Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Overpants Zippers and Google

I wear, as part of ATGATT, a pair of Joe Rocket Alter Ego motorcycle overpants. Got them shortly after I bought my 2006 Honda Shadow Aero motorcycle back in the summer of 2006.

They've rendered dependable service, never been roadrash tested which to me is a good thing, and though a bit short on the inseam, have proven to be a good product.

That is, until recently when my right pant leg zipper started to give me grief in the form of the zipper sometimes failing to join the two sides together reliably. This would sometimes find me going up and down on the zipper several times in several spots trying to get the teeth to align and hold.

Months before, I'd paid $40 to the local tailor to replace the left side pant leg zipper due to its presenting same issues. Well, it turns out that was money thrown away.

On a whim, I turned to google this morning after getting to work and put in the term "fixing zippers". As usual, a lot of hits came up, but one in particular solved the issues I was having with the right pants leg zipper. LINK.

Photos from Ace Leather Goods

After following the instructions, the zipper aligns and joins the teeth just fine, no issue after repeated operations. So now, hopefully I can continue using these overpants till my motoport kevlar overpants show up at the end of the month; at which point these will become my backup pair.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

2008 Two Bits Rally, I'm signing up!

Found out today about a rally hosted by COG or the Concours Owners Group.

It's called the Two Bits Rally and its a six hour ride introduction to the kind of events done at regular Ironbutt Association 1000 miles in 24 hour competitions. What's with the name? Well, it's Two Bits which is also what a quarter coin is known as, six hours is a quarter of the 24 hrs for an IBA SaddleSore Run, and there you go.

This year's Two Bits Rally happens on Friday, June 6, 2008, meeting/starting/ending at Frisco, Colorado. There's still time to sign up!

The above pin is one of the items every participant receives, you can also get a hat with the design on it but that's extra. As it is, you get to play for the small amount of $20! As with most rallies, there's prizes at the end and you get to see how you ranked against the other riders.

Randy, the guy who organizes this rally for the COG, sent me the picture above. Thanks Randy! He's got a great writeup about this rally and past rallies. Go on over to the COG site and read up on it, heck, sign up to attend it! LINK

You don't have to ride a Concours motorcycle to participate, Randy tells me there's almost as many Beemers as Kawasakis already signed up. He describes it as a scavenger hunt on two wheels, should be a lot of fun.

Surefire, definite signs that Spring is here in the Rockies

Temperatures ranging from 40s to mid 70s! Started overcast, ended sunny and warm.

A nice warm spring day here in the Front Range of the Rockies.

I noted the increasing number of motorcycles in the two motorcycle parking lots at work and thought if anything denotes the true arrival of Spring; its the motorcycles coming out of storage and actually being ridden to work by their riders!

The above Vespa has been ridden in even with snow on the roads,
and its got the scars to prove it

Maria, now with some companions at work

When I arrive home after a very pleasant ride from work, I was surprised to see that the neighbor across the street from me had actually gone riding on his motorcycle. I don't think I've seen that poor machine go out but once since this past October! Now that, I remember thinking to myself, is a sign that Spring is definitely here!

Yep, the neighbor's motorcycle is NOT in the garage!

My other neighbor's motorcycle came home from storage today as well!

Yep, Spring is officially here in my neighborhood. Of course, there's a slight chance of snow in the morning for Thursday but hey, that's Spring in Colorado for you! : )

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Riding to Steamboat Springs via Loveland Pass

Temperatures from low 20s to mid 60s. Sunny.

The Colorado Dept of Transportation or CDOT website reported darn near every major road in the state as "dry". I took them at their word and decided to make for Loveland Pass for pictures of the snow clad mountains and to see how far north I could go from there on CO9 towards Steamboat Springs.

I left the house at 0900 and by 1030 0r so I was making my way up Loveland Pass which is also US6. You take it instead of the Eisenhower Tunnel to cross the Continental Divide along I-70. There was plenty of snow on the sides of the mountains but the road itself was nice and dry. Brother was it cold up there! Maria's thermometer read 24 degrees and that's with some engine heat still coming off the motorcycle! My hands got quite numb as I snapped pictures, mostly for panorama shots. A lot of pictures did not come out usable, but here's some that are passable.

