Archive for April, 2009

Motomarathon to Sweep Through Colorado in June

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Billed as a redefinition of motorcycle sport-touring, the Motomarathon Association will hold its inaugural event in Colorado June 12-15.

MotomarathonThe Motomarathon concept is to ride “as many twisties as possible, over four full days. Routes are kept secret until the night before each event. Through a series of self- recorded check points, riders verify completion at the end of each day’s ride. This endurance ride promises to be a pass-bagging extravaganza with the best elevation-changing, rip-roaring twisties the central Colorado Rockies have to offer.”

John Metzger, of Boulder, used the Iron Butt Rally as a starting point in devising what he hopes will catch on as a new sport. He says he “soon realized that fatigue-riddled riding at high speed at night in a straight line on Interstates wasn’t my cup of tea. For me, it was all about making turns.” Just this year, the Motomarathon Association was formed.

Additional events are currently being developed and the association will post standings among the riders and a champion will be designated at the end of the season. The association currently has 19 members signed up, including Metzger and moto-journalist Brian Catterson.

Riders will be mounted on Ducati’s Multistrada, Hypermotard, and Monster bikes and Ducati is a sponsor of the event.

Describing the event, the association’s website says:

The Motomarathon Association’s goal is to establish a series of organized rides with the most challenging routes in the nation and around the world, giving members the chance to share the camaraderie surrounding the best experience in motorcycle sport-touring. Members are encouraged to chase points by participating and finishing in as many events as they can over an annual season. An overall championship will be awarded each year to individuals, and will eventually include teams.

Though some Motomarathons can be elaborate affairs with hotels, meals, support vehicles, mechanical assistance, celebrity bikers and umbrella girls included with additional fees, the basic philosophy is to make each event as automated and self-regulated as possible. The Colorado Motomarathon, for example, requires only that riders join the Motomarathon Association, pay an event fee of $75, have their own bike/gear/camera, make their own hotel arrangements, take care of their own meals, carry their own tools and luggage, and rely on themselves or the kindness of others if they get lost or run into mechanical problems.

The association is encouraging its members to develop their own ideas for events and will consider those submitted. Ultimately they hope to have half a dozen events set up around the country. The second event now being planned is Centopassi Colorado, a motomarathon scheduled for September 11-14, 2009, that is expected to include routes into Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

Biker Quote for Today

Ride hard or stay home.

A Motorcycle Website with an Interesting Twist

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Looking for some new ideas as to where to go on your summer motorcycle trip? If your group is like ours, the OFMC, then you have your own John, who loves nothing better than looking at maps and planning trip routes. But much as he loves the maps and researching the areas we ride to, John doesn’t have the insider scoop on every destination.

As Tom Matthews of Turkey Creek Tours said to me two days ago, the value that tour companies provide is that they know all the hidden gems that you as a non-local could easily miss.

While I won’t argue that Journey America Motorcycling Patches knows the turf as well as any local tour outfit, Wayne Sweet has put together an innovative approach to getting the most out of your ride. He lists a number of themed journeys, or scavenger hunts, giving you the tips you need to find all the interesting spots he has singled out. Then he hopes to make a little money for his effort by selling you patches signifying that you made the journey.

Seven Man-Made WondersThe themes include things like “Alphabet on the Hills,” where you visit spots where large letters are built on hillsides for the town’s high school team or some such. Another is “Seven Man-Made Wonders” that takes you to places like the Brooklyn Bridge, Mount Rushmore, the St. Louis Arch, and more.

Let’s let Wayne tell you in his own words:

Hello, welcome to JAMP, your motorcycle touring and scavenger hunt website. Journey America Motorcycling Patches is a new reason to go riding. You do need another reason, right?

How was your last motorcycle trip? You planned it, you selected the sights and routes and then hit the road. Was it great or just another vacation? Was it a motorcycle adventure? Are you ready for a new form of motorcycle touring?

JAMP Journey Scavenger Hunts are the tour guides for ‘Street Adventure Touring’. Journeys have defined objectives (locations) to visit and photos to bring back, but you choose which routes to take. You plan the routes to take in the scenery that you enjoy, to avoid traffic or to visit locations not on the list.

