Archive for March, 2011

Cold Start to A Long Ride

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Concours in New MexicoThe weather allowed me to ride to Scottsdale for Arizona Bike Week. Barely.

Sunday morning dawned warm and sunny–the weather gods were smiling. Apparently they were smiling because they knew the trick they were playing on me.

After writing about how I hoped I could keep my hands warm on this trip I got an email from Mike Landon suggesting that I get some of those thin, neoprene gloves that doctors and dentists use, and wear them under my regular motorcycle gloves. Like a “second skin” he said.

I also found that the glove liners I use for skiing would fit inside my motorcycle gloves–which themselves are Thinsulate-lined–so I had hopes that one or the other approach would suffice. Then for insurance I went to a sporting goods store and bought some chemical handwarmers to tuck inside the gloves if need be.

Always eager to experiment, I left home with one glove liner on, one mylar glove on, and not using the handwarmers for now. Twenty miles later, at Castle Rock, it was clear my fingers were getting cold on both hands equally. Then I hit nasty weather going over the Palmer Divide, with fog and light mist. Cars coming the other way had snow on them. Yikes!

I got to the south end of Colorado Springs and had to stop. My hands were in serious pain. While nursing my hot chocolate and getting warm at a convenience store I asked everyone who came in what they knew about the weather further south. The consensus was that I should be OK heading that direction. And when I was ready to leave I slipped a couple of those chemical handwarmers in my gloves, using both glove liners this time.

My take on using the mylar gloves is that they really did seem to do as well as the glove liners, which definitely counts. The ladies at my dentist’s office who had given them to me had mentioned that as your hands sweated the moisture would collect inside them and they were right, so I figured that since I had the glove liners it would be better to use them. Without the liners I would definitely have used the mylar gloves and been glad to have them.

The weather did improve as I continued south and my hands stayed comfortably warm. It must have been pretty cold as the pads never did feel particularly warm. Apparently every bit of heat they were giving off was needed. Stopping later and putting my gloves back on they seemed quite warm.

I paid $1.49 a pair for these chemical warmers at a sporting goods store but I’m told you can get them in bulk at WalMart for 50 cents a pair. And they’re supposed to be good for 7 hours of heat but after 9 hours these were still pumping it out. In other words, I will always have some of these tucked in my tank bag from now on. They’re a lifesaver.

So to make a long story short, I rode 530 miles Sunday to Grants, NM, and then on to Scottsdale the next day. That photo is of my bike at a rest stop along the highway in New Mexico. I’m ready for Bike Week to get revved up but right now I’m at a local Kawasaki dealership. Seems those tires I thought had enough rubber on them to get me here and home again were only up for half of that ride.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
I’m here for the party–where is it?

Biker Quote for Today

“Adventure” is “Trouble” in the past tense.

Watching the Weather as Launch Date Approaches

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Taking a long motorcycle trip at this time of year can be iffy. I’m now planning to leave Denver on Sunday morning, headed to Scottsdale for Arizona Bike Week, and you can bet I’ve been watching the five-day forecast. It’s got me a little anxious.

Yesterday the Sunday forecast was for highs in Denver around 38. Chilly! Today they’re saying 48. Better. Still, there is a 30 percent change of precipitation, either snow or rain. You can see why my anxiety level is up a bit. I can deal with rain but I really don’t want snow.

Of course, the two main points of concern are going to be the Palmer Divide, where the elevation is 7,500 feet, and Raton Pass, at 7,834 feet. I figure if I can get past those spots I’ll be OK. If.

Still, it will be very interesting to see how much it matters being further south, because once I get into New Mexico I’ll actually be going up. Santa Fe is at 6,989 feet, Albuquerque is about the same as Denver, and then Grants is 6,460, Prewitt is 6,827, and Gallup is 6,468. The highs for all of them for Sunday should be in the 50s and they’re all showing a 30 percent chance of precip.

I’m figuring on Sunday to ride as far as Grants, Prewitt, or Gallup. At 580 miles, Gallup is definitely doable on the interstate in a day. But if I’m wet and freezing my ass off it will definitely affect my plans. I have an electric vest; just wish I had heated grips or heated gloves. I know from winter riding that my hands are likely to be the coldest part of my body.

Oh well, nothing like a motorcycle road trip to really make you feel like you’re alive.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Dreams and motorcycles: A terrific commercial (yes!)

