Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Help a fellow moto-blogger help others.....

Murph, who writes about his moto-journalistic travels onboard his trusty BMW 1150 GS motorcycle, is currently trying to raise money to help a worthy cause:  Team Red, White and Blue.

Murph, as some of you might recall, stayed with me a couple of days last year as he was riding from Steamboat Springs to Boulder, CO.    The posting about this is here:  Riding with Murph.  Murph also came out with me to play on last year's Elephant Ride and we all had a great time:  Uralist at the 2011 Elephant Ride.

Murph is truly a year-round rider and a man after my own heart when it comes to motorcycling and photography.  He leaves soon for Europe in continuation of his Ride-The-World plans, and I believe a sidecar rig is in the cards as he is tired of letting snow stop him at times.  :)

Please take a look at Murph's web posting on this worthy cause, the financing of which he is enabling through the sale of very cool looking stickers.  I've already ordered mine!

The cost is $10 or more if you can swing it, so come on, it's less than a tank of gas for your motorcycle these days and the cause is very worthy of your help.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The 2012 Elephant Ride is less than two weeks away.....

Do you ride in Winter when conditions are snowy?  Are you within striking distance of the town of Grant, CO?

If so, why not join me and whatever Uralisti I can convince, to try and see how far you can ride up Guanella Pass Road from Grant in this year's Elephant Ride?

More details on the ride here:  LINK

From my first Elephant Ride in 2010

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Service Note: Chain adjustment

This being a web log after all, this post is just to record a 3/4 turn chain tightening adjustment on the Krause 530 Chain on Yoshie.  This is the third adjustment I've done in over 6200 miles, so not bad.  Hopefully, this is it in terms of the stretch all motorcycle chains apparently go through before "settling in" for the duration.

Note: Last adjustment done after getting stuck in snow and thinking I'd "stressed" the chain a bit getting the rig unstuck.

Mileage on Yoshie, 35,735.  Chain initially installed at 29,486 miles.

The chain has lasted longer than the stock chain on Vikki did, so things are looking hopeful.

Any experienced chain-driven motorcycle riders out there looking at the video below, your feedback would be appreciated as to how the chain looks while in motion.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Squaw Pass Road in Winter

Sunday,  we woke to overcast and gloomy skies here in the Denver Metro Area, I decided to ride up to CO 103 or Squaw Pass Road in the hopes that the sun would clear out or break through the clouds at altitude.  You see, Squaw Pass is at 9847 feet altitude and the clouds over Denver seemed lower than that.

It was a mild 40°F and very windy as I transited the metro area via I-25 to the US6 super slab heading west.  I then took a short portion of C-470 south to the exit for the town of Morrison and the beginning of the Bear Creek Canyon Road. This is a very twisty road, with high rocky canyon walls and I motored through the small towns of Idledale, Kittredge and finally Evergreen with no incident and very little traffic.

The temperature had dropped by a few degrees now that I was past the foothills but it was still not bad at near freezing temperatures.  I continued heading west out of the town of Evergreen, riding on Upper Bear Creek rode past the McMansions bordering Bear Creek.  Soon enough, I'd twisted my way through that development and stopped Yoshie a little bit past the turnoff for Witter Gulch Road.

Near Upper Bear Creek Road
Windblown mountain peaks in the distance

The strong winds continued to howl down from the mountains, and you could see the snow being blown about on the distant mountain peaks.  This wind added that much more "effect" to the cold temperatures as I returned to Witter Gulch Road and started ascending on it towards CO103.  The road becomes a dirt trail but it was clear of ice and snow and I made good time on it till I reached Squaw Pass Road.

From there its about ten miles to Echo Lake and the entrance to the Mount Evans Road (which is closed for the season).  The road slowly became more and more ice and snow-covered as I gained altitude but nothing of concern for good old Yoshie, my sidecar rig.

The thermometer I'd mounted earlier in the month said I hit a low of 13°F as I got near Echo Lake and let me tell you, it felt like it!  I was regretting not wearing my thermal underwear but once I donned my snow helmet's breathing mask and my heavy gloves at a stop, it was all good.

 Views of the peaks near Mount Evans as I approached Echo Lake

This was the best view I got of Mount Evans today

I got to Echo Lake with no issues, just in time to watch a couple of out-of-town tourists from Illinois trying hard to set up a wind shelter out on the frozen lake.  Never mind the sign that said: "Keep off the Lake".  I watched them flounder in the high winds with some satisfaction and then I took a picture of the lake.

