Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Uraling to the Ride and Shoot

This past Saturday, I joined other fellow Uralisti and accompanying monkeys for a day of riding and shooting.  Little did we all suspect all the bonus excitement that we would encounter!

Eight of us met a O'Brien's Cafe in Sedalia, CO for breakfast.  There was Steffen C. and his son Nick, the former riding a 2006 Retro and his son a Honda Motorcycle.  There were Craig H. and his lovely wife Julie with their Arctic GearUP rig, newly met Uralista Mike N and his young daughter Patience and rounding out the breakfast group was yours truly with my youngest son Miles.

By 8:30AM, we had finished our meals and tanked up our rigs.  We headed out towards Jarre Canyon on CO67, heading towards Deckers.  We were making pretty good progress until we were past Sprucewood, at which point Mike N's rig suffered a flat pusher tire.

The delay was minimal since Mike had a spare, it just took a little extra time to pump air into the spare tire, courtesy of Craig H's air compressor.

 Above is Mike N's rig, awaiting the filling of the spare tire with air.

This is Dave G's 2012 Patrol, beautiful isn't it?  Lots of aftermarket 
mods such as the high-mount exhaust, dry country air filters and crankcase oil collector.

 Mike N tightens things down while we all "supervise"
Patience, Mike's daughter is on the left, Dave G, Miles and yours truly.

Not one to supervise, Julie sat out the short repair period.

Flat tire replaced, we continued onto Deckers for a short bathroom break before heading into the Pike National Forest area.  It was about 7 miles or so to the primary shoot site but we would experience some more mechanical issues before we got there.  This time, Steffen's Retro's engine suddenly quit running.  

The symptoms pointed to something electrical so Steffen and others quickly got into the Retro's headlight bucket where most of its wiring, fuses and relays are located:

Craig, Dave and Steffen
After a pretty quick but thorough check, nothing was found, they even tried
swapping out the ignition switch (Craig H. had a spare) but that wasn't it.

Further examination under the gas tank revealed a wire hanging loose.  A comparison with Mike N's patrol let Steffen determine it was the wire that provided power to the coil!  No wonder the engine wasn't starting.  A few minutes of wiring work and Steffen's rig was running once again and we proceeded onto the primary site.

Alas, when we got there, we found some guy had established a campsite there and the rules forbade shooting within 150 feet of any occupied area.  We decided to turn around and go for the secondary site.

However, just a few minutes of retracing our route, we suddenly came upon a Jeep SUV laying on its right side with people and dogs sitting outside of it!  We of course stopped to render air but no one appeared to be injured or no one was trapped in the car.  We couldn't get a cellphone signal so while Craig H. lead the rest of the Uralisti to the secondary site, I motored to Deckers to find a telephone landline.

I got there in record time, and placed a 911 call at the "Flies and Lies" Bait Shop in Deckers.  Miles and I pulled out of the parking lot and spotted a black and white painted SUV with Jefferson County Sheriff markings ahead of us and moving fast with lights blazing.

Dang that was a fast response I thought.  Much as we tried, we couldn't catch up with the deputy as he raced ahead of us on Forest Service Road 211.  What's weird was when we got back to the crashed SUV, there was no sign of the deputy, the vehicle had been righted onto its wheels and everyone was gone.  Figuring the accident victims had been picked up, we turned back to where I'd spotted the rest of the Uralisti.

It was very hard to miss of course, one land rover and several Ural Rigs sitting about 200 feet off the road, in the sagebrush covered field next to some small hills.  Everyone had already set up a makeshift range and were engaged in safe shooting of targets.  Miles and I joined them, it was a lot of fun.

 Craig H and Steffen C. watch over Steffen's son Nick as he tries out 
Craig H's Moisin Rifle, it's apparently the same type as the Russian Army used
during the second world war.

 Sighting in with his M14 is Dave M from Colorado Springs.  
Nick and Craig were taking a break in the shooting of the Moisin.

 A view of the rear of the shooting site, where the vehicles were out of the way.

 Patience, her dad Mike N. and their rig.

My youngest son Miles, shooting my Glock G30.
He actually did pretty good for his first time shooting!

 Yours truly trying my hand with the Moisin, heavy rifle, I can
now well imagine how difficult it must have been to shoot it in battle, 
trying to accurately sight it while people on the other side were shooting at you!
photo courtesy of Craig H.

