Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

Another year, another day to remember those who died in the service of the country.

This year, it was additionally poignant for me, as now there were two servicemen whom I had a connection with; besides the fact that we'd all served in a branch of the Armed Forces.

I first visited, SSgt Brian Joiner's grave site.  A young man, son of a work friend of mine, who served in the US Air Force during the Persian Gulf War.  He'd been the only one, till this year, whom I had a connection with among the thousands buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery.

I paid my respects to SSgt Joiner and then, feeling more saddened than usual, moved to section 36 to find Joe's grave site.

Joe died in January of this year, he'd served in the US Navy, retiring as a Senior Chief Petty Officer or SCPO.  He'd been a good neighborhood friend and we hope his family have found some peace; I am sure Joe has.

 Joe's section is growing....

Flanked by US Army men, Joe is in good company.

Everywhere you looked, you saw folks coming to pay their respects to their family members and friends.  The colors at each grave site fluttered lightly in the breeze of a sunny Colorado day; a good day to remember those who gave their all.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Rain, mud, lucky find and more rain


The rain that threatened yesterday arrived in the middle of the night.

Woke to wet ground and overcast skies.  After breakfast at a local cafe, Dan K decided to leave a day early for Moab, can't say I blame him.  The off pavement trails around here, being soaking wet, are not rideable!

After Dan left, I decided to try and find the lock which had bounced out of my unsecured top case yesterday afternoon on the trail where I did the test ride after Yagi's suspension work.

Did I mention things were wet and muddy?

I rode to the beginning of the trail, things didn't seem too bad but they rapidly went downhill as soon as I hit the trail.

Colorado mud contains Bentonite, which is very slick and creates thick claylike conditions.  Before I'd ridden 100 feet, Yagi had no real traction and I was in full duck walk mode.

I stopped, turned her around gingerly on her sidestand, and parked her on the side of the trail on the grass:

I then proceeded up the trail on foot, the slick clay building up under and around my riding boots.  Had to walk slowly not only to scan the ground for the missing lock but also to keep my footing!

I went perhaps 300 feet and back, no luck.  I decided one more round in the area where I'd spotted the metal file that had bounced out yesterday but I'd spotted then.

Lo and behold, there was the lock!

I got back on Yagi and duck walked her back to the beginning of the trail and about 25 feet beyond where there was not much much.

Spent perhaps 15 minutes scraping some of the mud of her wheels, especially where it had built up under the front wheel well!  The wheel could still roll due to my having raised the fender about an inch previously.

I rode slowly to the local car wash and spent probably more than the cost of replacing the darn lock on washing the thick clay and mud from Yagi.

The object of my compulsive need
to find lost objects.

Milo, another fellow Uralista, showed up around 3PM and we went over to spend some time BS'ing at Dana W's place.

An early dinner at the Taco Hut and we all separated as the weather continued overcast and cool.  No riding for the group today.  I'm not sure tomorrow will be any better since the ground will need time and sun to dry out.

I spent the rest of the day working and reading.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ride in the morning, maintenance in the afternoon

Chilly overcast weather today with a threat of rain the whole time we were out riding.

Dan K. rode his Ural M70 Solo motorcycle, Rich K. rode his V-Strom 650, Dana W rode his bright red K75 BMW EML Sidecar Rig while Spat and I rode our respective rides from yesterday.

 View of Needle Rock with Mt Lamborn enshrouded
by rain clouds behind it.

 Dana W's lovely EML Rig
"No, it's not for sale, I asked"

Rich K. led us on a 99% paved route through the area, and though the weather was chilly, it was quite the enjoyable ride.  Not much to take pictures of though due to the clouds obscuring the landscape in the distance.

We returned to Hotchkiss for lunch at a burger joint and afterwards retired to Rich K's sumptuous workshop to work on Yagi's front forks.  You see, I'd been feeling the top of the fender hitting the underside of the triple tree on the big dips and holes, basically bottoming out the front suspension.  Not good.

We tried reducing the amount of the forks showing above the triple tree by perhaps 1/8" but still some unwanted impact, though it felt better.

First though, Rich showed me how he checs his torque wrenches through the use of a Beam Wrench which is apparently consistently more accurate, see the setup below.

Rich is retired with over 35 years experience as a Porsche mechanic, so he knows his way around tools.  He now prefers to only work on motorcycles and he had volunteered to help me with Yagi's suspension.

The process proved pretty simple and in line with what I'd read up on via the usual online methods.

