Kelly’s Korner: Coping with the Heat

Kelly TealWell, hello again! Last time you read my column, I thought it was my final one for TEAM Arizona. Hence the reason I allowed myself to go all reflective and inspirational. But now, thanks to a nice cosmic twist, I’m back, and — this month at least — you’re stuck with observations that are less likely to get you all teary. Heck, maybe you’ll enjoy judging me instead.

That’s because a friend suggested I write about coping with the Arizona heat. I mean, since we have chosen to live in the desert Southwest and embrace the riding life, we should have no compunction about facing the heat head-on.

On a bike, of course.  Sure, right.

Here’s how I face the Arizona heat: From within my car.

When there’s sun and three-digit temps, you will not find me on my bike unless it’s sunset, or close to, and the ride to my destination is short, and the trip home therefore will take place at night. I’m just not as hard-core as I would like to be. My reality is, I dehydrate quickly, even if I’ve been strategic about my water and electrolyte consumption; and, when I dehydrate or am too warm, I get dizzy and spacey. My subsequent recovery time takes at least a couple of hours, often longer. These are not ideal conditions under which to operate a motorcycle.

dehydrationI learned this lesson the hard way. Five years ago, I had made it back to Flagstaff after a week-long solo ride to Idaho. I had reached that mental point where I was itching to be home right frigging now. Most riders understand that feeling, I think. And so I decided to keep going down into the valley, into the extreme heat of the day … in my heavy leathers, helmet and gloves. The outside temperature was 108 degrees. My internal temperature wasn’t far behind. I’m not really sure how I made it home but as soon as I pulled into the driveway and took off my helmet, my husband looked terrified. My face was red — Red Delicious Apple red. I got out of those sweaty leathers and my husband almost tossed me into a waiting ice bath. Thanks to my impatience to get home, I flirted with a dangerous level of heat exhaustion and my body did not return to normal for about two days.

Obviously, not every trip in the heat turns out that extreme. But, for me, being hot and trying to maintain focus and reaction time on the bike is hard. I re-learned the focus lesson, in particular, this summer. I was visiting my brother in Boise and we set out to go dirt biking north of the city. The thermometer hit 100 degrees, long before noon, at 3,900 feet, but I thought, Hey, I live in Phoenix, I can handle it. Once we were on the bikes, I was already roasting, even in the shade. And the trail we’d chosen was like none I’ve ever done — singletrack, drop-offs on either side, loose sand, slippery pine needles. Those conditions required powers of concentration I did not have that day. In fact, neither my brother nor I made it too far. We both were tired, hot and lacking in overall enthusiasm for hurting the bikes we’d borrowed, so we called it a day. For me, most of that was because I was too hot to focus. Here’s embarrassing proof: My borrowed bike — which was a CRF 230, the same model I have in my garage — was not running right and I could not figure out why. Later, I discovered I had the choke flipped the wrong direction. But I was too out of it, thanks to the heat, to figure out the problem on the trail.

arizona sunI think that’s evidence enough that riding in the heat is not for me. And no, I won’t capitulate to the heat by riding without gear. I just won’t. I would rather complain about missing out on riding than be on the road — tar or dirt — without protection.

Again, the few times I do ride in the sun and heat, chances are I’ll be on the bike for 30 minutes or less, and the sun will be down when I’m ready to go home. In these instances, I dump ice water into my cool vest, wear a wet cloth around my neck and keep more ice water at the ready in my Camelbak.

The Arizona heat is not something to mess with; I cope with it by avoiding it as best I can. For me, that’s the right choice. The story may be different for you. I think it’s imperative that each rider learn and know his/her capacities when it comes to these extreme temperatures. If you can’t handle them on the bike, I see no shame in that. If you can, I envy you. But I accept my limits and very much look forward to fall.Kelly Teal Signature




For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

TEAM AZ Rides Europe: Belgium and the Black Forest


Euro Star TrainI pull up to the EuroStar train station and a thought runs through my head, “Yep, you’re taking your motorcycle UNDER the English Channel.”  This is a first for me.  I’ve taken motorcycles over the water via a boat, but never under.  Twenty five non-event filled minutes later I’m rambling down the French countryside and I’m dry as an Arizona desert.  Isn’t life rich?

