Incredibly Warm February Means More Riding

February 23rd, 2017
motorcycles in Kiowa

A quick stop in Kiowa.

How warm has it been this February? Well, for starters, riding across the Cherry Creek Dam I see that there is very little ice on the reservoir. It’s mostly open water. I’ve never seen that before. Not in February.

So I’m starting to get a feel for these impromptu RMMRC rides: Any time the forecast is for a gorgeous day (at least in the middle of winter) you can count on someone planning a ride. The forecast for Tuesday was 75 degrees. Sure enough, there was a group going out.

Five of us met up: Maynard on his Kawasaki ZRX 1200, Roy and Bob on their beemers, Pat on his Concours 14, and me on my V-Strom. We headed east out Quincy, which becomes County Road 30, to the Kiowa-Bennett Road and north to U.S. 36. Then east to Byers. We stopped for lunch at the Country Burger cafe.

This is apparently a frequent stop for these guys; the guy running the place said welcome, haven’t seen you for a couple months, and knew exactly what Roy takes in his coffee (honey). So we ate and talked about riding and upcoming rides. Roy is leading the ride to the Barber Motorcycle Museum, which I’m considering going on, and I voiced my concerns about several very long days.

Roy assured me it isn’t bad, that they start very early and then take several extended breaks during the day. I know that’s the best way to cover a lot of miles. I’m still undecided about going.

Meanwhile, the guy at the cafe was very gregarious and likes to talk about motorcycles. He doesn’t ride but he works the track out at High Plains Raceway just east of Byers. He told us about seeing a couple riders go down wearing these inflatable jackets that are triggered when you separate from the bike. Very effective, he said. High-speed get-offs and no injury.

The coolest thing, though, was while sitting there eating, facing toward the window, I happened to spot a bald eagle cruising by outside. Absolutely no question what it was, it was totally identifiable. Who knew they had bald eagles in Byers?

After lunch we backtracked as far as Quincy and the Kiowa-Bennett Road but then we continued south to Kiowa, then west to Franktown, and finally back into Denver. Just a nice ride-to-eat, eat-to-ride day out on a balmy February day.

Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re a biker when you recognize your friends by the sound of their exhaust.

RMMRC Ride Plans

February 20th, 2017
RMMRC rides upcoming

All the planned rides are listed with details on the RMMRC website.

Yes, I know I’ve written quite a lot recently about the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club but I’m doing so one more time. There should be other topics coming along after.

What I want to do, however, is go through the list of planned rides the group has coming up this year. I know I talked about potential rides awhile back but the list of actual rides was just released recently. Here it is.

Big Bend National Park, Texas Ride — departs April 6 and returns April 14

Forney Transportation Museum — day ride on April 15

Pilgrimage to Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Via the Ozarks and Mississippi Delta! — departs April 29 and returns May 7

North Central New Mexico Ride — departs May 24 and returns May 28

Pie Ride — just what it sounds like, on June 3

Kit Carson Carousel / Burlington, CO — day ride on June 10 to see this very old-style carousel

Mesa Verde National Park — departs June 16 and returns June 18

45th BMW MOA International Rally – Salt Lake City, Utah — departs July 11 and returns July 16 — not just for BMW riders

Wind River Canyon / Beartooth Highway — departs July 21 and returns July 23

3rd Annual Mountains of Ice Cream Ride — again, just what it sounds like, a day ride on August 5

Gateway Auto Museum & Black Canyon — departs August 19 and returns August 21

Eastern Canada Tour — departs August 24 and returns September 4 — this is the big one; these dates are only for part of the trip

St. Francis Motorcycle Museum – First Annual Rally — a day ride to a new rally, on September 2

14th Annual KTM ADVENTURE Rider Rally – Crested Butte, CO — September 15 to September 17 — another not-just-for-KTM event

Roy’s Mystery Ride — a truly fun day ride on October 7

Fall Colors in the Ozarks — departs October 21 and returns October 27

So OK, I don’t know about you but there are a bunch of rides there that sound pretty darn good to me. We’ll see which ones I actually make it on. It’s going to be an interesting year of riding.

Biker Quote for Today

When life gets complicated, I ride.

Ride With The RMMRC To Birmingham Or Not?

