Friday, November 30, 2012

Planes at Lowry and Train History in Strasburg, CO

I found myself with time on my hands today as I had gone over the authorized 40 hours of billable time on my present contract.  What to do, what to do?

As you probably guessed, I went riding.  Another beautifully sunny day here in Colorado and I decided it was Yoshie's turn for some exercise.  Yoshie, is my 2006 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom/Dauntless Sidecar Rig aka "Hirohito's Revenge", a name given to her by Mr Jack Riepe of Twisted Roads fame.

The original thought in my brain was to cruise over to Harbor Freight to peruse their tools and gadgets but upon nearing the destination, Yoshie spoke to me and we continued past this purveyor of cheap tools and equipment and continued on towards the old site of Lowry Air Force Base.

I cruised about the gentrified and still new looking housing and apartment complexes that have sprung up in the land once used by the air force and also the old Denver airport.  It's quite nice actually, they've done a nice job of spiffing up the place.

Located in one of the two large remaining aircraft hangars left over from the air force days, is the Wings over the Rockies Aircraft Museum.  This museum is quite well stocked with vintage aircraft displays and a great way to spend a few hours when in Denver.  I'd visited this museum before with my sons, and today it was just a brief stop for some pictures of the B-52 Stratofortress Bomber located outside the museum's main entrance.

 Yoshie looks quite diminutive next to this huge aircraft

I wandered the area around the two hangars, one being the part of the museum as I'd mentioned before and the other now converted to commercial storage facilities.  Located next to the air museum though, were three glider trailers, one of which was uncovered to reveal this glider in "travel mode".

Pretty cool way to take one's glider "on the road" don't you think?

Next, Yoshie continued speaking to me, urging me slightly west of Lowry where we'd seen the golden dome of the Greek Orthodox Church on previous transits of the area near the intersection of Alameda and Leetsdale.  

 Greek Orthodox Church Dome

After the church, Yoshie decided we should head east now towards the small town of Strasburg, CO.  It's located near the I-70 Super Slab east of the Denver Metro Area.  Yoshie and I avoided the super slab by using CO36 which parallels the slab beginning just east of the E-470/I-70 junction.

The objective at Strasburg was to located and photograph the memorial marker where according to the Comanche Crossing Historical Society and Museum:

On August 15, 1870, the last 10¼ miles of track were laid by two crews, one working from the east and one from the west in a record-breaking nine hours.

Fifteen months earlier, the golden spike ceremony had been held in Utah, to note the joining by rail of the eastern United States with the west. But the tracks joined at Promontory Summit connected only Omaha and Sacramento in a continuous chain. 

With the completion of the rails at Strasburg it became possible, at last, to board a train in New York and travel all the way to San Francisco by rail.

So there, in spite of what you were told from the history books, the real joining of the country by a continuous railroad line was at a barely marked point in the little town of Strasburg, Colorado!

I first stopped at the museum on the west side of Strasburg, thinking the marker would be there, given its historical significance.  Nope, but there were several displays of old railroad equipment and such to be had even though the museum buildings themselves were closed.  Turns out the museum is only open July through August.

Ye Olde train station in Strasburg, located on the site
of the museum complex of buildings.

You'd think the above sign would be next to the marker 
wouldn't you?  Nope, it was further east.

After wandering through town a bit, I finally stumbled onto a street called Railroad Street.  "I bet..." said Yoshie: "that the marker is somewhere around here".  Dutifully, I turned her onto railroad street.  We first spotted this abandoned rail car on a side rail spur:

The railcar has seen better days, signs of vandalism were evident.

Continuing west on Railroad Street, past what looked like an old maintenance yard for the U&P and some old stores and a motel, Yoshie and I happened on Lyons Park and found the marker! 

At Lyons Park in Strasburg, CO

Quite the unremarkable marker don't you think?  I guess its an indicator of how the more publicized and reported event at Promontory Summit in Utah overshadowed the event that is part of Strasburg's history.

Riding once again past the U&P Railroad Maintenance Yard, Yoshie had me stop for a picture of this old train equipment towing engine:

Being in an old train maintenance yard, I assume it's something used to pull
railroad equipment.  For all I know though, it's just an old tractor.

I left quaint old Strasburg and its train history behind me as Yoshie led the way home via county roads both paved and unpaved.  There were times she was "feeling her oats" as we motored smoothly along dirt roads at higher speeds than what I am used to on the Ural, leaving a big plume of dust in our wake.

Got home shortly before the rest of the family came home from school.  A good day of mild wandering, with Yoshie speaking to me as we went.  In case you're wondering about all this conversations I was having with my sidecar rig, check out Jack Riepe's new book: "Conversations with a Motorcycle", you'll then understand.  

