Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Lesson Reinforced about crossing intersections with multiple left turn lanes

Today was the second time this week where I had an idiot cager make a left turn and swing wide into my lane as I was making a left turn concurrently. In both cases, I was watching them closely and sure enough, both idiots swung right in front of me, causing me to brake to avoid being hit.

I am now convinced that when given the option of two left turn lanes, side by side, at an intersection; and you want to make a left, that it's safer to take the leftmost left turn lane to make your turn.

If you use the rightmost left-turn lane, chances are pretty good it seems, that the idiot cager on the leftmost left-turn lane will swing wide and into YOUR lane as you're executing a turn.

Having sat at the stoplight NEXT to the idiot cager means nothing, loud horn blowing means nothing, modulating headlight means nothing. These idiots are oblivious and think they own both left turning lanes.

Beware.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Hot Weather Riding Outfit

Another warm day today, highs in the low 90s and feeling quite humid for Colorado. Sunny and very little in the way of breezes in the morning. Overcast in the afternoon with 40% chance of thunderstorms.

So, with that weather forecast, I managed to leave work a little after 1500hrs and arranged with my loving wife to have my picture taken on Maria while wearing my hot-weather riding gear. The jacket is pretty much the only different thing from my cold-weather riding gear. The overpants are Joe Rocket "Alter Ego" pants worn over jeans with the venting cover removed in the mornings. The jacket is from Firstgear TexMesh I believe. The combination is not bad while moving in this hot weather, but one does feel the heat when standing still at stoplights, stop-n-go traffic, and while posing for pictures!


The boots are made by "Bear", with zipper sides to ease putting them on and off while changing for the ride home. I usually remove the jeans and work shirt, and just ride with the overpants and tshirt underneath the riding jacket.

For anything above 95 degrees, the cooling vest gets involved! If I am doing a long ride, then the compression long sleeve shirt gets put on as well and soaked down.

Hangar 61 - Another Historical Landmark near Work

To go with my previous posting of the old Control Tower belonging to the Stapleton Airport, I went by this building:

View from the SW

A Historical View

A View from the NE

It had caught my eye before, as I explored different routes to/from work. It's located on Mountview and was built as a cement company's corporate jet hangar back in the day when Stapleton was the main airport for Denver.

As you can see, it's seen better days, but now it's been designated a historical landmark and there's work being done around it as part of the Stapleton Development Projects I believe. It and I are the same age apparently, I'd like to think I've aged better that it has. : )

More info here about this landmark. I was drawn to it as an unusual background for Maria, turns out its historical as well!

A blurb from Google:

Hangar 61

The one-of-a-kind, diamond-shaped, thin-shell concrete former hangar out at Stapleton on Friday was placed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties by the Colorado Historical Society.

The 1959-vintage structure, an engineering and architectural showpiece that sits on land optioned by Forest City for other development, is being studied now by developer Larry Nelson for reuse. And there is a potential tenant, Temple Micah, whose representatives attended a Feb. 17 meeting at which the State Register Review Board recommended the new status.

The bottom line: Properties on the state register are eligible to seek grants from the State Historical Fund for structural assessments and repairs.

Hangar 61, built at 8695 Montview Blvd. as a corporate hangar by Ideal Basic Cement Co., is in a rapidly developing area of the Stapleton development. But it also is a rare remaining bit of aviation architecture, designed by Fisher and Fisher and Davis, with engineer Milo Ketchum. It is a showpiece for an era, a technique and a material.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Riding by the Stapleton Airport Control Tower

Back in the day, when Stapleton Airport was the main airport for Denver, and aircraft runways crossed Interstate 70, the control tower for the airport was a landmark of sorts for the locals.

Apparently, back then, the sight of an airliner crossing the bridge on the overpass spanning the I-70 Slab used to regularly cause accidents as people's attention was drawn to the plane instead of paying attention to what was in front of them on the slab.



The tower still stands as you can see, though decommissioned, as was the airport. The land around it is being developed into housing/business/public area communities. I just started a contract with United Airlines and their IT department. This department is located near the old Stapleton Airport, hence the picture of the tower. I see this tower every day now as I commute back and forth on back roads to/from work.

