Thursday, February 28, 2008

Doubling the Size of my Rear Running Light

Another gorgeous winter riding day here in Colorado. The temperatures almost hit the mid-60s and it was sunny most of the day.

While I did ride to/from work today, this posting is about a new farkle for Maria, my R1150RT motorcycle.

I'd put off installing the "R-Tail Enhancement" kit from Run-N-Lites for a long time thinking it would somehow interfere with my Hyperlites Brake LED lights. I was worried about nothing!

Took me less than fifteen minutes of experimenting with connector configurations since the instructions that came with the kit were a bit confusing to me.

So now, I've doubled the surface area of red light that shines behind me when I am just riding along with no brakes applied.

Before installing the enhancement kit, stock riding light

Tail Lights now, with enhancement kit installed (new bulb seems brighter don't it?)

This is how I believe the rear of my motorcycle looks ,
when a cage approaches it at night with their lights on

This is what someone behind me now sees with brakes applied

I've always been paranoid about being struck from behind by some innattentive or stupid cager. Not only does my brake light flash several times before staying on while brakes are applied, and the hyperlites LEDs keep blinking but with the enhancement kit, the brake light seems brighter. It's all good! Quite happy with this purchase, very inexpensive way to increase rearward lighting in my opinion.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Self Portrait while Riding

Gorgeous riding day after waking to a "dusting" of snow and ice here in Colorado. Temperatures from high 30s during ride in to work.

Phone conferences kept me working from home till 1030 or so, so whatever snow/ice had collected overnight was gone in the fierce Colorado sun. Roads were dry and I headed into work.

I'd recently installed a metal bracket with some pretty strong velcro on my BMR Shelf to hold my cellphone while I am riding. I sometimes get calls while riding and have to stop and dig out the phone from my pants pocket to see who called.

Now, I can maybe see who's calling on the tiny LCD on the outside of the phone and make a decision whether to even bother stopping or just talk to whomever called later on when I did make a stop.

Anyways, I'm heading in to work, on a desolate stretch of road and the camera lens that's built into my cellphone caught my eye. I figured, why not, it's only me out here and no curves for a while; I opened up the phone and activated the camera function.

Note the beautiful blue skies we're enjoying today. I closed up the cellphone and resumed full concentration for the remainder of the ride in to work.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Windswept Plains Ride

Temperatures from mid to high 50s! Sunny and Windy.

Just a short ride today, about 43 miles and about an hour in the saddle perhaps.

Gorgeous riding day, and the great number of motorcyclists, bikers and donorcycle* riders on the roads were evidence of this. It got pretty windy around 1430-1500 though, made for some noisy riding with my helmet; still the winds weren't strong enough for me to go into my "dances with the winds" mode of riding.

I ended up wandering eastward on CR194, aka county line road which you reach via Smoky Hill Road. I decided to forego repeating my riding from yesterday and instead of the usual turn South towards Elizabeth, kept going straight East until I reached the end of the pavement a few miles later and turned Maria around rather than continue on the new dirt road.

Looking West towards the Rockies

Looking East, beautiful skies eh?

I rode back towards the West and spotted this small bridge with a small creek running under it, it was still pretty much coated with a layer of ice which made for a nice background shot.

I was shooting into the sun so this is the best of the several shots/angles I took of this location. I must remember to try it again someday but with the sun either higher up or more to the east perhaps.

I rode back home, retracing my way back to Smoky Hill Road. Just a short satisfying ride, a break from all the chores I'd been doing such as washing my riding jacket, washing road spray from Maria and minding the boys while my loving wife did some shopping.

* donorcycle: People who ride motorcycles without a helmet. Just my opinion, it's truly their choice.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Riding the Eastern Plains

Temps from high 30s to high 40s, almost made it to 50F°. Sunny over Denver Metro Area, overcast over Limon.

I wandered over to the Eastern Plains today since the foothills had gotten snow showers overnight and were probably a bit slick. Little did I know that heading too far East would be chilly as well.

