Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Temps in the 40s, partly cloudy. Still, a nice riding day.

I rode to work, thinking what I could pose Maria by that would highlight the significance that is today, Christmas Eve! I finally settled on finding an outdoor Nativity scene that I could park Maria by as the subject. For after all, it's the birth of Christ that is celebrated by Christmas.

Much searching online rendered nothing much but what a warped and politically correct society we've become. I found more stuff against Christmas and Nativity Scenes or Christmas Manger scenes than for them. A sad state of affairs indeed. People are so fricking worried that they'll offend someone that some of the Christmas icons we took for granted growing up are gone from sight.

I went riding after lunch since things were pretty dead at work. I rode to four separate churches along my usual commute and none had a Nativity scene outside the building. Nada, zip, zilch, zero. I say again, a sad state of affairs.

I ended up photographing the Nativity scene that neighbors of ours had set up in their front lawn.

Merry Christmas to all, specially to the soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen of our armed forces and those of our allies. Your service and sacrifices are very much appreciated!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Riding through Cherry Creek State Park

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a small job to do at a customer's office in the Denver Tech center this morning. The parking lot belonging to my customer's office complex was still covered in snow as I got there around 1015 or so but the parking lot of the adjoining building complex was pretty cleared of snow. That's where I parked Maria even though it left me with a bit of a walk around to where I could cross the dividing landscaping between parking lots!

After the job was done, I left around 1140hrs or so and decided to cruise on over to Cherry Creek State Park's western entrance since I knew it was not manned on Sundays. I snuck right on in and although the main roads through the park were not exactly free of snow throughout, they were pretty well doable.

You can see the ice-covered reservoir, the whale tail-shaped structures are shade for benches

There was one stretch where it was not just a few feet of packed snow I had to traverse on Maria but perhaps 2/10ths of a mile of the stuff. That was a bit worrisome but I got through it just fine. Not even one slide that I could detect as I tried to keep Maria going as straight as possible when the road curved a bit before I was back on dry pavement.

I did not make it all the way to the base of the Cherry Creek Dam, more snow on that particular road which I decided to pass on. I exited the park through its eastern entrance, negotiating my way through the occasional spot of packed snow or slushy ice.

I got on Parker Road heading South and decided on a lark to visit a co-worker friend of mine and check out his new Harley-Davidson motorcycle. It's got all the bells and whistles as my beemer and more.

I got to his cul-de-sac and it was pretty much still covered in snow with a few bare spots here and there that I used to gingerly make my way to his driveway. Managed to do it without dropping the motorcycle, which was good since he was watching me do this!

Once inside his garage, I admired his new motorcycle which was quite beautiful I must admit with a pretty eye-catching and unusual wine colored paintjob. Very nice.

We then went inside where I met a friend of his and I also saw another co-worker friend. They were watching the Greenbay Packers lose to the Chicago Bears, badly. However, we watched it on Brent's very nice HDTV which had a pretty incredible image of the game. I must have one of these TVs now.

I left after the Packers were soundly beaten by the Bears, made it out of the snow-packed cul-de-sac with no issue as things had melted a bit while I was watching the game. I rode home through Parker, via the usual backroads back to my home.

I longer ride than yesterday but not too long, the weather was great....sunny and in the high 30s to low 40s.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winter Solstice Ride

Temps at or near 32 F°, sunny.

First ride of Winter, 2007!

Saturday, 22DEC07, we woke to maybe two inches of snow. I'd snow-thrown most of what fell on Friday during the evening once the snow had stopped falling so there was not much left to clear except for ice patches and such along the King Canute Escape Path.

I spent most of the morning clearing the ice patches away, ensuring drainage occurred and by 11am I could get out of the neighborhood just fine. Sure, if my motorcycle was lighter, I could try just riding out on the snow-packed neighborhood roads but the risk of dumping her and ensuing embarrassment and damage still dissuade me from such attempts. The sun did most of the work of getting things ready for me to ride. : )

I left after lunch around 1315hrs and rode for perhaps an hour and about 30 miles worth of loop to check out a customer site's parking lot. It was snow-packed. Perhaps by tomorrow there will be some room to park Maria when I go there to do some work. I basically took Arapahoe Road westward to Quebec Street, then returned via the Cherry Creek Dam Road, Parker Road and then neighborhood roads.

