Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sunshine brings the bikes out

Gorgeous day today, started in the high 40s and now in the low 70s and sunny!

It was a bit chilly on the way in to work since I neglected to put on the jacket liner but it was a pretty good commute in regardless. Actually, any commute on a motorcycle beats the best commute in a cage most of the time. :)

Just wanted to show the difference the more consistently nice weather makes on the amount of bikes I see at the parking lot at work.

Here's what the motorcycle parking area looked like when we still had some snow in the area on 30March07:


Here's how the motorcycle parking area looked today, two months later:

Sure is nice to see Maria having company while I am at work.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Did I find a better riding position? Maybe.

On a separate note, all the riding this weekend had me moving all over the motorcycle to get comfortable after long stretches of riding. Specially on CO160 and its straightforward monotonous pavement, I'd find myself steering with one hand, cruise control on, the other hand/arm leaned back and resting on the respective system case at times.

Today, during a three hour riding stretch, it suddenly dawned on me that my knees were not sore and my butt was not hurting. Seems I had started the day with riding with my boot heels on the pegs and my shins leaning into the fairing. Apparently, this position lends itself to minimizing the knee pain I usually experience on long rides and also minimizes a sore butt.

I had been using this set of riding over the memorial day weekend to ascertain whether I needed a custom seat or not. Now, am thinking I don't. It sounds a bit strange to you probably, but riding with my heels on the pegs and angling the toes down a bit really does help.

My guess is that it eases the geometry of my legs to take the pressure off my knees and somehow also settles my butt into the stock comfort seat to enable me longer stretches of riding!

Of course, my foot hanging in front of the pegs seems a bit ackward at times, I wonder if I can find something like these pegs for a RT? The problem would then be of course to ensure they don't get in the way of me actuating either the brake pedal or the gear lever.

Am thinking something similar to this item from kuryakyn.com

Returning home from Alamosa via Salida on my first year anniversary of Riding

Sunny, with temps ranging from mid-40s to low 80s.

This time last year, I was finishing my second day of the MSF BRC course on a Honda 250 thumper. I racked up a total of 17,410 miles during my first year of riding a motorcycle, not too bad.

We got an early start out of Alamosa this morning, hitting the road by 0730 to hopefully avoid the expected high traffic conditions of everyone returning home from their long weekend. I tanked up at 0738hrs at a gas station where CO160 and US17 intersect.

Took US17 North, and let me tell ya, it's one straight and boring road. Sage brush is all you can see from one end of the valley to the other, that and the occasional small house or rusting decommissioned railcar being used for storage. The Sangre de Cristo mountain range borders the east side of the valley and I watched it roll past as I headed North to where US17 intersects with US285.


US17 ends and US285 picks up and you take it towards Poncha Springs, a few miles later is Salida which means Exit in Spanish. Kind of fitting since it's located at the end of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. To the NW are the Collegiate Peaks, very nice but too far away for me to get a good picture of Maria with them in the background. Besides, I was trying to make time. Little did I know.

So I stopped at a BK in Salida on US50 for coffee and a sandwich. I must have been there perhaps 20minutes taking a break. Usually don't take that long but managed to spill my first cup of joe all over the bench, so I had to get that cleaned up. By the time I got back on US50 heading East I ran into a traffic jam just outside town. Dammit. Sat there a few minutes, kept seeing more and more cars ahead of me u-turn and head back the way I had come. Not good.

Finally, decided to go with the flow and turned around, got on CO 291 heading NW and linking up with US285 again heading North, now towards Buena Vista. I turned off onto US24 and stayed on this rather straight but mildly scenic road all the way past Divide, Woodland Park and finally Colorado Springs and the I-25 Slab.

It had gotten quite warm by now, high 70s and sunny. I elected to ride on in spite of feeling quite warm with my jacket liner on. The traffic on northbound I-25 sucked, but moved. I stuck it out some more but the gas gauge telling me I was down to two bars decided things for me. I got off the Castlerock Founders Parkway exit and tanked up. 241.3 miles since Alamosa in five hours. Not too bad.

Doffed the liner, ahh....

