Sunday, November 26, 2006

Found this great pic at the Colorado Beemers' Site

Update: Turns out this is not an actual poster but something produced at this site apparently:
Motivate me

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Breakfast with the ColoradoBeemers and a ride to Garden of the Gods

Temps in the high 20s to low 50s, sunny and breezy.

Left the house at 0730 and arrived in time for the 0830 weekly breakfast at the Red Rocks Grill in Morrison, CO. This is where the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado, aka the Colorado Beemers, meets every saturday for breakfast and pickup rides. I got there around 0815 and was warmly greeted by the folks already there. Everyone was really friendly and conversation flowed over some good breakfast food. I ended up joining the club at the end of breakfast!

I met Gary who travels to Europe yearly and keeps a motorcycle in Heidelburg to do his touring. I met Gray, the president of the club, quite a funny guy. Another Gary who told me of his experiences with the annual rally on the western side of the state. Tom, ex-marine, who's got a cool looking GS 1150 with an Area51 sticker on it. Mike who works for the state's regulatory office and the final guy at the table was Wayne who'd also done some european traveling and was planning a trip to Rumania!

After breakfast, the 14 or so who'd shown up moved to the sidewalk in front of the restaurant where people continued to chat. One guy even had a rig on the back of his beemer so he could carry his dog around with him! A group of us, five in all, decided to head down to Deckers by way of 285 to 67 and from there head towards Woodland Park where they'd break off for some dirt riding near Westboro. They were all riding GS's with me being the sole RT rider.

Siggy, one of the guys I met during breakfast, who is the Ride Captain, pointed out an older gentleman on an immaculate white 1200GS and said to beware....there was a true rider, very fast, who'd been around the world on that particular motorcycle. Well, let me tell ya, Siggy was not kidding when he said that guy was fast. Holy cow! It took all my skill and concentration to barely keep up with him and his partner all the way to Deckers! We started with five of us and near the end of the ride I noticed we'd lost one, turned out to be the older gentleman's son! Guess he decided to break off earlier on while my concentration was to the front, and trying not to lag too far behind the leaders.

I believe the gentleman's name was Jim, his partner was Terry and one other guy who was also going dirt riding on his GS was Dave. Friendly group of guys and it sure was a "brisk and spirited" ride to the point where we parted ways. Truly do I have much to learn about the twistys at speed. I take solace in that I've only been on a motorcycle for less than a little more six months whereas these guys have been biking for years! Jim told me he'd racked up over 144k miles on his world-traveling GS, his partner Terry told me he'd racked up over 34k miles already for 2006 alone! Wow.

The trio went off to do some dirt riding, I said my goodbyes and kept heading East on 67 to Woodland Park and got on US24 at that point, taking the Garden of the Gods park exit. I cruised around the park for a good hour or so and go the following pics.

Above: My best shot of the day

Balancing Rock

I took a different exit out of the Garden of the Gods and somehow ended up in downtown Colorado City, very quaint and touristy. Once I got my bearings, got on I-25 and headed north and to home. What a day of riding, a total of 211 miles and about 52mpg! I guess the RT loves to be ridden hard and fast! My knees were feeling a bit sore by the end of the riding. I had tried riding with the seat in the middle position and although I am not sure yet, it seemed to help a bit.

Here's the route I rode today:

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Trying out the Electric vest by way of the Santa Fe Trail

So for today's ride I thought I'd ride the part of the fabled Santa Fe trail that traverses the SE corner of Colorado on US50. Tthe area features a National Historic Site called Bent's Old Fort. This was an old trading post with Mexico back when it was located at the border of the US territories and Mexico. Located near the town of La Junta, CO, the fort was a commercial waypoint and trading post till 1849 when it was burned and destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1976 by the park service using blueprints drawn by a LT Abert of the Western US Army back when he resided at Bent's Fort. More information here if you're interested. It was a cool place to check out, got there in about three hours and spent almost two hours touring the place.

The trip to La Junta and points beyond were a great opportunity to try out the electric vest I'd just gotten through Ebay. It's the Widder Lectric Vest and it came with a BMW power hookup so it was a natural fit on the motorcycle. The temperatures ranged from the low 30's to low 50's as the day progressed and my torso was nice and toasty whenever the temperatures warranted the vest being turned on. My arms would still get a bit cool but nothing to the point of cold or bothersome.

Here's my route:

I skipped SR86, electing instead to stay on I-70 to get home.