Biker Quote for Today

Adventure is discomfort recounted at leisure.

Planning This Arizona Motorcycle Trip

Monday, March 21st, 2011

My campsite the first night in Laughlin

I’ll be leaving on my first big motorcycle trip of the year in about a week so I’ve been getting that nagging feeling that I need to be figuring out where I’m going and especially where I’m going to stay along the way. That staying part really matters to me because I’m on a very tight budget and if I don’t limit my spending this whole thing will end up costing me money. Ideally I’m supposed to make some money off it selling the articles that I write about the trip and the events I’m going to. (Although that campsite in the photo above, in Laughlin, NV, was too gritty event for me, so I only stayed there one night.)

Right off the bat I got a bit of a surprise. I use Microsoft Streets & Trips to map out routes, and if you want it to it can show you the shortest route between any two places. I put in Denver and Scottsdale and was surprised to find that it routed me west on I-70 and then south to Scottsdale. I had in mind going south on I-25 and, catching I-40 at Albuquerque, and then going south from Flagstaff to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. I don’t normally like taking the interstate but in this case I need to cover distance and I just want to get there as quickly as possible. Plus, the weather is still an unknown and I figure going south first is my better bet.

So I added Albuquerque to the route and presto, there’s what I had expected–sort of–and it was only 9 miles longer. What was the sort of? What I hadn’t considered–because I really don’t know Arizona all that well–is that the more direct route leaves I-40 at Holbrook, AZ, and cuts southwest to Scottsdale across some desert, some forest, and a mountain range. Cool! Whatever I lose in speed by leaving the interstate I’ll surely regain by the shorter distance, and I’ll be riding a two-lane road through some places I’ve never been before. That’s more my idea of a fun motorcycle trip.

Then where to stay. Last year going out to the Laughlin River Run I spent three days getting there. I stayed the first night at my brother’s in Grand Junction, and the second night at the home of some people in Cedar City, UT, who I connected with through the Motorcycle Travel Network. I checked the MTN first thing but there are no members along my route.

If I ride to Albuquerque the first day it’s going to be a long ride but that will also leave me just as long a ride the next day. Plus, at interstate speeds on my Kawasaki Concours, a highway-loving machine, that should only take me five hours of actual riding time. The fact is, if I really wanted to push it I could probably go the entire 850 miles to Scottsdale that first day but that would be truly extreme. Besides, when I ride that leg between Holbrook and Scottsdale I want to be able to enjoy it. So I looked for somewhere between Albuquerque and Scottsdale as a likely place to spend the night.

First I checked Gallup. I’ve stayed in Gallup before and what I’ve found there are semi-expensive motels and super-cheap ones where I would fear getting bedbugs. There is a KOA there that would run me $24. That would be OK. But what are my other options?

A little east of Gallup are the two towns of Prewitt and Grants. Both of them seem to have camping, for less than the KOA. I’m thinking that by the time I get to either of those towns I will be so ready to get off the bike that not going that extra 50-60 miles on to Gallup will be extremely attractive. And if I get to each of them and the camping isn’t available or whatever, I can still go on that extra distance to Gallup.

So OK. I guess I’m set. I always have some trepidation before I set out on one of these trips and this one is no exception. On the other hand, I’ve been feeling kind of down and discouraged lately, I think from being cooped up all winter, and this would seem like the perfect antidote. I’m itching to get on the road.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
DVD review: Motorcycle Mexico is great resource before you cross the border

Biker Quote for Today

If you owned a plane would you trailer it, too?

No, No, Don’t Look! Target Fixation

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Burros and motorcycles

I was out riding with my OFMC buddies John and Bill one time and we were coming down from some pass, I don’t remember which one. It was one of those roads where there’s a steep hillside rising on one side and that same steep hillside continues down on your other side. The perfect place for rocks to fall onto the road.

So we’re cruising along and, well what a coincidence, there was a big rock on the road ahead of me. About the size of softball as I judged it. Don’t want to hit that sucker!

Of course I did. I ran right over it, with the front end of the bike getting thrown way up in the air. The only wheelie I’ve ever done on my CB750.

That was target fixation at work. It wasn’t until sometime later that I ever learned about target fixation, but when I did I knew that was exactly what had led me to hit that rock.

In simple terms, target fixation means wherever you’re looking, that’s where you’ll go. And it’s real. See a big pothole and want to avoid it? Don’t look at it. Look at the level surface to the right or left and you’ll go there, missing the pothole. Look at the pothole and you’d better brace for the impact.

