Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fall Colors on Boreas Pass - 2012

As it appears that Yoshie, my 2006 Suzuki V-Strom Dauntless Sidecar Rig is to be with me for a while, I decided it was her turn for a ride into the mountins to see the fall colors on Boreas Pass.

I'd forgotten how fast the DL1000's engine pulls the rig along on the super slabs, I was passing cars, using the far left lane, holding an indicated 75mph with ease while going up the inclined portions of the I-70 Super Slab, fun stuff.

I fueled up at Idaho Springs and shortly afterwards around the 90 minute mark from leaving home, I was crossing the Continental Divide by way of the Eisenhower Tunnel.  The weather was nice and cool, almost cold.  There were points were I turned on the heated grips on the low setting, just saying.

I arrived at the exit for Frisco and Breckenridge with no issues and transited Frisco south and cruised the nine miles to the ski town of Breckenridge before I knew it.  A slow ride though this tourist town and soon enough I saw the sign advertising Boreas Pass and I turned left to begin the scenic portion of the ride.

I say scenic but truly the town of Breckenridge was  beautifully festooned with its own fall coloring, and with the sun shining brightly upon the town as I was there, it was quite the leaf peeper's delight right there!

 There was a small park on the edge of Breckrenridge on Boreas Pass Road with
the above and below snow-clearing trains engines on display.

The wonderfully illuminated fall colors started almost immediately on Boreas Pass Road, and I had to stop often to take pictures.  Pretty soon, it became a rocky dirt road but nothing of much consequence, especially when you're on three wheels!

The road was not as full of cagers as was Guanella Pass Road last weekend, but the cagers there were seemed to be frantically racing down the narrow dirt roads, racing from leaf peeping spot to leaf peeping spot.  Some, apparently oblivious to the beauty around them were just racing along....probably for a late brunch in Breckenridge.  Slow down people, there's other folks on the road, and we're actually there to enjoy the scenery!

 At the start of Boreas Pass Road.
I think that's Goose Pasture Tarn Lake below.

 You can see the bare ski runs of the Breckenridge Ski Resort
in the distance behind Yoshie

 Nice vistas of far off peaks along Boreas Pass Road

 I loved the way the sun would "illuminate" the fall leaves
making them seem to glow in the sunlight

 Yep, we already have a dusting of snow in the higher mountain peaks.

 Above and below, approaching Mount Silverheels

The rest of the ride on Boreas Pass Road was under increasingly overcast skies and this made the fall coloring seemingly dull and lifeless to me as I motored past.  

A view of  briefly sunlit aspen trees, as they cascaded downhill towards the valley
as Boreas Pass Road descended down towards Como.

The rest of Boreas Road was mainly pine forest with the occasional burst of yellow leaves in their midst.  The road turned quite narrow and steep and I would soon find myself in the valley where the town of Como, Colorado is located.

 Como, Colorado, the southern end of Boreas Pass Road
 Fall Colors near the entrance of Baron Ranch, this is along US285
east of Grant, CO

I cruised, easily keeping up with traffic and at times powering past the slower stuff.  Near the Fitzimmons Middle School area, there was some annual biker rally I think in support of Cancer Research as I saw a lot of pink balloons and ribbons on the side of the road.  There were already hundreds of motorcycles in the school parking lot and I lost count of the motorcycles of all makes and models which were still streaming in from the east.

I was in Conifer, CO soon enough and I detoured onto Pleasant Park Road instead of continuing of US285 and it's steep twists and turns into the Denver Metro Area.  Pleasant Park Road is twisty enough for me and there was a lot less traffic on it as well.

One last shot of Fall Colors along Pleasant Park Road

Pleasant Park Road took me to High Grade Road and soon enough Yoshie and I were motoring our way along Deer Creek Canyon Road and back into the "civilized" portions of the Denver Metro Area.  Yoshie's powerful 1000cc's sped us along with seemingly little effort and we were home by 2:30PM.  It really cuts down on travel time on the slabs, when you can maintain over 75mph (indicated) when you want to!

