Monday, March 30, 2009

A Windy Ride after a Snowy Morning

I just love this snow pattern Colorado seems to enjoy. So long as not too much snow falls in the morning, and if the sun comes out for a while, we usually get mostly dry if not fully dry roads in the afternoon to get some riding in.

We got perhaps and inch at most of snow, just enough snow and ice to make the commute into the data center in my cage "interesting". My 1987 560SL Benz is rear-wheel drive and I'd neglected to load up a couple of sandbags in the trunk to give her better traction. She weighs almost two tons empty so she does OK on snow. However, the lack of weight in the back made for some slipping and sliding once, when I had to accelerate into traffic or be run over by some idiot in a SUV.

By noon, the sun had been out for a while and all the snow was gone from the roads. I went home to finish the day telecommuting. I looked out my window as the roads in the neighborhood cleared and dried. It was hard but managed to wait till almost four o'clock before logging off the work computer.

I took Maria, my 2004 1150RT since it was still in the high 30s in terms of temperatures. I went off to the usual nearby picture spots but those resulted in mediocre shots. The sky was heavily overcast by now and the wind was gusting noticeably.

Here's a couple of shots that turned out marginally acceptable. Still, a ride is a ride, got in almost 30 miles and went home because it was dinner time.

A view of the Front Range

Some nasty clouds to the north

I would have preferred it to be still sunny while out riding, and the sun did peek out for a couple of minutes, still...can't really complain, can I?

Hope you got some riding in today.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Results of the 2008 BMWMOA Mileage Contest are out

Well, of the 76 finishers from the great state of Colorado, I placed 15th in terms of mileage accumulated during the contest period of April though October. The only problem? They got my last name wrong, Change instead of Chang. Oh well.

The average miles ridden by men was 9,806 miles and women was 8,719 club wide.

The 1st place male rider racked up an impressive 68,072 miles during the contest. He was from Texas and his mileage included less than one thousand miles in inclement weather by riding in the direction the Weather Channel told him had good weather. He achieved the Iron Butt National Parks award (62 parks in 26 days), several rallies, the MOA national in Wyoming, the Top of the Rockies Rally and the Black Hills Stampede for the "Hat Trick". Now there's a rider!

The first place female rider accumulated an equally impressive 58,328 and was from Panama City, Panama. Her riding included The James Dalton Highway and the Haul Road to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska as the destinations, starting from Ushuaia, Argentina! She also managed to rack up several iron butt rallies, other assorted motorcycling rallies and completed the "48+" Ironbutt event. Wow.

The BMWMOA magazine listed all finishers by state, just for grins and a secretly seething competitive spirit, I counted up how many riders I managed to beat by counting which had better mileages than me: 344. Out of a total of 1571 finishers, not counting myself, that puts me in the top 21% of riders club-wide. Not bad!

The BBIR or Bavarian Black Ice Rally is ending soon as well (April 10). I'll have to make sure to get my winter riding mileage results in before 10May2009!. I hope to do better at that one.

16MAY09: finally received my "BMW MOA Mileage Contest Finisher 2008" pin today.

Some sights in Golden

Today's ride started late, after lunch again, like yesterday. The weather however was gorgeous, in the 60s and sunny so no excuse to not go riding. In fact, when I remarked how warm it was, my loving wife said: "why are you still here?". I elected to believe she meant I should go riding and soon made my escape.

I rode out to Golden via the I-225 to I-25 to US6 route, slabs all the way to make up some time. I was going to try and go up Quaker Street up to the top of South Table Mountain which is next to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) which is located near Golden, CO.

Google: an aerial view of the two mesas: North + South Tabletop Mountains

courtesy: google maps

The sign at the entrance said "Unauthorized motor vehicles are prohibited". So I found my way to the NREL's visitor center but found it closed.

There was however a guy working on his car in the parking lot, I stopped my motorcycle by him and asked if he worked there. He said yes, so I asked him where I could get permission to go up the road. He told me I should be able to ride up but would soon encounter gates, one to the Colorado State Patrol's Academy training track and the other to the NREL's facilities up on South Table Mountain.

So off I went, rode up Quaker Street which turns into a dirt/gravel road, up its gentle slope until I was indeed at the top. Two problems though, I soon hit gated areas with lots of NO TRESPASSING signs. I spotted State Patrol cars chasing each other on the track, I guess they were training on high speed pursuits and such. The other gate was locked and had NREL signs on it.

