Friday, December 31, 2010

Snow riding to close out the year...

The following photos and video took several attempts as I learned to use my new toys; the gopro videocamera and the panasonic lumix ZS7.  That, and venturing out with the wrong settings on the device, or forgetting the SD memory card or it being just really cold.  Most of the footage was taken with temperatures from 2 to 6°F.

 Helmet mounted GoPro, still tweaking the angle of the camera.  I think I'll be using this mount just for "cliff side views" when riding on mountain roads/trails; this to give the viewer a look "over the edge".

Perfect snow levels as you can see on my driveway, not high enough to cause the exhausts to "float" the pusher tire and lose traction.

On a barely snow-covered dirt trail near the Blackstone Country Club

The following video demonstrates the hazards of mounting a camera on one's helmet.  Hazard in terms of causing the viewer of the resulting movie some nausea/headaches if you don't cut out the parts where one's head is moving to check traffic.  I tried my best to remove such I mentioned before, I think helmet mounted videos in the future will be short and limited to specific angles.

or you can watch the video on youtube:  LINK

This video was shot with the Panasonic Lumix ZS7's videocam function, it was Russian Donuts for breakfast this morning!  (The car was not as close as it looks)

or you can watch the video on youtube: LINK

So, enough foolishness.  My family and I wish you and yours a truly safe, prosperous and Happy New Year!

PS: Operation Colorado 365 is a success.  I managed to ride every day during 2010, although I only managed to rack up a total of 16,941 miles between my two motorcycles.  I guess I have to quit slacking off like this for 2011!

The riding logs are on the right side column of the blog, lower third.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The year in pictures: 2010

Another year is almost gone and really, not the greatest of years for the country as a whole.  Still, there's a lot to be thankful for in my life and hopefully in yours.

I cobbled together some of the pictures I've posted into my blog over the last year into this video on youtube, hope you like it.  Thanks to fellow blogger Chris of, it even has some music to entertain you.

Click here to see it on youtube: LINK

Happy New Year!

See you on the road in 2011!


Monday, December 27, 2010

New toys and an early Winter ride to Loveland Pass

It was the day after Christmas and Santa brought new toys for this moto-blogger.

The first was a replacement camera for the 12 year old one I managed to lose recently.

source: Digital Review

After conferring with Bobskoot, this was the camera I asked from Santa.  It's specs are here.  The major selling points were 12x Optical zoom, slim form factor and really, I needed a camera for future rides.

The second toy, which my wife surprised me with with the collusion of Gary France, was a GoPro Hero HD Motosports videocamera.


I believe it's the same camera used in his epic four month+ journey across these united states by Gary France and a fellow uralista in Minnesota by the name of Chris Luhman.

Armed with all these electronics, I naturally headed out into the mountains the day after Christmas to see if I could find some snow.  We in the front range have not seen much of the white stuff since October though reports of hit accumulating in feet up in the mountains have made it on to the nightly news.  Not to mention the east coast getting slammed by it recently.

Got a pretty late start but managed to cruise through Morrison by 10:30AM or so, motoring past the usual towns of Idledale, Kittredge and finally through Evergreen where I picked up Upper Bear Creek Road west.
Soon I was turning northwards onto Witter Gulch Road heading towards Squaw Pass on CO103, the road which takes one to Echo Lake and the Mount Evans Road (closed for the winter).

Witter Gulch Road is a mostly dirt road with some heavily washboarded sections which threaten to shake my fillings loose in my head.  This road though was a good test of the suction cup mount pictured above for mounting the GoPro camera to the sidecar rig.  It stayed mounted securely the whole day, but I still felt good about having also attached a safety strap.

Once on CO103, I continued up the 9+ miles ride to Echo Lake Lodge which sits at the entrace to the Mount Evans Road.  Road conditions weren't exactly "great" for two-wheeled vehicles but of course, since I was on Natasha, that didn't matter as much.

These folks decided to have an extended chat near Natasha as I waited for them to move.
So, they ended up in the shot instead.

 Snow-covered Echo Lake 

After Echo Lake, I continued on CO103 to the town of Idaho Springs.  From there it was frontage road riding till I got to Dumont, CO where I checked in with my loving wife.  She confirmed for me that the road to Loveland Pass was open but with icy spots.  

