Thursday, June 30, 2011

Colorado Sunset

Short post, was out riding one evening around the neighborhood and saw we were going to get pretty nice sunset lighting.  I was out on Vikki, my Suzuki V-Strom Dauntless Sidecar Rig, and so here I give you Vikki and a very nice Colorado sunset.

 Goodbye Sun
and Hello Moon

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Maria, the R1150RT Beemer, has a new owner

Back at the end of April it seems, Phil B, who'd taken Maria in trade for Natasha back in September of 2009 had sold her to her new owner: Gates B, aka "Skeeter".

Here's a picture Phil took of Gates and the sparkling Maria, a 2004 R1150RT Beemer which I'd owned since 2006 and on which I rode a bit over 50,000 miles before trading her for the Ural.

Maria's new owner: Skeeter
Picking up Maria from Phil B.

Skeeter lives in or near Tulsa, OK and told me this about himself:

I have worked in the Aviation industry for 20+ years.  First as an engine mechanic in the US NAVY then with American Airlines; the past 11 years as a Program Manager; doing mods to AA’s fleet and most recently supporting the US fleet of F/A-18 aircraft.  The RT is my first bike in 15 years; my previous bike was a Yamaha 750 Maxim.  I have always wanted a BMW because of the reputation as a great road bike. Several friends years ago had BMW’s and I liked the looks. 

I am a season ticket holder with the KC Chiefs and make approx. 10 trips a year to see the Chiefs play.  This ride is 500 miles round trip from my home in Tulsa.   I will be riding to work as often as I can (13 miles) and look to do some short trips on the weekends to Arkansas for some mountain road trips.

Skeeter recently sent me an email letting me know that Maria is approaching the 70K miles mark and asking me what oil I'd been using on her for services.  Attached was an updated picture of himself with Maria.

Maria is looking quite good, don't you think?

Maria appears to be in fine fettle in the picture, so I know Skeeter is taking good care of her.  I've asked him to keep in touch and perhaps send a picture or two during his rides on her.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Riding on the Darkside

Amongst Beemer Airhead motorcycle owners,  going to "the dark side" is jokingly used as the Beemer rider who forsakes the Teutonic perfection that is the air-cooled boxer engine; and buys instead a BMW K motorcycle with it's "Flying Brick" engine mounted on its side.

Turns out, there's a different variation of moving over to the dark side.  In this case, its called riding on the darkside or putting a car tire on the back of a motorcycle!

Why do this you ask?  Well, there's several reasons apparently, but the main one I believe is for sidecar rig riders who are seeking more mileage out of their pusher tire.  A pusher tire, is the nickname for the rear tire on a motorcycle (tug) attached to a sidecar.

Due to the stresses involved with sidecaring, regular motorcycle tires don't last as long as when mounted on solo motorcycles or the regular two wheels.

Expensive as good motorcycle tires can be, this could get expensive in a hurry if one puts a lot of miles on one's sidecar rig.  As I intend to do this high mileage riding, I went over to the darkside today!

One problem is that regular motosport shops will not, for liability reasons, mount car tires onto motorcycle rims.  Damn lawyers and this litigious society of ours!

I had found one place who was willing to do it called Faster Motosports up near the intersection of US 85 and I-70.  However, I'd queried my fellow Uralisti and one of them, Craig H had volunteered his tire changer he'd bought from Harbor Freight.

Today, I rode Vikki, my V-Strom sidecar rig over to Craig's house and he taught me how easy it is to use his tire changer to do the deed.

 Using a jack to elevate the rear of the tug, then support it with bolted together 2x4 
blocks of wood

 Craig uses the bead breaker tool of the tire changer to break 
the tire bead free from the rim.  Easy Peasy.
Note: to protect the brake disc when we flipped the tire over to break the 
bead on the underside, a simple use of a roll of duct tape kept the disc off the floor.
We're calling it the Heitman Adapter in Craig's honor as he thought of it.

 Craig then carefully adjusted the three securing points that engage the 
wheel rim to hold the tire securely.  This took  the most time as he was very careful and methodical
in order to not scratch my rim.