I had a number of similar experiences over the years, until I learned all this myself. Now I’ll sometimes practice picking a spot and then looking elsewhere. It can be hard, like when someone tells you not to think about pink elephants. And if there’s some crash staring you in the face it can be really hard not to look at that danger. But you’ve got to look elsewhere. Otherwise you’re going to learn an unpleasant lesson in what target fixation is all about.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Daytona Bike Week photos and final wrap-up

Biker Quote for Today

Cow skin saves your skin. Let’s hear it for cow skin.

Two-for-One Arizona Trip Coming Up

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Map of Scottsdale and AmadoEach year I plot out where I’m going to go, which motorcycle rallies I’m planning to hit, what trips I’m going to take. This year I got lucky when I learned one trip can do double duty.

In a little over two weeks I’m going to be heading down to Scottsdale, AZ, for Arizona Bike Week. Of course that’s providing that Ma Nature lets me. Last year when I went to the Laughlin River Run, in Laughlin, NV, I didn’t actually know if I’d be able to go until the night before I planned to leave. The weather cooperated, I had a great trip, and it snowed the day after I got home.

I’ll be heading further south this time so that should help, but a blizzard on departure day will still require a change in plans. Fingers crossed.

So anyway, here I had my plans made for Scottsdale and I discovered that another event, the Overland Expo, will be taking place in Amado, AZ, on the last three days of Arizona Bike Week, April 1-3. Amado is a tiny burg a little south of Tucson. The Overland Expo is a gathering for two-wheelers and four-wheelers who are into adventure touring. A lot of the sessions and classes are how-tos on adventure touring. Sounds very interesting.

Not that I’m planning on going adventure touring. I followed Alisa Clickenger, aka MotoAdventureGal, on her ride through Central and South America about a year ago and I concluded that that’s just not something I want to do. But I still find it extremely interesting and I have no doubt it will provide some great topics to write about.

So great. I’ll go down to Arizona Bike Week as early as possible, stay there most of the week, and then on Saturday go down to Amado for the last day or so of Overland Expo. That could actually benefit me on my return trip because from Tucson I’ll be able to take Interstate 10, a more southerly route, back east as far as the center of New Mexico, and then head north on I-25.

I don’t normally care to ride the interstates but in this case I have a lot of distance to cover. Plus, I figure if there is weather to contend with, the interstates should be in the best shape of any road. As I say, fingers crossed.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
More Daytona Bike Week in words and photos

Biker Quote for Today

Adventure is just bad planning. — Roald Amundsen

New, Larger Location for Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Rocky Mountain Motorcycle MuseumThis isn’t the hottest news off the press so excuse me for being tardy, but I’m betting some of you are unaware that the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame has moved. Not very far, mind you. They moved from in front of Pikes Peak Harley-Davidson, 5867 N. Nevada, Colorado Springs, into the dealership’s building itself.

Being in the dealership will allow the museum to be open more days and the larger space will provide better opportunities for viewing the classic old bikes. You can see in the picture how crowded the old space was. As before, there is no admission charge.

Jerry Manka continues as the museum’s curator and if he’s there when you stop by you’ll definitely want to have a chat with him. Jerry is a character, and as much a part of the museum as the bikes.

I haven’t had a chance to get there to see the new site yet but I’ll definitely be back with photos as soon as I do.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Three states considering allowing bikers to run red lights

Biker Quote for Today

There’s nothin’ in this world beats a ’52 Vincent and a red-headed girl. – Richard Thompson/Del McCoury

Wazzup? Getting the Word Out On Colorado Motorcycle Events

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Blue Knights compete

It occurs to me that someone might be reading this blog and not know that it is, as the tagline says, “companion” to the website. And it’s also possible that someone might know that, but never have looked at the website to see what it offers.

Now, as far as that goes, I’m only going to say that it features all the best motorcycle roads in Colorado. But it does more than that. It also lists some recommended motorcycle-friendly motels, hotels, B&Bs, what have you. It lists dealers and repair shops. If offers riding stories telling of people’s adventures in Colorado on motorcycles.

And it lists upcoming motorcycle events in Colorado. That’s what I want to talk about here.

On the “Colorado Motorcycle Rides, Runs, and Rallies” page I keep as current a list of upcoming events as I can. I may get a little behind in removing events that are past, and I know I don’t get everything listed, but I do what I can.

