Monday, March 31, 2008

A Commute with Multiple Seasons' worth of Weather Conditions

Temperatures from 30 to 42 degrees. Sunny, windy, snowy, rainy, steamy and overcast.

My commute to work and back home let me experience just about all the weather conditions one can encounter when riding in Colorado year round, the only thing I missed was being hailed on!

The ride in was cold with temperatures not getting above 32 degrees with "moist" looking roads for the first few miles. Our high altitude and low humidity though did away with the moisture and the roads to work were pretty much dry at the halfway point. There was still the occasional snowflake but that's it.

The temperatures was in 30s most of the morning, climbing into the high 30s/low 40s by the afternoon, mostly overcast with occasional bursts of sunshine when the clouds allowed it through.

It was flurrying when I geared up and started riding for home. I rode in these flurries which became a very soft rain towards the end of the commute. Sunshine was sporadic throughout the ride home and at points heated up the pavement enough to cause the melted snowflakes on the road to steam up and create little fog banks that one rode through. Kind of neat in a way.

It started snowing a bit harder as I stopped at the bank for an errand but when I came out it was bright sunshine once again. Freaky.

As I write this, it's snowing harder again but still mainly flurries and it's not sticking to the roads. Sure am glad we're not getting the severe weather the eastern part of the nation is being hit with today.

So, got sunshine, rain, snow flurries, windy and cold and even some rising steam from the pavement. Colorado sure makes for some diverse weather, all in one day!

Mileage Note: Ending March with 52,843 miles on Maria's odometer, that's 2209 miles accumulated since the end of February according to my riding log.

Mileage Contest Results are here with the April ON Magazine

As a member of the BMWMOA or BMW Motorcycle Owners of America, I get a monthly magazine called BMW ON or Owner's News. The April 2008 edition was waiting for me when I got home.

I'd been eagerly awaiting this issue since it would list the results of the 2007 Mileage Contest. This is a yearly contest run by the BMWMOA, the riding period of is between 12 April through 12 October for 2008, it was something similar for 2007.

The top male rider accumulated 59,834 miles, with the top female rider accumulating 29,850 miles. Pretty amazing totals, wouldn't you say? My state, Colorado, finished fourth amongst all the states which had competitors, with an average mileage of 9604 miles and a total mileage of 758694 miles.

I am happy to report, that of the 79 "finishers" for Colorado, I was #11 with 15,181 miles accumulated during the contest period.

The above pin showed up a few days ago, and I remember thinking, what's the big deal with being a finisher? It just means I managed to submit both the entry form and the final results form on time. Still, I did much better than I thought I would! : )

Next contest starts April 12, I'll be getting my form signed by the dealership and we'll see if I can do better than 2007!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Learning to do better panoramic shots

Temperatures in the mid 40s, sunny and very windy.

Chores and such kept me around the house today, got some stuff done and still managed to sneak in a short ride.

One of my chores was to learn some more about the right way to shoot pictures that will be stitched together into panoramic shots. Boy, was I doing things the wrong way in previous attempts!

To sum it up, here's what I learned by googling "how to shoot panoramic pictures" on the Internet.

1. Go manual settings. No auto-focus, no automatic exposure settings, nothing. This is to achieve a uniform f-stop and speed setting in all the shots composing one panorama scene.

2. Try to use a 50mm lens or greater. The wider lenses have some distortion at the edges the wider the angle, stuff you don't notice but which can become "issues" when stitching such shots together.

3. Use a tripod! Wow, this one really makes a difference. I guess I'm not that stable a rotating platform. ; )

4. Try flipping the camera so you're shooting with it sideways, or in "portrait" mode you could say. The tripod I bought today enables me to do this easily. Yes, it takes more shots to cover your scene width-wise but you get more sky and foreground if needed.

5. Overlap by 25-50% each shot. This helps the photo-stitching software.

As I mentioned at the beginning, it was very windy so I did not stay out very long. It's a lot more work using a tripod but I think it'll be worth it when it comes to panoramic shots. Heck, I might even think about getting in the picture with Maria now and then!

Here's the result of using all the above techniques, did not have to make any corrections as I had to before and I really like the portrait method.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Riding along the Cache Le Poudre River

Temperatures ranged from low 30s to high 60s. Sunny in the front range, overcast and snow flurries in the mountains.

