Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wandering around Castle Rock's periphery

Got a late start on riding today, I had decided to reposition the two 15LED light clusters to form a "light triangle" with the headlamp on Natasha, my 1996 Ural Sportsman. Supposedly, this "light triangle" helps cagers notice you more as opposed to just a single headlamp.

Then again, I've read and seen some of the more idiotic and/or inattentive cagers not even see police cars with their emergency lights on, so really one should not depend on bright lights too much to help being seen. Yeah, I know, blasphemy! I've mentioned before though, I believe one has to ride like one is invisible and position yourself on the road accordingly. Oh, and headlights are not required to be on in daytime here in Colorado.

I headed south on Parker Road, past the town of Parker and further on, the town of Franktown. Pretty soon I went past the entrance to Castlewood Canyon State Park and stopped Natasha for pictures of her lights while she was facing into the sun:

Here's Natasha with her LED lights on, facing the sun, they're much more noticeable at night

Here's Natasha with her 60W bulb turned on, I use it in heavy city traffic and at night

Far off Pikes Peak

Now with the sun at her back, here's Natasha with only her LED lights on, they really are a bit brighter to the naked camera's light sensor was affected by shooting into the sun.

Finally, with her 60w light bulb turned on

Once I am gainfully employed again, I'll be replacing the 15LED lights with these: Bikevis Bullets with the modulator pod made for them.

I then headed back towards Franktown and turned west at it's main intersection for a little bit till I was able to turn south once again and enter Castlewood Canyon Park via it's back entrance. No real photo ops that weren't there the last time I was in this park: LINK.

Once I got to CO11, I headed north on this road till I got to the outskirts of Castle Rock. I bypassed the usual curvy parts of CO11 aka South Lake Gulch Rd by taking South Ridge Road instead. It turned into a dirt road pretty quickly past the water tank place but being on three wheels, I managed speeds in the mid-30s to 40s with no issues.

I came across the fairgrounds for Castle Rock and turned in to get a picture of Castle Rock's namesake with a bit of snow in the foreground:

At the Castle Rock Fairgrounds Parking Lot

I somehow found myself after a while on Plum Creek Parkway which I took across the I-25 super slab and onto the western outskirts of Castle Rock.

I followed this parkway to explore a couple of mesas I'd seen from the distance, got real close to both but both were protected by "no trespassing" signs. Oh well, at least I tried.

On Meadows Parkway, to the west of Castle Rock

I made my way back towards Founder's Parkway and took Crowfoot Parkway back towards the town of Parker. From there, it was the usual back roads back home. About 3.5hrs in the saddle under bright sunshine and temperatures in the 40s! It felt positively balmy!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Riding through 2010's first full week

It's Friday of this new year's first full week. I thought I'd show you the local riding conditions and how they changed as we got the latest "artic blast" from our neighbors to the North.

Here's Tuesday afternoon's riding conditions, highs in the low 40s and it had been over a week since Brigitta, my 1987 R80, had gotten to go out and play. So I took her out on the county roads to the east of my home neighborhoods for some exercise. This is important to work all the mechanisms and "burn off" any water condensate that might have built up within the gearbox. You have to go, according to my indie mechanic, at least 50 miles to heat up the engine enough to boil off the water within the gearbox.

A lonely county road somewhere on the Eastern Plains

Then there was some snow starting that Tuesday night and into Wednesday, we really only got perhaps 2 inches of the stuff so no big deal.

Thursday, I had lunch with a guy I used to work with about three contracts ago, had a good time and he gave me the scoop on two locations where my resume is being considered.

Near Arapahoe Road, looking west to the mountains

Finally, there's today, Friday. I went out on Natasha for some errands down in the Denver Tech Center area and on the way back home detoured through the Cherry Creek Reservoir Park for pictures of the snow.

Whale Tail Row at the Cherry Creek Reservoir Park

The view from the Model Airplane Field at the Cherry Creek Reservoir

One of several picnic/overlook areas at the reservoir

Cherry Creek Dam's Control Tower, I slipped and fell on my butt while moving around the rear of Natasha, no injuries since I was ATGATT but a good reminder to me of how slippery the snow was, in spite of how sure-footed Natasha was riding

I saw some car/truck tire tracks off one parking lot, followed them, looks like they were made by park service vehicles as they maintained the facilities in the area. Still, it allowed me this shot of Natasha amongst the trees of a picnic area.

Got home around 12:30 PM, had some lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon helping my youngest son build a snow fort. Great fun and not too hard on my back. I even got calls from a recruiter for a possible interview with Comcast. Wish me luck on these three leads....

Update: Fort pictures added:

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Riding the snowy eastern plains

Late start for me today, the plan had been to ride over to the Boulder area and see what sights presented themselves. On the way out of my home neighborhood though, I noticed my bicycle speedometer which I've been using to "supplement" the Ural's speedometer was not working.

It was cold, in the upper 20s so the Ural's speedometer was doing its usual "windshield wiper" dance leaving me unable to tell how fast I was going. I thought to continue on but ended up stopping at the Denver Tech Center for troubleshooting of the bicycle speedometer.

Found a broken wire but the dang bike speedometer refused to work once I had it patched up. I turned Natasha around and headed for the Target store near Buckley Rd and Quincy. There I found a new bike speedometer for $11! Cheap!

Bought the new speedometer, got it home and less than 30 minutes later, had it installed and working.

So I headed out once again, tanked up and this time headed east along County Line Rd off of Smoky Hill Rd to check out the weather clouds I'd spotted in that direction.