Echo Lake

It was close to 11:30 by this point so I started retracing my steps back towards Evergreen.  The sun had indeed broken free of the overcast skies as you saw in the pictures and temperatures soared into the low 20s!  After the hour or so I'd spent in the teens, it felt positively "balmy".

Here's a video to give you an idea of the road conditions on the higher portions of Squaw Pass Road.  There were spots were it was just dry pavement but it was not a good day for two-wheeled motorcycles on the mountain today.

I made it back to the turnoff for Witter Gulch Road after a brief detour to ride up and down Squaw Mountain Road.  It led to some telecom antenna farm facility which was a secured facility so I was not able to go all the way to the top.  The sign that said: "Patrolled by attack dogs" and no sign of fences kind of dissuades the curious from going much further, shall we say.

The rest of the ride home was pretty smooth and slightly monotonous as temperatures soared once again back into the mid-40s once I entered the metro area once again.  Not a very long ride but hopefully you'll like the photos and video I took.

Hope you got a ride in today.

Note: my previous post: My first work of fiction.  Give it a read if you've the time, let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A little mid-Winter fiction

The streets of Salzburg were quiet as the rider steered his motorcycle sidecar rig through the three inches of snow which had fallen in the early evening.  The frigid weather coupled with strong winds whipping down from the heights dominated by the Salzburg castle had driven all the regular pedestrians into the nearest inn or restaurant and the rider had the streets to himself.

The gas lit streetlights cast his helmeted visage briefly in a yellow ghostly light as he transited the intervening pools of darkness towards his destination.  The strong headlamps on his motorcycle appeared as glowing eyes of some mystical monster in the darkness and the rig's engine sound reverberated as a muted example of a dragon's rumblings on the walls of the old buildings in the town.

The rider's garb was all black with muted insignia on each shoulder, his only concession to being visible being the reflective striping on the outside legs of his riding pants and a narrow strip of the same material laid horizontally across his broad back.  His helmet also was black with a black visor which was down in spite of the limited visibility caused by the falling snow and the late hour.

Headed towards the town's landmark castle, the rider felt the repeated blows from strong winds descending from on high.  Each gust driving sharp icy particles into his outer riding gear, but not affecting him in terms of cold or impact.  He did note that the snow was building up on his jacket and riding pants and welcomed it for the upcoming task.  Every few hundred feet, he wiped his left hand across his helmet to wipe off the snow and ice which built up on his visor, threatening to blind him as he started riding up the narrow one lane road to the castle.

His motorcycle's narrow beams of light highlighted the ruts in the snowy road ahead, illuminating the tight switchbacks that allowed one to gain altitude and intimating as to deep dark heights should one miss
a turn this night.  The snow level appeared to lessen as he gained altitude, most likely due to the strong winds which continued to assault him now from all directions as his rig twisted this way and that to follow the narrow road.

The rider stopped his sidecar rig a few feet off the narrow road, in a thick copse of pine trees thickly laden with snow and shut off the engine.  As he listened to the sound of the engine's ticking as hot metal cooled; snowflakes started to cover the rig.  He looked ahead and saw the glow of the light from the small structure guarding the final approach to the castle, just around the next bend in the road.

He dragged his rig further into the copse of trees, positioning the rig so that he could just drive straight out upon his return.  A few more minutes passed as he watched the heavy snow fall almost completely cover his rig in white camouflage.  He listened to his breath within the warm helmet, his visor now cracked slightly to prevent being blinded by fog.

He used this time to remove the velcro-backed reflective strips from his riding gear, rendering him a black shape in the falling snow.

Shouldering a small pack he'd withdrawn from the sidecar's trunk, he walked swiftly but quietly along the bordering trees of the narrow road.  Soon he was within earshot of the lone sentry in the guard house.
He could see the man huddled over a tiny stove, holding his hands out for the meager warmth it offered, his attention solely on staying warm that cold and wind blown night.

The rider saw that the guardhouse watched over a closed wrought iron fence ten feet high and as wide as the narrow lane he'd been riding.  Thick rock walls, perhaps eight feet in height stretched out from the gate into the darkness and thick snow drifts topped and hugged the walls making them an even more challenging obstacle.

