Saturday, April 30, 2011

Busy last couple of days here in Colorado

Lots of things going on  to do and blog about, here's but a short summary of forthcoming articles.

First, on Thursday, my new Dauntless sidecar arrived at Noon and I got my first look at what I would be mating onto Vikki, the DL1000 V-Strom.  The assembly process, it's particular travails and triumphs will be detailed in a latter post, but here's a peek at the sidecar when it arrived:

She arrived on Thursday and tonight, she was assembled enough for a test, what a difference from Natasha, my Ural sidecar rig!  More to follow, but here's the first picture of her out on the driveway, courtesy of Ken, my house guest and candidate Iron Butt rider.

Ken, from Beaumont, TX, arrived early this morning, after achieving the 1000 mile in 24 hours Iron Butt challenge.  He did it in 18 hours or so, and rode through high winds, fire detours, freezing cold and arrived safely at my house shortly after 7AM, tired but safe:

Sun blasted shot I know, but both of us were pretty loopy at this point in the morning.  
Ken from having been up almost 22hours and ridden over 1000 miles; me from cat napping on the couch all night, awaiting his arrival.

Ken's "Katana Bandit" motorcycle joined my stable of three motorcycles, and there was room for everyone in this particular stable:

Today, I rode with Ken over to a local motorcycle accessories shop to get a new tire mounted for Ken's Bandit as the thread on the rear was wearing thing with all the miles he'd been racking up.  Ken showed me how easy it is to remove/install the rear wheel:

That's it for now, more as I've time to write it all up.  Riding on two wheels for Gary France's ABCD shot tomorrow along with introducing the Cache La Poudre Canyon road to Ken.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Uraling to Kiowa

A windy and overcast day, mostly, for us here in the Denver Metro area.  Once chores were done and things were quiet at the house, I went out riding on Natasha, my Ural Sidecar Rig as she's not been ridden in over a week!

I motored east out of the suburbs bordered by the Southlands Mall, soon making my way down the dirt road bordering the Blackstone Country Club and Golf Course.

Today I was going to shoot pictures not only with my Panasonic Lumix Camera but also with the built-in 5 Megapixel camera in my company-issued Droid Smartphone.  I wanted to see/compare the qualities involved.


Panasonic Lumix


 Panasonic Lumix

I left this area and motored in a southeasterly direction, tracking on dirt county roads and just letting my mind wander and my eyes gaze at the absolute lack of people.  Just the occasional ranch house, some horses grazing in the fields and the ever present gusty winds.

I found pavement again, after several county roads, and headed East on CO86.  I spotted what appeared to be a used car dealership on the right as I rode, and with Gary France's recent posting in mind, my eyes zeroed in on what appeared to be a Pierce Arrow!

First though, I had to head into the town of Kiowa to refuel.  That task accomplished, I continued East just a bit more to pose Natasha near the town's water tower.

No Droid Camera version here, Natasha appeared to be a dark blob in the pictures I took using the phone.

Now heading back West, I transited back through the small town of Kiowa, under the watchful eyes of the local police car.  You have to make sure you obey the speed limits in these small towns, unless you want to make an offering to the town coffers through a "performance award".

So, about halfway between Kiowa and the town of Elizabeth.  There is located a small establishment called A1 Specialty Sales.  It was this row of cars along the side of CO86 that had first attracted my eye and with the owner's permission, I posed Natasha along the front car row.

From this point on, the pictures were all taken by the Droid Camera except where noted.  My Lumix camera battery indicator was flashing red at me and I saved its remaining charge for just a few photos.

 This fire truck was actually not part of the first row but I thought it interesting enough to pose
Natasha by it.  It's a 1971 Ward La France Fireball.

 Not a bad looking color for this old time Chevy, no info on the site about it, sorry.

 I'd never heard of a Kelmark GT Kit Car, it's a 1978 and apparently quite sporty

 I remember as a kid, watching Herbie win races on the Sunday night showings of the Disney Show
This one is a 1971 Super Beetle.

 According to their website, this is a 1936 Chevy Two Door Coupe Street Rod.
I liked its curving fenders.

Now we come to the car which had drawn my eye, it's headlights seemingly sprouting out of the front fenders, much like the Pierce Arrow that Gary France admired so much in his posting.

1988 Tiffany, hand-built by Classic Motor Carriages of Miami, FL
Apparently a replica of similar cars built back in 1941. 
These first two pictures were taken using the Droid Camera, I would end up tilting back
up the right side fog lamp for the Lumix Camera's turn 

 Here's the Panasonic Lumix's rendition of the Tiffany motorcar

The sellers claims its one of only 600 made!  Who's got a spare $29,500?  Gary?

