Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Short Ride in the Plains East of Denver

Temps in the mid 70s and sunny.

I went for a short ride to the East of the Denver Metro area this afternoon, just a short one with no real objective in mind.

The picture below is where the pavement ends on County Road 194. The Rockies are seen dimly in the distance. The biggest bump in the far off horizon is Mount Evans. Went home shortly afterwards, just was not up for a longer ride and wanted to buy some electrical connectors and create a small kit of electrical stuff for on the road repairs; for the next time I encounter electrical gremlins such as I did the last few days.

note: no repeat attempt at milner pass today, closed due to snow!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Another failed attempt ride through Milner Pass

I had tried, last year, to cross the continental divide at Milner Pass which is part of the Trail Ridge Road, which crosses through the Rocky Mountain National Park to the NW of the Denver Metro Area. This time, I said to myself, check to make sure its not closed for the season and get there before the first real snows of October.

So I head out this morning shortly after 0800, using the E470 to C470 slabs to get to I-70 on which I sped my way to Empire, CO. It's the town right after Idaho Springs which serves as the western gateway to CO 103 which leads one to Mount Evans.

I got on US40 at Empire, negotiated the gorgeous road which leads one to and through Berthoud Pass (you do cross the continental divide at this point also) but no signs due to construction so no picture of Maria at the Pass sign.

US 40 then winds and twists its way down for quite an enjoyable ride down to Winterpark. I cruised through Winterpark and was soon at Granby and US34. The overcast skies which I had started the ride in earlier in the morning opened up at this point and I rode through a light rain towards Grand Lake. Perhaps five miles south of Grand Lakes, I noticed the warning light about a failed light had come alight on my dashboard. Damn, I thought, did I lose the tailight again as I had done last night while coming home from work?

I had stopped at the BMW of Denver dealer after work and gotten a replacement and spare and some other bulbs as well. So I thought: OK, no big deal, it's probably your taillight again for some damn reason, and since there was no traffic behind me I elected to keep riding until I spotted a gas station at Grand Lake. I was using hand signals of course to signal slowing just in case it was my brake light and it was fortuitous that I did since it turned out to be my brake lights were out!

So there I was, standing in the small gravel parking lot of this gas station, being rained on lightly as I dismantled my rear light assembly to do some troubleshooting. Turned out the ground wire for the brake light had come loose and nothing else! I was glad, I took my trusty Leatherman multitool and pinched the connector onto the grounding point firmly and I had brake lights once again.

I then went into the gas station to put on my pant liners since I was still planning on continuing on US34 to the western end of the Rocky Mountain National Park and ride the Trail Ridge Road and Milner Pass.

I exited the bathroom where I had donned the liners and went to the cashier to pay for a snack. It was there that I overhead her talking to some other customer about the weather and that they were surprised the Trail Ridge Road had not been closed already due to the rain. She offered me the phone to call the ranger station which I gladly accepted. I was hearing the ranger say the road was closed as the cashier got same confirmation from a couple who'd just come off the Trail Ridge Road! Not only closed but it was snowing heavily which is why it was closed!

Needless to say I turned around at that point and started heading south on US34, discretion being the better part of valor, not to mention the road being closed to traffic.

As I retraced my route back to US 70, I stopped at Winterpark to check out the map, eat lunch and try and salvage the trip by exploring some other roads. I noticed my right turn signal blinker blinking rather more rapidly than usual and found this worrisome given my electrical issues lately. A quick check once parked confirmed I no longer had a right turn signal light!

The weather was cloudy but warming at this point so at least I was not dismantling the rear light assembly in the rain again. The culprit was a damn broken wire leading to the right turn signal bulb at the rear of the motorcycle! I guess all the strain I'd put on the connections while fixing other things had finally worn the wire to the point it broke. It was an easy fix of course and some wire cutting and duct tape later, it was all working again.

I ate lunch which my loving wife had packed for me and got my plans together. I checked out the map and noticed a road labeled as "Oh My God" just North of Idaho Springs! Well, with a name like that, I could not resist.

I headed back down US40 to I-70 and took these pictures by a grove of Aspen in full bloom, with an Aspen covered mountain saddle in the background. This after I got snowed on (light stuff which melted on contact) while traversing Berthoud Pass once again. You can believe I took it nice and slow.