Beyond the gate, he could see the castle lay just a hundred meters ahead, floodlit with lights and the parking area in front of the castle choked with Mercedes Gelandewagens and Range Rovers, with a mix of more mundane 4x4 SUVs and Hummers filling up the available spaces.  There was music and laughter softly reaching the ears of the rider and he smiled, knowing his target was holding court in the castle.

After making his way past the guardhouse unseen, the rider positioned himself along the wall on the perhaps 100 feet from the guard house.  The rider removed from his pack the gear which would allow him to pass through the closed gate undetected by the sentry.  His target, he knew, was highly selective of whom he invited to his parties.

A few minutes work as he deployed the gear between a couple of pine trees and he set the timer.  Stealthily, he retraced his footsteps in the snow and he returned to his sidecar rig.  As he waited, he mounted his trusty sidecar rig, after engaging the headlight and driving light cutouts.  Now his rig idled strongly but quietly in the falling snow, a snow-covered mass in the dark night.

Though he was expecting it, the sudden show of lights and loud conversation noises bursting from the area near the sentry box took him by surprise.  It seemed like a whole host of people were walking along the bordering walls to the castle!  The rider heard the door to the guardhouse burst open, the sentry rushing out in response to the hue and cry of his planted device.  The rider knew the guard's eyes would be fixated by the many lights that now seemed to bob along the wall of the castle.

Trusting on the distraction provided, he gunned the engine of his rig, freeing it smoothly from the accumulated snow and he raced towards the gate.  He stopped at the gate and as he worked it open, he could see the flashlight beam of the sentry shining in the trees as the poor man sought the source of all the lights and sound.

Riding his rig through, the rider secured the gate once more, erasing any evidence another vehicle had driven through.

He slowly made his way closer to the castle, the flickering light from the flame-topped torches mounted along the wall the only illumination into the parking lot.  The windows of the castle spilled light into the night but failed to reflect onto him and give his presence away to anyone who might have been looking outside.

He briefly glimpsed elegantly dressed women and men thronging about, drinks in their hands as they moved about socializing with each other.

The rider parked his rig in a dark corner of the parking area, squeezing in between two dark SUVs, once again ensuring he'd be able to drive out quickly if need be.  The cold winds and snow stung briefly as he removed his protective riding gear and helmet revealing a man in a tuxedo.  His riding gear stashed away in the sidecar, now looking for all the world like a party-goer, he strode confidently up to the main door and let himself in quietly.

He was immediately bathed in the noise and light of a full-blown party.  The few people who glanced his way as he walked in noted a handsome man, fittingly dressed as they were, and they briefly wondered who he was as they became re-engaged in nearby conversation.

Brushing off the flakes of snow which had landed on his shoulders, the rider deftly lifted a glass of champagne off the tray of a passing white-coated waiter and slowly made his way to the center of the main hall.  His confident brown eyes scanned the room and its occupants.  He nodded as if in quiet acknowledgement when he met a man's eyes, his eyes lingering a bit longer on the curves and shapes of the women in the room as he passed them by.

The rider took care to not linger in one place too long, always moving, as if seeking some lost companion in the crowd.  The sea of tuxedos and low cut clinging dresses was like an obstacle course as he neared the large roaring fireplace where his target sat entertaining his guests.

The heat of the fire was like a blast from a furnace but it paled when compared to the obvious heat and energy projected by his target as he held enthralled the nearest of his guests in some intricately described tale of adventure and romance.  His target was a large man, with short white hair and the world-weary eyes of what the rider knew as a fellow motorcycle rider.

Above, the fireplace mantle, hung in the place of honor was an oil painting.  The rider recognized the fire red BMW K75 motorcycle pictured in the painting but was unable to fully count the number of scantily clad women pictured clustered about it before he stepped in front of the target.

The target looked upon the rider in surprise as he sensed his nearby presence.  His blue eyes widened in happy surprise and recognition as the rider thrust out his hand and said: "Mr Riepe I presume?"

Author's note: Just a little fictional frippery for those of you locked in PMS mode due to weather and road conditions.  Hope you liked it.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Snowy Sunday Riding

Our weather guessers predicted correctly that we'd get a couple of  inches of snow overnight.  I left the house shortly after 8:00AM, the sun bright in the sky already, and a brisk 15°F keeping the snow dry and crunchy underneath Yoshie's wheels.