I've been working there since 31JUL and ridden in every workday rain or shine. Mostly, it's been sunny and HOT! The typical Colorado summer afternoon thunderstorms usually happen around 430PM onwards so I have so far made it home with only the occasional sprinking of raindrops. Lots of lightning sightings sometimes though, one afternoon I counted over 22 lightning strikes far off to the East on the plains as I rode home.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A New Way to mount the N800 on my Motorcycle

Those of you who've read my blog before, know I've been trying to find a better ways to mount and use my Nokia N800 Internet Tablet as a GPS device and media player while on my motorcycle.

As a preliminary to investing upwards of $90 or more on RAM mounts and special waterproof cases and visors, I thought I'd try a less expensive (read cheap) route now that I've got my BRM Shelf installed.

Below pictures depict a slightly modified pda holder that was advertised on Ebay as being able to also hold the Nokia N800. It was less than $8, shipped, from Hong Kong so why not I said to myself.

It was designed to use a suction cup and mount on a car's windshield but I hardmounted it instead with three nuts/bolts and secured the bracket to the arm permanently with an additional screw. A little velcro on the top to prevent it from sliding sideways on the twisty roads and voila:


View of the bracket, notice the screw preventing it from sliding off the arm mount

Suction base, more securely fastened now....

The BMR Shelf gives me great flexibility in mounting Farkles


View from the top

Obviously, the unit is not waterproof or resistant for that matter. I don't plan on using the GPS during rainstorms so it'll hopefully be safely stashed in my tank bag under a waterproof cover during such occasions.

Some test riding is of course in my future for this rig, but I rode a bit with in on just with the suction cup and pretty stock and it seemed to do fine. I can lower and raise the windshield without it getting in the way, which was not the case with the mount that came with the Navicore GPS software. I also don't worry anymore about the suction cup letting go at a bad time, such as when riding at speed!

We'll see how this rig does in the long run; and yes, I do need more farkle for all that real estate provided by the BMR Shelf Unit!

21AUG07 Update: Well, you get what you pay for I guess. The racheting/locking mechanism on the mount failed today while I was riding in to work with the Nokia mounted! Luckily, I noticed it in time, grabbed the N800 while stopped at a light and stashed it quickly into my tankbag. The mechanism is toast. Back to the old drawing board.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A short but satisfying Ride in the Foothills

Inspired to get off my lazy butt by the rider mentioned in the previous posting, I went off riding shortly after 0930 or so. The weather was sunny and warm, I think the thermometer on my bike registered 101.5 at the highest point in warmth.

I took the usual back ways from my house towards Parker via Inspiration Drive, once I was near the southern city limits I took Stroh Rd to Crowfoot Parkway and cruised through part of Castle Rock along Founders Parkway. From there it was a short hop to Mooseberger Road with its nice sweepers to CO 105. Headed North from there on CO 105, waving at the occasional rider going the other way towards Monument and points beyond.

I arrived near Sedalia and joined the queue of vehicles stopped south of the rail lines in the town. A long coal train was making its way through town. Where I stopped I had a good view of a fake deer which I'd seen before on my ways to and from Sedalia:



At the time, I remember thinking to myself: "How nice and artistic of whomever put this up for passerby traffic to enjoy". It was only later that the thought occured to me that perhaps the reason this fake deer was placed where it is was to get rider's attention in the dark hours and slow them down when they thought it was an actual deer near the side of the street! Notice the reflector on a post next to it, that'd catch your eye....then the deer.....one's natual inclination would be to at least let off the accelerator/throttle if not to start braking! Ya gotta wonder.

I headed NW out of Sedalia, now on US85 heading towards and taking the Titan Parkway exit which led me south of Chatfield Reservoir Park, Waterton Canyon area, and got on CO 121 N towards C-470.

