Sunday, April 29, 2007

Worn Tires

Hot and Sunny Day today. Low 54 High 81.

After riding almost 300 miles yesterday, I had to be "at work" at 0355hrs today. Even though I was working from home and remoting into the office networks, I did not finish till 1100hrs. I felt tired and groggy, so no riding today.

Glad I went riding yesterday though, hate to think I had almost skipped riding yesterday since I was concerned about my tires being too worn for a long ride. A couple of co-workers and the indie mechanic that's going to mount my new tires this coming week all said I should be ok so long as it did not rain.

Took a look at the tires this morning ( I had been checking them pretty much every time I stopped yesterday) and here's what they now look like. Not much different from I recall of their appearance on Friday:

Front Tire

Rear Tire

Yep, some of the chicken strips are still there! I am not an aggresive rider by any means, I don't think I've scraped the left peg more than twice, and perhaps once on the right peg.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I Ride the Peak-to-Peak Highway, Twice!

Temps in the mid-40s and peaking in the high 70s, sunny. A beautiful day to ride and ride I did.

I left the house at 0739hrs heading out to Morrison and the Red Rocks Grill hoping to find a ColoradoBeemers club officer to sign off on my mileage contest entry form. Unlike the last time I went to Morrison, there were some club members there and two I recognized. Turns out though that Ziggi is an "appointed" officer as the Club's Ride Captain....and not eligible to single-sign my form. Turns out also that I can take the form to the local Beemer dealer and I might do that.

Today's gathering just reinforced onto me a growing feeling I'd been developing that perhaps being member of a motorcycle club is not for me. Perhaps it's the vibes I've been getting lately when dealing with club members, perhaps its the perceived politics currently marring club activities such as the weekly breakfast meetings, perhaps its my inability to break into the inner circles. Who knows, perhaps it's just this club which is seemingly struggling with itself on some issues. All I know for sure is I left the breakfast meeting feeling unhappy about being a member. I did not hang around to see what kind of group ride developed but instead took off on my own.

I left Morrison shortly after 0900 and took C470 slab to the I-70W Slab. I exited short of Idaho Springs on the Central City Parkway which led me to the casino towns of Central City and Blackhawk. There was very little to no activity when I got there shortly before 1000hrs. Guess all the gamblers had not arrived yet to be fleeced. I cruised through the small town of Central City, some quaint buildings and such but basically a gambling town.

I stopped to get some coffee at a coffee shop across the street from this casino:

Gold Mine Casino

After coffee, I headed back out on CO119 towards Nederland to see what was out there.
The road was lightly traveled and I was able to take in the sights while winding my way through the mountain ravines. Here's a steam shovel I found as I left Nederland, I think, can't recall exactly where I was when I stopped. It's one of the steam shovels that was used to dig the Panama Canal!

1923 Bucyrus Model 50B

I headed out of Nederland on CO72 which turns onto CO7 just past the small town of Raymond. Not sure if any of the little towns on these roads really qualify as towns, some were just a couple of buildings but there you go. By the way, you're in the Arapaho National Forest at this point and later on enter the Roosevelt National Forest as you do this ride. Here's a couple of pics of Mount Meeker, a mountain that dominates the scenery on CO7 which is the way to Estes Park which is North of Nederland. I was near Allens park when I took these shots.

Mount Meeker

Mount Meeker from Allenspark

Longs Peak

Around 1215hrs I hit upon a historic site marker, I turned off CO7 and found myself at St Malo's Church. A quaint stone church with an interesting Saint's name. Why interesting to me? Because in Spanish, Malo means bad.....I wonder how he came to be named this name? I stopped briefly to take pictures of the outside and the interior. I saw many bikers race on by, not stopping, barely glancing over at the church. Too bad for them, they missed out. I for one, was glad I stopped.

Once I got to Estes Park I cruised through the town and saw a sign for Devil's Gulch. The name was intriguing so I turned down what turned out to be Larimer County 43, it winds through ranches and the small town of Glen Haven. Not great shakes on the scenic department but perhaps all the rocky walls, rapidly running creeks, quaint dwellings just did not leap out at me and my rocky mountain-jaded eyes.

Larimer County 43 ends at CO34 and I took it back towards Estes Park. I think I hit this wonderfully winding road at just the right time when I got on at around 1300. The light was hitting the quartz crystals in the rocks on the hillsides just right, making them appears as if they were covered in golden dust. It was very pretty, this golden glow on the rocks. Made me think of the old time pioneers who scrabbled about this countryside seeking their fortunes in gold and silver. The road itself has a speed limit of 30mph which you can push a little bit and really enjoy some of the winding turns. This road also borders a rapidly running river which apparently is the norm for all the roads in the mountains.

CO34 took me back to the Estes Park outskirts where my eye caught sight of what appeared to be Noah's Ark! Turned out it was an ark, of sorts. It's called Estes Ark and it's sort of a roadside attraction for a grouping of shops. It does its job well don't you think? I did not go in to take a look. If you're really curious, here's a link.

I had lunch at a McDonald's near where CO34 and CO7 intersect. I've had lunch there before it turns out, last year when I rode to Rocky Mountain National Park for which Estes Park is the gateway.

After lunch, I did not relish the thought of taking US36 back to Boulder and since the Trail Ride Highway is not yet open to traffic due to winter, I elected instead to ride back the way I came, hence the title of this blog entry. The Peak-to-Peak Highway Ride is roughly from Central City to Estes Park and I did it twice, by riding up it and back down. It's a very nice ride, highly recommended to any rider with a few hours on their hands and some nice weather.

