Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Montana Trip - Day 2

After a bit of a debacle involving lost cell phones and wallets, finally exited Cody with all appropriate belongings with the family.

Martha and the boys would be perusing the tourist sights at Cody, I would be headed up to the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway enroute to the famed Beartooth Pass Highway.

I have to admit, I was not exactly overwhelmed with the sights initially presented by the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, and was thinking perhaps I was too jaded from the glorious sights of Colorado's mountains.  This perception however would steadily disappear and be replaced with an appreciation of the beauty of this byway and eventually the sights of Beartooth Pass Highway.

At the start of the byway akaWyoming State Road 120 aka the Belfry Highway

A little natual symmetry for starters.
 A bit of colored rock strata formations

 There are several hairpin turns going up down the first mountain ranges 
comprising the Chief Joseph scenic byway and once can see distant snow-capped peaks

 As this overlook, I posed my steed next to the metal sculptures honoring the Nez-Perce Indians
Note the flat-topped mesa in the distance, right above Vikki

 Making my way down to the valley, my first view of the rock formation I'd eventually
end up nicknaming Ship Rock.  I think it's actually called Sugarloaf Mountain.

 To me, the houses in this valley reminded me a little bit of Switzerland
I found a county dirt road called Sunshine Road, which would lead me to near the
base of the large formations on the right.  You can see the road, over to the left,
leading off towards the mountains.

 On the Sunshine Road, nicely graded dirt and gravel, I was able to get up to
50 mph on Vikki as I rode to the above rock formations

 Now across the valley from Sunshine Road, you can hopefully see why
I named the rock formation above "Ship Rock"

 The views of distant mountain peaks, with snow per Irondad's wishes, kept 
getting closer as I rode further north towards Montana State Rd 212, aka the Beartooth Highway

 The view as one approaches MT Hwy 212

 My first view of the spectacular rocky peak which is named Pilot's Peak

 Here's a closeup for you of Pilot's Peak, pretty awesome isn't it?

 Motoring closer to Pilot's Peak.

Once I reached Hwy 212, I turned west to let a cargo rig carrying a big piece of construction equipment move east on the road towards the construction sites on the way to Beartooth Pass.  This led me towards Yellowstone National Park and Vikki's second state border crossing:

 Montana, unsurprisingly, has her own gorgeous mountains and scenery to please the motorists' eye

I went west on MT212 through the small towns of Cooke City and Silver Gate, noting the plethora of harley riders out for some scenic riding.  I turned around at the east entrance of Yellowstone park as there was no time or inclination on my part to battle the crowds at what is described as "the world's largest petting zoo".

I'd love to someday make it up to Yellowstone, in the middle of Winter perhaps, when the crowds would be much less and the scenery "snow-capped".

Now heading westward on MT 212, I chose to try out this dirt trail with a "Lulu Pass" sign.  I didn't get very far, a couple of miles perhaps of rocky trail until I hit a stretch of deep snow blocking the road:

Riding alone, I chose not to try and traverse the snow patch and perhaps get stuck.  Had I been with my fellow Uralisti, it would have been a different story.  Still, all was not lost, since this is the view that was present to me as I turned Vikki around to head back down to the paved road:

Panoramic shot of the view of the peaks from somewhere on Lulu Pass Road

 On Lulu Pass Road, before turning back towards Hwy 212

 Here's Vikki ascending away from the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and heading towards
Beartooth Pass

There was construction soon after I turned eastward on Hwy 212 but I lucked out in only having to wait a few minutes.  There was this small waterfall providing some nice scenery while we waited.

Vikki by the waterfall

After construction crews let the line of vehicles of which I was a part through, I turned off at this Shoshone National Park campground side to see how close  I could get to a rock formation I'd been admiring for some time from the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway:

You can see the topmost portion of this mountain from quite a distance while riding in 
the area of the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway

As I gained altitude, things were getting much windiers and a bit "brisk"
I stopped here to don my windproof riding jacket liner and heavier gloves, I was 
all set and warm after that.  The above picture was taken just after the "Top of the World" store area.