I went to the town of Watkins by way of Quincy Road and Watkins Road. The intent had been to see how far north I could get before I hit US76. As I cruised East of Watkins I spotted signs for the Front Range Airport and could see its tall control tower way in the distance. I made my way to it to get a closer look at the tower, which seemed outsized for such a small airport.

Front Range Airport Control Tower

I then wandered over to the actual airport facilities area, lots of hangars and roads leading to them. Far as I could tell, I could have rode over into the runway area since the way to them did not seemed barred by anything except "Restricted Area" signs. Not very high security it seemed to me.

On the way out I stopped by this Russian PT-75 Armored Personnel Carrier which was on display outside the 5th Special Forces Battalion Headquarters at the Watkins Armory.

Russian PT-76 with Airborne Unit Markings

I continued my meandering, heading westwards towards Denver International Airport's surrounding areas. I stopped at the junction of Monaghan Road and 56th Avenue, which was in the flight path of planes landing and got these two shots.

You can see Denver International's Jeppesen Terminal's white roof

Afterwards, I took 56th Avenue to Tower Road, then South until it met up with the I-70 Superslab. I headed East on this slab, intending to finally make it all the way to the town of Limon. Man, was it ever windy on the way there! Strong winds coming from the North, keep me on my toes as I cruised at 80mph towards my destination. I'd been on this loop several times before, always turning short of Limon each time to go home. Turns out, I'd not been missing much.

I got to Limon just before 1300 and had lunch at the Arby's fast food restaurant. Reuben Sandwich, mmmmm. The ambient temperature had dropped ten degrees from the Denver airport area, and I was feeling chilled.

I then cruised the business district of Limon and it's not much to write about. Got gas and then found my way back to I-70, this time heading West. A couple of gents had talked to me while I was gearing up after lunch asked whether I was heading East on I-70. Apparently, they'd both come from that direction and there was snow and ice on the roads! I assured them I was not and thanked them for their advice.

Once away from Limon, I took the CO86 exit west towards the town of Kiowa. It's about 45 miles or so from Limon so I was soon there with no issues and warming temperatures. Not to mention, as I neared Kiowa, I was once again in bright sunlight which felt quite warm.

Got home the usual way when coming in via Kiowa, via Elizabeth and county roads which ultimately got me onto Smoky Hill Road and home. About 4.5 hrs in the saddle and about 210 miles of riding in pretty good conditions. A bit chilly around the Limon surrounding areas but not too bad.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Taking the long way home.

Temperatures from the mid-50s to low-60sF°

A beautiful sunny day in the Front Range today. I was able to leave work shortly after lunch since I had all my hours in and there was work planned for tonight. (Bonus, got a call later that it was canceled!)

I headed out West on the I-70 Slab and was soon near the town of Morrison. From there I cruised to the west on Bear Creek Canyon Road, it's a very twisty and fun road to ride and there was very little gravel from the snow removal operations. I soon cruised by the small towns of Idledale and Kittredge.

I took the road south out of Kittredge towards Parmalee Gulch and Indian Hills. There's some nice twisty roads along the way as well but gravel and speed limits kept me going pretty sedately until I hit US285 which I headed back to Denver on as I'd spotted approaching gray clouds from the west.

Once back to Morrison, I cruised the road leading South of town and found some interesting rock formations to take a picture of Maria by:

Rocks south of Morrison

After a bit of cruising up and down the Morrison area I got on the C470 slab southbound and got off at Ken Caryl Boulevard. I spotted a Sheriff Motor Patrol officer on duty while enroute. I'd always seen State Patrol or City Motor cops, he was the first sheriff unit I'd seen.

I headed south along Ken Caryl Valley and soon junctioned with Deer Creek Canyon Road which I took West. You may recall I'd not been able to make it all the way to Fenders on this nicely twisting road due to ice/snow conditions the last time. Well this time I made it all the way to Fenders but while there was little snow/ice except on the sides of the road; there was a boatload of gravel! I was forced to stay in narrow channels of clear road left behind by cars in order to keep off the loose gravel.

The gravel is slippery stuff, so my speeds were down from normal cruising on this usually fun to ride road. Oh well, spring will come soon enough.

