Sunday, December 31, 2006

Had to get it out of my system.

Over a week now of no riding due to snowpacked roads. My inner voice had been whispering in my ear: "Go ahead, try to get out to the main roads, it's doable...." and I had been resisting. Today, even my loving wife mentioned I'd be fine if I could just get out to the cleared main roads only one block away.

So, I geared up, fired up the bike, took some deep breaths and rode out into the culdesac. It was fine up until the point where I stopped at the entrance to the culdesac to check for traffic. The packed snow felt slick beneath my boots. I ever so gently eased out the clutch to get going only to find that my rear tire now had ZERO grip on the snow. It in fact just dug a shallow trench for itself, but never reaching pavement. I was stuck.

That's as far as I got....


I called a friend, he arrived after I'd managed to pull Maria out of the small hole the rear wheel had dug into the snow. As he pushed, I tried to ride her back to the garage, again, no grip on the rear tire and the only progress we made as my friend pushed as sort of sideways, no real control by my front wheel.

Gave up and we, now joined also by my neighbor, just pushed the bike along to the dry spot in front of my driveway, from there I rode her into the garage and back to her parking spot. Safe and sound, no drops and no falls.

Shortest ride on record. Had to prove it to myself, Maria is just not cut out for snowy roads, the threads on her tires have no grip. I must wait for the snow to melt and the roads to clear.

Happy New Year to you all. Here's hoping for some warm weather!!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Still no Riding, withdrawal symptoms setting in....

So we ended up getting almost 3ft of snow in my neighborhood and in the overall Denver Metro Area. Much digging was done by my wife and I along with my neighbors in our culdesac. Not one of us had a snow blower but luckily one of the neighbors, Mike, had this awesome 4x4 Dodge Pickup truck that he used to bulldoze a main path out of the culdesac and then he returned to bulldoze a path to each of our driveways! Thanks Mike!

Had I known he was going to do that, I would not have bothered to try and clear a way out of the culdesac myself! Oh well.

Once it finally stopped snowing after 2 days or so, we started digging. Here's the results of the first day's worth of digging. Ibuprofen was my friend.

Maria, waiting out the snowstorm
Day 2 of Digging.
Day 4 of Digging.

It's not gotten much better since the day 4 pic above, have basically given up on being able to clear a way to the side street. That street is a mess so even getting out of the culdesac buys me no exit for the motorcycle. I am stuck with waiting for the snow to melt.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Skis for Bikes!

Ok, so I am not the only one insane enough to even think of the possibility of ski outriggers for motorcycles on these snowy days! This was published in 1951, way before our present culture of frivolous lawsuits, but still a fun read/concept.

Fom the back cover of the March 1 1951 Accessories Catalog: Motorcycle skis. Enjoy motorcycling year ‘round with Indian skis. Made of top quality ash with full steel runner, skis support machine on snow and ice, operate independently according to foot pressure and allow you to lean and turn with complete control. Spring loaded tubular arms lift skis for riding on clear roads. Designed for Indian lightweights. Easily adapted to other light makes.

You'll note they say "lightweights", not one of Maria's endearing qualities!

Link where I found the above pic. (more pics as well)

Then there's this device to help guys learn how to be kneesliders on the track....just figure out a way to put skis on them.....hmmmm

Then there's the military option:

Swedish Police Bike

If you've info on the above 2 bikes, let me know!

Of course, a more viable option is a sidecar, which gives you the stability of four wheels like cars have so you don't worry about dropping the bike. All other dangers of riding on snow/ice still apply of course:

Snow Day: No riding today.

Temps in low 20s, gusting winds and snowy/slushy roads.

Dang, the weather guys did not overhype it for today. It's snowing pretty good with rather windy conditions. Yesterday, they were complete wrong, today....we'll you can see we're getting it pretty good. Wind conditions are driving the snow sideways, I am watching the requisite weatherman reporting from outside in the snow and they're cringing as the snow hits them.

Working from home, glad I have that option. Traffic is crap out there:

Near where I work

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Most Dangerous Roads in the World

Cool report on some of the most dangerous roads in the world.....puts your local "bad roads" into perspective.

Click here

Some of the pics from the posting:

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Just working on the gear

No riding today, was not motivated to go out, hanging out instead at the house with the family.