I left the house at 0730 today, had a long way to go to get to CO14 over in Fort Collins and cruise the Cache Le Poudre Scenic Byway that is west of there. CO14 is a pretty twisty road once you clear the Fort Collins area, it parallels or rather follows the path of the Cache Le Poudre river and has some breathtaking canyon wall scenery to glimpse at while negotiating the sometimes tight turns.

The Larimer County Sheriff was keeping himself quite busy on this road, snagging speeding cagers right and left. I was staying just slightly above the limit in order to be able to find good spots to take pictures so I was not in danger of paying a performance award. I repeatedly pulled aside and let the cagers who were in a hurry get by me and sometimes, get snagged by the county sheriff! : )

Here's a tunnel carved through the rock along CO14, just shortly after the first set of twisting canyon turns.

A cool tunnel through the side of the mountain

I continued cruising through this great riding road, passing by small clusters of houses and little stores. The weather was perfect at this point, 50s and sunny and the roads were nice and dry.

Glorious Canyon Road, CO14

About 35 miles or so from Fort Collins, one comes upon Rustic, CO. Not much there except the Rustic Resorts complex, a series of camping cabins and the like. If you blink you'll miss it. After this spot, the road started climbing higher into the mountains and it got overcast pretty quickly.

I spotted a few snowflakes here and there from this point and made it a point to watch road conditions even more carefully. As the temperature dropped steadily to the low 40s, the roads became more and more wet looking. The snow which had been at the tops of the mountains around me had descended closer and closer to the road I was on. It was starting to look more and more like last weekend's Loveland Pass experience!

At mile marker 69, I gave up trying to make forward progress on westbound CO14 and turned around. The snow had reached the shoulders of CO14 and soon I would not have a spot to stop and turn around from; I has also started seeing snow/ice starting to stick to the pavement surface.

I took the above shot shortly after turning around at Mile Marker 69. As you can see, no more sunny skies, it was quite cold and gray. I would soon be in a small snow storm as I headed down the mountain road. I am glad I turned around when I did!

The above shot I stopped to take thinking it looked cool to be moving down a canyon road with fog kind of hiding the next ridges. It was not fog, it was an incoming snow storm! Soon after I took the shot, it kind of hailed snow on me for a bit and then it was steady snow falling on me for about 10 miles or snow. Not fun. The roads were warm enough that the snow just melted but it caused me to bypass "Sleeping Elephant Rock" which I'd passed on the way up. Here's a picture from someone else's blog that shows the elephant:

Sleeping Elephant Mountain

The weather did slacken enough though that I did get a picture of Profile Rock on the way back to Rustic:

Profile Rock

The next set of panoramic shots were done with either light snow or rain falling on me, you may see their effect on the lens if you look closely.

Once I hit mile marker 96, things were dry once again and I was in bright sunlight once more. It was here I discovered my motorcycle's horn was not working! I'd gone to press it to warn this imbecile cager that was pulling out without looking but no sound came. I dodged around him and he saw me finally and stopped.

I stopped to take a look at fuses, did not find anything. I decided to ride on and fix it when I got home. (turned out to be a loose wire, used some posi-tap connectors and fixed it later).

The county sheriff was still busily at work, handing out performance awards as I headed back towards Fort Collins. I messed up at Fort Collins and took US287 through the center of both Fort Collins and Loveland. I lost some time and spent some tense moments in pretty heavy traffic without the luxury of a working horn!

Oh well, once I got to CO34, I took it eastbound to the I-25 Superslab which I used to pick up some speed and make up some time. The temperatures had risen into the mid 60s by the time I hit the Denver metro area but I elected to keep going and not stop to take off layers. Made it home by 1430 or so, not too warm but definitely getting there. Got in a bit over 300 miles of riding today, about 6.5hrs of saddle time. I'd forgotten how long a drive it is to get to CO14! Great ride, in spite of the horn malfunction which I blamed on bad wiring job on my part.

Still trying to get the hang of shooting panoramic shots correctly. Hope you enjoyed my efforts for today.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Added Third LED Brake Light to Maria

The 16 LED Module from Hyperlites arrived today, installation was easy since all I had to do was replace the 3 LED module I'd obtained from an auto parts store with the Hyperlite Module.