After touring the fort, I returned to the RT where I met a fellow rider on a beautiful blue and silver K1200LT getting ready to go tour the fort. He belonged to the Buffalo Soldier's Motorcycle Club chapter out of Colorado Springs. We chatted for a bit about our motorcycles and he told me he was scouting the area for historical stuff for possible inclusion into a trip for his club. Nice guy, Charles was name and he said he went by C.B. I spotted a Colonel's sticker on his motorcycle and he told he was assigned to Peterson AFB near the Springs.

After we parted ways, I rode over to this nearby sign:

It was a bit tricky getting Maria in position since the area in front of the sign was just gravel, and lots of it.

I traveled onwards, heading East towards Las Animas and turned North after Wiley onto US 287 heading towards Eads and Kit Carson. I had hoped to see more historical stuff at Kit Carson but it and Eads both turned out to be merely what I now call Junction towns, places with a small population gathered around the junction of area major roads. Lots of straight line riding today through the state's Eastern was sunny and cool, little to no traffic, and Maria performed beautifully as usual.

One thing that struck me about this part of Colorado was the plethora of junked out pickup trucks that people gathered on their ranches located East of Pueblo; they just sit there, rusting in the sun. I guess this is the area where old pickup trucks come to die, I'm talking stuff that looked like it was built in the 40s and 50s! There were many ranches along the way with their own collections of rusting hulks. I should have stopped and taken pictures of some of the larger collections!

I covered about 418 miles today total or just slightly more than when we took the trip up to Custer, SD to see Mt Rushmore! Long day but I was able to move my legs around on the motorcycle in order to minimize the cramping of the knees. It's still there but minimal so long as I don't stay in one position too long. I figure it was about 6 hours of saddletime and quite enjoyable.

I was starting to get a bit chilled, except where the vest covered me, by the last hour of the ride since it was getting dark. The sun was just setting as I pulled into my garage, tired but having enjoyed a very nice long ride.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

15NOV06 - Battery Tender

Probably much worrying about nothing, but something the salesguy where I bought Maria the RT had said had stuck in my brain and surfaced occasionally to nag at me. He'd mentioned to me that riding with the riding lights on, and the highbeam on (which is how I ride for max light visibility) might cause the battery to not get fully charged up on short rides. Since during the workweek I do short rides mostly, 11 miles each way, to and from work, this was something that worried me a bit.

I went so far as to add a voltmeter and did notice it being below 12 volts when idling, it'd be in the 13 volt range when at speed so I assumed that during those times the battery was charging but when it read below 12 volts that it was discharging.

I called the local beemer dealer and he had the Deltran Battery Tender Jr for $32 and the bmw power connector cord for $12. He told me several other motorcycle owners (whose motorcycles use the GEL battery) were using it instead of the fancier version, the Deltran Battery Tender Plus and had all had good luck and no issues with the Jr so I went that route.

It charges up to 14.4 volt then goes into "float mode" where it monitors the battery's discharge. Soon as the battery hits 13.5 volts it goes back into charging mode back to 14.4 volt. These are the specs I've gleaned from the beemer forums that one must meet for the GEL battery that my RT has. One apparently cannot exceed 14.4 volts with GEL batteries!

By buying the bmw power outlet cable to go with it, I can simply plug the tender into the wall and plug the other end to one of the two power outlets on the motorcycle. Easy.

I'll monitor it for now, checking with a voltmeter when the charges is in "float" mode and see if it's really doing what's its supposed to do.

UPDATE: 24NOV06 - Well, when the light on the charger turns green, my battery reads 13.17 volts with a multimeter connected to the battery terminals. So I guess that's max charge that the tender will maintain. Well below the 14.4 volt maximum so I think this unit will serve me well.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

12NOV06 Snow Day - Tupperware Removal Practice

Woke up to a light snowfall coating the lawn and making the streets wet, so no riding today.

Once I had some breakfast and really woke up (had been up all night doing work stuff), I decided to see how difficult it really is to remove the tupperware off Maria the RT motorcycle.

The process was actually quite straightforward and easy. It's 15 screws on each side fairing, I wrote down where I found long screws vice the more numerous short screws, and then carefully removed first the right-side fairing and then the left. The part I had most trouble with was removing the mirror housings, you have to knock them quite hard to get them to come off the mounting pins! But, no damage done, and I had both side panels and the belly pan off in less than an hour. It really does not take that long but I was going slow.