February 16th, 2017
Motorcyclists on a North Carolina highway.

Riders on a North Carolina highway.

The official list of 2017 rides for the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club is out. If I go on even a couple of these I’m going to be racking up some good miles.

But that’s where the uncertainty comes in. I’m for sure going to do at least one of these group rides just to see what they’re like. However, I think it very likely that more often I will just go on these impromptu day rides like the two I’ve already been on. Here’s why.

One of the first rides of the season is down to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit the Barber Motorsports Museum. Plus a bunch of interesting stops and roads along the way. I heard about this one and said “Oh, yeah, I’m definitely in for that.” And I discussed it with Judy and she’s up for it, too.

So I RSVPed to the ride leader and he sent me the itinerary. Depending on how you choose to do it there could be as many as four days covering more than 400 miles. Yikes! I’ve done that, and I’m perfectly capable of doing it, but I don’t like that kind of riding. And Judy has only ever been on one day of more than 300 miles and she didn’t love that.

Now, I understand why it’s set up this way. Birmingham is a long way and if you only have a week off from work you’re going to have to blast to do it. But we’re not restricted to only a week and we don’t have much interest in that kind of hard riding.

That’s not to say we’re definitely not going to do it; we may decide to go just to really see just what it’s like. Who knows, maybe it would be more enjoyable than we fear. What better way to really find out than to just do it?

But I could do some other rides that are not as long and get my answer. For instance, there’s a North Central New Mexico ride that’s only four days, whereas the Birmingham ride is nine days. Or a three-day Mesa Verde ride. Of course the problem is that the Birmingham ride is coming up soon and the other rides are not till later. I’m going to have to decide without benefit of other experience.

You can bet I’ll be reporting here what my decision is.

Biker Quote for Today

The road isn’t long when you have the right company.

Another February Day To Ride

February 13th, 2017
motorcycles in gas station

Stopping for gas in Limon. It was 82 degrees there on this February 10.

And just that quickly I went on my second impromptu ride with members of the RMMCR. After a group of eight of us went out on Tuesday, a group of five headed out on Friday, which was even warmer, though much windier.

The plan this time was to meet “at the gas station” at C-470 and Santa Fe. Of course, there are two stations there, but for whatever reason I figured it was probably the Diamond Shamrock. I pulled in and only saw one bike but went ahead and got gas. Then I pulled over to that guy and asked if he was with the RMMRC and he said no, that I probably was looking for the large group over at the other station. Sure enough.

And it was a larger group. I parked and walked over to the one guy I recognized and was informed that actually, this was two groups, both meeting in the same place. After waiting awhile longer for more people to arrive we took off. There were five of us: Linda on a Beemer, Mark on a Beemer, Donny on a Gold Wing, Ric on a Harley, and me on my V-Strom. Destination: Limon, but by a very roundabout route.

We headed south on Santa Fe/U.S. 85 to Sedalia and then cut over to CO 105 down to Palmer Lake. I expected we would turn right into Palmer Lake and go on to Monument, then continuing east on 105. No, we turned left, with me thinking that doesn’t make sense because that road would just take us back north up to Larkspur and I-25 at a point where there are no paved roads east. Guess what? After going left just a few yards we turned right again, crossing the railroad tracks, and headed east on what the map now tells me is County Line Road, between Elbert and El Paso Counties. I’d never been on that road; didn’t know it existed.

That road is straight as can be, so no thrills there, but it turns out to be the most direct route from I-25 to Palmer Lake. Who knew? When we crossed I-25 I recognized where we were as I have been east from that interchange. This took us into the Black Forest area and through some zig-zagging we eventually came out on U.S. 24 heading east out of Colorado Springs. Once again, this was a new road for me.

U.S. 24 actually heads in a northeasterly direction, passing through Peyton, Calhan, Ramah, Simla, and Matheson, on to Limon. We stopped for lunch in Simla.

Along the way I had been confused. I was second in the order and looking back it seemed at times that there were six of us, not five. I couldn’t be sure. Pulling over in Simla, there were definitely six. Donny, who had been bringing up the rear, introduced us to Larry. Larry was late meeting some folks but knew they usually headed south on 105 so he blasted along hoping to catch up with them. He caught up with us and thought at first we were his group. By the time he realized we were not it was too late and Donny told him to join us. So he did. Larry was on a really nice, new Concours 14.

