Sunday, November 30, 2008

Close, but no cigar, as to riding the whole month.

We awoke to light but steady snow this morning, dammit. There was at most a couple inches of semi-wet snow on the ground and the damn stuff kept falling pretty steadily till about 1430hrs or so. Dammit.

Last day of November, I'd ridden my motorcycles (one or the other) every day this month, had been hoping to make it all month this late in the Fall but today's snow made sure I wouldn't make that goal.

I track my daily riding and looking back on it, I only achieved the "ride every single day of the month" during May and September this year. Either travel or weather colluded to prevent my riding on the other days I think. There was, I recall, one day when I didn't feel like riding but mostly I do try and ride.

If you're bored or curious, my riding log is near the bottom of the right-hand side items on the blog. There's links to that day's blog posting if applicable, sometimes there's a comment I put in as a reminder.....

So I spent the day shoveling snow, using the snow-thrower for the first time this Fall, ensuring there was clear drainage for the melting snow. I've two paths, as you can see above, out of my cul-de-sac and as long as the main roads are dry, I should be good to go.

Tomorrow's forecast calls for a high of 55F° and partly cloudy, so I am sure I'll get a chance to ride.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Second Snow for Fall 2008

We in the Denver Metro area again woke to snow on the ground. Not really much of it though, and it stuck mostly on the grass. Here's the view out of the second story window at around 0730hrs:

Here's how things looked about two hours later.....I had cleared the driveway.

I waited till after lunch, around 1300 hrs and made a short foray into neighborhood streets looking for a suitable background for pictures of the snow.

The streets were wet, temps in the mid 30s and no wind so although it was bit iffy-looking, traction was fine. I kept the speeds around 10mph below the speed limit so really was not going very fast.

As you can see, not much snow remaining in the fields near the high school

At the local high school, note the geese in the center of the track

At the Plains Conservation Center's Tepees

I only stayed out about 35 minutes or so, though the traction was fine, I could feel the cold seeping inwards through my riding gear.

Got home, took the boys and one of their friends snow sledding on the hills at the local high schools which I'd scouted during my ride. They boys had a lot of fun and of course, while my ride had been under overcast skies, the clouds parted near the end of the sledding! Oh well.

Hopefully whatever sun we do get will dry off the streets so that they don't freeze overnight!

Test Riding the F800GS and the F650GS

This past Wednesday, I found myself with some free time mid-morning and rode on Maria over to the Beemer dealer to test ride a 2007 pre-owned F650GS Thumper I'd been eyeing.

The salesman, Tyler, was very accommodating and things were slow so there was no waiting on my part. Signed the disclaimers, and away I rode on the thumper.

2007 F650GS (courtesy of BMW of Denver)

There's plenty of thorough reviews of this neat motorcycle on the Net so I'll just note some impressions I got:

Nice and light. Very nimble, and its performance was very much like my R80 Beemer, Brigitta. Being a thumper, her tach runs a bit higher but it likes it. About the same wind protection as the R80, which is really nothing. No real increase in buzziness from its being a single cylinder motorcycle. Nice motorcycle.

I got back to the dealer and made the above comments, then asked to ride their Demo F800GS motorcycle which is BMW's newest dual-sport offering in the mid size category.

2008 F800GS (courtesy of BMW of Denver)

I have to admit, a much more "powerful" motorcycle on first impressions (it's got like 21 more horses than the new F650GS). Very nice sounds coming from its pipes and great pick up! I had to use the "lowered" seat in order to almost flatfoot it so bear in mind its a higher seating motorcycle. Still, it was a lot of fun to ride. Both the 650 and the 800 have very narrow saddles, creating some pressure points in one's thighs/buttocks area.

After the second test ride, I watched this rider come in on his brand new F800GS with only 800 miles on it. He and I chatted for a bit and the only negative was that his butt gets sore after about two hours in the saddle.

Neither though is in my immediate future though. Nice as they are, they fall into the local commuter with the occasional ride down mild dirt roads category for me. In other words, I've a motorcycle that can do that now: Brigitta.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Maintenance on Thanksgiving Day

Greetings and Happy Turkey Day!

A cold and blustery day here in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. I spent part of the morning doing the annual clutch circuit bleed on Maria, my '87 1150RT Beemer. No issues arose as I was using the speedbleeder I'd installed last year around this time. Here's some pics for ya:

Pretty important to have a paper towel as shown above, to catch the occasional spurt of brake fluid which will happen, no matter how slowly you press on the handle to drain the fluid out.

I put most of a new bottle of DOT4 Brake Fluid through the circuit

A Closeup of the SpeedBleeder, what a great device!

Afterwards, I put her left-side fairing back on which had been removed to check the freeplay on the shift pedal. (I ended up putting back on the stock shift pedal until I resolve the issues I discovered with the extended shift lever from which I bought on Ebay a while ago).

