Sunday, October 27, 2013

Riding with Brady of Behind Bars

Today I had the pleasure of not only riding with Brady Steffls of Behind Bars and his lovely wife Kelsie, but there was the added bonus of Brady's parents, Maggi and Pat coming along on the ride onboard Brady's BMW F650GS motorcycle.

They've been in Colorado for a month now and it was high time to meet them personally and do a short ride.  Today it was sunny and nicely cool here in the Denver Metro area, perfect for riding.

I was a bit early for the 11:00 AM rendezvous so I posed Valencia
on Baseline road with the Flatirons in the background.

We met as previously arranged, near the junction of Canyon Road and Folsom Street in Boulder.

Brady and Kelsey, aboard their Kawasaki Concourse

After their arrival and introductions, we headed into the mountains using Boulder Canyon Road to make our way slowly to the town of Nederland.  Traffic was heavy and there was construction truck traffic on the roads slowing things down.

At Nederland, we took a short break to check out the old steam shovel Bucyrus, of which I've posted about before here:  LINK.

We then headed south along CO119, aka the Peak to Peak Highway, through the small settlement of Rollinsville and eventually to the Casino Towns of Blackhawk and Central City.  We would spend a bit of time walking around the area of the Central City Opera House before getting on the Central City Parkway to make our way down to the I-70 Superslab.

Once at the slab, it was a short run on the highway until we got to the US6 exit which we took to get on eastbound US40.  This highway parallels the rushing traffic of I-70, and makes for a more sedate yet twisty ride to return back to the metro area.

We took the road up to Lookout Mountain to take a look at Buffalo Bill's Grave and museum area.  Today was an exceptionally clear day in the Denver Area, the views from on top of Lookout Mountain seemed to stretch forever.

 A view of Downtown Denver, with my new camera at maximum digital zoom.

 Brady and Kelsey at Buffalo Bill's Gravesite

 Looking west towards the Continental Divide from the parking lot
of the Buffalo Bill Museum.

Brady and his Connie.

We left the museum area and after a short stint stopped at Bobcat Point for a picture of the group with the town of Golden far below:

From left to right: Brady, Kelsey, Maggie and Pat.

We then wound and twisted our way down towards Golden, where we said our goodbyes as the Steffls live north in Longmont while I would make my may SouthEast towards home.

Good day of riding, I hope the Steffls felt properly welcomed to the great state of Colorado.

Previously: Milestones for Brigitta and I

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Milestones for Brigitta and I

A week of milestones for both Brigitta, my '87 R80 BMW Airhead motorcycle and myself.

Suffice to say, this week I turned one year older, that was my milestone.

What's more important, is that Brigitta reached a milestone that is not that common for motorcycles, though BMWs are perhaps a bit more known for reaching that mark.

I watched, while riding home from work when about four miles from the house, as the odometer on Brigitta went from 99999 to 000000!  There wasn't a safe spot to stop for the 99999 point but here's a picture I took I believe two days ago when I got to work; showing that she was approaching the milestone:

iPhone Camera shot, at 99968 miles

Shortly after the odometer rotated to all zeroes, I found a nearby spot to park and safely take pictures.

 Brigitta's dash at 100,000 miles....all zeroes!
4:52 PM October 25, 2013
The clock is wrong, never did reset it for Daylight Saving Time this year.

A view of the Front Range Mountains the hour that
Brigitta went over 100,000 miles.

I bought Brigitta back on June 12, 2008.....shortly after my accident while on Maria, my 2004 BMW R1150RT.  She came to me with 61,643 miles on her odometer so she and I have ridden 38,357 miles together since then.  

The advent of sidecaring into my life set back achieving this mileage goal by a few years, I'll admit.  Brigitta became my fair weather/canyon carving motorcycle.  My sidecars, Natasha and later Valencia became my fun/foul weather/snow riding steeds while Brigitta sat safe in the garage.  

Brigitta is the steady/reliable steed, especially when compared to the vagaries of the URAL Sidecar Rigs.....I expect she'll reach the 150,000 mile mark and beyond with no major issues.  

I got home and noted the light on the sole tree in my front yard.  So here's a bonus picture of Fall Coloring.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dawn Reflections

With the onset of Fall, I find myself commuting in pre-dawn darkness to Denver's downtown area.  I have been arriving just as dawn is breaking for Colorado and thought the light interesting in the way it starts to paint the buildings around me as I walk from the parking garage to the building where I work.

