Archive for June, 2011

AZ Bike Week Photo Published in Cycle Source

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

The original photo before cropping.

It didn’t earn me anything except gratification, but Cycle Source magazine just published one of my photos. That image above is what I sent them and the way it was cropped and adjusted can be seen below. As you can see, it was a horizontal shot that they made into a vertical, plus they rotated it a bit to give the rider more of an angle. All good design techniques.

The page in Cycle Source.This whole thing came about because Tim Bussey, one of their staff writers, was covering Arizona Bike Week but had trouble with his camera. He found my pictures on and contacted me to ask if he could use some with his story. I said yes and sent him several. This one shot is the only one they used.

I like that they used this shot. I selected it to send to them because the guy is wearing a Big Dog Motorcycles T-shirt and I presume he’s riding a Big Dog. Of course, Big Dog went into bankruptcy very shortly after the rally.

So it may not be as big a deal as getting one of my photos published in Rider magazine but it’s still cool. Buzzy sent me a couple copies of the issue and I’ll stash them away for posterity. Now if only Rider will publish that story of mine they’ve been sitting on for seems-like-forever!

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
On the motorcycle scene with Diva Amy

Biker Quote for Today

Any day spent riding motorcycles is a great day.

Success on RiderCoach Training, But Future Course Unclear

Monday, June 27th, 2011

There were many times in the last four days when I wished I had failed the riding test portion of the RiderCoach training. I did pass, but the question of actually coaching classes of new riders is something else entirely.

A RiderCoach works with a student on the practice range.I can’t remember anything I’ve ever done that was harder, or more of a yo-yo. Every time I’d start to get confident that I was going to do well I would make some major mistake and be informed of that fact in no uncertain terms. At the end of my last coaching exercise on the range (we also did classroom sections) my instructor told me I had technically passed but, if my reading between the lines is correct, that I should not expect him to be asking me to work for him any time soon.

There are other issues as well. If I were to work as a RiderCoach I would be expected to perform the riding demonstrations flawlessly. I can’t do that now. I can fine-tune my skills on my own bikes as practice, but the one exercise I have the most trouble with is something I am extremely reluctant to try on my own bikes. That’s the small box wherein students are expected to do two U-turns. I can do it successfully some times, and the more opportunity for practice I had the better I got. Ben, our head instructor, says it can be done on bigger bikes, and I know it can, but dropping my 800-pound Kawasaki Concours is a lot different from dropping one of those little 250cc Honda Nighthawks. You can stop a 250 Nighthawk from going over by putting your foot down. Once that Connie starts to fall there is no stopping it, and when it falls it breaks expensive parts. Unless I can come up with a smaller bike to get more practice with I just don’t see how I can develop the skill I need.

I would still like to coach. We started with a class of 12 students and 7 of them ended up completing the Beginning Rider Course (BRC) successfully. A couple only failed to pass because they barely did too poorly on the written test. They can come back for a remedial session and take the test again and still pass. Some of the rest of them were amazing. There was one woman in particular who we all thought was so fearful and so intimidated that she was not likely to make it. She ended up scoring the best score in the class on the riding test. We marveled all weekend amongst ourselves at her incredible strides in learning to ride. It was a real inspiration.

When the students were taking their riding test there was one thing that made me feel I had contributed something good. As part of our Rider Coach training we were required to pass the BRC with a better score than what students need. I failed the first time because I was not sure of the path of travel on the third part. Well, imagine how pleased I was when, not for the first two parts but for that third part, Ben took the students and walked them through the course to make sure they knew exactly what was expected of them. Like he had listened to what I had said and took it to heart.

So the course is over and I will get my MSF certification. I don’t feel like I accomplished something special. I feel exhausted and immensely relieved that it’s over, no matter what the outcome. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually become a riding instructor. You’ll read about it here if I do. And by the way, if you want to get a real taste of what went on, and why it was hard for me and on me, check the Examiner story I did, linked below.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
The hurdles to actually becoming a RiderCoach

Biker Quote for Today

Wrecking is bad. Your competition using your stones as traction is worse.

No Ride to Alaska

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Riding the ALCAN highway

I had written before about possibly taking a ride to Alaska on a Kawasaki KLR650 that needs to get to Anchorage for this year’s Adventures for the Cures ride. Ain’t gonna happen. Dang.