One of several somewhat frozen over lakes up at altitude.

As one climbs further up towards Beartooth Pass, the views of the surrounding 
peaks keep causing one to stop at the many turnoff points to take a picture or two.

Hey Irondad, so, enough snow-capped peaks for ya?

Curiously, never spotted the usual sign designating a spot as "Beartooth Pass"
I did spot the above sign though, and went with it

Here's a closeup view of the distant peaks visible from Beartooth Highway

Taken as Vikki and I started descending down the mountain hugging paved road
that takes one down to Red Lodge, Montana.

This shot should give you an idea of the terrain that the Beartooth Highway Loop 
is cut from, affording its visitors some pretty impressive views.

I arrived safely at Red Lodge, Montana and located our hotel room just a few minutes before Martha and the boys showed up in the Bimmer.  Quite a day's worth of riding today, lots of nice views and a salve for my soul after a rocky morning's start.

Only 161 miles ridden today, but what scenery!  Vikki again did great!

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Montana Trip - Day 1

Today was the first day of a motorcycle/car trip to northwest Montana and the Glacier National Park.

My family, in the car and me on Vikki the V-Strom Sidecar rig, took off from our home at 06:05AM and took mainly superslabs out of the great state of Colorado, heading north into Wyoming.

As I neared the border, I realized this was the first time I'd ridden Vikki across the state borders!  As I took this picture below, I also thought I'd made it farther out of state than last Fall when I'd attempted a ride on Natasha, my Ural Sportsman sidecar rig to Monument Valley!

Along the way out of town, I discovered something.  If you get your wife a car crafted by the Teutonic elves of Bavaria, and it comes with a 4.4 liter V8 engine and finally it was designed to effortlessly cruise the no-speed-limit parts of the famed Autobahn.....she's bound to like using the accelerator!

Despite the sidecar attached, my V-Strom has a damn good power to weight ratio with its powerful 1000cc engine.  Yet I was finding it hard to keep up with the X5 Bimmer SUV she'd recently acquired, replacing the Pontiac Montana minivan she'd driven for over 12 years.

The winds of Wyoming, where gas mileages go down the toilet.  My V-Strom tends to average around 34-36mpg, but with the strong head and crosswinds I encountered through damn near the entire day of riding in Wyoming caused my MPG to fall to 26 MPG!  These same winds caused, depending on which direction they hit me from, caused different parts of the rig to drag as if things were not aligned correctly.  So there were long stretches where I was fighting a tendency of the rig to track to the left or to the right.  Kind of tiring in a way but nothing I could not handle.

Still it made for a long day.  The banality that is Wyoming scenery along the interstate highway and the WY state road 20 all the way to Shoshoni didn't help time pass either.

North of Shoshoni though, and before Thermopolis, there was a brief stretch of very scenic canyon walls formed by the Wind River, all contained within the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Not many pictures though, it was either no safe place to stop or damn cagers following so close I could not stop slow to stop.  Still, I managed one stop:

I'll have to see if my return path back to Colorado takes me through this canyon again, some of its rocky formations were quite beautiful.

It was hot and sunny most of the way through Wyoming but bearable for the most part.  11 hours of riding/driving later, we pulled into the tourist town of Cody, Wyoming where we were staying the night.

One note about evening entertainment in Cody, during the summer months, the Irma Hotel (of Buffalo Bill Cody fame) sponsors a "western shoot-out" skit.  We thought it'd be good entertainment for the boys.  I recommend you skip it if ever in Cody.  It was a bit "hokey", though the gun noises were quite loud, none of us were impressed.