I got back on the I-70 slab heading East and got off at the westmost Idaho Springs exit where I stopped for a picture of an old mining structure which had caught my eye from the highway:

I stayed on the road in front of Stanley Mines and it took me into Idaho Springs where I cruised slowly looking for a street sign labeled "Oh My God Road" as the paper map led me to expect. No luck, no such road.

However, I did spot the below status of Steve Canyon of WWII cartoon fame. I'd learned about this status from but had forgotten it was located in Idaho Springs! So naturally, I had to get some pictures.

I consulted the GPS and it led me to a likely road that led North of town and had some very twisty hairpin turns on it. I was sure this was "oh my god" road so I went there. Well, I ended up stopping at the end of the pavement where it became a narrow gravel/dirt road leading up into the canyon with very steep grades that I could see.

Again, discretion was the better part of valor since my R1150RT motorcycle is not quite what one takes on such trails. I turned around and headed back into Idaho Springs where at a bank parking lot I spotted this sign:

I chatted with a fellow beemer rider that was in the area with his wife. Kenny was his name and he was riding a 2004 R1150S I believe. Nice motorcycle and nice conversation, turns out we both share a beemer mechanic in common, Pete Homan of Bavarian Motor Works! Small world, not only that but he also is a ColoradoBeemer like me!

We went our separate ways and I decided to take CO103 to Bergen Park. I found a spot where the Aspen bordered the road and it was safe to stop while winding my way up to Echo Lake and got these pics:

Once past the clueless cagers clogging up the area around Echo Lake Park, I descended on CO103 and its wonderfully twisting turns, some of which do require you to slow WAY down if you want to negotiate them successfully. A word to the wise if you decide to ride this road.

Once at Bergen Park I headed South on US74 till I got to Evergreen, stayed on US74 until just shortly before the town of Morrison where a traffic jam was evident from quite far away. I thought perhaps they were giving money and beer away due to the amount of bikers and cars I saw piling up trying to get into town. I elected instead to head down CO8 south of town. The line of cars and motorcycles waiting to get into Morrison must have been two miles long.

Once I got to where CO8 intersects with US285 I spied an accident just East of the overpass and belated saw that Northbound US285 was blocked and the police where diverting traffic onto CO8 which lead to Morrison and hence the piling up of weekend traffic!

At this point I was stuck on the entrance ramp to Northbound US285 and considering my options. NO one behind me and I was able to traverse a gravel path back to the ramp leading back towards Morrison, an obliging cager in a SUV let me in since there was a steady flow of diverted traffic.

Once able to, I then u-turned and got onto the ramp for Southbound US285 which was clear. In fact, there was very little traffic heading South. I watched a good three to four miles more of cars and motorcycles clogging up Northbound US285 and congratulated myself on what I had done.

I took US285 South to the Tiny Town exit and got on Turkey Creek Road which I knew well and which took me to the Firestation at Fenders, and then I turned left onto Deer Creek Canyon road which twisted my way back towards the Chatfield reservoir. A smooth ride later, I was at the Wadsworth Blvd exit of I-70, getting back on the smoothly flowing traffic low heading East and home.

Got home about 1620hrs or so. Perhaps 7 hrs of saddle time and 300 more miles on Maria's odometer. Two field electrical lights repairs, one failed attempt at Milner Pass, crossing the Continental Divide twice using Berthoud Pass, finding Steve Canyon's statue in Idaho Springs, CO. A pretty good ride I would say.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Checking out the Aspen's Color Change via Independence Pass

Temps from low 60s to high 80s depending on where in the mountains you were. Sunny with very few clouds and the mountainsides ablaze with the changing leaves of the Aspen as they turn yellow in anticipation of Fall here in Colorado.

Trying to work in a couple of the bigger passes before Winter shuts them down, I selected Independence Pass which is what CO82 uses to cut through from US24 near Leadville (Exit 195 on I-70) and the tourist trap of Aspen at the other end. The GC factor (gawking cagers) factor was not too bad as I made my way on the I-70 slab after having cut across denver on I-25 to the Leadville, CO91, exit. I had to stop short of Leadville to don my riding jacket's liner as 60 degrees in the mountain couple with highway speeds, can get quite chilly! : ) It's good that I did, since I stopped at a scenic area turnout where I grabbed these pics.