At lunch I had a chance to start getting acquainted with these folks. Mark is a semi-retired geologist. Donny pours concrete. Everyone else, including Larry, is pretty much retired. Ric and Linda are newly an item and were like a couple of teenagers in love. And as at breakfast on Tuesday, there was much talk about the upcoming RMMRC rides for the year. I’ll go into detail about those another time.

We headed on to Limon and stopped for gas and from here people started peeling off. Donny just jumped on the interstate to blast back to town. The rest of us headed north to pick up U.S. 36 and take the two-lane back west. Coming through Calhan earlier we had seen a lot of wind turbines but that was nothing compared to what we rode through heading north out of Limon. We rode for miles with turbines all around us; at one point you could look in any direction and see turbines as far as you could see. I’ve never seen a wind farm that big. Mark tells us the wind farm he is doing some consulting on is four times as big.

Hitting U.S. 36, Ric kept heading north on CO 71. I have no idea where he was going but that roads continues on to Brush at I-76. The rest of us headed west into Byers and stopped there briefly to stretch. Linda said she was getting on the interstate and took off. Mark, Larry, and I went into Byers and continued west on U.S. 36, which quickly crossed under I-70 and stayed north of the interstate from then on.

Due to some misunderstanding on my part, I left the threesome heading toward Bennett and found myself on the interstate. No problem, it would better for me to go to Watkins and south from there anyway. I passed under the Bennett overpass and shortly afterward glanced in my mirror to see Larry right there behind me. While Mark had headed south on the Bennett-Kiowa road, Larry had decided to take the interstate, too.

We went south on the Watkins road and turned east on Jewell. Larry headed south at Tower Road and I continued on to I-225 and home. Altogether I covered 250 miles that day. That’s a pretty good little jaunt, especially in February.

Biker Quote for Today

Here is the complete list of why you should not ride your motorcycle:

First Impromptu Ride With RMMRC

February 9th, 2017
motorcycles in Kiowa Colorado

Ain’t it grand that February 7 can be a perfect day to ride!

February 7 and temps in the 60s. Clear and sunny. What a perfect day for a ride. I got a notice of an impromptu ride with some members of the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club (RMMRC) and I went.

While the RMMRC sponsors numerous planned rides during the year, for those who can head out on short notice in the middle of the week there are additional “hey, let’s go for a ride–now!” opportunities. If anything, I’ve figured these are more likely to be to my interest than some of the others. I have the availability and I have the inclination.

So we met up at Performance Cycle, just off Dry Creek Road, at 9:30. It surprised me how busy and unpleasant I-25 still was at that time of the morning. There were eight of us altogether, mounted on three Kawasakis and five beemers (I believe–not completely sure of the fifth).

The initial plan had been to head up toward Palmer Lake but a couple of us had things going on later that conflicted. We both said we’d just peel off when the time came but the guys organizing this ride put their heads together and came up with an alternate run. We headed out to Kiowa.

As I’ve learned, if you go south and east out of Denver you get into some really pretty country down along the Palmer Divide. Kiowa is south and east of Denver. And I had been out to Kiowa last year and found a really nice place to eat, Patty Ann’s. Turns out I’m not the only one who knows this place because Patty Ann’s was our destination.

Being as how this was my first group ride with the RMMRC I was interested to see what it would be like. I know the group puts a strong emphasis on safety but I also know some groups carry it a bit too far, at least by my estimation. That was not the case here; it was just a ride with a bunch of guys who rode intelligently, and safely. Totally comfortable.

I’m new to this group so I’m still getting acquainted and learning names. This late breakfast (early lunch, for me) was a really good time to get further acquainted with some folks and I have to say they seemed like a really nice bunch of guys. We ate and shot the bull and told riding stories. But mostly we talked about the upcoming RMMRC rides this year. Recruitment efforts were directed at the new guy. No problem, guys, I’m definitely going to be joining you on the rides I can.

