Archive for August, 2011

Blasting With The Motomarathoners

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Recording the checkpoint in Nederland.

I headed out on Friday on the first leg of this year’s Colorado Motomarathon, not intending to do the whole thing but just to get some pictures and talk with the guys who competing. The first thing that struck me was how fast most of these guys ride. Maybe it was just the exuberance of getting started, but they started right in dicing with traffic in Boulder and once we hit Boulder Canyon they really got going. I was in the middle of the pack at first but it wasn’t long before nearly everyone passed me. I picked up my speed above what I usually do but by the time we reached the first checkpoint, in Nederland, there was only one rider behind me.

Wanting to get a little ahead for the sake of photos, I took off pretty quickly from Nederland, along with two other riders. They soon lost me on the Peak-to-Peak but I did catch up with them nearing Black Hawk because of traffic that bottled them up. In the meantime, passing Rollinsville we saw that the police had already nailed two of the group, putting a bit of a damper on their exuberance I’m sure.

From Nederland on I did a lot of my riding on my own, which was fine with me. I believe strongly in riding your own ride and I just can’t enjoy the ride as much if I have to put so much of my attention to just riding. And when you’re shooting up Loveland Pass you’d better be paying attention to your riding.

I parted with the group–they were heading for Ouray that day–at the top of Loveland Pass. As everyone else left I hung around waiting for the one more rider I knew hadn’t arrived yet. Adam, of Woodland Park, finally arrived on his Kawasaki Vulcan, the only cruiser in the group of mostly Ducatis and beemers. Adam said he didn’t care about riding fast like the rest of the guys. For him it was just fun to take his time and enjoy the ride. He acknowledged that he doesn’t have as much opportunity to get well acquainted with the other guys because he doesn’t keep up with them, but no matter. I have a strong suspicion that if I did ever do a Motomarathon I’d be hanging out with Adam a lot.

So I’ll be meeting up with the group again today as they come on home. I’ll either ride out and meet them in Evergreen for the ride back to Boulder, or else I’ll just meet them in Boulder. Now I want to hear the stories of the last four days. I hope they have a lot of good ones.

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Biker Quote for Today

“You pay for the whole bike, why not use it?” — Jerry “Motorman” Palladino

Ride With the Forty Coming Through Colorado

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Ride with the Forty

There’s a very special group of riders who will be coming through Colorado in about 10 days. Ride With the Forty is a ride to commemorate the heroes of Flight 93 whose airplane was hijacked on September 11, 2001, and which crashed in Pennsylvania, rather than into the terrorists’ target, due to the actions of those on board. The ride is part of an effort to “raise funds to build a permanent memorial for the Heroes of Flight 93 who so valiantly defied the terrorists that day.”

The plan is for the riders to reach Shanksville, PA, the site where the airplane crashed, where a monument has been erected, at the time at which the plane crashed, exactly 10 years before. Among those riding will be family members of some of those who died in the crash.

The Rocky Mountain HOG is making plans to meet and escort the riders across the state. They plan to meet the riders in Green River, UT, on August 31 and escort them to Glenwood Springs that day. The group will stop in Denver on September 1 for a dinner hosted by Rocky Mountain Harley-Davidson. On September 2 the group will be escorted out I-76 to the Nebraska state line. Riders who wish to continue with the group are welcome and encouraged to do so.

For information, contact Mike Dean at 303-521-5713 or editor@rmhog.org.

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Biker Quote for Today

Prioritize some time for yourself. If you don’t no one else will, and your motorcycle will collect dust.

Motorcycles and Travel: Upgrades to Consider

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

We have a guest post today, from 1tail.com. Hope you find it useful.

Motorcycles in Spearfish CanyonMotorcycles are like the untamed beasts of the modern day, at least when compared to more comfort-oriented vehicles such as passenger cars and crossover SUVs. You may be the kind of motorcycling enthusiast who shuns the traditional comforts of the car in favor of the open air and rugged feeling you get from riding a motorbike, but sometimes that changes on long travels. If you’re going to be riding on your bike for hours or even for days across the country, you may need some subtle upgrades that can improve your enjoyment of the experience without taking away from what makes your bike what it is in the first place. Below, we’ll break down several elements of motorcycle travel to consider, and what upgrades can help you avert displeasure (or disaster) on the open road.