Not quite up to the standards set by the Pierce Arrow of course, but still quite the entrance once would make into the Country Club with something like this eh?

I returned home via the usual county roads, the sun had come out by then and it felt almost warm as I enjoyed the wooded and rolling hills scenery.  Natasha got a small workout, about three hours of riding with perhaps 50 miles covered.  I hope you liked the pictures, what did you think of the Droid vs the Panasonic?

I don't think I'll be using the Droid as the main camera any time soon, but it came in handy today when I set off without a fully charged digital camera!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vikki's sidecar ships soon....

I got a call from the folks at Dauntless Motors in Enumclaw, WA from which I'd ordered an M72D sidecar and mounting hardware for Vikki, my '04 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom.

The sidecar is all ready and being crated today for shipment possibly tomorrow, definitely by Monday!  Figure four business days shipping, and it should be on my driveway by Friday of next week at the latest!

I asked the lady who gave me the news for pictures of the sidecar before it got crated up, and while the quality is a bit lacking, you get the idea.

Here's better pictures of Robert K's rig which he bought from dauntless and attached to his V-Strom.  Note, he's added lights to the front which mine won't have and the sidecar is not sporting the windshield pictured above.

 I don't think I'll be mounting side cases onto Vikki like Robert K. did with his V-Strom but you never know!

Robert K had posted these pics on and in email exchanges with him, helped lead me to the purchasing decision to go with Dauntless and their sidecar rig option.  His rig will hold 70+ mph all day long with no issues though apparently sixth gear or overdrive is too tall, though he said he doesn't miss it.

I think his rig is very smart looking and look forward to doing the same for Vikki.  Suzuki dependability, able to hold my own at highway speeds, this rig will really expand my ability to take a passenger along or lots of cargo in comfort.

I can't wait!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Meeting fellow Airheads at a Denver Tech Day

airhead:  An air-cooled BMW Motorcycle with the Boxer Engine.

Airhead: A rider of reliable and simple to operate and service BMW airhead motorcycles.

Today, Dick Paschen, a member of the Airheads Motorcycle Club, graciously hosted a Tech Day at his home in Centennial, CO.  Together with his fellow Airhead friends Nick and Don, they were there to help any and all fellow airhead rider who showed up to bring their machines up to snuff in general maintenance/service tasks such as carburetor tuning and synchronizing; bleeding of brakes, oil changes, adjusting brakes, and pretty much any of the tasks that most folks can do if they can handle a wrench and can tell right from left.

By the time I arrived, the tech day was in full swing and there were at least 15-20 fellow riders in Dick's driveway either being coached or looking on as fellow riders were shown how to adjust and work on their individual motorcycles.

I was very impressed at the expertise and patience displayed by Don, Dick and Nick as they each showed us how to do oil changes, valve clearance checks and adjustments, carburetor maintenance, throttle cable adjustment and synchronization.  Dick had even whipped up two batches of delicious chili, hot and not so hot, to keep us sustained as we tried and glean knowledge from them.  Knowledge which was freely imparted, with a good sense of humor and obvious expertise.

 Don W, a retired Railroad Signals worker/manager, shows a new airhead owner how simple it is to change out the fluids on the new-to-him R100 RT.

 Above and below, Nick, showed us the proper way to adjust the throttle cables on the carburetors and made it seem quite easy to synchronize the throttle cables with the use of a Twinmax.  Nick lives in Cedar Edge, near Grand Junction, CO on the western part of the state.  Lucky guy, he regularly rides the San Juan Skyway and its beautiful road and scenery.

 Don, demonstrates an easy way to keep the final drive fluid from dripping on one's rear wheel while draining the final drive.

 Here's Matt Parkhouse, the Colorado Air Marshall for the Airheads Motorcycle Club, checking over a very clean looking airhead GS.  I was in lust of that GS.

 Here's Matt Parkhouse again, overseeing an Airhead's adjustment of his carburetor fuel idle mixture screw.  Matt is one of the recognized "Gurus" in the Airhead world and we were fortunate to have him come by and impart his knowledge.

 Here's Dick, in the yellow t-shirt, our host, expounding I am sure enthusiastically on some technical point.  Now is that a wild paint job on that GS or what?

 Nick and a fellow Airhead discuss some feature on Nick's very clean and well-fitted out RT

As you can see, they had quite a good turnout today.  I'd say at one point we must have had 25-30 fellow riders looking on and learning.