25.9 miles later, after taking the back ways back home via Crowfoot Parkway to Parker and Inspiration Drive to Smoky Hill to home. What a trip, Maria did beautifully as usual and I spent the next hour or so cleaning up both the minivan and the motorcycle from their respective accumulation of dead bugs and their guts.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Riding on the West side of the San Luis Valley, CO

Temps ranging from low 50s to high 70s, mostly sunny with overcast/rainy conditions in the passes.

Spent the morning with the family once again at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. My youngest son Miles and I undertook to climb to the highest dune's peak. We almost made it too, we were perhaps 150ft short of the peak but it was a steep dune to climb and both Miles and I were panting and having to rest a lot. Finally, Miles must have sensed my inner whimpering because he said he'd rather stop and start heading down. I strongly agreed and we headed on down these massive dunes.

We finally got back to the stream that borders the dunes and met up with my wife and older son for a quick lunch. The parking lot was chock full of cagers so I left soon afterwards, planning on meeting with the family back at the hotel. I took these shots on the way out, parking Maria on some small overlooks off the main road: CO150.



Here Maria and I met a couple of British gentlemen on their recently restored 1973 Norton 850s. Unfortunately, one of the had broken down and they guys were working on it when I happened by and offered assistance. They had the situation well in hand they told me and I moved on. They're touring the states on these bikes for the next three months!

Once we regrouped at the hotel, my loving wife issue me an extended kitchen pass and told me to head towards the west side of the San Luis Valley to see what I could find. I left shortly after 1330, tanked up and headed out on CO160 W, past the small towns of Monte Vista, Del Norte until I got to South Fork.

I stayed on CO160 heading towards the Wolf Creek Ski Area and the Continental Divide. The scenery definitely got more scenic the closer I got to the mountains. Let's just say the San Luis Valley is flat and boring for the most part.


After the above picture, I headed back East on CO160 back towards South Forks, here's some of the shots I took along the way.

Snow Shed leading towards Wolf Creek Ski Area and the Continental Divide

The Rio Grande, a river I crossed many times during the ride.



From South Forks I then headed North on CO149 towards the town of Creede in search of a biker loop called "Bachelor's Loop" (never did find it). The town of Creede is a quaint and small town, sitting next to an old mine in the midst of some cool rock formations.

The view from the North end of Main Street

Looking back towards Creede

Interesting "digs" for the Creede Fire Department

It was getting on towards 1730 by this point so I headed on back towards South Forks, here's some shots of the rock formations one sees at Wagon Wheel Gap which is between Creede and South Forks on CO149.



I got back on CO160 and heading East back towards Alamosa and the family. Got home just shortly before 1900, making it about six hours in the saddle, probably less with all the picture taking. A very nice ride. Kind of a nice coincidence since it was a year ago that I first got on a Honda 250 at the MSF BRC course and learned to ride a motorcycle!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Riding to Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO, by way of New Mexico

Temps in the high 40s to mid 70s, mostly sunny skies with some clouds in the afternoon.

I left the house shortly before 0800 and headed quickly down the I-25 Slab, went through Colorado Springs and Pueblo without getting snagged by the many wolfpacks of colorado state patrolmen who were out in force giving out "performance awards" to cagers.

I made it all the way to Colorado City which is South of Pueblo before tanking up at 0947hrs and taking a small break to stretch out the legs. I was back on the road by 1010hrs after having accumulated 133.8 miles on the trip.

I got to the New Mexico state border sign at 1112hrs and took the requisite picture of Maria and the border sign:


Once in New Mexico I traversed Raton Pass, not a particularly overwhelming or scenic pass, nice but that's about it. I was almost through it before I saw the sign that said I had passed the summit. I got to Raton and south of there I took US38, Santa Fe Trail, SE towards Taos. I cruised through Cimarron where I got a bit more gas and wrote down some directions since I did not have a map of NM with me.

On the way to Eagles Nest (I think), saw where this outfit called roadpics.com had setup to take pics of riders as they headed to the Rally. Pretty good idea I thought, people are bound to want a souvenir of their trip to the rally. Here's what I look like on the motorcycle, looks like I need longer pants legs for my riding pants.

What do you think? Worth $20 for an 8x10?