So here’s my pitch. If you have an event coming up, take a look at the Rides and Rallies page and if you’re not already on there, send me the info and I’ll get it up. You can see what kind of information I present, so it’s especially nice if you send it to me in that format.

One important note: The website only features events in Colorado. Please don’t send me something that is not in Colorado.

If you want to promote your event, having it listed here is a good move. It doesn’t cost anything and that particular page gets a lot of readership. In fact, it is always one of the top five pages on the entire site. Within the last year, it was visited 7,173 times.

And I guess there’s no better time or place than right now to thank all of you who have already made it a point to notify me of your events. I do appreciate it.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Only a biker knows . . .: Motorcycle wisdom, #16

Biker Quote for Today

The letters “MC” are stamped on your driver’s license right next to your sex and height as if “motorcycle” was just another of your physical characteristics, or maybe a mental condition.

Godzilla and Relay Rally Across America Coming to Colorado

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Old Bike Ride 8

Having fun and riding motorcycles is what life is all about, isn’t it? Cheers then to the guys on the Single Over-Head Cam 4 Forum for the little relay rally they’ve put together, which will be passing through Colorado probably some time in May. If you ride an SOHC 4 you may even want to join in, although even those of us on DOHC bikes and others are welcome.

It all started out with a post on the forum by a member with the handle of MyCB750K6, who wanted to get the group to organize rides as it had done in years past. The original idea was a 1,000-mile ride but it quickly grew to become a relay rally through all 48 continental states. And then to add some whimsy, someone came up with a little plastic Godzilla that will be the token passed along from rider to rider.

The first riders will be leaving Daytona on March 12. They’ve divided the country into regions and each region has its team. The initial Team Southeast Coastal will hand off to Team Southeast, to Team Southwest, to Team California, to Team Central Rockies, to Team Central, to Team Mid Atlantic . . . Dates are in place for part of this but not for the Central Rockies, yet, thus my lack of specificity.

The idea is taking off. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum has signed on as a sponsor and the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club has pledged its support.

The guys at the forum make it clear this is NOT a race. Says the moderator of the group, “The premise here is to organize a ride where as many members as wish can be a part of a group effort to promote and take pride in, to meet and interact with other members, to enjoy amazing riding and provide others with what they have accomplished, to benefit charitable organizations, to accomplish our goals, to ride as little or as much as they want and just have a safe and fun time doing so.”

The hope is that it will become an annual event and continue to expand. The plan has already expanded to now include Canada. Next the world? We’ll see.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Adventures for the Cures 2011 to ride Alaska, Yukon

Biker Quote for Today

There are old racers, and there are bold racers, but there are no old, bold racers who don’t walk funny.

Not the Big-Time Harley Guys I Thought

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

I want this motorcycle (he said)

We all have misconceptions about those things we know little of. Me, I don’t know a lot about Southern motorcyclists so I have what are probably a lot of wrong ideas. I seem to have cleared up one of them, though.

I’m down in South Carolina right now visiting my mother, and over the weekend I went to the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. The show itself was no big deal; kind of a disappointment actually. What surprised me was the parking lots.

Never having ridden a motorcycle in the South, or very much east of the Mississippi River, I had the idea that nearly all these old southern boys would be sitting astride Harleys. I’m not sure why I had that idea, but I did.

Well guess what? Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure there were a lot of Harleys in the parking lot of the show, but it was amazing how many other bikes there were. Unlike big events in Colorado where, unless it’s a brand event such as a BMW rally, Harleys outnumber everything else combined, it wasn’t so here. In fact, while I have no hard numbers, I’d estimate that there were no more than 20 percent Harleys and the rest was everything else.

For one, there were just a ton of sport bikes. Maybe this has to do with how popular racing is in the South. Not too many Harley baggers to be found in the races, except perhaps some Sportsters.

But even for the baggers I saw a lot of Gold Wings, Stars, BMWs, FJRs, you name it. Plus plenty of dual-sport bikes, which makes sense when you figure all the great unpaved roads there are around here. Kind of like in Colorado.

So I stand corrected. Now I wonder what other misconceptions I have about Southern riders. Probably what I need to do is spend a few weeks riding through this part of the country. That would be nice. I just need to fit it into my schedule; that’s always the hard part. Maybe next year.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
>More on helmets and visibility

Biker Quote for Today

Don’t die wondering, die wandering.