The folks at Hyperlites were very accomodating and responsive via email. The unit got here two days after I ordered it. Total was $36, not bad at all.

It's much brighter than the one from the auto parts store too. Just another attempt for more rearward conspicuity on my part. Perhaps with a bright red LED light more at eye level for cagers who are closer to me will help in getting their attention and getting them to stop at a safe distance from me.

Took it out for a short ride to test the mounting and wiring, already noticed they seem to stop a bit further back from me than usual. Hopefully I am not just imagining things, every little bit helps. Yes, there's that .01% of idiots behind the wheel of a car who miss seeing even the lights of a police vehicle in emergency mode and plow into said police vehicle; however I just feel adding a light higher up can only help in the other 99.99% of cases. For that .01%? That's why I am always in gear and leaving myself an escape path around the car in front of me while stopped.

Above is Maria with running lights on.
Below is a movie showing all the lights that come on when brakes levers are engaged.

Before the addition of the third LED light

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Ride to Lookout Mountain via Loveland Pass

Temperatures ranged from low 20s to high 40s. Sunny but becoming overcast as the day went by.

Another great riding weather day here in Colorado, there's a 30% chance of snow forecasted for tomorrow and so I got my long ride in today.

The original goal had been to get pictures of CO119's Canyon Road and manipulate said shots with the photostich software to try and give you, gentle reader, some idea of the awesome riding road that it is. I borrowed my wife's Nikon D50 Digital SLR (much better camera than mine!) and left the house shortly after 0800hrs.

I used the C470-E470 Slabs to get to Morrison where I tanked up. I then went west on Bear Creek Canyon Road towards the towns of Kittredge and Idledale.

Bear Creek Canyon Road

I stayed on this road and got on CO74 in the town of Evergreen, following CO74 till it went past Bergen Park and it junctioned with the I-70 Superslab. I took the slab westward to see how far I could get and get a look at Loveland Pass. Roads were fine but things got chilly as I neared the Eisenhower Tunnel and the Continental Divide. I stopped short of the tunnel and plugged in my heated vest. Ahhhhh. Since I was stopped, I took this picture of the snowy mountains.

I-70 sideroad east of Eisenhower Tunnel

Once I neared the Eisenhower tunnel, the exit for Loveland Pass looked clear so I took it. In retrospect, probably not the best idea I've had in a while. The conditions were not bad, but they were marginal at best. There was blowing snow over wet-looking roads and though I was not traversing snow/ice, it could have been better. As it is, I had to go slow (still was at the speed limit in most cases) and I am sure I annoyed the line of cagers that formed behind me.

No real recourse/choice to go back though, once I was on the pass road, had to keep going. The snow conditions did not lend themselves to me stopping safely so I did not even get a chance to stop Maria and get off to take pictures! There was serious doubt in my mind that if I stopped on that snow-covered roadside, that I would not be able to get going again with my street tires!

So, I made my way up and down the pass with no incident. I ended up in the towns of Silverthorne and Dillon (ski resorts) and I was soon eastbound on the dry pavement provided by the I-70 superslab.

I made my way to where US6 junctions with I-70 and from there I quickly made my way to CO119's canyon roadway. I've mentioned this road before with its nice twisting turns and high rock walls, here's some pictures to hopefully give you an idea of the road itself.

CO119 Canyon Road

After I got to Golden, I headed down US6 and took the Lariat Loop trailup Lookout Mountain. The road up the mountains has plenty of switchbacks to get your attention and some awesome views of the town of Golden with its Coors Brewery and the Colorado School of Mines.

The view of Golden from Lookout Mountain

After Lookout Mountain, I made my way via the I-25 Slab from US6 to the BMW of Denver Motorcycle Dealer who was hosting a garage sale. They were serving bratwurst and one of those ended up being my lunch. Yumm.

I perused the garage sale wares but found nothing for Maria. I got to the dealer shortly after 1300 and ended up BS'ing with several fellow riders, the ColoradoBeemers MC President: Bruce Sanders and his wife Miranda, and finally Gary who showed up on his Dakar F650. He'd apparently had possible battery issues while trail riding near Cheesman Reservoir and had come in to have his battery checked.