 Removing the fork caps

 Using a dipstick to measure existing level (145mm from edge
of fork hole to the back edge level of the fluid within.

Rich ended up filling both forks up with additional fluid, bringing the level to 115 mm.  This will increase the resistance and prevent the suspension from bottoming out hopefully.

 Speaking of bottoming out, the above is basically what the
front front was doing when hitting those big dips and holes
yesterday!  The above shows the forks compressed to do
the measurements previously mentioned.

We then rode down to the hardware store to get some 3/4" PVC tubing.  I rode Rich's V-Strom 650 (what a beast) and he rode whis KLR; Dan K who'd been kibitzing this whole time, came along as well.

Upon our return (and no, no incidents with me on the V-Strom), Rich carefully sawed off two 1" sections of PVC pipe to act as spacers to add preload to the spring and thereby increase resistance:

Carefully, and with two new washers, he placed the spacers atop the stock springs and then using a socket wrench and pressure, installed the caps back onto the forks.  Care must be taken here as there's quite the amount of pressure on the cap while you're installing it!

All buttoned up, I took Yagi to a nearby "test trail" that Rich uses after he works on his motorcycles.  I'm happy to report that the small dips and holes I found failed to bottom out the suspension!  So prospects look good for when we next ride out to the dirt trails to see.  My tanks to Rich for his time and skills, he made the job look easy and it didn't take much time at all!

We also can remove perhaps 1/4 of the plastic spacers I had used to raise the front fender 1" from the fork brace in order to enable better removal of mud accumulation on the front tire.  We'll see if that's needed.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

T-Dubing around Hotchkiss, CO

Saturday, the 18th.

Drove the URRV from Rabbit Valley, CO to Hotchkiss, CO to dry camp at the Delta County Fairgrounds.  $6/day donation for water and power....great deal.

view of Mt Lambourne and Lands End
as one drives from Delta, CO to Hotchkiss

Met up with fellow Uralisti friends: Dana W., John S. (aka Spat) and Dan K who showed up a little later in the afternoon with his own RV and two wheeled motorcycles.

Saturday was spent BS'ing and getting re-acquainted with Rich K, a KLR rider par excellance who also lives in Hotchkiss and has been to Moab at the same time as the Uralisti were there.

Sunday, the 19th.

A late start for riding to be sure but some enjoyable riding was done with both Dana and Rich taking turns leading us to scenic locations near Hotchkiss.

 The view from Scenic View Mesa

  A view of Needle Rock as we neared it.

Though there's private ranches all around, the immediate area all around Needle Rock is BLM land and apparently you can hike to the top somehow, we did not hike.

 A new to me BLM resource classification?

After lunch in Paonia, which was delicious, Dana and Spat went back to Dana's place and Rich lead Dan and I on a tour of trails that was both enjoyable, sometimes "exciting" in terms of keeping the shiny side up but overall, very nice.

We all expressed our dislike of the deep dips we encountered which caused the front suspension on the T-Dub to bottom out frequently until I figured out its better to come to almost a dead stop, hit the bottom of the dip with the front tire and then power out.

On one particular big hill, I saw Dan K. come to a stop in the middle, turn around and come back down.  He thought he'd over-revved the engine and it had shut down.  Can you see below what really caused the problem:

 Yep, the chain came off the rear sprocket.

In a matter of minutes though, Dan K. had the chain back on the sprocket and things buttoned up.  We rode up the hill and continued our explorations.

Part of the riding involved Rich K. coming up on a pretty big dip and choosing the deeper portion by mistake.  He could have made it out, he said but his KLR was in second gear and stalled.  So he dropped the bike and Dan K helped him right it and they powered it out of the hole while I took pics:

Some more wandering, some more steep up and down hill travels and some "bonus" riding due to getting slightly lost, we all made it to the right county road that would take us back to Hotchkiss.

3 went in, 3 came out....all good.

Friday, May 17, 2019

T-Dubing in Rabbit Valley, Colorado

Enroute to Hotchkiss, CO for a small gathering of Uralisti that starts next week.

I setup up camp at the group parking lot for RVs as my usual spot was occupied as I arrived shortly after 9AM.

I would end up, finding a better spot about two miles further north from the group parking lot, and have the place to myself with great 4G coverage since you could see the nearby cell tower.

Not bad eh?  I-70 is just on the other side of the hills
in the background but you can't hear the noise from 
the traffic inside the URRV.