I did get some stuff done that was motorcycle-related though:

1. Repaired a rip on the left-side cargo net on the Big Mak Tankbag, I love this thing! I rearranged the way I kept things within so I can find things easier.

2. Moved the mounting hardware for the GPS handheld from the handlebar mount on the central yoke to the left-side brake fluid reservoir cover. I used a small nylon spacer sleeve to avoid it contacting the plastic reservoir cover and replaced the stock screw with a 8 x 30mm version.

3. Actually took a look and inventoried the toolkit that comes with the motorcycle, all there and in order.

4. Transfered the contents of the stock tire repair kit that had come to me in the original plastic bag to a better storage case. I stashed this in the small cavity just before the rear tail light assembly. Spent a few minutes beforehand searching the web for instructions on how to use this kit only to realize when I unpacked it that it comes with instructions! Doh!

5. Used a different case to store stuff such as eyewash, lip balm and antifog spray and now store it neatly in the Big Mak. Got all my earplugs into their own container, ditto for all the spare fuses which went into their own plastic bag stored within the bag I got from the BMW dealer to carry a spare quart of oil.

6. Finally started storing my Colorado Maps Gazette in my motorcycle's right-side system case. Although the decision is mostly made, I am pretty sure I will not be getting a new GPS system. Relying instead on my trusty Garmin 110 GPS/Radio handheld. I did order the Waypoints and Trips Manager Software from Ebay and we'll see if it adds to its functionality.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Ride in the Front Range, with a stop at AF Academy

Temps in the high 30s to low 40s, hazy sunshine tending to overcast and WINDY.

Late start for my weekend ride today, almost 11am before I left the house heading for the town of Elbert and points South. No matter which direction I headed on the bike today, the wind seemed to be hitting me from the side! It was very gusty at the beginning of the ride but it tapered off in the afternoon to a steady wind.

Nice paved county roads to Elbert which is a postage size town that time had forgot. I'd been shown the town before when I rode the Honda Aero by Sanoke who is to blame for getting me hooked on distance riding. Hi John!

I rode South of Elbert, where I should have tanked up, and missed the turnoff for McCune road since I had wanted to avoid the traffic in Colorado Springs. So I hit CO24 instead and took it into the city, still looking for a gas station.

I took this picture at a construction site near the intersection of Woodmen and Powers in the Springs, sorry for the foreground. It's a peek at the view enjoyed by the residents of the Springs, Pikes Peak.

Afterwards I got on I-25 and headed North a bit and decided to stop in at the US Air Force Academy since it had been years since I'd been there. Still had to show my military ID at the gate but otherwise it was pretty deserted as the cadets were apparently on Christmas Break already.

BUFF: Big Ugly Fat Fellow

Main Campus and Chapel

I rode home by way of CO83, the weather had become overcast at this point and even though the temps were still in the low 40s according to my bike's thermometer, I had to stop and put on the electric vest to fight off the chill.

A pretty sedate ride, 152 miles according to my GPS, no incidents and followed up with a two hour nap. Pretty good day I would say.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A ride to the Mother Cabrini Shrine, by way of Echo Lake.

So my loving wife tells me after breakfast: "Go riding, the weather is beautiful". When I asked her when she wanted me home, she tells me: "Ride till you decide the weather is no longer good". Is she a jewel or what?

So off I go, after a brief stop at work to pick something up, I headed west on Hampden Road which becomes US 285 which took me to the West side of the Denver Metro 3/4 beltway or C470. I headed north I got on US70 heading West seeking the Mother Cabrini Shrine I'd often seen when heading west on US70. I took the exit, failed to find the shrine. Circled back, tried again, failed again so this time I elected to follow the signs for the "Lariat Loop" and rode up Lookout Mountain and visited Buffalo Bill's Grave and the Museum nearby dedicated to his achievements.

I knew Buffalo Bill had won the Medal of Honor acting as an Army Scout but little did I know he was also a Master Mason!

After touring the museum, I skipped the onsite grill which advertised Buffalo Burgers, electing instead to ride down Lookout Mountain and following the signs for the "Lariat Loop". Just before I had to get on Westbound US70 I was struck by this view of the Rockies:

It's lucky the view stopped me for I would have cruised by the herd of buffalo that was resting by the side of the road along the entrance ramp to US70!