Just like Maria, you have to take off all the dang plastic off the F650 also to get at the wee little battery that it uses. I thought Maria's battery was small, the F650's is tiny! Gary was prepared though, he carried tools and made short work of the task. I left before he found out if it had been the battery though.

Gary's F650 Dakar

Some of the bikes that showed up for the Garage Sale

The skies had become overcast at around 1500 and it was a cloudy and cooling ride home. About 240 miles of riding today, perhaps 5 hours in the saddle total.

I know I kind of got carried away with all the panoramic shots, will have to not only get better at them (many did not turn out) but will have to restrain myself a bit in the future. Hope you enjoyed them.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Photostitching from Castlerock

Temperatures in the 60s, sunny and very windy.

Today I downloaded some software called Photostitch which allows you to create panoramic shots made up of several digital photos. I'd been wanting this capability for a while in order to try and capture some of the awesome mountain vistas I've ridden to here in Colorado.

I was off work by 2PM so I headed down to Castlerock to see what kind of view one could see from it's highest reachable point.

The "Rock" as it's called by the locals, is accessible via a trail from Rock Park. It's not a bad little hike up to the observation area at the base of the main rock formation but I will admit I was huffing and puffing when I neared the top of the trail! You'd think I was over 48 years old and out of shape or something! : )

On the way up to Castlerock
I got up to the observation area in about 15 minutes, the trail was fine if a bit gravelly. The Oxtar Matrix motorcycle boots I wear did fine in the rocky trail but I don't think I'd go on any long distance hikes with them on. I was still wearing my riding jacket and liner and soon overheated. There were some pretty fierce winds blowing around the Rock and I soon cooled down once I opened up the jacket and liner.

Here's the results of my first photostitching attempt. I hope to get better as I get a handle on how to shoot the shots for best merging probabilities.

After taking these shots, I trudged down the rocky trail back to the parking lot.

At the beginning of the trail

The winds were picking up even more as I geared back up at the parking lot. So I decided to head home. I took Founder's Parkway to CO86, cruising easily to Franktown and taking CO83 or Parker Road up to the town of Parker. From Parker I took the usual back roads back to my own neighborhood.

The wind gusts were pretty strong anytime I was pointed in either a Northerly or Southerly direction as they were coming in from the West. There's snow in the forecast so these winds may be the advance guard. Hopefully, the strong winds will keep the snow clouds moving and they won't have a chance to drop much snow on us.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Signs of Spring

Temperatures from high 40s to mid 60s as I write this. Beautiful riding conditions here in Colorado.

The first day of Spring today, and what a great day to ride to work.

As I walked between buildings before lunch, I chanced to see what is surely a sign that Spring is finally here. Yep, the presence of more motorcycles in the parking lot. Maria and one other motorcycle have been alone in the parking lot most of the winter, with the occasional appearance of a BMW LT Touring motorcycle. Mostly, it's just Maria and this Honda Shadow VLX:

Honda Shadow VLX

I've not talked to the owner of this VLX, saw him heading out the other afternoon though, typical cruiser rider, not much in terms of ATGATT, definitely no helmet. Oh well, at least he rides. The only times I rode and he did not was after snow storms and such.

I mentioned other bikes, such a gorgeous day and I only saw two:

Honda Shadow Sabre

A 1200 GS next to my Maria, the GS was quite clean and shiny

Sorry about the picture quality, the camera on my phone pretty much sucks. Two more motorcycles did show up later in the afternoon, the LT I mentioned before and one of those big TR3 8 cylinder cruisers.

To make up for the above poor picture quality, here's a shot with my regular camera of a couple of the golfballs at Buckley AFB with the Rockies in the background. Taken this morning during my commute in to work.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Finishing out Winter with a close call

Temperatures from high 30s to low 60s, sunny and gorgeous riding weather.

Got in some pretty good commute riding miles today, not too "brisk" in the morning and just my work shirt under my riding jacket in the evening when I left work just shy of 6pm.

Traffic was light by then, the rush hour and my taking back roads result in a pretty easy ride home. The sun was still halfway up in the sky, very few clouds and cool winds.

All was great with the world, that is until the DAC showed up. DAC: Dumb Ass Cager.

It's good that I am paranoid about cars coming up behind me at stoplights, I am always watching my mirrors to ensure they're slowing down.