The test ride with the stock shift lever, freshly-bled clutch circuit went fine and she's shifting a whole lot better now. The gears did not pop out of first into neutral at all on the 12 mile or so test ride and it was a nice and firm engagement of the gears each time.

On my return home, I switched motorcycles and headed out on pretty much the same route I'd just ridden, except reversed, on Brigitta to warm her up for a different check.

Apparently during the years 1984-1995, BMW had foolishly tried to save a few pennies by not installing what is known as a circlip on the end of the shaft on which the transmission gears ride and rotate. After a lot of miles, the gears would sometimes "fall or shift forward" I believe, and cause damage within the transmission and lots of expensive repairs.

Left: Without Groove for Circlip Right: Grooved for Circlip
(Photo courtesy of Anton Largiadier's Website)

My Brigitta, being a 1987 motorcycle, falls squarely in the above year bracket. An article by Matt Parkhouse in the DEC 2008 BMWMOA Owner News detailed some checks one can do to see if one's transmission is having this "issue".

It involved warming up the motorcycle, hence the ride I took her out on this morning in some chilly weather, and then placing her on the centerstand upon returning to the garage. Make sure the rear wheel is in the air and transmission is in neutral. Spin the wheel forward while placing a hand on the transmission cover nearest the output shaft and feel for "notchiness or lumpiness" which is indicative of a gear having fallen forward on the shaft and working on causing damage by shedding metal parts and having said parts float about the transmission causing more damage!

I am happy to report I felt nothing as I rotated the wheel forward. I even used a mechanic's stethoscope to listen for any rubbing noises and the only sound was the rear wheel rotating on the final drive assembly. I hope this is a good check on my part. The other check I'd done was when I changed out the transmission's fluid at 63,769 miles, as expected there was dark grey metallic fuzz on the magnetic plug which is normal. No metal shards in evidence which is a good thing.

Lots of great info on Snowbum's Site: LINK

Monday, November 24, 2008

An Oil Change and Pretty Sunset for Brigitta

It was in the low 30s heading into work today on Brigitta, a bit more "brisk" than I like. The gear did ok, except for the tip of my right thumb. Oh well. I took Brigitta in to work since I wanted to fill up her tank as I'd neglected to fill it yesterday afternoon after my ride and I wanted to prevent condensation of water within the tank.

After work, I got home in temps that were in the low 50s to high 40s by the end. Good riding weather. It was time to change out the oil, but not the filter, on Brigitta and so it was done using the Spectro Golden #4 10W40 oil recommended by Snowbum's Site. The filter is good for another 5K miles I read so I am going with his experience/recommendations.

Afterwards, I took Brigitta out for a short test ride to check for leaks at the oil drain plug. None are apparent, I'll check again in the morning.

Since I was out at around 1630, I saw the sun was setting and found myself at the "Plains Conservation Center" and posing Brigitta for a sunset shot. I shot my pictures with different aperture and shutter settings, this is the best I could come up with:

Hope you like it, I must research how to take sunset pictures, and bring a tripod next time!

Maintenance Note: Brigitta's oil changed/filter kept at 66,777 miles.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Exploring Dirt Roads near Bergen Park and Evergreen

Another gorgeous riding day today, sunny with temperatures that ranged from low 40s to mid 50s.

I left the house around 0930hrs and transited Denver using US285 until I reached the exit for the town of Morrison. I headed West into the foothills on Bear Creek Canyon Road until I got to Idledale. Since today I wanted to try some more difficult, but not too difficult, dirt road riding; I went up into the hills north of Idledale on Grapevine Road.

Turns out, Grapevine road is not bad at all, just very narrow with some pretty high drop offs without guardrails which made me keep a really wary eye out for oncoming cagers! You eventually twist and hairpin your way north towards Genesse. I wandered about a bit but ended up taking I-70 West two exits and getting off at El Rancho. It had been my intent to head back down south along Swede Gulch Road but the way was barred shortly after the shopping centers located at El Rancho.

Brigitta went over a milestone at Bergen Park!

Time for Plan B. I wandered South on CO74, aka the Evergreen Parkway. I turned off onto Bergen Peak Drive which eventually got me to Stagecoach Blvd which I took westward, climbing where I could to explore the plethora of dirt roads leading to residences tucked away in the foothills near Bergen Park.

My first exploration took me up Bergen Mountain Road. I did not get too far before it became private roads and so I stopped to take this shot.

At end of Bergen Mountain Road before it becomes private roads

I rode on Witter Gulch Road, Circle K Road and even found the entrance to the Mount Evans State Wildlife Area. I could not enter the area though, you had to have a stamp of some sorts, otherwise it was a $68 if caught. Next time.