Just East of Exit 195 before Leadville on I-70

Copper Mountain Ski Resort, sans snow.

I got on CO91 and shortly afterwards was in the town of Leadville, hoping for a readily available gas station. Turns out there's three of them, two on the North side of the town and one on the south so I was good to go. (40mpg, includes 72 miles of commuting this week).

I kept going past Leadville (which by the way is where the National Mine Museum is located) and got on East 24 which I took a short ways until I came to CO82 and Balltown. I headed West on CO82 and the GC factor increased considerable on this two lane road as the folks had definitely come out to watch the leaves on the Aspen change colors. I must admit it was quite the brilliant display of color on the sides of the road, the mountains on both sides of the road and bordering the several lakes I passed. At times, it looked like the sides of the mountains were coated with yellow fire.

Near Twin Lakes, CO

Some time after I passed through Twin Lakes, the road started climbing and twisting its way up the mountains towards Independence pass.

I arrived at Independence Pass just short of Noon I think. So I think I made pretty good time from Denver. The place was not too crowded and the weather continued to be gorgeous.

The way down from Independence pass was quite twisting and steep. For a short while there I had the road to myself and was able to ride a few miles above the 30mph speed limit, it was quite nice. Then I caught up with a long line of cagers and resigned myself to moseying my way into Aspen.

I found Aspen the typical Colorado tourist town, it was kind of crowded so I hurried my way through to it's northern end where I found a bus parking lot where I stopped for a quick sandwich and a break. I'd picked the parking lot because I spotted this interesting looking church steeple nearby.

Now, the mountainsides bordering Aspen are truly beautiful so don't let my description of Aspen as a tourist trap dissuade you from riding there. Tourist traffic is quite heavy though, so keep your eyes open!

Staying on CO82, you end up passing eventually through Glenwood Springs I believe. All I know is once you get out of this town you get on I-70 heading East towards Denver and into some of the most beautiful canyons bordering the slab for quite a few miles! My old camera could not come close to rendering with justice the beauty of these canyonlands bordering the interstate highway. Definitely a must see! My head was on a continuous swivel trying to take it all in, gorgeous!

Of course, being the Interstate, not too many safe spots to stop and take pictures. The rest areas are too low and too close to the canyon walls to allow good shots too. Finally I spotted a line of traffic ones which gave me a safe spot to stop and shoot these pics. I hope you get a faint idea of the incredible views along this stretch of the slab.

After I cleared the canyons, it was boring slab time. Nothing untoward or exciting, just slab riding all the way back to Denver. The route is still quite scenic, it's just that after those canyons and the pass, it kind of paled in comparison you know?

I did, due to the warmth of the day, get to test out a water sprayer rig I had hastily hooked up to the right side of my motorcycle. It worked great, just a 1/2 jug with a battery-powered sprayer and hose. I would spray my sleeves and chest area and soak them with water and the wicking shirt I was wearing underneath at this point would cool me off. It felt great and I did not have to stop to wet things down! I just have to come up with a better system of securing the sprayer gun than just letting it sit in my lap when not secured to the right system case!

I tanked up at the Morrison exit as I rode on C-470 from the I-70 slab. (57MPG!)

Maria did great as usual, the new boots were fine for the weather and we racked up about 490 miles total of riding. Another great Colorado ride.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Compass Calibration Run

All the real estate provide by my BMR shelf has left me a bit lacking in terms of farkle to place on it when riding. The center position has been allocated to my Nokia N800 Tablet which functions as a MP3 player/GPS on my longer trips; but this left the small winglets at each side unoccupied since I don't use a Radar Detector and haven't decided whether to mount my XM Roady.

Today I went to Advance Auto Parts and picked up a cheap Airguide Compass for $9.60. It's got the controls to adjust it against the motorcycle's electric interference when its running.

So, right after buying it, I mounted it and went to the Aurora Reservoir which was a few miles down the road. It's got straight East-West and North-South Roads for me to use when calibrating the new compass. It made it really easy to do, though I did have to stop several times and do minor adjustments.