During today's riding, I rode pretty much all planned routes.  Managed to drop Yagi not once but twice.  The first time as I climbed a particularly rocky and steep (I should have turned around before then but at that point I was committed).

I picked up Yagi, got her turned around by using the "spin her on her sidestand" technique and shakily made my way back down and eventually off of Trail 3.  I would stay off the "trails" as this point and stick to roads meant for cars too.

Not to say those roads were all smooth and easy, they had their sections but more "maneuver room" for avoiding problems.

The second time was while exploring roads near the Castle Rock campground, found myself stopped by rocky ledges as I neared the base of one of the rocky ridges.  Got Yagi turned around safely and spotted the detour route, trouble is I didn't have enough momentum for the initial steep portion, stalled Yagi and down we went.  Dammit.

No blood and no damage this time either, just a little spilled gas again.  I got her up and backed up a bit then successfully gunned the engine and up the detour only to find the rest of the road looking much worse.  So I turned around and wandered about some more.

The above picture shows the furthest out point where I turned around, there was a broken down Toyota Tundra behind me when I took the picture, apparently a flat tire as the truck sat abandoned with the tire pump still attached to one of the tires.  Too bad, it still had the "new title" registration plate, so its a new truck.

Exploring trails, I found camping spot S5 atop a bluff, nice camping location except for the strong winds that were blowing today.

I then moved down to another campsite I spotted from atop the bluff, no signage so can't tell you it's number.  However, you can see the bluff I'd ridden to from there:

Retracing my route, I stopped for a shot of what I assumed is Castle Rock:

Turns out, there's a sandy loop trail all around Castle Rock so of course Yagi and I rode around it, here she is at the base of the rock:

What I found most interesting were the wind carved holes in the sandstone that composes Castle Rock.  Here's some closeups:

I kept riding, passing a couple more campgrounds and finally reaching the dry river bed ( I think) that is part of the McInnis Canyon area:

Made it back to the URRV with no issues, after finding a better site, packing things up and repositioned Uma accordingly.

The wind would continue to howl the rest of the day but it was fine when you were out in the sun.  In the shade however, you could get chilled pretty quickly.

Yagi is proving to be quite the surefooted goat, it's only my own lack of skills that are causing the falls really.  Still, I think I'm learning.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

T-Dubing in the Sand Flats Recreation Area

The Sand Flats Recreation Area, the northern entrance of which is located in the city of Moab, provides the local area with camping sites, slick rock and 4x4 Jeep trails and lots of room for hikes and such.

I rode there today to do a recon of the campsites and see as to their functionality for future use in terms of space and 4G cellular signal.

BLUF:  I only found one campground in the recreation area with decent signal, specifically Juniper 8.  The other campsites I stopped at were for cars and tents basically.  The large one full of big rigs had crap for signal, it was located at the entrance to the Slick Rock Bike Trail.

I kept on riding for about 11 more miles and came upon the Porcupine Rim Campground.  Good signal here but the sites are small, basically for tents.  The one redeeming point is that this is where Castle Valley Overlook is located.

It gives one a magnificent view of the valley below.  The valley is rightly named Castle Valley:

I think this spot is where Uralisti have posed their rigs at the cliff's edge and so I carefully moved Yagi next to the edge:

I left the overlook as over ten of the two and four person ATVs roared in within clouds of dust.  It got a lot more crowded very fast at the overlook!

Past the overlook, heading south, you soon leave the borders of the recreation area and enter the Manti-La Sal National Forest.  I found one site within 2/10s of a mile from Porcupine Rim that had great 4G signal and NO signage prohibiting camping.  Score!  I noted the info for possible future use.  There was also a nearby spot with slick rock for ground but it had crap for upload speeds; still a nice level site.

On the way back, I stopped now and then for pictures of rock formations, the La Sal peaks and views along Sand Flats Road.

Of note were the occasional sandy spot on the road which caused the front wheel to go briefly "squiggly", slowing down to less than the posted 25 MPH limit sufficed each time to stabilize things.  I figure I wouldn't have even noticed had I bothered to air down my tires, oh well.

Tonight's sunset was obscured by the clouds, turned out to be like a water color painting of sorts anyways:

I think I'm done with this area for this part of the glamping trip, I'll head back to Colorado tomorrow and depending on space in Rabbit Valley off of I-70, might overnight there Friday, and go to Hotchkiss for the Ural ralley on Saturday, we shall see.

As you can see in the pictures, some rainy weather clouds are moving in and the forecasters are calling for light rain and temperatures only in the low 70's next couple of days.