As I headed West on US70 I decided that since the Lariat Loop would take me to MT Evans I'd go up to Echo Lake even if the road was closed to MT Evans itself. The road up, which is CO103 was dry for the most part with isolated patches of snow/ice which were no problem to navigate by staying in the ruts caused by cars that had gone before me. The ruts were dry of course and I made it to Echo Lake Park and the Echo Lake Lodge parking lot with no issues.

Snow covered Echo Lake
Echo Lake Lodge, closed for Winter

It was at this point that I stopped and donned my electric vest and overpants liner as it was quite cold up there. It was in the high 30s and windy. Having donned the gear I proceeded on CO103 under the awfully wrong assumption that the road conditions would mirror the easy stuff I'd ridden on the way up to Echo Lake. How wrong I was! Today, in my usual dancing on top of the line between common sense and stupid, I came down on stupid side.

The rest of CO 103, heading down from Echo Lake area proved to be mostly shaded and snow/ice covered. I'd say a good 60% of the road was ice/snow covered in the first half of the trip down. I kept it in low gears as I traversed areas that were basically hardpacked snow or ice with occasional glimpses of dry road. Had my fourway flashers on and made way for the 3-4 cars that passed me on the way down.

I had been doing pretty good but this was not to last. Just up from Old Squaw Pass I was crossing an extended snowy patch of road and noticed that I was in second gear. I decided, stupidly it turns out, to gear down to first while going about 5mph or so. Wrong! The back wheel on Maria immediately slid out from under me and to the left, dumping me on the snow onto my right side. As I slid to a stop, I watched poor Maria slide on her right side ahead of me, her sole contact points luckily being the right-side engine guard and the right-side sidebag. She spun 180 degrees and ended up facing up the road towards me, engine still idling.

I picked myself up, no injuries, the riding gear had protected me from what had been a pretty slow and minor fall. I walked over to Maria while at the same time a hiker down the hill who'd seen me fall walked up to render assistance. He asked me if I was ok and I assured him I was fine. I had managed to lift Maria by myself at this point but had failed to put the kickstand out first. So I asked the good samaritan to put the kickstand down while I stood to Maria's right holding her up.

We tried setting her down but she was not in a good spot by the side of the road, so we let her roll down a little bit more to a level spot where we set her on her kickstand. We both inspected for damage and there was none! I surely lucked out, the engine valve cover guard did its job and protected the motorcycle! Having done the fall on snow helped of course. There was no contact with the road surface itself.

The good samaritan, then just walked away after asking again if I was ok. I never got his name, my mind was still on how I'd get going again now that the motorcycle was upright. He watched from downhill as I fired up the motorcycle, backed her as close to 90 degrees to the roadside as I could get it, then slowly turned/slid her to face downhill once again. This went fine and I slowly moved past where he was with his dog and car, thanking him once again. There was no stopping to shake his hand as I was still on snow.

I slowly made my way down the mountain without further incidents and was heartily glad to reach the point where there was no further snow on the road. Shortly after the road turned dry I came upon CO74 and Bergen Park. Wheeeew!

I decided at this point I'd pushed my luck enough and headed back to Denver on CO74 which took me back to US70 which I then headed East on.

Lo and Behold as I was riding East I spotted the elusive Mother Cabrini Shrine up there on the mountain!

The Mother Cabrini Shrine is that white statue in center of picture

I couldn't very well skip this stop now that I had it in sight, it had been after all the original objective of the ride. I took the next exit which also led back to Lookout Mountain. This time there were signs which directed to me to the entrance of the shrine which provided entry to a set of switchbacks which got me to the actual shrine/chapel.

Mother Cabrini Chapel, through Maria's windshield

The Stone House

Denver's Skyline from Shrine's Entrance

Another shot of the Denver Skyline

The Shrine's Statue, as close as I could get

I left the Shrine with a feeling of accomplishment. Rode C470 to E470 and was home by 1545hrs, safe and sound.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A meandering ride day

Temps in the mid 30s to high 50s, nice and sunny. Great riding day.

I attended the regularly scheduled Saturday breakfast in Morrison with the ColoradoBeemers club. There were even more people there than the first time I attended two weekend ago. In fact this time Santa Claus showed up with his motorcycle and sidecar:

Santa is the club's Ride Captain, Ziggy.

