Sunday, October 26, 2014

One Drone, Two Passes, Three Uralisti

Great riding weather yesterday here in the great state of Colorado!  Things started a bit cool with temperatures in the mid to low 50s but would climb into the high 80s by the late afternoon.

I met two other Uralisti, Scott M and Mike S. at the gas station near Morrison, CO at 8:30AM.  After greetings and looking over Mike's new Black and Silver Patrol sidecar rig, we set out north on CO93 towards US40.

We motored smoothly into the mountains, paralleling the faster traffic on the I-70 Super Slab, heading towards US6, aka Loveland Pass Road.  The objective today was to try out Mike S.'s flying drone setup with attached gopro camera.  There was high hopes for cool video shots of our rigs as we moved about Loveland Pass.

 Here's Mike by his pretty black Patrol with silver trim, 
behind him is the drone, a DJI Vision 2, as he worked to set it up for flight operations.

The winds however, proved too strong for the lightweight drone in the Loveland Pass Summit area so we moved westward a bit to a more sheltered area to try again.

 Just west of the Loveland Pass Summit, there's a small parking area with 
picnic benches nearby.  We posed our rigs once again and once again Mike tried
to get his drone flying correctly.  Unfortunately, technical issues involving some damage to
a couple of the propellers resulted in unstable flight behavior.  

We decided to carry on without the drone, relying on our respective cameras instead for the rest of the riding.  We made our way west towards the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort and stopped at a hairpin turn where one can overlook the ski area to once again pose our rigs:

 Near the A-Basin Ski Resort.

A video snippet of Mike and Scott on their rigs on Loveland Pass Road

A composite of two screen snaps from the above video

Scott M. left us at this point, he was going on to Vail where there was a swap meet scheduled for folks looking to unload their old ski equipment, bargains were to be had apparently.  Mike and I headed East back towards Georgetown for lunch.  I somehow managed to not get a photo of Scott M during all this, hopefully Mike got a good one of him for this posting.

Lunch was at the Lucha Mexican Restaurant in the downtown area of Georgetown.  Chile RelleƱos, hmmmm, tasty!  Mike even paid for lunch, such a good deal.  We parted ways afterwards, he heading home and I riding up to Guanella Pass with Scarlett.

The northern half of Guanella Pass, which in rides past had been a mess of potholes and constructions, was now a nicely paved road all the way to the summit area.  The skies were that deep Colorado blue hue and they framed the nearby mountain peaks nicely.

The southern half of Guanella Pass Road however, was all torn up for construction!  I dimly recall it having been mostly paved, now it's all packed dirt and gravel with assorted rocks and boulders to keep one entertained on the way down from Guanella Pass.  I was following this car, trying to keep back to keep from inhaling the dust that all the vehicles were spewing from their tires on this part of the road!  I was glad I had the full windshield on Scarlett today!

I made it down to the southern terminus of Guanella Pass Road, the small settlement of Grant, and the junction with US285.  Scarlett and I motored eastwards towards the Denver Metro Area along with very light traffic and steadily warming conditions.

As I got to within a few miles of home, I was monitoring the odometer reading on Scarlett and as soon as the magic figure below showed up, pulled off the road for this picture:

Made it home with no issues, having learned a lot of the logistics and conditions one must consider when deploying cameras on an airborne drone.  Much to consider!

This was the first time Mike S. and I had ridden together, though we've known of each other since my days with Natasha, my '96 URAL Sportsman.  Mike S. used to have a Troyka URAL but had given it up around the time we initially met.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Neat Road Trip Planning Tool (plus other map toys)

As I contemplate my next road trip, I found myself using googlemaps to calculate distances but then finding the selected destination of the day not reachable within specified time frame or willingness to sit in the saddle for the amount of time required.

Tried seeing if googlemaps offered a range function which measured how far you could get once you input average speed, hours of riding, etc.  Nothing found but then I didn't spend a lot of time searching either.

I tried googling the phrase "map radius" or some such and stumbled upon this site:  Free Map Tools

They had a map utility that lets you: Discover how far you can travel on land from a fixed point. Specify the start point, then input either how far you can go or your mode of transport with time available. This tool will then show you the range of locations that you can reach in that time on an isochrone map.

So as an example, I put in my home zipcode, average speed of 45 mph and eight hours of traveling by driving and got this result:

source: Free Map Tools

The map shows me how far I can go, by driving (or in my case, riding), within stated parameters.  Of course, it can't account for you going faster in some spots or taking pictures in others but you get the idea.  In the above example, a day's worth of riding would get me to Green River, UT on the westernmost edge of the shaded area on the map.

