Sunday, January 28, 2007

First long ride of 2007

Temps from the low 30s to high 40s and Sunny.

A glorious day to go riding here in Colorado after having been trapped in my neighborhood by the recent series of snow storms. I checked out my exit path prior to departing and only had to do some minor ice chipping/clearing and spreading of sand on the portions of sidewalk that had ice covering. The sand made it all that much better.

I left at 1000hrs, exited my neighborhood without incident though there was more ice at the neighborhood entrance than yesterday. Still, a clear path existed and off I went.

The intent of the ride was to "stretch" Maria's legs and check out the conditions of the road to work and surrounding areas. The roads were dry and clear, traffic was light and I was feeling pretty good about life in general.

So, having found the way to work clear, I headed south through Parker Road and from there further south to Castlerock where I picked up Wolfenberger Rd to CO 105. Although this road was mostly dry, there was a lot of spots near the centerline where you tell it had been covered with ice/snow. I only saw it as melted water by this time since the sun had been warming the countryside. Still, the preponderance of water in several areas; specially sideroad entrances and curves made for a need to intensely concentrate on road conditions.

The couple of patches of snow I did see on the road I could spot from pretty far away and dodged them with no issues. Still, when I got to Palmer Lake (elev. 7253 ft), I'd had enough of semi-wet roads and turned onto Douglas County 53 and headed back North and to lower altitudes. The county roads were also sandy in spots which made for careful turns.

Once through Larkspur I picked up I-25 Northbound and the road was bone dry and clear, traffic was still light for the Interstate so I cruised at 70mph all the way to Castlerock where I exited onto Founder's Parkway and back through the backroads back to Parker.

You can see the Rockies, way in the distance
Looking North on Crowfoot Parkway
That's Pike's Peak way in the distance

Traffic started building up in Parker when I got there around 1230hrs, so I was glad to turn off and head East on Lincoln Rd and from there the usual route back home. About 115 miles of ridings, three hrs or so in the saddle. I had started the ride a bit sore and stiff from all the digging I had been doing lately so I decided that 3 hrs was enough.

The temps were broaching 50 degrees by the time I got home around 1330hrs, tired and very happy from the ride. Traffic was really heavy on my approach home, everyone must have had shack rot and had gone to the nearby mall I guess. Lots of splashback from the where the roads were wet so it was a good time to stop riding.

Maria did beautifully of course though she did cut out on me once while at a traffic light. I am hoping it was just because I was getting low on gas or perhaps a bit of water had condenses in her tank during her recent period of inactivity. Or perhaps I was not holding the clutch lever in enough, anyways, she fired right up and did not repeat that again.

So a great first ride for 2007, I look forward to more riding assuming the weather lets me.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

After 38 days of no riding....I got out today!

Temps in low 20s, sunny skies after a morning of fluffy snow that left us about an inch on the ground. The snow was gone by midday from the sidewalks and main roads. The side road from my culdesac to the S. Ireland St remained snow-covered of course.

After some more prep work in the morning, to include widening the channel in the ice sheet bordering the sidewalk on S. Ireland St, more ice chipping in spots on the sidewalk, trimming low hanging branches along the way and blowing what snow had fallen; I finally got up the nerve to try a test run in the afternoon.

The Escape Route

The day turned out beautiful, at 4PM I got my riding gear on and rode the motorcycle slowly on the sidewalks I'd kept clear these last few days. Stopped in the ice channel and once no traffic I rode on out! It was glorious! The main roads were dry and traffic was light! Though in the 20s, I did not care because I was finally riding!

The Channel thru the Ice (already icing over for the night)

I circled the neighborhood a couple of times since I told my loving wife I'd only be gone 30 minutes. So it was a short test ride but I CAN GET OUT! A much longer ride is planned for tomorrow! As my wife said: "There's once again, peace in the valley!".

I believe I have a way out....

Now if it would only stop snowing!

Got home around 1400 yesterday and continued clearing a way out of the neighborhood which remains snowcovered except for the sidewalks and S. Ireland St. which is now clear, wet but clear.

In the process of digging a small channel in the ice bordering S. Ireland St. I realized that not only would it help guide standing water to the nearby sewer drains but if I only widened it a bit more I could have a clear contact-with-pavement ride from the sidewalk I'd cleared before to the actual road and from there out to the main roads!

So I spend the rest of the afternoon, with the help of my firstborn and two kids from the neighborhood. Digging away at what we called the mini panama canal. : ) In the end, we had a nice clear channel for water drainage as the snow melts and if I can keep it clear of the expected snow, a road out to the entrance of the subdivision!

