Sunday, September 29, 2013

Uraling in the 4th Annual Small Bike Ride

It was a brisk 38°F this morning as I headed away from home to ride/cover the 4th Annual Small Bike Ride.

Basically, its an organized ride of vintage motorcycles, to include scooters this year, with an engine displacement of 250cc or less.  The event does not strictly enforce this, more of a guideline, the main thing is to have folks ride with their vintage iron and have a good safe time.

I showed up at the start point first and soon was greeting Mike, who showed up on his '82 Honda MB5 50cc Motorcycle.  This model was only imported into the US for one year apparently, and Mike set a record with his on the Salt Flats of Utah with a speed of 60.757 MPH!

The rest of the riders and participants started tricking in soon afterwards.  Time was spent in greetings, viewing of motorcycles and scooters and the taking of pictures.  

 Two of the four scooters that rode in the SBR today.
Both these Vespas have done the Tail of the Dragon by the way.
The scooter riders were Amy W. and Monica D.

 The third scooter was a Genuine Stella, note the cool way it carries
a spare wheel/tire!

 Ride organizer's motorcycle, a very nice looking
1972 Benelli SS250 250cc 4 stroke

 Fellow organizer Tim Noreen's ride, a Honda CB160

.Honda CB200 ridden by Allison.

 The next smallest displacement ride, a 1968 Honda 90cc scooter

1972 Yamaha R5 350cc ridden by Dana R

a 125cc Moto Guzzi

The route covered twisty curves and turns that led the riders from the start at Deer Creek Canyon Road, onto North Turkey Creek Road, crossing under US285 and from there to the junction with CO73 near Conifer.  The riders would then wind their way into Conifer, then after fueling up and a brief rest, a ride south down Foxton Road towards South Platte River Road.

After meandering by the river, the riders would end up heading north on CO126, transiting through Sphinx Park and by the Bucksnort Saloon.  From there it is twisty narrow roads all the way back to US285 and a short hop westward to Pine Junction and a lunch at the Crossroads Cafe.  For reasons unknown to me, the cafe only had one person working as wait staff.  Our little group of riders basically overwhelmed the place and one of our riders, Kelly, took on the job of waiter for our group!

Kelly, in the red shirt, steps in as waiter for the SBR group.

I left about 20 minutes ahead of the group, wanting to get some time to position myself for the last video capture of the day and to take pictures of Valencia.

 The SBR Contingent

Valencia on CO126

The return route would take us back along South Platte River road, up Foxton Road and through a rural neighborhood.  We would eventually surface on Pleasant Park road which we would take to where it becomes High Grade Road.  It was downhill twists and turns back to Deer Creek Canyon road and to the location where we'd started riding in the morning.

Everyone made it back, no one broke down and fun was had by all, a successful ride to be sure.

As folks bade each other goodbye, I took my own leave and rode home via the C470 Super Slab.  Quite a different experience, riding with a group of Vintage bikes of small engine displacements.  For once, Valencia was one of the faster motorcycles!  A novel experience for both of us.

Here's a link to last year's SBR: LINK.

Monday, September 23, 2013

First Day of Fall Sunrise

Ah yes, the Fall Season, with its cooler temperatures, promise of snow and the turning of the leaves coloring; is my second favorite riding season.

I woke before dawn on Sunday, my internal clock probably sensing the oncoming season change, and I rode out of my still sleeping neighborhood to find a spot to pose Valencia, my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig, by the light of a gorgeous dawn's incipient sunrise.

Timing dictated the nearest location, in this case, the parking lot of the Home Depot in the Southlands Shopping Mall.

 Fall Season's First Dawn

Cropped version of above scene

Lovely colors, don't you think?  I am hoping it presages a very good Fall riding season for all of us.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The 2013 Civilian Top Gun Riding Competition

Yesterday, Saturday, T3RG Motorcycle Schools, whom I learned to ride with, hosted their annual Civilian Top Gun Riding Competition.  Similar to the annual event held for Law Enforcement Motor Officers, but for civilians only, this event showcases the riding skills of two classes of riders:  First are the Cruiser/Baggers riders, basically large Harley Davidson and other marques.  Second would be smaller and faster sport motorcycles.

The riders were competing for not only bragging rights but a $1000 purse, with second place being a $400 gift certificate from Fay Myers Motorcycle, on whose parking lot the event was set up.

The competition course or range was designed by Kevin (Sarge) Ratzell, a 30+ year veteran of the Colorado Highway Patrol and currently one of the riders who support the Ironman Triathlons.  Today's course closely mimic'ed the course on which the Law Enforcement Top Guns competition is run..