To make time, I got on the westbound slab of I-70 and soon enough was exiting at the US6/Loveland Pass junction.  The road was clear and mostly dry all the way to the top and points beyond.  Lots of cars and folks at the top of the pass since the weather was pretty warm for early Winter.  Here's a video of Natasha and I riding up to the pass and a couple of miles beyond.  There is no audio for this clip.

I stopped near the Arapahoe Basin Ski resort to turn Natasha around and get these shots.

 This is the furthest point west on US6 that I rode to on Sunday

 A nice background of far off snow-covered mountain peaks

 A closer view of the far off peaks, thanks to the optically-stabilized zoom on the new camera

A-Basin down below from where I parked.

Yes, I know about embedding a music file, just trying to work out copyright issues and such.  Perhaps a fellow blogger can point me to public domain stuff that's freely available for future videos.

I am pleased to report both cameras worked great.  Now to figure out how to edit the results and produce usable footage faster.  My laptop is sure not cutting it, will have to borrow Martha's which is more powerful.

I made it home by 4:00PM by using the I-70 slab all the way to the E-470 beltway, traffic was lighter than usual for a Sunday afternoon so I took advantage of this.  

Hope you got a ride in!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We're having quite the warm winter so far here in Colorado, no snow to be had anywhere along the Front Range, though I hear the mountains are getting it in amounts measured in feet.

As is my wont, I tend to go riding to find a Nativity Scene to pose my motorcycle by as a gentle reminder to some as to why Christmas is celebrated. This year, my loving wife Martha and I took a sidecar rig ride down to the town of Parker and the Parker Country Market. Martha had spotted this Nativity scene while we were returning from our short ride to Bee Rock last weekend.

The sun was out and though the bank thermometer at the Parker bank read 33°F, it didn't feel cold at all to us as we posed Natasha:

The Nativity scene at the Parker Country Market

Here's a closer view, basic but complete

Quite the menagerie at the market

 The Parker Country Market sells big and small bronze(?) statues of wildlife and country themed knick knacks and antiques.

Old Saint Nick was in evidence amongst the wildlife, 
though the lack of snow kind of takes away from the scene doesn't it?

We left the market and ran some errands, ending up at neighborhood friends' house to drink their booze and do some chatting.  Not a bad way to spend Christmas Eve, no stress as our shopping was done way before today.  We did witness a near miss by this idiot who ran a red light and almost t-boned the car in front of us as we exited the Parker Country can never let down your guard.

My family and I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas....hope you got a ride in today.

Monday, December 20, 2010

After three years and 63K+ miles, I need new motorcycle boots

Back in September 19, 2007, I'd taken receipt of some Oxtar riding boots, my first "real" motorcycle boots.

picture source

So, three years and roughly a bit over 63,000 miles later of riding in all kinds of weather, it's time for new boots.

The Oxtar boots did well by me, keeping my feet dry and somewhat warm even in the coldest riding conditions. They did OK in terms of walking boots for when I had to do lots of walking around the airport during my time contracting for United Airlines.  However, for the last year or so, the velcro holding the top edge of the boots together had failed to hold anymore; and the zippers had required repairs in terms of where they mated to the boot.  Oh, and the leather was starting to crack in the spots where my foot bends.

They apparently don't make the Matrix II anymore so my review of them is probably academic.  As they were my first pair of motorcycling boots, I learned a few things that guided my choice of their replacement.

1.  Avoid velcro-secured flaps, velcro just loses its ability to "hold" after so much use.  Yes, I know about cleaning it and "combing it out" but after a while it just won't do the job.  I'd been using boot bands I'd purchased to hold the tops together for the last few months.

2.  These are pretty tall boots, and with my riding pants, I just need boots that come up lower, saw the lower calf.  The top portion of the old boots look almost new, as they were always covered by my riding pants.

3.  Anti-slip and oil resistant soles are key, the Oxtars did really good in various traction conditions.

4.  Avoid boots that zip up the side, sure they're easy to take off and put on but again, enough time and use will cause them to wear out.

Hmmm, maybe I just expect a lot out of boots....

Today, the zipper on the right boot failed completely, after only 63K miles of daily use!  : )

I believe I got my money's worth out of the boots, don't you agree?