Some Notes: You have to cushion the compass against the motorcycle's vibrations. When stopped and idling, the sucker would just spin in circles like it was in the Bermuda Triangle or something. I placed a disposable earplug under it and that spinning went away and made it more steady.

The way its made, jolts cause it to go into "free spin" at times, so the cushioning is key.

You have to make your adjustments with the motorcycle in Neutral and the RPMs at around 4000 which is cruising rpm for my motorcycle. YMMV.

Finally got it adjusted and it's pretty accurate for the most part. It has a tendency to jump a bit on jolts and flicks of the throttle but for the most part steadies up on the right bearing. Not as accurate as a GPS of course but I can leave it on the motorcycle and if someone takes it, no big loss.

Here's some pics of it mounted on the winglet attached to the BMR shelf.

The object in the center is the holder for the Nokia N800

update: The compass did not last long, it clouded up after a few rain showers...if I buy another one, it'll be a boat compass, made to get wet!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Real Motorcycling Boots

So, after motorcycling for almost 18 months and something over 25K miles in that time I finally got myself some real motorcycle boots.

I had, until today, worn old Army boots, both German and U.S models. I'd tried short style motorcycle-styled boots that laced up and a pair that zipped up that I got on Ebay. They all worked well enough but lately I'd realized that skimping on safety gear is not the smartest thing in the world.

These thoughts had come to mind when I found, upon starting my latest work contract, that the guy I work with had been a rider but had given it up after a crash where he had to lay down his motorcycle. In the process of doing so, his ankle was struck by the motorcycle's footpeg and was smashed. He was four months in a cast and he's not ridden since. Now, he was wearing boots but I got the impression they did not offer the protection of modern motorcycling boots.

So now, I am the proud owner of a pair of Oxtar Matrix 2 Goretex Boots that I bought from I've bought other items from newenough before and they've been great in terms of service and pricing. They've a great reputation online at the motorcycling forums I frequent as well. Here's a pic of the boots from their site:

I am glad I paid attention to their sizing notes since I would have ordered one size too small. The size 43 I got are nice and snug and in time should stretch a wee bit. I went for a short ride upon getting the boots in the mail today. (Note: Ordered on Monday, got them two days later!, now that's service!)

The new boots made using the gear shift pedal a bit different, not used to having such high cut boots, the upper portion of which I feel pressing into the motorcycle's fairing as I move to engage the gear shift pedal. But I got used to it quickly enough during the ride and expect it'll be just part of the normal ride process.

The boots' high cut and front cushion make the act of riding on my boot heels to relieve pressure on the knee a more comfortable proposition. Before, with the short boots, I could feel my shins pressing, sometimes uncomfortably, on the motorcycle's fairings.

The boots are pretty flexible right out of the box, been wearing them around the house and they do get a bit "warm" but not hot due to I assume the goretex that the boot has in its makeup. Very nice protection features as outlined on the website, with a noticeable armor point for the ankles. There's pads on the boots where they would engage the clutch lever so that'll save on wear and tear that I'd been seeing on my regular boots.

The boots are supposed to be waterproof, something I am sure I'll be able to prove out during the upcoming winter riding season. I just hope they also keep my feet warm while out riding in the colder temperatures!

The boots add about an inch to your height, maybe a smidge more. I find I can flatfoot my R1150RT easier when stopped, a more confidence-inspiring feeling I gotta tell ya. They also have good gripping soles which are oil and gas resistant according to the manufacturer.

The way the boots are cut at the top, I believe you can tuck in your overpants as well as wearing the pant legs over the boots. I'll have to try that soon, could not do it today since I still had my jeans that I wear at work under my Joe Rocket Alter Ego overpants.

Finally, the zippers on the side make them very easy to put on and take off. I'll be taking normal shoes to work to change into after riding I think. Though the boots seem comfortable enough after wearing them for over three hours now, I think they stand out just enough as motorcycle boots to keep me from wearing them all day at the office.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I want this when it comes out this Winter!

Not sure how expensive it'll be but it sure promises to be some great protective gear!
The stuff is called d30 and its apparently flexible armor which hardens in an instant on impact and inmediately after the impact dissapears, becomes flexible again!