Maria, sans tupperware

While I had the fairings off, I ran a wire circuit off the battery and stashed it for now behind the right radio speaker housing. I played around with mounting a cigarette power plug up front but decided to hold off for now till I can a good mounting point and hardware.

The idea of putting the power plug up front had been, I thought, to provide a point for me to mount a voltmeter that plugs into a cigarette power adapter. Had it almost rigged up and then realized that since the power was hot all the time, this would mean I'd have to remove the voltmeter each time the motorcycle was parked and turned off or there'd be a very slow drain on the battery!

So I ended up bagging on that idea. I suppose one day I'll run a hot wire from perhaps the wire that powers the rear brake riding light which only comes on with the ignition and then I can have a voltmeter permanently hooked up for the motorcycle.

I also rigged up some wireties to function as security lines for the mirrors in case they come off while riding, apparently its happened to other RT riders. Now they'll stay with the motorcycle even when knocked off and instead bang against the fairing! I think, that's the least costly of possible scenarios.

The fairings went back on easy enough, again I had some trouble with getting the mirrors to go back onto their mounting pins but in the end I got them on. Good drill, cleaned up parts of the motorcycle I could not get at before, built up some confidence about being able to access my motorcycle when learning to do my own motorcycle wrenching in the future.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

11NOV06 Short, windy ride on Veteran's Day

I had a guy install some 3M "Clear Bra" material that came precut for the headlight on Maria, you can't even really tell it's there from as close as one foot. I also had him cover the center panel of the gas tank where the tankbag rides to prevent any scratches to the paint. He did a real good job, the areas are protected and you can't even tell there's plastic on them!

Went out for a ride in the afternoon after lunch and it proved to be quite windy. Temps were in the mid 50s and sunny but the wind made east and westbound travel a chore as the wind would try and push me northwards. I cut the ride short after two hours, just traveled SE of my house, tried some new county roads which of course became dirt roads halfway through.

About to hit another dirt road...

Maria did fine on the dirt roads but I slowed her way down to the 20s, got passed by several pickup trucks and cars going both ways. They of course did not slow down and enveloped me in a cloud of dust as they passed me. I am sure they were wondering who the fool was on a touring motorcycle tooling down some dirt road! : )

The ride also was for me to try out this new farkle:

I had it hooked up to the power outlet splitter in my tank bag so I could see the voltage readings while riding. The motorcycle read 11.9 volts before I cranked her up. The voltage ready around 12 to 12.5 with the engine idling, and would run up to 13.3 and 13.5 volts when at cruising speeds. This was with my highbeam light on and modulating, riding lights on and heated grips in the low setting. So I guess I am not putting a strain on the battery and it's getting charged up while I ride.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

08NOV06 Maria gets her 22k Mile and Annual Service today

I took Maria to the Foothills BMW dealer today for her 22,000 mile service along with her annual service. It was costly but now I know she's good to go for 6000 miles before her next major inspection service. I must look into learning to do the stuff they check for in these services so I can save some money in the future by doing it myself if possible. She is, after all, out of warranty. The one thing I will leave to the dealer though is valve checks probably and ABS servicing definitely!

I picked Foothills BMW even though it was 15 miles one way from work because they provided a loaner motorcycle whereas BMW of Denver did not have any loaners. That was the sole criteria, I'd heard good things about both from others in the discussion forums. BMW of Denver was much closer but again, the lack of loaner motorcycles was a deal-breaker. I hate being an imposition on the guys at work for rides to/from the mechanic. My wife is really happy that she did not have to ferry me to/from the dealer!!

The loaner I got was my choice from two motorcycles, the other motorcycle was a 1200S and I chose instead the smalled F650CS. Why? Well, partly I wanted the lighter motorcycle to lessen the risk of me dropping a loaner motorcycle; and partly because I wanted to experience a smaller beemer to see what it was like; lastly I was afraid that once I experienced the power of a 1200S that I'd want one! : )

Well, let me tell's quite a fun little motorcycle. Emphasis on the little part. She felt so small to me when I was riding her, in comparison to the bulk of the RT that is Maria. She rode great, a bit buzzier than Maria of course since its a thumper, weighs less than 400 lbs and absolutely zero protection from the wind! I felt several particles hit my pants legs on the way back to work, a new feeling for me since Maria protects me so well.

The "baby beemer" at work.