After a bit of surfing, I found some boots from Icon:

picture source:

They are the Icon Patrol series of waterproof touring boots with some really nice specs; just click on the link above to be taken to the site for full details.  The selling points for me where the positive lock aluminum buckles and the speed lacing system for a tight fit.

I placed an order for them today and hopefully will get them next week.  Hopefully, they last me at least the same amount of riding miles as the Oxtar boots gave me!

Update: 24DEC10:  The new Icon Patrol boots got here today!

Initial impressions, they're keepers.

The speed lacing, probably due to the shape of my foot, does nothing to add/detract in terms of fit. This is good because two of the small straps broke while I was cinching the laces tight! And yet, the boots are keepers.

Love the aluminum latches, very similar to ski boot latches and they hold the boots onto my feet very snugly but still easy to take the boots off.  The latching straps(rubber/plastic) and the mounting points appear to be field-replaceable.

Excepting the delicate straps anchoring the laces, construction is really nice and tough looking throughout.

Went for a quick little ride and no issues with shifting gears. Great traction on dry surfaces so far, we'll see how they do on snow and ice and wet surfaces.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Last weekend of the Fall ride

Today my loving wife Martha and I rode out for a ride under sunny skies and warming temperatures to see if we could find a bit of snow. The destination was Bee Rock and although we didn't find much snow, it was still an enjoyable ride.

Leaving shortly after 9:00AM, we were bundled up for cold as the thermometer at the bank registered 31°F as we transited the town of Parker. Soon past Parker, we were on the Crowfoot Parkway where its grooved surface made the knobby tire I had on Natasha feel a bit squiggly. Still, nothing really bad, just squiggly.

Once past the town of Castle Rock and west of the I-25 interchange, we turned back North on US85 towards the town of Sedalia. The temperatures had warmed considerably by the time we left Sedalia behind us and headed towards Jarre Canyon and the vicinity of Bee Rock.

Our first view of Bee Rock

We continued down the dirt county road taking in the sights and still spotting no snow as you can see.

Good shot of my riding jacket's tough material, kevlar you know.... 

A side view of Bee Rock 

Martha poses on Natasha, someday she might even learn to ride her.

We continued on the county road, passing small patches of snow where the shade protected the snow from melting in the warm Fall weather we've been having of late.  At the sharpest turn on the road, we took a side road I'd not taken before as it had a sign stating it was a dead end.  It wound for a little bit through bushes and a few more snow patches until we got to this gate:

The most snow we could find for Natasha

So, now that we "found some snow", we headed out of the area at the posted speed limit, enjoying how smoothly Natasha dealt with the dips and peaks on the dirt trail.  Soon we were southbound on CO 105 headed towards Dakan Road to see if any snow was there.

There turned out to be no snow again but we did get a shot of the "Hershey Kiss" rock formation.  I don't know it's formal name, that's just something I'd used from other rides.

Hershey Kiss Rock Formation on Dakan Road

We then headed on home, retracing our route up CO105, to CO67 which took us through the town of Sedalia once again and back southbound on US85 towards Castle Rock.

As we entered the town limits of Parker, we stopped at the "Coffee Cabin", a roadside coffee shop so that Martha could get herself a coffee.  A little bit of UDF later, we were back on Parker Road headed north towards Lincoln Blvd which we would turn east on to take the back roads homewards.

Martha apparently saw several deer along the road as we rode along.  I was looking for them but did not spot them at all!  We were home by noon with no incident, a short but nice little ride to enjoy the warm temperatures of the last weekend of Fall, 2010.

Hope you got some riding in.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review: Throttling the Bard

A fellow Uralista, Jay Barry, had recently asked me to read and review his first book: "Throttling the Bard" and post about it here.  Bottom line up front: I found it to be an enjoyable read about two full time denizens of academia who ride their motorcycles through a series of events leading to unexpected conclusions.

From the book's back cover:

Within the pristine halls of academia lurks the unsavory financial aid department and an English professor who has bilked that system in order to redistribute its wealth to students of a lower socioeconomic class. 

When the Great Basin Student Loan Corporation discovers Dr. Don Vendicarsi’s illegal means of obtaining student loans, they demand his presence at their Reno office. Fearing that his teaching career will end prematurely, Vendicarsi must ride to Reno to face the inscrutable loan board. 