The food was eaten but the talking was not done when I needed to leave to get home to meet with a contractor who was coming over to spec out some remodeling work we want done. I said my good-byes and headed out. And it was still a perfect day to ride.

You can sign me up for that kind of thing any time. In fact, there is another impromptu ride already planned for tomorrow. Supposed to be a high in the 70s. Hot diggety!

Biker Quote for Today

No one hates winter like someone who has a motorcycle sitting in the garage.

Ridden Hard And Put Up Wet

February 6th, 2017
Honda CB750

My CB750 has served me better than I have served it.

I’ve never claimed to be overly concerned about upkeep on my motorcycles, but I think I just hit a new low. I’m actually embarrassed.

I’ve known for some time that I was well overdue on changing the oil in my Honda CB750 Custom. I did change that oil on Saturday and oh my gosh. That so-called oil was the dirtiest, ugliest, sludgiest mess of stuff that I’ve ever seen. Slap my hand, hard!

With three bikes, I only ride this particular one about 600 to 800 miles a year. If you figure 3,000 miles between oil changes that’s nearly four years. Yes, I know you should change the oil every six months even if you don’t put that many miles on but I just haven’t done so. But what I hadn’t thought about until recently was that this bike also burns some oil. After it sits awhile, when I start it up it has a bunch of oil that has seeped past the rings that has to be burned out. It can get a little smoky.

What that means, of course, is that it was also low on oil. In the last couple months I’ve added a bit here and there but never topped it off because I figured I’d be replacing it soon. Which I finally did.

When I drained it there was probably less than two quarts that came out, while it’s supposed to hold nearly four quarts. And as I said, it was incredibly ugly stuff. I guess my only saving grace here is that this CB750 motor is one of those bullet-proof motors that will take just about anything you throw at it. Like the slant-six motor in my Dad’s old Plymouth Valiant.

So I put in a new filter and filled it with good, clean, fresh motorcycle oil and fired it up there on the center stand. It just seemed to run better than it had for a long time. Then I rocked it down and took it out for a spin. It really seemed to be running better–happier–than it had for a long time.

OK, I admit it. I’ve been a bad owner. And now the thing is, I have two other bikes that are also overdue for oil changes, though nothing like the Honda. And neither of them lose or use oil the way the Honda does. The V-Strom had its oil changed about 18 months ago, about 3,000 miles ago. The Concours has more months and more miles since its last change.

This is where it gets rough. With the Honda and the Suzuki, oil changes are easy. With the Kawi it is necessary to remove some of the body work and then there are two drain plugs rather than just one, plus the filter to be removed. That’s what always discourages me from doing what I know needs to be done with that bike. Anything that requires removal of body work gets put off.

Oh well. I did finally leave the National Park Service again, this time I hope for the last time, so now I have a lot more time at my disposal. I guess I owe it to my bikes to devote more of that time to them.

Biker Quote for Today

Payday! Let’s order some bike parts!

OFMC 2017 Route Mapped Out

February 2nd, 2017
motorcycles in Cripple Creek

The OFMC pulling out of Cripple Creek last year.

John has dubbed this year’s upcoming OFMC trip the “Pure Colorado” ride. With a name like that it’s not surprising that it will all be within Colorado.

Of course in all these years we’ve been all over the state, but recently we’ve made a point of staying in towns we have never stayed in before. Maybe we’ve been through them 50 times, but we’ve never stopped for the night. This trip continues that thrust.

Our first night out will be Kremmling. We have stayed there before. Heck, John’s mother and other relatives used to live there, so no surprise.

From there we’ll head to Leadville. This will be a new stop.

Next day it’s on to Gunnison for a two-night stay with a day of golf. This will be a repeat of something we did just a couple years ago. Staying at the Water Wheel Inn we’ll be directly adjacent to the Dos Rios Golf Course. This was a very good stop the last time so doing it again is fine with all of us.

The obligatory casino stop comes next, at Ignacio. Not a new stop.

We’ll head north after that, to Ridgway. This will be new and for the first time ever we will stay here two nights and have a second day of golf. Presuming I play both days it will be the first time I’ve played golf twice in one year since I can’t even remember. I enjoy the game, it just doesn’t rank as a priority for my time the way it does for most of these guys. Generally I only play once a year on the OFMC trip.

