Trekking the Central Coast with Julee McKinney

Trekking the Central Coast with Julee McKinney

Some people were truly born for the open road. The need for speed and craving to explore is in their DNA. You will be hard pressed to find someone more enthusiastic about motorcycles than Julee McKinney. We got to learn all about Julee's love affair with her home on the Central Coast and her boyfriend Jack, a 2016 Ninja1000. Read on to hear more.


ATWYLD: Tell us a bit about yourself. 

JULEE: I’m not telling you my age because my mother taught me I don’t have to 😁. I am a young spirit in an old body. I have 3 amazing daughters and 5 awesome Grandkids. I grew up riding horses and dirt bikes and snow mobiles in the mountains and foothills just outside Grand Junction Colorado. Until I was old enough for a drivers license and to buy my own car. Once I reached that milestone in my life, I packed my VW Bug with all my possessions and headed out…. 
With bald tires, in a snowstorm on Thanksgiving Day in the mid 70’s, I pointed that Bug west and drove “home”. I’ve lived on the Central Coast most of my life.  Although I was a teenager when I first came here, when I landed here I knew I was home. I have deep ancestral roots in San Luis Obispo County and it was a very intense feeling that this was where I was supposed to be, when I arrived.
I have seen the central coast change dramatically over the years. Sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow. But this is where my heart Will always be. We have the most beautiful landscape of anywhere in the world, in my opinion. We have the mountains and the ocean, we have the desert and small cities. We have miles and miles of back roads where I ride my bike without having to deal with traffic (yet).
We have beautiful twisty canyon roads. We have “wide open, throttle pinned, duck down under the windscreen” stretches of road where are you can really see what your machine is capable of. We have roads that allow you to lay your bike sideways and feel the traction and control in a long gentle sweeper. We even have roads with a “Whoop” section! Well it’s more like a roller coaster , but having a motocross background, I call it the whoop section.


ATWYLD: How did you get into riding motorcycles?

JULEE: My Dad always loved motorcycles. I definitely got my passion from him. My sister and I used to "steal" his dirt bike when he was gone... If we were able to start it (sometimes yes, sometimes no) it was GAME ON! We had miles and miles of dirt roads to ride on right in our own back yard. I remember taking turns with her, learning to do wheelies on that old Bultaco dirtbike. I've been hooked ever since. My first husband rode a bike cross country from Michigan to California but motorcycling wasn't something we did as a couple. We did make and raise 3 amazing daughters though.
My second husband was the one who got me back into riding. We rode dirtbikes at a number of great areas in California for off-roading. We took the girls, the bikes and primitive camp gear and would spend our weekends playing in the dirt. Only one of my daughters was bitten by the riding bug, but I think they all liked the dirty fun we used to have. 
After splitting up with my husband, My youngest daughter (Anya) and I got into a small local motocross circuit racing against other local riders. It was great fun, friendly competition, We would also ride and camp in the mountains and deserts at every possible opportunity. Those were definitely some of the best (hardest, but best) times of my life. 
I ended up having to sell my dirtbike after I moved to Washington State in the early 2000's. I was without a bike for 8 years. Anya and I talked about missing motorcycles throughout that 8 year period. I was living in muddy, wet Washington state. She was going to College and establishing her career. A few years later, she met Ashmore and bought a little used street bike from her. I had to have one too! It was my first experience on the street. I bought a 2005 Honda VLX 600 cruiser perfect for getting my street chops. 


ATWYLD: What do you currently ride? You put down a lot of miles throughout the year. What does riding do for you?

JULEE: I've had 3 other bikes since that little cosmic cruiser. I currently have a 2016 Ninja1000 named Jack, I bought brand new in December 2017. I've put 80,000 miles on that boy in the 4 years I've been riding him. Riding is life to me. It's not an option, it's a NEED. It doesn't matter to me if I ride alone or with others. Of course I have met some of my best friends because of riding and I love social camaraderie of being with a group of like minded people who share the passion. But when I ride alone, it's me and Jack...We are one. My intention is to always have Jack in my stable, but I am hoping to get a brand new bike this year to take some of the pressure off Jack. I put a lot of miles on him. I'm hoping to spread the love out a little more over the next few years. I hope to travel longer distances and want a new bike to do that on.



ATWYLD: If you went on a motorcycle trip and could only take 3 things, what would they be?

JULEE: My phone, my ID with emergency contact lists and money.


ATWYLD: Tell us what some of your favorite Atwyld pieces are and why?

JULEE: The Alltime Jacket, the Shred Jeans, and the Lightspeed Gloves. It's high quality, performance gear. I feel safe, protected, comfortable and stylish when I wear my gear. I intend to "up" my wardrobe this year with the overalls and probably a new pair of jeans. Just like my bike, I put a LOT of miles on my gear.


ATWYLD: Share some of your favorite roads in your area? We won't tell anyone ( just the entire internet ) 

JULEE: My favorite roads are Hwy 58 between Santa Margarita and Buttonwillow and Interlake road between Lake Nacimiento and Lockwood Ca.


ATWYLD: Favorite food spot on the Central Coast?

JULEE: Food is never a big draw for me... i prefer to just ride, but a great destination and fun ride is Parkfield California and to eat at the Parkfield café and Lodge. Best grass-fed beef on the Central Coast. 


ATWYLD: Favorite ice cream flavor? We love ice cream :)

JULEE: I’m not much of an ice cream eater but I guess we could say Tillamook Marionberry Pie ice cream if I had to choose one.


ATWYLD: Any women that inspire you?

JULEE: Anya Violet and Ashmore Ellis for where they have taken Women's Riding. The girls I have met through the Women's Sportbike Rally for their shared passion for the thrill of speed. My sisters in Women in the Wind Lady Hawks because they are so constant, stable and the epitome of "sisters." I'm inspired by women with more and equal skill to my own. I'm inspired by women who want to learn or improve their skills.


ATWYLD: A good piece of advice for people wanting to learn to ride?

JULEE: Start on the dirt. Make all your mistakes on the dirt. Dirt riding teaches you how to handle a bike.
Also, I would like to say, Motorcycles are not for everyone its not something you can dabble in. You either have to be dedicated to keeping and improving your skills or you could end up in a deadly situation. ATGATT -Gear should never be an option. And I mean ALL the gear ALL the time.


ATWYLD: Do you have a bucket list of places you would like to ride to? Where would a few of them be?

JULEE: Yes... my bucket list is to ride all the roads. I want to know intimately, when someone talks about riding Beartooth Pass in Montana or some obscure backroad or twisty canyon road in Utah, Arizona, Colorado. I want to ride all the great backroads in California. I know I wont get to all of them, but I sure hope to get to a lot more of them this year and in the years to come.