Journeys are about experiencing the best of America – the back roads, the sights, the people, the food, the buildings, everything that makes this country great. There are Journeys for everyone, whether you are a long-distance rider or like to stay closer to home. You can tour and experience your home state, the natural and man-made beauty of America, history or even politics.

JAMP helps put the finishing touch on your Journey by offering embroidered patches to recognize the fact that you did it! The design of each Journey Patch depicts the individual Journey theme. JAMP Patches are embroidered with a unique serial number when presented to you. Bragging rights come with each serialized patch because we verify that you have completed all objectives before presentation.

Of course, this may not be your thing at all, but maybe it is. I just figured I’d pass it along for you to make up your own mind.

Biker Quote for Today

Go as far as you can see…THEN YOU’LL BE ABLE TO SEE FURTHER.

12 Motorcycling Lessons I’ve Learned

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Riding motorcycles as I have for more than 20 years you’re guaranteed to learn a few things, mainly by direct experience. I recently concluded a series of 12 posts on Motorcycling Lessons Learned on Examiner.com and now I’ve put these all together as a booklet that you can download.

12 Motorcycling Lessons LearnedFor the most part, I was able to use real-life situations that my buddies and I have experienced to show the value of these lessons. Not incidentally, I don’t always look so smart in these situations, but that’s how you really, truly learn a lesson. I’m fine with you laughing at my stupidity if it gets the point across.

Just so you’ll know in advance what you’re getting, here are the titles and links to the individual posts on Examiner.

#1 – Have riding buddies
#2 – Signal your intentions
#3 – Ride your own ride
#4 – Don’t hesitate to ride alone
#5 – Carry proper gear
#6 – Know your bike
#7 – Get training
#8 – Assume you’re invisible
#9 – Take your time
#10 – Explore
#11 – Be opportunistic
#12 – Know how to pick up your motorcycle

Biker Quote for Today

It’s a friggen motorcycle, it’s not supposed to be comfortable, quiet, or safe. The wind noise is supposed to hurt your ears, the seat should be hard, and riding it should make you shit your pants every now and then. Suck it up.

Did You See What I Almost Hit!?

Monday, April 20th, 2009

My all-time favorite motorcycle forum thread is the one on Adventure Riders where people tell about the bizarre things they hit or almost hit while on their bikes. Let’s see what new stories have been added recently.

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The worst crash I ever had on asphalt was from a head on at highway speed with a diving owl. I went right over the back for a long tumble/slide into the ditch. That was followed by riding a very bent bike to the ER to deal with the beak hole in my chest that it left THROUGH my snow mobile suit. Birds are no joke. Hate that movie.

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Well I tagged a Blackbird today, it did not seem very hard and I carried on my merry way, when I got home a friend was waiting for me, “What have you hit?” he asked “Why” “You have blood and guts all over the bike” and on me too, there were bits of meat dropping off me, oh well at least it did not suffer any pain, glad it wasn’t any bigger.

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Yesterday my bud and I rode to Canyonlands NP and back home, about a 300 mile day. Winds kicked up really strong on the way home, like 35 gusting to 50. We slowed down after coming around a corner to find a sand dune had formed a foot deep clear across our lane. An hour later, I saw this weirdness ahead. An entire irrigation sideroll had come loose and was rolling toward us!

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Fellow I know and was rooming with – riding a long distance motorcycle rally: Riding down the super slab at night, he was dangling his feet from his ST1100, to relieve leg cramps. Suddenly, WHAM, his foot is hit by something on the pavement. Stopping to evaluate, he notices porcupine quills spiked in to his riding boots.

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Almost collected a bighorn in the Big Bend country as I crested a hill on a blind curve. He kicked a lot of rocks onto the road (a mini-landslide) as he scrambled up the hillside, causing a small lumo in my throat as I negotiated the curve. Definitely an “almost ouch”!

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A boulder rolling down a hill on highway 20 going towards Truckee. It was travelling in a straight line right in the middle of the lane, going about 20mph. It was huge, I was afraid to pass it in case it took a wierd wobble and crushed me. I followed it for at least a quarter mile before it went off the side.

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a baby doll wraped in a blanket. For a second I thought it was a real baby.

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Coming back from the poverty riders ” mo bottom” rally last year I had a buzzard take off from the roadside as I approached. He flew right over the white side line till I got even with him then banked hard and kamakzied into my front wheel. Knocked me into the other lane but no crash.