The route I took, not the most direct in terms of getting home, led me to the "golfball" on Smoky Hill Road, just west of the Southlands Mall area. It's some kind of satellite downlink housing structure which I've taken pictures of before, here's another angle.

Had a minor "ass-puckering" moment when jockeying Maria on this street to get the picture. Some parts of the street were still snow-packed you see; and I felt the rear wheel try to wiggle out from under me for a nanosecond or so.

It reinforced the idea of not risking riding on the snow-packed streets in my neighborhood until they clear some more! Slushy snow is not bad, kind of like riding on mud, icy hard snow is quite another matter!

Got home just fine and cleaned up Maria from all the grime she'd accumulated this week while we commuted to/from work.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Skis for a BMW GS Motorcycle!

This video is a great demonstration of the value of skis for a GS motorcycle riding on snow/ice! The motorcycle in the video looks like a 1100/1150GS so it would close to the weight of my own motorcycle. Wow, I wonder if they make a version for my RT?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Finally able to use the work parking lot again

I am presently working a contract with United Airlines over at their Training Center near the old Stapleton Airport. Their snow-clearing efforts for the last two snow storms had been less than stellar, pretty much non-existent actually and so I'd been forced to park in the shopping mall across the street and do the long walk in to get to my cubicle for work. The parking lot for the last week or so, has been a sea of snow and ice, mostly ice that prevented me from safely riding to a parking spot.

Well, as of today, I can safely access not only parts of the lot but even the motorcycle parking area I like to use. Both Maria and I are pleased for the most part. I even saw the K1200LT that usually commutes in as well in a cager parking spot in the lot. I hope the facilities guys do a much better job in the next snow storm, walking in from the shopping mall sucks in the cold, not to mention I don't like leaving my motorcyle in an unsecured lot all day long.

As you can see, some clearing remains but for now, it's good enough

The little red gas can on the luggage rack? I am using it to refill the 5 gallon container at home, one gallon at a time, to ensure I've plenty of fuel for the snow-thrower!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Riding to the Monument Divide

Temps from the high 20s to mid 40s. Sunny.

A three hour, 120 mile ride today, to bag yet one more pass on my way to the PassBagger 50 Certificate from the ColoradoBeemers Motorcycle Club. Today's target was Monument Pass, located fittingly near the town of Monument which lies south of Castle Rock, CO.

I took the back way to Parker and transited it to Crowfoot Parkway which leads one to Castle Rock. I crossed over the I-25 Superslab at this point heading West and got on Mooseberger Road and enjoyed its twisting turns in a more sedate manner than usual given the occasional patch of ice/slush and gravel put down by the snow plow trucks.

I got onto Co105 soon enough and headed South on this road enjoying the snow covered mountains in the distance. Lots of cars going to and from the local churches but not a single motorcycle to be seen. The road was 99% dry with a couple of patches of road still having ice on them with rather narrow dry furrows cut through them where the trees shaded the ice from the sun. No big deal, just had to pay attention and keep things going smoothly through those places.

I made it to the town of Palmer Lake just fine in this manner and paused by this restaurant near a local biker hangout called O'Malley's Pub and Grill.

The Depot Food & Spirits in Palmer Lake

The train seemingly coming out of the restaurant's wall had always attracted my way on past rides and this time I thought to stop and get a picture.

At this point, I engaged the GPS on my Nokia N800 Internet Tablet and it led me faithfully down a side road outside of Palmer Lake back towards the I-25 Superslab and to the sign shown below which I recorded for the passbagger verifiers.

Monument Pass

After this photo op, I headed south on the slab to the next exit which took me back towards the town of Palmer Lake. I headed through town once again, and went North on CO105, retracing my steps but this time going past Mooseberger Road and continued on CO105 until I reached the town of Sedalia. Still no other motorcyclist in sight, not even at the bar where I'd seen bikers before where CO67 meets US85. Oh well.

I headed back towards Castlerock by way of US85 southbound and soon enough was winging my way back towards the town of Parker via Crowfoot Parkway. Pretty much retraced the same route I'd taken on the way down to Monument for the most part.