Once I neared Central City, I took CO119 over to US6 rather than traverse the casino cities to get to the Central City Parkway since by now all the gamblers were there and traffic was heavy. I saw many more cars headed up CO119 and US6 towards the casinos than were going away from them towards Golden with me. For that I was glad since traffic was heavy enough. The warm weather had brought everyone out it seems.

CO119 and US6, by the way, from Black Hawk to Golden is another gorgeous ride down the mountains, following whatever rapidly running river it is that serves as the channel through high steep rock walls through which the road was hewn. You traverse three short tunnels on the way to Golden, inside of each you can glimpse the tough rock that was tunneled across to allow access to this beautiful mountain region.

I saw many fly-fishermen, some kayakers getting ready to brave the waters, people stopping by the side of the road to dip their toes in the cold mountain streams and of course many many bikers and motorcyclists.

Once I got to Golden, I elected to go home via the C470 superslab. There was an accident just West of the Quebec Road exit which brought traffic to a standstill. Police cars, ambulances and fire equipment with sirens wailing forced traffic towards the right lane as they used the left shoulder to get through to the accident. Just when we'd all mosey'ed over to the right, we hear sirens on the right and we're all forced to mosey back to the left as a sherrif's truck screamed past on the right shoulder!

I did not look at the accident, it's a pet peeve of mine that all the "looky-lous" slowly creep by an accident sight eyeballing it, further tying up traffic. Traffic picked up to normal speeds after the accident and I made it home with no further incident. About 7 hrs of time in the saddle, covered roughly 295 miles and the thread of the tires don't look any more worn than they were in the morning! : )

Maria did beautifully as usual, averaging about 45mpg. Which is good, since the price of gas up near Estes Park was $3.45/gallon! A great ride, the anti-slip material worked great so am I thinking perhaps its a keeper for the motorcycle. My knees still got sore but not unbearably so. I still went through all the usual gyrations to relieve the pain in the knees. I am beginning to think that it's going to be a loooong ride to Wisconsin this coming July.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Ride to the Odd-Shaped Bank in Englewood

Temps from mid-40s to high 60s. Gorgeously sunny with little to no clouds.

Took off from work at around 1430 since I had to go back in tonight for yet another network change. Cruised on down from the DTC to Arapahoe Road which I took westbound till it deadends on Broadway Blvd. I took it North towards Hampden where I had spotted a weird shaped white building on the SW corner of the intersection of Broadway and Hampden. I wanted to take a picture of it for the blog and find out what was there.

Well it turns out to be a bank! Not what I was expecting. It's one of the branches for Colorado Bank of Choice. I can't decide what shape the building is, at first I thought onion shaped:

View from the back of the building

Then I parked Maria in front and it's more like a donut with a section cut off, don't you think so?

The front side of the building.

Kinda weird huh? Here's a shot of it from google maps:

I found on Google a blog saying that the same guy that designed the "flying saucer house" or "sculptured house" from the movie Sleeper, Charles Deaton, designed this weird shaped bank building as well.

Want more pics? Google: "charles deaton englewood colorado bank"

Since I was nearby to the indie mechanic, I gave him a call and found the tires still had not been delivered; and since he does not work weekends, it'll be Monday at the earliest before Maria gets her new tires.

Two of the guys at work, and later the indie mechanic confirmed that I still enough thread for dry roads so at least I'll be able to ride this weekend. The weather is supposed to be pretty good with a high of 80 on Sunday!

After taking the pictures, I headed over to US 85, aka Santa Fe Road and took it South, going past where it intersects with the C-470 superslab. Went past the slab and on a whim I took a left on Highlands Ranch Parkway. Highlands Ranch is a large community of above median price homes South of the Denver Metro Area. The parkway headed East and I found it to be a pretty good alternative to using the C-470 slab to get back towards the east.

I tanked up at a Conoco when I realized I was down to one bar on the gas gauge! 5 Gallons at $3.21 each later, I was once again heading East on the parkway. I found it becomes Colorado Blvd shortly after that gas station and turns North, goes over the 470 slab and allows one to get on County Line Road.

Headed East on County Line Rd, past the Park Meadows Mall area, onto Inverness Drive and back onto Arapahoe. I stopped by the Home Depot near Southland Malls and bought some shelf liner material that is anti-slip.

When I got home I put some of it on the rear half of the seat on Maria to see if it helps with preventing me sliding forward and putting unwanted pressure on the old knees both when riding and when coming to a stop.

Had dinner, went in for the network change at 1900. The anti-slip material does seem to help with keeping me on the seat where I want to be, we'll see how it works out in the long run. The change went pretty well, some stuff to fix this coming week but the customer was happy and we caused no impact. I guess I can't really ask for much more than that given the last couple of major changes I've been a part of that did not go so well. Perhaps my luck is turning.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Snow is gone, rode to work

Temps ranging from mid-30s to mid 40s. Sunny with occasional cloudiness and showers.

Woke up to find the neighbors had carved several tracks in the culdesac on their way to work. The snow that had fallen all day yesterday was melting already and it was quite easy to push it aside to carve a path out for Maria all the way to the entrance of the culdesac. Once my wife and I finished clearing the driveway I settled in to work a few hours remotely to let the snow melt some more.

By 1100hrs most of the snow if off the pavement

Around 1100, the sun came out in force and I could see dry spots developing not only on the culdesac and driveway but on the roads themselves. I geared up, and went to work, getting there shortly before 1200. The roads in suburbia were wet but highly navigable, once I got on Parker Road southbound from Orchard Rd the road was completely dry all the way to work.

