Saturday, January 10, 2009

Castlewood Canyon State Park Ride

Pretty sunny day today, high in the mid-40s and a bit of wind. Good riding conditions for a motorcycle with fairings like Maria, my R1150RT. However, opted for Brigitta, my R80 instead as I was looking to do some dirt trail riding.

I headed south towards Parker, meandering down county roads until I ended up on East Parker Rd which becomes Mainstreet, leading one into downtown Parker. From there I turned south on CO83 or Parker Road until I got to Franktown.

From Franktown I headed East for less than a mile and took the South Castlewood Canyon Road turnoff. This road becomes dirt right before the entrance into the Castlewood Canyon State Park. The road was a bit gravelly but at least it was not ice-covered in the shady areas. I found good traction even through the shaded portions of the road, but still kept my pace slow just in case.

It was this was for a mile or so, going up and down slightly hilly terrain. I could see rocky canyon outcroppings to my left where the road dropped off into a ravine. No real place to stop and take pictures there though, too many trees blocking the view.

I finally happened upon the remnants of an old dam, half of which was gone. I don't know the history of this dam. I went past it the first time, and turned myself around about a quarter of a mile beyond it to take these pictures:

Looking Northwards on South Castlewood Canyon Rd, you can just see the remains of the dam

A better view of the remaining half of the Dam

About as close as I could park Brigitta to the Dam

Not much traffic on this dirt road, saw all of two trucks, one of them driven by a park ranger. I continued on the dirt road which wound through a few ranches, unremarkable scenery and some prairie grass covered areas.

Historical Picture from when the dam was still existing: Source

I finally junctioned with Lake Gulch Road aka Douglas County 11. This I took north towards Castle Rock. County 11 is a really nice paved road with a couple of sets of twisty portions. Today was not the day to turn up the wick on these curves though, lots of sand in the middle of the lanes which forced one to slow down a bit. Still, it was a nice ride.

It was at this time that I noticed my heated grips were no longer putting out any heat. Damn.

Still, the scenery as one reaches the valley just before Castle Rock is nice:

I took this shot of Castle Rock itself from the bridge at the beginning of Crystal Valley Parkway:

I stayed on Crystal Valley Parkway and took it into downtown Castle Rock. Once past the downtown area, I merged onto northbound I-25 until I got to the Founder's Parkway exit.

From here it was the usual route, Crowfoot Parkway to Parker. Through Parker on Parker rd and right on Lincoln Avenue to Inspiration Drive back towards my home neighborhoods and Smoky Hill Road.

My hands were quite cold by this time and the fun factor in the ride was a bit low. Still, no frostbite and no incidents. Got Brigitta home, did some troubleshooting and found (maybe) what may have been the cause of no heat from the grips: loose electric connectors on the on/off switch.

I crimped them more securely and felt heat on the grips so we'll have to see if that was all there was causing them to not produce heat while riding. Brigitta is definitely a motorcycle more suited for riding when the temperatures are above 50 degrees I think.

Still, I found a nice dirt road through Castlewood State Park, a dam to explore in the spring/summer when the road is drier and got in a couple of hours of riding. It's all good.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Published in the BMWMOA Owner News

Well, it took over a year since I submitted it for publishing but the Owner News Magazine folks of the BMW Owners Association to which I belong, did publish my first overnight motorcycling trip that I did back in October of 2007.

I'd had Maria for about a year at that point and the planets lined up correctly (to paraphrase Jeff Munn) leaving me an opportunity to ride down to Monument Valley in Arizona by way of the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado.

Here's a link to the blog posting, some of the shots therein made it into the magazine article. LINK

Here's the pictures that made it into the article:

The start of the Million Dollar Highway

Million Dollar Highway, between Ouray and Durango

North side of Molas Pass, CO

Mexican Hat Rock Formation

Gooseneck State Park

This is the opening credit picture for the article, which had caught my eye as I was perusing the magazine. It had been so long since I'd submitted the article that I'd given up on having it published. The first thought that came to mind when I saw this picture was, ironically: "Dang, someone used my picture for their own stuff!".

On US106 enroute to Kayenta, AZ from Teec Nos Pos

There's more shots in the blog link above if you're interested. What a nice way to end what had been a pretty boring week in terms of riding, just commuting back and forth to work.

04FEB09 Update: I asked for and received a pdf version of my article from the editor of the BMWMOA ON Magazine, so if you want to read the actual published article, go here: LINK

Future Training

One of the things I'd planned on doing this year was taking the Experienced Rider training course to see what they could teach me, and to probably re-learn some of the stuff from the Basic Rider Course I took back in May of 2006.

Since that fateful day when I first swung a leg over a motorcycle, I've racked up over 49K miles on my motorcycles, mostly on Maria the R1150RT Beemer, so I think I qualify for the experienced part of the requirements. They actually just require the Motorcycle endorsement on one's driver's license and a year's experience riding.

Cost is $100 for Colorado residents, $125 for non-residents. It's done under the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) auspices by ABATE of Colorado. LINK.

While researching folks that offered the above training, I found out that ABATE also offers Sidecar Rider training! It's a bit pricey at $275 for residents but I figure its cheaper than wrecking one's sidecar rig while trying to learn how to safely ride it on one's own. So if I ever find and buy a sidecar rig, this training will be part of the admission price for me.

Somewhere in my future, is a sidecar similar to the one above. This one is made by Texas Sidecars. LINK

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tailbag Gone, Trying a Tankbag on the R80

I had recently removed the tailbag which I'd installed earlier on Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer. Part of its fastenings had torn loose when I was struggling with the motorcycle when I got stuck in mud during my last ride of 2008.

As I looked under it to see about re-securing it, I noted that the bottom of the tailbag had rubbed against the paint on the motorcycle's body. Not good. Some hand polishing got rid of most of the damage but I did not elect to put the tailbag back on on Brigitta.

I carried on without it, using my system cases to carry my camera but it was getting banged around a bit; not to mention it being a pain to open/shut the system case each time I stopped to take pictures.

I saw that was having a closeout sale on tankbags, amongst other things and got the Rapid Transit Bradley tank bag for a mere $15, total came to less than $22 with shipping. Such a deal.

The bag arrived today and here's some photos of it installed on Brigitta. I had to cobble an anchor point for the rear strap for now. In the process of doing this, discovered one of the two rubber straps holding down my battery had broken! Damn.

The weird looking striping on the sides of the bag are a function of my camera, the bag is plain black nylon material.

Not too bad looking and doesn't seem to spoil her lines as much as the tailbag seemed to do. I'll see how it works out, I just have to detach the rear fastener to access the gas tank cap so that shouldn't be a problem either.

The light blue thing underneath the tank bag is a microfiber cloth, even though the tank bag came with "protective" material underneath it, not taking any chances.