After that, as I circled the Taos Ski Valley to the North, I made my way past Eagles Nest, ran smack into a big biker rally in Red River. The streets were choked with parked cruisers, mostly Harley Davidson and crowds of leather clad bikers. I think I was the only BMW motorcyle to cruise through at this time and drew some attention. In fact the only other BMWs I saw were the Police RT-P Bikes who were pulling over people on the West side of town as they headed towards Red River! Saw three RT-P units in total.

Once I managed to escape Red River's traffic jam of bikers, I headed towards Questa and NM522 North. This lead me to the town of Costilla which is the last NM town before I once again crossed back into Colorado and the road turned to CO159. New Mexico was nice, nothing spectacular about the areas I traversed. Lots of big valleys with scattered mesas and pine forests. Oh, and lots and lots of Harleys, traveling in their herds.

Once back on CO159, I took it all the way San Luis (oldest town in Colorado: LINK)and finally onto Fort Garland where it meets CO160. I saw about three Civil War Reenactors dressed as Union Cavalry, mounted on horses and moving towards the museum at Fort Garland. Turns out there's a reenactment this weekend. I may get a chance to check it out.

I got to CO160 and headed West towards Alamosa which was my final destination and where I was to meet up with the family. I got there at 1500 on the dot and checked in with the wife. After resting a bit, we went out and got dinner at a pub in downtown Alamosa. Alamosa is a small crossroads town but has plenty of choices in terms of restaurants and fast food joints.

After dinner we decided to check out the sunset at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Here's some pics of the dunes.





We're going back tomorrow so more pics to come I am sure. I will not be able to get Maria close to the dunes I'm afraid, they're too far away from the pavement.

About 6.5hrs in the saddle today, did not feel too sore, Maria did great and I've added another state to the list of ones I've motorcycled in!

Friday, May 25, 2007

I've been approved to do a review of Farkle

Got good news via email this week. I had emailed the people at N800 Womworld offering to review the Navicore GPS Software and Kit that is made for the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet.

This tablet is a gadget I acquired over a month ago and now they make a GPS software package and car kit for it. It's got a pretty large screen for my old eyes, built-in WIFI connectivity, can tether to my phone for Internet access, has built-in software to make it useful out of the box as well as a growing list of third party applications since it runs on the Maemo version of Linux so it's open source.


Anyway, enough geeking, go to womworld if you want more details. Back to the reason for this posting. I had emailed the good folks at womworld and they agreed that it was a good idea for a motorcyclist who already owned a N800 to try it out on a motorcycle and see how it does. Their reviews unit is due back to them at the end of the month and I am supposed to get it afterwards.

I've already determined that setting the N800 in the map case for my tankbag won't work due to heat issues since it's exposed to direct sunlight. I'll be trying their car mount which attaches to a windshield instead.

I've been thinking about getting a TomTom Rider GPS for a while now but if I can get the Navicore kit to work on my motorcycle with my N800, that's one less thing to carry and worry about on trips.

Until I get the kit, it's unknown to me whether the screen will be visible in broad daylight or how the voice prompts will sound while at highway speeds. I plan to use my earphones to plug into the GPS of course. Best guess right now is if the screen is hard to see, I'll rely on voice prompts during the testing.

Still this will be my first official review of a company's product under their aegis and with them providing the equipment! Good Stuff.

Going to the Great Sand Dunes National Park this weekend.

Commuted all week, first couple of days were rainy days but no big deal, last couple of days were really nice and sunny and not too hot. The temps today ranged from mid-40s to low 70s!

Tomorrow, the family and I head South to The Great Sand Dunes National Park. The wife and kids will be in the minivan and I will be riding Maria, my motorcycle. I've not decided yet on the route I will take whether or not to ride in convoy with the family or take the less direct routes to the South.

The best part of the trip? It was my wife's idea! Yep, she brought it up totally on her own and threw in the motorcycle time for me. Is she special or what? : )

So, in preparation, I loaded up my Nokia N800 Internet Tablet with all my tunes for the trip down. I took her out this afternoon for about a 90 minute ride with the device in the map case attachment for my BigMak tank bag:

The wires for the headset come out the right side, and exit the bottom of the map case.

In this position, I could see the screen(while stopped)and use the media player controls to select music before I would start riding.

I did not set the screen to NOT blank since I did not intend on dinking with the media player controls while moving. The idea was to test volume output with my earplugs and ensure I could hear the music even at highways speeds. This part of the test went great. Music kept playing, could hear it just fine, heck I had to turn down the volume!