 Once everything was locked in place, and the tire and rim was lubricated with some dish soap mixed 
with water, he used his "mojo bar" to lever the tire right 
off the rim!  It was so fast I didn't even have time to take a picture!  Wow.

 Here's the new tire, a General Exclaim 205/55R17 Car tire that I paid $68 for online, 
yes, half the price of a motorcycle tire!

 Here Craig does the initial engagement of the rim and new tire, prior to both of us 
then pushing the tire onto the rim using again his "mojo bar" and some downward pressure by me and him.
He also used a large clamp to anchor a portion of the tire so it would no slip out of the rim when we 
got close to getting the whole bead into position.

 It took a bit more effort to get the new tire on than it did to get the old tire off but 
here it is, ready to be inflated to seat the bead in place.

 Here's a view of the new tire, mounted in place, good amount of clearance all around

 Another view of the new tire, looks like it belongs there doesn't it?

A side-by-side comparison, the nearly worn out motorcycle tire to the
left of the new car tire.

As you can see, I was really close to the TWI or 
Tire Wear Indicator all motorcycle tires have to clue you to it 
being time to replace a tire.

There's videos on youtube that show how the Harbor Freight tire changer makes the work of changing tires pretty easy.  Here's one:  LINK, it's a three part series but well done in terms of illustrating how its done.  

I am going to be getting one of these manual tire changers, it'll pay for itself pretty quick I believe and I can, like Craig, be helpful to fellow riders when the need arises.  The hard part will be finding it I think as I could not find it anymore on Harbor Freight's web site.

Thanks very much Craig!  I owe you one, thanks for your time and instruction!

Update: 2JUL11, had a Kenda K671 Cruiser front tire (100/90R19) mounted onto front wheel on Vikki.  Old tires didn't make it to 7000 miles in terms of wear.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Updated: Hot weather riding tips and information

I first posted this back in April of 2009.  A recent posting on a blog I follow reminded me of it and  I figured it was a good time to republish it as a reminder and update it with stuff I've learned since then.

Here's some of things I consider, have learned, use or do when riding in hot weather.

Now, what's hot weather? Anytime, when ATGATT of course, that you're feeling hot enough to start sweating. That's my definition anyways. (All The Gear All The Time)

Courtesy of:

First off, ATGATT is not an optional thing for me. Sweating beats bleeding I've read, and I can confirm this is true through actual experience.

Vented gear is a must in hot weather, you have to let that heat your body's putting out escape somehow right? My riding jacket and pants are made of air mesh Kevlar, by Motorport, and they vent pretty good. If I choose to ride with just a t-shirt and shorts under my riding gear, it feels (while moving) like I'm just wearing the inner garments (mostly).  (Sitting at a light though, you'll start to sweat, you'll be glad for that sweat, once you get moving again.)  

One thing about the above concept of sweat cooling you off when you start moving....once air temperatures reach blood temperature, there's not much cooling effect at that point.  At that time of day, you may want to consider finding a cool shady place to wait out the heat for a bit, if you've the time of course.

Now, for the longer rides, it's best to wear something that covers your skin so that you don't lose too much water through evaporation as you sweat. Your vented gear allows the wind to cool you through drying of the sweat you are producing, however this means faster water loss too.

I wear, a long sleeved, tight fitting, exercise shirt. It's made of a special material that wicks moisture off your body and keeps you dry; I know it seems counter-intuitive to wear long sleeves under your gear but it does work! Especially if you wet down said long sleeve shirt before you put it on wet, it's rather nice and cooling on those really hot days that we get here in Colorado.

For short rides, like commutes, I don't do this though I have been known to wet down my regular cotton t-shirt before riding home in temperatures in the high 90s with the sun beating down on me.  Update: your mileage may vary but a soaked T-shirt will last you only about 30 minutes in really hot weather, then it's time to stop and soak it down again.

Get one of those neck bandannas that have water absorbing crystals in them, they swell up with water as you soak them before the ride. Wrap it around your neck, you've got major blood vessels going to/from your brain at your neck, it helps cool things down.