I turned around at Fenders after I started seeing some snow flakes falling around me as I road. I headed back the way I came on Deer Creek Canyon road and continued seeing snow flakes fall until I cleared the foothills. Then the sun broke out and all was warmer.

You can the approaching weather front, they're calling for light snow showers in the foothills tonight:

Looking West towards Deer Creek Canyon

Looking East towards the Front Range

The last picture shows you how nice and sunny it was over the Denver Metro area and Front Range.

I cruised home on the C470/E470 slabs in order to make up some time, it was nice and warm all the way home. Got in perhaps 120 miles of riding today, counting the mileage from my home to work. Not a bad little ride.

The weather is supposed to be gorgeous throughout the weekend, we shall see.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Maria goes over 50,000 miles!

Temperatures from mid 50s to mid 40s, sunny.

Due to family medical issues, I ended up working from home part of the day today. It was a beautiful riding day however so once things were stable at home and what work could be done, was done; I headed out for a good long ride (about 110 miles) to clear my head.

I headed out towards Parker by way of the county roads. I got to Parker by way of Hess Road and headed south towards Stroh Road and thence to the Crowfoot Parkway. Soon I was in Castle Rock wending my way over to Mooseberger Road which junctions on CO105 highway.

I kept hitting slow cager traffic since it was the afternoon commute hours so I did not make good time and I ended up heading back up towards Parker from Monument around 1645. The temperature dropped a good ten degrees during my 2.5 hours ride but it was fine once I put the liner back on under my riding jacket at Monument.

I'd noticed while southbound on CO105 that Maria's odometer was nearing the magical 50,000 mile mark. I rode past Palmer Lake and Monument and kept a close eye on the counter as I then sped my way back North on CO83, past the town of Franktown and back all the way to Parker.

North of Parker, the counter getting really close now, I took the E470 slab to the Gartrell Road exit and from there it was a short hop to my regular gas station. Maria's odometer clicked over 50,000 about two blocks short of the gas station in fact.

I took pictures and then gave Maria her regular reward of a tankful of Premium Gas. Quite a milestone for both her and myself. I bought her with 19,437 miles on the odometer and have thoroughly enjoyed the many miles we've ridden together since October 7, 2006. LINK

I am looking forward to the next 50,000 miles with Maria. Beemers are built to be able to achieve that kind of mileage, given good service and care, all of which I intend to continue giving her.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dashing through the Snow Flurries

Temperatures in the high 20s, overcast and snow flurries by the end of the short ride.

So, I went to sleep last night thinking the forecast remained the same: high of 55 and sunny. It had been a glorious riding day yesterday but all I did was ride around doing errands, I'll ride longer tomorrow I foolish I was. I'd forgotten the saying they have around here: "don't like the weather? wait a few minutes, it'll change"

And, so it did. I woke to snow falling! I really have to monitor the weather closer apparently. Luckily, we had barely a half inch of accumulation. It was cold so the snow did not melt and was quite easy to shovel aside to clear a path out of the neighborhood.

Turns out though, that things "warmed" up enough to sublimate most of the patches of snow in the neighborhood roads and I was able to exit via the streets at around 1300hrs. I could have and should have left sooner but was waiting for it to warm up a bit closer to 32F° for whatever reason.

I geared up, and rode off into overcast skies, looking for patches of sky where the sun had been teasing us all morning. What I found was a few snow flurries about five minutes into the ride. No problem I said to myself, it's just a few snowflakes.

Well, those snowflakes were soon joined by more and bigger snowflakes! By the time I'd reached GunClub Road, the flurries were medium sized and constant. I took GunClub road south towards the Southlands Mall area, the flurries getting thicker by the minute.

I got on Smoky Hill Road and you could see the snow front moving in from the North. I stopped in a parking lot North of the Home Depot and took this picture:

Discretion being the better part of valor, I rode on home after the shot above, had a big old grin on my face for some reason. Found myself whistling "Winter Wonderland" as I watched the think snowflakes fly by and over my windshield. They weren't sticking to the ground yet so I was not too worried.