I was fortunate to get an early review copy of this book, my review is here: LINK

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meandering along the South Platte River Road

Another boringly beautiful day here in Colorado, sunny and not very cold with temperatures reaching the low 60s by the end of today's riding.  I started off from the house with temperatures in the high 40s but with the sun out, it was barely noticeable, the cold.

No destination really in mind, I wandered westward using County Line road until I got near the Chatham Reservoir.  I did briefly detour off County Line Rd to pose Valencia by the entrance to the Denver Temple of the Church of Latter Day Saints.

I cruised south on US85, turned westward once again on Titan Road and soon reached the vicinity of the Lockheed Martin Deer Creek Facility where I think they assemble rockets for satellite launches.

Soon enough, after a bit of wandering near the facility, I turned to Deer Creek Canyon Road to take me towards the foothills.

 Some of the sights and curves one can enjoy while riding along
Deer Creek Canyon.

Once I reached the end of Deer Creek Canyon road, I headed south on South Turkey Creek road enjoying the empty road and quiet morning.  On a whim I turned off on a side road which eventually wound its way around and dumped me onto Pleasant Park road.  I took this road to Conifer and transited US285 very briefly to get onto Foxton road to head south towards the South Platte River area.

Foxton Road was pretty empty as well.  It was me and a few horses grazing in the nearby fields as Valencia motored on, steadily descending towards the South Platte River area.

Once I reached the river area, I followed the morning sunlight west at first.  On another whim, I turned off onto a local resorts entrance road and followed a small shelf road which paralleled the river, but affording one a view of about 50 feet higher:

The view from a small shelf road

The shelf road didn't last long and soon I was on the main road which runs by the South Platte river, heading towards the small settlement of Foxton.  I stopped short of Foxton to take the below shot of Cathedral Spires:

Cathedral Spires

I turned around at this point and started heading back the way I'd come, this time heading towards the Deckers area along the river road.  The traffic was heavier than I like it on this narrow dirt road with plenty of blind curves.  There were several cagers barreling along, raising up huge amounts of dust and completely missing out on the scenery.  More than a few had freshly cut Christmas Trees lashed onto the roof or in the cargo area.

The river's water level was a bit low but water still flowed nicely as I rode slowly along, enjoying the sound of the water rushing by each time I stopped to take a picture.  The fly fishermen were out in small numbers, trying to snag the trout that are rumored to inhabit the river.  They too seemed quite at peace with nature, as I was, while they cast their fishing lines in hopes of a strike.

A few minutes later, I arrived at what I call the boulder field on South Platte River road.  Whatever I am riding each time I get to this spot gets posed by the big rocks one finds here, sitting in the middle of the calm river waters.

I continued along the dirt road till it became pavement and soon I was turning onto West Pine Creek Road for about five miles of rocky/dusty steep inclines and then just dusty dirt road riding until once reaches pavement once again in the small settlement around the Sprucewood Inn.

I spotted a couple of riders on board their BMW GS bikes but they soon left me behind as they and I motored towards Sedalia on CO67.  This is road is nicely paved with a very nice set of curves and hilly descents as one nears Jarre Canyon.  The road transiting the canyon itself can be quite twisty if you're going a bit too fast, mind the gravel and sand on the road!

I took CO67 all the way to Sedalia where I refueled again and from there it was boring riding through Castle Rock, the Crowfoot Parkway and soon reached Parker Road and the town of Parker itself.  I got home around 2:30 PM or so, so not a very long ride today.

I see where Chris of everyday riding has managed to get a couple of inches of snow in his town, I'm hoping some of the white stuff will make its way to the Colorado area soon.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Track N Go for Trucks.....

Now this is a clever concept for allowing pickup trucks and such to negotiate deep snow with ease and elan.

I hope the concept catches on, then perhaps they'll make one for motorcycle wheels such as my Ural sidecar rig.  (Not that we have ANY snow right now).

Apparently slotted for 2013, here's the company's website:  LINK

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ural's Yamal - Limited Edition Sidecar Rig

Apparently every year, recently anyways, Ural has been producing a Limited Edition model as a marketing device of sorts.  At least, I think that's the purpose.

For 2012, they've come out with the Yamal.  The theme is based on a nuclear powered Russian Icebreaker Ship called the Yamal and styling cues and themes have been taken from it:

source: URAL
The Icebreaker Ship: Yamal

Today, via the Irbitz Informer, Ural showed the first official pictures of the Limited Edition Yamal.  The Uralisti community had been slightly abuzz about this upcoming revelation and reaction is still flowing in on the SovietSteeds online forum.  The reaction is "mixed" at best.

