Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Brigitta gets a new tire

To go along with the milestone of crossing over 75,000 miles yesterday, Brigitta got a new rear tire today. Got lots of riding planned this coming Fourth of July weekend and I didn't want to do it on a worn rear tire!

The Beemer dealer had Metzeler Lazertec 120/90s in stock so I went by after work and picked one up along with an oil filter change kit. It was a bit awkward riding to Pete Homan's Bavarian Motorcycles West mechanic shop with the new tire strapped on the pillion but I got there fine.

It's amazing, how with the right equipment, bike stand, tire changing machine it all seems so fast and simple to do. I've done tire changes before on both my bikes and since I lack most of the good stuff Pete has in his shop, it takes me much longer.

I've reached a point where I decided that sure, I know how to change a tire, but my time is limited and using it up changing tires vice getting it done for a fairly cheap price, fast and while I wait is the better way to go.

Brigitta on one of Pete Homan's three bike lifts.....nice stuff those lifts

Pete had the old tire off and the new one on in less than five minutes I think!

The new tire gets mounted and secured onto Brigitta

Brigitta's new tire

As Pete got Brigitta off the stand once he was done and rolled her out the door. He had me hold down the rear portion of the bike while he checked the play on the head bearings by turning the handlebars back and forth.

He stated that they felt "loose", as in there was no preload on the head bearings. He grabbed some tools, five minutes later, he was satisfied. I could feel just the slightest hint of resistance now as I moved the handlebars back and forth. Apparently, you need this or the bearings tend to move and wear into the sides of the spindle that hold them. It should help her handling as well, Pete stated. All this came at a cost of an additional $5, can't beat that with a stick!

I was out of there in about 30 minutes, humming along with good rubber on both tires now. A warm ride home in heavy traffic saw me arriving home in time to do a quick oil change for Brigitta. My almost ten year old son helped me out, so the task took a bit longer than usual! :)

Still, it was a good bonding moment. He found it quite amusing that I kept dropping tools and oil filter covers into the dang oil disposal canister which was full of the old hot oil. Next time I'll have him dip his gloved hand in there to fish that dropped item out of there! : )

Now to figure out whether I want to try and do the transmission spline lube at 78K miles or have Pete do it for $200.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Brigitta goes over 75,000 Miles

Brigitta, my 1987 R80 went over a milestone of sorts today, her odometer clicked over past 75,000 miles. I know, there's plenty of Beemer riders out there with motorcycles which have gone at least once past the 100,000 mile mark. But it's the first one for me.

Maria, my 2004 R1150RT, is close behind Brigitta. Maria is coming up on 69,000 miles.

Now, I got Brigitta with 61,135 on the odometer so I've only put 13,865 miles on her myself since I got her back in June of 2008.

Maria, I got with a bit over 19,000 miles on her odometer back in 2006.

Both motorcycles are needing a new tire each, I wonder if its because of all the riding?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Elephant Rock 1880-2009

As a follow-up to yesterday's posting of pictures of the Elephant Rock formation near Monument, CO, I returned to the site after securing permission from the owners. Please note: Elephant Rock sits on private property and is privately owned.

Be respectful of an owner's rights and ask permission before entering onto private land. Always.

Tim and Carol Branaman graciously allowed me to ride onto their property on Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer. Tim even said if I wanted to, I could try and ride the dirt path all the way to the top and next to Elephant Rock itself!

I had my doubts based on my views of the terrain around the rock formation from the entrance to the property yesterday. These doubts were confirmed shortly after I arrived today. After introductions were made, Tim and I walked all the the way up to the base of Elephant Rock and there was no way I was going to try riding up with the motorcycle!

Steep angles, lots of loose gravel covering the dirt surface of the trail, and shall we say an interestingly inclined sharp right turn just before you get to a level spot beside the rock. No thank you!

Tim is a rider as well and he empathized with my decision to not ride up. I understand now, why the angles that were picked by William Henry Jackson back in 1880 and John Fielder in 2000 were chosen. There's not much room to back up from this massive rock formation to get a more widespread view of the whole rock!