 Brigitta, who needed nothing done, just sat and waited for me next to the '88 GS that showed up

 Identified by Dick as his latest midlife crisis, an Italian Cinquecento or 500 car.  Voted, Dick made sure to tell us, the year's sexiest car by TopGear!  He's an Air Force vet and had acquired the 500 while stationed in Aviano, Italy.  Dick's car brought back some fun memories for me of seeing these cars in the streets of Italy when I myself was stationed in Vicenza, Italy.

 Matt Parkhouse works on an airhead which arrived with the issue of losing power when warmed up.  A quick diagnosis and examination, some adjustments by Matt and the owner Mike P took her for an extended test ride.  He came back a happy camper, issue resolved!

 One of the basic tasks of airhead maintenance, the checking/adjustment of the valve clearances is demonstrated by our host, Dick.

 As the afternoon wound down, there was time to just shoot the breeze amongst the riders gathered for this Tech Day.  From left to right, Don, Nick, Matt, Dick and Dale from Boulder.  Dale was another rider who came in with a rough-running airhead and left with a big smile on his face and a smooth-running airhead.

 A very tough looking and capable GS (mostly) showed up in the late afternoon.  It was a very serious off-road motorcycle!  The owner had ridden in the annual Big Dog Ride that is done is some of the really serious mountain trails and passes here in Colorado.  The owner told me he'd bought the motorcycle from Greg Frazier who hosts the Big Dog Ride.  A better provenance for an off-road motorcycle, I can't imagine.

 Showing that the marque has some torch carriers in the making, this young man showed up in the afternoon and was helped by Nick to diagnose a brake issue related to the brake master cylinder.

Here's our host, Dick Paschen, flanked by his buddies Don on the left and Nick on the right.
A very helpful, knowledgeable and friendly trio of experience airhead riders that I was fortunate to meet and get to know today.  Now I know who to go to when I need help with Brigitta!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

LINK: ABCD, will you participate?

On Gary France's blog: USA Tour on a Harley-Davidson, he's posted what should be a grand "virtual" event amongst moto-bloggers:

From Gary:

ABCD - Will You Take Part?

Maybe you would like to join in with this.....

A Bloggers Centerline Day, or ABCD, will take place on Sunday 1st May 2011.

The plan is to inspire as many bloggers as possible to go outside and take a photograph of themselves on this day, wherever they are in the world. The photo can be creative, arty, contain more than one person, be in any type of location and can contain anything else you like. It must however contain the centerline of a road and at least part of you, the blogger.

There are 5 rules....

Rule 1 - the picture must be taken on 1st May 2011.

Rule 2 - the picture must be of yourself, and you must be a person that publishes a blog. You can include whatever else you like in the picture, including other people if you wish.

Rule 3 - the picture must include the centerline of a road.

Rule 4 – you should publish the picture on your blog on 1st May 2011, along with a few words about the picture and why you chose that location or pose.

Rule 5 - when you have posted the picture on your own blog, put a comment on and include in that comment the address of your own blog post containing your own picture.

Gary France will then pick his favourite photos and publish these as being the winners. There will be a prize of $100 awarded to the overall single winner, as chosen by Gary.

In order to get this event known as widely as possible, please copy and paste this posting onto your own blog, including the title. Please do that today!

As a reminder to yourself to take the photo and post it, put an entry into your diary for 1st May 2011.

Let’s see if we can get as any people to join in as possible.
I've made myself a note on my calendar to participate with my own entry, not for the prize but for the experience.  I encourage you to send in your own entry as well, let's see what we can come up with!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A Windy Day on Pikes Peak, with a slight detour to the Garden of the Gods

We woke to clear blue skies and a forecasted high temperature of 82°F, so I thought I'd check with the Pikes Peak folks and their recording as to road conditions to the top of "America's Mountain".   The recording was from Friday but it reported the road was clear all the 19 miles to the top of the mountain!

Right after breakfast, I geared up and rode out shortly after 08:30 AM on Vikki, the 2004 DL1000 V-Strom.  Since she's built for the highway, I took the I-25 Super Slab and was at the toll gate of the Pikes Peak Highway at about 9:45 AM,  only to be told by the Ranger that the road was closed at the 15 mile marker due to dangerously high winds.

I was a bit disappointed but after checking in with my loving wife, I headed at her suggestion over to The Garden of the Gods park for pictures.  I spent about an hour there or so and got some pictures:

 Balancing Rock

 Wandering about The Garden of The Gods

 Pikes Peak from The Garden of the Gods

Panoramic view

 Stopping for some interesting rock formation on Rampart Range Road

Vikki waits for me by the road

I was heading back North on Rampart Range Road out of The Garden of the Gods park when I thought to stop and check again with the Pikes Peak ranger station as to whether or not the winds were still shutting things down at the top.