From Ridgway we’ll continue north and east over McClure Pass to Carbondale. We’ve stayed in nearby Aspen once or twice but never Carbondale. I’ll be interested to see what the town has to offer. It has always been a pass-through town for me.

And then home. All in all this is not going to be that many miles, so I guess it’s a good thing I’m planning on doing some riding with the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club. I want to put a lot of miles on my bikes this year.

Biker Quote for Today

Bikers don’t go gray, we turn chrome.

Examiner Resurrection: Gear You’ve Gotta Have On The Road

January 30th, 2017

Summer will be here before you know it and it will be time to do some two-wheeled traveling. What follows is a piece I did for Examiner while out on a long OFMC trip.

Gear You’ve Gotta Have On The Road

Riding 2,000 miles over the course of eight or nine days is not like riding your motorcycle to the local watering hole. We’ve been on the road for five days now and there are four things I am especially glad I’ve got with me or on the bike.

Ear plugs
Most bikers are familiar with the overall feeling of well-being that comes over you when you ride. That’s one of the things that gets you hooked on riding. What a surprise then to add serenity to that good feeling. That’s what happens when you put in ear plugs.

Never mind that ear plugs help you preserve your hearing, although they do. And it’s not as if they block out all noise and you’re riding deaf. You hear all the same things you do normally, but the sounds are muffled. It’s peaceful. It’s serene. If you’ve never ridden with ear plugs you owe it to yourself to try it. You’ll be amazed.
And they don’t need to be form-fitted or anything. Just pick up a pack or six or eight at the local drug store, squeeze them into little cylinders, slip them in your ears, and let them expand back out to fill in the space. And just ride serenely on.

Highway pegs

motorcycle with highway pegs.

Highway pegs go a long way for comfort. (Yes, filthy bike.)

You don’t want just any highway pegs, in any position. This is something I’ve learned from my two bikes. On the Honda I’ve always had highway pegs and they’ve been nice to shift my legs to a different position, but they’ve never really been comfortable enough for me to ride like that for very far.

On my Concours, on the other hand, I only got highway pegs in the last couple years, once Murph finally figured out how to make it work without having to cut through the plastic bodywork. And what a difference. These things are so comfortable I can hang my feet out there, even both at the same time, and just cruise. I’ve seen my buddies do that but that was never me. Now it is.

You’ve got to be able to move your legs around on a long ride. A variety of pegs enables that. If the ones you have don’t do a good enough job it’s time to go shopping. All highway pegs are not alike.

Throttle lock

motorcycle throttle lock

Flip the lever down to lock the throttle in position.

Some guys have cruise control on their bikes; for the rest of us there are throttle locks.

The difference, in case you don’t know, is that cruise control allows you to maintain a particular speed, just as in a car. A throttle lock just keeps the throttle set at a particular level and you slow down going up hills and speed up coming down them. It’s not perfect but it’s far better than gripping that grip hour after hour after hour on a long trip.

Ideally, when the lock is secured it will still have enough play that you can reach over and move it one way or the other to compensate for hills. Otherwise you might find yourself slowing down to 40 mph on the uphill and speeding up to 80 going down. That’s definitely not ideal.

But even if you have to tweak the setting every minute or two, how much better is that than constantly holding on to that grip? Let’s see, 2 seconds of adjustment with 58 seconds of relaxed hand and wrist. Compared to 60 seconds of gripping. Yeah, give me a throttle lock.

Tank bag

motorcycle tank bag

A tank bag with a map display is incredibly convenient.

A tank bag with a map display on top, of course. Trying to fuss with a map while stopped on a motorcycle, especially with the wind blowing, is hopeless. The tank bag is a very convenient holder for things you want quick access to, and the map display is the ultimate in simple. Stop. Look down. Determine your route. Go.

Being the only one in the OFMC to have a tank bag, my bike often becomes the gathering point when we’re about to take off. Guys gather around my bike, we examine the map, and they head back to their bikes. And I pretty much always know where we are and where we’re going.

These four things go a long way toward making me a happy camper when I’m out on the road eating up the miles. But don’t take my word for it, try them yourself and see. I’m sure glad I did.