It was a hazy day today so the views from my position were hazy and very distant. I'll have to return some other day perhaps.

I rode back down Quaker street, thinking how much of a bust the top of the mesa turned out to be. At least for a motorcycle, I am sure there's stuff to see and admire for hikers but that's not me.

Instead I rode about the city of Golden, looking for stuff to photograph:

One of Golden's Round-abouts

Part of the Coors Brewery Complex, its quite large and lies mostly between the two mesas

A view of the ridges along South Tabletop Mountain

Nearby the above location I found a stone historical marker. It showed the site of Arapahoe City back before the Gold Rush days. Nothing remains but the marker I'm afraid. I wasn't able to google any old photographs of the town either.

Former site of Arapahoe City

Further wanderings up and down the main streets of Golden resulted in these photos:

Eye-catching artwork on the site of a building

The Center of the World Direction Pole at the Rock Rest Lodge and Saloon

It was close to 4 PM by now so I took US6 back east towards Denver. It being a clear and sunny day, one could see the downtown Denver skyline quite clearly. I looked for a good spot to stop as I drew neared to the downtown area.

I turned off of US6 onto Galapago Street and took it North for a bit. Ended up finding a good spot in back of the Denver West High School Building. I was a bit taken back by the size of this high school, large and historical in architecture. Anyways, by the school's track and field section, I managed to pose Brigitta:

From the Denver West High School Track, looking towards downtown Denver

That's it for pictures, the rest of the ride was just taking the slabs in reverse order back towards my home neighborhoods. I think the thermometer hit a high of 68 degrees as I neared the house! 96 miles and about 4 hours of riding, a good day.

Snow showers tomorrow, I was glad to see other motorcyclists and bikers out enjoying the weather.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Snowclad Prairie, Schools and Lowry AFB

A mish-mash of themes from today's ride as the title suggests.

After re-doing the valve checks on Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer, I headed out for an extended ride after a quick lunch brought home by my loving wife who'd been out with my youngest son, shilling for the Cub Scouts.

First, I wanted to see how much snow landed on the prairies to the East of Denver. I headed out on Quincy road as usual and a brisk 20 minutes or so later arrived at Tom Bay Road where the entrance to the International Operating Engineers Union Local #9 is located. I like this spot as it allows one to pose a motorcycle with the lonely looking eastbound road in the background, cutting across a vast looking prairie.

Looking East on Quincy Road

I headed West back toward the city and rode North on Tower Road heading as if going to work at the UAL Training Center. I was hoping for nice views of the front range foothills and distant mountains but the haziness of the day precluded that.

Johnson & Wales on the other hand, a private university founded in 1914 with four major campuses nationwide. I'd seen their dorm buildings surrounding their main campus as I traversed Quebec Street while going to and from the UAL Training Center. This time I went into the campus and got this shot of the main building.

Treat Hall, Johnson & Wales University

Here's one of the proud graduates of this august learning institution. I post this as an indicator of the "not necessarily bad" influence from a blog I frequent called "Twisted Roads". Normally, the fact the young lady is a graduate would not have been enough to rate inclusion in a posting, but the team she works for is the Philadelphia Eagles, and inhabitants of the same state as Mr Riepe.

Her name is Kristie

OK, back to the regularly scheduled content.

I next wandered down Quebec Street to capture a picture of what had appeared to me to be a giant ironing board. How little did I know, since its in fact "modern art" and part of the Lowry Redevelopment Complex. No, it's not a freudian reaction to the above picture, just a coincidence!

I've no idea what it really is supposed to represent, it kind of looks like an aircraft wing but...

From the above location though, I spotted a really large aircraft hangar as I exited its vicinity. I found myself at the Wings over the Rockies Aircraft Museum and the sight of the restored B-52 Strato Fortress Bomber pulled Brigitta and I over for a picture.

I wandered along the side of the enormous Hangar #2, Hangar #1 was used to house the aircraft museum in case you're curious. I saw this old remnant of when all the building around me used to be part of Lowry Air Force Base.

I continued riding along the side of this large hangar and finally posed Brigitta at its center entrance.

I continued on, wandering about the historic district of this redevelopment area belonging now to the city of Denver. I spotted the old furnace stacks of the base's old steam plant. It's been converted and refurbished into loft apartments now, but you can still see its origins.