Doing this would have cost a bunch of money, more than I can afford, but my friend Dan Patino of Go 2 Motorcycle Tours, who was to be riding the other bike, was confident that he could come up with the funding to defray our costs. Unfortunately his efforts were for naught. Thanks for trying Dan. I had also contacted one of my editors asking if they would be inclined to sponsor us but they put me off and I didn’t pursue it once it started looking unlikely that Dan’s efforts would be successful.

So now my sights are set on the annual OFMC ride, coming up in about a month. But first I have to get past this next four days of RiderCoach training. We’re back at it in full force on Thursday and the pressure will be constant until late Sunday afternoon. I feel pretty confident but I’m going to be overjoyed to have this ton of weight lifted off my shoulders. At the moment I just have this feeling of dread.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Ted Simon Foundation to promote good will among foreign cultures

Biker Quote for Today

Ride hard or stay home!

RiderCoach Training Is Tough!

Monday, June 20th, 2011

The Basic Rider Course in action.

Half-way through this eight-day course, I’m keeping my fingers crossed hoping I pass. This is not easy!

I signed up (and paid my money–$450) to take RiderCoach training. RiderCoaches, in case you don’t know, are those instructors who train others to ride motorcycles. I figure that training others to ride is a good thing to do, it should help me become a better rider myself, and it will afford me another modest source of income.

What I never imagined was that I would pay my money and take the course and then possibly end up not getting my certification.

During the first day they explained to us that part of passing the course requires passing the riding test that students in the Basic Rider Course must pass, except that we are required to do so with a better score than is required of them. That makes sense. If we’re the supposed experts and can’t do a better job than rank novices what the hell are we doing teaching?

Well, that first day in class was so challenging that I was thinking with more than a little bit of longing that maybe I’d fail the riding test and that would put me out of my misery. I didn’t really want to fail. That would be extremely humiliating to not be able to pass the BRC test. But there was still some appeal.

Then the second day I did fail the riding test. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because on one of the exercises I stopped midway across the course because it was not at all clear to me what I was supposed to do. I’m a visual learner, and every time they read the instructions I sort of understood but figured I’d watch the demonstration and then I would understand. Well, on this particular exercise we were downhill a bit (the range slopes) and the part of the course in question was just over the crest of the slope, where I couldn’t see where the riders who tested ahead of me were going. So I took off on my ride figuring it would become clear but when I got there it was not clear at all. I was assessed 15 points for not completing that exercise, and to pass we were allowed no more than 12.

Come Day 4 when it was time for those of us who failed the first time to try again–our last chance, no more retakes–I insisted on walking the course with one of the instructors, asking questions every step of the way. I demanded that I had to know exactly what was expected of me. Then I got on the bike and rode the exercise well and passed the test. All three of us passed.

That entitled me to four more days of what they promised us will be even tougher demands. By this time next week I’ll either be certified or I will have failed the course. Either way, I’m going to be extremely, extremely relieved.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
More weird stuff in the biker’s path

Biker Quote for Today

Scars are a way to prove to us that the past was real.

Monday Is A Day To Ride

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Riders, start your engines. Monday is Ride to Work Day, or Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day, or whatever you want to call it. Just do it.

Ride to Work Day bannerEvery year on the third Monday in June motorcyclists everywhere–yes, that means you–are urged to ride their motorcycle to work to demonstrate to the cagers out there how many of us there are, and that they really should pay attention to the fact that we might be when they’re getting ready to change lanes or turn or whatever. And then the other objective is to let the politicians know how many of us there are, in case they start getting silly ideas that we’re such a small minority that they can walk all over us and feel no repercussions.

So get out. Fill the streets with bikes. I don’t commute to an office, I just walk downstairs, but I’ll be out in the throng doing my best to be visible. I want to get some pictures of motorcycles in traffic, so what better day to station myself at good shooting locations.

Besides, you know, it’s fun to ride your bike to work. Back when I worked in an office I did it a lot. It’s much better than going in a car. You may like it so much you end up doing it all the time.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Third race weekend is charm for racer Kuo

Biker Quote for Today

Chrome won’t help if you can’t ride.