See what you think:

 The TIAA-CREF building where I park is reflected on 
the Key Bank Building across from it.

Republic Plaza Building, I work on the second floor.

All in all, not a bad sight to greet one's eyes while walking the block or so from parking spot to work.  I rode Brigitta, my '87 BMW R80 today, she's within 100 miles  from the 100,000 mile mark on her odometer.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Sunset

Just a short post to show how the new camera does with sunset situations.  I must say, not bad at all!

However, there was tweaking done afterwards using mostly the sharpening tool at, it not only sharpens edges but darkens things nicely as well.

A herd of demonic-eyed deer crept up behind me as I shot the above
photos.....they got quite close before I noticed them.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Dusting of Snow and a new Two Wheeler in the Garage

We woke to perhaps an inch (tops) of snow, accumulations were on the grass and vehicles parked outside, none on the streets.

I went to breakfast with a couple of friends of mine and it snowed lightly on me on the way there, nothing remarkable really, more like fat rain.

After breakfast, I stopped at a nearby tree-lined row for a shot of the snow on the trees before the warming sun melted all the snow away; after all, the forecast high temperature for today was 48°F!

Now, as to the new (to me) two-wheeler I've added to my garage.

No, it's not another motorcycle for the collection.  It is instead, another tool in my self-recovery repertoire of tools.  Today I bought from Darrell S. a friend and fellow Uralista, his Aluma 638 trailer.  Now I no longer have to impose on folks with trailers, for when a motorcycle or sidecar rig breaks down on me while out riding.

Oscar to the Rescue, again.
Full story here: LINK

The above picture shows when one of my rigs has had to be towed:  Now Oscar, stalwart fellow and friend that he is, always responds with "Ready", whenever I go on a long ride and text him: "Ready the Alert Trailer!".  Now, that won't be necessary as I have my own trailer and it's easy to hook up onto Martha's BMW X5 Urban Assault Vehicle.

I brought the trailer home this morning, as I was off from work, and Darrell was able to meet me briefly at his home to do the transaction.  Being of aluminum construction, this trailer is very light at 300 lbs but can hold my sidecar rig comfortably and allow cruising at 75 mph with no issues.

Darrell said it's a 2012 model, so newer than the reliable trailer I recently borrowed from Craig H., another fellow Uralista and friend, who owns an older version of this same trailer model.  It was Craig's trailer that I borrowed for a week long trip to Wisconsin this past July: LINK.

The trailer fits in the garage, parked mostly in the same bay used by Valencia.  I'm thinking of either widening the fence gate to allow me to roll the trailer into the backyard.  Or cobbling up a wheeled platform onto which I can put the trailer on, sideways, then roll it through the gate, tilting it back onto its two wheels once clear of the fence.  More thought required on that.

Update: Gate to backyard widened.  Now she sits outside in the elements, but since she's aluminum....

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Autumn Colors in a City Neighborhood

A lovely sunny day with balmy temperatures here in the Denver Metro Area.  I set out after a leisurely breakfast and minor chores to try out my new camera: a Nikon AW110 Weatherproof Camera.

I motored north from Centennial and entered Denver via the Alameda/Monaco Avenue junction.  This neighborhood is part of my daily work commute and is very nicely tree-lined.  Partly cloudy skies keep the sun from being too bright and the colors displayed by the trees were quite nice.

Most of the following pictures are taken along 17th Street or on side streets near this parkway.

I next tried the nearby City Park and it's environs, hoping for more Autumnal colors, it proved elusive and mostly disappointing.  Not enough color and way too many cagers parked all over as folks visited the nearby Museum of Natural Science and the Denver Zoo.

I fled the park and its crowds, heading north towards the northern perimeter of the City Park Golf Course, a brief stop and a short walk gave me this nice view of Downtown Denver.

View of Downtown Denver from City Park Golf Course

I turned back towards 17th Street which I took back Monaco Avenue and turned east towards the Fairmount Cemetery area.  I turned into the cemetery, knowing it would be nice and quiet, and remembering how wooded it had been last time I was there.

 A nearby statue peeked down at Valencia at our first picture stop within the cemetery.

Why a cemetery you might wonder, a bit morbid and sad I'll admit, but it fit with the mood engendered in me when I read Scooter in the Sticks (Steve Williams) recent posting about aging and the Fall Season: LINK.  It's a posting written to get one thinking of the passage of time I believe, and what more fitting place than a cemetery eh?

