Archive for September, 2010

Ready for “The Tour of a Lifetime”

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Some guys have all the luck, and this time around I guess I’m one of them. I’ve been invited by EagleRider to come along on “The Tour of a Lifetime” that they are putting on for moto-journalists and, dirty jobs department, I said yes. Someone had to, you know.

EagleRider logoEagleRider, by the way, in case you aren’t aware, is the biggest motorcycle rental outfit around, and they also do tours. You can bet they’re looking for some great publicity to come out of this and I have to tell you, unless they flub it pretty badly, which I don’t expect them to do, they’ll be getting plenty of that from me. I’ll be writing about the ride here, on, and on, so with me they’re getting three birds with one stone.

We’ll be flying into Los Angeles on Oct. 14 to get acquainted and set up, then on Oct. 15 we’ll take off on a four-day ride to San Francisco. Considering that you can do that trip in one day, that’s a pretty good indication that this is going to be a leisurely trip with “touring” being the operative word. We’ll visit the wine country, the Hearst Castle, Yosemite, and more. And yeah, you bet, I’m itching to go.

So this is just a teaser. I’ll have a LOT more to tell you once we get underway. Stay tuned.

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Biker Quote for Today

Dance like there’s no one watching, sing like no one is listening, love like you’ll never get hurt, and ride like there’s no tomorrow.

Watch Out, Weird Stuff in the Road

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Donkeys and GoldWing on road

Every now and then I dip into this well. The original question posted on the Adventure Riders forum was “What is the strangest thing you hit/almost hit?” Here are some more of the replies.

After some of the stories here I hardly feel like my skunk kills are worth mentioning, but it is important to note that if you hit them square in the head with your front tire your bike hardly moves and they die before they can spray you.
Hit a porcupine last weekend, was fun fixing 2 flat tires on the side of the road. Used every bit of my patch kit. 11 punctures in two tires. Spent most the time pulling quills out of the tires. Porcupine walked away.
I cut a poodle in half. No BS. I was going through the gears on a sidestreet when a poodle ran out to attack me. I was clicking into 5th on my RD400. I thought I would run it over and crash, but it just split right in two. I must have hit it just right! I felt a little bad, but there was nothing I could do.
A railroad tie… In the middle of I-30 coming out of Texas. Totaled a full dress HD and didn’t do wife and I any good either. Superslab at 75mph is more fun to ride than slide…
Blastin’ the Mississippi back roads on a GSXR 1000, exiting a blind sweeper at about 110, only to find an old lady on a riding lawn mower leading a goat down the middle of the blacktop. No time to brake, made the pass with at least an inch to spare.
Riding down a country road in Southern Maryland, a bird flies out of the bushes and right into my front (spoked) wheel while I’m doing about 60. Made a sound like shuffling cards and burst into a cloud of feathers.
Great Words of Wisdom….Don’t follow closely to a full cattle truck…and pass way wide …came up on a slow one and just I went for the pass, I swear every cow in the upper deck took a piss…and they say that smells like money.
A 1/2″ sheet of ice as wide and long as the trailer roof on a tractor trailer. Truck is in the on ramp, sumpin told me to move to the far left of three lanes. I see the ice lift up and glide/hoover down. It hit the center lane and broke up into three or four spinning sheets, which broke up into ten or twelve spinning sheets. By the time I rode through it in the far left lane it was about 100 spinning chunks of ice.
A box of intravenous fluids flew off the back of a truck on the highway. A box of 12, each bag 1L = 12kg at speed. I ducked to let it pass over my right shoulder. How ironic would it be to get hit by an infusion bag!
1992 kid shot a skateboard out into the street just as I went by. I hit it, and down I went. Man was I pissed.

OK, that’s all for now. I’ll end with this bit of wisdom offered on the thread: Rule of thumb is if it’s small enough to eat in one sitting you can pretty much hit it without worrying….haven’t tested that, heard it from an MSF dude.

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Biker Quote for Today

If you break your visor you know its a good crash — Danny Laporte

Trusting the Weather–A Mistake

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Apparently it doesn’t matter how long you live in Colorado, you never quite figure out that the weather can change on you in a flash. Here’s an example.

Bill and Dennis and I rode over to John’s, outside of Montrose, for a few days riding in southwest Colorado. The weather was beautiful, but you know, it’s September. That should have been the tip-off. And mind you, Bill has lived here his entire life. I’ve been here more than 30 years.