I had to use the panorama setting to capture this view of Elephant Rock today

The first picture by William Henry Jackson was re-shot in 2000 by John Fielder under a commission for the Colorado Historical Society. It was featured in the book: Colorado 1870 - 2000 which was quite the hit. I became more familiar with the above through the follow-on book by Fielder: Colorado 1870-2000 Revisited where he details how he shot the pictures he did.

Click the image above to get more information or purchase this book

Here's one more panoramic shot I took in an effort to capture the up close magnificence of this rock formation. As my previous posting shows, you don't need to actually be on the property to get good views of this rock formation. It's well worth a ride to its vicinity to take a look!

A mouse's view of an oncoming leviathan

As you might have noticed, the light levels were changing fast as I shot the pictures above. Rain clouds were closing it on our location. I chatted some more with Tim and Carol and soon left them with my thanks.

As they drove out, Tim said "Stay Dry" to me since some rain drops were starting to fall. I followed them out and headed towards the nearest entrance to northbound I-25. From there, amidst a few rain drops, I rode to outrun the storm and hopefully stay dry.

Traffic was not bad at all on the slab and I was soon at Castle Rock and had successfully outrun the storm. I turned onto the Shell gas station on Founders Parkway and captured this long distance shot of Pikes Peak:

Pikes Peak from Castle Rock

Once fueled up, I continued on my way home, continually looking back over my shoulder at the storm front coming north behind me.

Here's a view of the storm front from Parker:

It looks bad but in the end it never made it all the way to the Denver Metro Area. I worried for nothing and got home safe and sound and dry!

My thanks again to the Branaman's for their time and permission to get up close to this great rock formation!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shooting Elephant Rock x Two!

It can so confusing to some of us when people elect to name two different stone formations with the same name and said formations exist within miles of each other!

I had blogged about trying to get close to Elephant Rock back in the end of January of 2009, I did not realize then that it's two different rock formations! Doh! 31JAN09 Ride

Today, I rode out knowing full well, after some more research and map scrutiny, that there were two Elephant Rocks. The more well known one, photographed since at least 1880, is located on what is now private property near Monument, CO.

I had called yesterday afternoon the current owners to request permission to pose Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer in the same angle as John Fielder did while following in the footsteps of William Henry Jackson. I got a reply from the owner but didn't realize it till I returned home from taking the pictures below. No problem, after a very nice chat, he agreed to meet with me tomorrow afternoon and escort me to the same spot for pictures! Tune in tomorrow for that one.

In the meantime though, you can ride pretty close to this Elephant Rock without trespassing on private property. I am a big believer in respecting people's property rights, I hope you are as well if you chose to do this ride.

The current owner is justifiably insistent on his property rights. Please, contact me and I can relay to him your request for access if you've good reasons. However, since a map survey readily reveals the street next to Elephant Rock, I don't feel I am causing him any trouble. Check google maps and put in Elephant Rock and Monument as your search terms and you'll get this:

Courtesy: Google Maps

I rode down to Parker and used the Crowfoot Parkway to get me to Castle Rock as usual. From there it's across the I-25 Slab to Wolfenberger Road which junctions with CO 105. I took CO 105 southbound, throughly enjoying its gentle curves and rolling terrain with pastoral views of private ranches and homes on both sides.

Soon enough, I was at the outskirts of the town of Palmer Lake:

The view to the south, from just outside the Palmer Lake's city limits

You can glimpse the monument mesas to the NE of Palmer Lake

I first tried the roads leading to the housing subdivision located to the south of the SW portion of Ben Lomand Mountain. No go in terms of viewing Elephant Rock.

I got back on County Line Road and it took me to Indi Drive and I used this to get to Capella Drive which eventually leads you to Belatrix Drive. Note, Capella turns into a dirt road. Take Belatrix, which is also a dirt road, almost all the way down and you'll see this:

The driveway beyond Brigitta is private property, please respect the owner's rights!