I was cheered by the sight of the slight dusting of snow on the distant mountain peaks, can't wait for more snow to make its way to our mountains here in the great state of Colorado.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Moonlit Ride

Just a short ride on Yoshie, my 2006 Suzuki V-Strom DL1000 Sidecar Rig, whom the motorcycling gods have apparently decided is to stay with me for the foreseeable future.

Went for a ride on her today and felt a bit of pull towards the right, indicating perhaps not enough "toe-in" by the sidecar.

Some adjustments later, and after a nap, went out for moonlit ride in the neighborhood near the local high school:

Yeah, that's the moon, all "bloomed" due to the exposure settings.  Still, I liked the way the photo turned out after some manipulation of pixels.  Hope you like it too.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Uraling in the Third Annual Small Bike Ride

Today I had the pleasure of meeting and riding with several small engined vintage motorcycle enthusiasts under the auspices of the Third Annual Small Bike Ride. The first two rides, mind you, were low key rides, but #3 proved a very successful event!

Todd Wallis was the main organizer, Tim was the road captain leading the way into the nearby canyons and hills and the rest of us enjoyed a beautiful day of riding, meeting fellow riders and at least in my case learning a lot about small engined vintage motorcycles.

For instance, I didn't know there'd been a time when Sears imported Puch Austrian Motorcycles and placed the Sears logo on the tank! 

Or, I had no idea that at one time, Harley Davidson had owned 51% of the Italian motorcycle firm Aero Macchi and had imported in the '60s a 350cc Thumper version which it branded with the HD Logo and called the Sprint.

I arrived a bit before 9:00AM to find two riders there already ahead of me. Both were named Mike and one Mike rode a veteran 1955 Triumph 650 Thunderbird and the other Mike had ridden in from Larkspur on his 1981 Honda GB500 which was in pristine shape.

More riders arrived in their vintage motorcycles, see the link to the photos at the end of the article...I'll not be posting them in the slideshow feature as you have to see the photos in their uncompressed size to appreciate their beauty fully.

Of note, was Crazy Cal's home-built sidecar rig using a 2004 Triumph Motorcycle (which he races after disconnecting the sidecar). His rig is a leaner sidecar so he can take the curves like a normal motorcycle but with the stability of a sidecar. It was rather strange watching that sidecar wheel lean as the tug leaned.

A rather pleasant surprise for me, was the appearance of a 1944 German Army Sidecar Rig, it's owner: Hartwig H had been a 12 year old boy when he came upon the abandoned rig hidden under a haystack by retreating forces near Bitburg, Germany. No one came to claim the rig after a year so Hartwig rescued it, pushing it home and he's owned it since then. Quite the story that came with that rig eh? I hope to get Hartwig to join the Uralisti sidecar rides in the near future.

The route took us riders up through Deer Creek Canyon, to Turkey Creek Canyon, up into the Conifer area via twisty, curvy and climbing narrow paved roads which were a delight to ride on.

I managed to convince Crazy Cal and his ten year old daughter Emily to have Emily ride in my sidecar as the monkey. She quite enjoyed it as previously she'd rode pillion on her dad's rig.

Tim, the ride captain lead us surely and steadily to Conifer for a gas fill up, then led us down Foxton Road down towards the South Platte River Road area which was quite beautiful with fall colors mixed in with views of swiftly running river water. We then followed him onto CO 126 northwards ending up in Pine Junction for a quick rest break and gather up stragglers.

We then took back roads to eventually end up crossing over US285 and taking the immediate turn onto South Elk Creek Road which took us back southwards in the direction of Sphinx Park. I'd ridden this road before but hadn't remembered it so narrow and twisty and full of blind curves and gorgeous Fall Colors, it was, in my opinion, the best part of the ride.

We gathered once more in Sphinx Park, near the Bucksnort Saloon, and soon were riding once again back onto CO126 which we turned south on back towards the South Platte River area. This road is nice and curvy as well, with some really tight turns to delight those on two wheels and give those on three wheels a chance to really "hang a cheek" to tackle said curves.