As I was derigging things when I got home, I went to take the tablet out and it was very HOT to the touch! I should have guess the sun would warm it up plenty but it was surprising to me how hot it actually got! The mounting spot I used will definitely not work when I do a review of the Navicore GPS software for the Nokia N800 tablet next month! I'll see at that point if the windshield mount will work with a motorcycle.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Maria appears again on Roadsideamerica.com

It's just a very small entry this time in roadsideamerica.com. Still, I find it pleasing to find her picture, cropped as it is, to appear somewhere other than this blog. As you can see, it's easy to get them to add what you find on the roadside of America's byways that may be unusual. The first entry they accepted from me is here.


From RoadsideAmerica.com:
Denver, Colorado - Giant Metal Cow Statues


Outside the Denver Civic Cultural Center, are the much larger than life metal statues of a scottish angus cow and her calf. [Dom Chang, 05/20/2007]

Giant Metal Cow Statues:
Denver, CO

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More riding in the rain and I get some new riding boots

Temps in the morning in the mid-40s to a highs in the mid-50s. Overcast in the morning and rainy in the afternoon.

Yep, another commute in the rain to get home. The rain was not as heavy as yesterday, just cold and steady. This time I put the vent flap onto the overpants and managed to get home with only a medium size wet spot in the crotch area along with a couple of small spots where the vent flap zippers onto the overpants. The ride itself was pretty uneventful, I even saw another fool out there on a motorcyle, and he was on a beemer as well! : )

I felt the rain was light enough to preclude my putting on the overpant liners, wrong again. Next time it rains, the liner is going on as well as the overpants.

The good news is I found when I got home my ebay purchase of a pair of BEAR brand boots which have a zipper on the side for easy on-off. The plan is for when the dog days of summer arrive here in Colorado, and I ready myself for the ride home in the hot sun; that I can doff the boots easily, remove work pants, put on riding overpants, re-don the boots and off I go....riding protected and cool enough for the short ride home in temps that can break 100 on a regular basis!


Though they're not motorcycling boots per se, they meet all the qualifications in that they protect the ankle area, had non-slip rubber soles, leather, and are vented. I expect my feet will get a bit wet in rain but that's not an issue for short commutes.

Then again, it may "boil down to" just riding in my workpants without the protection of overpants but at least now I can try and maintain ATGATT even in the hottest days of summer. Being a mile closer to the sun makes a difference you know!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My first "really rainy" ride with Maria

Temps in the mid 40s to low 60s. Scattered light showers in the morning with heavy rain storms in the afternoon.

The commute into work was done under dry conditions, it had rained overnight but the roads were mostly dry. I even attended a meeting, mid-morning, at a separate office location and the sun shone briefly on me and Maria as we rode to that location.

By noon however, the skies had darkened and light rain had started falling on the Denver Tech Center where I work. No problem I said to myself, I've got my riding pants and rainproof liners with me!

Kept an eye on the radar throughout the rest of the afternoon as I wrapped things up. Around 1440 or so, I saw a gap in between rain formations approaching the area of town I had to traverse to get home. So I geared up, overpants over jeans(no liner), windproof/rainproof liner under my riding jacket and off I went.

The white dot south of the word Denver lies a bit NW of my commute area, it looked clear didn't it? Not!

I walked outside to light sprinkles and rode out feeling confident on my timing. All I have to say now that I am home is that Mr Radar did not show the rainstorm that I rode into as soon as I was on Arapahoe Road heading west! It started off as light rain which quickly became steady rain and then a heavy cold downpour as I road eastward. Still, not too bad, though I was regretting not having put on the overpants rain liner.

I stopped just north of the intersection of Parker Rd and Arapahoe Rd at the Conoco gas station and put the waterproof cover on my BigMak tankbag to keep the electronics within dry. Did I think to put on the waterproof liner for the overpants? Sure! Did I? No! My jeans underneath already felt wet in the ares where the pants are vented so I decided to heck with it and rode on.

The rest of the way home was in a steady downpour, and typical of Colorado rain, a very cold downpour. I even tried dropping the windshield to its lowest position so it'd help blow rain from my visor and still it was covered in raindrops. It did not impair visibility to a dangerous point but it was annoying. I did turn the heated grips as well and they helped a lot.