I broke off heading west on Deer Creek Canyon Rd just before C-470 and Wadsworth. This is a favorite road of mine and today it was perfect riding conditions but a bit crowded with byciclists and slow cages pulling trailers. Oh well, it was still fun to ride the twisty curves.

At the end of Deer Creek, one finds himself at Fenders where a fire station is located. I took Turkey Creek Road North, winding my way past Tiny Town and getting onto US285 North back towards the city.

Before I got on the C470 slab to head home, I made a turnaround to get near Morrison's "The Fort" restaurant. It's a place to get unusual cuisine plus your standard fares. I've never eaten there but it's apparently one of the "must see" tourist spots in the area. I just know it's situated in a scenic location worth of some pictures:





The subsequent riding home on the 470 slabs was unremarkable and incident free, just the way I like it. I was searching for a road that sort of hugs the foothills to the west of the slab which I'd spotted before and at the time thought to search for but then forgot. I did not spot it this time as I made my way southwards, it must be located north of Morrison. Oh well, I'll find it some other day, on some other ride.

114 miles today, so yes a short ride, got home just after the Noon hour. A very nice ride, Maria performed great as always. I noticed a certain binding when downshifting, but only sometimes. I'll have to watch that. Perhaps I'll check the transmission fluid level anwyays.

An inspiration to ride, just ride

Today I discovered this thread on the advriders forum. It's about this amazing rider named Makiko Sugino of Japan. Here's a snip from the thread which intro'ed her and hooked me into reading the rest of the now unfortunately closed thread:

She has been traveling solo around the world on her motorcycle continuously for the past five years. She has logged over 250,000 miles on this trip and is still going. She has toured every continent, most countries, and has been hospitilized three times due to accidents, and yet she still keeps going. As of May 8th, she is in the South West U.S. and is now headed through Texas to Key West then up the Eastern Seaboard, across Canada to Alaska, then back down to California. She is riding a black and blue Yamaha 250 with haphazard luggage, she is pretty easy to spot as I don't think she ever goes over 40mph.

Her travels through North/Central America

WOW

This woman is amazing and if you read the thread, you'll find as I did that she amazed and awed a group of riders who had once thought of themselves as "adventure riders" but now saw themselves as noobies and unworthy in relation to her accomplishments.

And yet, Makiko is reported as the most unassuming person by those riders fortunate enough to have met her on the road. She's got no plans to write a book about her journeys to make money or make herself look great; to her it was just a journey for the sake of doing it.

A Riding Machine!

My regret was finding about this thread too late, she's back in Japan now and I missed the chance to perhaps meet her when she traversed Colorado this Spring. Dammit.

So what's the big deal you ask? After all, famous actor Ewan McGregor and his actor friend Charlie Boorman have done similar things haven't they? Well, that's addressed in the thread above but guys like McGregor and Boorman did it with support crews, cameras, corporate sponsors, big BMW 1200 GS bikes, GPS and some amount of whining I thought. But hey, they did it at least, in spite of my misgivings re some of their commentary, they are still way and beyond the kind of rider I someday hope to become.

However, Makiko did her riding over 250,000 miles, around the world, ALONE, went through three bikes, none of which were above 250cc in engine size!. She worked her ass off for two years to save $33,000 and did the riding on a budget of $10/day! It's just amazing.

Although the thread leaves you with the belief she's not going to write a book/journal/blog about her travels, I hope they're wrong. I hope she does write of this journey, it's the stuff of legends!

Update: And here's yet another woman's who's done something similar! LINK

Saturday, August 11, 2007

and then....it hailed!

Yesterday it was sunny and hot in the morning, I was working from home. Around 2:30pm I knocked off work as planned and went down to the garage to get geared up to get an errand done before riding over to a bar&grill joint called "Illegal Pete's" near the datacenter where I used to work a week and a half ago. Back in the military, we used to have these social functions called "Hail and Farewells" which were used to welcome new unit members and say goodbye to members who were moving on to other postings, little did I know when I woke today that there would indeed be "hail" as part of my "farewell" get together!