Kind of nice going in so late, traffic was light, roads were dry, and it was not very cold at all. I even lowered the windshield all the way to enjoy the cool breeze on the ride in.

After work I got home around 1630 and in about 30 minutes did my second oil change on Maria. Yep, it's been 3033 miles since the last oil change on March 10, 2007 so she was due. I try to do oil changes every 3000 miles on my cars so am adopting same schedule for the motorcycle. I think the recommended interval from BMW is 6000 miles.

Maria will be due her 30,000 mile service in about 1500 miles or so. I plan to replace all the fluids, check her valve clearances, and whatever else needs to be checked/looked at per the BMW checklist. I believe she's due a fuel filter replacement at this time but will hold off and do that in November when she's due for her annual brake bleeding/fluid replacement.

I think I can work in the 1500 miles or so before her 30000 mile service before the big trip to the BMWMOA National Rally in West Bend, WI. Just shy of 1200 miles to get there. My family will be flying out and I will ride out. My wife's family is from Wisconsin so it works for all of us to go there.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Worn tires and heavy Rain = no riding

Temps in the low to mid 30s. Rain turning to snow.

0900hrs: Writing this from work, I woke up to this radar picture and rode the cage in. The Denver metro area is not used to rain really and when we get the heavy rains, streets flood, water collects, stupid cagers get even stupider.

As mentioned previously, I need new tires and while they're OK for dry roads until the new ones get here, they're probably not OK for wet roads with a tendency to collect water into nice hydroplaning enabling stretches of road.

The blue stuff is snow, yes...snow. Friend of mine who lives in Parker, which is south of where I live reports snow is sticking to both roads and ground. Just saw some snowflakes drift down here at work. I love springtime in Colorado. Sigh.

1600hrs Update:

It's been snowing now pretty steadily since about 1400hrs or so in my neighborhood, glad I drove home when I did, having to only content with wet roads with just small amounts of ice/snow starting to form as I neared home.

Now it looks like this, did I mention I love Spring in Colorado? : )

Maria looks out at the snow, happy to be inside

The view from the front window....

Monday, April 23, 2007

The tires are ordered and I ride through my first Tornado Watch

Temps from high 40s in the morning to low 60s in the afternoon. Overcast, with occasional rain showers. Tornado watch issued in the afternoon just before I left work to go to the indie mechanic.

Although there was a tornado watch for the counties I was in today during my riding, the skies were pretty clear though cloudy with occasional patches of sun. Heck I had to remove my jacket liner for the ride home from the indie mechanic!

I ordered another set of Metzeler 880 Marathon tires, am very pleased with the performance I got from the set that came with Maria when I bought her back in October. I estimating around 9000 miles from the front tire and perhaps 11,500 from the rear tire. I will know the final figures in about a week when the tires are in and the guy replaces them while I wait.

The indie mechanic runs Bavarian Motorcycles West, a small (and I do mean small) shop located to the rear of his home in a neighborhood zoned for both residential and commercial buildings. The place had two semi-large bays and I saw about 5 to six bikes inside being worked on. Pete Homan is his name and he came highly recommended by a couple of fellow club members so I am giving him a try for the job of mechanic to Maria. His working companion was a friendly dog by the name of Harley.

Had issues finding his place, let's just say mapquest was lacking a bit. Or perhaps it was my old eyes that did not notice the key street I was seeking, Delaware St., went UNDER Evans Street, not junctioning with it. Oh well, now I can find the place easily enough. Just take Arapahoe Road to where it T's with Broadway, North on Broadway to Illiff and West on Illiff till it hits Delaware. Took Broadway home via the E470 superslab, no incidents and much better a ride than taking I-25 up from the DTC over to Evans and then heading west towards Santa Fe Road! That ride kind of sucked due to the traffic conditions and had me questioning whether to even try this mechanic out.

A few drops of rain was all I saw of the "tornado watch". The skies to the East though looked pretty grim as I rode on the E-470 superslab, glad I did not live as far east as they were.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The following takes place from 0600hrs 21APR to 07hrs 22APR.

Temps in the high 50s and low 60s. Saturday began as sunny, become overcast with threat of rain in the afternoon, scattered showers at night with clear skies and cool at dawn on Sunday.

I've been awake for over the last 24hrs and although not as exciting as Jack Bauer's 24 hr days...still had some events to relate.

First off, on my weekly inspection of the motorcycle prior to riding. I now can see the top of Abe Lincoln's head when doing the penny test on the threads of both the front and rear tires on Maria. I'll be dropping off a check on Monday to the indie mechanic recommended by club members so he can order me two more Metzler 880s. The PO tells me he changed out the rear at 16925 miles and the front a week or so before I bought her with 19,437 miles on her odometer. I am getting close to 28,500 now so I am guessing I'll get a bit over 9000 miles for the front tire and somwhere over 11575 on the rear tire. Interesting, it's usually the other way around in terms of tire wear I am told.

After that I went to the nearby BMW of Denver dealer who was hosting an Open House/Swap Meet. I perused the stuff in the swap meet area and did not buy anything as nothing appealed to me. What did appeal to me was the demo table from TomTom with their Rider model prominently displayed. I listened to the salesman's pitch and it sure was tempting but the $500 price is still a bit high for me. A sweet unit though and they do bundle everything you need to put it on the motorcycle. Someday.