I met and talked to some of the riders who were competing, such as Marc Ward, 2010's Top Gun winner:
Marc Ward and his '09 HD Road King

Mark came all the way from Georgia, partly to compete and defend his title for this competition.  The last time I talked to Mark was back in 2009, he'd been part of a demo team for T3RG Motorcycle Schools:  LINK.

I also met a couple of T3RG's motorcycle instructors:  Bob Ucman who teaches their civilian Top Gun Rider Training Course, and in real life sells fastener hardware to the defense and space industry; and Tony, active Air Force/Space Operations, who teaches both the Basic Rider Course and what used to be called the Experienced Rider Course but is now known as BRC-2.  Both instructors showed great skills negotiating the course, with Bob competing and Tony just riding it for fun afterwards.

Turns out, Tony's motorcycle, a BMW R1200 GS Adventure, wasn't allowed to compete as it was deemed to have unfair advantage over the cruisers.  Kind of a back-handed compliment, in a way.

Tony, one of T3RG's BRC instructors on his BMW R1200 GSA

Video shot with iphone camera, the battery on my Lumix was completely drained by this time of day

I also met, in the sportbike class, a rider who in my mind exceeded the requirements to be called a tough rider!  Samuel Meigs, on his way to work this past Friday had himself a motorcycle accident resulting in a lowside fall.  His motorcycle preceded him in a slide across three lanes of active traffic before both came to a stop.  Samuel suffered a bruise on his right leg/hip area (right where his wallet was) and though wearing a riding jacket, got a bit of road rash on his right forearm.

So what does Samuel do?  He goes to work after being treated on scene by an ambulance, then at noon shows up at Fay Meyers for the practice runs in preparation to today's competition!  His motivation to compete, according to Samuel, to get the experience of riding a Top Gun Motorcycle Rider Course, for the small cost of the entrance fee!  He had wanted to train, to become a better rider; heck he had even missed the small detail of the $1000 prize for first place!

Samuel Meigs, hard core rider

Though injured, Samuel competed today, was doing pretty good till he missed one of the patterns and pretty much was disqualified.  He was riding with an ice pack on his hip, and a bandaged forearm; he truly is a tough rider!  Not only that, the motorcycle he rode was the one in the accident, a motorcycle he'd personally assembled from parts resulting from an incomplete "customization job" by someone else; an '82 Yamaha XJ750.

I didn't have much luck with action shots of the riders, relying instead of videos shot using my regular Panasonic Lumix Point and Shoot and my GoPro Camera.  The GoPro stuff came out OK but I found the Point and Shoot's video much more usable.  I hope you enjoy the videos.

Quite an enjoyable day under the fierce Colorado sunshine, it was quite warm with temperatures in the 80s but everyone seemed to have a good time and T3RG is donating the proceeds of the event to The Mission Continues…

 Here's the Cruiser/Bagger Class Top Gun winner: Craig Brooks, to his
right is Colleen, who owns T3RG Motorcycle schools.  Flanking them are reps from the event
sponsors, Fay Myers and Ralph Schomp Automotive

The competitors for the Cruiser/Bagger Class

 Bryan Penney, the winning rider for the Sports Bike Class

Bryan Penney, winner of the Sportsbike Class
flanked by reps from Fay Myers and Ralph Schomp Automotive
with Colleen on the right.

And no, I didn't ask to run through the course while riding Valencia.....the gates were too narrow for her "girth"!  .

As the course was taken down, I chatted with Craig Brooks, who won the Cruiser/Bagger class and who competed and finished in the top 5 in the sportbike class.  We were joined by his lovely wife Tara who asked that Herman, their stuffed "hog", be allowed to pose on Valencia.  How could I say no?

Iphone photo, it wasn't doing well getting the right exposure
settings under the bright sun!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Driving Martha to DIA

Martha is in the air by now, flying back to Wisconsin to attend a Memorial Service for her Great-Aunt.  We rode to the airport this morning on Valencia, my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig.

It was a brisk 50°F and sunny and one could feel the chill in the air trying to seep into the edges of one's riding gear as we took the E-470 Tollway to DIA or Denver International Airport.

Ms Martha at the airport

I got Martha to the airport, safe and sound.  Then I took the back roads towards home.  I found myself in foggy conditions on Monaghan Road and paused for a picture:

Soon after the above picture, the rising sun burned off the fog and it was clear and sunny conditions all the way back home.  Martha comes home Sunday, I'll try to get some more pictures then.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Still here, in between rain storms

Hi Folks, got an email from a fellow moto-blogger concerned about myself and my family as Colorado is in the news both nationally and internationally with the ongoing rains and floods.