Monarch PassI was packing and I made the decision that I didn’t need to take my electric vest. What the hey, it’s hot right now! Bill was the same. He just bought a new bike and picked up a new half-helmet at the same time. This bike is his first with a fairing so he figured the fairing the the half-helmet would be all he would need. Yes, his new bagger had plenty of room where he could have just tossed in the full-face helmet, but he didn’t figure there was any need.

The weather was great on the way out and while we were there. Then it was time to head home. We woke up to rain, and unlike so often in Colorado, this was not a rain that was just going to pass over. Weather radar showed storm clouds over half the state, and all of the route to Denver. But hey, we had rain gear, so no problem.


First off, Bill had already figured out that the fairing only does so much to provide protection from the elements. Fortunately for him, John had an old full-face helmet that he no longer used and it fit Bill. That was a godsend.

For me, there was nothing to do but put on layers. Still, we got to Gunnison and the temperature was 40 degrees. We still had to go over Monarch Pass, and that was another 3,600 feet up. And a woman we spoke with who had just come over said it was snowing on top when she was there.

Long story short, it was a cold ride, and it didn’t have to have been. Will I ever learn? If Bill is any example, I guess not. I guess we all keep relearning the same lessons again and again. It just took longer to get home, what with all the stops to get warm. Could’ve been worse.

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Biker Quote for Today

People who wear full faced helmets with tinted visors are aliens and can’t scare teen aged girls at stop lights.

Rocky Mountain High on Cinnamon Pass on a V-Strom

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Cinnamon Pass

Friday was one of the most incredible days I have ever spent on a motorcycle. I went dual-sport riding with Kevin Smith, who rents V-Stroms out of Gunnison, and it was a day I will never forget.

First off, we got extremely lucky in that it was one of those absolutely glorious days that we sometimes get here in the fall. Secondly, not only were we going to some gorgeous areas, the autumn leaf turn was at its peak. If the ride itself had been nothing at all it still would have been a breathtaking excursion.

Trust me, the ride was not “nothing at all.”

This was my first time really getting some seat time on a Suzuki V-Strom. I had a short ride earlier in the summer but this was all day and more than 200 miles. And it was challenging. We rode down to Lake City and took the road up Cinnamon Pass, over to Silverton.

After dumping the bike on the first really tight switchback, I concluded I had to attack these things with vigor and let the bike’s power carry me through. Just moments after the dump, I came to another tight switchback and I could see the general method in use was to power the bike well up the sloping rock wall, at a considerable lean angle. I goosed it and did exactly that and it went just fine. Now we’re having fun!

Up at the top of the pass Kevin told me that going down I should avoid the front brake, and use just the rear. He also said to put it in first and don’t worry if it stalls, don’t grab the clutch. It will jump start on its own if it dies. Good thing we had that discussion, because just about 100 feet past the sign at the top of the pass the road takes a sharp left and there is a completely straight plummet down about 50 yards or more. I’m talking steep, the kind of thing that, coming up, you would want to get as good a run at as possible and then hope you don’t lose all momentum before you reach the top.

As for not grabbing the front brake or the clutch, that was no problem as my hands were clamped to the grips for dear life. Down I went, standing on the rear brake, which only served to vaguely slow me down a tad. But I rode it out just fine and on we went.

We got down into Silverton and had lunch, then took the highway north through Ouray and Ridgway and then turned off to go back to Gunnison over Owl Creek Pass. This gravel road is very rideable, even on a bagger, provided you can deal with a bit of washboard. It heads east toward a rock formation called Courthouse Rock, crosses over, and then goes north through the Cimarron Valley, reaching US 50 just east of Cimarron.

It was gorgeous! I’m thinking this may be one of the best-kept secrets in Colorado.

Back on the highway and I saw again how well the V-Strom handles the pavement. It handled the dirt just fine. Most of my experience on gravel is of the I-hope-we-don’t-have-to-go-very-far-on-this variety. The V-Strom was very sure-footed and it was easy to ride on gravel all day, literally.

So I’m planning to do a lot more of this kind of riding. I may have to actually buy a dual-sport bike of my own. How amazing would that be? This was just too much fun.

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Biker Quote for Today

Motorcyclists and whiskey get better with age.