The guys at work all remarked on how small it was and the fact her gas tank is under the seat vice the traditional location. There's some kind of storage tray where the gas tank normallly sits on a motorcycle, unusual.  Still, she caught everyone's interest. Definitely could be a great commuter motorcycle for city driving, and apparently she gets 65mpg!

I got a call from the service manager at 1500hrs telling me the RT was ready. I hurried up I-25 Northbound and beat the rush up and down! As I was traveling back south on I-25 I saw the northbound lanes gridlocked. Good timing.

The road home on Maria reinforced how much smoother and bigger a motorcycle she is when compared to the F650CS. She ran great of course and I only had one false hiccup after I got her home.

I had her on the centerstand and went to check the oil level. Saw nothing but a pale toffee colored sightglass! I panic'ed thinking there was no oil. Called up the dealer and got them panic'ed as well, while they were checking with the mechanic, I thought to start her up and then look at the sightglass. There was the oil! It was around the halfway mark on the sightglass, I then shut the engine off and watch the level rise past the sightglass.

That light toffee color was the new oil itself! I'd gotten used to the oil being a dark brown color. Both the service guy and I had ourselves a laugh about this.

A very positive experience overall with Foothills BMW. Friendly service, good loaner with zero hassles about using it, fast service and they did not make me call them to check on the status of the motorcycle. Nice, expensive, but nice.

11/07/06 ATV Hand Warmer Testing Continued

Temperatures in mid 40s and sunny.

Today I rode in using the expressway, reached and maintained speeds in the 80mph range and the hand warmers did just fine. Again, I was wearing the summer gloves and using the low setting on the heated grips and my hands remained warm and toasty, starting to sweat at the end of the ride.

No issues with reaching the controls now that I've increased the opening through which the controls slide through. Only thing I have to watch out for on the left hand side hand warmer is to make sure I don't cover up the light sensor for my headlight modulator.

Very happy with this farkle.

Monday, November 06, 2006

06NOV06 Initial test of the ATV Hand Warmers

Ok, so it was not so cold during the commute this morning, mid-30s at the lowest. To compensate for such balmy temps, I wore my summer riding gloves, very thin with vents and such. I put the ATV Hand Warmers onto the handlebars and rode into work.

I set the heated grips to their low heat output setting and noted the following during my 25 minute commute in, max speed for a short burst was 70mph.

1. Could not feel ANY wind on my gloves. The vents on the gloves allow me to feel breezes during warm weather riding.
2. Hands stayed nice and toasty, they were almost beginning to sweat by ride's end.
3. No problems withdrawing or inserting hands into gloves either when moving or while stopped at the lights. For example, taking my right hand out to lift the visor while stopped or taking out my left hand while moving at speed to lower my visor back into place.
4. Could not detect the wind pressure pushing back on the warmer and putting pressure on the levers. I don't believe it activated the brake lights in other words. I can usually hear the servo motors kick in when the brake lights are activated, I did not hear them this morning except when I knew I was activating the brakes or engaging the levers slightly to activate the brake lights when slowing down using engine braking.
5. No issues with finding/reaching any buttons on the handlebar controls. I did find the area near the left turn signal tab a bit snug and will enlarge that opening a tiny bit more tonight.

So, initial testing looks good for this cheap farkle.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

05NOV06 Rocky Mountain National Park

Weather: Sunny and windy. Temps in mid to upper 40s in Front Range during the morning, low to mid 30s in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Road conditions great.

Took of for Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Forest this morning at 0845 or so. Got there at 1030 or so. Took E-470 North to where it junctions with I-25 and from there to Longmont and then West on 66 to 36 to the park itself. The lowest temp I noticed while cruising around the park was 32.9 degrees so did not get a chance to try out the ATV hand warmers as the Fox Creek Cold Weather gloves and heated grips held up just fine.

The road to Milner Pass and the Continental Divide was closed for the winter so was not able to go to it. I rode all the available roads that were still open, they were nice and dry. The one scary exception was the last 1/4 mile before Bear Lake trailhead. Going in it was icy but there were wet ruts in the road I could ride in with no problems. Going out, the road was in the shadows of the trees and so what snow had melted and re-frozen solid. There must have been a stretch of maybe 15-20 feet where I am sure I was on ice. Luckily, I kept my head and did not touch the brakes! I just made sure to be going real slow before I got on the ice, kept it in first and just kept the forward momentum going with the clutch and friction zone action. Only a second or so of slippery feeling and then I was back onto dry roads. Wheeew.