On my ride through France into Belgium I’m chuckling most of the way.  Just twenty four hours earlier I scrapped a year’s worth of route planning in favor of the route I was now riding.  I decided to ditch familiar Spain in the pursuit of the personally unknown.  I decided, thanks to a chance meeting on the Isle of Man ferry and some keen insight from my English friend Tommo, to alter my course for Germany’s Black Forest.  Fortuitous was the fact that a day earlier the UK’s Motorcycle News highlighted a bed and breakfast that specializes in catering to motorcyclist in that region.  How could I resist?  It was all falling into place too easily….

What did this major plan change mean?  First, I had no accommodations.  Second, I had no routes planned.  Third, while my Spanish is pobre, it exists; more than I can say for my non-existent French, Dutch, German, or Italian.   Was this a dire case of You Only Live Once?

I reasoned my way through my decision.  I can get homestays and BnB stays via AirBnB and other websites easily.  I have a GPS and know how to use it.  While knowing a language is helpful, it isn’t a requisite.  Heck, my English is suspect at best and it hasn’t stopped me from surviving.  Besides, I know sign language!

Belgium…here I come.

Waffles and Chocolate and Frites Oh My!

I navigate my way from Calais to Aalter, Belgium.  I chose Aalter because it places me on a rail line directly between Bruges and Ghent.  My plan is to leave the bike at the BnB when I visit some cities.  Taking the rail into cities means far less hassle and I don’t have to worry about the motorcycle.  Turns out to be a great decision and a philosophy I use throughout the trip.

My first rail trip into Bruges catches me off guard.  The town is gorgeous and the people are very friendly.  I come to understand some of the challenges facing the country (in political turmoil) and yet I feel at home.  It reminds me of Portland, Oregon, in many ways.

The next day I venture into Ghent and am blown away by the architecture and mix of people living a modern existence amongst century old buildings.  Every block brings a new and exciting perspective.  The vibe of the city is a mixture of fresh hope and tradition.  I end my day by skirting the edge of town and poke around some ruins.  I discover a private concert being held within the ruins and I, ahem, invite myself into the show.  Only one way to describe the evening:  magical.  This is why I travel.


Riding in Belgium has been easy and pleasurable, but one element of note is to understand that sometimes (depends upon signage) motorists entering a straightaway have priority.  Sure enough, within five minutes of me riding around Aalter, a driver from a side street pulls out in front of me, and then another.  This is one oddity that will take some practice understanding.

I leave Belgium with great fondness in my heart for that country.  I meander here and there with several nights stay in France and a womble around Luxembourg before I head for Germany’s legendary Schwarzwald.

Sorcerers, Wizards, and Werewolves Await You in the Black Forest

Pension Williams

View of the Black Forest from the Pension Williams balcony.

I’m not one for mythology, but just the name Black Forest invokes a feeling of mystery.    The proprietors of Pension Williams remove any mystery regarding my accommodations.  David and Angela, a pair of British expats, make my stay comfortable.  They cater to motorcyclists and had all the amenities I could have desired, including reasonable pricing.  At one point I was ill and quarantined in my room for almost thirty hours.  They ordered  food for me and even helped me with laundry.  I could not have been treated better.  Plus, every night motorcyclists would gather in the downstairs eating area to discuss riders from earlier in the day.  We shared information and passed along some vital myth busting particulars.

In a theme that would run throughout my entire trip, fellow motorcyclists were often my guide to discovering the best about a region.  Without fail I could ask a motorcyclist about my plans and they would help direct me in ways that ended up maximizing the trip.  I am reminded constantly of the power of social networking and the generosity of motorcyclists regardless of country origin.

In specific, motorcyclists guided me to the B500, a road that carves its way, up and down, side to side through the Black Forest.  If you get a chance…strike that.  Put it on your to do list.  Make it a priority.  These roads needs you to experience them; to feel them.  My motorcycling DNA is forever altered.

