Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Two Rides to close out 2008

I thought about doing some more exploring of the grassy trails near the Blackstone Country Club which lies due south of the Aurora Reservoir. I decided to try and get a picture of the reservoir from the neighboring "South Shore" housing development but there turned out to be no shot.

I saw that although Powhaton road was not yet built all the way to Smoky Hill Road from the development, that there was a dirt trail. Cool I thought, a bit of trail riding. Big mistake.

The dry dirt surface quickly become very slick. It looked dry on the surface but just beneath was this gooey type of mud. Almost dropped Brigitta at this point but her lighter weight compared to Maria and my ability to use my legs as outriggers saved her from a drop as I slid to sideways to a stop.

I looked ahead and it looked dry. I was to be proven wrong. I kept on going where I should have turned around thinking that it was just that patch of trail that was muddy. It turned out to be the whole damn way back to pavement. Perhaps 1/4 mile, maybe more.

I was struggling to keep Brigitta upright and succeeding for the most part. Some close calls and then things got worse. Mud built up under the front fender and the rear wheel was just sliding sideways for the most part. I kept trying to forge on, hoping for dry surface, with no luck

Finally, the rut that had been created down the middle of the trail seemed to magnetically attract my rear wheel, no matter what I tried. Down it went into the rut and I was stuck.

It looks dry don't it? It's not

Tried for a while to get her out but just managed to run out of breath and get really hot under all my riding gear. I must start working out, I am so out of shape! For those of you who noted the cheapie saddlebags, I got them thinking they'd stop the exhaust pipes from hitting ground on tip overs. They don't and so I've taken them off for now.

Managed to put the kickstand down after a while, and after a couple of droppings of the motorcycle onto the soft mud. Got most of my riding gear off and cooled off for a bit while I pondered things and took the above picture.

Tried many things, digging a path, spinning the rear wheel till it smoked (I quit that approach very quickly), noted my dang headlight was not turning off even with the ignition off (weird, had to take the fuse out to avoid draining the battery). Tried shifting my weight back to the rear tire and bouncing it, no luck.

Tried putting her on her side in the mud and pulling and pushing her to get her out of the rut. No luck, she may be lighter than Maria but still damn heavy. Finally, got her upright once again, and started rocking her forward as I worked the clutch to engage the rear wheel. I started making a little progress, I quickly kept up the rocking and I was out of the rut!

Of course, still surrounded by the damn gooey mud, even on the grass covered areas. I kept going really slow, slip-sliding my way until I got her moving forward. I inched forward while sliding sideways with the rear tire. I had to keep my legs out as outriggers and I painfully, slowly, made my way the last 2-300 ft back to pavement. The last few feet were up a slight incline, muddy of course, which made for an interesting finale. Damn mud.

Retrieved my gear, cleaned off (I thought) enough mud from under the front fender to get me home, replaced the fuse, and started off. Less than a mile of riding, I had been feeling a very bumpy ride, I looked back in my mirrors and saw I was trailing a cloud of blue smoke! Aaaarrrgggh.

I stopped as soon as I could get off the road. I thought I'd blown the engine with the struggles in the mud. Happily it was not that, but just caked on mud under the front fender which was causing the front wheel to overheat.....damn. Now there's nice rubbing marks on the front tire.

As I cleaned off the mud more thoroughly this time, the second of two cars stopped to offer assistance. I told them I was OK and thanked them for stopping. Made me feel good that people would stop to offer aid.

Finally got the wheel cleared off enough and got her home with no further incident. Spent some time getting all the mud off her, there was a lot still under the fender! Finally, she was clean, I was exhausted and hungry.

That was the end of Ride One.

Some lunch and some rest later, I left the house once again, close to 3pm or so. I wanted to make sure there were no issues with Brigitta. She ran pretty good though she did seem to not want to hold idle some of the time. Hopefully that's just because she was on her side a few times while on the mud. I'll do a more thorough check tomorrow.

