Archive for May, 2008

Designing a Truly Different Motorcycle Magazine

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I’ve been receiving three motorcycle magazines for a lot of years now and they’ve all been pretty interchangeable. That is, they’ve all had the same “favorite rides” features, they’ve all focused on the new bikes each year, and they’ve all had columnists writing about various motorcycling issues. No more. One of them has changed.

American Motorcyclist is the membership publication of the American Motorcyclist Association, to which I belong. I recently received the June 2008 issue and oh my gosh has it changed!

Just for starters, to show how much it is now NOT like the others, there is not one bike to be seen on the cover. I’m not sure any motorcycle magazine has ever published an issue that did not have at least one bike on the cover. What is on the cover is a picture of Jay Leno. We all know Leno is big into bikes, so he’s an appropriate subject for a motomag feature, but it’s not him and one of his bikes, it’s just a tight head shot of Jay.

Inside the issue other changes leap out at you. The opening four pages, once you get past the ads, are photos of AMA members and their bikes — apparently a new feature. When you get to the letters from readers, those pages also feature pictures of members and their bikes. Real people, real bikes. Not these unobtanium show bikes that you so often used to see.

In fact, there are a phenomenal number of photos all through this magazine. Apparently the editors decided that they had way too many words and not enough pictures of bikes, so they rectified that problem. Rather than articles that go on for pages with lots of words and just a few photos, the ratio has been reversed.

Then you come to the feature article, “Hangin’ with Jay.” Again, lots of pictures and rather than a wordy interview, they just quote Jay on various topics: On his first ride; On buying his first motorcycle; On old bikes vs. new; etc. And it makes for good reading. They also took a couple AMA members along on the interview and the whole crew took a ride on several of Jay’s bikes. The two members have a chance to say a few words about the experience. One of them, Nicole McMurray, ends her piece saying:

My favorite story of the day, though, came when we had stopped at the top of the mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After Jay put on his helmet to go, a guy on a white Ducati pulled up and parked. Its rider walked over to comment on Jay’s bike. The guy said, “Yeah, I was watching TV and saw Jay Leno riding one of those.” Jay’s response, “Nice to meet you. I’m Jay Leno.”

So there’s still a lot of information in the magazine. But the packaging of that information is radically different. I like it. I’m really impressed with what they’ve done. And hey, no extra charge for the subscription when you’re a member.

Biker Quote for Today

To me it’s more fun to ride a slow bike quickly. Going slowly on an old Indian or Henderson is a lot of fun. I used to say that I don’t like any motorcycle you can’t see through, and there’s something to that. I like to see the motor.
–Jay Leno

Motorcycles Save Lives in Africa — You Can Help

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Riders for Health is an organization that provides money and motorcycles to transport life-saving medical supplies to remote African villages. Adventure Riders is a web forum for motorcyclists who are “generally long distance and adventure oriented enthusiasts.”

The Adventure Riders have organized a fund-raising event to benefit Riders for Health and that event is coming through Colorado June 7-9. As the group’s letter of intent states, the goal is to gather sponsors and contributions to riders.org while riding in and through:
• Each of the United States
• The Canadian Provinces and Territories
• New Zealand
• Australia
• India
• Turkey
• Scotland

Riders participating in the event are passing off a “baton,” which is a waterproof case containing a “mascot,” pictures, logs, and other items.

This relay starts May 16th 2008 at one of our Rallies in North Carolina with the US and Canadian legs finishing in August of 2008 and will continue on to many other places. During each leg of the relay, riders will take photographs, write online journals, log points of interest or include something about their region or the ride; Motorcycle rallies and enthusiast gatherings get special attention. These photos and stories will be prominently featured in an accompanying thread.

The baton is scheduled to enter Colorado on June 7 for hand-off at Burlington. It will come to Denver and on June 8 make its way to Buena Vista and on to Ridgway. On June 9 it will go to Pagosa Springs, where it will be handed off to New Mexico riders. Go to this thread on the Adventure Riders forum to see the whole route.

If you want to help out, here is the info on donations:

The ADVRider Relay, including the volunteer rider’s expenses, is completely self-funded. 100% of the donations less PayPal expenses or other funds transfer fees are forwarded directly to Riders.org. Please donate via paypal at advriderrelay@aol.com or contact us there for other options.

I think I may be taking a ride on Sunday, June 8.