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While riding through the East Bay this week, a chicken committed suicide by running into the side of my bike. My friend, riding behind me, said he didn’t see thing until the chicken exploded. I didn’t see it, but there were chicken feathers stuck to the bottom of the bike.

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Hit a bat once, about 35 mph, in the hours just before it got way too dark. He was quite surprised about it too. And yet hung on to my jacket for a good minute or two.

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Several hundred honey bees. I was riding about 35 mph on a street near the San Diego Zoo when I ran through the swarm. Within seconds my my jacket, pants, face shield, gloves, everything were coated with bees. That was when I found out swarming bees don’t sting (luckily). If they had been the African variety it would have been life-threatening instead of just unusual.

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Hit an Elk at 45 with a Colorado State Patrol right behind me. Tucked the front under him and broke its legs. That one hurt.
Hit an Extension ladder on the 280 in Cali (San Jose). Talk about Hangtime!

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couple of years ago…. large sheet of painters plastic in the highway, kicked up just perfectly by a cage in front of me. Hung there like a shower curtain as I plowed right into it. Had to move over three lanes blindly, through traffic, to get to the right hand shoulder and stop so I could peel it off of me and the bike

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Yow! My encounters have been pretty tame compared to those. That’s fine with me.

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
Look! Up in the Sky! More Flying Object Tales

Biker Quote for Today

Murphy is alive and well, living in my saddlebags, and waiting for an opportunity to kill me.

Seasonal Colorado Roads Already Opening

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Hard to believe, but the road to the top of Pikes Peak is already open for the season. I know we haven’t gotten much snow this winter along the Front Range but I thought the mountains were getting hit pretty hard. I’m really surprised.

Some of the best roads in Colorado are seasonal, which means that they are not maintained, or even open, during the winter. These include:

  • Trail Ridge Road
  • Independence Pass
  • Mount Evans
  • Pikes Peak
  • Kebler Pass
  • Cottonwood Pass

If you’re thinking about riding any of these seasonal roads the best place to find out about conditions is the Colorado Dept. of Transportation website. You’ll want to go to www.cotrip.org/roadConditions.htm and then click the “Travel Alerts” tab at the right. Then scroll down to see whether any of these roads are marked “Closed for the Season.”

For a review of road conditions around the state, use the “Road Conditions” tab just to the left of “Travel Alerts.”

While most of these roads are open by the time out-of-state bikers start arriving for their summer vacation, unless it’s the dead of summer it’s always good to check. While a road may open in May, a blizzard one week later can sometimes close it again until they can get it plowed. Or if we have an especially snowy winter some roads may not even open until June.

In the fall it’s the same thing. A road may not be closed for the season but an early blizzard can shut it down anyway. It’s best to check, and if one of these roads is the centerpiece of your planned tour you’d better figure to come June to August. The shoulder months of May and September can be iffy. Usually they’ll be fine. Usually. No guarantees.

But Pikes Peak is already open! That’s amazing. I’d guess the rest won’t be far behind.

Biker Quote for Today

The World is small… get on a motorcycle and ride around it.

Recommended Colorado Bases for Day Rides

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Red Mountain PassIf you’re planning to ride Colorado and want a base of operations from which to take day rides, where should you stay? This is a question I received twice recently so it occurred to me that I ought to post my answer here. In this case, I’ll be responding to this particular question.

We will be trailering our bikes to Colorado from Florida and plan to ride from August 1st through August 8th. We’ve been out west to ride in other states and usually stay in two separate locations. This allows us to ride a different route each day and really see the area. What would you recommend as the two best areas to stay in while doing day rides?

This was my reply.

I would suggest these two spots as your home bases: Ouray and Breckenridge. Here’s my thinking.

Ouray, first of all, is gorgeous. Of all the cool places in Colorado, Ouray stands out. If you end up not staying there you must at least go there. Of course, Ouray is at the northern end of one of the best roads in Colorado, Red Mountain Pass. (By the way, this photo is of Red Mountain Pass approaching Ouray, although it’s not usually so crowded. This traffic resulted from a construction blockage.)

That also positions you to take the loop and do Lizard Head Pass and go to Durango and Mesa Verde. You can also go north to Montrose and then visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and take the Unaweep Canyon road.