It was while we were riding back along the South Platte River towards Foxton that we came upon Jerry P. and his very nice BSA 442 Victor Special. Luckily, the mechanical issue he was experiencing was simply running out of gas. The chase truck with Todd Wallis' wife provide the needed gas and he was back on the road.

Back up Foxton Road, we climbed our way up smoothly curving pavement and returned once again to the town of Conifer where lunch would be centered around the Subway store in a strip mall near the gas station where we'd earlier done refueling operations.

Lunch over, which involved more tire kicking, swapping of stories and picture taking....found the majority of the group heading out over Pleasant Park Road and then onto High Grade Road which eventually would dump them back onto Deer Creek Canyon Road and our start point.

However, there would be one more unplanned stop on High Grade Roads narrow and curving roadsides. Mike, from Golden, had a bracket break on his left muffler and it came off! Somehow in the process, his drive chain had come off as well! We stopped to lend a hand and soon he was back on the road, though sans his muffler which now rode in my sidecar with Emily.

We all gathered back at the start point, had a highly suitable cup of celebratory refreshment provided by Todd and Tim (nice touch, guys!) and from there goodbyes were said, Mike departed with his muffler in his backpack, others stowed their bikes onto trailers, and most others rode off towards their respective homes.

Great ride, no injuries, no major mechanicals and all riders accounted for! Kudos go to Todd and Tim and the ladies in the chase vehicle of course!

LINK to all the pictures taken that day:  LINK

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Leaf Peeping via Motorcycle

The Fall Colors are in full bloom in the mountains and forests to the west of the Denver Metro Area.  This Sunday I left early to beat the traffic that would surely swarm the mountain roads, with cars full of folks trying to see the bright yellows of Aspen and other deciduous trees as the weather turns cooler.

I rode into the Foothills via Deer Creek Canyon and from there into Turkey Creek Canyon, eventually twisting and turning my way upwards towards the town of Conifer where I fueled up again.
Next was a ride down towards the South Platte River area via Foxton Road.

I made several stops as I spotted a clump or group of brightly yellow trees from the road.  The contrast between their yellow leaves shining in the sun, and the dark green pine trees in the background were sometimes quite stunning.

A short run along the South Platte River Road towards Foxton, led me past a sunlit Cathedral Spires mountain and onto CO126.  I headed north on CO126 until I got to the small town of Pine Junction and I turned off its main street and up the mile towards Sphinx Park's several rock domes.

I took Elk Creek Road out of Sphinx Park and enjoyed its many tight turns and curves, finally arriving at the town of Pine.  I got onto US285 Southbound at this point and thought to include the fall colors on Guanella Pass since I wasn't too far away at this point.

Apparently, this idea occurred to a whole lot of other folks.  I'd never seen Guanella Pass Road, out of Grant, so full of cars and SUVs, all trying to get to the trees where colors had turned.

Still, traffic aside, the weather was pretty good all day, the crowds at the top of Guanella Pass were bearable and you could see that folks were trying to squeeze on more nice weekend in the mountains in before Fall really sets in.

 Along Foxton Road

 Scraggly Peak

 Cathedral Spires 

 Along the South Platte River Road

 Fall Colors along Guanella Pass Road

 Summit of Guanella Pass, Sawtooth Mtn in background

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Valencia has New Shoes

Last weekend's riding got all three tires on my Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig, Valencia, to the point where they were pretty useless on loose/wet/muddy terrain though OK on pavement.  It was time to replace them and I'd ordered three DURO 307 4.00 x 19 6 Ply Tires before I'd ridden down to Sipapu, NM.

Today I spent most of the day remembering how to use the Harbor Freight Tire Changer and how not to damage aka pinch or puncture the inner tube while swapping out the tires themselves.

It's been a while since I'd done tire replacements, especially of tires which require inner tubes like the ones on my Ural.  That first tire cost me a lot more time than I had figured on, and caused a trip to the motorcycle store for two more new inner tubes and a patching kit.  I would end up using both the new inner tubes as I managed to pinch not only my original spare inner tube, but two others......sigh.