 To the left is Julie and to her left is Sally; Dave G overwatches all the active shooters
photo courtesy of Craig H.

 Mike N and his daughter Patience
photo courtesy of Craig H.

 Another view of the rigs
photo courtesy of Craig H.

Yours truly, supervising Miles as he tries out the Moisin
That's Dave G in the background, acting as safety officer.
photo courtesy of Craig H.

Craig H's old helmet, after it had been used for target practice.
Apparently, a motorcycle helmet isn't penetrated by birdshot from a shotgun
from a distance of 50 feet or more.

The shooting event was winding down a bit after 1:00 PM, I was out of ammo by that time and most folks were gathering their gear.  I turned around and saw a Sheriff's Deputy stating in a loud voice to Craig that we were all "violating the law" and that if we didn't move our rigs back onto the road, he'd ticket us!

Apparently, we'd all missed the posted sign at the start of the Forest Road that prohibited the parking of vehicles in any space not cleared marked for parking.  Sigh.  We moved our rigs to the side of the road then returned to the shooting site on foot to finish cleaning up and picking up all our stuff.

Our rigs as we prepared to go back to Deckers for a late lunch.
Dave G and Mike N. had already left beforehand as they had other commitments.
They missed out on experiencing the deputy being irate.  Still, he 
didn't give us tickets so it all evened out.

Back at Deckers, we met a fellow Uralisti who walked up to our table and introduced himself.  Kim H. is from New Zealand and works for the Gates Rubber Company in Denver.  I got his email address and will be adding him to the distro list for the group rides.

As we were finishing our burgers, what should show up at the parking lot but a large flat bed tow truck carrying the wrecked Jeep!  

I think the insurance company is going to end up totaling this cage.

Dave M and his Patrol, member of the Zombie Outbreak Response Team!

I led the three rigs and one motorcycle remaining onto CO67, and onto the South Platte River road route that I frequent at times.  While it had been hot all day, we were on these roads immediately after rain had fallen so things had cooled off very nicely into the mid 60s.

We ended up on US285 and tanked up in Conifer, CO.  We said our goodbyes at this point, with Steffen and his son heading up CO73 towards Evergreen as they didn't want to mess with the highways.  Craig and Julie H, and yours truly with Miles elected to ride into the city using US285.  

The rest of the riding was uneventful, we waved goodbye to Julie and Craig near the intersection of University Blvd and Arapahoe Road.

Good day of riding, though it was quite warm early on and the heat wouldn't break till the late afternoon!  Good day of shooting as well, everyone was quite safety minded, no one got hurt which is always the primary goal of any shooting event.

I hope the driver of that crashed Jeep got medical help, he'd been complaining of hitting his head and feeling dizzy when I left for help.

All in all, an interesting day.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Silos along the Santa Fe....

Santa Fe Drive that is, one of the main drags here in the Denver Metro Area, a.k.a. US85.

Sunday morning I rode my '87 R80 Airhead Beemer: Brigitta up to Northglenn to a fellow Uralista's abode.  Darrell S. had graciously given me two #42 carburetor jets for Valencia's use and I was picking them up.

As I chatted with Darrell, he even more graciously offered me the use of his Harmonizer Carburetor Sync Tool.  This is highly sought after and rare tool for owners of carbureted motorcycles.  Someday, if the guy who made the last batch ever restarts production again, I will hopefully own my own harmonizer.

On the way home, I diverged from the usual route to see what I could see.  I found myself on US85 after some twists and turns and in the distance I saw what appeared to be a big white ship, sitting on dry land.

Well, that's what my fevered imagination saw anyways, in reality it was a very large row of silos along the rail line that parallels US85.

I found a route to the location below, slightly trespassing on railroad company property for a few minutes to take the shot:

Kind of looks like a ship's profile doesn't it?  Or perhaps a very large
old fashioned submarine.

Now further south, near the junction of I-70 and Steele Street, I spotted a smaller version of the above silo complex:

Not quite as large as the first one, but still....

The weather was nice but getting warmer by the minute, so I rode on home.  It was quite enjoyable to be out on Brigitta, not only able to hold highway speeds but surpass them as needed with just a slight twist of the throttle.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dinner with the Frances

Martha and I were quite fortunate that Gary France and his wife Jackie were free this past Friday night.