And there’s a lot more in the area. You could spend your entire vacation there.

Breckenridge gives you access to a whole other part of the state. Go south over Hoosier Pass into South Park and take any of several roads that converge there. Or, go north of I-70 and loop up through Steamboat Springs over Rabbit Ears Pass or go east over Trail Ridge Road.

Also from Breckenridge you’re very close to Loveland Pass and Mount Evans.

En route from one base to another you might want to make a point to go via some route that takes you over Independence Pass. This is another of the very best.

So there are some ideas to consider. If you have questions I’m happy to address them to the best of my ability. Truth is, though, you really can’t go wrong riding the Colorado mountains, wherever you go.

Biker Quote for Today

Don’t ride so late into the night that you sleep through the sunrise.

Heads-Up on Ride to Work Day Changes

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

If you’re figuring that Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day is set for the third Wednesday in July as always, here’s an alert. It’s not. It has been changed.

Ride to Work Day logoIn fact, it’s not even being called “Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day.” It is now just “Ride to Work Day,” and it has been moved to the third Monday in June. That’s June 15 this year.

The name change has been made to make the event more inclusive, encouraging scooter riders to join in as well. The date change is intended to take advantage of more moderate weather. The event has also taken on an international scope and in Europe, July is often vacation time for a large number of people.

Additionally, the organizers hope that a Monday event will encourage riders to commute on two wheels all week, rather than just one day. And finally, because Sunday is usually a slow news day, it is hoped that a Monday event will garner more media advance coverage.

In case you’re not familiar with Ride to Work Day, the purpose is to demonstrate:

  • The number of motorcyclists to the general public and to politicians.
  • That motorcyclists are from all occupations and all walks of life.
  • That motorcyclists can reduce traffic and parking congestion in large cities.
  • That motorcycles are for transportation as well as recreation.
  • That motorcycling is a social good.

So I hope to see you on the road June 15.

Biker Quote for Today

No matter what marque you ride, it’s all the same wind.

How to Get Dedicated Motorcycle Parking in Your Town

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Would you like to be able to ride your motorcycle to work and find convenient, free parking by the curb? With a little luck we will have that here in Denver this summer. And you can probably make it happen in your town, too. Here’s what you can do.

dedicated motorcycle parkingDenver is fortunate in that we have a mayor who “gets it” and is willing to consider new ideas. He created an agency called Greenprint Denver that is charged with helping Denverites reduce pollution, congestion, and burning of motor fuel.

But you don’t need that degree of commitment; all you really need is a Public Works Department that is open to trying something new. In brief, here’s what needs to happen.

  1. Identify unused or under-used spaces on city blocks
  2. Have the traffic engineers and parking specialists select the ones they feel would be best suited to motorcycle parking
  3. Get the program approved
  4. Have crews stripe, sign, and otherwise prepare the spaces to be designated

Presto, you’re in business.

I’ll elaborate further. The spaces you’re looking for are called “end-caps” and they are generally spaces at the ends of blocks that are not long enough for cars. So they sit there empty but they could easily accommodate one or more motorcycles or scooters.

Because they’re sitting there empty, converting the end-caps to motorcycle parking would not cut city revenue as converting a metered space would do. So if your city wants to encourage motorcycle commuting, the only costs would be the time spent devising the program and then the striping and signing.

What more can you ask for? It’s green and it’s cheap. And it’s a way for your city to show that it has the concerns of its citizenry at heart. Your city councilperson might be interested in having themselves portrayed in that manner. Maybe if you sent them an email.

But really, I would start with the Public Works Department. They may already be thinking along these lines and your inquiry may be a helpful boost to get the idea in motion. I got involved in this because a reader of my Examiner.com site wrote urging me to lobby for dedicated parking. I started writing about it and several people stepped up to contribute to the effort and then I discovered that the city was already looking into it. So I don’t claim any influence in this at all, I just lucked into a great news story that no one else was covering.

What I have seen as I have delved into this story, however, is that it’s something that could easily be replicated just about anywhere. I really do think all you need to do is start talking to the right people and you can probably make it happen.

If you do, I’d love to hear from you about your efforts and problems and successes and whatever else. Get on it!