As I geared up, I notice, through the open garage door, that there's a few droplets here and there which quickly would evaporate due to the heat of the day. No big deal I say to myself, I've ridden in worse.

As I got my riding boots on it started raining harder and harder and water started pooling and running down the sidewalks in streams, the air got markedly cooler and then.....it started hailing! Yep, August in Colorado. Temps in the low to mid 90s in the morning, thunder/lighting and hail in the afternoon. Not to say hail is a common occurrence around here but geez.

Rain and Hail pummel my culdesac

Closeup look at the hail, I'd say it was no bigger than pea-sized

So I delayed departure, bagged the errand and waited the storm out, I draw the line at riding on top of ice particles, not to mention the fact that hail stings! It was a thunderstorm cell which moved swiftly to the NE after dumping a bunch of rain and hail on my neighborhood. Pretty good lightning display as well, one lightning bolt was definitely too close since the flash to bang interval was nonexistent!

So just shortly before 3pm, the rain was gone, roads were drying out fast and I headed out to the place where the team of folks I'd worked with for the last year and a half were gathering to wish me a fond farewell. The turnout was pretty good actually:





A nice farewell/work get together, everyone seems to be doing well and we talked till about 1730 when I headed home. I nursed a couple of beers for over two hours, since it does not make much sense to drink too much and then ride.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My new Tire Plugger Kit

As you can read from my previous post, the stock BMW tire repair kit that came with the motorcycle proved to be, lacking, and that's putting it mildly.

I asked my local guru of BMW motorcycling, Mike, what kit he was carrying around since he'd recently published his experiences using it in "practice" mode in the comforts of his garage, using an old tire he had.

He made a great posting with lots of pics bmwsportouring.com, another one of the discussion boards I tend to frequent and glean great information from. Here's the link.

I plan to practice using my new Stop-N-Go Tubeless Tire Repair Kit this coming weekend, using the tire that was punctured and replaced yesterday. Here's a pic from their website:


I picked up Maria from the dealer a little after 0900 in the morning. Apparently they'd been able to swap out the tires yesterday afternoon, I should have stayed and waited but they were uncertain if they could deliver at that time. Oh well.

Rode her to work using Parker Road to get to Quebec Rd and from there it's a straight shot north to 35th Avenue and the United Airlines Flight Training Center where I am contracting to help build a new datacenter for them.

It was a hot ride home this afternoon, the thermometer on my bike was reading 102 degrees! I was wishing I'd thought to pack the cooling vest, specially since I had a couple of errands to stop for while in stop and go traffic!

Tonight I must update my maintenance records, the rear tire was swapped out at 37,657. The front should be coming due for replacement around 39-40K miles. The rear, assuming no more punctures, will be due sometime around 47K I think.

11AUG07 Update: Tried the new tire plugger repair kit on my old punctured tire this morning. Piece of cake! No way to actually test it's air retention of course but am confident it'll hold air better than the POS stock kit from BMW.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My First Flat Tire!

Well, I suppose it had to happen sooner or later with all the riding I do. I am pleased and fortunate that it happened as it did and not out in the middle of nowhere but during today's commute to work.

I picked up a sheet metal screw on my rear tire, it was wedged in one of the grooves and slowly leaking air. I don't remember the motorcycle handling funny as I rode to work this morning but there you go.

I went out during lunch intending to ride around the neighborhood around my new workplace. As I rode out of the parking lot, I thought the motorcycle was handling a bit weird, kinda like being on jello if you can imagine that. She also felt kind of low when I pushed her off her centerstand but thought nothing of it.

Sure, if I'd done TCLOCS like you're supposed to before every ride, I would have caught the flat tire perhaps. But then again, she WAS on the centerstand, rear tire in the air as usual so I would not have noticed it being flat would I? I know, no excuse, an inspection even a cursory one would have revealed the damn screw sticking out as it was. See below.

So I exit the parking lot and stop at a light, look at the front tire, looks ok; look back towards the rear tire, and there it was, flat. Damn.

Rolled to nearest parking lot, slowly, and attempted to use the stock bmw tire repair kit. What a piece of crap it was.