The weather was beautiful, not too cold, did not even turn on my electric vest and kept the heated grips in their low setting for most of the ride. Returning to my neighborhood, I was able to use South Ireland Street to get into the neighborhood and then used the last sidewalk part of the King Canute Escape Path to enter my cul-de-sac and home. The street in front of my cul-de-sac? Still snow-packed!

My cul-de-sac at 1330hrs, note the snow-packed street

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A short ride after Friday's Snow Fall

Temps ranging from 26-28 degrees. Sunny.

We got perhaps and inch and a half of snow throughout the day yesterday, Friday 14DEC07. Not much I must admit but it built on top of the 4-6 inches we'd gotten in the previous snow fall so the street into which my cul-de-sac exits remained snow-packed and some more digging and snow-throwing had to be done on my part to uncover what I will now call the King Canute Escape Path for me and my motorcycle.

As mentioned in previous postings, the escape route depends mainly on keeping the specific sidewalks leading out to the neighborhood entrance clear of snow and ice. Once the main road out of the neighborhood is clear enough, I can then escape via motorcycle.

Here's how the initial part of the escape path looked like before Friday's snow started falling on Thursday night:

o/a 1630hrs on Thursday 13DEC

Here's how it all looked this morning after the sun was out and starting to melt things a bit; I'd helped by shoveling and spreading of ice melting chemicals/sand.

10am 15DEC07

I exited the neighborhood via the King Canute Escape Path after 1230hrs with no incidents again and rode East via Arapahoe Road towards Parker via Inspiration Drive. The roads were wet for the most part with the occasional snow/ice/slush piles that were easily spotted and avoided.

Facing South on Piney Lake Road

As you can see, the skies were sunny and clear, it was not too cold and I rode all the way to the Town of Parker and looped back home using CO83. Perhaps 25 miles total of riding but had to get home so I could take the kids shopping for their Mother's Christmas Present. A longer ride is planned for tomorrow since the roads will be drier hopefully and we're expecting temps to hit 40 degrees! It's going to feel like a heat wave after the cold temps we've been experiencing lately.

Your own personal tank/motorcycle?

The heck with a 500-650cc bike with knobbie tires!

While surfing the net as I waited for the snow to melt enough for me to ride, I found this while perusing, here's the link to the full article on about this awesome to think about tearing through the local snow-packed roads on this baby but once you're on the main roads? Not so much.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Side Wheels for heavy motorcycles

Now I imagine there'd be quite the chuckling and ribbing to be endured if one were to get this sidewheel setup for their BMW K1200LT motorcycle. This model of beemer is over 800lbs of machine and definitely much heavier than my 600lb+ 1150RT which can be quite the handful when on slick surfaces.

The site listed by the folks at Gizmag is in Japanese and while I did click around for a bit I could not find more photos than what Gizmag had on their website: LINK.

gizmag pictures

pic from

So, if I had the K1200LT, and during Colorado's Fall/Winter snows which cause seemingly everlasting snow-packed streets; would you not think having such a side-wheel rig would be great for helping keep your heavy motorcycle upright as you power your way through those pesky neighborhood streets covered with snow until you reach the main roads which are plowed and dry? Think about it.

I wonder if they make a kit for my model motorcycle? : )

Couple the above side wheels with these "snow claws" from this site: LINKand you've got options for escaping snow-packed neighborhoods!

From the site:

Doken came up with a solution: small side wheels that descend at the touch of a button, or when the motorcycle’s speed drops below 5km/h. As soon as speed exceeds 5 km/h, the casters retract. Apart from the obvious advantage of never having to put your feet on the ground at red lights, the wheels offer salvation for motorcyclists with physical handicaps who want to ride a two-wheeler, but would otherwise be unable to do so.

Not cheap at 4,500 €(US$5300), the Touch-Down enables you to do things you can’t do without it, and the quality is very BMW-like (i.e. top shelf).

I did some googling and there's this other "retractable side wheels" alternative made in the good old USA! LINK.

Interesting concepts, they apparently don't do Beemers though....oh well. Check out the videos on the site though, pretty cool.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Using the "Escape Path" to ride to work and back.

Temps from 29-34, overcast mostly and windy.