Pretty soon, I was cruising at 40 mph on dirt county roads. I headed basically east by north and ended up using CR 129 to get to Bennett. I saw where they'd demolished the buildings that had once surrounded the old original grain silo:

Taken during 24JAN09, this is the original silo at Bennett

Today, all that remains is the main silo building itself. I am thinking that too will be demolished soon.

The skies, which had been mostly cloudy up to this point, became heavily overcast and I was soon seeing light snow falling as I got to the town of Strasburg using CO Hwy 36.

Once past Strasburg, I got on CO Hyw 40 and continued heading east for a bit. A few miles before the small town of Deer Trail, I turned south to check out the old racetrack building one can see from I-70. The entrance was blocked so I just continued heading south on dirt county roads as the snow grew increasingly heavier and the winds picked up. It was starting to feel "brisk.

I wandered the county roads and soon found myself looking at fog both to my front and rear so I stopped for these shots:

Fog and snow near Strasburg

I kept heading in a generally west by north direction as allowed by the straight dirt roads which separate the large ranches in the area. Each time I hit a "dead end" sign, I'd change direction; with the eventual goal of making my way back to Bennett.

On one of the county roads, I came upon this small and narrow bridge over a meandering creek. It provided for a nice background don't you think?

Lonely bridge out in the eastern praries

More riding on dirt and some pavement later, I spotted the silos of Bennett and turned in their direction. Pretty soon I was back on CO Hwy 36 which I took westward to the town of Watkins.

I even spotted a lone motorcyclist pulling out of a trailer park but he soon left me behind as he raced westward to the sun. You see, the skies to the west of Bennett were nice and clear and the sun was shining brightly.

I headed south on Watkins Rd from the town of Watkins and soon enough I was at its junction with Quincy Rd. Less than 20 minutes later, I was in my home neighborhoods and the temperatures were in the mid 30s I think. No snow, and sunny; what a difference just a few straight-line miles made in terms of weather!

Natasha did great again, the new bike speedometer works fine as well. She was covered in muddy dirt specks from the riding on the dirt roads, I'll probably wash her tomorrow. About 120 miles of riding on slightly muddy country roads with a bit of snow thrown in for variety.

Friday, January 01, 2010

My first ride for 2010

Ah, a new year is upon us and all I can say is a pox on the old year and welcome to the new one!

I awoke at 6 AM and putted about the room prepping things on the motorcycle for today's riding back towards Denver. I left shortly before 8 AM since I wanted to have the sun fully in evidence to ward off the morning's chilly temperatures. After tanking up, I headed west on CO Highway 69 towards Westcliffe and further on, the town of Cañon City for a ride up it's Skyline Drive.

The rolling hills that comprise the valley with the Sangre de Cristo Range of mountains on the west and the Wet Mountains on the east obscured the view of the Spanish Peaks unfortunately. Still, there was plenty of mountain scenery to be had as you will see.

The Sangre de Cristo Range

The road leading to Westcliffe is nice and easy to ride on and still be able to admire the scenery provided by the east facing side of the Sangre de Cristo Range mountains. The town lies at the junction of CO Hwy 69 and 96 and also lies adjacent to the town of Silver Cliff. Westcliffe struck me as a quaint town which has chosen to retain its historical look.

The view enjoyed by the residents of Westcliffe

I transited from Westcliffe seamlessly into the more commercial looking town of Silver Cliff. I was leaving the Sangre de Cristo Range behind me as I headed east now on CO Hwy 96 towards the town of Wetmore.

Looking west back at the Sangre de Cristo Range

CO Hwy 96 transits through the Wet Mountains and is much more twisty than CO Hwy 69, so be aware. Specially as the road drops down from its highest elevation, because it tightly twists and turns with steep grades with little room for error. There was lots of sand on the road as well, so motorcyclists beware during the winter months.

Once I was clear of the Wet Mountains, I passed through Wetmore and found the junction with CO Hwy 115 at Florence, which takes you to Cañon City. The ride at this point was slow and meandered through Florence's suburbs which eventually became Cañon City's suburbs.

I soon came upon US 50 and headed west out of town to the entrance to Skyline Drive, a wonderfully narrow paved road riding along a high ridge line next to the town itself.

The views along Skyline Drive, I really like riding on this narrow road

Natasha does tend to take up more room than Brigitta though, had to be mindful of where my sidecar's wheel was at all times.

A view back where we came from, that's US 50 way down below in the valley

Here's Natasha on the way down Skyline Drive, just before the couple of hairpin turns that lead you back into town

Pictures of Skyline Drive done, I headed for a quick gas stop to shed a couple of insulation layers as the temperatures had soared to 50 degrees! There was a large gathering of Harley riders along with some other marques in the town itself. I figure it was a "First Day of the Year" type rally.

As I headed out of town on US 50, I turned onto CO 115 to go to Colorado Springs. I spied and managed to stop Natasha fast enough to grab a picture of "the world's largest rocking chair", as claimed by the now defunct business it's located at these days.

It's fortunate that I stopped too, I looked down at my odometer and noted the following milestone for Natasha....or is it kilometerstone?

I rode along CO 115, past the western boundary of Fort Carson and stopped only to capture this giant bug before I got to the outskirts of Colorado Springs.

It denotes the location of the Mays Museum dedicated to insects, collected by the owner over the years from all over I believe. There was a closed sign next to the "bug" so I am no sure if the museum was only closed for the winter or closed for good.

The rest of my riding was a few miles of the I-25 super slab to cross Colorado Springs until I got to the Interquest Parkway which eventually lead me to CO 83 aka as Parker Road. Natasha got me home by 2:30 PM and she performed great I am very happy to report. No mechanical issues in the whole 526 miles of riding done in the last two days. She's turning out to be pretty reliable eh?