Circa 1960's

Today, the below building is called the Grand Lowry Lofts, but it started back in 1937 as a WPA building, was used to house Army Air Corps officers during WWII and was also used later by President Eisenhower as a summer vacation retreat during his administration.

Photo courtesy along with info: LINK

Sustineo Alas (I sustain the wings).
Distinctive Insignia of U.S. Army Air Forces Technical Training Command.
Source: Joseph M. Massro, Distinctive Insignia of the U.S. Army Air Forces 1924 - 1947 (International Publishing Co., San Antonio, Tex).as, (c) 1987

The above crest adorns the walls of the Grand Lowry, I found it an interesting piece of air force heraldry.

I headed on home after some more wanderings about the Lowry complex. A nice ride, about four hours of riding and picture taking, added about 100 miles to the monthly mileage count.

Finally, no subjective "slight drag" when doing valve clearance checks!

My beloved Beemers, require that I check the clearances for their valves at set intervals. Every 5000 miles for Brigitta, my 1987 R80and every 6000 for Maria, my 2004 R1150RT.

I was first introduced to this maintenance task by Mike O, he was a mentor to me in such matters when I first got Maria and she was my only motorcycle. He taught me what to look for in terms of "a slight drag" when measuring the gap for the valves. Since then I'd done several valve checks, always thinking I'd retained the memory/feeling of "a slight drag".

Well, that proved wrong recently. I had taken Maria in to Pete Homan's indie workshop for surging issues and he informed me I was setting the valve clearances way too lose! I know, some of you will have heard or believe that "loose valves are happy valves" but the loud clicking noise does tend to prey on your mind. Not being the anal kind of wrencher, I'd put up with the clicking thinking or rationalizing acceptance of it under the "loose valves are happy valves" mantra.

Too loose though, and your subsequent throttle body syncs will be off as well. Not to mention, failing to check the end rocker play before even dinking with the valve clearance checks! Oh well, it was a lesson with a cost (Pete's fees) but well worth it and not too expensive.

So, back to the conundrum of defining what is "a slight drag". The objective is to adjust your valves so that the correct clearance is reported by the right feeler gauge but it's not too loose. So I'd done things where I'd feel just a slight rubbing feeling of the feeler gauge as I slid it back and forth in the valve gap. Very, very subjective.

Then I read online one method used by a fellow wrench: Measure your desired gap, then see if you can insert and move back and forth the next higher up feeler gauge! Its so simple, why didn't I think of that? Why didn't the guys whom created the online guides mention that? A slight drag is too subjective. Using the next higher gauge, quantifiable!

So this morning, I took the valve covers off Brigitta who's always had what seemed to me a loud ticking noise from her valves. In fact, Matt Parkhouse, the air marshall for Colorado Airheads had described it as " a bit clattery".

Sure enough, I found that I could insert the next higher gauge into the valve gap! For instance, on the intake valves, you're supposed to have a gap of .10mm, I could insert a .127mm feeler gauge! This was the same for the exhaust valves where you're supposed to have a .20mm gap, I could insert a .229mm feeler gauge! Arrggh.

So I undid the retaining bolts, adjusted the valves again so that the intake valves would allow a .102mm feeler gauge to move back and forth (a bit tighter feel than what I'd used before) but I could not now insert the .127mm feeler gauge!

Same thing for the exhaust valves, I adjusted the gap so that my .203mm feeler gauge could move back and forth in the gap but my .229mm feeler gauge could not even be inserted! I was much more certain, by using this method, that my gaps were correct!

I buttoned Brigitta back up and fired her up. She sounded as sweet as ever and I could just barely hear the valves ticking! Yes, they do tick, but this time she was not as "clattery" as before and I had to really listen for the ticking noise. Brigitta now sounds as "quiet" in terms of the valves moving back and forth as Maria does!

Took her out for a test ride, I could not hear any "clattery noise" as before and she rode sweetly through my usual 12 mile test ride course. Got her home, put the engine guards back on, this time using a bit of red loctite threadlocks since I keep finding the right side engine mounting bolt loose.

Did some cleanup that I'd missed from yesterday, and wiped her down. I'll be going for a ride in the afternoon after lunch. Quantifiable valve lash clearances! I am a happy wrench!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Post-Blizzard Ride

Well, the major blizzard of the year so far is over for us in the Denver Metro area. My home neighborhood area did not get dumped on as much as the west side of town apparently. We got perhaps five inches, tops!