A Cruise Up Mount Evans

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Atop Mount Evans

On a beautiful day like today I had to get out and ride. Plus, I owed an article to one of my editors and figured a piece about riding up Mount Evans would work just fine.

I know it can get cold up there, even when it’s warm down here in the city, so I put on long underwear and a turtleneck shirt. I also put on my electric vest but waited to turn it on until I needed it. Then I had other warm clothes in my bags.

Man, was I roasting before I got out of town. Getting up onto CO 103 over Squaw Pass it finally started getting cool and that was a welcome relief. I reached the turn-off to the mountain, up by Echo Lake, and wondered if I would hear what my friend Dom was told when he was up there just two days earlier, which was that it was so windy they didn’t recommend riding a bike to the top.

Nope, no such warning, and clearly none was needed. They did warn me about frost heaves at the 9-mile marker, near Summit Lake, but I know about those. Just think of them as whoops and you’ll be fine.

So I cruised on up and it was a glorious day. Sunny and warm, I never turned on the electric vest. The view of the Sangre de Cristos from the top was unbeatable. They just went on forever.

Of course, I don’t think you can ride this road without seeing at least one person going down so scared of the sheer drop-off on the edge that they straddle the center line. And I will note that there was one place where the asphalt was just dropping away over the side. Even I stayed close to the middle along that stretch.

And then it was home again. Nothing much, I just rode to the top of the world and back home, all in about five hours. What did you do with your day?

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Willie and Harley: Two American icons tour together

Biker Quote for Today

Any motorcyclist caught holding up automobiles on a winding road will be forced to sell all fringed accessories, buy plaid pants and take up golf. — Peter Egan

CDOT Motorcycle Skills Rating Map Points Out Roads

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

I recently acquired a copy of a “Colorado Motorcycle Skill Rating Map,” put out by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). It’s a concept taken from a similar map that is intended to give riders in South Dakota’s Black Hills an idea of how challenging those roads are. Whereas that map covers just the Black Hills, the CDOT map covers the whole state of Colorado.

Motorcycle Skills Map of ColoradoCDOT called on ABATE of Colorado to help put the map together, and ABATE pulled in the Colorado Sportbike Club so as to include that group’s perspective as well.

Unlike so many other state maps where the roads have different colors depending on whether they’re interstate, U.S. highway, state highways, unpaved, or whatever, this map shows all roads as either green (easy), orange (moderate), or red (difficult). Not surprisingly, the entire eastern part of the state is green. From the Front Range west it’s a mix of colors.

The truth of the matter is that for those of us who live here, the map offers little we didn’t already know. The main quibble we might have is that, accustomed as we are to riding in the mountains, for us, marking almost any road red is a stretch. That’s not the point, though. This is a map aimed at tourists, the people who don’t live here. And for many of them, the roads we whip around with confidence may be challenging indeed.

So the real benefit of a map like this for us is that if there are any red roads on the map that we haven’t been on, this is a heads-up that we need to head that direction. Beyond that, I’d love to have maps like this of every other state. I don’t care if a road is rated “difficult” or not. I just have a strong hunch that any road with that rating is likely to be a good motorcycle road and one I’d like to ride. And as well as I know Colorado and many of our neighboring states, there are a lot more states where I wouldn’t have any idea which roads are the best. Maps of this sort can provide that information.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Demo riding the Z1000 Ninja

Biker Quote for Today

A good ride is one from which you can walk away. A great ride is one after which you can use the bike again.

Demo Riding and Meeting Readers

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Kawasaki motorcycles for demo riding

I did go to ride Kawasakis on Saturday as I said I was going to but it didn’t work out quite as I expected. They had quite a turn-out and so instead of letting you sign up for three bikes in quick order, you could only sign up for one, and by the time I got there around 10:30 a.m. the earliest I could get a ride was 1:30 p.m. Ouch. And there was only one bike available then, the Z1000 Ninja. Fortunately, that was a bike I wanted to ride.

I didn’t really know what to do. It’s too far for me to have gone home and come back, but what was I going to do with the time? I made the decision not to decide and just hung around for awhile, but that got boring. Just for lack of anything else to do I approached this guy who was looking at the Concours 14 and asked if he had had a chance to ride it. I mentioned that I had and I loved it.