I got home safe and sound and you can see, the flurries followed me home. A short 12 mile ride but fun.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Channel through the Ice

Temperatures from mid 20s to mid 30s, sunny.

Before I left for work today, I reconned the King Canute Path and found some issues. There was about 20 feet of thin ice on the sidewalk leading to South Ireland Street, a bit of ice on the corners and what would be the major obstacle, a good six foot wide span of solid ice between the end of the sidewalk and the main road/exit out of the neighborhood.

The thin ice I dealt with by spreading sand on it since I would not have to make turns to cross it. The stuff on the corners came up easily enough with my brand new ice chopper tool.

The six foot span of solid ice took a bit more work. I lucked out though and it came apart easily enough without too much undue effort on my part. I shoveled the snow fragments aside, spread a little sand at the mouth of the channel and voila, had me a channel through the ice to the dry main roads:

As you can see, so long as one can pause before hitting the channel so as to check for cross traffic, there's no problem with then slowly darting out through the channel and on to the dry pavement beyond.

The rest of the trip in to work was no big deal, just your typical dumbass cagers who weave in and out of traffic seeking to get ahead by that additional car length.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tracking my Riding Days

I was talking to a co-worker yesterday about riding and he asked me how much driving I did anymore in my cage. I told him I doubted I'd even put 2000 miles on the cage for 2007.

This got me thinking though, besides ride postings, I've no real record of whether I rode or not. Is this important, probably not since I ride more than I don't. However, I decided to try and track the days I ride from today onwards and see how it tracks out and how onerous a task it might turn out to be.

There's a link, near the bottom of the list on the right hand side of this page, labeled: Riding Log; which you can click and it'll take you to a page where I plan to track my riding days, green = riding day, red = non-riding day, white=no record. Nothing fancy, just a concept right now, we'll see how it works out.

Update: 16FEB08 I modified the spreadsheet to links to the ride report for that day. If no ride report, then a simple comment to remind me what I was doing that day.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Ride To Silverthorne, CO via Downtown Denver

Temperatures from mid-40s to mid 50s F°, overcast over Denver, sunny in the mountains.

A glorious motorcycling weather day, even better than yesterday which I could not ride during due to it being my turn to watch the boys while the wife got her kitchen pass to see her friends.

The ride started off sometime after 0830 with the initial objective of just going downtown to take a more recent picture of the Blue Bear who is a feature at the Denver Convention Center:

Security Guard who came to shoo me away and who asked to have his picture taken

After visiting the bear, I rode to the Denver Main Public Library where I got this picture of this "roadside attraction" I'd first seen mentioned in the website.

Outside the Main Denver Public Library

I then wandered for a good hour around the area of the Colorado State Capitol, looking for insteresting backdrops to pose Maria at. The street people at the corners must have wondered about this motorcyclist who seemingly kept circling around the area, lost.

Colorado State Capitol Building

The US Mint
A guard came out to shoo me away from here too but let me take the picture first.

Denver City Hall?

The view of the Capitol from the steps of Denver City Hall

I left the Denver downtown area and headed for nearby Regis University on the west side of town. I earned a Masters Degree from this college with the monies from the GI Bill, and now I teach an online course for them as well.

After wandering about the Regis campus and failing to find further good locations for shots including Maria, I headed West on I-70 to see how far I could get before road conditions turned "iffy".

Westbound I-70 east of the Continental Divide

I made it through the Eisenhower Tunnel and the Continental Divide after seeing that Loveland Pass was still pretty much a mess from the snows we've had recently in the state. Here's the sight one is greeted with as one is rolling downhill from the Divide and is approaching the town of Silverthorne which is the first exit I could find so I could turn around.

The view as one approaches Silverthorne after crossing the Divide

I'd been watching the slab heading back East as I headed West and they looked wet, lots of spray from the road being blown north towards the westbound lanes. Could not find a good spot to turn around before the Eisenhower tunnel so I went through as I mentioned and turned around in Silverthorne. Quite the messy streets in that town, lots of mushy snow and cagers.