Being a mile up in altitude and a nice sunny sky most of the day, we were enjoying mostly cleared roads by mid-afternoon. Hell, the roads were steaming with the melted snow evaporating. In some parts it created a small knee-high level foggy drifts of steam. Quite remarkable considering the sun was out and the temperatures were still below freezing!

After much work with the snow blower, I had me a clear path out of the cul-de-sac and the neighborhood:

I made my way out to find main roads mostly just wet, steam rising from the wet sections as the sun did its thing to clear away the melting snow.

Check out the steaming pavement

Road spray from the cagers was an issue and I had to keep more than the usual following distance from the car in front. I went to the local park to get my standard picture of the old tree:

Getting to the tree was no big deal, the way was mostly cleared of snow. I next went to the hill next to the police substation on Aurora Parkway and Arapahoe Road I think. Getting to the usual cul-de-sac proved a bit challenging as it was still covered with about 3-4 inches of melting snow.

I had to go into outrigger mode as the wheels where sliding just a tiny bit as I tried to stay in the rut left behind by some car. Still, made it to my usual posing spot for the motorcycle without incident.

I then rode around a bit trying to capture the first picture of the posting, steam is actually quite hard to catch on film it seems.

Once I got home, I washed down Brigitta since she was covered in road spray. No big deal and it only took a few minutes. While cleaning the front brake caliper assemblies though; I noticed there was a thin coating of ice on everything! I even had icy spots on the rubber boots covering the front forks. I guess it was the combination of 27 degrees reported by the onboard thermometer and the spray from the road and cars. Glad I didn't notice it before I got home, I would have worried.

Nice 27 mile ride, about an hour of wandering around the home neighborhoods. I even saw another rider oh his red Honda I think. I gave him a salute off my helmet, he nodded back and we went our separate ways.

More snow in the forecast for late Sunday, but there should be nothing to stop me from another short ride tomorrow.

Snow day filler - Scariest Roads in the US?

While perusing the BMWMOA discussion forum's new postings, came across on that was titled: "Are You Scared". Naturally it got my attention and it turned out to be a link to Forbes' "America's Scariest Drives" online article.

I reviewed them all and my reaction is that all but one look like great rides for a motorcycle. I even have ridden one, the Leadville to Aspen road via Independence Pass, more than once and it's not scary but actually quite a lovely ride. Most recent ride: LINK and my first ride through the pass: LINK.

From my first ride to Independence Pass

Here's the link to the Forbes Article: America's Scariest Drives.

Just goes to show, what could be really neat rides for seasoned motorcyclists is turned into "deadly rides" to the average cager simply by using the right verbage and adjectives. Still, if it keeps the cagers off these cool riding roads, it's all good.

There was only one on the list that would "scare" me, that's the I-15 Expressway:

From the Forbes article

We've got our own version of the above interchange here in Denver, it's nicknamed the "mousetrap" and is a confusing confluence of several slabs. Like the interchange above, I believe the dangerous part is confused drivers going at high speed, making last second lane changes in order to catch some exit.

The above photos of the mousetrap I found on google. What a nice search tool it is, saves a bunch of time when documenting postings.

I don't think I'll get a ride in today, about a couple of inches of snow on the ground overnight, makes all my snow clearing efforts from yesterday afternoon seem for nought.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Eggs before the Storm

A flimsy excuse at best, going to get eggs for my wife, before the expected snow storm hit the Denver Metro Area:

Doesn't look good does it?
Courtesy of

Despite the above grim looking radar picture at 0836hrs MDT, I had seen that the only snow collecting so far was on the grassy areas. No snow/ice on the pavement and just slight moisture on the roads. Not enough moisture to create slick surfaces (I hoped) even if it froze over.

Temperatures of the pavement were just below freezing. Still, a short walk revealed good riding conditions still. And so, with eggs in mind, I rode out on Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer to the grocery store.

At the supermarket parking lot

All I had with me was the camera in my cellphone, sorry for the poor quality of the picture. As you can probably see though, paved surfaces were dry enough and the only snow is on grassy areas and roofs.

Got home with no issues, even went by the local elementary school to look for good backgrounds for further pictures. Not enough snow yet. As I type this though, I got a call from a vendor in Arvada which is on the west side of the Denver Metro area; she claimed they already had six to seven inches of snow on the ground!

I told her good, keep it west of I-25..... : )

Unfortunately, as I post this, big fat snow flakes are starting to come down.....oh well.