Biker Quote for Today

It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.

Alert on Bad Conditions on Berthoud Pass

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

I don’t have details yet but will pass along this warning that just came to me:

Please inform your readers, Berthoud is in extremely poor condition. Rode it today, and even had it not been raining and snowing, the road would be very bad!

I replied asking if the problem is that the pavement is in bad shape, or what. I’ll add that info when I receive it.

OK, here’s additional info:

The road was in terrible shape. Lots of potholes, cracks, and still a lot of sand all over.

So there you go. Be careful out there.

If You Don’t Ride in the Rain You Don’t Ride

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Cold and rainy today, with patches of fog. What a great day to ride! Seriously.

Of course Bill had no idea what the weather would be a week ago when he proposed that we do one of our occasional rides up to Blackhawk for breakfast. It has been warm and sunny lately, so we assumed it would be a nice day. I rolled the bike out and looked at the sky and wondered if I should call to see if anyone would show up. But I figured surely someone would be there so we would join them.

Judy asked me what she needed to wear and I told her I was just putting on a flannel shirt over my t-shirt under my leather jacket, so she dressed similarly. We took off and hadn’t gone very far when I started to doubt my judgment. It was darn chilly! Oh well, it was morning and surely it would warm up as the day progressed.

We got to the meeting spot and found only Bill and Jason out for the ride today. Dennis is in Indianapolis for the Indy 500, Johnathon had a graduation he was going to, and John was using his same old excuse about being 250 miles away in Montrose. Wuss. Can’t remember why Friggs wasn’t there.

We headed on up Clear Creek Canyon and the sky was threatening but nothing else. Going a bit slower up the canyon it wasn’t as chilly but Judy and I both were wishing we had our electric vests. Judy was also wishing for long underwear. I was just glad to be on the Concours with its full fairing.

Leaving the canyon and getting onto the Peak to Peak Highway it started looking like it might clear up. That reminded me of when I lived in Golden and worked in Idaho Springs, and on some days I would drive out of a rain or snow storm up the mountain into the sunshine. Then after spending the day in the sun I would drive back down into the same storm I left behind. Not today.

We reached Blackhawk and cruised on to Central City to the Red Dolly, a small casino with good breakfast at very good prices–our standard stop. Had a great breakfast, warmed up, Bill and Jason gave the machines some money, and it was time to head back down. We stepped outside and it was raining. No big deal; we’ve got the gear. And this was Judy’s first opportunity to try out her new rain gear.

Suited up, we headed back down into Blackhawk, got back on the Peak to Peak, and continued north to the turn-off to Golden Gate Canyon. One of the nice things about this whole area is that there are multiple canyons and you can take your pick of which one to go up and which one to take down. They’re all beautiful and twisty.

Today they had a different kind of beauty than we normally see. Besides the rain, we were in and out of low-lying clouds, aka: fog. I know that Judy, having no responsibility for ensuring that we stayed on the road, was more able to appreciate the beauty than I was, but I was not unappreciative.

With the wet pavement, the on and off rain, and the on and off fog, we took it fairly slow. That, plus the rain gear, meant the ride down was quite a bit warmer than the ride up. And with the good rain gear we were perfectly dry and comfortable.

Then we were down out of the canyon, back on CO 93, and we headed over to Bill and Thais’s new house close by to see it for the first time. Some hot chocolate to warm us up again and we headed on home.

This was not the ride we anticipated but at least partially for that reason it was probably a more memorable ride. Despite being a little less well-prepared than we could have been, we have no regrets whatsoever. It was a great ride. What a great day for a ride!

Biker Quote for Today

It takes more love to share the saddle than it does to share the bed.

Taking A Look At Motorcycle Journeys Through the Southwest

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Motorcycle Journeys Through the SouthwestI picked up a copy of this book, Motorcycle Journeys Through the Southwest, on the recommendation of Steve Shards, the Kiwi rider whose pending trip to Colorado I discussed in several posts previously. It’s an interesting book and if you’re coming to the four-corners states (Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona) there is a lot of good information about roads you may not know exist. I mean, let’s face it, there aren’t any websites comparable to motorcyclecolorado.com for any of those other states.

What caught my interest was when Steve included some roads in Utah on his trip plans that I had never heard of. I asked him how he (in New Zealand mind you) came to know about these roads, and he told me he read about them in this book. So I bought the book.