Hard Riding On The Scooter

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Today I returned the Piaggio Fly 50 scooter that Erico Motorsports had loaned me, but not before giving it a real workout. I rode up to Boulder and back yesterday. That’s an easy trip in a car, but was a real expedition on a 50cc scooter.

I rode the scooter to Boulder and backI had borrowed the scoot with the idea of using it as my only transportation for a week. I just wanted to really see what riding a scooter is like, with, of course, the plan of writing about the experience here, on, and on

What I found in going to Boulder is that even this little scoot is fully capable of getting you to distant places, as long as you’re willing to take the time. And the time is not dependent on the speed of the scoot on the street, but on the fact that it’s too small to get on the highway. It didn’t take me any longer than it would have in a car on the same route. The difference is, in a car the route I took is not what I would have taken. I would have taken I-25 and the Boulder Turnpike. As it was, I zig-zagged my way on Hampden, Broadway, Evans, Federal, Alameda, Sheridan, . . . on and on, taking a west-bound road, then a north-bound road, then west again, all the way to Boulder.

Coming back then was the real fun part. I had gone up to 120th and headed north on McCaslin Blvd. on my way out, and that’s how I came back as well. Well, if you know this area you know that McCaslin coming up to 120th is a long, steep hill. Back when the Red Zinger (later Coors) Classic bicycle races were still running, they used this as the finish line and called it “The Wall.” Going down I really got ripping. Coming back up I pulled into the bicycle lane so traffic could get by me. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it at all but I did.

Then, a little later on my way back a light started flashing furiously to warn me I needed gas. I stopped and filled the tank, but then when I took off the scoot started faltering. It would lose power, then surge, then lose power again. I was way across town and concerned about getting home. After stopping awhile to let it cool off it ran OK and I got home fine. I asked Tea about this when I returned the scoot and she said they sometimes have issues with vapor lock. I told her I had been afraid I had pushed it too hard and had done some damage, but she said no, you can’t break these things, they’re as tough as lawn mowers. Oh good. I wasn’t excited about paying for repairs. And it definitely did run like a champ this morning again.

So my week of scootering is over and I have a couple conclusions. First, they really are fun to ride and they’re unbeatable, at least in good weather, for running errands. Second, at least for someone like me who is accustomed to riding motorcycles, 50cc is just too small. It might be the perfect size for your mother or grandmother, who are not already comfortable on a motorized two-wheeler, but I would want at least a 150cc scoot for myself. But I wouldn’t go much bigger than that because what would be the point? I already have two motorcycles. If I need more power I’ll just ride one of them.

If you don’t have a motorcycle already, then go with a 250cc scoot. Then you get the best of both worlds, an inexpensive, fun mode of transportation and the ability to get on the highway and not have to wind your way through the neighborhoods because you don’t have the power for the highway.

Who knows, maybe there will be a scooter in our garage sometime soon. I took Judy over to a parking lot to ride the thing, and while she was nervous, it wasn’t long before she was wheeling that thing around freely and easily, and she was smiling a huge smile. I loved seeing that smile.

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Biker Quote for Today

Freedom is having a wife who lets you go riding. Pride is having a wife next to you on her own bike!

A Scootin’ I Will Go

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

I had this idea that it would be fun and interesting to get my hands on a scooter and go everywhere on it for one week. I’ve always liked scooters, and have thought for a long time that they make more sense for short errands than just about any other vehicle, but I’ve never owned one or had a chance to ride them much.

So I called my friend Sue, who scoots, and asked if she was using hers, and if not, could I borrow it. No way, she said, she rides it all the time. But she suggested I contact Tai and John Beldock at Erico Motorsports to see if they would loan me one. I did, and Tai was very nice about agreeing to it.

Me and the Piaggio Fly 50On Tuesday I picked up this Piaggio Fly 50. It has some mods that give it more power so it does actually get up to decent speed. It didn’t take me long to feel comfortable on it and off I went.

There are a few things I’ve had to adjust to. The speedometer shows kilometers very clearly in white, with miles very hard to read in red. So I’ve figured out that with the needle straight up I’m going about 35 mph. If the needle is sitting on the white 40 that’s about 25 mph. At 65 in the white it equals approximately 40 mph. Close enough.