Today, about five miles from the house, I am slowing to a red light on Gun Club Rd and Jewell Avenue, sliding slightly to the left of my lane on this two lane road so that oncoming traffic can see me as they try and make a left turn. I have a vehicle in front of me.

As I slow down, I look in my mirror and this dumb ass in a white POS coupe was fast approaching me from behind, giving no sign of slowing! Luckily, I had not come to a full stop yet, I swung my motorcycle over to the left, going over the lane marker and partly into the left turn lane. This dumb ass finally stops his vehicle with him abreast of me as I come to a stop. Big dumb look on his face. I was so in shock at this that I failed to raise my helmet visor to yell at him or even give him the finger, just something to express my anger!

The light turned green and this dumb ass makes to keep going like nothing had happened! I goosed Maria and cut him off by perhaps a foot off his front bumper and kept the speeds slow for the first 1/2 or so, watching him warily in my mirrors. Dumb ass finally got the hint that he was stupid and backed off a ways. I sped up to the limit and still watched him closely, maintaining more than the usual safe interval between me and the car in front of me, just in case.

I turned right at the next intersection, and again he sped up and closed on me as I slowed and braked and signaled my turn. Again, I failed to even give him the finger as he sped by, the temptation to abort my turn and follow him was great but reason prevailed. What an asshole!

So the close call, courtesy of that asshole, ruined what had been a pretty lovely day of riding to work and between data centers. Oh well, goodbye Winter.....Hello Spring, glad I will be able to greet you properly tomorrow, in spite of dumb ass cagers everywhere.

Never let up on your vigilance, the DACs are out there and you're invisible to them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Victims of Public Education

The way I figure it, there's probably more than four victims of public education involved with this debacle in the Colorado Department of Transportation or CDOT. First, the shlub who made the sign, second the guy who prepped it for shipment and last but am sure not least, the minimum of two guys it took to install it.

Come on people, do you pay attention to what you're doing?

I'd be embarrassed at the very least!

Here's the article from

JEFFERSON COUNTY – The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to hang a piece of cloth over a road sign with a misspelling on it until they can get it fixed.

CDOT manufactured the sign that reads "Lookout Mountian" (instead of "Lookout Mountain") with an arrow pointing toward exit 256 from westbound I-70.

The sign was hung by a contractor on Tuesday morning.

CDOT has ordered a patch to cover the misspelled word with the correct one and it will be on the sign by Wednesday.

The cost to make and put up the sign is about $1,000.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Motorcycling Weather Gods smiled upon Denver today

The weather guy looked almost disappointed this morning as they confirmed what I saw when I got up this morning. Though wet, the neighborhood streets were clear of snow! There was barely an inch accumulation on the grassy areas, but that was it. The major snow storm and 4-12 inches of snow predicted missed us! Hah!

It started flurrying a little bit and I had a moment of unease about riding off to work at 0810 or so. But I went ahead and had no issues. Yep, roads were wet but not by a lot, not even a lot of road spray from the cagers. I did take main roads to work since the secondary roads I usually take might be in more "iffy" conditions.

It flurried, lightly, on and off most of the morning. After lunch I rode down to the other datacenter I sometimes work at and did not leave there till after 4pm. The sun had come out while I was there and it was gorgeous riding all the way home. Dry roads, mostly, temperatures in the mid-40s and sunny! Heck, I even saw another rider on the way home!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Ride to Castlerock before the forecasted snow storm

The weather folks are forecasting/guessing "significant" wet snowfall for our area starting late tonight and into Monday.

The warning sounds a bit grim:


Map from, red squares are areas covered by the above warning. Yikes!

Needless to say, I made sure to get a ride in this morning before daddy duties this afternoon prevented me from riding.

Temperatures were from low to mid 40s and sunny in the morning. It was rising towards the low 50s as I finished my ride.

Today's ride was centered on CO83 down to where it junctions with CO11, which I then took back towards Castlerock where I took pictures of the rock formation from which the town gets its name.

CO11 is part of the route shown to us by Grey Buckley, former president of the ColoradoBeemers Motorcycle Club and MOA Ambassador. It's got some real nice sweepers and a couple of twisty sections that are quite fun to negotiate. I can see it becoming one of favorite "close in" roads.