You see, they'd just finished a two week long ride about the great state of Colorado in a 38 foot long "Rock Star" quality RV.  The thing, was a behemoth!

This past Friday, they were "camping" in their RV at the nearby Cherry Creek State Park.  The park is really close to where we live and we had arranged to pick up the Frances at 6:30PM.  Miles and I were riding in Martha's BMW X5, and found them easily enough.

After getting a tour of the behemoth RV (quite impressive I must say), they were soon ready and we drove back to my house for dinner.

Long story short, it was hours of great conversation, funny stories, remembrances, getting to know the lovely Jackie and discussing future plans.  A great time, was had by all!

Good times with good company.

Sadly, it was soon time to get Gary and Jackie back to their RV.  They were to fly to Utah the next day and check out land speed record attempts on the part of a friend of Gary's.  I won't steal his thunder though, just suffice to say I am looking forward to the pictures.

Note: the land speed record attempts by Gary's friend is not his big upcoming announcement.  We know but have been sworn to secrecy.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sights from the 40th Floor at the New Job

At my new job as a contractor network engineer for Encana Natural Gas, in their office at the Republic Plaza Building in downtown Denver, I recently learned that the building's 40th floor (out of a total of 56 floors), is used by Encana for conferences and training rooms.

Turns out, the building is the tallest one in Colorado, heck the whole US Rocky Mountain Region!  It's the 109th tallest building in the USA.

Friday afternoon, I had a chance to wander up to the 40th floor with my camera and took the following pictures of the views from 40th floors up.  Hope you like them.  I am going to explore in future days, whether I can take pictures from floors that are higher up but not owned by Encana.

 Looking towards the northwest

 Looking towards the southwest

 The next tallest building, kind of looks like an old fashioned cash register
I am told, is the Wells Fargo building.  The TIAA-CREF
building is where I park my motorcycles.

 I like the reflections on the nearest tall building.

 Looking down to the Methodist Church

Reflections again....

One side of my building faces 16th Street and its mall.  It's a pedestrian-only zone for tourists and visitors.  It's also where the entrance to the food court located conveniently in the same building!

The commute in to the downtown area remains 45 minutes, no matter the level of traffic it seems.   About an hour to get home though, as then I am in the flow with everyone else whereas I go in early enough to avoid a lot of cagers.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day at New Job

Just a record posting to mark my first day as contractor to Encana's Natural Gas Division.

The ride there was about 45 minutes, a bit more on the way home.  Heavy traffic both times but manageable.

I've found a bargain priced parking garage less than one city block from the building where I work, $3.50 a day for motorcycles, which is a good deal for Denver's downtown area.

Valencia was a tight fit but she fit in the second of two motorcycle
only parking spots.

I'll be riding Brigitta during the nice weather days of course.  Today, it was Valencia as I needed her sidecar's storage to cache my riding gear until I was shown my cubicle.  I didn't want to be wearing the gear, on top of my office clothes, and work up a big sweat while waiting.

Good first day, a bit slow but it'll take time to get me spun up.  In a happy coincidence, I ran into a former work colleague from ecollege in the afternoon.  Tom is his name and he started today as well!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Then and Now, via Insets and Splices

You all know how I like to sometimes do a blog posting showing "then and now" pictures of places I ride to with my motorcycles.

You've probably seen TV commercials where old photographs are superimposed on images of the same present day location.  There's a blog with a growing collection of such photos: dearphotograph.

Today, I found something way cooler.  I was perusing a site called twistedsifter.com, in their "History" section and found this great splicing of then and now photos by Kerényi Zoltán:

Source: TwistedSifter.com

Please click on the author's name above for the rest of the spliced photos of the Budapest series.  It's well worth your time.

On a similar vein but without any easily discoverable motorcycle content, another series of pictures where WWII photographs are "merged" into present day surroundings in the same location.  The series is by author: Sergey Larenkov.