I went home for lunch and then headed to a co-worker's house for some hands-on training in the art of valve clearance checking on a Kawasaki Concours. Yes, not quite the same as a boxer but once the valves were exposed they looked very similar to the valve covers on a boxer based the pics I've seen. Of course, he's got 16 of them! He showed me how to do the feeler gauge thing and what constitute too tight and too lose, it's a very simple operation really and I feel much more confident now for when I get to do it to Maria. Spent the afternoon with him doing this and a couple of other jobs on his motorcycle.

2006 Kawasaki Concours, sans tupperware

Pretty similar eh?

Got home in time for a late dinner of fast food and then headed into work to prepare for a change that started a little after 2000 and a follow-on change that started at 2100. It was a major migration of one of our DMZ networks and let me tell ya, it could have gone much smoother or much worse. We were not done till 0500 this morning, Sunday, and boy I am tired after having been up over 24hrs.

The ride home was on wet roads, so I guess it did rain overnight. No problems though and I took things real easy anyways.

Never have had much luck getting good naps in before these late night changes and this time, did not even try. Typing this while using up what remains of my "second wind".

The worse part? I am too damn tired to go on the Peak to Peak Estes Park ride scheduled for today by the ColoradoBeemers! I think it would have been a great ride but no way I am safe for it right now. I hear a bed calling me now. Over to you, Jack......

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Maria appears on!

Not sure why I find this so pleasing but, a site that specializes in listing interesting/unusual/weird tourist attractions and sites, deigned to publish my entry which tells of the Buffalo Bill Museum on top of Lookout Mountain!

The website itself is a great collection of sites, collected from all over, that might peak your interest and get you to ride out to take a look for yourself. You might be surprised what you find near you! I know it's helped plus up my list of ride destination candidates.

Here's the entry that I submitted, and which got Maria's picture on their website:

Lookout Mountain - Golden, Colorado - Buffalo Bill's Grave and Museum
At the top of Lookout Mountain is the site for the Buffalo Bill Museum and his gravesite. The road leading up the mountain is part of the Colorado "Lariat Loop" scenic roadway.
[Dom Chang, 04/01/2007]

Link to ride that produced this picture, which roadsideamerica used.

The full posting with information on the museum is found on the site by searching for "buffalo bill" and "colorado". I encourage you to visit and ride out to the destinations you find interesting. If you know of some cool/interesting/weird location, let them know....get Your motorcycle on their site.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A great weather site for us motorcyclists

I found this site via a posting on one of the motorcycling forums I frequent online. Pretty neat site in that it gives you realtime temperature readings for the area you select, can tell you what the weather is forecasted to be for trips on your motorcycle, and puts webcams on same page for the area you selected if it knows of them.

It's worth a quick look if you ride your motorcycle a lot in order to keep that close eye on the weather that you develop when riding a motorcycle on a frequent basis, such as commuting to/from work.

The best part, IMHO, is the temperature map for the area around you so you can determine if your commute is a doable in terms of ice during the winter, and perhaps plan longer rides as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dancing with the Winds

Temps in the low 50s to mid 60s, sunny and very very windy.

We had pretty strong winds from the South as I started my ride after lunch today. I'd spent the morning playing with my sons and riding bicycles with them. What a strange concept, having to work at building up speed on two wheels!

So I headed out around 1300 hrs, with no real destination in mind, I had to be back by 1700 so my wife could go out with her friends for dinner so I really could not get very far.

The title of this posting is what ran through my mind as I dealt with the strong gusty winds that would hit you if you were heading either East or West. Going North on the other hand, it would get real quiet and smooth with the wind at your back. I felt like I was auditioning for a role in the new movie "Dances with the Winds".

And no, I was not feeling flatulent. : )

So I went through Parker via Inspiration Drive as usual, then Crowfoot Parkway off Stroh Road to Castlerock. The sunny, warm weather had brought out a lot of bikers and I passed a whole herd of Harley Davidson motorcycles where Founder's Parkway intersects I-25; quite noisy this group was and the herd was moving slowly in order to stay together. I passed them up soon enough and I got on Wolfenberger Road where I made good time, staying pretty much within the speed limit as usual. I had a guy in a crotch rocket pass me and we waved at each other since neither of us was competing, just out riding.

At the end of Wolfenberg Road I turned South onto CO105 once a several groups of cruiser bikers passed by. I was in no rush and so trailed behind a group of three harleys, maintaining enough distance to not "intrude" in their group ride. Its a good thing that I did too because the "bears" were out today. I think they knew that CO105 would be a target-rich environment in terms of bikers out for a fast ride.

It could not have been more than ten minutes and I saw flashing lights at the top of a hill, there sat the county sheriff's squadcar and the poor guy on the crotch rocket who'd passed me up before, handing the officer his paperwork. Too bad but he probably was caught speeding past the slowly moving groups of Harleys that were on the road this warm afternoon.

I reached Palmer Lake, slowly trailing the group of three HD riders, and they stopped at O'Malleys and finally got out of the way. I continued on past O'Malleys which had a full quota of motorcycles outside. Got all the way to Monument and continued on CO105 as it shifted Eastward and crossed over I-25.

I kept heading East on 105 wondering where it ended up. Well, it ends up becoming Walker Road, and then a hard packed dirt county road! I had to stop at this point to put on my jacket liner since the wind had turned chilly. I was able to make good speed on this dirt road, almost 30mph on average. I turned North on Black Forest Road, still a packed dirt road. Several miles later it finally became pavement again at Steele Road. It was remarkable how smooth Maria's ride became not only because I was back on pavement but the fact I was headed in a northerly direction, with the wind at my back! She felt like she was gliding above the road.