It was a bit windy at times, it was coming from the South so anytime you headed either East or West, you got buffeted, but not bad. Weirdly, heading North with the wind at your back, it was quite silent in comparison to the other directions of travel. I could hear Maria's engine purring nicely under me as I found each gear's sweet spot, all was well with my world.


Next time I'm in the vicinity, must plan on hiking up "the rock". I found the hiking path this time while taking pictures.

About 90 miles or so of riding, smooth and dry roads with not too cold weather conditions. Temperatures are dropping as I write this and it feels quite chilly outside when the sun is hidden by thick overcast.

Oh well. Hopefully I can work from home and get some snow clearing efforts underway so that I can hopefully ride again Tuesday afternoon perhaps.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hunting Gremlins during the club's St. Patrick's Day Ride

Temperatures from low to high 40s, sunny and windy in the afternoon.

Yep, I meant gremlins, not leprechauns which would have been in keeping with the theme of today's ride!

I decided this morning to give group rides one more chance by deciding to participate in the ColoradoBeemer's Saint Patrick's Day ride to the annual Saint Patrick's Day parade down in Colorado Springs.

I was heading towards Morrison on the west side of Denver and about halfway there my brakes warning light telling me there was something amiss with my tail lights came on! My brakes worked fine and I could see my brakes flashing when I pressed the brake pedal when I stopped to check. Weird. I continued on to Morrison and stopped again at the gas station just outside Morrison both to tank up and to do a closer inspection.

Well, the warning light was still on and now the brake lights were not behaving correctly. I cursed silently as I parked Maria and started diagnosing the problem. Since I'd been doing wiring recently for the voltmeter and the trunk's new light, I concentrated there. I wasted a few minutes here before deciding were no issues with my recent wiring work, so I moved to the taillight's snakes nest of wiring.

I found that the common ground connector for several ground wires was loose, I tightened it up and the warning light went away. Cool, I thought, I'll just drive on and replace the connector when I get home in the afternoon! Little did I know at this time that the electric gremlins would reappear again.

I was a 1/2 hour late to the meeting point but it turns out I got there just in time to join the riders as they left Red Rocks Grill. More good karma I thought.

I settled into the #12 of 13 riders. We rode east out of Morrison which puzzled me since the published route was supposed to be through Deckers which involves going West out of Morrison. It was quite the convoluted route that the ride captain tooks us on. Its main purpose turns out to get us down to Colorado Springs while avoiding the slabs. I surmised on the way that the roads to Deckers must not have been in good shape, a fact I confirmed by asking one of the riders later.

Group riding is just not for me I've again decided. Too much jockeying around at times, too much accordion effect for my liking as riders sped up or slowed down. Not knowing the route we were to take was also annoying but I blamed myself for that one since I was late and missed the ride briefing. Damn sure no stopping to "smell the roses" or take pictures even though there were several great shots of Pikes Peak while we were on CO83. I like being able to stop when I wish and take pictures or whatever. You really cannot do this during a group ride since people think you may be having mechanical issues, the sweep and others may stop to check on you, etc etc...basically you have to hang with the group or you put a crimp on both the schedule and flow of things for everyone.

I did manage to not drop the camera and take this shot of the riders in front of me with Pikes Peak in the background though.

We ended up in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant in Colorado Springs. We'd had a couple of riders ride off on their own before we got there, guess they did not want to continue onto the parade.

After a bit of meandering and listening to the other riders talk about their motorcycles and such, I too decided to bail on the ride and go off by myself. I told the sweep, ziggi that I was bailing and they all went off to the parade. I guess it's just something in my character but I felt out of place amongst my fellow beemer riders. Not something that is conducive to further hanging out with them (no fault of theirs mind you, they were friendly enough), or of participating in future group rides.

I headed towards Garden of the Gods Park which was nearby it turns out. It was not too crowded since the temperatures were in the 40s still. Here's some pictures I took that turned out OK. I simply must get a wide angle lens camera for some of these shots in the future!

Garden of the Gods Main Parking Lot

Balancing Rock

A view of Pikes Peak from Mesa Overlook to the east of Garden of the Gods

Pictures done, I headed back north towards Denver using the I-25 slab to get to the Air Force Academy's North Exit and cut over to CO83 or Parker Road from there. It was while I was heading to Parker Road that the dang brake light warning light came on again! I stopped again, checked connections and nothing seemed amiss, I fired up Maria and the warning light went away as usual. Great I thought, there's something wrong and it's sporadic!