Looking towards the East from top of Loveland Pass

I hooked up the heated vest and turned the heated grips on high as I left Loveland Pass, continuing west along it and its winding turns till one ends going past the Loveland Ski Resort (which was still in business), past the Keystone Ski Resort and the Town of Dillon and finally the town of Silverthorne where I-70 junctions with CO9.

On the way into Silverthorne

From a school parking lot near the center of Silverthorne

I headed North on CO9 towards the town of Kremmling to see how conditions were. The ride up is pretty scenic and I got to Kremmling around 1230 I think. Here's some shots of the rock formations near Kremmling.

I stopped to look at the map and decided I was close enough to Rabbit Ears Pass to try and bag it for the ColoradoBeemer's Passbagger 50. So I took US40 from Kremmling and the roads remained nice and dry and as one approaches the pass and the Continental Divide, the snow comes up to the edge of the paved road. It was not as cold as Loveland Pass, perhaps 32 degrees tops.

At this point, I was only like 26 miles from Steamboat Springs so I decided to go for it as use it as the high water mark for this ride. Road conditions remained perfect all the way to Steamboat Springs. The mountains around the town had mostly lost all their snow, leaving the town looking less "touristy" than when I'd last been there for some skiing with friends. Oh well.

It was now around 1320hrs or so, I checked in with my loving wife and then started heading back down US40 back towards Kremmling, crossing over the Continental Divide one more time over Rabbit Ears Pass.

I stopped for gas at Kremmling and ate a quick sandwich from the sack lunch my loving wife had made for my ride. Staying on US40, I quickly got to and passed through Granby, Fraser and Winter Park. Then the road got twisty as I neared Berthoud Pass.

The US40 road through Berthoud Pass was very twisty in spots and had several hairpin turns to get one's attention. The snow made for really no safe spots to stop and take pictures. I had my hands full watching for wet spots on the road from the melting snows, potholes and cagers who seemed to want to race through the pass. I made it through Berthoud Pass with no issues, but did have to let some cagers pass me when possible by hugging the side of the road when I could; there just was too much gravel, wet spots and debris on the road to keep up any kind of good speed on the turns.

US40 dumps you at I-70 once past the town of Berthoud Falls. I was tired by this time and elected to stay on the I-70 super slab all the way into Denver. Traffic was not too bad for a Sunday afternoon and I made good time. I stayed on I-70 once I was in Denver and then cut across the city using the I-25 slab to the I-225 slab, to Parker Road and my home neighborhoods. I was home shortly after 1700hrs. So, about 7 hours in the saddle and 398 miles ridden. A glorious day for riding, saw a few other motorcyclists out and about, I crossed the Continental Divide four times today, not too bad.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Riding North of DIA

Temperatures from low to high 40s, sunny and a bit windy.

Located NE of the Denver Metro area in a parcel of land which is quite extensive (I've heard it said it's so large it's got its own two distinct weather zones) is the Denver International Airport or DIA as its commonly known around here.

View Larger Map

Today's ride destination was a maintenance hangar/facility owned by United Airlines. I'd found out about it months ago when I went with a coworker to pick up a piece of equipment there for use within the datacenter near the old Stapleton airport where I work for United as a contractor.

You take Tower Road all the way to where it junctions with 96th Avenue and you take 96th heading East for quite a few miles. 96th becomes 114th Avenue and its pavement ends at Trussville Street. I turned right on Trussville to get closer to what looked like a burned out aircraft sitting in a fenced area. It looks like they use it to practice fire fighting techniques perhaps?

Nearby was a medium sized fuel tank farm, with six large fuel tanks inside their own fence enclosure. I did not take a picture of it, not very exciting subject you know? However, when I googled the site for a satellite view of the area I rode around in, I spotted the tank farm and it looked like a domino. So here you go:

I arrived at the Hangar/Maintenance Facility and turned around to head back to town. I was basically North of the northernmost end of DIA's 16L-34R runway. At least, that's what the sign said that I spotted on my way out of the area.