Got home safe, with the last five minutes or so feeling quite "moist" in the crotch area of my pants and thighs. Once I stripped off the overpants, saw that most of the water had come in via the vented mesh areas as expected. What I did not expect and on reflection should have, was all the water running down the jacket, and collecting down my pants and pooling on the seat area between me and the tank! I should have put on the liner! : )

Oh well, no harm done, lesson learned and Maria proved herself stable and comfortable in heavy rain. I wiped her down after I got myself dried out and she's ready for the next ride! As I have said to the guys at work, rain doesn't bother me, it's freezing rain that bothers me. This is the heaviest rain I've been in with Maria, before it had been sprinkles to light rain at most. She does just fine in the rain.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I learn how to do a Valve Lash Adjustment on Maria (updated)

Temps in the high 70s to low 80s, humid, sunny and hot.

As Maria went over 30,000 miles, it was time for the 30k service which includes checking the valve lash clearance. In preparation, I had watched a co-worker demonstrate how to do it on his Kawasaki Concours motorcycle. Not exactly the same but the concept of "too loose", "too tight", "feels right" were what I learned that day.

Today, a fellow coloradobeemers member, Mike came over all the way from Broomfield to show me how to do it on Maria herself! He brought the feeler gauges, the newtons/meter torque wrench and a wealth of experience and knowledge. I consider myself very fortunate that Mike deigned to help a neophyte like me. Thanks Mike!

So, in preparation for Mike's arrival so I would not take up too much of his free time today, I took off Maria's tupperware, engine guards and was standing by when Mike arrived right on time at 1030. He showed me the reference materials he'd printed out from the Internet, the tools, and we talked a bit about the whole operation before we began.


Notice the road rash from the two times I've dropped her.

Mike did the right side first, methodically showing me how to find TDC or Top Dead Center which is where the valves need to be in order to do the adjustment. He talked about the BMW approved way of manipulating the valves through the removal of the front alternator cover and moving a nut which rotates the engine. We did not do it that way.

Mike talked about, and showed another way to do TDC, that is to rotate the rear wheel with the transmission in 6th gear. He pointed out the cover to the viewing port one would use to look for alignment marks. We did not do that either.

What we ended up doing is rotating the wheel as mentioned before, with him holding a long screwdriver in the hole where the spark plug is located and watching the shaft of the screwdriver go in and out as the wheel rotated, causing the valves to move in and out of TDC. Once we figured it was at TDC, he showed me how to look for an arrow marking on the gear holding the timing chain. As long as it's pointed 90 degrees out wards, you're close enough to TDC and can proceed to do the adjustment!


Pic from second linked doc at end of posting clearly showing the arrow

See link at the end of this post for the full procedure. I am just going to mention some of the tips he imparted, and some stuff we ran into.

1. The spark plug wire covers, simply pop off. Easy.

2. The spark plug removal tool that came with the BMW toolkit was flimsy, Mike had a heck of a time removing the right-side plug with it. I failed to remove the left side plug with it, ended up gripping the cap with vise grips and pulling it out. Good seal on these plugs! I then used the spark plug removal tool to remove both spark plugs which were in good condition.

3. Rotating the rear wheel to get the valves you're working on to TDC was proving hard to do with just one spark plug removed, we ended up removing the second one as well to eliminate fighting against engine compression.

4. After showing to me the BMW approved way of checking/adjusting the valve lash as shown below.

Feeler Gauges on Exhaust Valves, notice strap securing center stand to front wheel for safety.

Mike showed me the Anton Method where one slides the appropriate feeler gauge into both valves at same time, see below.

Another pic from second linked doc

This second method was a lot faster and easier and will probably be the one I use in 6000 miles when this check is due again.

5. Next time, must remember to drain ALL the oil from the valve covers before putting them back on, as well as wiping up all accessible oil from bottom of valve cover housing. Some dripped out of the left side cover after we'd put the covers back on, caused smoke and concern after we turned the engine on. We removed the left side valve cover, double checked, wiped better this time, and the second time appeared to be clean. No smoke. As Mike said, resist the temptation to torque down the cover more if there's leaks! You will strip the mouting holes. Instead, replace the plastic gasket!