Get and carry a camelback-type water bag to wear on your back. I usually half-fill mine with ice and water before the longer rides, and those cooling sips I take while at stops or even while riding do make a difference! If you're doing it right, you'll run out of water in the camelback before your next gas stop, so I carry a gallon jug of water in my side case as well on the longer days of riding. Note: much cheaper to buy a gallon jug of drinking water at gas stations than the pricey "fancy" water bottles.  Update: Be wary of taking in ice cold water too fast, in my case, it causes an upset stomach.  Swish it about your mouth to bring up its temperature a bit before swallowing.

That same water jug is used to wet down the long sleeved shirt under my riding gear when it has become dry from the air passing through your vented gear.

When you go to the bathroom, if your piss comes out a deep yellow, you're not drinking enough. You should really have to go often if you're hydrating correctly. Dehydration is not something you can tough out, it will kill you if you try to gut it out. Headaches are an early sign, if you stop sweating in the heat, heat stroke is not far behind. Drink water, often!

Drink water, not beer or coffee, alcoholic drinks and caffeine are diuretics....meaning that they make you pee and thereby lose more water. I don't drink beer at all if I am riding so that's not an issue though I confess being addicted to my morning cups of coffee. Sodas don't count, water!

I've read somewhere where folks pour water into their helmets to soak into their helmet liner material. I've not tried it but it seems to make sense, just make sure you dry out your helmet at the end of the day, no sense getting mildew and such growing in your helmet!

Keep your skin covered, exposed skin will sunburn and lead to your sweat evaporating that much faster, causing faster water loss. Don't forget the back of your neck when applying suntan lotion.

Hot weather usually means lots of sun exposure, get some good sunglasses or a darkened visor for your helmet. It helps prevent headaches from your eyes being in the permanent squinting mode due to the brightness of your surroundings.

If your ride an air-cooled motorcycle, beware of your engine temperatures getting too high in prolonged stop and go traffic. Even oil-cooled motorcycles will overheat, especially the ones with fairings that tend to trap air in slow moving traffic. Brigitta, my 1987 R80 is air-cooled and gets pretty hot in heavy traffic. Maria, my 2004 R1150RT, though oil-cooled did once in a while get pretty close to overheating as well. Be prepared to pull over and let things cool down if you have to.  The jury is still out on my newest ride, the Suzuki V-Strom with it's large radiator and secondary oil cooler setup.

Hot weather on asphalt, causes said asphalt to become soft. If your motorcycle's parking spot is black asphalt or similar, make sure you've a wide footprint side stand base or you'll find your motorcycle on its side when the side stand digs into the asphalt in the heat and your poor motorcycle topples over! I carry a small plastic disk, about three inches in diameter, that I place under the base of the side stand. Worse comes to worse, find an old soda can, crush it down vertically and use that!

I carry a motorcycle cover which folds up pretty compactly on the days when I have to leave my motorcycle out in the hot sun.  It's large enough to cover the gas tank and most importantly, that black leather seat for when I return to the motorcycle, no sense sitting on a hot seat!

Courtesy of:

Beware "tar snakes", many states use asphalt-like material to fill in cracks on the pavement, these become quite slippery sometimes when its hot!

Courtesy of:

Carry drops for your eyes, they're going to dry out, especially in the drier climes.

That's all that comes to mind for now, please leave a comment if you've tips I've not mentioned.

Harry Martin's Site: LINK

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Father's Day ride through the Rocky Mountain National Park

I spent most of today, Father's Day, tooling about the big road loop comprised of Berthoud Pass, Winter Park, Grand Lake, Milner Pass, Trail Ridge Road within the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), Estes Park and back home to Denver via Lyons and Boulder.
I left a little bit after 8:30AM and by 11:30 I was paying the $10 fee at the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.  The weather was nice and warm down in the Denver Metro Area but it got a bit chilly as I made my way into the mountains, still it was not that bad at all.
I was riding Vikki, my 2004 Suzuki V-Strom motorcycle with Dauntless Sidecar Rig, and once again she proved more than capable of achieving and holding highway speeds on the I-70, US40 slabs with no issue and seemingly little effort.  This ride was also to introduce her to one of my favorite mountain roads.
 Enroute to the top of Berthoud Pass on US 40
Nice and sunny here

