Archive for January, 2009

Goin’ to the Bike Show

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Just what you need to get out of the winter doldrums. Saturday is supposed to be a good day to ride, and the 31st Annual Colorado Motorcycle Show and Swap is going on. I’ll be there.

Colorado Motorcycle Show and SwapThe OFMC has gone to this event a couple times now. Three of us will be making it this year. Here are some photos of the last one we attended, in 2006. Yes, this one you see here is from that bunch.

This show has a little of everything. Actually, a lot of some things. There are a lot of custom bikes with incredible paint jobs and plenty of chrome. There are used parts, primarily of the Harley variety. Plenty of new gear as well. Leather is in abundance, both on the folks in the crowd and in the vendor booths. If you’re looking for chaps or a jacket or vest or . . . whatever . . . you’ll probably find it here.

There will be a couple bands on Saturday afternoon, along with the traditional wet T-shirt contest. As equal time for those of the female persuasion, there is also an Iron Man Bare Chest Contest scheduled for around noon.

Of course, on a good day like Saturday is supposed to be, there will be a lot of good bike perusing going on out in the parking lot.

This thing runs Sunday, too, but with the Super Bowl happening I wonder how many people they’ll get. The weather is to turn bad on Sunday as well, so I’d say Saturday is the day to go.

Biker Quote for Today

People are more violently opposed to fur than leather, because it’s easier to harass rich women than bikers.

Will We Pay by the Miles We Ride?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Colorado is studying a proposal to charge a fee for every vehicle mile driven/ridden. How likely is this to happen?

odometerThe short answer is that it won’t happen any time soon. Republicans in the legislature are working to remove this particular option from the study, and Democrats don’t appear to be strongly committed to it.

The long answer is that some day, years in the future, it might.

Let’s face it, as hybrid and electric cars gain popularity, they will not be paying their fair share for upkeep of the roads solely from purchase of gasoline. Plus, even today we don’t have the money to maintain roads adequately. Obviously something has to give.

Clearly, if we go the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) route it must be set up so that Hummers, RVs, and semis pay more than motorcycles. That is an absolute. Our bikes don’t do anything near the damage to the road bed that the big boys do.

But why not just charge a fee determined by the weight of the vehicle. As with the gas tax, we’d pay less and the big boys would pay more. The inequity there, of course, is that it would be unfair to those who have big vehicles but don’t drive them much. Think of your grandmother. She’d pay as much as someone driving the same vehicle but putting 10 times as many miles on theirs. Still, I’m sure we could work something out to make it equitable.

VMT, on the other hand, would be a real issue. First, you’d have to put GPS units on every vehicle. That might not be hard with new ones but are we really going to retrofit ALL old vehicles? Unlikely. Second, I’m willing to bet that there are folks out there with the technical and mechanical ability to jimmy the GPS so it doesn’t report the actual miles driven. A new cottage industry just waiting to be born!

I don’t think VMT is the answer. Still, I’m not sure I go along with the guys trying to get it removed from the study. It may have merit down the road, some day.

Biker Quote for Today

Less talk, more riding.

Look! Up in the Sky! More Flying Object Tales

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

And we’re back once again with tales of the things bikers have hit or barely avoided. Again, I give credit to this thread at Adventure Riders. Let’s do it.

A huge owl when i was a teenager. It swooped down in front of me my little bro was on back. I ducked and it hit him right in the head busted his faceshield and gave him two black eyes.

Was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone in early ’70s. Came around a corner and a very large buzzard took flight, hit me in the chest and knocked me right off the back of my Yamaha RD350. Fortunately I was only going about 20mph or so. Took three other guys to help me get the bike out of the jungle and back on the road. BTW buzzards really stink!

Early in the morning 280 freeway out of san jose. fast lane coming up on a construction truck with your normal shovel, rakes and wheel barrel in the back. the latter decided to come out of the bed. changed lanes cause i saw it tumbling. but in its tumbling the wheel hit i think at an angle and sent it tumbling across the lanes. was able to avoid it though. didn’t need any coffee that morning when i got to work. wide awake.