The pavement led me back onto CO83 which I took heading North once again towards Franktown. Again, it was quite amazing how smooth the ride felt with the wind at one's back. It was very quiet and almost felt like maria and I were hovering inches above the road. Nice.

There's a historical marker at the souther edge of Parker which I'd seen during many motorcycle trips back and forth along CO83. This time I finally stopped and took Maria's picture alongside it and read the marker. Pretty interesting actually:

I got home by 1630 or so, maybe 60 miles of riding today. Not feeling 100% since I was up till 0100 this morning on a network change which did not go as planned. We had to fall it back and we'll try again some other day.

Last time I changed the oil on Maria was on 10MAR07 when she had 25,500 miles on the odometer. Well, she's nearing her 3000 mile oil change already. I noticed my odometer read 28,251 at the end of the ride today.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A ride in the mountains and I meet a new fellow beemer rider

A beautifully sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. Temps in the high 30s at 0816 and peaking around 59 or so by 2pm.

What a day I woke to, not too cold and sunny. I headed to Morrison starting at 0816, hoping to get the signatures of two fellow BMWMOA members so that I could fill out my mileage contest entry form. I figured I've racked up over 8000 miles since September when I bought Maria so I can easily beat some of the entries from the last contest. Heck, one guy submitted a form for less than 1200 miles.

Alas, when I got to Morrison at 0900, there was only one beemer outside of the Red Rocks Grill! None of the regular club members were in sight! I talked to a couple of locals and they said no one had shown up, I wonder where the club met today? Oh well. The other beemer was ridden by a prospective new club member by name of Eric. He was a recent transplant to Golden and he'd come by to check out the club.

We talked for a bit, and decided to go riding into the mountains. He was riding a 2001 R1150GS, very nicely maintained, black with system cases. We started off on Bear Canyon Road heading West out of Morrison, through Idledale and to the town of Kittredge where I took the road South towards Parmalee Gulch. We wound our way down this nicely twisting road and got onto US 285 heading South. The weather was still a bit cool at this point but not bad, at least for me behind Maria's fairings. Eric said he was doing fine when we stopped at the light at Pine Junction. So we turned left onto Country 126 heading South towards Deckers.

We tried stopping for coffee at the "Zoka" Restaurant just south of Pine Grove but we were too early. It was a little after 10am and the lady that was there sweeping things up said they did not open till 1100. So we just took a small break, chatted a bit.

A few minutes later, we mounted back up and continued heading South on 126, stopping briefly at the Long Craggy Peak overlook where I got this shot of the motorcycles.

You can see how beautifully clear the skies were today

On the road again, we continued on down to Deckers where we stopped for a snack and a drink. Once we were done, we headed North on county 67 out of Deckers, I wanted to show Eric the South Platte Hotel relic that lies just north of where 67 stops being a dirt road and becomes a roughly paved narrow road meandering alongside the South Platte River.

As Eric moved ahead on his GS, I took the opportunity to take pictures of these big boulders and rock formations along and in the river.

We continued onwards till we got to Foxton Road which we took so I could show Eric what Sanoke had showed me as "Cathedral Rock":

A pic from first time I saw Cathedral Rock. Link
Turns out that it was pretty close, it's formally named Cathedral Spires.

Here's a cool wooden walkway/bridge we found near Foxton. There was a sign labeling the abode as Ferndale.

We ended up in Buffalo Creek to my surprise and I showed Eric the old time "mercantile shop" that functions as this small town's one pump gas station and post office. It's like stepping back into the 1940s when one walks inside this place. It's part of the National Register of Historic Places.

A pic from a ride last year, that's Sanokes' motorcycle.

As we left Buffalo Creek, we found ourselves on 126 once again and a little south of Pine Grove! As we were traversing Pine Grove I noticed a small sign pointing up into the hills that said: Sphinx Park, 1 mile. We turned around and went up this winding dirt road, past the huge rock dome for which Sphinx Park is known and we had lunch at the Buck Snort Saloon.

After lunch we made our way back down to Pine Grove and then we headed North on 126 back onto Pine Junction and US285. We took 285 North and turned off after Aspen Park onto South Turkey Creek Rd. Twisting our way through this road, watching out for gravel accumulations we'd been seeing all day, we got to Fenders where where fire station is and turned onto Deer Creek Canyon road which eventually twisted its way to the Chatfield Reservoir Park area.

Eric and I went our separate ways at this point, him back to Golden and home and myself using the 470 superslab back to my neck of the woods. I tanked up before getting home and noted a total of 186 miles of riding today and about six hours of saddletime. A great ride, meet a new fellow rider, found my way back to Sphinx Park for future picture trips, gained more confidence in riding dirt roads and through it all Maria performed beautifully as usual.

A Closeup of Eric and his GS next to my RT

Sanoke, if you're reading this, drop me an email....we should do some more riding soon. I bet you've found some more "less ridden" roads since the last time we rode together.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday the 13th, Part 2, a ride which finds deer!

Temps ranging from 37 to 40. Partly cloudy with brief periods of sun, specially closer to sunset.

At 1710hrs my loving wife finds me surfing the net on the couch and said I should go for a ride since the sun was out and the roads were dry. Don't know how I missed this, and of course one of the names by which my wife goes by is "she who must be obeyed".