The author, Martin Berke, breaks the four-state area up into a number of geographically logical sections.

  • Grand Circle, which includes Utah and Arizona, takes in, as he says, “one continuous trail encompassing six national parks, two national monuments, two national recreation areas, four national forests, three major dams, and the two largest man-made lakes in the United States.”
  • West Slope Slalom, primarily taking in western Colorado, includes routes going over 25 passes.
  • Front Range covers just what it says, the first range of Colorado’s mountains.
  • Enchantment Land covers New Mexico.
  • 2 x Four Corners reaches into all four states, in that vicinity of each state.
  • Hanging on the Mogollon Rim basically covers northern Arizona. He describes the Mogollon Rim as “a geologic rift that marks the southern end of the Colorado Plateau, runs southeast to northwest across Arizona to the New Mexico border to just below Flagstaff.
  • Bloomin’ Desert covers southern Arizona, all the way down to Nogales and the Mexican border.
  • What I personally find most interesting about this book is that Berke covers a number of roads here in Colorado that I have ignored on the website primarily because they don’t go through to anywhere. That is, these are roads that dead-end or where the pavement runs out and you would need to either turn around or venture out on the gravel — or worse. He also suggests campgrounds up some of these roads as bases for day trips.

    Looking through this book pointed out to me that I’ve been a little short-sighted in this regard, both in what I’ve included on the site and in my own travels. Especially now that I’ve started including some of the better gravel roads, I’m going to let this book help me explore some parts of this state that I’m unfamiliar with. I’d say that’s a darn good recommendation.

    Biker Quote for Today

    Never hesitate to ride past the last street light at the edge of town.

    I Just Saw a Honda Valkyrie Rune

    Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

    I went to the gym this morning and there, parked in the motorcycle parking area, was a bike I did not recognize. And it was an amazing looking bike. What the heck is this? It says it’s a Honda, but what is it?

    Well, it wasn’t until I got home and did some internet searching that I discovered it was a Honda Valkyrie Rune. Here’s what it looks like.

    2004 Honda Valkyrie Rune

    Now, this photo really doesn’t do this thing justice. Yes, you can see that it has a shape and parts that are nothing like anything you’ve ever seen on any other motorcycle, but in the flesh this thing was amazing. For one thing, it’s huge. It sits really low to the ground but it is wide and solid. You don’t see through it the way you do a naked bike or even a lot of bikes with bodywork. And it has angles and metal everywhere.

    The one thing that struck me very negative about this bike was that I couldn’t see how you could ride it. The seat is way back, with the pegs way forward, and the handlebars are a lot further forward than the pegs. Obviously I wasn’t about to get on it and see what kind of body contortions are necessary but it looked to me like it would be hugely uncomfortable.

    That said, otherwise it was an incredible bike. My understanding is that it was overpriced and did not sell well and there are a lot of unsold new ones stored in warehouses. What I read said 2004 was the last year it was made, but this particular one said 2005 on it in several places, so I’m not sure about that. But despite the odd design and very unusual look, I have to tell you, up close and personal it was a beautiful motorcycle.

    I definitely give Honda credit for having the guts to make this bike, and I hope that the experience doesn’t stop them from taking other such risks in the future. And I hope whoever owns this bike rides it to the gym again. I’d like to take another look at it.

    Update
    OK, I don’t understand this, but I just found a web page that shows a 2007 Rune. Has Honda started making them again? Can anyone help me out?

    Biker Quote for Today

    People are like motorcycles: each is customized a bit differently.

    A Blog for You Fans of Italian Bikes; Contacting Me

    Monday, May 19th, 2008

    There was a comment on a previous post from Gianluca Pezzi, who is involved with Blogo.it. In case the name and the “it” at the end of that website name didn’t give it away, Gianluca is Italian. He mentioned two things that caught my interest.

    First, he was calling my attention to their Two Wheels Blog, which he describes as “for readers interested in what’s happening on the motorcycling scene in Italy.” If you click on these links you’ll see that the blog is in English, but the website is in Italian. Unless you read Italian I guess I’d stick with the blog.

    Anyway, the blog is a variety of information, including a lot of videos of bikes and such. Interesting to check out if you’re a big fan of Italian bikes. Says Gianluca:

    Two Wheels Blog is a new initiative from Blogo.it, and is dedicated to the motorcycling sector in Italy: with everything from championships, to new models released, our favourite brands, photos and videos, we’re hoping to give voice to the dedicated motorcycling community around these parts.