Can you imagine the applications when it comes to motorcycling apparel? No more bulky armor pads perhaps, just this material and a thin hard shell as they recommend in their website. Here's a link to them.

Here's what I am thinking I'll buy soon as it's out:

Blurb re the above from d30:

The men’s range of Thermatics first layer garments have d3o placed in the direct contact areas such as the elbows and knees to provide lightweight, flexible protection.

Thermatics d3o Crew: Wicking thermal knit; d3o protective elbow inserts; Thumbholes; Articulated body; Drop tail hem

Thermatics d3o Pant: Wicking thermal knit; d3o protective knee inserts; No side seams for reduced chaffing; Articulated body; Gusset fly with peek hole; Logo elastic waistband

Of course, no motorcycling gear announced yet, reviews by creditable sites will have to be made but you have to admit it shows promise.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Ride to Guffey, CO

Pretty good riding weather today, sunny, warm with temps ranging from mid 70s to mid 90s in spots.

I first made my way down to Colorado Springs via Parker and CO83. I followed the GPS directions to Action Cycle who is the local URAL dealer near me. I was curious to see if they had a URAL sidecar rig on the lot and they did. It was the "Gear-Up" version, camouflage paint scheme. The one they had only had 483km on its odometer and apparently had racked up those miles by being used by the owner to go back and forth from work to home. It's just as well it was already sold to someone, I found the pedal arrangement on the right a bit cramped. The seat was no great shakes either and there were class one leaks on each axle. Maybe that's normal but still something unsettling.

I made my way then to Manitou Springs and saw the sign for the Cave of the Winds tourist trap. The way up to it is steep and hairpin curve-filled. Nice. Here's a couple of shots from the top, I elected NOT to go and take the cave tour.

I went on back to US24 heading West. I thought I'd see about finally getting around to checking out the skeleton horses in the little town of Guffey. It lies about 30 miles south of the junction of US24 and CO9.

The way to this road junction leads you through Florissant and then Lake George Park. Maria went over 40k miles on her odometer a little west of Lake George Park. A few more miles onwards you come upon Wilkerson Pass which empties out into a vast valley as you head West.

I finally got to Guffey shortly before 1600 and I gotta tell ya, it was a bit of a disappointment. It's just a few public buildings, some delapidated stores with mounds of junk for sale disguised as antiques. Scores of old cars rusting away along with collections of farm equipment. The town is quite run down overall and the objective I had sought it out for, a montage of a couple of skeleton horses pulling a prisoner's cage was ok but nothing more.

City Hall has looked better, I am sure

So, I headed back pretty much the way I came, back on CO9 to US24 this time heading East back towards Colorado Springs and the I-25 Superslab. I took this slab to Castlerock and then back roads back to Parker and from there more of the usual back roads to home. Got home shortly before 1900, about 330 miles more Maria's belt without any problems or cager issues except for being stuck behind slow trailers at points.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A ride to Eldorado State Park, and I pass the 20k mark on Maria

I left home today shortly after noon, the day was sunny and mild, temps from the low 60s to mid 70s throughout the ride. It became overcast and chilly later in the afternoon as well, Fall is definitely on its way here in the Rockies.

I took the E-470 Slab towards US6 which took me to Golden, home of the Coors Brewery and the Colorado School of Mines.

Here's a pic of the Jefferson County Seat of Government I think. It's an imposing building bordering US6 which I'd passed many times, this time I stopped and got a picture.

I wandered about the base of a large mesa in Golden for a bit, seeking a way up to it but the only promising road had "No Trespassing" signs all over the open gate and I elected not to try my luck. The gate was right next to a government complex, I believe it's the National Renewable Energy Research Lab. The Mesa is across from Lookout Mountain and it offered fine views of the mountain as well.