So, minutes later I was geared up and rolling out of the neighborhood on Maria. At first thought was to head E/SE of home to see if I could see the storm clouds that I thought were still bypassing the Denver Metro area and leaving us clear of snow. I got as far East as CO 103 which I took southbound till I got to Douglas County 24 which I returned to Parker on, I saw sunlight peeking through the clouds over Parker, nothing but gray clouds to the east so the choice was obvious. I had spotted about about six deer as they crossed the road before turning towards Parker. Both the car in front of me and the truck in back of me stopped along with me and watched the herd cross the pavement.

Once in Parker, the sun really shone through the clouds and I stopped in this empty parking lot to catch this picture of my shadow. My proof at the time that we actually had a brief period of sunny weather.

I then headed North on Parker Road thinking I'd take Quincy Rd. back home. However as I neared Quincy Rd, I thought to cruise through the Cherry Creek State Park instead.

I failed to get the light to give me a left-turn arrow at the East entrance to the park off Parker Road so I got back onto Parker Rd and got on the Cherry Creek Dam Road, crossing the dam over to the West entrance to the park. The ranger station was closed so I just cruised on through. Here's a couple of pics I took while meandering the roads within the park.

Looking to the East

Looking to the West
Once I started heading East again on the park road I spotted a large number of deer on both sides of the road. So I stopped and counted about 12 of the beasts! They watched me as I watched them, my four-way flashers going and my engine idling. A couple of them gave me some pretty searching looks, I wonder if they could tell I was wearing deerskin gloves! : )

The Herd
Finally, I ended up shutting off the engine, making sure to leave the four-way flashers going so other traffic in the park would see me stopped on the side of the road. The herd finally decided to go ahead and cross the road in front of me a ways.

It was starting to get dark by now, I made a brief stop at the foot of the dam itself but the light was no longer right for pictures. I headed on home, arriving 2.5hrs after I had left and another 56 miles on Maria's odometer.

Riding the cage on Friday the 13th, two mini-epiphanies occur

Temps in the low 30s with freeing drizzle/snow sporadically falling in the Denver Metro area.

The forecast last night had been for 5-12 inches of snow for the area so I had gone to bed resigned with having to drive the cage if I had to go into to work on Friday. Woke up to no snow having fallen overnight and semi-dry roads. Looks like the jet stream had diverted the snow that had been heading our way yesterday and made it go further south. WooHoo! I think the forecasters are the only ones to have "bad luck" today in terms of their forecasting's accuracy.

However, still some snow in the forecast so I still drove the cage in to work. I can't remember the last time I drove her, so a good chance to get all seals lubricated and parts exercised. The cage is almost 18 years old after all; she's still running strong though with over 152k miles on her.

Liesl, 1987 560SL

As I drove in, all warm and comfy in the cage, listening to some inane commentary on the radio, I was reminded, by way of the first min-epiphany, of the saying I'd found on the Internet awhile back regarding the difference of riding in a cage and riding a motorcycle:

In a car, you're watching a movie unfold as you drive to your destination. On a motorcycle, you're IN the movie!

I know, not much of an epiphany for those of you who read this and ride motorcycles. However it had been such a long time since I last drove the cage that it was something that jumped out at me while I drove along with the rest of the cages. Little did the regular cagers all around my car realize the thrills and fun they were missing out on.

I went home early, using the falling snow as an excuse, not to mention I've got to work tomorrow night for a network change that is pretty high profile. The weather is supposed to be warmer tomorrow so with a bit of luck, I'll be able to ride the motorcycle in for it.

The second min-epiphany occured while I was pumping gas into the cage. The price of premium was $3.05 today (suspiciously just in time to coincide with the bad weather alerts and predictable increase in demand for gas by people) and since that's what my cage demands, I used it. Almost 18.2 gallons and $55.67 later it hit me once again how much more economical it is to ride a motorcycle than driving my cage on a regular basis! Again, not much in terms of epiphanies but life is not every exciting on days with such gloomy weather.

Snowing quite steadily as I write this, still not sticking to the roads though. I will not be heartbroken if even the updated forecast for about 2 inches of snow proves to be wrong. It sure looks pretty bad on the radar but who knows?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Riding home as the snow begins to fall

Temps around 34 degrees during the morning commute, below 32 and freezing at 1230.

The radar picture looked kind of bleak around 1230 so I decided to leave work and run for home as I'd ridden the motorcycle to work today. The skies had been clear and sunny on the ride in and the winter storm warning put out by the weather folks was not due to kick in till midnight.

Well, the snow started arriving at 1235 as I stood at my work parking lot donning my riding gear. Just small flakes, few and far between. This condition did not last long, pretty soon there was plenty of small snowflakes coming down as I took the quickest way home which was West on Arapahoe Road. Streets started looking wet about halfway home and once I got near my neighborhood I started seeing shiny spots on the roads. I avoided these thinking that perhaps they were sense taking chances.

Slowed way down, so of course the cager behind me decided to tailgate me for the last 1/2 mile or so till I turned off into my neighborhood and she went on ahead. Dumbass.

The tires on Maria felt a bit squirrely towards the end of the road, perhaps its just her present behavior given that I think I'll need to replace her tires in June before my planned ride to Wisconsin and the BMWMOA National Rally. Yes, I have been checking for evidence of wear bars, none so far. Or perhaps ice was beginning to form and I had left work just in time! Got home around 1305 with no incidents and a slight wet motorcycle. As I type this the radar picture looks like this.

The snow appears to have stopped and everything is just wet. Trouble is, it's below freezing in terms of temps, prime conditions for ice to form. The forecast for tomorrow is between 5-12 inches for the area, snowblower is standing by to carve a path out for the motorcycle so that I can maybe ride by Sunday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ich bin ein Motorcyclist!