507 miles ridden by Vikki today, she did absolutely awesome, pulling strongly whenever I needed her to do so.  Keeping up with traffic with no issues except lousy mileage when going faster than 75 mph.  Whether it was because during that same period I was fighting strong winds, not sure.  More riding tomorrow, with the main objective being Beartooth Pass!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Independence Day riding with Ural and GS Sidecar Rigs and a Goldwing

Yesterday, Independence Day, was a very warm (OK it was damn hot) day here in Colorado.  I met with John S, a fellow Uralista and he'd brought along his wife Cookie and met a new Uralista from John B. and his new Ural Gear-UP rig.  Along with John B, came along his lovely wife Sandy riding as the monkey in the sidecar and also Sandy's brother Dave riding on his early 80's Honda Goldwing.  John B and Sandy had trailered their Gear-Up from New Jersey to visit her folks in Conifer.
We all met up at the Bradley gas station in Conifer, CO.  Located at the junction of US285 and CO73, it was a convenient spot for us to rendezvous with the final member of the ride: Dana aka dirtydr on his 1150GS Sidecar Rig.
Once assembled and introductions made, we made our way to Pine, CO where we took CO 126 south heading towards Sphinx Park, CO which is a small settlement a bit off of CO126 near the town of Pine.  The road is roughly paved but navigable by just about any motorcycle and takes one past some really massive rock boulder formations and some really large rock domes.
The rigs at the Bucksnort Saloon
To take a break from the heat of the day, we rested a bit inside the famed Bucksnort Saloon, replenishing our fluids and relaxing in the air conditioned interior of the saloon.  Dana parted ways with us at this point, electing to ride back towards Vail, CO.

At the Scraggly Peak Overlook

Once everyone was hydrated once more, we took off and retraced our route back to CO State Rd 126.  We headed south past the small town of Buffalo Creek, the still desolate Haman fire area which is still recovering from that massive fire, and descended down towards Deckers, CO.
The party broke up after a break at Deckers.  John and Cookie headed towards SE Aurora to rendezvous with a fellow who'd trailered Cookie's new motorcyle, a previously-owned F650GS Beemer.  She would be riding it home.
John B and his wife, along with her brother Dave, continued on CO67 paralleling the South Platte River Rd and eventually transiting through Foxton on their way back to Conifer where John and Sandy where staying.
I followed them for a bit but turned off onto Sugar Creek Rd off of CO67, a dirt/gravel road which eventually dumps you in the small settlement of Sprucewood, CO.

The view from Sugar Creek Road

 From there, it's twisty paved roads all the way back to Sedalia, CO.  Then it was the usual backroads through Castlerock, Parker and eventually the eastern end of Centennial, CO and my home neighborhood.
A good ride, met a new Uralista and his wife, met his Goldwing riding brother-in-law Dave, rode again with two fellow Uralisti.  The heat was a bit overbearing but keeping hydrated and my workout shirt wet with water made things quite bearable.
A previous ride by me via Ural Sidecar to Sphinx Park: LINK

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Farkle update for Vikki

The trip to Montana approaches and my Suzuki V-Strom Sidecar Rig, Vikki and I are looking forward to the 1300+ miles (one way) to Glacier National Park.  Last year's attempt to ride my Ural Sportsman Sidecar Rig, Natasha, to Monument Valley, AZ had ended in mechanical failure.

Among other things, that episode of mechanical reliability issues ignited thoughts which resulted in my acquiring Vikki and soon afterwards, mounting a Dauntless Sidecar onto her.

Today, it was blazing hot and sunny here in the Denver Metro area and I got my riding in early in the form of a run to the hardware store, with Martha sitting in the hack.  Got some materials for some chores at home and a couple of U-bolts that would help me secure a highway peg onto Vikki's subframe, on the left side of the tug.

I can rest my left leg on long rides with the above peg, I use the forward A-Arm
on the sidecar mounts for my right leg.

A Datel voltmeter, to monitor charging and voltage levels on 
the tug's battery.  I have about 145 watts to play with after the tug's needs
are taken care of.

Finally, in expectations of long stretches of straight super slab riding on
the way to Montana's NW corner, a Go Cruise Throttle Control
I got the 7/8" version, clipped it on nice and simple and so far it's working great.
More info on this farkle here:  LINK

All farkle installed, chores done around the garage, now just waiting for the heat of the day to die down towards evening for perhaps a sunset ride.