Last summer, I took the bike down CA-1 to the Gathering of the Masses. I spent Friday riding down the coast, and started out early from my hotel on Saturday morning to head through Ventura and on down. I was in a pack of traffic when there was a sudden huge cloud of dust ahead. Cars started swerving – out of my lane – yep, I was headed right for it! No room to swerve to another lane – hit the brakes as much as I could before I got to the dust cloud. Blew through it, and saw the remains of… a SHOP VACUUM, rolling along on its wheels next to me at 40 mph like R2-friggin-D2 joined the Hell’s Angels.

I giggled all the way to San Clemente.

Got hit with an Egg McMuffin last year.
Almost ran over a roadkill porcupine coming out of a dusty corner, that would’ve stung.
Lost count of how many snappers I’ve seen.

A rabbit- it had idly hopped out on the road when it saw my headlight ( 1 am) – it seemed frozen by the light. I was doing a little over 100mph and I did try to get around it- it would have worked but the rabbit decided to jump into the light. Took out the light and I found out that no light is a bad idea at this speed ….But nothing major happened, was already quite slow but still vertical when I left the road. The RG500Gamma did not like it.

A soccer ball coming from a garden – bounced off my head. I scored a goal! (The ball went directly through the glass of the door of the house… Talk about some explaining to do. (The owner of the house wasn’t too pleased)
Nothing happened to the bike, I had a sore neck.

Hiway 154 Ca. Northbound. Windy Twisty road going by Lake Cachuma on my 92 K75s. 2 am in da morning. Riding into a long left sweeper going 75 to 80 leaning offf the bike to the left as I am half way into the sweeper that is blind due to a hillside on the left I miss a human head! The head is at my helmet height and we see each other EYE to EYE! Miss by inches!

Couple weeks back dropped the Strom as I crested an uphill blind tight left hander. As the road came back into view all I have is a face full of Bicycles. Ran wide off the corner into the gravel and the front tire folded – Bamm hit the deck. Now this is a road 25 miles from where I live.

One of the bicyclist comes running over and helps me pick up my bike and says: “Sorry If I caused you to crash.”

I looked at him and said: Jay?

He looks back says: Chuck?

We know each other… What are the odds?

So be careful out there! Here are the other flying object posts:
Motorcycles and Flying Objects
More Flying Object Tales
Latest Tales of Flying Object Encounters
Even More Tales of Flying Objects

Biker Quote for Today

Catching a yellow jacket in your shirt @ 70 mph can double your vocabulary.

A Lot of Good Reading from the National Motorcycle Examiner

Monday, January 19th, 2009

I do a lot of motorcycle writing that you never see here on this blog. In addition to maintaining the Passes and Canyons website and writing this blog, I also write 3-4 times each week for, as the National Motorcycle Examiner.

army bikeWhile I do on occasion write about the same subject both here and there, for the most part I don’t. And even when I do, I generally do two different posts, rather than a copy and paste. The point is, the two have different audiences. I figure you folks reading this blog are confirmed biker types, whereas the folks reading my stuff on may be newbies or confirmed bikers, or they may not ride at all. What makes sense in one place doesn’t necessarily make sense in the other.

That said, there have been a number of pieces I’ve written for that you might find worth reading. Here then is a listing of articles and links to them. I hope you find something that piques your interest.

Only a biker knows . . .
You’ve no doubt noticed that I include a “Biker Quote for Today” at the end of each of these blog posts. I don’t do it on, but periodically I collect the quotes I’ve used here and present a bunch of them at once.

DNC riders: The best one-day motorcycle ride from Denver
In a group effort for the Democratic National Convention last summer, all Denver Examiners were asked to put together recommendations in their topic for the convention delegates and the press.

What cagers don’t know about motorcycling
This was an educational piece for the non-biker readership.

The ignorance we’re up against
A discussion of how clueless non-bikers are about what we do.

Best motorcycle bars in the Denver area
Another joint Examiner effort, this time a “best of” listing.

Underwater motorcycles, motorcycles that fly
Passing along some interesting items I ran across about a submarine motorcycle and one that sprouts wings and flies.

The new styles in helmets: fruit, pots, tires
An amusing report about the frantic efforts of Nigerian motorcycle taxi drivers when they realized the government was serious about enforcing a new helmet law.

