, my husband – who had been a rider for many years before me met, decided it was time to go back to riding because we could finally afford to purchase a bike again. After he bought his bike, I finally whined enough (yes, I admit it – I whine every once in a while), and we became a two bike garage. We have never looked back since.

Enough about my past and lets return to the present. What about those that are now ‘just getting it’? Although I am sure quite a few will eventually get it, there are still some who I know for certain are using a motorcycle as a status symbol. As a prop to their latest publicity shoot, or a fashion accessory to their latest wardrobe. They truly will not get it. In a way I feel sad for them, but guiltily in a way I feel happy for me because I know I truly would never be able to stomache riding with someone like that.

In the end I guess I just have to flip down the full face, turn my eyes to the horizon and twist the throttle leaving all of this in a distant memory.

Of course, if ever a photo of Justin Beber riding a motorcycle surfaces, you can be fairly certain that I will be traumatized for life and never want to come back off a road trip ever again.