The ride home was wet and full of road spray until I neared Idaho Springs and points east. I was glad to get out of the wet road conditions, it makes one nervous and caused me to ride in the right lane where I could go slower.

Rest of the trip was uneventful, I took I-70 East to C-470 and rode it around the southern edge of the Denver Metro area towards home. Maria and I racked up about 225 miles or so today, about 6 hours in the saddle. Good ride, she was a bit messy after all the riding on the wet roads:

Note the road spray on the windshield

Thursday, February 07, 2008

2008 BMW MOA International Rally

From the BMWMOA Site: LINK

The 36th Annual BMW MOA International Rally will be a high plains adventure in Gillette, Wyoming. Save the dates of July 17th through the 20th, 2008. In the months to come there will be updates to the website, articles in the Owners' News and postings on the forum to keep you informed about rides to experience en route to the rally, routes home from the rally, and things to see and do while at the rally. So wear your boots, pack your cowboy hat, and Cowboy Up in Gillette!

I've not decided yet whether I am going to go to the Rally, depends on work schedule and such. The 2007 International Rally in West Bend, WI was pretty good but crowds make me itchy I found, even amongst 1000s of fellow beemer riders.

I might stop by for a bit enroute to Yellowstone National Park perhaps.

Lesson Learned: Strong Winds create unexpected snow mounds

Temperatures in high teens-low twenties. Partly Sunny.

So I was putting on my riding gear at my motorcycle and my loving wife asked me: "you're going to check out the escape path, right?". To which I replied, "I am sure it'll be fine". This was to come back to haunt me, I should have listened to the voice of reason.

The escape path, is neighborhood sidewalks that I've kept clear after snow storms since my 600lb+ motorcycle really does not do well on loose snow/ice. Loose snow and ice is what the neighborhood streets here are like usually after a good snow fall.

Well, I started off on the escape path, and all was well till I neared South Ireland Street. I spotted snow about 6-8 inches deep sloping down to about an inch thick as it neared the edge of the sidewalk and the street. There was maybe six inches of sidewalk that was not covered by windblown snow from the lawn next to the sidewalk. Damn.

I tried to ride as close to the right as possible, nearest to the edge where it drops off a few inches to the street but the snow grabbed my front wheel and down we went.

Luckily, I was going really slow and Maria settled softly onto the piled up snow which the winds last night had accumulated on the sidewalk. I was unhurt, still standing in fact. I got off the motorcycle, and picked up Maria with no undue effort and pushed her clear of the snow mound (about ten ft) and onto a clear portion of the sidewalk.

No damage evident to the motorcycle, I walked back to the house for a shovel, cleared off the 20 ft or so of snow mounds on the sidewalk, returned the shovel and got back to Maria and we escaped the neighborhood with no further issues.

So yeah, always check the escape path! Strong winds are more than just wind, specially when there's lots of snow bordering the escape path!

Followup thoughts:
It's just dawned on me what my frame of mind was during this morning's slow speed fall onto the snow bank. Unlike my other falls, I was not experiencing "a higher heartbeat rate", breathing hard or finding myself embarassed. It was kind of a matter of fact moment, with me saying to myself "well, that didn't work, pick it up and move it off the snow".

Perhaps it was because there was no damage thanks to the snow cushioning the motorcycle's fall, the fact I was not tossed off as before, or perhaps the confirmation that things like this will happen when one chooses to be "the local designated wack job on a motorcycle" and riding in sometimes suboptimal conditions.

Heck, I now remember whistling softly to myself as I walked back and forth to the house for the shovel to clear away the snow mounds in preparation for when I return home from work!

It must have been, upon further reflection, quite the amusing picture to people watching this; a guy wearing full riding gear and helmet, carrying a shovel and clearing snow with his motorcycle parked nearby. : )

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Icy/snowpacked Parking Lots: Dicey!

Temperatures ranging from mid20s-30 F°, mostly sunny.

I took main thoroughfares as opposed to the usual back roads into work this morning. We had 4-6 inches of snow accumulation by yesterday morning here in the Denver Metro area which had snarled traffic quite nicely yesterday. I had the King Canute Escape Path ready to use by yesterday afternoon.