1-3 inches of snow forecasted for today, I'll be doing my best to keep the exit route clear of the stuff. Now that the ice is chipped away, its just a matter of keeping what snow falls to a minimum along the path. The forecast however for the rest of the week is not great but hopefully not too bad either.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

5 hours of snow throwing

Took the morning off from work and spent it snow blowing clear the sidewalks in the culdesac(where I could) and really clearing the sidewalks leading out from the entrance of the culdesac. I could reach all the way to South Ireland Street. Only thing stopping now from accessing semi dry Ireland Street was a six foot stretch of packed ice. Needless to say, more sun-induced melting will be needed. My poor little snow blower could do nothing to the ice.

Stopped after I went through my third shear pin on the auger blade assembly. It really did not like it when I would hit rocks. I am down to one spare shear pin and need two to get my snow blower working again.

Was feeling pretty good at the amount of snow I cleared when lo and behold after over five weeks since the first blizzard, a snow grader finally came down my neighborhood street! Actually, was kind of surprised since I'd never seen any kind of snow plowing truck come down my neighborhood. My wife explained to me that since we're part of a city now, the streets have to be plowed! Finally, a benefit of being part of Centennial! Five weeks though....oh well.

He did not scrape the road dry though, just removed the upper layer of ice and snow which I guess is something. He even came into the culdesac and removed the upper crust of the thick layer of snow and ice I'd been staring all the past five weeks or so.

While I am sure his intentions were good, he pretty much covered over with ice/snow a couple of areas I had cleared off with the blower! Once I get the snow blower going again I'll have to redo the two exit points I had made to try and someday get my motorcycle out to the dry sidewalks. He did do a great job of not covering the cleared sidewalks though. I hope the layer he scraped off uncovered enough to lead to faster melting of the remaining ice/snow in the culdesac.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Snow Thrower is Here!

As emailed to me by Sears, the snow thrower arrived today at the local store. I got there ahead of their notification to come pick it up. Note: Sears' online system, sucks. The store had the model onhand that I had ordered online, so why could they not just allocate me one they already had in the store instead of shipping another one? I could have had it this past weekend when we got 6-8 inches of snow!!!

The specs are here if you're interested. It's a two-stage with 5.5HP, not the most powerful but pricey enough.

As foretold to me by guys who've used snow throwers, it was pretty ineffective against packed ice but she did wonderfully against packed snow. I only had a couple of hours of daylight once I got it home and assembled but I tried it out on several spots in the culdesac, and did some clearing around my driveway to get a feel for operating the beast.

Turned out to be pretty easy and uncomplicated. Taking the morning off tomorrow to do some serious sidewalk clearing past the culdesac to gain clear dry access to S. Ireland Street which will then lead me to the clear main roads out of the neighborhood for my motorcycle. I'm hoping anyways. The forecast is good for some serious melting of snow in the area.

Of course, more snow is forecasted for the weekend so I am probably pissing in the wind again but at least I'll be clearing away the existing layer from the sidewalks.

25JAN07 Followup: Confirming what I said about Sear's online sales mechanism sucking, I just received a recorded message call, telling me my snow blower was ready for pickup! Truly a sad state of affairs for such a big company. Yep, 32 hours AFTER I picked it up from the store, I get the call to come get it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Global Warming, my left Buttock!

So a forecasted flurry to 2 inch accumulation turned into 6-8 inches of snow for my part of town. My loving wife dug out the driveway and partway into the culdesac and reported the above snow accumulation. I am still recovering from a cold and decided not to push it by shoveling snow.

The snow must be deep, she's even canceling a playdate gathering of neighborhood moms and kids at my house scheduled for tomorrow due to the snow conditions!

I'll be glad to get my hands on the snow thrower I ordered from Sears. It's supposed to be at the store this Wednesday, no more heavy shoveling duties with that baby.

Now I'll be able to not only clear my driveway, but the sidewalks around the culdesac and with a bit of luck and planning, the sidewalks leading to Berry Road which becomes a dry and navigable road after a snow storm within a few days since its plowed due to its being declared a snow route.

Perhaps, I'll even be able to get the motorcycle out, through those sidewalks, as suggested to me by Sanoke. I know the neighbors won't mind, since to do this, I'll be using my snow thrower to clear their sidewalks for them!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Back to waiting for this damn snow to melt

Have given up on the trailer option due to costs and logistics involved. Played with the idea of renting a storage shed at a local U-Store-It kind of place but even though they had their own snow removal equipment, icy patches blocked the way in and out. Too risky.

More snow forecasted for tomorrow afternoon, 2-4 inches dammit.