Update: 1157am, its snowing harder but its still not sticking to the pavement:

1229pm, OK, now it's sticking:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Recently Discovered Regret

Lately the thought of a lost opportunity popped up and has been running through my mind.

I am talking about only discovering the joys of motorcycling when I was already in my mid-40s. Why couldn't I have had this epiphany when I was younger, still on active duty with the Army, stationed in Italy and later on, Germany!

Oh the touring I could have done when not "in the field". Sure, I traveled when I could, by train and car. But to have been able to motorcycle my way through Europe! That, I realize now would have been awesome! I spent three years there, half in Italy and half in Germany.

Then again, being younger and less "mature" shall we say, who knows what kind of trouble I probably would have gotten myself into. I'd like to think though that I would have discovered the magic of Beemers regardless, perhaps even found myself a vintage airhead to later ship home with me as I returned to the States.

Yes, a R100S Airhead, going full bore down the nearest Autobahn, crossing from one end of West Germany (yes, its that long ago that I was there) to the other in less than three hours! Crossing the passes in the Alps, riding through all the other countries....

Or maybe I would have found myself a used Ducati to hammer my way down the Autostradas of Italia. Stopping only to gas up and partake of an expresso while watching the young and mini-skirted Italian girls ride by on their Vespas.

Writing the above paragraph, the memory of a red leather clad female rider, on a red sports motorcycle, no helmet, dark aviator sunglasses and long dark hair, comes to mind. She certainly was a traffic stopper, and that was while she waited for the light to change. Woof.

So in one of those alternate universes you read about in Science Fiction stories, some fortunate version of me did discover motorcycling while a young officer stationed in Europe. Lucky bastard.

Still, I wouldn't trade my present life for anything. I've a loving wife, two great sons, two good motorcycles and there's still time to ride Europe some day.....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Biting the Bullet

As much as I am loathed to part with either of my motorcycles so that they get some issue fixed by a real mechanic; I had to drop Maria, my 2004 R1150RT, off at Pete Homan's Bavarian Motorcycles West during lunch today.

I had ridden Maria because the temperatures were not expected to get above the low 50s and she provides so much better wind protection than Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer.

On the way to work, the slight surging behavior that had been exhibited prior to my TBS sync being done at 65,500 miles remained evident. Its a rather annoying feeling, a slight surging forward as I held the throttle steady....usually in 2nd or 3rd gear, around the 3500 rpm range.

I am pretty sure I didn't dork up the TBS Sync and remain at a loss as to what would cause this. Perhaps a fuel filter issue (which requires the removal of the tupperware, gas tank and fuel filter assembly from WITHIN the gas tank. Maybe the Hall Effect sensor is malfunctioning which could get expensive. Perhaps the fuel injectors are clogged but since I'd recently changed her oil, didn't want to try fuel injector cleaning fluid on at least one full tank of gas since you're supposed to change out the oil soon after using that stuff.

Rather than guessing at all the above, and to get a mounting hole fixed on the right side valve cover, I turned Maria over to Pete. Now to await his diagnosis. Luckily, I still have Brigitta to satisfy my riding habit.

24MAR09 Updated: Picked up Maria from Pete's place today. He found grit on the pulley where the throttle cables travel, which probably was the major cause of the surging. He also found that I was setting the valve clearances as too loose! He repaired the stripped mounting hole for the right side valve cover bolt, and went ahead and did some preventive tapping of the other three holes which were apparently partially stripped.

Maria rides pretty smooth now, no surging which is good. I must now revisit the valve clearances on Brigitta since I used the same "slight drag" criteria on her valves, which means they are probably too loose as well. Damn. It's such a subjective thing, this "slight drag" business.

Pete mentioned also he likes to tighten the intake valves closer than the .015mm stated in the manual since they run cooler. Definitely go with the spec of .030mm on the exhaust valves though since they run hotter. Most definitely measure both valves at same time. I.E., run the feeler gauge on both exhaust valves simultaneously, same for the intake valves.

He mentioned also he found the right rocker arm, forward one, loose....probably from last june's crash he thought. So my valve clearance checks weren't right to start with due to my overlooking that check. I've so much to learn still.

Another thing is he doesn't go over 4 ft/lb on the valve cover screws. I thought the state spec of 8nm was too little, he goes even further. I'll go with his experience level of course the next time the covers are off for valve checks. You also can cross-thread these screws real easy, must take it very easy when putting them in!