Left side closeup view of the elephant's head

For a phto of Elephant Rock, circa 1880, go to DPL: Call# chs.j122

I think I was on Draco Circle when I got the above shot

Beware though, the sides of the dirt roads have negative camber! Brigitta fell over to her right side after I'd walked away from her to take the above picture. So now, I'll be repairing her fairing once again. Or perhaps, she'll once again ride without one. We shall see.

I believe this is the view from Hamal Drive

As you can see, the nearby roads to the east of Elephant Rock can give you opportunities to photograph the rock formation itself and your motorcycle.

Here's a shot of Monument's Elephant Rock's right flank, from the Mission Training Center's parking lot, just off of CO 105, between Monument and Palmer Lake.

Go to DPL, search images/photos: Call# p-1858

I continued on CO 105, this time heading north towards Sedalia. When I junctioned with CO 67, I turned west heading towards Deckers. Pretty soon after you enter the canyon, you'll see a road marked as private with many house number signs. They also take trespassing seriously here so be sure to stay on the road which is designated by Douglas County as a public road. Yep, I checked.

I followed this dirt road, which is a bit sandy in spots so be careful, all the way to the top where I finally found myself near the rocks which form the second Elephant Rock. Here's the closest I got to them back in January:

Sedalia's Elephant Rock January 2009

The above is the best I could with my regular camera, I'll try and get a better shot from CO 105 tomorrow when I return to the area.

Up close, it's hard where I was stopped initially to see the elephant shape. One of the owners, John, stopped by and we had a nice chat. He gave me directions back to his property, and told me it was OK to park on his land and take shots which might give the idea of why the rocks are called what they are.

I headed back following John's directions and got these shots. I had to dismount Brigitta to shoot these shots:

Views of Sedalia's Elephant rock's right flank

Please get permission from the owners before wandering off the public road to get shots like the ones above!

Here's a shot with Brigitta, through the trees which surround this Elephant Rock, which gives a better feel for why its named the way it is:

Done with the shots above, I slowly rode the dirt road back down towards CO 67. I turned back towards Sedalia and after transiting through this town, got on US 85 southbound back towards Castlerock.

The rest of the ride home was unremarkable. Plenty of other motorcycle riders out today since the weather was gorgeous for riding. Not too many folks wearing proper riding gear or even a helmet however. I hope they don't find out the hard way what happens when you go down without safety gear!

I was home by 3:00 PM I think, and I removed Brigitta's damaged fairing. Tomorrow's posting will show her in her original "naked" state. I have to reconsider whether to repair the fairing once again, she's just going to have another oopsie moment if I keep riding dirt roads!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Golden Hour

Finally, something positive about all the overnight work I've been having to do lately as part of my consulting gig with United Airlines.

We're upgrading a lot of switches and routers and the work has to be done when it will not impact flights. So, I've been at Denver International Airport twice a week, from 11:00PM till about 5:AM in the morning!

This meant that dawn would be breaking and I got to enjoy the sunrise views.

Today, I was coherent enough to stop when the "Golden Hour" occurred. Photographers who've been around a while, done research or study, or just by dumb luck like me; know about the golden hour. This happens twice a day, assuming the weather cooperates, when the rising or setting sun illuminates everything with a golden yellow light. This light makes all colors seem richer and warmer, and usually results in some pretty good photos.

Part of the back roads I take to get to DIA, that's it in the far background

I left work too late to pose Maria, my 2004 R1150RT, against the red sunrise we had this morning but I hope you'll agree the above pictures taken during the golden hour made being up so early after working all night, somewhat worth it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Some sights along US85 or Santa Fe Drive

As I rode out of my garage this morning, the objective in mind was a ride to Loveland Pass near where the Eisenhower Tunnel crosses the Continental Divide on I-70.

However, I got distracted by a passing gaggle of riders on crotch rockets as I was cruising North on the I-25 slab and missed the Hampden Road exit which would had been my route out of town.