I returned home to a late lunch and some minor maintenance chores on Valencia.  A good half day of riding, and I think the new camera is going to work out just fine.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

An Overcast Fall Day in Vail, Colorado

I left Parachute, CO this morning....rolling out in the pre-dawn darkness a few minutes before 7:00 AM and in a medium rain.

Turns out, my timing was very good, it apparently got a lot rainier in the Parachute area later on, deluge proportions were reported to me by two separate sources.

Incredible as it may seem, I managed to outrun the rain storm and traveled the rest of the morning under moderately overcast skies and temperatures in the mid to high 40s.  In other words, pretty good considering there was a Winter Storm warning announced for the Vail area starting at Noon.

I arrived at Vail a bit before 10:00 AM I believe, skies were still overcast but it did not dull (by much) the beauty of the Fall Colors festooning the nearby hillsides with brilliant yellows and the occasional reds and muted oranges.

Again, my once-trusty Panasonic Lumix didn't survive the recent deluge last month very well, and I apologize for the fuzziness in the pictures below.  My loving wife Martha has procured for me a NIKON AW110 Waterproof camera and all future pictures should be nice and sharp.

The scenery, as you can see above, was very beautiful even under the muted light filtering through the thick clouds overhead.  I can only imagine that had the sun been shining, it would have been wondrous.

I am back home from my work trip to Parachute, an interesting experience, and it won't be the last time I go there it seems.  I hope you liked the pictures, and I really hope the new camera lives up to its reviews.  My thanks to both Bobskoot and Steve of ScooterintheSticks for their info and feedback on camera choices.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Parachute, Day 3

The last day of my work scheduled for while in the Parachute, Colorado area.  Yesterday was spent mostly on top of the High Mesa area at the radio tower site where network switches were being upgraded.

I was in learning mode, a fellow network engineer was doing the heavy lifting.

The scenery from the site was "lacking" so no pictures.

Today however we drove to the top of Mount Callahan near Parachute, about an hour long drive on a fairly well graded dirt road with some instances of washboard conditions.  The road is a private road with fairly restricted access, in other words, no chance of riding Valencia up to the summit.

The work on the network switches at the top of Mount Callahan went pretty well, this time I was a bit more involved but my fellow network engineer again did most of the heavy lifting.  I now have a good idea as to the role the microwave radio towers play in the network connectivity of this rugged terrain for the widely dispersed drilling rigs and processing facilities owned by Encana.

I am also happy to report, no spills and a zealous attitude towards protecting the environment by Encana.

Work down, we drove down the hill (we were in an Encana pickup truck) and I managed to get a few shots of the scenery we saw from the narrow shelf road carved out of the mountain.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Parachute, Day 1

I rode from the Denver Metro Area to the small town of Parachute, Colorado for work today.  It took 5.5 hours at URAL speed, which fit the formula I've found to be a good guide when planning long rides using Google Maps:  Whatever time google maps says it'll take to drive a route, add two hours.

The ride was uneventful, a bit cool at the start with temperatures in the mid 30s but warming up into the upper thirties by the time I got to the continental divide and the tourist town of Vail which were the two highest points along my route which was the I-70 Super Slab.

I was, I might add, NOT the slowest vehicle today.  I managed to actually pass two vehicles with Valencia!

Still having issues with my Panasonic Lumix ZS8 and it's autofocus function.  I thought I'd figured out a workaround but its not focusing at all when using anything but the Auto mode button.  Sigh, looks like I'll be spending money for a new camera soon.

Here's the pictures that did turn out, sorry about the slightly out of focus look on them.

 The hillsides near and in the town limits of Vail were gorgeous!

 Rock formations formed by heavy erosion near the town of Parachute.

 Spotted this eclectic metal sculpture of a biker at a motel
parking lot in Parachute.

 A road that leads up into the nearby hillside.  I hope to explore it
tomorrow afternoon after work.  It's built to allow access to 
gas rig sites I believe.

I am here to get to know the network setup for the North and South Piceance Gas Drilling areas operated by Encana.  It's one of the larger sites in the South Rockies region and one of the reasons I was hired on as a contractor.  Should be an interesting next couple of days, they use radio units to prove network connectivity to the sensor/controls used to monitor and regulate gas flows.