    So far we’ve written about our testing of the new Beta Urban 200 pre-series, included a video on a new BMW, written about the new Halley, and reviewed all the style of the Italian scootering tradition. We have a photo of the day spot, where readers can send their best pics from around the world, and you can point us to news or make comments.

    The other thing Gianluca mentioned was that he couldn’t find any way to contact me directly on the blog. Now, on the main motorcyclecolorado.com website there are a number of places where I have placed javascript no-spam email links so people can contact me directly, but I had not thought to do the same here on the blog. I’ll need to do something about that right away but in the meantime, if you want to email me just send to either ken at motorcyclecolorado.com or to webmaster at motorcyclecolorado.com. Thanks. I always love to hear from you.

    Biker Quote for Today

    Tomorrow is uncertain, so today I ride.

    Welcome to Anyone Coming Here Via Mile High Harley-Davidson

    Saturday, May 17th, 2008

    I had a pleasing email in my inbox this morning. It seems the folks at Mile High Harley-Davidson discovered this site and liked it enough to feature it in a post on their blog. They sent me a bunch of rides to add to my Rides and Rallies page and mentioned, oh by the way, we recommended your site on our blog. Boy, did they ever! They didn’t just link to the home page, they gave their readers links to all of the great roads pages on the whole website.

    If you are one of the folks coming here via those links, this “Welcome” is for you! Go ahead and explore the site. Then, if there’s something you particularly like I’m always happy to hear that. And if there’s something you’d like to see added I’m even more interested to hear that.

    Of course, if you have any events you’d like added to the Rides and Rallies page just send them along and I’ll get them up right away. Thanks.

    Biker Quote for Today

    Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.

    I Love What I Learn From You

    Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

    One thing I really love about running this website and publishing this blog is the way I learn about new places to ride from the folks who visit the site. I’m not always able to go check them out right away but they definitely go on my list to get to as soon as I can.

    The most recent road to add to my list is the Kebler Pass road coming over from Crested Butte to CO 133 coming down off McClure Pass toward Hotchkiss. I’ve mentioned Andy Simons several times recently and Andy gets credit for this one, too. He sent me some photos from the road and described it as “dirt road but suitable for all bikes (well graded and packed).” Here’s one of his photos that confirms his description.

    Kebler Pass

    Now, I have never taken this road, not even in a car. In fact, I didn’t know it was there and that you could go anywhere on a good road from Crested Butte other than back down the road you came in on. So I did some checking to find out more about this road. I found one site with a lot of photos where they had this to say:

    This is a beautiful drive, forest road 12, that connects Crested Butte highway 135 with Paonia Reservoir and highway 133. Suitable for any vehicles. If you like aspens, mountains, and many photos ops this is the road for you.

    Then there is this site where people can post their comments on various roads and such, where one person says:

    i lived in colorado for about five years, traveled as many back roads as i could in that time, and Kebler Pass was by far my favorite…for one, it’s a little out of the way so it tends to not be crowded…it is also breathtakingly beautiful…the aspens in this area are huge, and the aspen stand is enormous, mile after mile of aspens…

    I will note that another person on this same site had this cautionary remark:

    The road is heavily washboarded in places and was very muddy after several days of rain, but was easily passable with our Subaru and wouldn’t present much of a problem to any vehicles if the driver is paying attention. I wouldn’t recommend towing over this pass however. Big snows at high elevation would be a problem – something to consider if weather is severe. Take your time as some of the curves are tight and the road drops a lot of elevation on the west side of the pass. We saw plenty of deer, but no other large mammals this trip.

    So it sounds like it should be no problem as long as it’s dry. If it has rained recently don’t even try it. Fair enough. You probably won’t want to try it in May or June but by July or August it sounds like a go. I know I’m going.

    Biker Quote for Today

    The only good view of a thunderstorm is in your rearview mirror.

    A Quick Note Before I Go Ride

    Monday, May 12th, 2008

    Great weather today–got to get out in it. Just a note:

    Five years ago I could fill the tank on my Honda Civic for under $10. Today I can’t fill the tank on my Honda CB750 Custom for under $15.

    What more is there to say?

    Biker Quote for Today

    A good long ride can clear your mind, restore your faith, and use up a lot of fuel.