The 2013 Yamal
More pictures of the Yamal here: LINK

I do like the flat orange paint and the blacking out of the chrome parts that are on my 2011 Patrol: Valencia. The coating of the underside of the sidecar is a great idea as well.  The one thing though that I am not liking, is the sticker with the "teeth".  I'd been hoping for something more shark-like:

Source: Internet, I believe from a Polish Sidecaring Club

Following the theme of the icebreaker, the Yamal comes with a wooden oar.  Yep, an oar.  It's Russian humor I am told.  It does come inscribed with some humorous instructions though:

So there it is, only 50 Yamal Rigs will be produced and you can have your own for about $14,250+.  Those wily Russians, what will they think of next?  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Riding home with our Far-Ranging Uralista

John Sharp, a member of our loosely knit group of sidecar riders (majority of which are proud Ural Riders), is home from a journey of over 19,000 miles and six months on the road with his 2007 Ural Patrol.

10 Ural Sidecar Rigs met up in Hudson, CO and joined up with John as he prepared to ride the last 30 miles or so to his home in Arvada, CO.

The word had gone out this past week, and Uralisti from all over the Denver Metro area and parts beyond  made plans to be there to welcome John home and ride with him the last few miles to his house and family.  The meeting point was a Loves Truck Stop in Hudson, CO.  We all gathered together in the Carl Jr's restaurant at the truck stop and chatted with John.

 Clockwise from left, Tammy, Jay, John Sharp, Randy, John, 
Nick, Roy, Tim and yours truly.

Soon it was time to pile outside to our gathered rigs and prepare for the journey to John's home.  Here's some pictures of quite the unique Ural Sidecar Rig.  It's Tammy's.  She and Randy own and run Unique Rides in Fort Collins, the sole Ural dealer in Colorado.  The rig is hand painted, a 2008 Tourist with not only a unique paint job but also it's outfitted with a 2WD Final Drive!

 Tammy and her Rig

 Here's the man of the hour's rig, loaded for travel and decorated
with stickers and signs detailing some of his travels.

 The Uralisti pose with John and his Rig.  Mike H, who came to meet John
on his BMW R1150RT, volunteered as photographer so I could
be in the shots.  Thanks very much Mike!

From left to right: Myself, Randy, Darrell, Tammy, Nick, Roy, John Sharp,
John, Jay and Tim.

It was a short but very windy ride down I-76 from Hudson, onto US270 to US36 and exiting at Sheridan Boulevard and shortly after that into John's neighborhood in Arvada.  I can tell you that Linda, his lovely wife was quite taken aback at the sight of ten Ural Sidecar Rigs crowding her driveway when she came out her door!
Danielle, John and Linda

 The Russian Rigs invade the Sharp's driveway.

 A view of John's other motorized pride and joy, a 1950 Indian Motorcycle

The view of John's rig most people saw before they passed him on the highway.

We all chatted for a bit with John and his family, but soon it was time to leave the Sharp's home and be off on our separate ways.  My thanks to my fellow Uralisti for coming out on their Sunday afternoon and helping to welcome home one of our own.  We're all looking forward to the stories to be told from John and the pictures from his travel.

Welcome home John!  Glad you're home safe.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Carb Sync Tech Day

No, not trying to synchronize the carbohydrate intake in my diet, Martha feeds me just fine, thanks.

Today I hosted a Carburetor Synchronization Tech Day for my fellow Uralisti in the Denver Metro Area.  Scheduling conflicts however resulted in only two of them showing up: Darrell S on his wife's '07 Patrol and Tim L on his Patrol Sidecar Rig.

Before we got down to business, Tim and I kibitzed and "assisted" Darrell as he used my Harbor Freight tire changer to change out the tire on his spare wheel.  The weather today was in the low 60s and sunny and we all remarked that we should have been out riding instead of doing a tech day!  The tire swap went with no issues in spite of our kibitzing.

 Darrell puts a bit of air into the inner tube so it has somewhat of a 
shape before he uses the mojo lever to mount the tire.

Tire mounted and seated on the beads, its now time to insert the
ceramic beads that will balance the tire without the use of wheel weights.

Tire swap done, Tim took off on his rig to warm the engine up to operating temperatures.  He was soon back and we tried the spark plug shorting method of synchronizing his carburetors.  His carburetors were actually pretty close already and all it took was a slight turn on his right side carb idle screw and they were in sync!

A view of Tim's rig's left jug, with the shorting stick attached.

The shorting plug method involves the metal stick you place between the spark plug and the spark plug connector.  You lay your insulated screwdriver, carefully making sure you only contact the stick and the jug with the metal portion of the screwdriver, and note your tachometer reading.  If you're shorting the left jug, you're reading the performance of the right jug and vice versa.  You keep doing this back and forth till the tach readings are the same on both side and your idle tach reading is where you want it.  I like mine at 900 rpm.