As part of my wanderings around the southern side of this Mesa, ran into and old Army camp: Camp George West, now converted to house several state government offices to include Department of Corrections, the Colorado State Patrol's Academy and sundry other agencies. This is what attracted my eye as I rode on South Golden Road:

I also spotted this herd of deer grazing in the grounds next to some county open space that was part of the Camp George West complex:

I left Golden by way of CO93 heading in the direction of Boulder. It had gotten quite a bit cooler and overcast by now and I looked for a good place to stop and put on my jacket liner and such. I got to the intersection of CO93 and CO170 which is the turn for Eldorado Springs and after gearing up, headed towards this town to see what there was to see. The town had attracted my attention because you could see this fog shrouded mountain from the highway:

It was a short ride to the small town of Eldorado Springs, its claim to fame having been at one time one of only two swimming areas for the Denver Area:

The pavement literally ends at the edge of this town, it was dirt/gravel as I made my way slowly through the few buildings in the town and came across the entrance to the Eldorado State Park. I paid my seven bucks for a daily pass and here's the pictures I took.

I had a late lunch at this park, enjoying the view and watching the rock climbers clamber up the rocks. Finally, it was time to go home. Headed back down CO93 and took Leyden Road towards Arvada and wandered some two lane roads until they got me to Old Wadsworth Blvd and eventually led me near where it hooks up with I-70 which led me to the I-25 Slab southbound.

Not too bad a ride, a bit chilly but the jacket liner kept me toasty without me having to turn on the heated grips. I did find myself wishing for my balaclava when the wind would ride up the back opening of my helmet but it was still a good ride.

Less than a year ago, I acquired Maria during my trip to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. I've racked up over 20K miles on her and she's still going strong. What a great motorcycle.

Less than 400 more miles and Maria will have 40K miles on her odometer.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

An Unintended Dress Rehearsal for the Alternator Belt Replacement Operation

Today I received the dual-horn relay wiring kit from EasternBeaver, manufacturer of specialty wiring kits and other items for motorcycles. This way I know for sure the full 12 volts from the battery are reaching the Fiamm Horns. While they'd been sounding much louder than the stock horns from BMW, a couple of uses under dicey conditions had left some doubts I was getting every single available decibel of noise out of the rated 132db.

The horns seem a bit louder now, did not do any extensive blowing of the horns since I am pretty sure they could be heard in the next neighborhood over!

No way to know for sure of course until I get hold of a decibel meter but at least know I know the stock wiring is not going to attenuate the voltage reaching the horns! Installation was a snap, took me longer to get the dang fairings of Maria than it did to install the relay kit. Highly recommended piece of safety farkle for your bike! Easterbeaver makes good kits, very professional looking, well made and clean.

So, having finished the wiring up the relay kit, I decided that since I had to take both side fairings off, might as well replace the alternator belt at same time! It had been due at the 36k mark but it had looked good then so I decided to wait for the 42k mark.

So I took the cover off, right-side shark fin, loosened the bolts and with very little trouble removed the old belt. The belt still looked fine by the way. I went to put on the new belt I had been carrying with me since before the July trip to Wisconsin and it was too small! Yep, with the alternator in the fully down position, I could not get the dang new belt onto the grooves on both the alternator and the flywheel!

Much cursing and trying later, I gave up. I sent an email to the dealer asking him to confirm part numbers since I noticed they don't match! Go figure. Damn.

So I put the old belt back on, raised the alternator with a long screwdriver acting as a lever, secured the bolts, put the cover back on, shark fin back on, fairings back on. Trying to look on the bright side of things, it was a good dress rehearsal/practice for changing out the alternator belt. I learned a few things:

1. You can't really do this operation with just the tools in the stock toolkit!

a. The 13mm wrench enclosed in the kit does not give me the leverage needed to loosen the mounting bolts holding the alternator. Easy way to scrape your knuckles if you try. I used a longer 13mm wrench from the old toolbox instead!

b. No pry bar with the toolkit so I don't know what I would have used to lever the alternator back into position to secure it once the belt was replaced if I was on the road. I ended up using a long flat tip screwdriver.

c. There is no 4mm allen wrench for the bolts that secure the cover. I knew this from postings on the forums so I was forewarned. I added one to the toolkit but used a 4mm hex bit socket for ease/speed.

d. Maintenance is best done in the comfort of one's garage with all your tools at your disposal.

2. Doing the alternator belt replacement is not hard at all! I lost all my hesitation about this particular maintenance operation. I'll be trying it again at the 42k mark when Maria will be due an oil change, valve check, tbs and now alternator belt replacement.