So instead, I exited at the US85 or Santa Fe Drive off ramp to check out what remains of the once vast and imposing Gates Rubber Factory Complex. I'd often seen this large industrial complex from a distance as I cruised up or down the I-25 corridor, and wondered what it was....now I know.

The factory reached its heydays I think in the late 30s and 40s. It manufactured rubber V-belts for automobiles amongst other rubber items. Now, it's a dilapidated group of buildings and equipment slowly being demolished and removed.

For a drawing and photos of the Gates Complex,
Go to Call# rh-3502, x-24517 and x-24532

Only three major buildings remain, the rest of the complex is rubble waiting to be carted off or empty fields where buildings once stood.

Denver's Light Rail Train system uses some of the rails used to ship supplies in to the factory or products to retailers. The above photo was taken from the parking lot of the I-25/Broadway Light Rail Station.

I wandered about the vicinity of the factory searching for other angles to photograph and instead came upon the Denver Design Center. Apparently where several architectural and building design firms have set up shop amidst their own kind.

One building that caught my eye on Broadway was what used to be Engine Station #13 for the Denver Fire Department.

Today, it's the home of an architectural firm of some sort. I am glad though that they retained the outer shell's historical look:

For a photo of the Engine Station #13 Circa 1930-40
Go to DPL:Call# x-20654

Nearby, within the Denver Design Center and quite visible from the highway was this piece of "modern architectural art". It's quite striking and pleasing to my eyes. Upon a closer look, I found its made of rectangular blocks of concrete....must have been quite the sight to see assembled. Sort of a giant's version of the game Jenga in a way.

A little bit about the creator of the "Articulated Wall"

I headed on South on Platte River Road. It wends its way southwards following the Platte River through several industrial parks. Looks like quite the nice bike/jogging trail built along it. Along the way, I posed Brigitta in front of this eye-catching power generation plant:

I continued on for a few miles, and the road ended at some large mall. I got back on US85 southbound and while I could see where the river was to the west of me, I never did get back alongside it.

Since I was on US85 again, I rode on past Sedalia to Daniels Park Road aka County Road 29. I was looking for a glimpse of the Cherokee Castle again but instead found myself in Daniels Park. It's a hard packed tarmac road, with some gravel, that travels partly along the rim of a ridge line. It offers nice views of the Front Range and I found a spot near the Tall Bull Memorial Grounds to pose Brigitta again:

I returned back to US85 headed towards Castle Rock. From there I took Crowfoot Parkway towards Parker but turned into the Timber Canyon housing development. It was here that I found a spot with a nice juxtaposition of Castle Rock's namesake and distant Pikes Peak:

I turned back onto Crowfoot Parkway which I took all the way to Parker after a brief detour in another housing area called Pradera. No picture opportunities there though I did climb and descend this rocky trail to "see what I could see".

Transited through Parker and took Inspiration Drive back to my home neighborhoods. About 106 miles of riding, perhaps 3 hours of saddle time. A very relaxed and meandering Father's Day ride. I was home in plenty of time to help my youngest son put together his float for the neighborhood's Fourth of July parade and later savor my Father's Day steak dinner made by my loving wife. Good day overall.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Central City

Today's ride was to the now gambling town of Central City, Colorado. Located next to Black Hawk, Colorado which is another gambling town. Many more casinos in Black Hawk than in Central City which remains but a minor gambling location when compared to Black Hawk. The theory being that CO119 was the best road to get to the gambling towns and gamblers would get to Black Hawk first. They'd be lured in by the shiny lights and painted women and forgo going just a mile further to Central City!

Apparently, the situation was so bad that some casinos in Central City actually went broke! The city has since then built the Central City Highway off of the I-70 super slab in a bid to lure customers away from Black Hawk. Only time will tell if the huge investment in this really nice highway, will pay off or not. In the meantime, motorcyclists can enjoy this smooth highway into the gambling havens if they choose to not twist and turn their way there via CO119 from Golden.