I headed over to Buckley Air Force Base to try and capture the light of the year's last sunset shining on the satellite dish domes located there. I got there in plenty of time and got these shots as the sun sank further into the West, finally disappearing for the last time this year.

I thought the sun was hitting these bare trees nicely, don't you?

Ah, the "golden" time, near sunset, when the light takes on a golden hue

Near the end of the sunset, I liked how the sky to the East reflected the dying rays of the sun below

Last sunset for 2008

I headed home in the dark after the sun set, just in time for rush hour. Oh well.

Here's hoping the New Year is a good one for you, my readers. Ride safe and Ride Often!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Caberg Trip Helmet Arrived Today

Ordered on 21DEC and arrived here from Belfast, Ireland on 30DEC. Pretty fast, considering it had to sit in customs for a while.

The helmet fits me pretty good, at first my chin was slightly touching the chin bar (I thought), but its actually touching a rubber flap that goes below the chin to keep air out I believe. Good fit otherwise, snug but not too tight around the cheeks and temples.

The New and the Old, you can see how much more chin space the KBC offers

A View of the Sun Shade

The new helmet is 1lb 7oz lighter than my old helmet! LINK
Took me a while to figure out the fastening device the helmet uses instead of the traditional D-clip but after a few tries, easy enough. I am sure I'll get used to it.

Went out for a short ride to try it out, felt pretty good in the wind though it seemed to me to have more wind noise than my KBC FFR helmet. However, on the return half of the trip, I wore earplugs and wind noise was not an issue. I should, but sometimes don't, wear earplugs each time I ride; so this may help remind me to put the darn things in before riding.

No turbulence that I could feel at 80mph which is fast enough when on Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer. On the return trip I hit some pretty strong headwinds that buffetted me a bit but I think any helmet would be hard pressed to deal with such winds.

The sun shade/visor slides into position easily enough and holds its position at points in between full up and full down. It leaves a space between the lower edge of the helmet opening and the bottom edge of the shade. I'd like it to go a little bit lower, say about an inch but it's something I'll have to get used to as well, still, it's better than it hitting my glasses!

Both Visors down

Just the sun visor down

Another inch would be perfect....

The sun visor, though a bit short when view from outside, works pretty good when seen from the inside of the helmet. The edge lines up just below the road/horizon line, giving one a clear unshaded view of the motorcycle's instruments.

My major worry had been how it'd fit me and it fits me well. I'll post more feedback as I get more riding time with this new helmet. There's a full review of it here: LINK with better pictures of the helmet itself.

I bought it from Kickstart Motorcycles in the UK. LINK. The Euro-Dollar exchange rate is favorable to US residents right now so you might want to take a look. The Caberg Trip is, as of today according to SHARP (LINK) one of only 12 helmets to achieve the 5 rating from a current total of 77 flip-up type helmets.

My old helmet, the KBC FFR only got 1 out of 5 in the SHARP ratings, which got me started on replacing it with this Caberg.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Last Sunday Ride of 2008

A beautiful day for riding today, sunny and temperatures from the mid-40s to mid-50s °F! I must have seen almost 20 other motorcycle riders as I rode about on CO105 and the dirt roads leading off of it before the town of Palmer Lake.

I left the house shortly after 0900 am and took Orchard Rd to Parker Rd and using that got to Parker. I took Crowfoot Parkway as usual to Castle Rock and from there transited onto Wolfenberger Road which takes on West onto the valley spanned north-south by CO105 Highway.

I rode South to Jackson Creek Road and headed into the foothills, wanting to see how far I could get before I hit snow or ice. It was not too far, first it was just a spot of ice or snow on the dirt road, then it was patches, then it was a few feet of iffy surfaces....finally chickened out when I could not see bare dirt anymore, just whitish ice/snow lightly covering the dirt.

It's hard to see but further up the hill the dirt was covered by a thin layer of ice/snow

I headed on back to CO105 and took it further South towards Dakan Road, hoping to get access to the backside of the large rock formation located just off the road. One problem though, now there's a "no trespassing" sign which is new or I did not spot it last time I was there and the gate was locked. Oh well, at least I got the earlier posting shots.