Ok, not a great paraphrasing of the famous line from JFK, however the April 2007 issue of the BMW ON or Owner News magazine that I get as part of my membership to the BMWMOA had this great article by member Dave Webber where he arrives at the distinction between motorcyclists and bikers during a trip to the biker rally at Sturgis.

This article resonated with me and while I can't reproduce the whole article here, I can type in the parts that mattered to me most:

I made a late start and off I went the next day with my new destination being Sturgis. After a return to the park I made it as far east as Gillette. I found a hotel for the night and by this time; there were almost as many motorcycles in the parking lot as there were motorhomes.

There was something odd, however. The great percentage of the motorcycles were being unloaded from trailers with out-of-state license plates. There were mostly cruisers. As I unpacked my gear from my oilhead, I managed some conversation with my fellow riders and learned that many of the participants tow their machines to within a few miles of the rally, and then ride to the rally where they stay for a week to enjoy the camaraderie. I nodded to them in comprehension, I didn't get it really.

I had heard of people from the northeast trailering their motorcycles to North Carolina on their way to Daytona in February but this was August in the West! Anyway, a nice dinner and some sleep sent me on my way to Sturgis the next morning. I stopped for about an hour, bought a hat, and took some pictures and rode to Pierre, my destination for the night.
All in all, it was a well-planned once-in-a-lifetime journey punctuated by a detour to the Sturgis Rally. I had great fun and thousands of memories to show for it. This is all I have to show for it as my camera was lifted somewhere in Pierre, South Dakota! The 20,000 extra kilometers on my BMW were the only proof that I had made the trip.
So here I am removing the coat of wax I had applied to the yellow oilhead and the concept became quite clear. I, as a motorcyclist would gladly spend a week riding to the rally; stay and hour and then ride home again. To ride an hour to the rally and stay a week would not. That to me is more the biker lifestyle and does not define motorcycling which to me is an altogether different lifestyle. For me, motorcycling is its own reward, the journey is the destination.
The bolded line above is what I believe is becoming a philosophy with me as well. Sure there's hopefully thousands more miles ahead of me and I've yet to do overnight trips on a motorcycle so we shall see but so far, it's looking pretty good! Call me a Motorcyclist!

Update: 28FEB09: Found this article via a link on the BMWMOA Website: LINK

Doing a better job on Cornering

The weather has cooperated so far this week and I've been able to ride my motorcycle to and from work. Coldest so far has been about 31 degrees in the morning and the warmest was 60 degrees on Tuesday. Yesterday was a bit windy but nothing of consequence.

The commutes themselves have been without incidence and isn't that the kind of commutes one wants when on a motorcycle and invisible to the cagers?

I tried this week shifting all the way down to first gear when taking a turn, it seems to help with not only slowing oneself down in the beginning of the curve and I find if I do it right I got lots of torque/revs to use to power out of the turn as well. Still working on the right combination of friction zone, braking and rpm's but I am getting the hang of it!

Sure, the motorcycle has plenty of torque if I leave it in second gear but I like the ability to power out of the turn better now; not only that but less chance of lugging the engine. More practice is of course required.

Out of the blue I received an email from the blogger who runs where he offered to link to my blog whenever a motorcycling entry was posted. This was both unexpected and gratifying. Sure, it was great that MBI had accepted me but for an unsolicited offer to come in, that's great! Thanks James!

I've got to go in to work tonight for a set of network changes I am helping with, I am hoping the nice weather we had today holds out until after I get home from the change since I am planning to ride in.

Next couple of days look pretty bad for riding, Thursday might be doable but Friday really does not look good. The weather guys are hyping it up of course, saying between 6-12 inches for the Denver Metro area. I may be breaking out the snow blower again and creating a way out for my motorcycle!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Ride on Easter after some light snow showers.

Temps ranging from 33 to 37, with overcast skies and snow showers occurring throughout the day.

I woke to light snow falling but failing to stick anywhere but on the lawn and cars parked outside. If you imagine "fat" rain then you have an image of the stuff that fell steadily throughout most of the day.

My loving wife cooked an awesome Easter lunch after which I resumed my weather watching. By 4pm I had gone through the latest issue of the BMW Owners News magazine and the light snow/rain mix had stopped finally and the neighborhood streets looked llike they were pretty dry. I geared up and went out for a short ride.

I took the Nokia Internet tablet along in case I saw some wifi location. I went and explored some nearby roads to see where they led. All ended up in deadends so I decided to head South towards Parker via the Inspiration Rd back way.

I skirted the West outskirts of Parker and finally wound up on it's main drag: Parker Road via Canterbury Way. I headed North till it crossed Mainstreet and I was able to compare my onboard thermometer reading of 48 degrees to the corner banks reading of 37 degrees. About ten degrees difference as usual.

Stll heading North on Parker, I turned East when I got to Arapahoe road and turned into the mall located there. I wanted to try the wifi which I thought all Borders bookstores provided. I didn't bother getting off the motorcycle, took out the tablet and though I found a couple of 'open' wifi networks, neither got me on the Net.

I got back onto Arapahoe road and turned North on Picadilly Rd. Once I got to Smoky Hill Road I headed west towards the public library near my house. The library was closed but while sitting outside the library's front entrance, I was able to get a weak signal from their wifi network. Logged onto gmail and sent a quick email to my wife. I was also able to stream some internet radio music on the tablet.