So, now a trip to Sears in order to procure the right newton/meters torque wrench, same one as the one Mike showed me if possible. It made the job of torquing down the mounting screws on the valve covers easy and accurate, preventing the apparently easy mistake of overtightening which leads to strips threads and costly repairs.

This valve lash check/adjustment operation had seemed intimidating to me at first when I started looking into it. I can tell you now it's very easy to do, it helped to have Mike there watching my moves and guiding me through it the first time but I am now confident I can do it again by myself, with no problems. Next major task, throttle body sync, will be watching Mike do his motorcycle in about 3k miles.

Link to "Oilhead Valve Adjustment for Dummies". Great work. If the link does not work, post a request and I can email it to you. It shows the "approved BMW way" of using separate feeler gauges. Great pics to show you the way.

Link to BMWMOA Forum posting of a Valve Adjustment done on a hexhead motorcycle, same principles and hardware is pretty much the same. (Thanks to Mike for the link)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Maria goes over 30!

30,000 Miles that is, more below.

Temps in the mid-40s for the morning commute, rising to the mid-70s for the ride home.

I left work a bit earlier than normal today so I decided to take the really long way home, by way of Monument, CO. I took the I-25 Slab south all the way to the city of Monument. Traffic was not too bad and the weather was gorgeous! I could see dark clouds further south to the East of Colorado Springs but I was not going that far so I was not worried.

I took the Woodmor Road exit at Monument and headed down this two lane, pine forest lined road all the way till it ended at Parker Road. I continued East for about a mile and took this picture of the storm clouds, they were much darker further South but you get the idea:


I then turned back and headed North on CO83 which would lead me on a fast but uneventful ride through Franktown and on to Parker. It was quite buggy today with the warm weather and my helmet visor and Maria's windshield quickly sported the remains of several bugs. I was riding with the windshield pretty much in the lowest position to enjoy the wind and keep cool in the warm temps.

As I neared Franktown, I watched Maria's odometer click past 30,000 miles! Just in time for the valve adjustment lesson I am going to get on Sunday from a fellow Beemer rider.

The ride home was about 93 miles of so of riding, great weather, and no cager incidents. Unlike lunchtime when I went to a local computer store to get some gear and had to do hard, quick stops to avoid getting hit by idiot cagers not looking before pulling out of parking spots or driving really fast through parking lanes. Idiots. The design of the parking lot lends itself to this stupid behavior with the parking lanes going in both directions. Oh well.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Giraffe is back


Sometimes, ok...most times, I take the long way back home after a day at the office. It involves taking Broncos Parkway near Centennial Airport. You take this all the way to Jordan Rd, South to Lincoln in Parker and head East where you can then get on Inspiration Drive.

Its near the end of Inspiration where I always looked for the Giraffe. He'd be my marker to tell me the turn is coming up to get on South Powhaton Rd which takes to Smoky Hill Rd and home.

At the end of winter, I'd noticed him gone. I had thought to myself, well he'd been made out of some rusty looking metal...perhaps he'd finally fallen apart.

On the commute home last week, I saw him or her? again! Back in the same spot in this guy's yard, overlooking the road traffic. I finally took a picture of the giraffe this Friday as I rode home. I am thinking the owner took it in to "refurbish" it for another year of road gazing. : )

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A ride to the Continental Divide (Loveland Pass) and Winterpark

Temps ranging from low 50s in the mountains to low 80s in the front range. Sunny at first, overcast in the mountains, finishing off with a sunny afternoon with encroaching storm clouds.

Pretty good day for a ride overall. I headed towards the mountains after tanking up shortly after 0915hrs. Took the I-70 slab into the mountains, past Idaho Springs about 29 miles until I got close to the Eisenhower tunnel. I veered off towards US6 or Loveland Pass which is the road that goes over the mountain that the Eisenhower Tunnel traverses. It's used by hazmat trucks since they're not allowed through the tunnel.

Here's three shots of Maria as she sits prettily, West of the continental divide.

Looking back towards the East and the Divide

Looking more towards the North

Looking towards the West

I then headed back East towards the Divide and posed Maria next to the "tourist marker" where the US Forest Service had marked the Continental Divide.