 The main reason I swapped tires today, I didn't have a working spare tire due to 
the nail I picked up what was then the pusher tire.

I found a second nail later, in the sidecar tire, but it had gone inside the
tire, without puncturing things!  

 The old front tire, it had developed cupping issues....weird

 This was the second pusher tire, which had been carried as the spare, 
and got used once again as pusher tire.

The original sidecar tire.  Got over 12,800 Km from both the front
and sidecar tires, which is not bad for motorcycle tires and my 
penchant for rocky trails.

A picture of Valencia, glistening in the mid-morning sun, 
before I started replacing tires.

The first tire, now the spare tire, which I tried to swap the destroyed
inner tube out of, pinched the first attempt, suceeded with the second.

The trick to it all, was stuff I knew from before but failed to remember or execute properly:

1.  Use baby powder as lubricant on the inner tube when installing.  I didn't have any but Craig H. suggested using corn starch when I called him up for advice.  This is truly a major factor, don't neglect it!

2.  Lay your new tires out in the sun so they get nice and hot and soft so they spoon on easier with tire irons.

3.  Use the Mojo Lever for removing the old tire and putting on the first bead of the replacement tire, after that, I had to switch to regular tire irons and careful spooning of the second bead of the replacement tire.  Both my sons helped me by holding the "anchoring" tire iron while I worked the rest of the bead onto the wheel.

Once the technique became familiar again and practiced, things got faster, the last tire of four I swapped only took like 15 minutes!

So, due to the time it took and the pinched inner tubes, doing my own tires this time didn't quite save me any money.  Oh well.  Sitting here feeling the muscle aches and soreness, there's still that feeling of satisfaction of doing my own maintenance on my rig.

Here's some pictures of the new tires, just got back from a test drive after I put dynabeads on all three tires, everything felt nice and tires fell off or went flat, so that's a plus.

Note: tires swapped at 12,805 Km.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Sipapu Weekend

In all, just a bit over 700 miles of riding total, but it would end up seeming like a much longer trip.

The "Land of Enchantment" BMW Riders Club was hosting their annual rally in the New Mexico Ski Resort: Sipapu.  It's quite the regional event and several fellow Uralisti had gone to previous years' events and had a good time.  This was my year to join them, and I and a fellow uralista, Dan K would be riding our respective Ural Rigs there.

I left after work on Thursday, September 6 and elected to ride down the I-25 slab from Colorado Springs.  I had taken CO83 from the house to the Springs but after that time dictated the use of the highway.  The traffic was light once I cleared the Springs so it was no big deal to cruise along at 60 MPH on a highway with a posted limit of 75 MPH in areas.

The setting sun highlighted the mountain near which the town of Trinidad, CO
is located.  Trinidad is also known as the sex change capital of the US, but I was
only passing through on my way to Raton, New Mexico.

I crossed Raton Pass, the border into New Mexico in the dark after sunset, so didn't stop for pictures of the big yellow signs welcoming folks into the "Land of Enchantment".

Raton, which stands for Large Rat in Spanish, is a small waystation of a town located just south of the border with Colorado on I-25.  It must have been in between tourist event seasons as every single motel/hotel that I cruised by had empty parking lots for the most part.  Lots of businesses with that "closed for business" shuttered look, and not too many folks walking about in the evening.  

I eventually found my motel, the Colt Motel and checked into my room.  It was and old motel from the 1950s and which dated, was clean and cheap.  A neat feature I'd not seen elsewhere in my travels, is the provision for a covered parking space for one's vehicle next to one's room!

Valencia's resting place on Thursday night, my room
is just to the left where you see the window.  

Friday, I worked in the room till the checkout time of 11:00AM and then displaced to the small front porch located next to the registration office of the motel so I could remain connected to the Internet via WIFI.  

I worked the insanely boring, soul-crushing, and unrewarding IT job that is mine.  To paraphrase Willie Nelson: "Momma, don't let your babies grow up to be network engineers...." till 1:37PM and finally cut myself off from the inanity of it all.