I first wandered down towards Grandview High School hoping for a nice show of snow-laden trees but it was not to be today.  There was however a nicely lit gazebo amidst a few trees in a field near the roadside.

I next rode back up north towards Quincy Road and took it east towards the Aurora Reservoir and Aurora Park Horse Racing Track.  The place was deserted of course, it being a Sunday morning after all.  I was able to pose Yoshie with Mount Evans in the background:

The shooting angle kind of makes it like Yoshie is in the middle
of nowhere, doesn't it?

Heading southwards once again, I rode into the Antelope Neighborhood, got onto Ireland Way and this time continued onwards as the road became Travois Trail, leading to the Travois Neighborhood.  The road eventually dumps one onto Inspiration Drive.

I wandered south of this road along its dirt neighborhood roads, and came upon this nice view of a tree-framed snowy trail:

Piney Creek Road

As I was riding along, I spotted where someone had located an old fashioned horse drawn wagon, the sun was hitting it just right:

My camera's battery was nearing empty at this point so I made my way back to Inspiration Drive which I rode back towards County Line Road which I used to ride along the border trail belonging to the Blackstone Country Club.  I found the spot where I'd posed Stewie, my loving wife's scooter just shy of 24 hours ago and shot today's final shot:

Prairie near the Blackstone Country Club

The little amount of snow we got was already melting away on the main roads, I am pretty sure the roads will be dry by this afternoon.  I'd say we got just about the right amount of snow, wouldn't you?

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Exercising Stewie

Martha, does not seem to have caught the penchant to ride in the cold or iffy traction conditions that I tend to prefer riding in.  Go figure.

Alas, it's been a while since Stewart, or Stewie as she calls him, her 125cc Genuine Buddy scooter had gotten some exercise.  So after cleanup chores were done in the garage this morning, I took Stewie out for a ride in brisk low 30s temperature.  I did find its battery completely dead, apparently the key had been left in the "on" position.  This is actually something very easy to do, bad design on the part of Genuine's ignition keylock supplier in my opinion.  No problem though, I deployed the scoot's kick-starter and after a few kicks, was off and running.

I buzzed around the neighborhood roads, past the 1 mile mark where her high school is located where she works as the school nurse.  I continued northward on Picadilly, past the open fields and subsequent neighboring housing developments until I reached the Plains Conservation Center where I posed Stewie:

 There's predictions of snow for the metro area by tomorrow,
here you can see the incoming weather.

At the Plains Conservation Center

I then headed east towards Gun Club Road and took it past the Southlands Mall area to Smoky Hill Road which I took west towards the Blackstone Country Club area.  Stewie got a little taste of dirt trail riding as he somewhat bumpily (not much suspension on scooters) but we got to my usual picture taking spot with no issues.

Near the Blackstone Country Club

The incoming weather's clouds had by now completely obscured the view one can get of Mount Evans so I headed on home by back roads instead of Smoky Hill Road.  Even through the thick gloves I was wearing, I was starting to feel the cold in my fingers and so I only rode about 20 miles.

Still, that's about 10% of the total mileage on this scoot, so good exercise, and no need to put Stabil in the gas tank.  I'll just make it part of the monthly maintenance routine to ensure Stewie gets a few miles of riding in.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Brigitta's first ride of 2012 and a milestone for her.

Those of you who viewed my "year in pictures" movie in my last posting of the year might have gotten the impression I was riding my sidecar rig far more often than my '87 Beemer R80 Airhead Brigitta.  The mileage figures sure point to it but in my defense, I did ride her a lot while commuting to/from work!

Today, it was sunny and "warmish" here in Colorado and there was enough pavement visible on the road out of the neighborhood so I could take Brigitta out for a ride.  The idea was to get in at least 50 miles or more in order to warm up the transmission enough to "boil off" any water that might have collected in the gearbox due to condensation.

I set off from home and headed towards the towns of Elizabeth and Kiowa to re-acquaint myself with riding on two wheels.  It felt a bit strange yet good at first, having more acceleration and nimbleness than when on a sidecar rig!

The miles rolled by as Brigitta and I got used to each again, settling into a familiar and comfortable riding experience.

Near Elizabeth, CO, I brought Brigitta to a stop by the side of the 
road as her odometer roller over to 94,000 miles!
(I put about 43,000 of those miles myself)

Past Kiowa and its water tower, I turned off onto Freese Road, a county dirt road to do some exploring.  I would end up meandering hither and yon on diverse county roads which bordered what were mostly horse and cattle ranches.  I couldn't, go faster than 35mph, but it was fast enough to allow an enjoyable exploration of these county roads.