After getting the Fly home the first errand I ran was to the grocery store. I wondered if I should be conservative on what I bought but I figured I’d go for it. The bag on the back swallowed two gallons of mile, a honeydew melon, and a bunch of other stuff. Not a problem.

When Judy got home I loaded her on the back and we went to pick up my car where I’d left it. It may be a 50cc scoot but we still managed to exceed the posted speed limit riding two-up.

The next day Sue and I went out on our respective scoots and I had a chance to ride hers to compare. Yes, it has more power, but hey, on city streets how fast do you need to go? And the Fly goes as fast as the traffic.

I was possibly going to need to go to Boulder today, and that would have been a journey, but it didn’t happen. On Saturday, though, I am going to go with Sue and her scooter club on a ride they have planned. Figure I might as well get right into the scooting culture.

So I’m having fun. I’d never want to trade my motorcycles for a scooter but don’t knock fun. Scooters are fun. And for running around in town I have no complaints at all.

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Biker Quote for Today

If you ride, we are friends.

Two Disappointing Motorcycle Events

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Full Throttle body shots

Yeah, I know Thumper said “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” But if all you ever say is nice stuff people can start to question your credibility. Not everything is great or terrific or wonderful.

I went up to Loveland this weekend to the Thunder in the Rockies rally put on by Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson and I have to say I was disappointed. Maybe I’m just jaded from being to the Stugis rally a few weeks ago and the Laughlin River Run back in April. Those are big rallies, with many thousands of bikes and more vendors than you can visit in several days.

Thunder in the Rockies, on the other hand, is nowhere near that big, and I knew not to expect a lot. But I still expected more than I got. They had vendors set up in one location and I was eager to see who was there and what they were hawking. There couldn’t have been more than 20 or 25 booths and that was it. And certainly nothing I had any interest in.

Another draw of this thing was the Full Throttle Saloon, which had brought its operation to town and set up to serve and entertain. Maybe I was just there at the wrong time, but that was no great shakes either. A couple of the sexily dressed barmaids were doing their trademark thing, body shots and such (see the photo) but it really wasn’t much.

The dealership was offering demo rides on new 2011 Harleys, and I did avail myself of a few of those. That was great and I appreciated the opportunity to try out some of these bikes. For me that was the best part. So I rode a few bikes, walked around a little, and left.

Heading home I figured I’d swing by Berthoud to stop at their little museum there and see the Floyd Clymer exhibit they have up. I had received a notice of this and had done my best to give them some promotion when it opened but hadn’t been able to get there myself until now.

Of course I understand that, particularly in these difficult economic times, the budget they had to work with was probably $15. But I still had hoped for and expected more. Floyd was a local boy before he went on to make a name for himself in racing and then in publishing, so it made sense to put up an exhibit about him. Unfortunately, the exhibit consisted of three bikes from the era, none of which had belonged to or been ridden by Floyd, and some print-outs of a few letters Floyd had written about interesting occurrences. Plus a few photos and a photocopy of an old Cycle World article about Floyd. That was it.

I don’t want to come off as critical. The lady who showed me around was super nice and did what she could to make my visit as interesting as possible. But I suspect from her apologies that there wasn’t more–when I hadn’t said a word about disappointment–that she would agree that it just isn’t much. And I do applaud them for doing what they could. But I was disappointed. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.

Ah well, I’m still glad I went to both. I would have felt that I’d missed something if I hadn’t.

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Biker Quote for Today

H-D = Hundreds of Dollars

Heads-up on 9-11 Memorial Event

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

My friend Dan Patino passed this along to me and I’ll just forward it to you. This thing is going on at the Pepsi Center on Sept. 11. It’s intended to raise funds for the National 911 Memorial project. It’s still in development so here’s the scoop so far:

Vendors and non-profit groups are welcome on a first come basis (set up at 7:00 AM – no fee required).
Contact or call 303-522-6525
The tentative schedule for the day is:
8:00 AM Event Opens All participants must register
8 – 10:30 Poker Run and Car / Bike Show Registration ($5- Entry Fee to cover cost of prizes)
10:00 AM Memorial Service
10:30 AM Poker Run Begins – Bike and Cars
10:45 AM Reading of the 9-11 victims names
1:30 – close Drum Line performances and Rider Games
3:30 Poker Run / Car / Bike Show winners announced

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Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re a biker if they celebrate your birthday at the Harley store