ST I currently live in Tacoma, WA. I’ve traveled all around N. America and for me, there’s no place more beautiful and diverse than the state of Washington. Mountains! Ocean! Rain forest! Desert! Awesome food! I love living in a city where I can walk to shops, restaurants, and most importantly…good coffee shops. Tacoma has a lot going on without the frenetic vibe of larger cities.
SA: Why do you ride or want to ride on 2-wheels?
ST: I ride on 2-wheels because it feels amazing! I love the sensations of riding – the motor, the smells, having a heightened awareness of everything around me. I love being able to access roads and scenery where there are very few people. It feels like I’m doing something unique. The camaraderie of riding with others draws me in as well. Sharing the unique experiences with my partner and good friends leaves me with a sense of belonging and comity.
SA: Have you always been driven to explore adventurous activities?
ST: Much to my chagrin. I’ve skydived, paraglided, bungee jumped, backpacked, scuba dived, and traveled around exotic lands in some precarious modes of transportation. I actually don’t think I’m overly brave – I’m just curious and like to explore new experiences and places. In every one of those activities I’ve had moments of being in paralyzing fear and swear I’ll never put myself in scary situations again. HA! I guess it’s that deep curiosity that keeps me moving forward. The idea of playing it safe and not having new experiences scares me more than the activities.
SA: What would you like to see more of when it comes to women and riding?
ST: I’d like to see more women riding confidently and safely. I’d like to see more women instructing – I’m now and instructor but there’s a need for more. I’d also like to see more images of women in magazines and more gear tailored to women. As industry leaders recognize and promote women riders in the media, more women will see those images, get inspired to ride and then become their customers.
SA: Name 3 immediate things you would like to accomplish in the world of riding.
ST: I’d like to be a rider who: Understands the mechanics of my bike better so that when there’s an issue on the trail I can fix it.
SA: Name 3 long-term things you would like to accomplish in the world of riding.
ST: 1. Instruct more! 2. I think it’d be super fun to lead women on tours in the backcountry to show them how much fun and empowering moto adventures can be. 3. I’d like to write a book that would include my riding adventures but mainly how those experiences relate to other unique and events in my life. For now I have a blog www.ssquaredliving.com.
SA: If you could ride anywhere next year, where would it be?
ST: if I could ride ANYWHERE next year it would be the Middle East.
SA Are you a part of a women’s riding group? If so, which one(s)?
ST I’ll ride with any group of women that enjoys the same type of riding experience…non-competitive vibe, and a lot of laughing.
SA Do you personally operate/own a women owned moto-related business, website or blog that you’d like to tell everyone about? If so, what is it?
ST My blog, www.ssquaredliving.com. Intimate Stories of an Epic Adventure. I’m also one of the founders of SheADV – its not really a business but a resource – its a labor of love for sure!
SA: What was your worst day on a motorcycle?
ST: This is easy. The worst day on my motorcycle was in August 2015 on the WA BDR outside Nile, WA. It was 102 F, my partner Shal and I were ascending a rutted out jeep trail about 6 miles in from pavement. I was hot, fatigue and I had already dropped my bike because I was going too slow and being tentative. I was being very stretched at the moment and feeling scared. I went to change my path to avoid a nasty deep rut to my left, all of a sudden I tipped over to my right and my body was flung down a 5′ embankment into the brush below. When I got up, thankfully uninjured, I saw that my bike was basically upside down on the edge of the embankment. My bike’s side bags, foot pegs and handlebars prevented it sliding down on top of me. After a few seconds the reality of the situation of being in the backcountry with no other people around, and the enormity of my bike wedged into the bank upside down hit me – I cried. Shal had the smart idea to roll the bike down the embankment to at least get it upright and then we could work on getting it back up to the road – somehow. Rolling the bike was easy, but getting it back up onto the road proved difficult beyond our abilities. We worked for 5 hours straight on little food and water to get the bike turned around in a small amount of space situated on a slippery slope. We had to lift the bike over and over, inching it bit by bit to get it pointed in the right direction. In the end we were unable to get the bike up the embankment because, even though it was only 6-7 feet from the trail the ground beneath the bike was soft and steep. We couldn’t power it up and we certainly couldn’t push it up. By 10:00PM it was dark and we were both exhausted and frustrated – the bike was so close to being out, but we just couldn’t do it. Shal rode up ahead to find a camp spot since there was absolutely no flat land. I waited with the gear as she rode off into the dark. This was scary as I watched her ride up the famed gnarly “Baby Head Hill” in the dark to find a camp spot with no idea of how far she would have to go. Fortunately she came to a huge clearing in a 1/4 mile, with plenty of open space to pitch our tent. She walked back down the hill to get me and we collected items we would need for the night, and started our walk back up the hill. We considered our options – our priority was water. We knew we were about 6 miles to the nearest known water source – a campground. We decided that if we got desperate we would walk the 6 miles rather than ride 2-up since the terrain was so challenging. We were certainly not going to separate and one of us getting, alone. We knew the only thing we had to do in that moment was to set up the tent and get some rest. It was windy on top of the hill, which made setting up the tent quite challenging. Since we had cell service we decided to call our friend Tad and see if he had any suggestions. We didn’t call for help early because we honestly thought we could get the bike out. Tad started making phone calls and promised to stay in touch. We got a little bit of sleep, and by 8:00 the following morning a couple from a local overlanders club came to our rescue in their 4WD with winch. Once the winch was set it took less than two minutes to pull my bike up and onto the trail.
SA: Where is your favorite ride?
ST: The Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route. It’s absolutely beautiful, and the scenery is so dramatic.
SA: Do you have a name for your motorcycle?
ST: I started calling my GS Bertha when I bought it in spring of 2012. I named her after Bertha, the massive tunnel-drilling machine in Seattle. I knew my GS could get through anything. But then drill-Bertha started having technical issues so I dropped that name and haven’t renamed her since.
SA: How many countries have you ridden in?
Not exactly sure, but I’ve rented motorcycles and scooters while traveling in Thailand, Bali, Europe, the Dominican Republic. I’ve ridden my GS through a lot of the U.S. and Canada.
SA: Favorite food?
ST: Easy. Fran’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Caramels.
SA: What age did you learn to ride a motorcycle?
ST: I learned to ride a mini-bike when I was 8. I worked up to a Suzuki TS 50. I rode that until I was 11. On a very few occasionas I rented small motorbikes while traveling abroad in my late 30s so the muscle memory was still there. My current GS is my first big bike that I bought when I was 49.
SA: What is your current bike(s)?
ST: BMW F650 GS twin. I love it. I recently rode it 25,000 mile around N. America – inludig 4 BDRS. I also have a Honda CRF 230 that I love for single-track and training.
SA: Favorite post-ride beverage?
ST: If it’s hot out, ice old coconut water. If it’s cold out, a latte.
SA: Funniest thing that ever happened to you on a ride?
ST: Riding with my friend Kay always makes me laugh no matter what the situation. She has the most awesome contagious laugh and I can’t help but laugh too.
SA: What is the most important advice you have ever received?
ST: Keep your head up and look where you want to go. Don’t look where you don’t want to go.
SA: Who inspired your motorcycle dreams?
ST: The people I would see on my world travels who were riding adventure-style bikes inspired me. The rugged-looking gear, the panniers, their dusty faces and of course the bikes fascinated me. I couldn’t imagine what they were doing, how they came to be there, or even where they were from – it seemed like such a stretch to see myself doing what they were doing – but I was intrigued. My partner Shal inspires me when we ride. She doesn’t focus on the obstacles, she focuses on where she needs to go. I’d like to be more like that when I ride.