I had spotted these unmoving oil derricks on the way in and stopped at the closest one to the road to take these pictures. The dirt road to get close to it was a bit rough but doable. I worried more about the sandy soil around the rig itself, but no issues.

I headed back into town by taking Tower Road southbound, not much to report about this part of the ride, just city riding, took care of a shopping chore and then headed home. Less than 85 miles of riding today, the weather should be a bit warmer tomorrow, might hit 60 degrees!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Ride to the Collegiate Peaks

Temperatures from the 50s to the 70s depending on what part of the state you happened to be riding in. Sunny and windy in the morning.

Since I spent most of the day yesterday doing the 54k Mile service on Maria, today was the "long ride" day for this weekend. I left shortly after 1030am once my loving wife returned from going to church and I left for my own brand of "church", riding!

I took the I-25 super slab down to Colorado Springs where I then got on CO115 towards US 50 and Caňon City, aka prison central. The road conditions were great and traffic was not too heavy. I rolled through Caňon City, pasts its prisons, past the Royal Gorge Bridge tourist trap and onwards on US50 and its very nicely winding curves as it follows the Arkansas River.

It kind of reminds you of the canyon road on CO119 near Golden but not as imposing I thought. Regardless, there's some steep winding curves, lots of rock formations and a few tight turns to keep one amused as you ride west towards Salida.

A Peek at somePeaks

As you near the end of the canyon lands for which Caňon City is named, you begin to see peeks of the peaks that await one near Salida where US50 and US285 meet.

West of Cotopaxi, near the little hamlet of Coaldale, you get a nice view of a range of mountains in the San Isabel National Forest. Can't tell you which one is which for sure, but I believe this view includes Bushnell Peak, Simmons Peak and Cottonwood Peak. Simply gorgeous.

Coaldale, CO

yep, still working on panoramic shots

Once I got to Salida, I went a little further on US50 and stopped for a late lunch, this was around 2PM.

I soon started heading North on US285, the following sets of pictures depict what is known as the Collegiate Peaks. They range for quite a few miles in a north-south orientation, west of US285. They looked quite spectacular today with the bright sun hitting the snow that remains near their peaks.

A historical marker dealing with Lieutenant Pike

One more Panoramic Shot

One last look at the Collegiate Peaks as I headed back on US285

On US285, looking back towards South Park City

Scenic Overlook near Kenosha Pass

View Larger Map
The names of the Collegiate Peaks appear on left half of above google map

The rest of the ride on US285 was uneventful except near Bailey. There I came upon a traffic accident. Traffic was blocked in both directions on US285 which the local police and ambulances dealt with what looked to have been a headon collision of two cages. It looked pretty bad, at least three ambulances were on scene.

I got past the accident with no issue except a small delay. Took the C470/E470 slabs back home and got there by 530 or so. About 7 hours of saddle time, and roughly 360 miles racked up. Not too bad. Maria had been a bit buzzier than usual so I did another TBS when I got home, a little tweak and all was well. Took me longer to take her fairings off and put them back on than it did to tweak the throttle screws! : )

Oh, and I managed to bag two more passes for my ColoradoBeemers Passbagger 50 project, Red Hill Pass and Kenosha Pass.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Maria's 54K Mile Service

15-19 April 08

I worked in Maria's main 54,000 mile service tasks over a period of four days. No way to do it all in one day and not rush it. At least, not for me and the methodical and careful (mostly) way that I do the services.

I changed out her oil, oil filter and cleaned and recharged her K&N Air Filter on Tuesday the 15th's evening after work. Easy tasks, no problem.

On Wednesday the 16th, I changed out both her transmission and final drive's oil, again no problems, even easier tasks than changing out the oil. Just have to be careful measuring out the new oil and not making a mess by careful use of old cookie pans and aluminum foil. I hate the smell of 80w90 Hypoid Gear Oil too, but that's whats called for in the manual.

Today, Saturday the 19, I finished off the remaining major tasks. I put in new spark plugs, did a valve clearance check and a throttle body sync afterwards. Oh, I also replaced both shocks with OEM big deal in terms of difficulty, just time-intensive since this was the first time I'd done that and I did not want to mess it up.