Source: TwistedSifter.com

Then there's three photographs along the same techniques as used by Sergey Larenkov, the author however being Seth Taras.

source: twistedsifter.com

Along the same vein, there's this series of pictures blending photos of earthquake-damaged San Francisco location with present day imagery by Shawn Clover

source: twistedsifter.com

Not as cool as the above collections but still, quite a collection of photos inset into photos:  LINK

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pink Crocs at Red Rocks

Yesterday, I forgetfully left the garage door open and before I knew it, there was Bobskoot on his mighty R1200R Beemer, parking in the garage!  No hiding at this point, so Martha and I invited him in for dinner and made him welcome.

Bobskoot and his Beemer

Kidding aside, we lucked out in that Bobskoot decided to forego overnighting in Cheyenne, Wyoming and went over three hours out of his planned route to come visit us for a couple of days!

It was an early night for most everyone, especially for Bobskoot who had just ridden about 650 miles to get to us from Avoca, Iowa.  Of course, his stalwart continental distances crusing Beemer did this with designed-in Elan and Verve.  I also happened to notice the max speed setting on his GPS display, let's just say he made good time.

Today, Valencia and I gave Bobskoot his first ride in a sidecar, as the monkey.  He did great, I've never seen such an actively moving/photographing/filming monkey.  We rode over to Morrison's Red Rock Grill only to find it closed.  No problem, we crossed the street and had a good breakfast at the TNT Cafe.

Breakfast over with, we then rode to the nearby Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater where I tend to take visitors from afar.

 Bob at the start of his tour of Red Rocks Park

 The Red Rocks Amphitheater serve as Bobskoot's backdrop,
note his signature footwear.

 It was quite warm at the park today, but Bob was dressed for the 
weather, his riding gear was stashed in the sidecar's trunk and tub.

Both Bob and I managed to refrain from joining all the folks in the amphitheater, who were running up and down and back and forth in the many rows of seating bench areas.  Both us remarked we felt tired just looking at all the athletic types sweating at the almost 6850 feet of altitude.

The heat finally got to both of us and we left the park around 11:00 AM, by Noon we had used the C470/E470 slabs to get back home, bypassing the direct routes that went through the Denver Metro Area.

While Bob puttered about the house, I went for a ride near downtown Denver to sign the offer letter from the consulting outfit that has an arrangement with Encana.  Encana is a natural gas producer company based out of Calgary, Canada.  Yep, no longer unemployed, my first day at Encana as a contractor network engineer will be August 21.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shoot and Scoot Site Recon

Craig H, a fellow Uralista who drives a 2007 URAL Arctic Patrol rig and I met up at his house around 8:30 this morning and we headed out towards the Deckers, CO area to check out possible sites for the upcoming Shoot and Scoot Event.

This event is open to all riders but will consist mainly of URAL riders, their rigs and assorted monkeys.  The area we were looking at is inside National Forest lands so as long as you follow the rules and are safe, it's OK to shoot one's firearms.

The only site that both Craig and I were sure of is located on Douglas County Road 126.  We took US 285 to the town of Pine Junction and headed south on CR126, through the towns of Pine and Turkey Creek.  You arrive at the shooting site in short order.   We found the site occupied with several cagers, plinking away at targets.  Not a bad site per se, but it could get crowded I think.

1.6km south of the turnoff for Wellington Lake off of CR126

One of the folks there was this older gentleman who was watching his nephew do some shooting.  He told us to check out Forest Service Road 211, further south nearer to Deckers and so we did.

A few miles further south, we managed to find the turnoff for FSR 211.  It is located 4 KM north, off of CR126, from Deckers.  This FRS is a narrow winding road full of loose dirt/gravel and tight blind curves, one has to be watchful of cagers rounding these blind curves!  

This is the same road one takes to get to the Cheesman Water Reservoir.  Just before you enter the reservoir area though, there's a right turn if you want to stay on FRS 211.  There's signs pointing to the right announcing both the Flying G Ranch and the Lost Valley Ranch.  The road continues to be an enjoyable dirt road with some steep parts, plenty of sand and gravel to go with the packed dirt of course.

At the turnoff for FRS 211, to the left is the way to Cheesman Reservoir

A few kilometers down the road, I spotted a trail heading off the right and took the rig down it.  Craig followed me in and we ended up at a small turnaround area bordered by trees and a steep rocky dropoff. There was evidence of previous use of this spot as a shooting range, and we checked out possible firing positions and such.  

 This would end up being the "backup" firing area.
The top of the ridge above is the road and so there was some doubt about
shooting in that direction.