Personal Comfort
Getting comfortable can be hard enough in a car where the seats are plush and the arm rests are, well, existent. On a bike, you may be used to getting thrown a bit and keeping your rear end tucked onto a hard seat, but you may not want to be used to that after a twenty hour ride. If you have long travels ahead, proper bike seating is a must. For some drivers, simply installing a wider aftermarket bike seat can make all the difference. For others who may suffer from several back problems, motorcycle seats with built-in backs can be helpful. There are many different types of bike seats available, from stiff and rigid to squishy and soft, so pick one that best suits the needs of your backside.

Clear Vision
Seeing is important. Those three words are all you need to know, but you may not know everything that’s essential to keeping those words in effect. First thing you should cover is motorcycle lighting. You’ll want bike headlights that are powerful, even so much so that they overcompensate a little (on a bike, all the extra luminosity you can get will be a big benefit to you). You pay also want to consider tail light upgrades, such as motorcycle LED tail lights, which are vivid, easy to see, and will be helpful in notifying other drivers of your presence on the road. A proper motorcycle helmet and windshield will also help deflect objects, bugs, and debris that may otherwise impair your vision.

Other Areas to Consider
Sometimes, there are car components that don’t do much during day-to-day driving, but can be extra helpful to use on long trips. When you’re constantly shifting lanes on the highway, a set of strong, durable motorcycle mirrors can be a huge asset. Similarly, motorcycle rims with reflective paneling can be helpful in keeping your bike noticeable in the dark. Little things like these might not seem like much, but when it comes to your safety on the open road, the little things do matter.

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Biker Quote for Today

Now just turn the damn key, and go have some fun already!

Too Much To Do, Too Little Time

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Biker in Washington state

Until two weeks ago I was expecting to be out in Utah right now at Speed Week. I was going to go out and work as crew for Jerry Pokorny as he set about breaking a couple more land speed records. Of course I was then planning to write about the experience for various publications but I also just wanted to experience it all for myself. Jerry has convinced me that it’s an incredible time and something I owe it to myself to experience.

Then I discovered that I had the dates wrong. Speed Week was last week and my wife, Judy, and I had plans to go to Seattle and British Columbia for 10 days. (That picture above is one I shot in Washington, on our way up to Vancouver. I don’t know the guy, it was just a cool shot and I figured I’d use it here.)

So while Jerry was out on the salt flats, I was way up north. Oops. And no, I’m not in Utah now.

OK, so I still plan to talk with Jerry and I’m sure he has some great stories to tell that I can retell. I know I missed a lot, too. The electric superbike boys are continuing their rapid development and improvement and they set new world speed records for electric motorcycles not once but twice. For the first time that record is above 200 mph. I wish I’d been there.

But as one door closes another opens. I had hoped to spend some time this year with the Motomarathon but the Colorado event on that calendar conflicted with my supposed plans for Speed Week. Well, no conflict now so the Motomarathon is back on my agenda. For those who aren’t familiar, the Motomarathon is a creation of John Metzger, of Boulder, and consists of four days of long days of riding some of the best roads in Colorado. Or California, or wherever the event is going on. I’m not going to do the whole thing but I do want to ride one day of it and shoot a bunch of pictures and talk with a bunch of the riders. Stay tuned.

Then I may get out to Utah in September for the Bonneville Vintage Grand Prix. I went out for that two years ago and had a great time and it’s on my calendar again. In the meantime, I need to do some dual-sport riding. I’ve got rides pending with three different guys and am just trying to squeeze it all in. This is all work, mind you. I wouldn’t dream of having fun doing any of this.

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Biker Quote for Today

The grass is always greener at the end of a 200-mile ride.

Why I’ll Never Own an Electra Glide

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Judy on the Electra Glide Classic

I told my friends that Judy and I were going on vacation in British Columbia and would be renting a Harley Electra Glide Classic with full passenger accommodations and they said Judy would like it so much she’d probably buy me one when we got home. I said that would be unfortunate because I don’t want that kind of bike and now after having ridden it for two days I’m really, really clear I don’t want one. Plus, Judy doesn’t want one either. She says they’re too loud. She did like the passenger accommodations, however, and this particular one was in her color, as you can see in the photo above.

The Glide was fine on the highway, no question about that. It was slower speeds where I grew to hate it. First off, it’s very heavy. Very heavy. Maneuvering in parking lots was hard and in heavy traffic, filtering onto the bridge that crosses from North Vancouver into downtown Vancouver, it was absolutely the worst. In our parking garage in Whistler the floor is smooth and slippery, the turns are numerous and tight, and winding through there was horrible. I mentioned all this to the EagleRider guy when I turned the bike in and he agreed, saying that while it’s a good highway bike he would hate to ride it in the city.