We got to talking and enough of what I said about my own bikes apparently clicked and this random guy, Evan Lyons, suddenly said, “Are you the guy who does that blog?” Yes, he really did mean this blog and he told me he was there at the demo event because he had read about it on this blog. Blew me away. (And that’s Evan in the picture checking out the Concours, just right of center. I shot the picture before we met and looking through my shots later, there he was.)

I know people do read this blog and visit the website because I get web statistics from Google Analytics and they tell me exactly how many visitors there are. But in five years I’ve only met about half a dozen of you so it’s always a real kick to come face to face.

So I talked with Evan and his wife, Noel, who ride a YZF600 and a ZX-6, respectively, and got acquainted. It seems Evan found the site thanks to a letter to the editor that I did awhile ago that I never expected to be printed. I had picked up issue #1 of the reborn Motorcycle Escape magazine, which I just chanced to run across on the newsstand.

I liked the look of it and bought it and when I read it I found they had a nice piece on riding in Colorado. Then what honked me off was that they had a little blurb about another website featuring rides in Colorado, which, when I checked it out, I felt didn’t hold a candle to this one. Not that I’m biased or anything but I really do think this one is far better and yet here these guys were getting the spotlight and not me. (Hey, I’ll let you decide for yourself. That other site is Check it out.)

So anyway, just feeling a bit annoyed, I wrote a letter to the editor saying “You guys screwed up. You should have spotlighted my site.” And completely forgot about it.

I’ve looked for issue #2 of Motorcycle Escape but never spotted it. But apparently they did publish it and Evan got a copy. And apparently they published my letter. Evan saw it and decided to check out my site. And he read the blog and read about the demo event. And he came and we met. How’s that for a chain of events?

Anyway, Evan and Noel left because their ride was even later than mine and they figured to do something else and come back. I was on the verge of just forgetting the whole thing when it occurred to me that Thunder Valley Motocross Park was just down the road and on such a nice sunny day I should be able to get some good pictures. I had been there once before shooting pictures but it was overcast and my old camera was slow and I didn’t get much that was very good. This time I got a lot of good shots and I’m sure you’ll be seeing some of them here from time to time.

Then I went back and rode the Z1000 Ninja. But that’s another story, told here. I will say this: I was surprised how much I liked it.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Demo riding the Ninja 1000: A modern-day standard

Biker Quote for Today

The Internet is great for motorcycling, but I’ve never done any riding on my keyboard.

Gonna Ride Some Kawasakis

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

The Kawasaki Ticket 2 Ride tour is coming to the Denver area this weekend so what the heck, I’ll go do some demo rides. If you’re inclined to do so as well, they’re going to be setting up out at Bandimere Speedway.

Kawasaki Ticket 2 Ride tourThey’ll be there on Saturday and Sunday. Sign up starts at 8 a.m. and rides start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. It’s first come, first served they say. Generally the earlier you get there the better chance you’ll have of getting some rides in without having to kill a lot of time in between.

This same tour was down in Scottsdale when I was there for Arizona Bike Week. The way they worked it there, and the way I assume they’ll be working it here, is that you fill out the paperwork and then tell them what bikes, up to three, you want to ride. They then schedule you in for those three. If you want to ride more you then go back to the sign-up desk later and see if they can fit you in. If they can they will.

What’s more, if they have a ride going on and there are bikes unclaimed they’ll announce that and let anyone who wants to jump on those bikes.

Kawasaki has two tours going this summer, this one and the Vaquero Nation tour. The Vaquero Nation tour is not coming here, so I presume that if you want to test ride a Vaquero they will have one or two but it will be harder to get on one if they are in demand. Beyond that, they’re bringing at least one bike of the entire Kawasaki line-up, with the exception of the dirt bikes. But if you’re specifically interested in one particular bike, all the more reason to show up early.

Me, I just like to ride as many different bikes as I can, just to see what they’re like. I’m going to be hoping to get a shot at the KLR 650, maybe a couple Ninjas, and if I stick around for more, maybe a Vulcan. Or I might take another Concours 14 out for a spin. I absolutely loved that bike when I rode one in Scottsdale.

Maybe I’ll see you at Bandimere.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Sarah Palin thrills some, annoys others at Rolling Thunder

Biker Quote for Today

A bike’s true beauty is measured by the number of beautiful places it has taken you.