The orange sign is plastered with stickers from previous visitors

A bit more than two miles up!

I then headed back down US6, back towards where I-70 and US40 meet. I took US40 towards Winterpark which was the main destination of the day. US40 is quite twisty in some places, when you see the sign that says 15mph turn, they really mean it. There's several hairpin turns on this road until shortly before Winterpark. I stopped once to put the liner into my riding jacket as I was getting chilled, which was good timing on my part. I got rained on as I entered the Winterpark city limits and it was a good excuse to stop and get lunch as it was around 1220 or so. The McDonald's was full of yelling kids and customers so I left them to their noise and instead ate lunch at a Subways Sub Shop across the way.

After lunch I wandered up US40 some more, all the way to Granby where I spotted the sign for US34 leading to Estes Park! The rational side of me hesitated but eventually I decided to ride up US34 and see how far I could get towards Estes. Well, shortly after seeing a sign that declared Estes to be 62 miles away, I saw another sign saying Trail Ride Road was closed for the season.

So I turned around back for Granby. As soon as I started heading back, it was like the weather gods turned a light switch for the sun came out nice and warm, the roads dried out from the brief rain and it was a warm cozy ride back towards Winterpark. I tanked up in Granby and rode on US40, enjoying the twistys again and enjoying Maria's pulling power as she powered out of the hairpin turns and up the mountain side roads.

Once back on I-70, traffic had built up somewhat but was still not bad. I headed towards Denver and elected to stay on I-70 instead of the usual turning off towards E-470 and the southern route back towards the house. I did try and use I-25 South to get home but the stop and go traffic I encountered soon after turning off I-70 caused me to turn around at the 20th Street exit. This gave an opportunity to ditch the jacket liner and vent the riding pants as I was feeling quite warm in the low 80s temperatures that were now in effect.

As I rode East once again on I-70, I could see some pretty ugly storm clouds both to the South and North of me. The winds were going westward based on the direction flags were flying so the storms were basically paralleling me as I rode on the slab. Wheew!

I stopped near home to take a picture of the southern rainstorm:

I am glad I didn't get caught in this storm!

A total of about 321 miles today, perhaps 6.5 to 7 hours of saddletime. Having the seat in the medium position helped somewhat with the knees but introduced some butt pain I'd not had before. At least, I did not recall it before. Still, a pretty good ride, only got rained on a tiny bit while in the mountains and roads remained very manageable in spite of being wet.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Riding to Downtown Denver

Temps from low 40s to low 50s, wide open sunny skies in the morning, with gathering clouds by noon.

Rode down to the Denver downtown area via the I-25North Slab, the initial goal having been to photograph the Capitol Building for Colorado since I had gone to Wyoming's Capitol on a previous ride. I had assumed that since the Cinco de Mayo celebrations had happened yesterday, that there would not be any traffic problems downtown. Hah! Apparently, since they'd fenced off the area near the Capitol and Main Public Library for yesterday's events, they were keeping it fencded off the whole weekend!

This made it a bit more difficult than I'd bargained for and I was able to only get a mediocre shot of the Capitol Building's south facing side. Maria's there in the lower right, patiently waiting for me in a no parking area. Luckily, with the festivities going on, the Denver police were mostly tied up providing traffic control and such.


Once I had the shot I came for, I wandered about the downtown area to see what else I could find to pose Maria at. Near the Denver Convention Center, I saw the Blue Bear peeking into the center. I parked on the sidewalk and here's the bear:


Another sight I found amusing was this giant pair of metal statues of a cow and her calf at the Civic Center Cultural Complex.


As I continued wandering, I spied these murals painted on the walls of a auto repair business. I circled back around, went down the alley, got Maria posed and here you can see the murals for yourself.



Finally a shot of the Daniel&Fisher Clock Tower with Maria in the foreground. This was actually the first shot I took when I got downtown.


Around 1130 I decided the crowds and traffic were getting pretty heavy as people started arriving for the festivities. I exited the downtown area using Colfax Avenue which I rode all the way to where I could take I-225 Southbound back to the Parker Road exit. Once once Parker it was a short scoot home for lunch. The clouds were gathering as I neared home, starting to cluster together in tight formations. There's rain forecasted for this afternoon but we'll see. Colorado's weather can sometimes be very unpredictable.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A short ride under overcast skies

Temps from high40s to low 50s. Mostly overcast with occasional patches of warm sunlight.