To my delight, the road was open all the way to the top again!  I turned myself around, and motored back over to the tollbooth where the nice ranger took my money and said: "Be careful, it's still pretty windy above the timberline".  A master of understatement, she was.

Crystal Reservoir along the Pikes Peak Highway

Right around mile marker 13, I was above 12,000 feet and above the timberline.  Then, the mountain decided to get my attention by sending wind gusts, strong and steady at first, becoming frighteningly powerful as I climbed higher and higher.

It could have been because I was on a mountainside two lane road, with sheer rock walls on one side and precipitous drops on the other, but I swear those winds were stronger than anything I'd ever experienced before.

I was having trouble finding safe spots to park Vikki where she would face into the wind if possible so the wind would not push her down on her side!  Every time I stopped to take pictures, I'd have to take several of the same shot as the wind kept pushing me around, making it hard to hold the camera steady.

 I chose this wind-blown spot to put on more layers, took me over ten minutes, fighting the winds and holding on to the extra warming layers!  

 A view of the mountainside, the road curving away...seems peaceful doesn't it?

The winds would abate as I was shielded by parts of the mountain, then roar back onto Vikke and  me full force when we left the protection of  the shielding rock walls.  It was really "interesting" when trying to negotiate a tight hairpin turn, maintain speed and upright position and be hit by massively strong headwinds which rocked me from side to side.  I am not ashamed to admit, I thought about turning around a few times, but each time there was no safe spot to turn around....and so I forged ahead.

I kept my speeds at less than 20mph all the rest of the way up, trading speed for traction area as I tried to keep from being blown out of my lane and into rock walls or worse, the edge of the precipice.  Luckily, traffic was very light and I was able to use both lanes when needed and when I could see far ahead of me.

Finally, with the wind never letting up for very long, I made it to the top of the mountain parking lot and dismounted Vikki.  I was exhausted from dealing with the wind and walked around a bit to relax a bit.

 Vikki at the top of Pikes Peak

 The view from the top of Pikes Peak, I chose to not get too close to the edge

The Cog Train was operating today, here you go Jack.

Walking around at over 14,000 feet lead to some light-headedness and hard breathing.  I slowly walked back to Vikki and slowly made my way out of the parking lot to make my way down the mountain.

I remembered thinking, as I fought my way down the mountain, once again at the mercy of strong wind gusts at the exposed spots; that there seemed to be no traffic heading up the mountain.  Didn't give it much thought though as I was trying to keep the motorcycle on the road.

I stopped at the usual spots for pictures, making sure Vikki was securely parked before venturing around her for these following shots:

 Vikki, parked near the "Bottomless Pit"

Panoramic view of the "Bottomless Pit" area

 Some of the curves of the Pikes Peak Highway

The Rock Pile

As I again approached mile marker 13, by the lodge/gift shop located there, I saw as I descended a ranger standing by some traffic cones, blocking the way up to the top.  He flagged me down and asked me if I'd made it all the way to the top.  I told him yes but that I would not try that again anytime soon; he smiled and said they had been stopping traffic from going up as I was coming down!  Again, it was too windy to allow even four wheeled traffic from going up.

I think the concern is tourists getting out of said cars, getting too close to the edge of the mountain, and getting blown off.  A very real possibility I am here to confirm.

Once below the timberline, the winds died down considerably and I was feeling much less "stressed" by the now seemingly comfortable winds that blew through the pine trees.

 An interesting sign just a few feet from Mile Marker 3

Bigfoot?  Really?

I cruised all the way back to the small group of buildings by the junction of the Pikes Peak Highway and US24, got the standard "Pikes Peak of Bust" shot.

I made my way down towards Manitou Springs and elected to transit their main street to get a shot of a thing or two I'd spotted on the way up.  There were bikers everywhere, made me wonder if the town is a popular hangout for said bikers.  Or, it could have been the first really warm day of Spring, bringing out the folks who choose to not ride during Colorado's Winter.

The bears were a part of a large row of wooden carvings along Manitou Spring's main drag, thought you'd like how they looked.

I rode US24 back towards I-25 North and then branched off at the Interquest Parkway onto CO83, making my way back towards Franktown.  The winds on the way back were strong but not bad, well, till I got near the junction of CO11 and CO83 and points North!  Then, they were back in full strength, forcing me to lean Vikki over in order to just go straight.  Still, no precipices on either side, I was good to go.

Note to self:  If the Pikes Peak rangers shut down the road for wind, try riding to the top on another day, not during a lull between wind closures!