B500 Germany

<In Part 5, RiderCoach Bill finds himself running from the Germans in scenes similar to the Great Escape!> <CLICK HERE FOR ALL SEGMENTS

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Stacy Hodges: TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month September 2014!

Stacy Hodges

Mild mannered, thoughtful, and unassuming.  On the surface, Stacy may not fit the archetype associated with the go-fast guys found at racetracks around the globe, but the mistake would be failing to go beyond the surface with Stacy.  His passion for the sport, his desire to improve his abilities, and his fearless approach to riding make him the TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month for September 2014.

We asked Stacy what challenges him most about riding motorcycles.  He pondered his six years of riding and responded in this way:

Learning how to do it right. Motorcycling can be very counterintuitive, especially in the beginning. I wish I knew about TEAM Arizona classes. I could have avoided a lot of bad habits that I had to unlearn once I started taking classes.  Now that I have started going to track days a whole new set of challenges have appeared. That’s what makes motorcycling so fun.

Stacy HodgesWe are always interested to watch the arc of a rider who comes to TEAM Arizona and is motivated to advance their skill quickly.  Stacy attended the Confident RiderCourse four years ago, then followed up with the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic and Total Control Track Clinic earlier in 2014.  We’ll be seeing his smiling face for TC Level 2 this fall.  Why would Stacy plow through the curriculum like a man possessed?  He provides us with valuable insight about his motorcycling future:

Motorcycling has a lot to offer, from off road riding, road track riding, street riding, etc. If one or more of those is your passion, don’t be afraid to do it. You are never too old to chase your dream.  My next adventure involves going to track days and getting my racing license.  It has taken me two years of preparation, but I finally feel ready to take the next step.

We are excited Stacy decided to make us part of his racing journey.  We eagerly await reports of his progress on the track and hope his story inspires some of you to take that next step!

Riders, we want to honor YOU!  Do you know someone who should be TEAM Arizona’s Rider of the Month?  Entering  their name is SIMPLE.

  • Email Bill ( )
  • In the subject line, type “Rider of the Month”
  • In one paragraph, tell us why this rider deserves the title TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month!

Let’s have some serious FUN with this gang!  There are some great stories out there and we don’t want to miss them, so tell us about yourselves!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

TEAM Arizona Riding Tip: MacGyver Your Ride Part II

macgyverHave you ever started a ride in an area that is nice, warm, and comfortable only to end up in a place where the temperature drops and now you’re much colder?  Considering the wind chill factor, in Arizona we can easily go from 100 degree temps to below freezing in a single two hour ride.  So what are some options to help keep us warm?  What would MacGyver do?


Let’s say we find ourselves in a position where our summer riding gear isn’t maintaining body temperature in the face of colder temps.  We can improvise and adapt to increase our riding comfort and safety.  Just like MacGyver, we’re going to offer our best solutions which require minimal to zero expense or access to retail gear shops.  While these options might not be the most attractive or stylish, they’ll get the job done and may cost little to nothing!

  • Shut Your Vent Holes:  Easy and free way to gain a couple degrees back.  Make sure your current riding gear is sealed as best as possible and all of your vents are shut.
  • Garbage Bags:  Yes, you read it right.  Something as simple as a wearing a garbage bag on y0ur upper body can help windproof your torso and provide heat retention (your rain gear works great too if you remembered to bring it).  How do you get a garbage bag?  Kind restaurant shop owners will provide them if you ask.  A nice person at a residence may lend one too.  Wherever there is a garbage container (e.g. gas station), there is most likely a garbage bag.  Some places store their replacement bags underneath the garbage bag in use…worse comes to worse, check it out.
  • pantyhoseShopping Bags:  Stop into a grocery store and slap a few on your feet.  This will help keep the feet warm and in some cases provide a little waterproofing.
  • Pantyhose:  As odd as it sounds, pantyhose can dramatically increase leg warmth and add another layer of insulation beneficial for getting you through that cold snap.  Don’t be shy guys; your safety depends on it!
  • Create Insulation Barrier:  Much like homes use some form of insulation to help stop the transfer of heat from the inside to the outside, we can also insulate our bodies from the temperature sapping wind.  We give thumbs up to crumpled newspaper as air gets trapped in small pockets and prevents the air from circulating between the warm body heat and the outside layer.  In the absence of newspaper, cardboard, foam, pillows, shopping bags, and polystyrene all make decent insulators.
  • Rubber Bands/Duct Tape:  MacGyver wasn’t shy about using duct tape and rubber bands, and neither should we!  We can use rubber bands or duct tape to close areas of apparel that may be giving the cold air access to our bodies.  Exposed skin can lead to frostbite, so make sure none of our skin is directly affected by the cold air.  Exposed zippers?  Duct tape might be used for covering them.
  • Latex Gloves:  In our August 2014 newsletter, we discussed how to keep your hands warm.