 The requisite sign of one's steed by the Pass Sign

 About 2 miles into the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP)

 Another peak view heading towards Milner Pass

 Closeup view of the Green Knoll, part of the Never Summer Mountains

 Parked at the Never Summer Mountains overlook

Video of the Never Summer Mountains

A video of the sign naming the mountain peaks 

 The requisite picture of the Milner Pass sign

Riding up to the top of Trail Ridge Road from Milner Pass

The view from Trail Ridge Road

The view of the peaks from Trail Ridge Road

Down in the main valley on eastern end of the park
watching the incoming weather clouds engulf the peaks

Heading towards the Beaver Meadows park entrance

264 miles worth of riding today, perhaps seven hours in the saddle not counting time stopped for pictures.  I saw sun, lots of cloud, overcast skies, rain and a little bit of sleet at altitude.  A great Father's Day ride!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Scooting Martha

Oh, what have I unleashed onto the unwary roads of my habitually quiet neighborhood?

Martha had sucessfully passed the BRC two weekends ago and today we went to a local scooter shop called Sportique which I'd heard good things about from a co-worker.

The Englewood location of Sportique Scooters

I must say, the sales guy at Sportique did a great job in making us and especially Martha feel welcome and did all he could to help Martha decide on a model and type of scooter.  Vespas were sat on but found too tall, Kymcos were glanced at but not "classic enough" in looks.  Then, there were the Genuine Buddy scooters.  Martha was drawn to them as a moth to a flame I tell you!

The seat height was better than the Honda Elite she'd tried yesterday and the features of the Buddy pretty much sold the scooter to her.  I appreciated the easy accessibility to service points, construction simplicity and features such as four way flashers and turn signal reminders you can actually hear with the engine on.

Here's more info on the 125cc model of the Buddy which Martha ended up buying:  LINK

Here's a pic of the specific model Martha bought:  Seafoam Blue is manufacturer color.  I prefer to refer to it as Infantry Blue, for light blue is the color of the Unites States Infantry.  Whoo Ahh.

OK, so even calling it Infantry Blue only adds so much macho factor eh?

The salesman, I forget his name to my shame, first got Martha to demo ride a 50cc Buddy, running over the controls with her and helping her get comfy with it.  Martha ran it up and down the alley behind the store, even went around the block with it.  No problem.

Next came the 125cc Mandarin Yellow Buddy.  I liked this color but Martha saw it as School Bus Yellow.  The sales guy spent a bit of time going over the facts that this model was quite more powerful than the 50cc Buddy, had disc brakes in the front and so on.

Off she goes!
"I know, not quite ATGATT"

Back from her test ride!

Once she got back from the demo rides, she looked at both the "school bus yellow" Buddy and the Seafoam, er I mean Infantry Blue Buddy and chose the blue one.  The name is yet undecided on, please feel free to provide input, but make it fast.  : )

As Martha has zero experience on city streets and such and is still working on gaining confidence and experience on same, I rode the scooter home for her while she took the cage.

I must say, I haven't had a "shit eating grin" on my face or laughed out loud in delight as I did when I took a short demo ride on one of the demo scooters while they were prepping her scooter and paperwork was being done.

These things are fun!  However, the size of the engine is a bit small when compared to my regular motorcycles, I guess I've become accustomed to the seemingly bountiful power available to me from either Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Airhead or the 2004 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom Sidecar, Vikki.

As I was headed homewards, I stopped at a light next to a Yamaha Vento.  Poor little thing must have been a 50cc engine because it could barely get out of its own way when the light turned green.  Martha's 125cc headed up into the hill with a bit of effort but managed to get up to 40mph which at the time was the speed limit.