The situation is of course tragic and at times desperate for a lot of folks living to the North and North West of the Denver Metro Area.  Local governments are overwhelmed due to the magnitude of the water levels and rescue efforts continue in spite of blocked roads and in many cases, roads which have had sections washed out and are now impassable.  Creeks, with usually meandering water if any water at all, have become roaring rivers choked with debris and flooding ranches and farms deep into the Front Range.

There are many reports of missing persons, the Governor has called out National Guard units and their equipment to help rescue/move flooded out folks, and communities have mobilized to shelter and aid the folks displaced.  Quite the year we're having in Colorado, first massive forest fires, now history-making floods.

The above is a good graphic of the water paths of the floods.  Both the rivers listed above are prone to flooding every year, usually one day events.  This flooding is a week long event, it's described by the news as a "once in a lifetime" event.

Martha, the boys and I are however, safe and presently in no danger of floods.  We're on slightly higher ground than most of our neighbors and they're doing OK as well.  Folks we know in the affected areas are also OK so far.

It's raining hard again as I type this, but things are expected to subside by this evening I believe.  This should help with tomorrow's Monday morning commute.  The route I take is a bit prone to large puddling of water but was passable during last week's big rain storms.

I am pleased to report, Valencia, my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig, is as rainproof as I could ask or wish for.  We rode through downpours recently which I believe are classified as "toad stranglers" in Texas!

This morning, in between rain storms, I rode out to check out local conditions.  I found, as expected, small running streams where normally one only sees sandy creek beds.  I saw standing pools of water in farmers' fields, evidence of the completely saturation of the ground by water.  There was very some water accumulation on this eastern end of Arapahoe County but flood warnings announced for the western portion.

 Local County Roads

What you see in the above pictures are the trailing edges of the storms which pelted the Denver Metro Area overnight.  More of the same could be seen, dark and ominous, to the south and south west of us.  That would be the patch currently wetting us down as I type.

So, what started as a short posting to say we're OK, has wandered off into something longer than expected. Here's hoping the big rains leave us soon, I believe we've had more than enough for this month.

Update: Here's a link to a fellow Uralista's pics and links to videos shot from helicopter of the Longmont flooding areas:  LINK

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 Anniversary

Once again, an anniversary of a terrible day for America, the Global War on Terror continues unabated and I wonder how much of a difference it was to finally kill bin laden.  Don't get me wrong, I was joyous, joining most of America in celebrating the event.


Now that I work in a skyscraper, in fact the tallest one in the region, the thought of a similar attack sometimes impingeS on my regular workaday thoughts.

It seems, things were simpler before 9/11 doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wet Adventure Commuting

I left work at 4:00 PM today, the objective being to ride down the I-25 interstate to the Denver Tech Center where the local retailer for Chippewa Boots was located.  The name of the store is Sheplers and they are now yet another brick and mortar place that is dead to me.

It started raining as I rode out of the downtown area, in very congested traffic conditions, which did nothing to help the bad traffic congestion on southbound I-25.  Yep, I was questioning my decision to say the least.

As I neared the turnoff for the I-225 highway, it started raining really heavily.  I am talking the heavens opened up and the output of Niagara Falls was temporarily diverted to an area about one square mile, centered around me.  I will admit, I was wishing I'd had picked Valencia, my URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig for the day's commute instead of the Beemer!

Water started to accumulate on the pavement of course, because CDOT apparently doesn't look into building enough drainage to deal with really heavy rain.  Little did I realize at the time that the guys who built the interstates actually had a grasp of the concept of drainage....the guys who built Tamarac Street, were absent on the day that drainage was taught in road building school.

To add to matters pressing on my mind, I had cut over onto reserve on my fuel tank on Brigitta, my '87 R80 Beemer a few miles back and was soon to be running out of gas.

This led to me to take the next exit,  the Tamarac street exit, which led to me to ride in the deepening water levels of the street to get to a nearby gas station I knew about.

The rain continued to poured, visibility through my visor was compromised slightly, and I could see a big deep looking stream of water blocking my way into the gas station's parking lot.  Joy.

Once there was no oncoming traffic, I pulled out and dove Brigitta right into the fast running stream of rain water.....water splashed up high on both sides of me but I made it through with no issues.  I got to a gas pump and filled up, I had all of 2/10ths of a gallon of gas left!

The rain started petering out and stopping as I finished fueling so I decided to park by the convenience store at the gas station.  It's good that I did because I then had a chance to wander on foot closer to the street and saw the water situation on the street.

Less than 15 minutes after I took the above video, the street water drains had finally caught up with the onslaught of water dropped by the storm.  I geared up, still soaking wet from the previous rain, and headed south on Tamarac street towards Sheplers; this involved at least 15 more minutes of stop and go traffic to cover perhaps two miles to get to the store.