In the meantime, the lack of major success of the casinos in Central City has sheltered the older buildings in the city from the ravages of "progress". It's one of the more well preserved western towns from back in the Gold Rush days. Sadly, most of the properties/buildings I saw were for sale, so the town's fortunes are still down.

My first stop was the Gilpin County Courthouse, a pretty imposing brick building on Eureka Street I think, near the Central City Opera House.

Gilpin County Courthouse 2009
For a photo of the courthouse Circa 1900
Go to DPL:Call# x-11585

Central City's Opera House, still in operation in 2009
For a photo of Central City's Opera House Circa 1880-1890
Go to DPL: Call# x-2868

Eureka Street 2009
For a photo of Eureka Street during 1893 Flood
go to DPL: Call# x-2612
For a photo of Eureka Street Circa 1958
go to DPL: Call# x-2635
The apparently unused Knights of Pythias building in Central City 2009
For a photo of Central City Knights of Pythias Circa 1934
go to DPL: Call# x-2601

Yep, another order I'd never heard of, here's what wikipedia.com had to say about it:

The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization and secret society founded at Washington, DC on 19 February, 1864.

The Knights of Pythias was the first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an act of the United States Congress. It was founded by Justus H. Rathbone, who had been inspired by a play by the Irish poet John Banim about the legend of Damon and Pythias. This legend illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honor and friendship that are central to the order.

Full wikipedia article here

No longer a bank, 2009
For a photo of the Colorado 1st National Bank Circa 1890-1910
go to DPL: Call# x-2502

Williams Stables Building 2009
For a photo of the Williams Stables 1940
go to DPL: Call# x-63083

For a photo of the abandoned Central City and Black Hawk Rail Depots Circa 1950
go to DPL: Call# Z-448

Not sure how these two depots ended up next to each other, I am guessing the towns moved them next to each other for preservation purposes? The building on the left houses the Central City Register, the second oldest continually published newspaper in Colorado according to the sign on the side of the building:

Next up was Central City's Nemesis, Black Hawk. The town is swarming with huge new buildings housing casino after casino. Not much left in terms of historical buildings I'm afraid. Here's a few though that remain:

For a photo of Black Hawk's Presbyterian Church Circa 1864
go to DPL: Call# chs.x4770
Today, the church is now Black Hawk's City Annex #1, the building next to it used to be a school and now houses the Black Hawk Police Department. See below signage:

I throw in the picture of the steel archway bridge below just because I happen to like such structures, no historical significance at all that I could find.

Black Hawk has changed quite a bit by 2009!
For a photo of A view of Black Hawk Circa 1942
go to DPL: Call# x-2062

I departed from Black Hawk around 1:00 PM or so using CO119, traffic was much lighter heading away from Black Hawk than it was going to it at this time of day.

On CO119, with Brigitta positioned looking back towards Black Hawk

I turned off of CO119 at the junction with US6 West to Idaho Springs. This is another beautiful motorcycling road with tunnels going through high rocky canyon walls created by Clear Creek.

The canyon walls created by Clear Creek, the steel netting on the left side is to prevent rocks from falling onto the highway.

A view of Clear Creek just before entering Tunnel #6 on US6 heading towards Idaho Springs

Tunnel #6

After an enjoyable ride on US6, it merges with I-70 westbound. Three miles later I was at Idaho Springs where I really found no historical looking buildings of any kind. Kind of dissapointing in a way. I headed back East using I-70 to get back onto US6, this time heading east. I took the turnoff for US40 and used this two lane highway as a more sedate and enjoyable way to get closer to Denver.

When I got to CO74, I took it towards the town of Evergreen and from that town continued on CO74 as it headed through the towns of Kittredge and Idledale. I twisted my way through Bear Creek Canyon and arrived at the town of Morrison. I took 6th avenue east out of Morrison, turning south on Kipling until I got to US285. From there it was the usual route to my home, the skies had remained overcast throughout the ride but I did not get rained on. Only 159 miles or so today, perhaps 5 hours of saddle time at most.

I hope you enjoyed the historical, then and now, view of both Central City and Black Hawk.