Here's a closeup of Santa's Beemer, an R80.

A pic from Coloradobeemers site
Afterwards I rode with Dave and Terry whom I'd ridden with before on my first ride with the club members. We went to BMW of Denver for their Customer Appreciation Day event. I did not buy anything though I did spot a couple of things that were well priced but I really did not need.

I left the guys there and headed down to Palmer Lake by way of I-25 to Happy Canyon Road, down 105 and got a burger at O'Malley's Steak Pub at Palmer Lake. It's a favorite stop by riders so I thought I'd give it a try. After lunch I continued South to Monument where I got back on I-25 until I got to Colorado Springs.

My intention was to then take 115 West towards Canon City in order to take a picture of Cheyenne Mountain from its south side. However, I again took the wrong turn off the offramp and missed 115. Got disoriented making my way back and gave up on the picture plan. It was around 1415 or so by now and I foolishly thought I could make it back to BMW of Denver for their planned class on roadside tire repair that was supposed to happen at 1500.

Traffic was heavy heading North on I-25 and I was keeping it just 5mph or so above the speed limit. Needless to say, I was too far from the dealer to make it there in time so I turned off instead and headed home on E-470. Got home around 1530, having logged about 232 miles of pretty much aimless wandering around with no clearly defined goals. Nice day for a ride but was glad to get home, I felt pretty tired and the burger I had at O'Malleys had pretty much just sat in my gut during the post-lunch ride making me a bit lethargic! : )

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cherry Creek State Park

The kids woke us up an hour earlier than usual this morning in order to get some more playing time on the video game my wife rented for them last night. Ye shall reap what ye sow!

So, as long as I was up, decided to get on the road earlier than normal and catch the sunrise at Cherry Creek State Park and Reservoir. I had cruised through it yesterday, sans camera, and I had spotted a nice picture point.

Got there way before sunrise, so tried to stay warm while waiting for the sun to rise and give me some light to shoot by. I did not want to use the flash, trying to capture the early light and it's effects.

Maria and the Moon

Cherry Creek Dam

The temps were in the low low 20s and it was pretty humid which added to the cold factor. Still it was an enjoyable ride through the park which meanders around the southern end of the Cherry Creek Reservoir and dumps me in the Denver Tech Center near where I work.

I use the road on top of the dam to get across the reservoir normally, and while its nice up there, its nicer to take it slow (35mph speed limit max) on the park roads to get past the reservoir and onto my side of town.

I even saw three deer munching on grass by the side of the road. I managed to spot them far enough to slow way down and make sure we all knew where the other one was going to go or not go. They all seemed used to the vehicle traffic that goes through the park daily so no big deal. Still, you never can tell, and the deer blend in with the background very nicely so you have to look carefully as you ride along.

After work today, I rode to Golden along the E-470 superslab for some work, then rode it back to C-470 and on home. Got from past the NW end of the Denver Metro Area to the SE side of it in about 45 minutes. Traffic was medium heavy but kept moving, Maria did beautifully and the electric vest kept me warm as the temps dropped steadily as the sun set and it got darker and darker.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Big Mak for Maria

It's been a great set of commute rides this week, temps in the 20s on the way in to work and in the 40s on the way home.

Today, I received a "pre-owned" Big Mak tank bag courtesy of a fellow rider who lives in Fla and had upgraded to a 2007 R1200RT. She no longer had use of the tank bag she'd gotten for her earlier RT and responded to an ad I placed on the BMW Internet Riders classifieds email system.

The bag sits on a mounting bracket affixed to the gas cap ring on top of the gas tank. There's plastic spacers to maintain distance between the bag and the tank so no more worries about scratching the paint on the tank. I just flip the bag up to access the gas cap to fill up and it slips off by removing one velcro strap and slipping it off the plastic mount that slides within the bag itself. Very nice.

The bag is in great shape and I got it for a great price. Mounted up in less than 2 minutes, I spent more time looking for the right sized torx wrench to take out the stock screws than I did mounting the whole thing. It's bigger than the Cortech bag I had before and since there's no contact with the tank, it was an easy sell with the wife.

Notice, no contact with the tank!

Better pics on this site on this bag.