The snow thrower I ordered online from Sears has been processed according to them but no email yet from the store telling me its ready for pickup! Having it onhand for the next snow storm would at least help me keep alive the illusion that I have some control of my own environment. Oh well.

Damn snow.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Main Roads Dry, Still Trapped by Neighborhood Roads

So I drive my cage to work today, the temps were in the mid to upper 30s apparently and much snow melted. The roads had patches of ice but were mostly clear on the drive in but were really clear as I drove home this afternoon.

Of course, once I hit my neighborhood entrance, snow-choked/rutted/icy roads remain in effect. Not much melting in evidence dammit. I am glad now that I rescheduled the installation of the hitch for Friday which is apparently the fastest they can get their hands on the specific hitch for my cage. I get the feeling the seeminly disorganized folks at U-Haul never did order it in the first place back when I had the original install appointment!

So, the plan is to get the hitch installed Friday, come home with a motorcycle trailer, and try and exit the neighborhood Saturday morning for a ride before the next forecasted snow. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I'm Back, still no riding

Got home to wet looking roads and temps in the low single digits, the car's thermometer read Zero degrees as I carefully drove home with the family.

Far as I could tell, about two inches of fluffy snow had fallen on top of the snow I'd left behind a week ago, not sure any of it had gone away really. Damn.

The forecast is for really cold temps, nothing above freezing anyways till Friday. They're not guessing any more past that point apparently. So, cold as hell and of course no melting in that kind of cold, no matter if the sun comes out or not. Joy Joy Joy.

My loving wife shoveled maybe two inches of snow off the driveway this morning before I drove out to get some foodstuff, by the evening her efforts were covered up by new snow. Sigh.

Damn snow, damn snow-choked and deeply-rutted sidestreets, damn cold weather keeping the snow from melting, damn icy deathtraps in parking lots.

I spent the day ensuring no burst pipes in the unheated garage where the cars and Maria are parked. I am leaving the lights on, added work lights, all to keep the temps in the garage above freezing. It's working so far, kept checking the temperature throughout the day and it's in the low 40s, while outside it got to a high of 11 degrees.

Now I know this much snow is highly unusual and made it into the record books and all, but did it really have to hit the first year that I discovered motorcycling?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Why no updates?

I am in California, aka land of Fruits and Nuts, on a family vacation. Ran from the snowbound landscape of Colorado to the sunny but congested landscape of Southern California. My loving wife and I have found it amusing that the locals break out the cold weather gear when the temps are in the 60s!

My neighbors inform me little snow/ice has melted in my absence from the culdesac and surrounding neighborhood streets; so my enforced hiatus from motorcycle riding will doubtless continue upon my return tomorrow.

The plan remains to get a hitch for my car for the times that the only thing stopping me from safely riding is a couple of blocks of snowchoked neighborhood roads. The hitch and a u-haul motorcycle trailer to get my motorcycle out of the neighborhood and onto dry main roads.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Working on an Escape Plan during Snow Days

I am now really sick and tired of being trapped by snowpacked/icy neighborhood roads when clear streets are only a couple of LONG blocks away. Not to mention the icy deathtraps at the entrance to the neighborhood that threatens to tear off my car's airdam when traversing it. Nearly got stuck on the ice this morning when I went to avoid the dip but started sliding on the ice-encrusted snow next to it. The Nokian WR tires came through though, so glad I equipped all my cars with these tires, they do great on snow/ice.

Having the green light from my loving wife, I am now scheduled to have a tow hitch attached to my Mercedes 560SL which is my transportation on bad weather days when I can't bike. The plan now is to rent a trailer from U-Haul (thanks for the idea, John!) on the days I want to haul the bike out of the snow-choked neighborhood roads and onto the main streets and then go riding. Heck, I'll even be able to commute to work assuming the ice-covered deathtrap that is the parking lot at work is safe enough to ride on. At the very least, it'll allow me to ride on clear roads during the weekends as I am forced to wait on the melting of the snowpacked roads in my neighborhood.

1987 MB 560SL, her name is Liesl

Yeah, I know, I'll probably be banned from the Mercedes Enthusiast Forums but one can't deny the utility of this concept. When I need to drop the car off for servicing I attach a trailer and bring my bike along. I leave the car at the mechanic's and ride to work on my bike. If the bike needs servicing, then the situation is reversed. I'll no longer have to prevail on my loving wife for a ride to either location or beg friends for a ride to pick up a vehicle when it's finished being serviced!

Long term, I'll see how much of a PITA it is to depend on the local U-Haul for renting a Motorcycle Trailer on what will hopefully be very few ocassions during the year. If it's too much of a PITA then I'll be getting this trailer:

Same bike as Maria on this trailer.