cold-bikesYou.  We can’t make it any more simple.  Hypothermia is a real threat.  It can cause confusion, sluggish motor activity, poor muscle coordination, and incoherent behavior.  If there is doubt, then THERE IS NO DOUBT.  If you experience any of these symptoms, pull over immediately and give your body a chance to warm up.  In extreme situations, stop riding.

Do you have any interesting ways for staying warm when the riding gets unexpectedly cold?  We’d love to hear about your solutions.  Visit us on Facebook and tell us your ideas!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

LIMITED TIME OFFER! Rider Training Scholarships

AMSAF rider training scholarship

In an exciting announcement at the end of July, the Arizona Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Foundation (AMSAF) announced that it would make available scholarships for rider training to all residents of Arizona.  This is groundbreaking news for motorcyclists in Arizona.  Rider training scholarships have never been provided on this scale and with the support of so many safety organizations within Arizona.

The funding comes from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (AZGOHS) and from the Arizona Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council (AMSAC).  A mix of Federal and State grant funds directed to AMSAF make this all possible.  It is a pilot program that will be analyzed heavily to see if this scholarship model could be rolled out on a national level.


This program would not have come to fruition if it weren’t for the efforts of AMSAF Chairman Mick Degn and Director of AZGOHS Alberto Gutier.  The motorcycling community will be greatly improved thanks to the efforts of these visionary individuals.

Currently, every rider training program in Arizona, including TEAM Arizona, is participating in this program.  If you know someone who as been riding without a motorcycle endorsement or is looking to ride a motorcycle legally on the roadway, obtaining training is necessary first step.  The AMSAF rider training scholarship is the most cost-effective way to obtain that training.


 For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE


Kelly’s Korner: Riding Changes Everything

Kelly Teal

Kelly Teal BeforeI am such a different person compared to when I decided to start riding. And you are not the same, either. You’re better. More fulfilled, more confident, open to more life. That’s all true for me. I look back at who I was seven years ago and almost don’t recognize myself in that woman. I certainly looked different — fat; drab clothes; unkempt, over-dyed hair — but the inside was in even worse shape. I lacked confidence, assertiveness, direction and, in many areas, hope.

That all has changed. Other resources in life also have helped me to become who I am today, but the whole journey started one early-summer evening on the back of my husband’s bike. That night, I understood that relying on other people would keep me bored and stunted. My husband had asked me for years whether I was interested in riding and my response each time was that it wasn’t for me. My (screwed-up) thinking? I wasn’t the adventurous type, I didn’t trust myself, I was afraid to try something out of my comfort zone. That night, though, something broke. I was tired of the confines I had constructed around myself, and I saw riding as a way to start busting through those walls.

Kelly_NewOf course, I had no clue how much riding would impact my life. There’s too much to describe so let’s go with this: Riding has led to unexpected friendships, experiences, sights, frustrations, answers, philosophies, epiphanies and pursuits. My life is bigger, if that makes sense, because riding creates ripple effects. For instance, choosing to ride boosted my confidence. It gave me the capacity to take on other challenges in my life and make necessary changes. As one example, I’m a CrossFit nut and coach. This from a lifelong non-athlete. There are other, more important evolutions that have taken place as well. The takeaway is that I like myself at last, and helping other people is important to me; I finally feel I have something positive to share.