So, the roads I took were 99% dry. I saw little patches of snow/ice here and there but nothing not avoidable. The side roads, like my neighborhood roads were still snowpacked and nasty.

Made it into work just fine and that's when things go interesting. I caught brief glimpses of the parking lot's condition and it seemed doable. Boy was I wrong.

See google picture below(which I am sure was shot in summer, on a sunday due to so few cars in evidence), the red route is what I followed to the motorcycle parking area outlined in by the blue box. Initially, conditions were not bad but they got progressively worse. I chanced it thinking the motorcycle parking area looked clear but when I got to it, I could not back Maria into the spot since I was standing on what was basically ice! Not good.

Picture the above lot, ice/snowpacked

The approach to the motorcycle parking area, I rode in from the far end

Clear spot in parking area but no traction to back Maria into it

The way out, the motorcycle parking area is at far end

So, yes, the facility folks at work suck in terms of keeping the parking lot clear of snow/ice.

Yes, I probably should have stopped at the first row and called it good instead of venturing further in, or parked in the shopping center across the street. I will next time!

However, no falls or issues, and I realized that Maria can handle ice/snow at very slow speed so long as no braking is required! I will admit my heart rate was up during the long circuit I did of the hockey rink, I mean, the parking lot!

Pictures taken with phone's 1.3 megapixel camera, so quality not great, but you get the idea.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bronze Buffaloes and another visit to the Golfball

Temperatures from 35-44 F° very windy and overcast.

It had snowed Friday night, about 1-2 inches of accumulation so I spent Saturday morning clearing the King Canute Escape path as always. We had company come in for lunch and so I was not able to ride at all on Saturday even though I had a way out to the main roads.

Today, Superbowl Sunday, I spent some more time clearing an approximately 30 foot section of sidewalk that was part of the escape path. There was no real drainage and so the melting snow have overflowed onto the sidewalk and had frozen overnight into a solid sheet of ice! I think I could have made it out on the neighborhood side road but I wanted to clear the ice regardless.

Finally after an early lunch, I escaped the neighborhood with no problems using the KCEP as the escape path will be referred to from now on. I was not planning a long ride, just run a couple of errands on the motorcycle. The route I took found me at Quebec Street and C470 where I picked up some disks at Circuit City, what a zoo. Then I wound my way back towards Parker via Lincoln Avenue which I took towards Inspiration Drive and eventually Smoky Hill Road.

I detoured through some under construction housing developments trying to get close to a reservoir for a shot of the snow covered water but ice/snow on the side streets finally dissuaded me and I ended up at the Golf Ball.

Nearby where I shot the picture of Maria at the base of the Golf Ball, there's a community swimming pool house with three bronze buffaloes in front. It's a family of three, the baby, the mother and the father buffalo.

It was a short ride, don't think I went over 50 miles in the two hours I was out and about. The weather was not too cold and the roads, the main ones, were nice and dry.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Shiny Roads can make you worry

Temperature: 29-31 F°, sunny.

I rode in today to work after getting back from a business trip yesterday. It had snowed the night before yesterday but the roads had looked clear as I drove the cage home yesterday afternoon from the airport.

Well, when I left the house at 0730, I found both Quincy and Gun Club roads to be very "shiny" looking in the barely past sunrise hour. They had that "sheen" one tends to associate with ice on the road and I was a bit concerned as you might imagine.

I would feel the traction qualities of these roads at stoplights and it felt fine, like moist roads perhaps but since the temperatures were below freezing, the fear of ice kept intruding into my thought.

Still, no issues, and I went around curves slowly and as upright as possible. Not much leaning into the curves today!

A bit dicey but not too bad

Made it into my work parking lot just fine and here's where I encountered many scattered patches of ice which I traversed just fine albeit slowly. Made it to the motorcycle parking spot and whomever had donw the snow plowing had thoughtfully carved out some space for my motorcycle. You'll notice I left room for any other rounder/rider/fool who might show up on his motorcycle.