Sunday, October 18, 2009

Natasha on the South Platte River Road

As a "shakedown" ride after being down for two weeks due to the self-destructing 35amp Russian alternator episode, I rode Natasha out towards the Deckers area, specifically to cruise along the South Platte River.

I headed out the door sometime after 9am, the voltmeter read 12.5 volts and there was 33km on the tripmeter. I took the back roads to the town of Parker, transited it to reach Crowfoot Parkway which eventually got me to Castle Rock's northern limits. I crossed over the I-25 Slab here and got on northbound US85.

The weather was nice and warm, it would get hot later on. The sun was out in force and traffic was not heavy yet. I soon reached Sedalia and turned onto CO67 heading towards Deckers which was about 28 miles away.

The biker bar at Sedalia, no one there at around 10am

CO67 is a nicely paved somewhat twisty road in the canyon areas. I found myself wishing I'd ridden Brigitta, my 1987 r80 motorcycle instead but there was a mission to be accomplished: Seeing if Natasha was good for a long ride.

Eventually, I went past Rampart Range road and was soon on Douglas County 67 which is a two lane packed dirt road with small gravel. Being on three wheels, the gravel was not a major issue at all and I was able to maintain speeds between 25-30 mph. There were some sharp turns in this 9 mile stretch of road which had me standing on the brakes but it was all good.

A view of far off rock formations from Douglas County Road 67

My first view of Scraggy Peak as I approached South Platte River Road

I got to the South Platte River Road, north of Deckers by about 5 miles I believe. I turned north to follow the river as it courses southwards. I watched the fly fishermen up to their thighs in the frigid rushing waters, trying their luck.

Soon the paved road ends and packed dirt and dust became my road surface as I admired the rock formations that decorate the hillsides and the river.

A nice view of Scraggy Peak and the South Platte River

Looking south along the South Platte River

I love these big boulders in the river

The best shot of the day, in my opinion, the sun was hitting this high rock formation just right

Too soon, I came upon the end of the larger rock formations and crossed a small bridge to stop in front of the delapidated husk that once was the South Platte Hotel. It's been "considered for restoration" now since I first saw it back in the Fall of 2006, methinks it'll never get done. Which is a shame as the area was once a bustling stop along the South Platte River when it served as a transportation medium.

The usual shot of the South Platte Hotel

You have to ride slowly as you make your way north on South Platte River Road from this point until you get past a small ranch or two. Why? Because their animals, I've seen cows and horses line and walk on the road at times. Today, I passed within almost touching distance of several horses. I passed them by at a dead crawl.

I've missed the narrow window for fall colors this year, kind of drab looking leftovers is all I could find.

Nearing Foxton Road, what Sanoke calls the Cathedral Spires

I got to Foxton Road and took it northwards to US285. Again, the many twists and turns on this road had me wishing for Brigitta but Natasha did just fine as well....just not as fast or as fun. I am still leery of taking right hand turns too fast. Heck, at times I was going so slow this bicyclist passed me! We did this passing each other thing a couple of times until we both reached US285.

I stayed on US285 North only long enough to take the CO73 Pleasant Park Road exit towards Evergreen. Another nicely twisting road to be enjoyed if you are ever in the neighborhood and a good way to get to the mountains from the SW edge of the Denver Metro Area.

I arrived at Deer Creek Canyon road and followed its own nicely twisting curves all the way back towards the Chatfield Reservoir area. Lots of traffic at this juncture due to cagers taking their kids to the corn maze activity nearby.

Traffic looked like crap going south, the way I normally take on CO 121. So instead I got on eastbound C-470 for just a short sprint to the Santa Fe/US85 exit. Turning south on US85, I soon arrived back at Sedalia. Where there had not been another motorcycle near the flag adorned bar in the first picture, now there were herds of HDs each trying to outdo the other in terms of noisy pipes. I fueled up quicky and got away from the noise.

The rest of the ride was retracing my route through Castlerock with a brief stop at an overlook that belongs to a housing development under construction:

That's Castlerock's namesake in the near background, and Pikes Peak is way off in the distance

After I took the above picture, I had several minutes of "vapor lock" conditions on Natasha. She was quite warm and the day was hot as well. Tried for a few minutes to start her using both the electric starter and the kickstart, no luck.

Pushed her a bit and she almost caught but still nothing. Finally, waited a couple more minutes and successfully kick started her. Must investigate that further. No further incidents and I was hope just before 3PM.

Natasha, in spite of the vapor lock incident, did outstanding! I covered 242km or 145 miles. The voltmeter read 12.0 volts upon my return and I'd watched it go as low as 11.8 at times. The meter being LCD, its kind of hard to see in direct sunlight. So, about 6hrs of riding time on the battery charge so far and 145 miles range. Not too shabby eh? Remember, I am running without an alternator, just using the TLES or Total Loss Electrical System.


Canajun said...

Looks like you've got it made with your total loss system.

Allen Madding said...

Here is a product widely used in racing to insulate fuel lines to prevent vapor lock:

they have a dealer link and online dealers listed at the bottom of the page.


Arizona Harley Dude said...

Great pictures!!! Can't wait to see Natash out in the snow.

Do you think the cold weather will affect your total loss system?

dave said...

Glad the bikes back up & running.
That shot of the South Platte brought back memories of camping in that area and waking up to 6 inches of snow (that's a sign that it's time to head back to civilization LOL).

As always great post.

bobskoot said...


Looks like you got things sorted out and are now able to enjoy Natasha. Your TLS works great ! You only lost .5V I wonder if power usage is linear or whether it will drop exponentially from this point. Any idea how low the voltage can go and have the engine still function ? Just curious

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Charlie6 said...

canajun, here's hoping!

allen, thanks for the going to try venting the cover to the ignition coil first...they're known to overheat and shut down

dave, thanks for your kind words and for reading this stuff.

bobskoot, no idea re power dropoff rates, will find out though. Am told that ignition system will start mis-firing around 10.3 volts or lower...I don't intend to let it get down that low on purpose.

Charlie6 said...

az hd dude, the cold will no doubt increase the strain on the battery.....we shall see.

bobskoot said...


I am a hobbyist so I know nothing about ignition systems but I have a thought. What about a 6V coil in parallel to the 12V coil and switched out so you could choose either system for when the battery goes low. Old cars used to use 6 volts . . .

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Charlie6 said...

bobskoot, actually older Urals were 6volt jobs...but I am pretty sure I can't use the 6volt coil on a 12 volt system...I've got the type IV coil which apparently have a safety feature that shuts them down when overheated....Ural tried to fix it by replacing original metal cover with plastic cover.....later, they moved the coil out of the cover for better ventilation with the type V ignitions.....go figure. Jus thave to figure out a way to cut ventilations holes that does not allow rain to get in......

irondad said...

Some of our training bikes vapor lock. I just pop the gas cap off and release the pressure. Probably not so simple on the BMW.

You're becoming like the Energizer Bunny. Throw him a problem, he figures it out and keeps on going!

Charlie6 said...

Irondad, the vapor lock issue is on the Ural...not the beemer....and it might not be vapor lock after all.....more like the ignition coil having "heat issues". : )

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Domingo):

You should have been a detective. I am amazed that you got 145 miles out of the auxiiary battery! Morese that the overall loss for the day was a mere .5 volt.

Will the new alternator, when it comes, be compatible with this system? The only thing you should carry now is a thermos of hot coffee to while away the minutes waiting to get beyond a hot start.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Charlie6 said...

Jack, yeah when and if I get a replacement'll be's just a larger battery after all. I am coming up on my second tank of gas while on the same charge on the big's voltmeter reading was 11.6 when I got to work.