Here's some of the scenery I saw while doing the above wandering back and forth on what proved to be not bad roads. More difficult than yesterday's terrain but not by much. The steepness of the terrain added to the challenge but it was not bad at all on Brigitta. She sure is easier to turn around on dirt than Maria is!

This deer stood so still at first I thought it was a stuffed deer someone had left there!

Here's the dirt road I was on when I spotted the above deer

Here's a trail I wandered up and down on that lead to new home lots

The scenery one sees to and from the entrance to the Mt Evans State Wildlife Area

Eventually I got to Upper Bear Creek Road via Witter Gulch Road. I took this road East back towards Dedisse Park and eventually Evergreen.

Here's Brigitta on Upper Bear Creek Canyon Road

Once I got to Evergreen, I checked in via cellphone with my loving wife and found that my presence was not required, which gave me some more time to explore some of the dirt roads around Evergreen!

I went up into the hills south of Evergreen on Independence Trail which led me to South Trincher Trail and Hilltop Road. The roads all eventually dead-ended in private homes and their gated driveways or at "No trespassing" or "private road" signs which would cause me to turn around. Here's some of the sights I saw while doing this wandering about:

Ute Pass on Independence Trail

Here's a couple of Stags I saw on these roads, there were some does as well

So I get back to Evergreen and started heading East again on CO74. This twisty road which I normally head West on out of Morrison is quite fun heading Eastward back to the city. Just goes to show one should ride familiar roads in reverse once in a while to see what one is missing. In my case, I was missing this sight:

All these years, never noticed the stone arch above

A pano shot of the curvy road back to Morrison, heavily retouched because I underexposed it.

Heading away from Morrison, I spied a familiar sight, the blue and white stripped pole of the T.E.V. Edelweiss Facility. Some kind of horse sporting facility apparently. I went in and posed Brigitta right at the base of the pole:

T.E.V. Edelweiss

The rest of the ride was a backtracking of my way out, using US285 to once again cross Denver and take me back home. Pretty good day's ride, about 135 miles or so and perhaps 5 hours of saddle time on Brigitta. She did marvelously both on pavement and on the dirt roads I chose to ride on. I was feeling a bit "chilled" after all that time in the windy conditions near the end of the ride but what Brigitta lack's in wind protection she makes up for in sure-footedness off pavement!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Riding to Greenland

Nope, not the country of Greenland but Greenland, Colorado. A very small village centered apparently on a couple of railroad crossings and near the I-25 Superslab south of Larkspur, CO.

Today's objective had been to get the Family Christmas Pictures taken, with Brigitta in the foreground and something that said "Colorado" in the background. More on those pictures in a future posting.

Afterwards, we had lunch at a burger joint in Parker, CO. After lunch, I went South while my family went North back to the house for a playdate with a friend of my sons. I cruised on CO83 until I came to the junction with Douglas County 74. The secondary objective today had been to see how Brigitta, my 1987 R80 rides on county-maintained dirt roads.

I am happy to report that after some initial wariness, I realized that a little bit of speed is not a bad thing on dirt and that if one quits looking at the dirt road immediately to one's front and instead keep your eyes up and looking far ahead, it's a lot easier on ones nerves!

Douglas County 74 is also called Greenland Road since it leads you to Greenland. I cruised up this road, heading West, with speeds up to 35mph at times and I even used third gear in one particularly gravel-free packed dirt portion just East of where the road goes under I-25.

Flat top rock formation just off of Greenland Road

Greenland Road

The Western edge of Greenland Rd, just East of I-25

Once I went under the I-25 Slab, I came upon Greenland, a "populated place" by county definition. There's access to County Open Access areas where people can go hiking or mountain-biking.

Greenland, Colorado

Brigitta at the older of two rail crossings, note the buffalo in the background

Looking Northwards

After Greenland, I headed North briefly on the I-25 slab until I got to the Larkspur exit where I turned to get gas for Brigitta. Once I tanked up, I got on Perry Park Road which would take me to CO105, a favorite road for motorcyclists which you can take to either Palmer Lake or Sedalia.

Perry Park Road

Heading North on CO105, I turned West on Dakan Road, again seeking a bit more of dirt road experience for myself and Brigitta. There's a cool rocky formation a couple of miles inwards and though the rest of the road was closed for Winter, there was still some trails to explore.

These trails border the white fenced ranches in the area, no "no tresspassing" signs so I figured it was OK. I think the local property owners recognize that a cool rock formation is situated on their land and that people wish to take a closer look.

Rocky Formation off of Dakan Road

Then I saw wheel tracks barely marking a path up this grassy hillside to the West of the above rocky formation. I figured, why not? Up this grassy tracks I went, Brigitta and myself did fine and it was not a big deal for her and her street tires. I can assure you I would not have ridden Maria, my R1150RT up this hillside!