Somehow, I ended up with what's called a rubber donut, #3 in the diagram below, wedged in the right side valve assembly! I could account for two old donuts and two new donuts so the only thing I can figure is that it had been there since the last time I did a valve clearance check which was about 6000 miles ago! Holy crap!

Had the dickens of a time getting the TBS of throttle body sync right, but finally got the manometer to report steady vacuum draws on both throttle bodies. Could not get them lined up even though, and left them about an inch apart at idle and at 4000 rpm. Engine runs pretty smooth at idle (1050 rpm +/- 50). The idle is a bit lower than before the service, will have to observe it over next few days. Maria did fine in the two test rides I did today, a total of almost 60 miles or so. Very windy towards evening, they even closed the Cherry Creek Dam Road! Update: They'd closed it for maintenance, not high winds I later found out.

Using the Manometer I built

Here's a picture of Maria, sans fairings. I guess you could say she's naked. : ) This was at the grocery store parking lot where I got some stuff for the wife at the end of the first test ride. The second test ride later in the evening had Maria wearing all her fairings.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting more protective Riding Gear

BMW Joke: What's the cheapest part on a BMW Motorcycle? The Owner!

After much angst and research, I decided to take the plunge today and ordered a new riding jacket and overpants to replace my Firstgear Kilimanjaro Air 3/4 Jacket and Joe Rocket Alter Ego Pants.

Both pieces of gear have served me well but with the fading of the red portions of my jacket and subsequent FUBAR attempts to fix that and my pants just not fitting quite right anymore, it was time to upgrade to better stuff.

As my loving wife put it, its pricey stuff the new gear but my protection is not something to skimp on in terms of money. I guess that means she wants to keep me around. : )

I ordered the Ultra II Air Mesh Kevlar 3/4 Cut Jacket, all black, with the optional reflective strip running down the back of the jacket's arms. I also ordered the Air Mesh Kevlar Pants, the only modification being to remove the logo on the flap that covers the belt buckle of the pants. The lady who to my order, Adele, mentioned they might have the items in stock, I am keeping my fingers crossed; specially for the jacket which I want right now.

Why Black you ask, given my previous postings on conspicuity? I don't want the fading issue to come up again, it hides dirt much better since I ride so much and the reflectors on it should be good at night. Remember, I count on the lights on my motorcycle more to catch a cager's attention; and besides, you're invisible when riding....remember? I ride accordingly.

Why the rush you ask? Turns out, my summer mesh jacket, a Firstgear MeshTex jacket may be made complete of polyutherane materials and plastic is known to melt under high abrasion situations such as a "get off" while riding and experiencing periods of dragging one's body on pavement as a result. So now, am not as trusting of the jacket and want the protection of the kevlar mesh.

The owner warranties the gear for 7 years! Let's see the other guys do that.

The manufacturer, Motoport aka Cycleport, has a truly awful website that is hard to navigate and use. LINK.

However, don't let the website stop you from researching the info within and looking at their stuff. Better links are obtained from the owner: Wayne Boyer via email. Here's a couple of threads form's forum and a blogger's site which pretty much sold me on motoport's products:

Link1 Link2 Link3

Here's a link to a comparison chart on materials and their strengths or protection potentials: PDF.

The links above have much superior pictures of the Motoport product lineup than the Motoport's website. It's not a great site and the owner freely admits this in the forums.

Here's the jacket I ordered, the picture came from one of the postings in the website threads listed above. The pictures are of the "Stretch Kevlar" version, the Mesh Kevlar version I ordered have a rougher texture and larger weave to them but with that comes more air flow which is important here during Colorado's hot summer months.

If you take the time and read through all the postings in the links above, you'll see pictures of samples of the fabrics to get an idea of texture/color and such. There's many feedback postings from riders who rave about the motoport suite of products. No better advertising in my mind and it makes up for their poor website. Apparently, they've got more business than they can handle now and improving the website for this small company is not a higher priority.

Here's high definition shots of the Air Mesh Kevlar Jacket, cheese grater is the term that has been used in the forums and which comes to mind.