I headed off towards Franktown and about halfway there the warning light came on again. I just kept going, very frustrated with the dang warning light by this time.

I made it through Franktown and Parker just fine following CO83 and since I wanted to get to an auto parts store quick, took the E470 slab eastbound and got off at the Smoky Hill Road exit where there's an auto parts store. I bought some two prong adapters, some 16 gauge male/female connectors and stared replacing what I thought was a bad common ground connector. Had to buy new connectors because the ones I'd been carrying in my toolkit were crap.

About 10-20 minutes later, that was done, but the dang warning light was not turning off! It'd be fine before I put the tailing back into the tail fairing but then it'd stay on when I checked it again!

This went on several minutes as I kept re-checking connections and dismounting/mounting the taillight assembly to do so. Aaaarrgghhh! Finally, in the snakes nest of wiring that is my tailight assembly, I spotted a gray with white stripes broken wire! Hallelujah! There was the problem! It was a cable that led to the riding light at the rear of the motorcycle!

Of course, the wires involved were thinner than what the 16 gauge connectors I'd bought could grip, so I walked back into the auto parts store and got some 20-24 gauge connectors. The broken wire was too short, so I had to splice a bit of spare wire which I carried to enable them to connect with butt connectors. Repairs done, I switched on the ignition and joy of joys, the warning light went away and stayed away even after I remounted the taillight assembly and put everything away.

I got home and used bigger vise grips to tighten all reachable connectors in the tail section, then did a test ride, no more gremlins. What a PITA it was to troubleshoot this lighting issue, the dang wire must have been just barely connecting so that I never spotted it before and of course sometimes would make contact and sometimes not as vibrations occurred while riding! Man!

Some things I learned about my tool kit:

1. The mini vise grips I bought are too small, I could not put any real pressure on the wire connectors. Must either figure out a better way or get bigger vise grip.

2. The connectors I'd been carrying were impossible to tighten onto wire, even using bigger vise grips at home. How they're supposed to work? I've no idea, I've now more pliable connectors in the tool kit!

3. I realized that I did not carry a good wire cutter in the kit, I now do. Must find a small wire stripper as well, the Leatherman multitool did OK at this but it was a bit hard on the thinner wires.

About 200 miles of riding today, beautiful weather if a bit on the cool side while heading down to Colorado Springs. Beautiful views of Pikes Peak during most of the trip down as well. Here's a parting view of this majestic mountain:

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Red Running Light for the Trunk

I had a day off today, comp time for hours worked over 40 last week in San Francisco.

Spent the morning riding to Harbor Freight for a new voltmeter which I turned out not to need and some other sundry items. I cleaned up/tightened the wiring instead to the existing voltmeter and it seems to be working OK again. It had not been displaying the green light I am used to seeing when off idle which worries me since to me that meant the battery was not charging.

We'll see if the work done this morning rids me of the issue. As it is, so long as I see yellow, the battery is reporting at least 12 volts, so that's OK as well.

I had lunch with my loving wife and afterwards we stopped at an auto parts store where I picked up a LED Marker Light and a quick disconnect rig disguised as an alternator extension. Once we got home, I rigged up the quick disconnect to Maria and the LED marker light to where a cheap red reflector had come with the trunk.

The Round Red Reflector is what was replaced

A little bit of wiring later, voila, I have another bright red running light aimed directly to the rear of the motorcycle, high up on the trunk for increased visibility range, hopefully.

I'd toyed with many options that I found online, and may yet go another route. But, for now, this will add to the light behind me, hopefully getting cagers' attention and perhaps bright enough at night to get them to back off a bit when stopping behind me.

How Maria probably looks (with ignition off) from the rear to a car approaching her

The new farkle

How Maria should look to a cager behind me with their headlights on

Maria with just the running lights on

I expect the running lights won't look so bright in broad daylight but at least its something else to hopefully catch the innattentive cager's eye while I am riding around.

Update: 20Mar2008: Due to a close call on 19MAR, have rigged the trunk light to blink in sync with my hyperlites instead of on as a running light. Hoping for more conspicuity.