Personally, I hate shopping.  Sheplers reminded me of why. The stocks of Chippewa Boots were non-existent though someone one the phone that I'd called earlier had claimed plenty on hand.  Plenty of cowboy boots, a bountiful of them actually, a virtual plethora of other brands.  Of the one I wanted, nothing.  Of any available personnel to help or ask questions of, not a soul.

I dragged my dripping self out of the store, got ready to ride and rode home in still heavy rush hour traffic but at least no more rain.  Two and a half hours of my life that I'll not get back.  Sigh.  Now, to order the boots I need online, here I come!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Uraling in the 2013 Ural National Rally Day

Today, September 7, 2013 was the day for all registered URAL riders to go out and ride, and to try and collect as many points for the National Rally Day.  Basically, a sort of scavenger hunt of sorts, with some tasks/events thrown in for points.  All very informal, on your honor for the most part, and mainly a way to get riders to go riding and have some fun.

More information here on URAL's website for the rally:  LINK, you can download and look at the rally score sheet at this site.  Below, I've added snips from the score sheet that I managed to collect for points.

I was rider number CO-777, there were 26 other Colorado-based riders registered according to the rally website.

At 8:00 AM, I headed out with Miles, my youngest son, as my monkey (which by the way earned me 50 points), this was after doing the pre-ride check (50 points) and a starting mileage of 43114 km on the odometer.

Miles and I stopped at a local McDonald's for a quick breakfast and the resulting points:

Breakfast was soon consumed and we headed down to Arapahoe Road to find the County Courthouse on Potomac Street:

The Arapahoe County Courthouse on Potomac, 8:35 AM

You'll note the "flag" held by Miles showing my rider number for the rally.  Photos were supposed to be taken showing the number with the objective achieved.

After the courthouse, it was time to take Miles to a local gun club for his first formal Firearms Safety Course. It's called "First Shots" and it's a combination of education, safety, advertisement for the local gun programs offered by the gun club and includes some very basic firearm safety training.  It was very informative and Miles paid great attention throughout.

The instructor, John G., oversees Miles actions as he
takes his first shots with a .22 caliber bolt action rifle.

All the other students were interested in the handguns offered for training, so the instructor let me fire ten rounds of .22 Long Rifle as well.  Bonus!  Miles did pretty good for second time with firearms!

The class ended at noon and so we motored on home as Miles had other things to do.  Before we got home though, it was time for lunch and some more points:

Lunch at Sonic's 12:35 PM

After I dropped off Miles, I donned a water-soaked evaporative vest as temperatures had risen to the mid 90s by this time.  It was hot!  The vest helped with the heat, though you could still feel it at times.

I rode over to the Fairmount Cemetery where I had recently taken some then and now pictures.  There were of course, more points to be had for the rally:

Built in 1920, this mausoleum qualifies as a historic building.

Guarding the entrance to the military section of the Fairmount Cemetery
was this Model 1885 3.2" Field Artillery Cannon.

I left the cemetery and headed over to the Wings over the Rockies Air Museum nearby.  It's located on the previous site of the Lowry Air Force Base and is a very nice museum worth a visit if you're in the area:

I'm sure the URAL Rally folks will agree this B-52 Stratofortress
qualifies as a historic and interesting vehicle!

Now it was time to head south, still in the heat of the day, still bearing up nicely under it thanks to a freshly wet down evaporative vest and some water in the helmet for good measure!

At a stop light, just before the light turned green, this couple in the car next to me UDF'ed me long enough that we delayed traffic slightly when the light turned green, still, it was more points for me:

It was time to stop by a friend's house and get a picture of the second monkey of the day for me: Meet Levi, who was quite at home in the sidecar I must say!

Levi didn't actually ride with me as we didn't have the right 
restraints for him to do so safely, so not sure I'll be given the points by URAL.

Bonus for my readers: Oscar and Janet's lovely children: Cassie and Stevie, posing on my Valencia:

After saying goodbye to Levi and his family, I headed on home.  My ending mileage was 43231 Km so I rode 117 Km for the rally:

I also had to adjust my tug's rear brake once I got home at 5:00 PM:

I know, not the right tool, but all it needed was a
half turn counterclockwise.

So, my grand total is 567 which I'll be recording onto the rally site after I post this report.  Even if they disallow my Canine Monkey shot since we didn't actually ride together, I made the minimum of 350 points (432) to qualify as a rally finisher.  

Great, though hot, day of riding.  Had a good time with Miles and later Levi and his family.  Great Rally Day!
Update: I finished in the 110th position from the list of riders who qualified as finishers.