I'm thinking one could use this tool to estimate overnight stops, estimate days of travel required to reach some final destination and so on.  

For instance, following the model above, I used Green River, UT as my jumping off point for day two of travel and got this:

Starting from Green River, UT...could reach Elko, NV

Day Three of travel, starting from Elko, NV would put me within
striking range of Sacramento, CA

I mentioned mapping toys in the title of this post.  Check out the Map Tunneling Tool, it allows you to select a point on the map on the left screen, and the corresponding point on the Earth if you could tunnel straight down from the selected point is displayed!  Cool beans.  So now, you can prove that one can't really dig his way to China, at least not if you're in the USA!  :)

Digging straight down from center of USA would put you
in the Indian Ocean!

Finally, an area calculator using maps.  In the example below, I found a satellite view of the local elementary school, designated the building with the tool and it tells you how much area it covers.  Not 100% accurate, but still, a neat tool.

Oh the things one finds on the Internet.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fall Colors in the Denver Metro Area

I believe this is the latest I've seen Fall Colors grace the trees in the Denver Metro Area.  I wonder what it means in terms of a snowy winter?

 The road leading into Chatfield Reservoir Park from the South

 I like the way the sun backlights the golden leaves....

 Had to go to the data center today for some work, the trees beside
the facility were a bit past their peak in terms of colors but still nice.

Trees at the elementary school near our home.

Gorgeous riding weather, sunny and warm with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s.  Little to no wind and my network change went well!

Update: 19OCT14

Per RichardM's request, some pics of red Fall colors....not as brilliant red as the stuff on the East Coast but it'll do.  Oh, and throwing in a bonus pic of Brigitta at the Westlands Park in the Denver Tech Center, earlier this year.

A very much "tweaked" photo of the view near my house

The Entrance Arch at Westlands Park

Monday, October 13, 2014

Improving Ergos on Scarlett

I have a 32 inch inseam, perhaps 33 with boots on.  This has led in the years since I've started riding URAL sidecar rigs to some knee pain during long rides.

You see, there's not much room for one's right foot in your standard URAL. The standard seating height puts my right leg at an angle where the armor in my riding pants binds up on my right knee, eventually causing soreness and pain.

In the past, I would raise my right heel a bit and it helped, but I couldn't hold that for long periods of time.  I could deploy the pillion's ride peg and move my right foot back, resting it on said peg but again, it's not something I could hold for long.

The other day, it occurred to me that if I could raise the bench seat on Scarlett, it would allow a better angle for my right leg, obviating the need to ride with the heel higher than the toe as it were.

Some testing, some thinking, some observations later, I tried raising the seat using stacks of washers....this worked to raise it about 1/4 inch but then the mounting screws involved were not long enough.

This morning, I rode Brigitta over to the hardware store to get longer M8x1.25 nuts and bolts.  Brigitta ran well, and the headlight stayed on, so that was a good test ride after Saturday's work involving the headlight bucket.

Returning home, I set about installing the new bolts, using nuts to adjust the height of the bolts.  The bolts replace the OEM ones that held the mounting plate over the battery compartment in place.  The bench seat has a primary mounting bold that secures to the mounting plate, with two other bolts at the rear of the bench seat holding things down on that end of things.

Closeup view of the bolts which now hold the bench seat
about one inch higher than stock.  Usually, the mounting plate
sits flush on top of the tug's frame.
Note how the middle rubber bumpers now hang in the air.

Unless you really know to look, there's no real change to 
Scarlett's appearance.  Especially if I am sitting on her.

source: URAL
example rig with the seat flush mounted to the mounting plate

Getting geared up, I took Scarlett for about 30 minutes or so of riding.  My right foot fits much better now on the right peg, and it feels comfortable to hold my foot parallel to the ground.  I think this little mod will help during the long rides, but we'll see.

Scarlett at the power plant by Smith Road, north of the I-70 highway
and near Powhaton Road.

As you can see, storm clouds, which caused me to ride back homeward in a pretty steady rain.  No big deal but it was close to lunch so I just rode on home, getting wet since I didn't bother to don rain gear.

There is no such thing as warm summer rain in Colorado.

A bit chilled, I got home just fine.  Took a look at the relays which are mounted on the bottom of the mounting plate that the seat is anchored on; a few small drops of water hat collected on them.  I took some leftover rubber trim used for garage doors, black in color, place it under the seat and secured the ends to the pillion's grab bars.  That should keep water and snow from collecting on the relays, the proof will be the first ride in snow; which should be within the next two to three weeks if I'm lucky.