Riding changes everything. Whether you’ve fallen as low as I had by the time I started riding doesn’t matter. What matters is taking stock of how far you’ve come and being grateful for where you are right now. So, how are you different? What unexpected changes have you experienced? What hoped-for changes has riding brought about in your life? Most of all, what’s next? Keep in touch with me at

Kelly Teal Signature




For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Heather Herr: TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month August 2014!

Heather Herr

We’ve all heard the saying, “Ya have to start somewhere.”  When we’re children and a person we trust tells us these words, they are essentially giving us permission to make as many mistakes necessary as part of the learning process because we lack experience.  What a great way to remove the pressure of failing!

What does the expression mean when you’re 30?  40?  60?  70?  Something completely different because we drag along expectations.  We “have to” be perfect because we now have time and experience on our side.  This kind of restrictive thinking stops many people from fulfilling their dreams and realizing their potential.  Not Heather Herr.  She abandoned restrictive thinking and started a journey towards being, among many other things, a motorcyclist.  For her act of courage and bravery, we are happy to share our TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month honor.

We all know that motorcycling is challenging; the first few thousand miles are especially difficult for a rider learning the sport.  We think Heather captures the new rider experience brilliantly:

It feels like learning how to drive all over again. I learned on a manual transmission, and others who also learned on a manual might empathize – a lot of things happen all at once and it’s a lot to remember! Learning how to time the clutch and the gas for smooth acceleration… At some point, all of that becomes muscle memory. I don’t have that muscle memory on Gonzo (ed: name of her motorcycle) yet. And I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve stalled because I forgot to open the fuel supply line.

Heather MotorcycleOf course stalling isn’t reserved for only newbie riders–experienced riders do it too.  As a newbie, though, we tend to have a disconnect between the image and meaning others apply to us and what we’re actually feeling on the inside.  This kind of incongruence is kindly referred to by Heather as an “Imposter Complex”.  She explains more:

Since I started riding the bike, I get the feeling that some people think I’m a bad ass.  I almost feel like telling them, ‘Wait, wait, I’m new at this.  I go slow!’

As riders, we all understand this and come to grips with assumptions made by others in our own way.  Heather has decided to meet these assumptions on her own terms.  With the strength and confidence of a more experienced rider, she defines her own ride:

Friends and others who ride will be eager to welcome you into the fold, and eager to ride with you. That eagerness might come across as impatience, but ultimately, they can wait for you to be ready. It’s your journey. You’re at the controls and you get to pick your speed.

So much of learning how to ride is about earning a sense of accomplishment.  She loves the moments when her solo riding pays off with better control and refined skills.

I’m conscious that my skills are undeveloped. Whenever I am on Gonzo, I am constantly evaluating how I am riding – what am I doing well and what do I need to improve on. I am probably in my head too much.  But every once in awhile, I catch myself doing something really well. I love the surprise and delight I feel in these moments.

We’re excited to have Heather as part of the TEAM Arizona family.  We appreciate the way she articulates and gets to the core of her burgeoning riding experience.  We think Heather and her “Imposter Complex” will fit right in with this sordid crew of misfits!  We wouldn’t have it any other way….

Riders, we want to honor YOU!  Do you know someone who should be TEAM Arizona’s Rider of the Month?  Entering  their name is SIMPLE.

  • Email Bill ( )
  • In the subject line, type “Rider of the Month”
  • In one paragraph, tell us why this rider deserves the title TEAM Arizona Rider of the Month!

Let’s have some serious FUN with this gang!  There are some great stories out there and we don’t want to miss them, so tell us about yourselves!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

TEAM AZ Rides Europe: England and the Isle of Man

<Part Three of TEAM AZ Rides Europe – CLICK HERE FOR ALL SEGMENTS>


Bill Big BenI thought I’d take a moment to discuss driving and riding around England. For the most part, it is easy to get around. Major cities like London and Manchester are like driving in major US cities: not fun. Fortunately, the English do a good job of positioning themselves in the appropriate lane and understand that slow traffic stays to the outside WAY BETTER than folks in Phoenix.

