This is the story of a woman that wants to get her motorcycle license and wants to set a world record too. Deena Mastracci is attempting to set the “Longest distance by a new motorcycle licensee.” She will take her motorcycle license test on June 1, 2016 at the DMV in the Los Angeles area. Then immediately leave the DMV parking lot for an epic journey coast to coast…the hard-way!
Breaking the gridlock of Los Angeles County freeways in a quest that will lead her though the wilds of Alaska into the far reaches of the Arctic Circle. Plotting a course through some of the worlds most challenging county and extreme weather. Traversing the wilderness of Yukon, British Columbia and Alberta Canada. From there, she will cross back into the lower 48 states through Montana,Colorado and Michigan en route to a Pennsylvania finish.
The goal is to log over 9000 miles on her first continuous motorcycle journey. Hopefully breaking the glass ceiling for all new motorcycle riders male or female.
Deena is no stranger to setting records, she has FIVE transcontinental records to her name. All of them in a Tesla P85D electric car. When she told me that she wanted to start setting some motorcycle records, I thought I could magically download my motorcycle experience into her brain. I would soon learn this wasn’t the best way of going about it.
Myself on the other hand, I’ve been riding all types of motorcycles since the early 80’s. In three decades of riding I’ve learned nearly every lesson the HARD aka the WRONG way.
I have more than a few memorable lessons; ones I will not bore you with here. With some serious amount of luck I managed to stay alive. With plenty of time the saddle, I developed what I thought to be a good riding skills. However they were basically a series of self preservation lessons; either self taught observations or tips from friends. To be honest just a mixed bag of bad habits, that I thought was the right way of riding. I was about to have a serious personal growth experience.
It was apparent from the start, that if she is to complete this trip in one piece, we would need at least four things: A motorcycle, a motorcycle license, attend a skills class, and get some gear.
Step one: Was the easiest… We went down to West Valley Cycle Sales BMW Motorrad dealer here in Los Angeles. Where Deena found a used 2013 BMW F800GT. It fit her well, and we knew its previous owner Ellen whom had taken great care of it. Knowing the bikes history and West Valley Cycle’s reputation made the process a painless decision for us.
Step two: In preparation for her license Deena enrolled in the Motorcycle Safety Class. Though she passed the driving skill test she wasn’t scheduled to take the written DMV test for several weeks later. She left that safety class feeling unprepared for the open road. To help ease her concerns , I spent the next few weekends and evenings doing parking lot drills and driving up and down a private road. I did my best to pass down my 30 years of motorcycle experience. She picked up things quickly, but like many new riders she was struggling in the corners.
Step three: About this time we learned about Street Masters Workshops riding school. As luck would have it the next class was before our trip. This is a one day class on a road course at Willow Springs International Raceway. This isn’t a track day for guys that like to drag knees and going in circles. No, this is a simulated road course that is used for training motorcycles riders for the real world.
Saturday morning I drove Deena’s bike up to Willow Springs (as she doesn’t even have a permit yet). I figured I would just sit through the class with her, and this would just be a refresher for me. In the first 15 minutes of the class, I came to an epiphany…This is NO basic motorcycle safety class..they are not teaching you how to tie your shoes here. This is a college level instruction being taught in a way you will not forget. I realized I was surrounded by seven very experienced instructors. This was going to be an eye opener, not a refresher. You can set all the world records you want, but there is always room for learning new skills. This day would be full of lessons for both of us.
The morning class room session was informative and brief. It consisted of a fast moving slide presentation before getting out on the road course. Each instructor keep the training moving along with a well thought out curriculum.
As I watched Deena progress throughout the day. It was obvious that the instructors take great pride in helping each student, giving them one on one feedback after each exercise. No big egos here….just straight talk. Often times I think people let their egos get in the way of learning. Ever heard of the Darwin Awards? If you don’t think you need this class…well you just might be the person i’m talking about. Yeah, yeah heard all the stories…So you’ve been ridden for years and know how to ride….really? I get it, you’re a seasoned rider…and know everything…. Okay. Well I thought so too, until I participated in this class.
This particular class was made up of 53% women and 47 percent men. A mix of new, intermediate and seasoned riders. Bikes of every shape and size were represented from Harley’s to Honda’s and everything in-between.