Finally he must have adjusted the play on the throttle, there's not much play at all now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Going Downtown

Downtown Denver that is. Another beautiful Spring day here in the Front Range, I had stuff to do in the afternoon so it was going to be a short ride for me today. Besides, I don't want you readers to think that all Colorado has is large rock formations and mountains! : )

I headed downtown after 0930, a bit late I know, but was hoping the traffic downtown would not be too bad since it was a Sunday. Turns out, it was almost OK, still heavier than I wanted since I was wandering around looking for sights to photograph. I was thinking of shooting photos reflecting the "steel canyons" motif but that will have to wait till another day when I can be downtown shortly after dawn; that's when the streets should be nearly empty and I can park damn near anywhere.

Instead, I looked for unusual buildings or ornate churches to use as backdrops for my 1987 R80 Beemer, Brigitta. The warm weather had everyone out and about, the yuppies in their faded ball caps and REI shorts, lattes in their hands; the bums in the corners basking in the warm sun while they waited for the next passerby; and young women jogging along the boulevards.

Add cagers to the above mix and riding around downtown was an exercise in vigilance while trying to find a good spot to momentarily park Brigitta for a shot or two.

I found empty parking lots to be a good location if situated near a cluster of buildings like this one was:

Note the small church, dwarfed and nearly hidden

The streets downtown are a series of one way streets, with a street mall walking area thrown in for good measure. I had to do repeated circlings in order to get good spots for shots. Sometimes, I had to sneak some time on the sidewalks.

A couple of Denver's Skyscrapers, look closely, Brigitta is in the shots

An unusually shaped apartment building

As I mentioned, I had to forego the idea of the "steel canyons" motif this time, parking spots were full where the buildings were the thickest. I did however find a couple of good spots to photograph some churches that caught my eye as I wandered around.

A quick pass by the Denver Art Museum Complex offered an opportunity to park Brigitta on the sidewalk next to the giant brush and dust pan. I guess it's art.

A loop around the capitol did not yield much in the way of photo opportunities. Specially since I'd done that round of photos with Maria last year: LINK

Before leaving though, I managed to find a temporary spot again for Brigitta near the Kit Carson Pioneer monument which lies across from the State Capitol building.

This is a nice spot, will have to come back when the leaves come in

After these shots, it was home for lunch and an afternoon of chores. A sure sign that spring is here was the scores of bikers on their cruisers; no helmets of course!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Riding to Ghost Towns and the "Oh My God" Road

Today's riding objectives were the "ghost" towns of Nevadaville and Russell Gulch. Both of them are located north of Idaho Springs and southwest of Central City. Along the way, I'd also try and ride the "Oh My God" road which I'd encountered many moons ago; while riding Maria and which at the time, I'd declined to try and ride.

Today I was riding Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer who handles dirt roads much better than big Maria, my 2004 R1150RT. Maria is more into "continent crushing riding" while Brigitta has allowed me to explore some of less paved areas in the foothills of the Rockies.

I crossed the Denver Metro Area using the I-25 superslab to get to the US6 slab westbound to Golden. At Golden I tanked up and then headed west on US6, enjoying some nice twists and turns on that two lane road which winds its way through high rocky canyon walls. Traffic was light so before I knew it, I was at the junction of US6 and CO119 which I got on to get to the gambling town of Central City.

I meandered through this little town, whose sole industry is apparently the liberation of money from gamblers, and soon found a sign leading south out of town. I was then on the Central City parkway for just a bit when I spotted the sign for Nevadaville.

This road soon became dirt and while rocky and gravelly, no big deal if one takes it slow. In less than an mile, I came upon the remains of the old mining town of Nevadaville. One of the Colorado gold rush towns of the late 1800s, only a few buildings remain of what at its peak was a town of almost 4000 souls.'s entry has more pictures of this ghost town. LINK

Here's more historical info on Nevadaville: Google LINK

I bebopped right through town after the above picture, wanting to see what lay on the other side. I wandered up on Bald Mountain Road for a while, ending up turning back towards Nevadaville when I found no scenic views to photograph on that road.

The best preserved mining structure I found, note the tailings left from the old mines, these dotted the hillsides around Nevadaville

The larger of the two buildings is the Masonic Lodge #4, still in commission apparently. The building with the three arched doorways used to be a saloon back in the Gold Rush days. Now it houses a small antiques shop.