So, I hope I at least get the jacket soon so I can report on its qualities on this blog. Being impatient and cheap are not a good combination but such is my lot in life. : )

Update: Called them four hours later, the size I need is not in stock. : ( It's about 4 weeks before I can expect to get both the jacket and the pants. Oh well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Good Start for the 2008 BMWMOA Mileage Contest

Temperatures in the 40s, sunny and very very windy!

Today was the start of the 2008 BMWMOA (BMW Motorcycle Owners of America)Annual Mileage Contest for its members. I went to my Beemer dealer and got the parts manager, Matt, to sign off on my entry form with a starting mileage of 53,651 on Maria's odometer. Now to rack up a few miles today, we'll see if I can beat my mileage totals for 2007: 15,181 within the six month contest period.

After the paperwork, I headed out via the the I-225 and I-70 slabs towards Limon and the town of Genoa which lies about 9 miles beyond Limon to the East. It's the location for the "Wonder Tower", a rather kitschy roadside attraction and one of the stops for my motorcycle club's ride for today.

Enroute on the I-70 slab, I paced a group of four beemers for most of the way to Limon. I lost them when I stopped near Limon to tank up. The winds really picked up as I got close to Limon! There were some gusts that had me leaning over pretty severely just to keep a straight headway. I was reminded of my ride to Sturgis on my 2006 Honda Shadow Aero the day I traded it in for Maria, my 2004 BMW R1150RT. The winds were coming from the North so I has leaning to the left and while very strong, was not too troubling. It would not be that simple on the way back from Genoa later.

I got to the Wonder Tower and Museum just behind a group of about ten or so Beemers. Apparently the group had kind of broken up upon departing Morrison and got separated on their way to Genoa. So my timing was perfect!

Here's some pictures of the motorcycles lined up on the dirt/gravel parking lot in front of the Wonder Tower.

That's Maria on the right

The Wonder Tower and Museum

Local guard dog faces off against the Beemers

We all went inside the museum that the Wonder Tower is part of, I've never seen such a huge collection of "stuff". Seemingly every possible flat surface, whether horizontal or vertical is covered with "collectibles". Many if not all are for sale but I don't think the owner is in it for that. He greeted us warmly and showed us a couple of items before letting us wander deeper into the convoluted recesses of his museum.

Here's just a few shots of a of some the rooms in the establishment. It should give you an inkling of the "plethora" of stuff. Almost mind boggling to me!

The museum is quite big and extensive in its variety of stuff that's on display. It's worth a stop if you're riding/driving by Genoa on I-70.

Of course, most of us wandered up to the observation tower, and I was part of a smaller section that went all the way up to the roof of the tower to take a look. I tried some pano shots of the prairie all around us but it did not work out. The sign outside says you can see six states, not sure about that. It was pretty hazy today and clouds near the horizon would have precluded us from accomplishing that claim.

After everyone was done touring the museum and such, we all headed off back towards Denver. The winds and the temperatures had changed everyone's minds as to continuing on to the next stop which was lunch at Brush and then a visit to a missile silo. Since I'd already done that last weekend, no problem.

I broke off from the group shortly before taking the below pictured of a highway warning sign. The rest of the group headed off to Limon for lunch.

I took the CO86 exit from I-70 Westbound. On the way there and through the first half of the way to Kiowa, I was fighting some pretty strong wind conditions coming from the North/Northwest. It was hitting my right side this time and that's my "weak" side in terms of leaning the motorcycle. There were a couple of "tense" moments when I had to lean way over and was still being pushed sideways by the wind. I managed to stay in my lane though, it was just not enjoyable. These were the strongest winds I've ridden in, pretty scary stuff at times.

This is how I must have looked - LINK to Road Rash Cartoons

I was glad when the winds slackened as I neared Kiowa. I took the usual county roads all the way back to my home neighborhood. It was still gusty when I neared home but compared to the pummeling I took near Limon, they were just love taps!

A little of 200 miles today with about 4.5 hrs in the saddle, a pretty good start for me in terms of mileage racked up for the mileage contest.

Update: 08May08: Found a web-based photo-stitching service which did a pretty good job stitching together the photos I took from atop the wonder tower into a "moving panorama shot". Take a look here.