Shot this with camera phone, sorry for the quality but you can see where it was.

Went through all three provided patching rubber pieces, no go on air retention in the end. The first one broke going in, second one didn't break but would not go in, then tore. I enlarged the hole and the third went in but would not hold air pressure! Arrrgghhh. The three CO2 capsules, got the tire inflated but not fully, the air leaking out did not help of course.

So, even though I had a small 12 volt air pump, and repair kit issued by BMW, still ended up calling Progressive Insurance who got me a tow truck under their coverage.

The silver lining to this dark cloud was that the guy who shows up was in a Mercedes Benz Van, specializes in motorcycle transport for just such situations. He was there less than one hour after I'd called Progressive, got the motorcycle up the built-in ramp no problems, secured it nicely and gave me a ride to BMW of Denver. The mechanic at the dealer will hopefully be changing out the tire first thing in the morning I am told.

So no harm, no foul. Flat tires happen, I am lucky it happened at slow speeds, tow truck readily available and I had coverage through the insurance company. My first one and hopefully it's a very long time before the next one. I now must research a better to use and more effective tire repair kit for the time when a tow truck is nowhere near.

Moral of the story, be prepared and when that fails, always carry a cellphone to call the tow truck. : )

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I ride in the Colorado 100,000 Foot Ride


Rode a total of 528 miles today, including going to and from the 100,000 Foot Ride's Start and End points.

A pretty good day for riding in the morning, not too hot with patches of sun as we rode in the Rockies following the route laid out by the ColoradoBeemers club who along with Foothills BMW, were hosting the 8th annual ride which crosses at least ten mountain passes whose altitude makes up the 100,000 Foot name for the ride.

The afternoon was a mix of showers and overcast skies for the most part but that did not stop anyone from riding and the rain helped cool things down in the San Luis Valley area.

I rode most of the ride in the company of Glenn who's the IT guy for the BMWMOA and his brother Brent along with another rider they met in line during registration, Dick. The four of us were together most of the day, they were more skilled and rode faster than I am used to doing so I would end up bringing up the rear most of the day. This was fine since one should always "ride your own ride" and not try and keep up with folks in a group if they're moving at a higher ability level than your own. We stopped but briefly during all the riding, so not many pics of this ride. Sorry.

Brent and Glenn

Dick and his R1200S, a very "spirited" rider

The route took you from Foothills BMW in Lakewood, CO, to CO 103 where one garnered Squaw Pass and Juniper pass before getting to Idaho Springs and the I-70 slab. We took the slab and crossed the divide through the Eisenhower tunnel, crossed Fremont Pass and then to exit 195 and took CO 91 down to Monarch Pass. Lunch was hosted at the Monarch Lodge just short of Monarch Pass and here's where everyone stopped for a pulled pork sandwich and chips arranged by the ColoradoBeemers.



After lunch, the four of us headed over to Monarch Pass and then descended through some thoroughly twistie roads on Highway 50, using Highway 114 to get through North Pass.



Highway 114 then lead us through Saguache where it meets up with US 285 and we turned North towards Poncha Pass. Trout Creek Pass came and went as we moved on US285 until we came to where it joins with US24. We continued down the San Luis Valley on roads that were pretty straight and went through Red Hill Pass and exited the valley through Kenosha Pass, still on US285.

The ride ended in Morse Park which is near Foothills BMW. The coloradobeemers had arranged sandwiches/gyros/burritos for us riders as everyone ended their ride there. Lots of smiles all around and no news of anyone getting hurt so it was all good. Dick, being a more "brisk" rider, had sped on ahead of us somewhere north of Fairplay, CO I think.

At the end of the day....great riding!

I said my goodbyes to both Glenn and Brent and headed home using Sixth Avenue to get to I-25 and from there down to I-225, Parker Road and home. It was a long day of riding, some of it at quite a brisk pace, some of it in pouring rains, some of it in high winds which kept our bikes leaned to the left while it hit us. The only thing Glen missed about Colorado riding was hail! That and snow on the side of the road of course.