City Hall, as seen from the corner of the Masonic Temple

After I left Nevadaville, I made my way back to the Central City Parkway and headed South towards Idaho Springs, in search of the "Oh My God" road. The Central City Parkway, it should be noted, is a nicely paved four lane highway with some nice sweepers and a few twists that are rather enjoyable. Just watch out for the law.

Once at Idaho Springs, after a short sprint on the I-70 superslab, I made my way up and down its main street looking for a sign for the "Oh My God" road. Not finding one, I wandered up the Virginia Canyon Road as it looked familiar and came upon what I remembered as the start of the "Oh My God" road.

Funny, it didn't seem as forbidding as the last time I was there. Sure, its steep and rocky and there's no guardrails but it looked highly doable. I didn't even stop to take a picture or hesitate, I just kept on riding up Virginia Canyon Road which I believe is also called the "Oh My God" road.

Map of my wanderings today

Note: for the locals who read my meanderings, if I got this road mistaken, please let me know. I could not find another road heading North out of Idaho Springs but could have missed it I guess.

The first mile is a bit challenging with plenty of smooth rock outcroppings sticking up an inch or two from the packed dirt surface. Lots of gravel of course but it all becomes just packed dirt with pea-sized gravel in no time. The only parts I didn't like were the occasional section of road that had become washboarded. I'd have to rise up off the seat and use my knees as shock absorbers to negotiate these patches, but in the end, they too were no big deal.

The road and the scenery it offered were pretty much unremarkable, lots of hairpin turns as the road ascended, hugging the side of the mountain. The views of the terrain below, whenever I stopped for pictures, must have been what caused this road to be called the "Oh My God" road. The dropoffs were quite steep I'll admit.

Eventually, I happened on the ghost town of Russell's Gulch. Another gold mining town, it was founded by William Green Russell in 1859. As with Nevadaville and countless other mining towns in Colorado; the town of Russell's Gulch lost its population when the gold in the nearby mines ran out or became too expensive to mine. All that remains are a few crumbling walls and foundations, with newer homes dotting the hillside. These "newer" homes bear the weather-worn look of the town as well.

The crumbling stone foundations are what remain of the many houses that existed in Russell Gulch back in the late 1800s

The only building that seemed to fit the town's beginnings when I rode through.

I left Russell Gulch and neglected to take a closeup picture of the old schoolhouse, it looked abandoned, with all its windows broken and doors boarded up. Here's one I found on flickr:

Courtesy of: coloradobulldogs

I left Russell Gulch behind me as I continued on Virginia Canyon road. This eventually dropped me off near Black Hawk, another gambling town located next to Central City.

Black Hawk

Both these towns have gone to some pains to refurbish the buildings within their limits. The results are picturesque facades which try and transport the tourists back to the towns' heydays of the late 1800s I think.

Not being a gambler of this sort, I did not tarry as always. I did stop though and get this picture of this restored locomotive for Jack Riepe, who publicly professes in his blog of being fascinated by trains. Here you go Jack:

I left Black Hawk behind me, cruising eastward now on CO119 and soon afterwards on US6 heading back towards the town of Golden. I'd spotted a turn off for Douglas Mountain Drive on the way to Nevadaville earlier in the day; and so I took it off of US6 and wandered up this dirt road to see what I could see.

It turned out to be a mountainside-hugging, hair pin curves filled, but not much in the way of scenic views. I got all the way to the top, turned around as the road lead to Golden Gate Canyon Road and I did not want to go there today.

As I made my way down Douglas Mountain Drive, I spotted this house on top of a small hill, with part of the road framing it, figured it was worth a shot.

As you can see, the bright sunlit skies I'd enjoyed in the morning were now overcast skies. The clouds cast a pall on the rocky terrain around me as I cruised back down the mountain and eastwards on US6 and its rocky canyon walls.

The rocky walls, which had looked so brilliant in the morning, were now dull and didn't cause me to stop much for pictures. Still, I managed a couple more shots, which give you a slight idea of the terrain around me.

On the East side of tunnel #2, US6, Heading towards Golden

A view of Clear Creek, which borders US6, from the east side of Tunnel #1

Once I reached Golden, it was just regular riding on slabs. Back across the Denver Metro Area using the I-25 to I-225 slabs to the Parker Road exit.

A total of about six hours of saddle time, 160 miles total of riding. Pretty good ride, the weather was warm....ranging from the low 50s around 10am to a high in the low 70s by 4pm when I got home.