 Rode over a hill's crest and found a small herd of Buffalo just grazing
by the side of the road!

 They all kept a wary eye on me as I took photos but stayed 
basically within 25 feet of me the whole time.

 Above and below, some of the lonely prairie scenery one can
enjoy while riding the eastern plains of Colorado.

I finally meandered enough and found my way back to Kiowa by spotting it's water tower in the far distance and using it as a guide to get me back onto CO86.

I motored along at a much faster and easier rate now that I was back on pavement and was soon nearing my home neighborhoods.  It was then that I noticed my turn signals were not working anymore.  I pulled over at a housing development and found that not only were my turn signals out but so was my brake light!  Not good.

I checked the two fuses located on the frame to the rear of the gas tank and found one was blown.  No problem, I replaced it with a spare and continued onwards.

Less than a mile later while signaling left and making a turn, I noted I lost the turn signals again.  Dammit.

Again I pulled over, and again I put in a new fuse to replace the one that had blown.  This second fuse lasted me a bit longer but still it blew within blocks of home.  I noted it seemed to be related to me using the left turn signal.  I got her home without incident and some troubleshooting later, found a loose electrical coupler!

Its purpose is to link the wiring from the headlight bucket and turn signals to the main wiring harness of the Beemer.  It had probably vibrated loose in all the washboarded dirt roads I'd been riding on.  I secured it back into position, made sure I have all the lights I need to ride safely and buttoned her up.

Not bad for a first ride of the year wouldn't you say?  Some good picture opportunities, nice weather to ride in and just a little taste of electrical gremlins by Brigitta to remind me to ride her more often!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

First Ride of 2012

This morning I met up with fellow Uralisti John S. aka Spat who rode his immaculately white Ural Patrol and Julie and Craig H on their Winter Camo Arctic Patrol.  We had a leisurely breakfast at the Red Rock Grille in Morrison and caught up on things as it had been a while since we'd all ridden together.

After breakfast, we left the Morrison area and planned to ride to Sphinx Park and the Bucksnort Saloon area just to get in a short but quick first day of the year ride.  They all had social commitments this afternoon so we chose a nearby destination.

At the Red Rock Grille, getting ready to ride in the cold.
The temperature was around 32°F at this point.

We rode west out of Morrison along Bear Creek Canyon Road heading towards Evergreen.  The small towns of Idledale and Kittredge were transited with no issues and in very light traffic.  The sun was out and painting the rocky canyon walls along the way very nicely.

Once in Evergreen, we turned south along CO73 heading towards it's junction with US285 in Conifer.  After a brief stint on US285, we arrived at Pine Junction and from there took CO126 southwards towards Sphinx Park.

CO126 is a downward trending, twisty as heck road at times, two lane highway that lets one plunge down towards the South Platte River valley area.  It was quite enjoyable as traffic was pretty much non-existent and we could cruise at our pace without worrying about cagers piling up too much behind us.

From Sphinx Park, we took the South Elk Creek Rd which winds you through thick pine forests and eventually drops you off back at US285 somewhere east of Pine Junction.  It's a nice little twisty loop for those so inclined.

 Here's where we parted ways with Craig and Julie, they were going to
go home via Deer Creek Canyon road.

Now, even with all the gear on, don't they look like a happy couple?

Spat and I went our own way on US285 back towards Conifer and its junction with CO73.  We were retracing the route out as I'd seen a possible location for some photos.  I stopped at the Flying J Ranch Open Space Park and we got a few photos and the short movie.

 The road looks clear here but behind us were large patches of 
ice covering the road.

Close to the park's parking lot, the road was, as you can see, 
covered in hard-packed snow.

John and I parted ways at the intersection of CO73 and North Turkey Creek Road.  I continued wandering about at bit, eventually taking this last picture of  the day from a road called Skyline Drive.

That's Mount Evans in the distance

I got back to Evergreen and took CO74 back towards Kittredge.  It was there that I took the Parmalee Gulch Rd southwards once more.  This is another nice little twisty two lane road in the mountains which links CO74 with US285.

Once I was back on US285, I took it homewards.  First ride of the year is in the books so to speak, I hope you got a chance to ride today!