I was soon tearing down, well moseying down, NM State Highway 64 heading south and west towards Taos, New Mexico.  The Sipapu Ski Resort is located about 20 miles SE of Taos so it's a nice big waypoint to shoot for when you don't know the roads.

I got rained on sporadically on the way down, it felt good though it did slow me down a bit while transiting the Cimarron Canyon area.  Nice twisty roads through there by the way, with thick forest almost to the edge of the road hiding who knows how many deer and critters.  Lots of roadkill on the roads so just keep your eyes open.,

 I arrived at Palo Flechado Pass after a very nicely curving and twisting 
road up.  The way down was somewhat interesting as well as the
rain started to come down in earnest after the above picture was taken.

The Palisades, in Cimarron Canyon.

I got to Taos without incident and the weather cleared up a bit while I was in town.  I switched to the phone's GPS which got me without fuss to the rally site.  It was early evening by then and there was no mistaking the site as it had many motorcycles, mostly BMWs, parked in the parking lots.  Lots of folks walking about in brightly colored riding gear, vendors hawking their farkles and a bunch of folks staring at me wondering what that bright orange colored sidecar rig was doing there.

I messaged my fellow Uralisti and they happily arrived to guide me to the camping spot already picked out by Dan K.  There followed, after setting up my tent, happy reunions with fellow Uralisti, a light dinner of great green chili and much catching up with friends and meeting of new friends and acquaintances.  We would all retired around 9:30 or so as everyone had ridden there from other places.  

 Nice Looking Airhead

 The only other GS Sidecar Rig, with a Hannigan Sidecar,
besides Dana's that showed up at the Rally I think.

 We met fellow Uralisti Cary and Dan from Espagnola, NM
Check out their 70th Anniversary M70 Rig.

 Dana and Cookie admire a nicely restored Slash2 Beemer
I think Dana was pointing out the sidecar mounting points that
these motorcycles came with by default.

A Lovely Vincent

Dan K and I spotted the arrival of a dark green Ural Patrol and accosted the driver and monkey before they even had a chance to take their riding gear off!  They were Richard and Cindy from Grand Junction and had just finished a nine hour ride from there.

That night, I would discover the cheap sleeping bad I'd bought on the way down (forgot to pack my good Army sleeping bag) had the flimsiest of zippers.  It would make for a restless night of very little sleep.


We woke to a "briskly" cool air temperatures, my restless night led to me being up at the crack of 05:30 and I used the quiet time to wander about the resort and trying to connect to the Internet to no avail.  Cell coverage was non-existent as well and it would not be fixed until Saturday afternoon apparently.  

As the other riders stirred and woke, we all met to eat breakfast at the resort's restaurant.  A hearty breakfast out of the way, we wandered about chatting with people, admiring motorcycles until 10:30 when Dan K, Dick Paschen and I departed for a loop ride that would encompass Mora, Angelfire, Red  River and back to Taos to look at the "Gorge".

Dick Paschen is the fellow who hosts an airhead tech day every year at his home in the Denver Tech Center and he wason his trusty '72 airhead with a toaster tank while Dan K and I rode our Ural rigs.  The ride started in cold overhead skies, rode though fog and clouds on NM434's twisting narrow road and would end in sunshine back at the resort.  Good Ride.

 Above: after our ride "through the clouds"
The thick fog would slow us down a bit as visibility was barely 
50 feet at points.

Near Mora, NM, I think, Dick patiently waiting for both Dan K
and I to get our picture fixes.

Some of the highlights of the ride, NM434's narrow and twisty curves, heavily forested masking oncoming traffic and making things interesting as the road is narrow and there's no center line marking.  Sharp curves with decreasing radius make things interesting as well.

Lunch in Eagle Nest at the Calamity Jane restaurant was a chance for us to refuel and talk about our times in Germany while we were in the service.

 Views of the Gorge, from the bridge, it's a rather striking scene when one
first comes upon it while riding on the bridge.