Graduate student Quentin Mann goes along for the ride, thinking that the trip is the perfect opportunity to force dissertation comments from Dr. Vendicarsi. Together they embark upon a quixotic motorcycle trip across Nevada where they encounter everyday Americana: a book burning cult, drugs, captivating women, and the Burning Man arts festival. 

Harried by the Great Basin and inspired by a demolitions expert at Burning Man, Vendicarsi ponders the ultimate definition of a teacher’s sacrifice by eradicating all records of student loan debt, while Quentin realizes that spending borrowed money on yet another degree is not what he needs to become a recognized author.

I found this book to be an enjoyable read and flowing well.  Be prepared to have your vocabulary expanded as you track Professor Vendicarsi's highly erudite and long winded way of speaking.  The two travel over quite the mixed set of terrain, not just paved highways and I found their description of such riding to be amusing as I've found myself on the same type of terrain once in a while.

Motorcycles, nude people, riding fast, police chases, explosions, book burnings, scamming bikers at a biker bar....there's something in this book for everyone.  Oh, and if you're like me and never been to the "Burning Man" event in the Nevada desert, this book will either convince you to go or stay away.

You can buy a copy at:  LINK

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rounders' 2011 Calendar now available

One of the two motorcycling groups I still belong to is called the yearroundriders, or "Rounders".

From the Rounder website:

The Rounders are men and women who enjoy their motorcycles so much they ride them year round. The group was founded by a bunch of Mid-Westerners (inspired by a Kook on the East Coast) who ride them even when the temps are below freezing or above hot. The object of becoming a Rounder is to have fun, promote safe, responsible motorcycle use on a regular basis for as much of the year as you can. In the spirit of fun we have concocted the following levels of Rounderhood following the Fahrenheit temp scale:

100's+ Red Hot Rounder
90's Sweating Rounder
80's Half Baked Rounder
70's - R&R (Rounder Relaxing)
60's -Jr. Rounder (Just Riding)
50's - LOTF Rounder (Looking Over The Fence)
40's - FOTF Rounder (Fringe of the Fringe)
30's - Half Rounder
20's - TQ Rounder (Three Quarts)
0-20 - Rounder
Sub Zero - KHOF Rounder (Kook Hall of Fame)

Members can proclaim themselves to be in the various categories based on the truthful telling of their riding conditions. If you lie, then a pox be upon you and may your valves need constant adjustment.

To be a True Rounder, you have to ride every month of the year.

I am proud to say two things, I've achieved the KHOF above and the 2011 Calender has four of my photos which I submitted for the monthly calendar entry contest.  The members submit and the collective votes on which pictures they like best.  I am honored to have my submissions selected for the months of January, February, August and September.

So, if you are looking for a motorcycling-oriented calendar that's not just a compendium of one's marque, take a look here on and check it out.  LINK.  The cost covers production costs, no profit to the Rounders or the calendar's creator.

P.S.  If you're curious as to how much of the year I've managed to ride a motorcycle:  2010 Riding Log.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Jones Pass, snowy and unconquered still by some Uralisti

Temperatures in the high 20s greeted us as I and two other Uralisti: Jay and Deana met yesterday near the town of Morrison, Colorado. It was just our two rigs with the mission to see how far we'd get on Jones Pass, the trailhead of which is located near the small settlement of Berthoud Falls.

The trip started with a bad omen however, I'd managed to lose my trusty old digital camera enroute to Morrison! I'd stashed it inside my weatherproof liner to try and preserve the batteries from the cold you see, and what with the body movements one has to use to safely ride a sidecar rig, it slipped out from under my jacket and fell to the pavement unnoticed. Dammit. Oh sure, it was over eleven years old and due to be replaced soon but still, a bad omen I thought.

Bought near the birth of my #2 Son, guess 
I got my money's worth out of it

No time to retrace my route, we headed out on schedule, our two rigs drawing appreciative looks from onlookers and drivers on the road. We headed north out of Morrison and were soon at the junction with US40, just north of where CO93 junctions with the I-70 super slab.

I prefer using US40 as its two lanes and the traffic speeds are quite suited to our beloved Ural rigs and their "vintage" design and capabilities. I led the way as I knew the turns to take to keep the need to use the I-70 slab to a minimum. Less than an hour later, we were passing through Empire, CO and making good speed towards Berthoud Falls.