The Grassy Hill

I really like the way this shot came out

I backtracked my way back to the pavement on CO93 and continued North on it till I was able to turn back East onto Wolfenberger Road which I took to Castlerock.

Once I Castlerock, I made my way to Crowfoot Parkway and thence to Parker. From there it was the usual backroads back towards my home neighborhood in Centennial, CO. A very glorious riding day in terms of weather. Sunny and temps ranging from mid 60s to low 50s as the sun set.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Motorcycle Simulators

On 19NOV08, I had an opportunity to ride in a Boeing 777 Flight Simulator with a college buddy of mine who was in town for a business conference. A pretty awesome experience I have to say. The movement of the simulator along all three axis and graphic screens from within an authentic replica of a 777's pilot cockpit were outstanding.

The simulator we rode was owned by United Airlines but here's a similar one

We both got chances to do takeoffs and landings at various airports which were programmed into the simulator. The wind shear scenarios proved quite unsurvivable by us "pilots" though. Even the ones which were apparently "survivable". I managed to somehow flip a 777 over onto its back while only at 50ft in the air. I was not encouraged to find out that Denver International Airport, which is what I fly out of is known as Wind Shear Capital. Joy.

So, on the way back to his hotel, I wondered aloud if there was any simulators out there for motorcycles that would even come close to equalling the incredibly realistic simulations of the 777 simulator. Its so realistic that flight time logged on these simulators counts the same as time on real aircraft according to the FAA!

I did some googling and found a couple of simulators, that's besides the expected crappy motorcycle racing arcade games one sees at such establishments.

Honda has apparently come out with one to try and emulate somewhat the rider experience.

Full article here: LINK

I gotta tell ya, the above really does nothing for me after today's flight simulator ride!

I little more searching however, got me this:

Now this shows promise, looks like movement on all three axis is designed for and the larger screens should work to fool the brain into thinking one is actually riding on a motorcycle. The fact they used a Beemer probably means the system is hideously expensive of course! : ) More details here: LINK

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A "Brisk" Ride after a day of WFH'ing.

WFH or my personal acronym for "Working From Home". Today the Denver Metro Area awoke to freezing temperatures and snow showers that had started overnight apparently. The news reports mentioned several accidents due to frozen spots in the roads and so I elected once more to work from home.

I'd woken late anyways since I'd been working till about 0245 in the morning on some network changes for a couple of airports overseas that United Airlines flies into. Doing things at a time that does not impact flight/check-ins at the overseas location tends to sometimes cause me to work weird hours like that, specially lately.

I headed out a bit after 1515hrs after I'd brought the boys home from school. I geared up and took Maria out for a short ride. My route took me North out of my neighborhood to Quincy Avenue where I headed East till I got to Gun Club Road. Heading south on Gun Club Rd I went past the Southland Meadows Mall area, then East on Smokey Hill Road until it turns south onto Powhaton Road.

The roads, which had been bone dry till then, soon appeared to be wet-looking and caused me some trepidation as the temps were below freezing during this ride. Flashbacks to me and Maria hitting ice back in June went through my head and I slowed to a stop at the top of a hill just south of Powhaton and County Line Road. The wet looking pavement proved to be fine on examination once I got off the motorcycle. Still I turned around after taking these pictures:

As you can see, a bit of a gloomy day, with wet cold winds blowing about

I cruised back to Smokey Hill Road, where the roads were bone dry once again. I cruised slowly home via Gartrell Road to Liverpool Rd which I took North back to my home neighborhood.

A short and brisk ride in terms of temperatures. The cold was not bad as my gear kept the cold out and I had the ATV handguards on Maria which kept my hands toasty with the grip heater on "low". 45 minutes and 28 miles, a bit more than my usual commute of late, good way to clear the cobwebs from my brain after a day of telecommuting.

LINK: Extreme Cargo Carrying on Two Wheels

A recent post by Dan of "Musings of an Intrepid Commuter" where he discusses how he's carried extra cargo on his motorcycle; got me thinking of the photos we've all seen on the Net where people have carried more than they should on their bikes.

I'd seen over the last couple of years, plenty of said photos on Mike Werner's site "Bikes in the Fast Lane" and while searching for a photo to comment on Dan's site, found this posting by Mike back in DEC 2006:


From Mike Werner's Posting, see link above for more pics!

The guy Mike posts about: Ricardo Kuhn, does not let the fact that he does not own a car/truck stop him from making a living which involves picking up and delivering consignments of "stuff".

I don't think BMW designers had the loads he carries in mind when they designed the beemers that he's riding. My Beemer bias of course made me want to link to Mike's posting.

Then again, like I mentioned, a quick search of google images gave me this example in the Philippines where exceeding designer-envisioned specs is apparently not uncommon:

Source: LINK