Once you got the idle speed sync dialed in.  You do same procedure but while holding the throttle open as steady as possible at 2000 rpm.  You don't want any change in between the carbs, they should be rock steady.

We didn't get to do this bit with the shorting sticks as we were getting arcing from the left side spark plug for some reason.  We tried some insulating electrical tape to no avail.

So we switched to Darrell's Harmonizer which use readings of the vacuum being pulled by each carburetor.  It showed Tim's idle sync darn near perfect so it matched what the shorting plug results had been, which validated in my mind the method I'd been using.  We went to 2000 rpm's and the digital indicator on the harmonizer was steady in the middle, just like you want it.

The LED displays tachometer-like rpm readings based on the vacuum, and 
a bar with digital number readouts tell you how far off you are from 0 or dead center.

Next it was Darrell's and my turn at the synchronization operation.  We both took off, leaving Tim watching things and when we returned we hooked up the harmonizer to Darrell's Patrol  We found his idle a bit low so he adjusted for that and he did adjustments to the idle screws till the harmonizer indicated 1 off from 0....good enough!  You're apparently allowed up to +/- 25 from center and still be in sync.

Revving up to 2000 though, we found the right side carb pulling too much vaccum as the bar went too far to the right on the LED.  We tried going counterclockwise on the adjusting screw on the cable but that proved to be the wrong direction.  Reversing the turns plus one bit more got us back to center at 2000 rpms and Darrell was happy.

Next it was Valencia's turn, we found the idle at +13, still within spec mind you but about a quarter turn on the right side idle screw brought things to the center.  At the 2000 rpm check, no adjustments needed, she was rock solid in the middle.  Good to go.

It was past 4:00 at this point so tools were put away, stuff secured and goodbyes said.  A good tech day, that harmonizer device is the cat's meow!  I like the spark plug shorting method but it does require the presence of a tachometer as my ears are not "trained" to use just them to judge the sync of the carbs.  The Harmonizer removes the guess work and I think is better than a Twinmax as I've found the bouncing needle to move too much.

 Check out the big lights on Tim's rig!
I think he's smiling as he poses by his rig before departing.

A happy Darrell and his stepson Nikari who played video games
with my sons while we wrenched in the garage.  The rig above is his
wife Piper's rig.  Both rigs are green.  His and Her Rigs!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Far-Ranging Uralista is coming home to Colorado

John Sharp, a member of a loosely knit group of sidecar riders here in Colorado is coming home


I'd written about his bucket list ride to Alaska on his 2007 Ural Sidecar Rig which started in June. He accomplished this ride with no major issue, continued on to California, then across the USA to Florida and from there to the Northeast of the country and into Canada!

John Sharp's Route, start and end point are in Colorado
Now he's coming home after over six months on the road, his Ural sidecar rig still going strong and providing him miles of smiles.

Other area Uralisti, aka Ural Sidecar Riders and I are planning on meeting up with John at a gas stop in Hudson, Colorado this coming Sunday, the 18th of November to ride with him the final miles to his home in Arvada, CO.
I'd posted about John's Alaska trip before, here's the links:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day 2012

A briskly cold day here in the Denver Metro Area, we awoke to about an inch or so of snow in my neighborhood and temperatures in the low 20's.

It's Veteran's Day and once again I rode to Fort Logan National Cemetery located near junction of US-285 and Sheridan Boulevard to pay my respects.

The roads were icy in spots, slushy in others, but with three wheels, not a major issue to deal with.  The traffic was medium as folks were starting to venture from their warm homes.  I arrived at the cemetery with no issue and after getting a little lost at first (usual entrance I use was closed) I found section 44 where the grave site of a friend of mine's son is located.

Brian Joiner was a SSGT in the United States Air Force and he died while in the service of our country, I personally never met this young man but his father and I are friends and I know him to be an honorable man as I am sure Brian was.

 Flanked by Army Men, I know Brian's in good company.

Plot 44, barely half filled back in October 2009 when Brian was 
laid to rest, it's now full up.

Having visited Brian's grave site, I wandered about the cemetery, being reminded once again of all the servicemen and women who've given their all for this country of ours.

 Looking back towards the bell tower of Regis University

 The National Colors were blowing gently in the almost nonexistent winds

Volunteers prepare the grounds for the 11:00 Ceremony
to commemorate all Veterans today.

I don't care for crowds personally, I'd paid my respects and Valencia and I motored home through wet and slushy streets that were starting to dry under the bright sun.  Temperatures had soared into the high 20's by the time I got home.  

The Colors are flying at my house today, I hope they are in yours.  Martha and I extend our thanks to Veterans everywhere, and wish Godspeed to those who man the ramparts today.  I don't know where this great country of ours is going these days, but with the young men and women serving today, I am sure we'll survive our present travails.