Needless to say, top end speed is about 50-55mph on level ground but that's in excess of Martha's stated requirements.  The scooter's primary mission is to get her to and from the high school where she's a nurse, a total of about 1 mile each way, through neighborhood streets where the speed limit is 35 mph.  The Buddy can do quite well in those conditions.

After lunch, we got some pictures of Martha and her new scoot, plus a short video of her first ride out into the neighborhood.

 The Buddy in its new home

 A new scooterista!

We'll be getting her some better fitting riding gear of course, and no more capri pants!  : )

So, while that annoying whining noise one hears near Steve Williams' college town roads might be a phantom K75 rider appearing and disappearing seemingly at in my neighborhood, it'll be Scooting Martha!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spring on Coal Creek Canyon Road

The week after Memorial Day weekend, I rode from Thorton, Colorado, where I'd left my loving wife for her first day of training in the Basic Rider Course.  She was learning how to ride a scooter for the first time in her life and learn the basics of safe motorcycling.  Martha did great by the way:  LINK

These closely situated water towers caught my eye

As I took the picture of the water towers, I noticed also how the name of the street
could be made to sound like "uraling"

As the morning was classroom training and they don't want spouses "hanging out" making the students more nervous than they already are, I went riding.

It was a cool clear morning and as I headed west of 104th Avenue I caught a great view of the Flat Irons rock formations off in the distance in the direction of Boulder, CO.

 Boulder's Flat Irons are visible in the distance with snow-capped mountains further out

I continued heading west and was soon cruising into the foothills on Coal Creek Canyon Road, the air was cool, the curves were tight and Vikki, my V-Strom Sidecar Rig was performing marvelously.  I was soon transiting through the small town of Wondervu, and this is the view one sees shortly after leaving town heading into the mountains.

 The view from just outside the aptly named town of WonderVu

Coal Creek Canyon Road links the Denver Metro Area with the small towns of WonderVu and Pine Cliffe, junctioning with the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway or CO 72.  There were several other motorcycle riders out enjoying the views and curves of this road.

 Some nicely twisting roads between WonderVu and Pine Cliffe

 The Spring Melt/Runoff is in full force, that was some fast moving water on Coal Creek

From the junction of Coal Creek Canyon Rd and CO72, I turned south for a few miles to not only get the shot below of the mountain lake at the Gilpin County border but also check out the sights along the road to Rollins Pass aka the Moffat Road which leads to the eastern end of the Moffat Railroad Tunnel.

 Mountain lake at the Gilpin County Border on CO 72

 The views of the mountains along Moffat Road

Eastern end of the Moffat Tunnel

The road conditions were packed dirt with some really rocky portions thrown in for one's enjoyment.  The spring melt here had formed some puddles here and there on the low spots on the road which made for some fun "crossings".

Soon after I got to the tunnel entrance above, I received a text msg from my loving wife.  We were to meet at 10:30 AM at the motorcycle dealership near the BRC training range.  I retraced my route back up to Coal Creek Canyon Road and about 40 minutes later was back in the city of Thornton.

Nice short little ride, and quite within easy range of Denver as you can see.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Natasha's new home, both online and in the real world

I think a bit over a week ago, Mash, the "adventurous soul" who bought Natasha the Ural Sportsman Sidecar Rig from me, took receipt of her via the services of

Here's the posting I did when I last saw Natasha, as she was packed up to to Michigan by way of Wisconsin.

I got an email from Mash a few days ago with some pictures of Natasha as he took receipt of her in Traverse City, Michigan.  Apparently, its out in the country a ways as he had to wait a couple of weeks at least for them to have a truck bound in his direction!

A seemingly much smaller version of the motorcycle hauler truck that picked her up

I wonder how long it took them to figure out how to put her in neutral and back into gear

 Mash lives in an apartment complex it seems, so this appears to be Natasha's new parking spot

She looks like she fared the travel to Michigan just fine, and I am happy to report that Mash has set up a blog to record his adventures and experiences with Tasha, as he's referring to her.

Here's a link to Mash's blog:, he'll be tearing into the final drive soon and hopefully it won't take much to repair it.  I look forward to seeing his and Tasha's future rides.