The ride into the Bear Lake Trailhead was well worth it though. Here's a pic of the mountain range it borders just before you hit the parking lot.

I think that's Taylor Peak in front of me

Here's a closer view of Taylor Peak and neighboring Otis Peak from the Bear Lake Trailhead's parking lot:

I believe that's the Tyndall Glacier in between the two peaks.

Here's the requisite shot of Maria at the Bear Lake Trailhead's entrance.

Another shot of Hallet Peak and Otis Peak:

Finally, a shot looking West towards the Continental Divide from Moraine Park:

The ride through the park was awesome, not very crowded though the wind did gust quite strongly in some sections of the park. I had a late lunch at Estes Park and was home by 1600hrs. GPS says I did 225 miles today, mpg was 44.46mpg, which is pretty good considering all the cruising up and down mountain roads within the park. Maria performed beautifully as usual.

I took US 36 East back to Boulder and South out of Boulder until I got to I-25 which I took home by way of the Denver Tech Center where I stopped in at work to get some stuff done.

A beautiful day for a ride, the cold never got unbearable with the sun being out the whole time. I am almost dissapointed I did not get to try out the ATV Hand Warmers but am sure some 20 degree days are in my future.

Friday, November 03, 2006

03NOV06 Cheap Cold Weather Farkle for Maria?

So, having now ridden in 20 degree weather and feeling the cold on the tips of my cold-weather-glove-clad fingers, I had spent the last couple of days trying to figure out how to block the wind from my fingers during this kind of cold temperatures.

At first I thought of taking the handguards made for the 1150GS and "modifying" them to fit my RT but it turns out the mods I'd read about online where for the R and the RS, not the RT which has non-tubular handlebars. They had some in stock at the beemer dealer and let me check them out on the RT but no go. Bummer.

I even went and blocked the empty speaker enclosures/openings for the RT's nonexistent radio but no effect as of this morning. Although this morning was not cold as Monday, it was just in the low 40s and almost felt balmy after the last couple of days.

I went and checked out the other BMW motorcycle dealer on the west side of Denver on Wadsworth Blvd, nice place with friendly people. They even answer emails on same day that you email them! That's always a good sign. Afterwards, I spotted a motosports dealer nearby and stopped to take a look at their handguards. Nothing that would even come close to working of course, but then I thought to check out their ATV department since I'd seen some "hippohands-equivalent" grip covers online for ATVs.

They had the Tucker Rocky Biker's Choice Quadboss Hand Warmers, in black. They let me take them outside and I checked the fit on my RT's handlebars/controls and it fit! I bought them and brought them home, I decided to cut a smidge off at the inside liner so they fit over the handlebar controls easier and they mounted right up. I checked access to all the buttons and the all-important control levers and it was perfect! They were only $21, one third the price of hippohands, and no 12 day leadtime to get them!

Let the 20 degree weather come back! I am ready. I figure I'll only put them on during rides where the temps are below 30 or so.

The ride side hand warmer, a hook and loop strap holds it in place.

Hand Warmer from the front.

02DEC07 Followup Notes:
At least on my RT, using these grip covers pretty much eliminates your being able to use your stock mirrors. Glad I added some GS mirrors for expanded coverage since they become my rearview mirrors with these grip covers on.

You do have to cut a slit in the covers for the GS mirrors but no big deal and no adverse effect on their ability to keep the wind off your hands.

Ended up spray-painting the Quadboss Leather Logo black....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

31OCT06 - Coldest Ride Yet

It's all about the timing sometimes, isn't it?

So yesterday I set off on my work commute, sans system cases as posted about previously, and it was the coldest day I've ridden in since I got into motorcycling!

According to the thermometer on the motorcycle, it got down as low as 20 degrees during the commute. I had the windshield in the fully up position along with the heated grips on high and did fine with the cold except for the very tips of my fingers and the toes. These were starting to feel the cold by the end of the commute.

If I had brought along the system cases I probably would have thought hard about stopping and donning the fleece jacket and glove liners I keep in there. I was s.o.l with the medium boots I had on, since I had left and never carry in the cases the german army boots I have for cold weather.

The riding gear I did have on did keep me warm enough though for a 25 minute ride. The guys at work gave me the look as if they were thinking of having an "intervention" for my obvious motorcycling addiction even though I told them the cold really wasn't that bad. : )