3. If possible, compare the part numbers involved before removing the old part.

For those who also own a 2004 R1150RT, here's the P/N's involved.

The old belt which is back on Maria and working fine:
bmw 11.28-1341779-692337 4PK611SR
The new belt which I b ought from the dealer which I believe is the wrong one:
bmw 11.28-7681841-692637 4PK592.

Yes, I had noticed the p/n's were different before I tried the new one. I did not think to compare numbers until AFTER I had removed the old belt. Lesson learned.

Update: 07SEP07: Dealer confirmed I had the wrong belt sold to me. Turns out Maria was built on 07/2003. Engines built from 07/2003 onwards required the belt that was sold to me but does not work for bikes prior to 07/2003. Go figure.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Ride to Sphinx Park, CO; then meandering up the South Platte River

Beautiful but hot day for riding today, sunny with not much in terms of cloud cover until the afternoon when thunderclouds threatened to the East. Definitely was a day to wear the compression shirt with sleeves wetted down, cooling vest and drinking lots of water!

I started the ride at 0845 by slabbing it via E470 to C470 to Wadsworth Blvd which took me to Deer Creek Canyon Road which I usually use to twist my way into the foothills and mountains to the SW of the Denver Metro area. Road conditions were perfect for some spirited riding of the twisties here, also on S. Turkey Creek Road which I then took to US285 Southbound.

Shortly after Shaffers Crossing I went Southbound on CO126, more twisting turns, wide sweepers and basically no traffic. It was great! I got to Pine Village? and took County 83 towards Sphinx Park. Note: It's easy to miss this turn, look for the town library, that's where you turn off the asphalt onto dirt roads.

The dirt road is gravelly and today it was also slightly moist due to the rains that hit last night. It was quite navigable though since there was no mud. It's a narrow road as you can see below, bordered closely by amazing rock formations and rock domes. At the top is the Bucksnort Saloon, a tourist landmark apparently. I had lunch there last time I was in Sphinx Park, it was pretty good but nothing memorable.

After finishing with pictures in Sphinx Park, I headed back down to CO126 and continued heading south. Once I got to Deckers, I took CO67 North and followed the course of the Platte River on its way north. There were plenty of fly fishermen in the river trying their luck, saw many groups/families camping and enjoying the day as well.

A view of Scraggy Peak

Shortly after County 67 turns East (and becomes quite rough a trail) it runs out of pavement for about five miles. I slowly made my way, rarely going faster than 20mph, avoiding washboard ridges, puddles, potholes and loose gravel while taking the below pictures.

Shortly before you get to the remnants of the South Platte Hotel, you once again are back on pavement of sorts. Not very smooth but it beats gravel and dirt! I took the opportunity here to soak my cooling vest in the cold waters of the Platte River nearby. I set off from here in a much cooler condition, let me tell you!

Here's a shot of an imposing rock formation bordering the Platte River, the curve was pretty tight here so it took me some jockeying and a couple of u-turns before I got Maria in the best position.

Finally, S. Platte River Road junctions with Foxton Road. I took the road North until I found a spot just shortly after the miniscule town of Foxton where I shot what Sanoke had described to me as Cathedral Rock. It's real name is Cathedral Spires.

I then headed back to the junction where Foxton Rd and S. Platte River meet. I took Foxton which started off as very twisty and winding while doing a steep climb into the hills. It then became more of a sweeper kind of road, still very enjoyable and traffic was light to nonexistent! Awesome road, I'll have to ride it again. Foxton Road takes you back to US 285, just west of Conifer I think. It'll be a bit tricky to find it's northern entrance but I think I can do it.

From there, it was just a matter of taking US285 to C470 Slab, I decided to take a slight detour and exited off Santa Fe Drive to US85 which I took South to Sedalia, from Sedalia I went South for a bit and then road a popular biker road CO105 southbound.

I used Wolfenberger Road to head East back towards Castle Rock where I stopped at a McDonald's for a very late lunch. After a quick lunch, I charged up the cooling vest again before heading out taking back roads all the way home. It was quite warm by this point in the day and I was running out of water so getting home was a good thing.

I am thinking I rode somewhere over 500 miles this weekend over the last three days. Not too bad, Maria did great as usual. Was getting about 42 mpg as well so it's all good.