Today's ride started with a trip to a motorcycles accessories store in Littleton. A bit of a pain to get to it since you have to use the I-25 slab, head West on Evan through city traffic until you hit Broadway Blvd which you take North for one block. Parking lot was full, and the little lot they devote to motorcycles is miniscule. I parked head in, wrong move, should have tried to pull a u-turn but a motorcycle was in the way.

Went in and after hunting for a bit, found the disc lock made by OnGuard with the 5.5mm locking pin for use on Maria's front brake disc. Comes with a reminder cord that you hook to your handlebar so that you don't drive off with the darn thing still locked onto your brake disc! This apparently happens a lot.


After paying for the lock and gearing up, I rolled my motorcycle backwards until I could turn it and point it out of the teeny parking lot devoted to motorcycles. Not too bad a struggle but I don't think I'll use that motorcycle lot again if I go back to this place.

I headed South on Broadway all the way to C-470 which I took Westbound thinking to go to Wadsworth Blvd and Deer Creek Canyon Road for some twistys action for the new tires. However, I saw the sign for Ken Caryl drive as I rode and realized I'd always wanted to see what lay beyond the cut in the rocks through which Ken Caryl Drive passed.

Turns out it's a small valley, with lots of housing developments. Looked like some pretty pricey houses as well. I wandered about a bit and saw an interesting set of rocks from a distance. I meandered through neighborhood roads, and ended up at some park set up next to said rocks. Here's a pic of Maria next to the big boulders.


After I got out of the Ken Caryl development south on a road just before the cut in the rocks that led back to C-470. This road wound around the valley a bit, nice scenery for the most part. It led me eventually to Lockheed Martin's Deer Creek facility which is next to another set of awesome looking boulders. I did not stop to take a picture though. Sorry.

Heading South a bit more and I found myself on Deer Creek Canyon Road! Hah! I went off onto Deer Creek Canyon and took the uphill ride in a sedate manner since I was stuck behind this pickup truck pulling a trailer. Many bicyclist were out even though the skies were turning overcast and a chill was felt in the air. The truck I was behind finally turned off near the top of the Deer Creek Canyon Road run and I zipped up and down towards Fenders where the local fire station is located.

Checked in with my wife and then headed back up and down Deer Creek Canyon. This time, nothing but bicyclists to watch out for so was able to build up some decent speed, in third gear, to twist my way down back to Chatfield Reservoir. Nice set of twistys, only one point where I had to do some extra leaning and only one other time where I had to gently apply some braking action. Keeping it in third gear enabled lots of engine braking potential and quick power outs of curves.

Once at Chatfield, I headed South on CO121 and took the Waterton Road turnoff since CO121 ends at yet another Lockheed Martin facility. Waterton Road led me to Rampant Range Rd which on a lark I decided to take instead of staying on Waterton and heading home. Rampant Range ended a few miles later at Roxborough State Park. I spotted this delapidated tower near its entrance and stopped for a picture:


I then went down this dirt/gravel road to the park entrance where $5 got me a day pass into the park. The dirt road continued for about a mile and then was suddenly a paved road! Not that I was complaining, just seemed unusual that the road was not paved all the way to the tollgate for the park.

Here's a couple of pictures of Maria at the trailhead parking area. I did not have the time or inclination to do any hiking today.



Heading out of the park I saw this pleasing to the eye alignment of the ridges common to the foothills of the Rockies. I think this is my favorite shot for today.


I headed back North on Rampant Range Rd and took Waterton Rd to US85 South intending to take the usual ride through Castlerock, and take the backway to Parker and home. However I got sprinkled on while on US85 and observed a big rainstorm to the West and more coming up from the South. Sooooo, I took Happy Canyon Road off of US85 after Sedalia. Got on the I-25 Northbound Superslab, from there to E-470 and took the toll road home, exiting at Gartrell Road as usual to avoid the Southlands Mall traffic on Smoky Hill Road.

113 miles of wandering under mostly overcast skies, got rained on briefly a couple of times, felt chilled even after I put the jacket liner back on. More of the same weather tomorrow.