The class was well organized and before we knew it 4pm rolled around quickly. Class wrapped up and they presented a Sena Bluetooth Headset to one lucky person in the class. It was clear that everyone including myself walked away more skilled to deal with the challenges on the road. I challenge you to spend one day with Streetmaster, I’m confident you’ll come away with a new appreciation for riding.
Streetmasters opened my eyes up to some fundamental information that I wouldn’t have though to even mention to Deena. She came into the class a complete novice with ZERO street experience. After one day in the Streetmasters class she rides better than some people that have been riding for years. The “tools” she picked up may save her butt one day. For that I’m grateful.
You can find more about these classes at Streetmaster.info
Step Four: We need to purchase quality gear, on a working-man’s budget. Both for the bike and our bodies. One thing I have learned over the years is their isn’t any substitute for quality. When I shop for apparel I normally touch the material and try to attempt to ascertain two things: One….will this hold up and two will it be comfortable? My first impressions were the quality of the material. A perfect mix of quaintly thickness without sacrificing comfort. I was blown away at the details in the design that most causal purchasers may not notice. For instance the notched material on the side of the pant leg that doesn’t bind the material when the knee is bent. Thank you First Gear for not pinching my leg when I sit on my bike!
Or an adjustable neck collar for those brisk mornings. The truth is neck sizes vary. Why did we have to wait so long for this feature? Or better yet why haven’t other manufactures caught up to First Gear innovations?
Another thing I noticed was the adjustable knee armored in the pants, something my prior pants didn’t have. The list goes on and on. If your shopping for quality motorcycle gear do your self a huge favor, Get your hands on some First Gear products. In my research for this cross country trip First Gear USA is our choice for comfort, cost and quality.
Bright Lights Save Lives
We not only needed gear for Deena, but her bike too. We trucked the bike up to Northern California last weekend to have ClearWater Lights install lights on Deena’s Bike. We chose the Sevina‘s and the Darla’s. The Darla’s have a yellow removable lens cover seen seen in the photograph above. I believe #BrightLightsSaveLives. I believe all stock motorcycle headlights are inadequate for night time illumination. I used these same Sevina’s from Clearwater lights (seen in this video) when setting the motorcycle cannonball record run from Los Angeles to New York. I got to give credit to my good friend Ryan Sorensen whom recommend the ClearWater Lights to me. I fell in love with them right away. The best part ClearWater Lights are made in the USA.
We installed a new taller windshield on Deena’s bike. The stock one on the F800GT is much to low for touring distances of this length. We turned to ZTechnik the same company I purchased my from when I set the Los Angeles to New York City Motorcycle Record. These are made by National Cycle the same people that manufacture windscreens for BMW Motorrad. She will experience less fatigue with the added wind protection.
Since our first leg of the journey takes us into the Arctic Circle with constant daylight when we reach DeadHorse. To protect our eyes we will be wearing Dillon Optic Sunglasses. Dillon uses an NIR Lens Technology. If your wondering what is that? It is a polarized diffuse reflector that reduces internal reflections within the lens allowing for noticeably sharper clarity.
We removed both stock batteries in the motorcycles and replaced them with EarthX batteries. This drops nearly 16 pounds of weight verses the stock lead acid batteries. Lead acid is over 100 year old technology that is outdated to day the least. We are traveling to the remote wilderness of Alaska and Yukon, I’m not going to risk it we are running with Earth X! EarthX Batteries are designed to be a replacement of a standard 12 volt lead-acid battery, but their nominal voltage is 13.3V so it will spin your engine faster than you would ever believe possible at an 80% weight reduction! EarthX has exclusive features that include a microprocessor Battery Management System (BMS) that monitors the charge level of each cell and balances the charge when needed, protecting the cells from overcharge or over-discharge, short circuit protection and excessive cranking protection (heat). What this means for you is more starting power, longer battery life, and the safest lithium motorsport battery on the market.
Watch Deena’s Epic Journey
Deena’s trip map will be available via a live satellite feed courtesy of GPSInsight a vehicle tracking company. The live map can be viewed starting 6/1/2016 at www.carlreese.net . Show your support and share comments on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.
#AlaskaExpedition2016 #CoastToCoastTheHardWay #GirlPower #BecauseTurningBackIsNotAnOption #BrightLightsSaveLives