Dakan Road, the "big hershey kiss" as Sanoke calls it, on the right

I got back onto CO105, continuing to head South and exploring the side roads/county roads that branched off of it as I came to each one.

Fox Farm Road lead me close to the large rock formation one sees to the NE and also to a view of some mesa rock formations close to the I-25 super slab.

Raspberry Butte on left, Monkeyface on right. This was off of Fox Farm Road

Looking South on Fox Farm Road

Looking East on Fox Farm Road

I then tried a bit of Noe Road further south but no real scenic sites to shoot off of that road.

I went on down till I reached the town of Palmer Lake and saw that the lake was frozen over, with folks fishing and just walking about on the ice.

Frozen Palmer Lake

While exploring the roads near the hills within Palmer Lake, found the Town Hall and this monument to Dizzy the Dog

If the status is "life sized", Dizzy was one Big dog!

Afterwards, I headed back North on CO105 after seeing things were pretty empty at the biker hangout known as O'Malley's Bar and Grill.

I turned West on Red Rock Road off of CO105, and things got a bit more interesting once I transited the housing development close to the main road. There were the beginnings of interesting rock formations and in the distance what looked like the same type of cool rocks that exist at the Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. Naturally, I went closer to see how close I could get. Turns out, you can get damn close.

Wandering on Red Rock Road, I turned off onto Echo Valley Road and got this shot of a rocky ridge while heading back out towards Red Rock Road.

On Echo Valley Road

Taking roads that would get me closer to the houses I saw on the rocky ridge pictured above led me onto Wauconda Park Road. I went past the houses looking for a good angle to shoot them with and then I spotted this rock formation:

The Entrance Rock Formation to what I am calling The Mini-Garden of the Gods (GOTG)

It all became dirt roads at this point but they were easily navigable on Brigitta, to include some mild ruts going crosswise on the roads that were muddy and ice-filled at times.

The sunlit side of the rocks marking the beginning of Mini-GOTG

There were a lot of rock formations, with dirt trails leading to the majority of them. More exploring is in order in the New Year for this area! Lots of parcels marked out for future homes, hopefully development of them won't happen too fast.

At the Intersection of Red Rock Road and Perry Park Boulevard.

Cool rock formation right on the grounds of the Perry Park Golf Club

A Pano shot of some nice rock formations with houses built right at their edge

Almost six hours of riding today, I got home around 3pm and saw while filling up the tank that I had ridden about 140 miles or so. Very good day of riding, found a new area to explore in the new year and got some good pics.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Incoming Weather after Christmas Day

Working from home again after taking Christmas Day off. I rode out during lunch and saw that some interesting cloud formations had formed during the morning and seemed to presage some wet weather heading our way.

I headed East on Smoky Hill Road and tried for some horizon shots from the housing development located at the junction with Powhaton Road.

Cool cloud formations eh?

Afterwards, I exited the development and turned right onto the dirt/gravel road that leads one to the grassy trails to the NE where the man made lake is located. I tried to stay on the dry grassy areas since the temperatures were in the low 40s. This meant soft mud in spots, specially low-lying areas. I was looking for high points of terrain where I could pose Brigitta with the oncoming weather clouds in the background.

Wide Open Spaces

Fluffy Clouds to the East
After pictures, I slowly made my way back to the dirt/gravel road bordering the housing development. A little bit of mud flew off the wheels as I gained speed once on pavement, but Brigitta came through pretty clean otherwise.

One last shot of the oncoming clouds

I wanted to ride more but I was "on duty" and so made my way back home to type this after checking for any new emails. Slow day at work, unsurprisingly.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Ride

Up at the crack of dawn, courtesy of my sons who at least waited till 0620 before their noise woke my wife up who in turn woke me up getting out of bed.