Leaving this spot, we continued on FRS 211 for a few more kilometers, I could see we were approaching a small mountain ahead.

We stopped here because I saw a couple of guys shooting at 
targets over on the west side of the road.  Not a bad site but no shade.

As we got nearer to the base of the above mountain's rock formations, we spied a trio of guys shooting off to the west side of the road in what looked like to be an ideal shooting spot.  It had a good backstop in the form of a set of two hills with a narrow draw between them.  We stopped, and chatted with the guys since they'd wandered over to check out the rigs!

We had a good long chat with them, even got to fire one of their Russian Moisin rifles (quite a kick to it).  The spot had nice shady areas, easy target emplacement spots and no way you should accidentally shoot at traffic on the road.  This ended up being the primary spot for the upcoming shoot and scoot!

This is the site of the shoot and scoot
Plenty of parking space, shady trees and a good back stop area.

The guys were RJ, Will and Alexander.  RJ and Will are Stunt Actors, first ones I've met in person!  We told them, as we left, that we'd invite them for the shoot on the 24th of the month.  The guys had quite a few weapons with them, lot of them Russian, to include the Moisin.  

We headed back the way we came, pausing briefly for this shot of the still recovering burned out area that is the Hayman Fire area:

The riding on this FRS 211 is not too challenging, conditions are OK, with some washboarded sections and some really loose gravel on the curves.  The terrain is suitable for trucks and cars of course, and we saw several of them barreling down the road raising quite the large dust clouds.

At intersection of CO67 and CR126

We made it back to to Deckers with no issues, stopped for a burger and to take a break.  Afterwards, we headed north on CO67, transiting the small settlements of Trumbull and Ox Yoke which are built along the Platte River.  Near Trumbull, at the entrance to their Waste Transfer Station, there were these fields of sunflowers:

The sunflowers should be full size by the 24th.

Craig and I keep riding, taking the turnoff for Sedalia, still staying on CO67 which becomes a slightly hilly dirt road.  No big challenge for the URALs this road, just easy curves and sedate inclines until you reach the settlement of Sprucewood.  

From Sprucewood, it's paved roads with twisting turns and noticeable slopes all the way past the turnoff to Rampart Range Road and then to Jarre Canyon where curves get even tighter for a couple of miles before you debauch into the valley before Sedalia.

After fueling up in Sedalia, Craig and I parted ways.  He would head north on US85 back to his home and I'd take US85 south towards Castle Rock to get the below picture:

View of Castle Rock with Pikes Peak in the background.

Good day of riding, not too hot until near the end of the ride.  We found a good shooting spot and both our rigs did just fine.

Note: below are directions to aid the Uralisti who are planning to attend the Shoot and Scoot:

Shoot site:
N39.22581° W105.31112°

From Deckers (intersection of CO67 and CR126)


Go on CR126 North 4 kilometers to the left turn (dirt road over large culvert) for Forest Service Road 211.  There's a brown sign on side of road:

 Facing north on CR126, the FRS 211 Turnoff

You can also look for the giant culvert 

Once on FRS211 continue 3 km till you reach the group of mailboxes and the signs that point to the right for Flying G and Lost Valley Ranches.  Turn right to stay on FRS 211.  If you go straight, you will dead end at Cheesman Reservoir.

Turn right at this junction

Continue on FRS211 for 8 KM, the shooting site will be on left side of the road.  

The above site, is just off to the left of the FRS 211
Its really close to the base of below tallest rock formation:

The Denver-based contingent will gather at the O'Brien Cafe around 7:00AM for breakfast, leaving as a group around 8:30AM.  We will take CO67, through Jarre Canyon, Sprucewood, and end up in Deckers about an hour later.

The CO Springs contingent could, I suggest, take US24 to the junction of CO67, and head north on this road till you reach Deckers.  From there, follow the above instructions.

Overview of the area within the Pike National Forest where we will be shooting at:

source: googlemaps
top is North


If you're coming from US285 and Pine Junction:

You will ride south on CR126, past Pine and Turkey Creek, heading towards Deckers.  4 KM north of Deckers, look for this sign:

This small sign will be on left side of the road as you're riding southbound,
you can also look for the giant culvert:

If you're coming south from Pine Junction
this is where you turn RIGHT onto FRS 211.