Biker Quote for Today

Matching all your gear to your bike? You’re not a biker, you sir are a Power Ranger.

Not Our Beef–Don’t Penalize Us

January 26th, 2017
The clever artwork the AMA came up with for this effort.

The clever artwork the AMA came up with for this effort.

Where’s the beef? And what’s the beef? Oh, the beef’s right here; the second answer is a bit more involved.

It seems the Office of United States Trade Representative is proposing to retaliate against European countries that bar American beef raised using hormones by levying a 100% tariff on small EU motorcycles coming to the U.S.

Now, you can argue whether using hormones is good or bad but for motorcyclists that’s not the issue. The issue–or beef–is why should we be the ones to feel the impact of something that has nothing to do with us? I mean, if the U.S. feels retaliation is appropriate, why not single out imports of olive oil or some other food product? Something that is at least in a way related. That would also serve to spread the impact around through a broader portion of the population, rather than focusing it sharply on just our small group.

Additionally, I have to wonder just how much impact this is expected to have. The new tariff would only be imposed on bikes between 51cc and 500cc. The manufacturers impacted would be Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Ducati, Fantic, Gas Gas, Husqvarna, KTM, Montesa, Piaggio, Scorpa, Sherco, TM, and Vespa. You know someone like Vespa would be hit pretty hard but think about the Vespa dealers in the U.S.–they’d be hit pretty hard, too. This is something done to benefit Americans? But on the other hand, how many bikes do all of these companies sell here? Can you name a single model in that size range?

As the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) sums it up, “Should product availability be hindered through unjustified trade sanctions on European-produced motorcycles, dealerships may close, leaving countless Americans without jobs. The negative effects of the proposed trade sanctions will not only harm the motorcycle sales industry, but will spread through the aftermarket equipment sector, recreation equipment sales, the sports entertainment industry and further down the line.”

This all got started before Trump became president so you have to wonder what attitude his administration will take. They might see this as harmful to Americans but they might also decide to double down, maybe increasing the size range to 1000cc or removing the size range entirely.

Anyway, the AMA is urging riders to oppose this proposal before the January 30 end of the comment period. And to that end they have set up a petition page to make it easy for you to do so.

I just sent my remarks. Now it’s your turn.

Biker Quote for Today

Therapy is expensive, wind is cheap.

Last Last Brass?

January 23rd, 2017
They used to pack them in to the Last Brass Monkey Run, like here in 2008.

They used to pack them in to the Last Brass Monkey Run, like here in 2008.

I mentioned in my post following the Last Brass Monkey Run that attendance is down considerably since the first time I attended the event. Well yes. In fact, it is down so much that the Grizzly Rose told ABATE that it would no longer be the site for the event. Not, that is, unless ABATE pays all costs: salaries, maintenance–whatever.

Was this the last Last Brass Monkey Run?

Not if the folks who do the work to make it happen have anything to say about it, although the 2017 Last Brass Monkey Run may indeed be the last.

The 2016 event was the 29th time it has been held. “There has to be a 30th!!” was the emphatic attitude at the ABATE District 10 meeting on Sunday. And if indeed the next one does turn out to be the last one, let’s go out with a big bang!

The Last Brass Monkey Run–a December 31 run starting at all points of the compass and every road leading to the Grizzly Rose–has for years been ABATE of Colorado’s biggest fundraiser. But just as the number of people at my District 10 meetings has dropped from 25 to 30 each month to the current 6 to 8, the crowd at the Grizzly Rose in recent years has been a shadow of what it had been.

Surely part of the blame for this rests with the organization itself. Bad blood that I still have no understanding of caused a mass defection of people from District 10 and some really bad financial decisions, made without consulting the membership, nearly led to ABATE’s demise only two years ago. There must be other reasons but I don’t know what they are.

I really like the idea behind the event. It’s the last day of the year and the last ride of the year. Sure sometimes you can’t ride–ice and snow are an impediment. But many years you can and hey, let’s show some guts and get out and ride on this cold day. It’s our last chance this year.

But now we may be looking at the last of the Last Brass. And there’s not even a guarantee there will be another. But I suspect there will be. At least one more.

Biker Quote for Today

I just want to go riding and ignore all my adult problems.