All my shoveling work paid off this morning. I waited till 0905hrs or so, having just finished putting down some sand and making one final check of the path for ice.

I geared up and rode out of the culdesac using the sidewalk:

First turn is near that street lamp

I then hung a left at the end of the culdesac, still riding on a sidewalk till I got to South Ireland Street, you'll note the street itself is still snow/ice-packed:

Looking West, you can see the street is unusable, at least by me

Once here at the corner of South Jericho Way and South Ireland Street, I paused for a bit then turned North or Right towards the neighborhood exit.

Corner of S. Ireland St. and S. Jericho Way, I make a right turn here

You can see the path I'd cleared to the other sidewalk along S. Ireland Street

The last two pictures are the approach to the neighborhood exit, still using the sidewalk as the streets were covered still with ice and packed snow and I was too chicken to try them. The last picture shows some of the ice that I'd melted to clear a path through the drainage way.

approaching the neighborhood exit, you can see Maria's track in the pic above

some mushy ice on the surface, no issues, note Maria's track

Once I was on the main road past the stop sign, I was in the clear! The roads to work were dry for the most part and I had no further issues until I got to work to find the work parking lot was still pretty much covered with snow and ice. I still went in though and parked Maria in the row nearest the fence. I noticed I rode over some sheets of ice on the way but kept her slow and steady and had no problems.

I stopped, got off the motorcycle and looked around on foot for a good spot to leave her but ended up leaving the parking lot and parking across the street where there's a shopping mall. The mall folks had done a MUCH better job of removing the snow and ice and I left Maria there while I was at work.

I left work at 1500hrs, main roads were dry all the way home still. I retraced the same path I'd used to get out of the neighborhood this morning with no incidents even though I spotted some ice where splashback from the cars had sprinkled the sidewalk! No big deal though, slow and steady won the day and I made it back to my garage safely.

It felt good to be able to ride today to work, it's a bit of an apprehensive riding time but still good to do. More snow expected starting tonight, 2-6 inches accumulation depending on which weather guesser you check with. Oh well.

The pictures in this posting were taken in the afternoon after I'd ridden the path in successfully.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Doing my version of King Canute

From Wikipedia:

Excerpt: Canute is legendary for his apparent attempt to "hold back the tide". Canute deliberately placed his throne on the beach and used his evident inability to order the tide to roll back to display to his courtiers the limitations of a king's power to command the seas.

The way I remembered old Canute was as a foolish king who tried to command the unhearing sea to hold back the tide.

Regardless, the remembered version is what I was imitating yesterday and part of today after work, my version of old King Canute's futile efforts against Mother Nature.

In my case, it was digging/shoveling a path through the snow starting yesterday morning, after I'd gone over it with the snow thrower to get rid of the soft stuff. Why you ask? Well to clear a path to the main roads which are plowed by the city and thereby suitable (once things melt a bit) for riding on with my motorcycle of course!

My neighborhood streets though, even though I'd cleared a path out of the cul-de-sac, remained snow-chocked/packed yesterday and this morning and so I rode the cage to work. Just as well since the parking lot at work was also a sea of frozen snow and ice!

I came home earlier than usual, hoping that the sun and temps in the 30s had cleared my neighborhood streets but that was a no go as I neared home. Still evident were wide patches of packed snow mixed with ice. The rest of the neighborhood street surfaces had lots of ice particles and such which would have made it "hazardous" to try and venture out on the motorcycle even for a short ride. The main roads, as expected, were dry enough but I could not get to them on the motorcycle!

So, I set about clearing the sidewalk of the remaining snow/ice since it led to a navigable main road called South Ireland Street. I spent the rest of the time clearing the drainage channels for the streets so that the melted snow would drain away faster.

Around 4PM, I could have gotten out but then it was close to sunset and the onset of freezing of the melted snow/ice of the day. Probably not a good idea.

We're expecting, according to the weather-guessers, 2-4 inches of snow in the metro area. So yes I cleared paths but snow will cover them by morning. At least the snow won't cover refrozen ice/snow and perhaps it'll melt faster and also allow me to clear it all away easier with the snow thrower tomorrow morning!

Here's hoping!

Global Warming my left buttock!