So, after this second brief period of geekiness, I rode on home. Almost 50 miles of riding so it was a short but satisfying ride after not having been able to ride in the past two days. I typed this entry using the tablet's virtual keyboard and though slow, it's typeahead feature helped a lot.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Future Motorcycle Farkle?

Temps in high 20s with light freezing drizzle, so NOT riding...

Thought I'd post about this new gadget I bought at the beginning of this week and which has been taking up my free time at home. Sure, I rode to/from work as usual all week except for today but the rides were unexceptional except that the weather was nice and warm on the rides home with the exception of yesterday when it was gusting winds.

So, on to the gadget which I hope will help out when doing the longer rides to far off destinations. It's a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. Here's a link to Nokia's site for all the info/specs. Suffice to say that it's a wifi-enabled tablet from which you can access the Internet (via wifi or suitable data-enabled cellphone), get/send email, rss feeds for news, play videos/music, run GPS software(which I might get) while using a bluetooth-enabled GPS Receiver, make VOIP phonecalls via your internet connection, instant messaging some other stuff.

No, it would not be accessed while on the motorcycle except for possibly in the future the voice prompts from the GPS software. However, I can see it being a handy replacement for a laptop while on the road to stay current on things when near a wifi spot.

Main reason I got it is that I can remote into my computer at home using this tablet and have all its functionality and not bother trying to get same on the tablet itself. It is, after all, not as functional as a full-up laptop. This way, I have access to my laptop without having to carry its bulk or dealing with its low battery uptime.

So far, am very impressed with its quality and display, I have to take off my glasses though to use it since the images are of course compressed by the smaller screen. Still the screen is much bigger than a internet-capable phone! It sucks sometimes to be an old geek. :)

Battery life is pretty good, about 4 hrs of active use when wifi-connected. I'll have to figure out a way to keep it charged up on the motorcycle if I elect to do the gps thing with it. This gadget just came out in January so am sure accessories are on the way for it from third parties.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A short ride in the plains after work

Temps in the mid to upper 60s and sunny, slight wind gusts.

A beautiful day for riding today, I left about an hour earlier than usual from work and after dropping off my Joe Rocket Alter Ego Overpants for zipper repair, headed out East on Quincy Road and out of town.

The map below shows the route I took on a whim, taking CR 30 which is also Quincy Road till it ends at CR137. I'd been here before and thought there was paved roads all the way south to Kiowa. So I headed South on CR137 but shortly afterwards ran out of pavement where 137 becomes 53. Oh well, I did not have the time or inclination to creep along the 16 miles of dirt road all the way to Kiowa so I turned back and this time headed North on CR137.

This as you can see took me across I-70 and into the town of Bennett, I believe this is where the "Eastern Peaks of Colorado" Ride would have dumped us onto I-70 on Saturday. So from Bennett I was now headed West on US36 which lead me after about ten miles or so to the town of Watkins which is an exit on I-70. I crossed over the superslab once again, this time headed South on Watkins Road.

All these roads were pretty much straight and smooth, no curves, no real excitement. These are the kinds of roads once cruises on just to look at the distant horizons, the grassy plains with the occasional cattle and ranches, and just think about things. Did I have any deep thoughts, not today, just wandering.

Watkins Road dumped me back onto CR30, aka Quincy Road, which I took heading West back to where I started: the intersection of Quincy and Tower Roads. I got home shortly afterwards and washed the bugs off my helmet and the front of Maria. Spring is definitely here, the bugs were out and reminded me to raise the windshield or live with bug guts on my visor! : )

A short ride, less than 2 hours and about 67 miles total. Weather was perfect.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Meandering Ride and Riding Farkle on April's Fool's Day

Temps ranging from 59 to 64 degrees. Mostly sunny with developing overcast skies.

I had to work till 0200hrs this morning, slept till 0900 or so and woke to a nice sunny day with balmy temperatures which demanded I ride. Of course, I obeyed.

First though I rode the motorcycle to the grocery store to stock up on TV dinners and such to enable me to survive until my wife and sons come home midweek. : )

The motorcycles panniers replete with said items, I returned home for lunch and left soon after Noon headed towards the local REI store for a camelback hydration pack for my rides. Here's the one I got:

I strapped it on after putting a bit of water into it from a drinking fountain inside REI and headed out for some riding. The thing works pretty good, rigged it so the drinking hose/mouthpiece hangs over my left shoulder and by my left side. I kept taking small sips at stoplights and on long empty stretches of road and found it very convenient and easy to use. I do have to flip the helmet faceshield up to use it but its no hassle.

I bought the least expensive one not only because I did not know how it would all work out in terms of my riding but also because I fit right in there with the old joke: Do you know what's the cheapest part of a BMW motorcycle? The owner! The pack only cost me $32 with tax.

Here's my route, the highlight being that I tried out North Turkey Creek Road after tanking up at the gas station by Tiny Town and found it to be a very nice and twisty road. However, the remnants of the gravel spread by the county to provide traction in snow remains and I could not go very fast on said twistys. Oh well, the time will come and now I know of the road.

I rode down some of the usual roads, Deer Creek Canyon, north turkey creek road, the stretch of US285 leading back to Morrison, which I then took to Kipling and down back into the Chatfield reservoir area. Then the usual backroads back towards Castle Rock and Parker. I took a different route back home, this time detouring through Singing Hills Road to Delbert Rd and back to the Smoky Hill Road area and home.

About 134 miles or so of riding, all within about 4 hrs including the time spent buying the camelback. Got home at 4pm, it was still nice out and the sun was definitely more in evidence near my home than it had been in the foothills.