Getting ready to descend down Floyd Hill on US40
That's the I-70 Super Slab in the background

 Just west of Empire, CO on US40

On US40 approaching the turnoff for Jones Pass

The nearby mountain peaks were shrouded in low lying clouds, and one could glimpse small amounts of snow covering their forested tops. We turned off towards the road to Jones Pass and soon enough we neared the trailhead. The road became snow covered but this didn't bother our rigs!

Heading towards Jones Pass Trail Head 

We stopped for a bit at the trailhead's parking lot, waiting for a gap in the flow of cross country skiers who were heading out of the parking lot onto the snow-covered trail that led to Jones Pass.

Hardy Uralisti Deana and Jay

Yesterday, I'd swapped my spare tire (the one with the big knobbies) for Natasha's pusher tire and it was with high confidence and hope that I started out of the parking lot. The title of this posting mentions "unconquered" didn't it. I didn't even make it 20 feet into the trail when I lost all forward momentum and Natasha's pusher tire started to dig its way down into the really soft snow.

Skiers came by, advised me that it only got worse from there. After a quick discussion with Jay and Deana, we decided to retreat, leave the pass for another day and less snow. At least, that was the plan. Jay and Deana backed their rig with no issues. Natasha and I, on the other hand, had more issues as I was a bit further in that Jay's rig.

Reverse gear only got me a few feet back towards the parking lot. Then we got stuck again. Deana came up and together we pushed and pulled Natasha around so she was pointed towards the parking lot. Still, she remained stuck with lots of snow built up under her frame. Jay had joined us at this point and between the three of us we dragged Natasha onto firmer snow. Finally, I was able to get her going and away from the eyes of onlookers and snowmobile riders.

We decided to explore a road that lead towards the Urad Mine complex nearby. It turned out to be quite the nicely snow-covered road which led us part what appeared to be collecting ponds for the nearby mine, with really nice mountain side views as a bonus. Soon though, the road ended at a gate and we turned around.

A brief patch of clear dirt road as we headed towards the Urad Mine Complex

This will give you an idea of the snow-packed roads into and out of the mining complex

Heading back the way we'd come, we retraced our route back to Idaho Springs. I then led the way up out of Idaho Springs along the Virginia Canyon Road which is also known as the "Oh My God" road to the gambling town of Central City.

Jay and Deana had never ridden the "Oh My God" road and while it was pretty washboarded in spots, it still was a nice road to ride. We stopped at several vantage points to gaze at the distant mountain ranges and watch how the fog seemed to linger among the lower hills and valleys.

Even shooting into the sun, Deana got this shot of me ascending the "Oh My God" road

 A view of distant peaks from the "Oh My God" road

 Remnants of the mining structures that dot the landscapes of Colorado

Urals on the "Oh My God" Road

To give you an idea of what can happen if you ride this rode and are unwary or careless:

A lot of the pine trees along the "Oh My God" road had a light coating of snow on their needles, quite eye-catching actually.  Here's an example near where we parked the Urals above:

 From a distance, it almost looks like dogwood in bloom

We crested the mountain, passing by Russell Gulch and were soon riding about the small gambling towns of Central City and Blackhawk, looking for a gas station in order to "use the facilities".

Central City

There were no gas stations to be had though and we instead left the gambling casinos behind and cruised south on CO119 to the Bushwacker's Gas Station.  It was here that I parted company with Jay and Deana as their plans had them ending up in the city of Boulder and mine were to head home due to some work matters which had come up.

Deana and Jay

I headed on down CO119 until it junctions with US6 which takes your through some gorgeous rocky canyon walls and tunnels, I must return there soon to take pictures. I took US40 and retraced my outbound route by myself, having the route basically to myself and steadily warming temperatures as I neared the Denver Metro area.

Traffic steadily built up as I got deeper into the city and soon I was back in my home neighborhoods. I covered perhaps 140 miles or so today, had some fun on snow, had some struggles on snow, rode lots of nicely dry but at times sandy pavement, bounced along dirt roads bordering deep precipices and Natasha did great throughout. What more could one ask? I mean, besides not losing one's camera of course.

My deep gratitude to Deana and Jay for the photos they shot throughout the day, I felt like I had my own camera support crew following me around!LINK