Biker Quote for Today

He who rides and keeps the beaten track studies the fences chiefly. — Henry David Thoreau

Apologies to All for Email Issue

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Nothing about motorcycles in this post. I just want to let anyone who has recently tried to reach me know that I didn’t receive your messages until today. If you emailed me via any of the motorcyclecolorado.com email addresses I use since about Feb. 15 I never received your email.

This is an issue I’ve had before. I have all my motorcyclecolorado.com email automatically forwarded to a Comcast account, and Comcast somehow decided to block anything coming from that domain. They unblocked it before, and I’ve contacted them to do the same again. Very annoying.

So If you emailed me you’ll be hearing from me soon–finally.

Colorado Motorcycle Tour Companies Offer Options

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Is cruising the Colorado mountains by motorcycle a dream of yours, but it’s just too dang far away? Maybe you should consider signing up for a tour. Depending on the tour company, they’ll either provide the bikes for you to ride or connect you to someone who will.

motorcycle touring in ColoradoThose of us in the OFMC take pride in riding our bikes to whatever distant state we choose for our summer trips, but let’s face it, we live in the heart of great riding. But you notice we never ride the Smoky Mountains or New England, not to mention Europe or Australia or so many other places. If we ever decided to do that we might be looking for a tour.

There are a number of options for tours if you do want to see Colorado in that way. Here’s a list of the companies I’m aware of and a little about each of them.

Turkey Creek Tours
Turkey Creek Tours is my sentimental favorite of the Colorado tour companies, mainly because I’ve had some interaction with these folks, Tom and Lynn Matthews. It started when they called me one night to settle a debate they had been having. The question: where was the photo on my home page taken? I can’t remember where Lynn was guessing, but Tom was right, it is Independence Pass.

Turkey Creek Tours is a homegrown outfit and they’ve been around for a number of years, so that says good things about them. They don’t provide the bikes themselves but will connect you with people who will. They have six tours on their calendar for this summer and are also happy to arrange custom tours. Check them out.

Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Tours
I’ve never met them but Bob Herman and Lisa Scalise run this outfit. They strike me as being similar to Tom and Lynn of Turkey Creek Tours, so this is probably another good option. Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Tours also has six tours scheduled this summer, and they also do custom tours.

Freedom Tours
Another local tour company, this one run by Mike and Linda Broadstreet. Probably comparable to the first two. As I go along on this I’m struck with how little I really know about any of these so I guess I’ll just give you the list and the links and you can explore them on your own.

Monkey Gripper Motorcycle Tours
What’s different about Monkey Gripper is that they offer dual-sport tours, meaning you get to go off the pavement and explore some of the places other tours don’t go. Dan Patino, the operator, has been a dual-sport tour guide in Alaska and also worked awhile as a Forest Ranger in the Rampart Range, Colorado’s dirt bike haven. One of his tours requires riders to be experienced dirt bikers but the rest are accessible to those with less experience.

GO2Wheels
GO2Wheels is run by George and Andrea Ofiesh. They offer their trademarked RideVentures as well as motorcycle rentals. The website says that:

RideVentures are offered in three ways:
1. RideVentures include lodging and meals (various options).
2. Tag-along – Ride with us but make your own arrangements.
3. Self-guided – We will plan and give you all the information you need for a great ride.

EagleRider
No surprise here, this is the touring site for Harley-Davidson. Of course they’re happy to rent you the Harleys to ride.

Colorado Motorcycle Tours
Another small, local outfit, run by Greg Hartley and Evan Mandell. One thing these guys offer is one-day trips in addition to the longer ones. On their site they promote the idea that hey, if you have just a day free in Colorado, let us take you on a great ride. Not a bad idea.

Ball O’ String Custom Adventure Tours
Willie and George (Jungle) Fuhrman run this outfit out of Eagle. In addition to custom motorcycle tours, they also offer sports car tours. The Fuhrmans lead tours in Colorado and neighboring states and various other countries.

Western Dual Sport Motorcycle Adventures
Here’s one more I only just discovered does tours. I’ve had them listed as a motorcycle rental company on the website but apparently they do lead tours as well. I don’t know anything more about them.

American Motorcyclist Association
Of course if you know the AMA you won’t be surprised that they offer a Ride the Rockies tour.

Biker Quote for Today

Ride the roads that make you giggle in your helmet.