Saturday, February 25, 2017

Squaw Pass Road in Winter

A bright and sunny day here in the Colorado Front Range, with a forecasted high temperature of 40°(4.4°C).  Time to go see how the recent snow fall that had amounted to not much in the Metro Denver area had impacted up in the foothills and nearest mountains.

Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol and I motored out of the neighborhood around 8:30 AM and made our way through the cager mess that is Metro Denver using US 285 to the town of Morrison.  After tanking up there outside of town, it was slow riding through town to Bear Creek Canyon Road and into the foothills.

There was snow on the trees but not a lot, still, it was quite scenic and with the exception of one oaf in a pickup truck going too fast for conditions, it all went well to the town of Evergreen.

From Evergreen, we made our way further east along Upper Bear Creek Canyon road, the road became snow packed and would remain this way mostly for most of the ride until Bergen later on.  The snow packed roads weren't slick per se, but they did inspire caution and so I rode at about 5 mph below the posted speed limit.

The first photo is just past the junction of Witter Gulch Road and Upper Bear Creek Canyon Road where I always stop for a picture of distant peaks.  Once again, I forgot to look up their names using the Peak Finder app on the phone.

Scarlett then took me up Witter Gulch Road, the bordering houses and fields covered in at least six inches of snow or better.  The road itself was just snow-packed but it did make the hairpin turns going up the road quite interesting at times.

I stopped to engage 2WD and the engine died.  Dammit.  No lights when turning the ignition key.

I would spend perhaps 35-45 minutes troubleshooting.  Checked wires leading to the ignition, tried swapping relays under the seat and finally I determined there was no power being supplied by the battery to the ignition switch.  I got a jumper wire from the trunk and connected the battery directly to a toggle switch that was patched onto the ignition's power wire.  Success!

You can see the red jumper wire leading from bottom edge of pic to the 
hot wire toggle switch.  The wire and assembly draped over the speedometer
is the ignition assembly.  It worked as well, go figure.

So, deciding to carry on towards the top of Witter Gulch Road, it was smooth motoring all the way onto Squaw Pass Road and moving onwards towards Squaw Pass.

I stopped Scarlett at the same spot where I'd posed her this past Fall while searching for Fall Colors:

September, 2016

February, 2017
Incoming weather front precluded seeing the farther out peaks.

September, 2016

February, 2017

Continuing further along Squaw Pass Road and as one approaches the junction with Colorado Highway 5 (Mt Evans Road), one can spy some nice views of the top of Mount Evans and surrounding areas.

 Mount Evans Views
It was a bit colder up here: 10°(-12°C)

Since Mount Evans Road is closed until sometime in late March, early April, Scarlett and I went down to the parking lot area of Echo Lake for another view of the peaks.

 The view from Echo Lake

Near the entrance to CO Highway 5, looking back towards Echo Lake

Scarlett and I decided to take Squaw Pass Road all the way down the mountain towards the town of Bergen.  Snow-packed conditions remained until just short of the junction if CO Hwy 74 so it was nice and easy going down the mountain!

A brief stop to secure all the wires draped on the headlight bucket
before getting to the I-70 Super Slab

Made it to Bergen with no issues and no major pucker factor moments.  The roads were nice and dry at that point and Scarlett took me onto the I-70 Super Slab for a rather windy ride back to the Metro Denver area.

Man, it was windy!  The rig was being blown by very strong headwinds and side winds.  It felt like we were on grooved pavement, where the front wheel sometimes seems to have a mind of its own you know?

Still, we made it to the E-470 exit which we took back to the northbound US 285 exit and once again through the mess that is traffic in Metro Denver.   Made it home shortly after 1:30 PM or so and after a quick lunch I started diagnosing the power loss issue to the ignition key assembly.

As I suspected, there was a break, and it was at the connector which links Scarlett's main wiring harness with the ignition key assembly.

The Blue wire is the "always hot" wire coming from the main wire harness.  The red wire leads to the ignition key assembly.  I had exposed the wires for testing with the multi-meter; the black wire would be used to "bridge" the gap within the connector.

The connector is a major PITA to separate, which is why I decided to bypass the wire path for the hot wire instead.

A little wiring, a little soldering, some electrical tape and some wire ties later; I had restored the power to the stock ignition key assembly.  Hopefully, I'll never have to use the hot wire toggle switch again but its ready.

Scarlett's engine did fine throughout this process, and I continue the break-in process with it.  Another 500 km or so and it'll have been 1000 km of varying speeds, no lugging or over-revving and keeping it under 55mph.   In other words, Ural riding conditions.


RichardM said...

It's still within the warranty period...

This seems to be an odd failure. I've had a lot of wire breaks like that on the BMW within the harness feeding to the handlebars. They just don't like repeated flexing in the cold...

redlegsrides said...

Sadly, RichardM, the connector that's having issues is a replacement ignition key assembly.

It really is a major PITA to disconnect from the wiring harness connector and I probably buggered it when I replaced it on the side of the road last time. It works. Interestingly, the failures always happened during cold weather riding.....

redlegsrides said...

Oh, and RichardM, the original failure had been where for whatever reason, the hot wire had gotten hot enough to melt part of its wire shielding, leaving it exposed.

Unknown said...

Cool season comparison photos, Dom--a nice touch.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Ry Austin

SonjaM said...

The September - February pics are lovely, Dom. Please continue doing this through the other seasons...

redlegsrides said...

Zu Befehl, SonjaM, or is it zum befehl?

SonjaM said...

At ease, Dom. "Zu Befehl" would be correct. ;-)

redlegsrides said...


CCjon said...

Love the photo comparisons. Thanks for thinking of doing that.

Wiring issues are frustrating enough, but on the side of the road in the freezing cold, makes one hot-headed. Glad you traced it down and found a way to continue your ride, and make it back home too.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks CCjon, as SonjaM requested, I'll try to do the same for future postings when riding in areas I regularly go to.

As to troubleshooting issues on the side of the road, such is the life of a Ural rider....but now I can confirm I know how to hotwire a URAL rig anyways.