If you love motorcycles you want to see Jay Leno’s Garage
Passing along a link to a terrific site, at least if you’re the kind of guy who is interested in motorcycles.

Who will fold first, Chrysler or Harley?
A disturbing analysis of Harley’s future.

So there you have it. Take a look. I certainly think there’s a lot worth reading there, but then I’m biased.

Biker Quote for Today

What does it mean to you? For me, it’s something I just do.

OFMC Will Ride the Beartooth This Year

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Are you planning your summer trip yet? I know for a fact that a lot of people are because with this website in the early months of its fourth year I see the seasonal ups and downs of the traffic. November is traditionally my slowest month and it picks up in December and then climbs like a mountain goat through July.

On top of the Beartooth Pass

Of course the OFMC is planning a summer trip, and this year we’ve decided to return to the Beartooth. In case you aren’t familiar with one of the greatest motorcycle roads in the U.S., the Beartooth Pass is traversed by U.S. 212 running from Red Lodge, MT, in the east down into Yellowstone National Park on the west some 65 miles distance. Along the way it rides the ridge above timber line for miles and miles.

We’ve done this ride before, but not since 1992. It’s time to go back!

We went west to east before and we want to go east to west this time. Plus, the OFMC has a bunch of new members who weren’t along on the last trip up there.

We’re also doing something new this year. While we had given serious consideration to hitting Jackpot, NV, again, another favorite stop of ours, it didn’t work into the plans. Instead, we’re going to Lava Hot Springs, ID. This is a place John, our map-meister, ran across and looked up and then proposed. It looks very interesting.

The rest of the trip will be focused around these two destinations. We’ll be either stopping at or passing through a lot of the usual places these trips to the northwest take us through. These include Saratoga and Thermopolis, WY; Vernal, UT; Red Lodge and West Yellowstone, MT; and Craig and Steamboat Springs, CO. I’ll map out the route and post it once we get it all nailed down.

Yeah, July seems like a long way off but that just means you get that much longer to dream about the ride. If you’ve never done a week-long ride then start planning and organizing. This is always my single most favorite week of the entire year. What’s holding you back?

Biker Quote for Today

Ride ’til the horizon is behind ya.

My Visit to the National Motor Scooter Show

Monday, January 12th, 2009

I’ll tell you right off the bat that this event was far less than I expected it to be. I mean, with a name like National Motor Scooter Show, and the promise of 35 manufacturers represented, I expected something big and glitzy. It wasn’t.

The event was held out at the Adams County Fairgrounds from Friday to Sunday, in conjunction with a holistic crafts fair. That gives you an idea just how small it was.

Vectrix VX-1Let’s give these folks their due, however. This was the first year for the event and most all things of this sort start out small. With any luck, they did well enough that they’ll be back in following years, getting bigger and better.

It was still interesting, however. In particular, I was curious to see the Vectrix VX-1 all-electric, plug-in scooter. I had read about this and was interested to see one. It’s a large scooter, seats two in comfort, and reportedly has a top speed of 62 mph. It was priced below a comparable gas-powered scooter so I’m thinking that if I was in the market for one of these things I’d go with the Vectrix.

Another one I found interesting was made by Schwinn. You know Schwinn, that old bicycle company. I didn’t know they had gone the motorized route. I do know you sure don’t see many Schwinn bicycles around any more. Adapt or die.

There was one motorcycle in among all the scoots, and that was a first for me as well. This was a Hyosung bike, made by a Korean manufacturer who is trying to break into the U.S. market. This particular model was a sport bike but I didn’t get the model.

So. Not a big event but I’m always interested in anything with two wheels and a motor. The more of all of us there are out there on the road the more clout we have in protecting our rights. Get your motor running!

Biker Quote for Today

Whatever it is, it’s better in the wind.

No Rockies Ride for New Zealand Crew This Year

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

You may recall that I did a whole series of posts awhile back called “New Zealand Rides the Rockies,” mapping out the routes that a bunch of kiwi riders were planning for this summer.

Well, I got an email from Steve, the organizer, the other day and the trip is off for this year. The current global economic debacle is to blame. Steve still hopes to do the trip, but he says it will be 2010 at the earliest.