Let’s analyze this small, yet valuable point.  When riding/driving on the highways, Americans do a terrible job of leaving the inside most lane as a passing lane.  Left lane sitters are common.  This is unfortunate because I notice traffic moves much more easily when people adhere to this simple principle.  What do you think is the motivation behind this behavior?  Are you guilty of this habit?  I’ve done it a time or three myself, but seeing how keeping that lane clear really helps traffic flow, I’ll be removing that habit from my riding.


By the time I reach the Isle, I’ve been passenger in a vehicle for a week now and have driven a car several times myself. Coming to grips with riding on the left side of the road will take some effort. Roundabouts present the biggest challenges as I have to orient myself; I boil it down to muttering to me these words as I approach a roundabout, “Look right, look right.” Slow and steady and all is well.

A few other items present challenges:
• Standard highways are everywhere in England, but smaller country roads often mean sharing a single lane with oncoming vehicles. The English are quite good at giving way and helping each other out. Being on a motorcycle helps make managing space tremendously easy.
• Gas is a bit more expensive than I anticipated. In extreme cases, I’ve paid more than $11 per gallon.
• Driving a stick shift takes a small bit of time to grasp the motor control necessary. A few trips around the block and it is easy peasy.

Time for the Isle of Man.  My friends and I load up into a transit van and make our way to the ferry in Heysham, England.  In three short hours we arrive at the Douglas port and our Isle of Man experience begins.  What is the Isle of Man you say?  Let me explain.


To the uninitiated, I’ll do my best to describe the Isle of Man TT races. Scrub that, I’ll just include a video and you can decide for yourself the kind of lunacy I’m about to embark upon.

Without a doubt, the TT races are the craziest thing I’ve ever witnessed on two wheels. The guys who decide to whip around the Isle at speeds in excess of 190 mph bewilder me. I can’t fathom how they are capable of managing these extreme speeds for such extended period of times. I’m just as amazed at how the bikes can withstand the punishment. Truly, the race is a testament to the indefatigable pursuit of excellence.

As a rider, I am floored by the skill level these riders possess.  As a human being, I am perplexed as to their motivations.  Death is at the doorstep, several riders and participants lose their life while I’m here.  Such is life during the TT on the Isle.

The 2014 races are exceptional.  Racing happened everyday which is unusual because weather typically cuts into the racing schedule; not this year.  I witness a new lap record, Michael Dunlop’s domination of four races, and watch the maturation of several newcomers.   The table is set for 2015.  How can I possibly make it again next year?

<RiderCoach Bill finds himself UNDER the English Channel and at the mercy of a Belgian waffle!!> <CLICK HERE FOR ALL SEGMENTS

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

TEAM Arizona Riding Tip: MacGyver Your Ride Part I

Riding around Europe, we run into a few situations riders might not typically encounter.  Since we have very little luggage space and couldn’t have possibly thought of EVERY riding scenario, inevitably we miss a thing or two.  Happily, the items we haven’t missed come to our rescue.  In this piece, we’ll discuss how to keep those hands warm!


So you set off on your trip and aren’t expecting any cold weather, then BAM!  A cold front moves and suddenly your summer motorcycle gloves just aren’t getting the job done and the grip warmers haven’t seemed to make their way onto your ride just yet.  What do you do to keep your hands warm?

blue nitrile glovesSNAP goes the blue nitrile glove as you place it onto your hands before slipping into your regular motorcycle gloves.  Yep, you read that right.  Latex gloves underneath your summer gloves will help you cut some of the cold your hands experience.  Also, it will help with waterproofing.  You may experience a bit of too much warmth and your hands may start to sweat.  It may not be a perfect solution, but if we are to error on one side, we want our hands to be able to move freely to manipulate our motorcycle’s controls.