The city of Taos lies between it and the cloud-capped mountains in the distance

Back at the Ski Resort, dinner was a tasty steak fajita with trimmings and conversations about the day's riding.  Several hours of beer, story telling and now working cellphone access led to us all going to bed around 9:30PM, to the sounds of the music band still playing strong.

Dinner on Saturday, al fresco....


Again, I was up before dawn after another night of somewhat better sleep.  Folks began packing up their camping gear and lashing them onto their respective motorcycles.  Dan K and I had planned for a 08:00 departure as we had about nine hours of riding ahead of us at Ural Speed.

A group photo before we departed.  The GS's on the left belong to
John and Cookie with the GS rig belonging to Dana.  Dan K is to my left and Richard
and Cindy from Grand Junction are near Valencia's front wheel.
Dana and Rich are to my right.

The group photo above would be the last time that Sunday that things went accordingly to plan.  As Dan K and I rode north towards Fort Garland, CO, he pulled over by the side of the road after a couple of miles of me watching him taking constant looks down at his rig's engine.

His rig was bogging down on the upper end of the torque range for third gear and was barely making 30 MPH when going up inclines.  The usual suspects were looked at, air filter, spark plugs, carbs and such but no to avail.  We must have been there about two maybe three hours troubleshooting, had many BMW riders ride by and not stop, a couple did, to include famed Matt Parkhouse who tried to help.

We finally gave up and continued motoring onwards as we had miles to go and a max speed of maybe 45 mph achievable in the straightaways.  I stayed with Dan K as I wanted to make sure he got home.  We stayed on back roads all the way to the Denver Metro area.

We did some more troubleshooting in the small town of San Luis, CO, still no luck.  A dirt road that led us to Westcliffe, CO caused some more delay when the pusher tire on Valencia managed to find a nail on the road which led to a flat tire.  I almost went off the side of the road when that happened, quite interesting how rig fishtailed as I was moving at about 30 MPH on very loose gravelly dirt at the time.

Replacing the tire with the spare took about 40 minutes which we really didn't have.  The rest of the ride was a haze of slow uphill climbs, lines of cagers piling up behind us on two lane roads until we could find a spot to pull over and then things got interesting after we reached Woodland Park, CO.

You see, it was night time then, and we were riding on CO67 towards Deckers, CO in pitch darkness, in highly forested areas, with Dan K's rig's in front with his GearUP's spotlight angled towards the thick forest to the right of the road.  We didn't spot any deer, that I recall, until we we took the dirt road bypass from CO67 towards Sprucewood.  

This portion of CO67 was a series of steep hills, loose gravel and dust, lots and lots of dust.  Picture driving in a fog of dust, fighting to keep your rig in control when going through heavily washboarded sections that bounced it around, and looking for deer at the same time.  Dan did managed to spot and slow for about 3-4 large deer which darted across the trail.

Finally back on pavement at Sprucewood, it just more motoring through twisty and hilly canyon roads, in pitch darkness with only the lights from our rigs to show the way.  We made it to the town of Sedalia, CO where we then got onto northbound US85 aka the Santa FeTrail.  Dan's rig seemed to be running a little better so we parted ways near the junction of US85 and C470 slab.

I motored home and received a call near 11:00PM from Dan announcing his safe arrival to his house in Gilpin County, near Blackhawk, CO in the mountains.  The rig is sitll having issues, and he's going to trailer it to the dealer in Fort Collins this coming weekend for repairs.  For me, it was almost 14 hours in the saddle at less than normal Ural Speed, add another 90 minutes at least for Dan K on an ailing rig and you can see it was a long Sunday of riding for both of us.

So that was the Sipapu Weekend.  High points and low points, still overall a pretty good weekend.  Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig did very well, and now she's due for some maintenance as she's reached over the 12,500 KM mark.  She'll also be getting three new tires for the coming fall/winter riding.

Update: Monday, 10SEP12, a picture of my air filter after having been behind Dan K's rig through two dusty trails.