I sure know how that goes, having been out of work myself for most of 2008, and only recently getting back to work and putting my finances in good order.

Nevertheless, it was interesting how I came to email Steve last week. It seems that Dirk, a biker who read this blog, is planning a riding trip in New Zealand and had been trying to find out about good roads down there. He tried reaching some motorcycle clubs but got no answer so he contacted me, asking to be put in touch with the guys I knew. I did, and Steve replied with his news.

Oh well. We were looking forward to hosting Steve and his buddies, but we’ll be just as happy to see them in 2010, if that works out.

Biker Quote for Today

When life throws me a curve I will lean into it!

Having a Great Time at the Motorcycle Ice Races

Monday, January 5th, 2009

You really can’t believe the way these racers scream around the frozen track until you see them do it. We saw them today and it was great!

My wife, Judy, and I went to the Harry’s Roamers Motorcycle Club ice races at Rainbow Falls Park, which is off CO 67 between Deckers and Woodland Park. A frozen lake provides the track. It was pretty dang cold but the racing was hot! Well, at least some of it.

motorcycle ice racing

You have to figure, with classes ranging from pros to toddlers, not all the racing was hot. But if, like Judy, you swoon over cute kids you would have loved these tiny tots on their tiny bikes. In some cases you could probably run and keep up with the leader, providing you didn’t slip and fall on your butt on the ice.

The top racers, on the other hand, were amazing. They have sheet metal screws drilled into their tires to provide traction and it must really do the job. I haven’t even seen lean angles like that at dirt tracks.

There was a real variety, too. Besides the two-wheelers, there was also three- and four-wheel ATV racing, and also the third-wheel guys. These third wheels were basically motorcycles with a large third wheel set up like an outrigger. And then there were also the guys on two wheels who don’t use studs in their tires. Don’t ask me how they stay up.

The whole thing was a lot of fun, it took much longer to get there from Denver than we expected, and it was biting cold, at least early on. If you go be sure to get an early start and dress very warmly.

The club will be holding four more race days this season, on Jan. 11, Jan. 18, Jan. 25, and Feb. 8. There’s an $8 gate fee, with kids under 12 free. You can buy food and drinks but be prepared to pay very high prices. Better to take something along.

This was a lot of fun. I strongly recommend it. Enjoy.

Biker Quote for Today

Go fast and aim for where the trees aren’t.

2008 Car/Bikes Mileage Almost Equal

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

I wondered for a long time if I was going to manage to get in more miles on my bikes last year than on my car. Well, it’s January 1, 2009 and I have the answer: Not quite.

My total overall mileage was 9,810 miles. That splits almost equally between two wheels and four wheels, but four wheels ended up with a 132-mile edge. Car: 4,971. Bikes: 4,839.

How does that compare with what I set as goals a year ago? In that regard I’m looking really good. Here’s what I said: “For 2008 I’m going to shoot for 2,500 again on the Kawi, I’ll really push and try to also log 1,000 miles on the Honda, and I will try this time to keep the car to under 11,000.”

In fact, I put 2,265 miles on the Concours and 2,574 miles on the Honda. Clearly I was wildly successful keeping the car under 11,000 considering I only drove it 4,971 miles. Being out of work much of the year made that easy.

So, what about 2009? What goals am I setting?

Well, I’m working again, and this time the job is much closer to home, only 4 miles away. That means that even if I ride a bike much of the time it won’t come out to that many miles. My previous job was 23 miles away.

I’m going to set 5,000 as the low goal for the car, the idea with it being to keep the number down. For the Kawi I’ll shoot for 2,000, and then 1,500 for the CB750. I’ll definitely be taking the Kawi on the OFMC trip this year, so 2,000 should be easy. I’ll need to choose the Honda deliberately on numerous occasions to make 1,500 with it.

I know these aren’t big numbers but hey, I just don’t drive that much. Did you drive less than 10,000 miles last year? I don’t think many people do.

So, have a good year riding and, as always, keep the rubber side down.

Biker Quote for Today

If you ride like there’s no tomorrow, there won’t be.