The traditional tearing into the presents under the tree (from friends and family) and presents at the fireplace (presents from Santa Claus) occurred at its usual frenetic yet somewhat controlled pace so that my wife could get pictures of each present being opened.

The rest of the morning was spent exploring all the stuff the boys got, mostly video games, some books and clothes and some weird plastic balls that transform into robots or something. Apparently, they're the "in" thing now among the younger kids.

Shortly after noon I headed out with my eldest son's new "youtube quality" video camera/MP3 player. I took Maria since she's outfitted with a camera RAM mount so I could shoot some video. I went the E470/C470 slab way to Wadsworth Avenue where I got off and headed down Deer Creek Canyon Road.

I went up and down the road once, shooting several film segments (I thought) for eventual editing and posting. Well, not sure what I did wrong but the only segment that recorded was about 5 seconds at the end of my last shooting sequence! So, no video today. Sorry. Just as well as road conditions did not facilitate one riding "briskly" through the twisty parts.

The twisty curves of Deer Creek Canyon road were not too bad in terms of remaining ice/snow but the gravel used for traction was very much in evidence and kept my speeds slow through the curves. Couple of spots that were in the shade all the time had enough ice/snow/gravel to leave just narrow lanes that were clear pavement, I went real slow on, perhaps video of curvy roads will have to wait till Spring of 2009.

I headed back towards home by way of US85 which I got to from Waterton Canyon Road. I took US85 past Sedalia and got to Castle Rock in short order. From there it was the usual, crowfoot parkway to Parker, and from Parker it was county roads all the way back to Smoky Hill Road. I spotted the clubhouse built for this housing development and went there to see about taking some pics.

It's a pretty fancy clubhouse, for these here parts that is. Much bigger and fancier than the small poolhouse that my neighborhood has!

A metal sculpture to the East of the main clubhouse

By this time, I'd accumulated perhaps 110 miles of riding and a couple of hours in the saddle. I was beat from the very strong and gusty winds that had been pretty much my constant companion throughout the ride. The temperatures were in the high 40s to low 50s with sunny skies so pretty good riding weather.

Hope you had a great Christmas morning, and now, back to the video games!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Ride

I rode into the Denver Tech Center today to check on things at the data center. It was, predictably, a ghost town. Still the nice weather (mid 30s!) and the fact we got ZERO snow in spite of predictions from the weather guessers made it a good day to ride.

Yep, no snow. The forecast was for 2-4 for Denver, we got zilch, nada, zero....and for that I am thankful. My kids were, out of my hearing range, hoping for a white Christmas, but I think they'll survive the dissapointment when it comes time to open presents tomorrow. : )

As I did last year, I made some attempt to capture my motorcycle of the day with a manger scene. There continues to be a dearth of such religious exhibits here in Denver, not sure why but I suspect political correctness on the part of officials and secularists have made it so.

Here's the best I could do, a pretty "basic" presentation of the traditional manger scene, to remind us of the real reason for this holiday.

A Church in Cherry Creek Neighborhood

My duties at the data center done, I headed back to the barn via Cherry Creek Dam Road and Parker Road. One could see the whole front range of mountains to the West and I tried to capture a small piece of it for you. Truly amazing how superior the human eye is to the meager contraptions invented to capture what the eye sees.

Denver Tech Center with Mount Evans in the background

Here's hoping you were able to ride today and that your Christmas celebrations tomorrow are everything you hope for them to be. I hope to be able to range out of the city limits tomorrow as I am off from work.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Ride before the Next Snow Storm

The weather guessers are projecting for today about 2-4 inches of snow starting sometime during the afternoon commute hours and through the night.

I left the house just before lunch and wandered about the Buckley AFB area. the temperatures were in the high 20s to low 30s so it was quite brisk since I was riding Brigitta who has really no wind protection for me.

The GS hand guards failed miserably, after 30 minutes or so, to keep my hands warm even with the heated grips on High. Still, I did find a nice backdrop southwest of Buckley AFB for the following pictures:

The Satellite Dish Domes look like snow balls don't they?