The first step is to locate a glove if you haven’t already packed some extras in your luggage.  There are a few ways this can happen:

  • Go to an auto store or any big box store (Walmart) and buy yourself a bunch.
  • Stop off at a local auto repair shop.  Most of the time they’ll empathize with your situation and donate a pair or two (even in a foreign country!).
  • Some gas stations are now providing nitrile, and in some cases, plastic gloves for pumping gas.  In a pinch, these might be the next best thing to having frozen fingers.  Plus, you can use the air dryers to heat your hands before venturing out on your next leg.

Of course, if your hands are losing their dexterity and you’re unable to properly control your motorcycle, we advise riders to stop riding immediately.  Why risk a crash when simply warming up your hands could solve the problem?

Do you have any interesting ways to keep your hands warm when the riding gets unexpectedly cold?  We’d love to hear about your solutions.  Visit us on Facebook and tell us your ideas!

For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

TEAM AZ Rides Europe: Leaving Is The Hardest Part


I’ve been completely packed for two days now, but I find myself making a couple last minute decisions regarding attire. I’m scurrying around my condo when I hear a concerned voice from the living room, “Whatever you do, don’t kill yourself.”

The statement from the kind, attractive woman in the living room freezes me in my tracks. Fair enough…I deserved that one. In my excitement and prepartion for the trip, I made the poor choice of showing her some video about the Isle of Man TT races. I also showed her some of the more daunting riding routes I would be taking. Her concern is genuine and unfortunate. I didn’t mean to create unnecessary worry, but my excitement clouded my better judgment.

I assure her as best I can. “I’ll be right as rain; nothing to worry about,” I say, trying to relieve some of the fear and provide confidence simultaneously. Reality is her concern is warranted. I’m accepting a larger than usual amount of risk this trip and the Isle of Man is not to be considered lightly. Several motorcyclists, including racers, will lose their life this year during the TT fortnight.

Sky Harbor Airport


The flight is a bit more convoluted than hoped. Thirty hours after departing from Phoenix I arrive at my chosen destination of Southport, England. I visit some friends, have a nice meal, and retire at the Bed and Breakfast (farmhouse) they’ve chosen for me. It is nice to be among friends; I’ve missed them immensely. Sadly, it initially seems like all work and no play as they are VERY busy. I can’t wait for the weekend.

On Sunday, the first major event for my trip is the World Superbike Race at Donington Park. I’ve visited several race circuits throughout the years and find the track surface to be outstanding. The venue, however, leaves me underwhelmed. The racing was fantastic and I meet up with Mike, the first friend from the US to join me this trip.

Donington Race CircuitMike and I part ways with my friend Tommo. We leave the circuit and head south towards London with an eye on the Ace Café for the Margate Meltdown rally which will happen the following day. Hope is high when we hit the sack. All we need is for that bright orange orb to make an appearance the next day and life will be good.


Crash! Bang! Ouch! That was the start to my morning as I slip and fall in a handicapped shower at the hotel. It feels like I’ve cracked a few ribs. The pain is immense and the aspirin I brought with me doesn’t come close to cutting the pain. Sonufa!

Not wanting to slow us down, I suck it up and we crack on with our plan to be at Ace Café by 9am. We meet our deadline, but I’m in a world of hurt. Regardless, I find a way to enjoy this iconic motorcycling spot. Plenty of shopping to do be done and lots of cool Ace Cafe stuff to buy.  British sunshine, aka rain, puts a damper on the day. What typically is a 500+ biker rally ends up being about 80 strong.

Ace Cafe

L-R: Mike Essig, author Bill Seltzer, and Ace Cafe CEO Mark Wilsmore

Instead of following the rally in our rental car, we decide to head north where my friends live so I can obtain some type of medical treatment. We take our time and hit a few motorcycle dealerships and sights along the way. Eventually, we return back to the farmhouse in Southport. We spend a few days receiving some local hospitality, including pain relievers, and then make room for the rest of the crew to join us: Jim, Brad, and Jon.

We are ready to head to the Isle of Man where five motorcycles and a cottage await our arrival. Chops officially licked!

<Find out what happens on the Isle of Man when five Americans meet their first UNLIMITED speed sign!> <CLICK HERE FOR ALL SEGMENTS>