You can see the approaching snow clouds, usually you'd be able to see the mountains from here

A Panoramic View, check out the weird hangar to the right

My hands were pretty cold at this point, so I headed on home where I detached the GS hand guards and put on the ATV Grip Covers. Headed back out for a few miles of riding to prove that the covers were doing the job and headed on back to the barn since I still had work to do.

Hope you readers are getting some riding in, I am hoping for less than 2 inches of accumulation today so that perhaps I can ride late Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Coldest Ride in a While

Ah, First Day of Winter and currently there's an Arctic Blast of cold air traversing the state. Good timing.

I left the house shortly after lunch with temperatures in the 17-18°F range and sunny. I was trying to get to Fort Morgan to take a picture of the bridge there. I'd ridden by it before on the way to other places and had meant to get back before now. Here's a picture of the arches on the bridge which make it so photogenic to more than just me.

From Google

So I used Quincy Road to get to Watkins Road which I took North towards Watkins. Once at Watkins I headed East on CO36 towards Bennett. By this time I had the grips on Maria turned on and on high, also my heated vest was turned on as well for the first time since last Winter.

I was glad I had the gear on too, it was cold! I think the lowest reading on the on board thermometer was 15.8°F! Take away about 5 for the heat emanating from the motorcycle, add in the windchill of going around 60mph and you get: -19°F. A bit more than brisk!

Less than five miles north of Bennett on Highway 79 I saw this in the distance and slowed rapidly to a stop the first chance I got:

It sure looked iffy to me, though the cars did not seem to mind

I saw the above after a short stretch of ice remnants in the center of my lane which I had to make sure to avoid. So when I saw what lay ahead, I naturally assumed that blowing snow was possible ice forming after melting with contact with the road surface.

The speed limit here was 65mph and the cagers were blowing past me and through this stuff like nothing. Not having the luxury of going slow without getting hit, I elected to turn around. Fort Morgan will have be a stop for some other day.

Old structures such as this dot the plains east of Denver

The above Quonset hut, abandoned by the looks of it, was near the same intersection where I turned around.

I retraced my steps but instead of returning home via Watkins Road, I stayed heading West until after a short stretch on I-70 I got on Gun Club Road heading South. I was home shortly after 1400. Perhaps 90 minutes on the road and beginning to feel quite chilled in spite of the electrics. First day of Winter indeed!

Just ordered myself a New Helmet

Not sure why I dithered so long after seeing the results published by the British version of DOT. They'd issued an initial list of flip-front helmets, only ones to do so in the world as far as I know, and my current helmet had come in as 1 of 5! Not good. LINK

I wrote an email to KBC, the makers of my current helmet and so far, no answer. I guess they did not want to defend themselves. I wonder if all this has any relation to the fact the price of the KBC FFR has dropped so rapidly since my insurance company paid to replace mine.

Today, I re-read the review on (LINK) and given the current favorable currency exchange rates; I decided to buy a silver version of the Caberg TRIP flip-front helmet as my Christmas present to myself.

In Europe, it's called the Rhyno, in GB where I bought it from it's the TRIP

The sun shade moved up and down as needed

All Photos from Seller or Manufacturer's websites

I hope it fits me well, I used the measurement guides on the seller's site and came up with a size L. They've a return policy if it does not fit of course but still, I'd be out the shipping which was $35. The helmet is not available here, and is not DOT certified yet. However, it meets the more stringent ECE requirements so it'll be fine. Colorado, where I live, does not even require a helmet for riders so I doubt a police officer with be checking my helmet for a DOT sticker! It scored 5 out of 5 in the SHARP tests vice my KBC's score of 1 out of 5!

It's got a different securing mechanism for a chin strap but I'm sure I'll get used to it. It's lighter, comes with a built-in sun shade which will be really nice and got a nice review from who has a great reputation when it comes to gear reviews. I would have preferred white but the silver color will do fine I am sure.