Well, you know, I do a lot of my riding in the city. I’m not going to own a bike just for the highway, and even when you travel you still end up going through towns.

Nope, no Electra Glide in my future. Thank goodness.

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Biker Quote for Today

Never lend a friend your Pacific Coast. Unless you like scratches and want a beer annuity.

Out for a Birthday Ride

Monday, August 15th, 2011

riding in British Columbia

One of the OFMC guys emailed us all asking if we wanted to go for a ride on Sunday (yesterday). I replied that yes, I was planning to ride, but I wouldn’t be with them. My Sunday ride was in British Columbia.

On an Electra Glide Classic, rented from EagleRider in Vancouver, we took off on a loop east through Hope, up to Lytton, to Lillooet, and up and over and down to Whistler. I know, you’ll need to look at a map to see this, or maybe I’ll have to figure out Google Maps and set up a link. Suffice it to say that a) it was a terrific ride, and b) it was an exhausting ride. The thing with Whistler is that there’s only one road and to go anywhere you either go and backtrack or you take a very long loop. We did the loop. It was dark by the time we got back to Whistler.

So the first thing I have to say about riding in British Columbia is that it’s different than riding in Colorado. In Colorado we have some canyons but mostly we go up over passes, down through valleys, then up over more passes. In BC you basically go up one canyon, up another canyon, down another canyon, and on and on. And the big difference is that their hills here are so steep they make ours look like bunny slopes.

Picture this. You’re riding along a highway that is cut into the side of a steep slope. The river is 1,000 feet below you and then as far ahead as you can see the mountain rises 4,000 or 5,000 or 6,000 feet above the road. And it’s all at a very steep angle. You do some climbing, and you do get down to water level on occasion, but mostly it’s following the shoulder of the hillside on and on, with lots of curves but little climbing.

When we did climb it was up over the pass between Lillooet and Whistler. By then it was getting dark and it got cold. And as we started to climb we started accumulating raindrops on the windshield. Oh, oh, we don’t need to get wet now. But it was never more than a few drops so not so bad. I still got a minor bit of hypothermia that had me shaking once we got to Whistler until I got some hot tea in me. But we got here. At last! And we have the bike for another day so we have to go riding again. And there’s really nowhere else to go but back over to Lillooet and do a loop over there. At least that will allow us to see all that in daylight.

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Biker Quote for Today

Get on your knees every Sunday and pray the road throws you another curve.

A Biker-Friendly Motel I Can’t Recommend

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

The OFMC headed out on our annual summer trip recently and this year we stayed mostly in Colorado. Whenever we’re in Colorado I always have my thoughts focused on additional information I can pick up to add to the www.motorcyclecolorado.com website. One major category of interest is my Biker-Friendly Motels and Hotels page.

A view from on top of Grand MesaI’m always divided on what to include on that page. Should I only list places that I would recommend? Or should I list any place I have information about and spell out the bad with the good? After all, warning someone away from a bad place is at least as helpful as pointing them to a good place.

That dilemma arose on this last trip because of a bad experience we had in Gunnison, at the Super 8. Now, the Super 8 in Gunnison seems to do very good business with bikers. There were 6 of us there and there were 31 with another group, as well as several other smaller groups. And when we were checking in the lady at the desk made a point to offer us rags to use to clean our bikes. All in all I would have to classify them as biker-friendly.

In our case, though, they were not guest-friendly. I’ll just lay the thing out chronologically.

We make our plans for the trip well in advance, so it was several months ago that I called to arrange for one room with three beds and another with two beds. I spoke to some guy who spoke clear, normal English. Then one of our guys decided he would not be with us in Gunnison so I called back to change that to one room with three beds plus a rollaway. The woman I spoke to was not a native English speaker and communicating with her was hard but we got the job done.

Then, a few days before we were set to leave, I was told two more guys would be with us in Gunnison after all, so I called and arranged for a second room with two beds. Again I got the woman who I had trouble communicating with but we got it handled.

On the day we were headed to Gunnison we discussed the arrangements and someone suggested that maybe we should just switch to three rooms with two beds each so no one would need to sleep on a rollaway. We knew it would cost a bit more but it sounded like a good idea. So when we got there I asked if that would be possible, but it was the same woman I had spoken with on the phone and if anything, communicating face to face was harder than on the phone. Beyond getting the absolute basics nailed down I gave up trying to understand anything else she was telling me.

Well, it turned out that the other things she was telling me were that since we wanted to make this change she would need to just delete our previous reservation for one of the rooms and create a new reservation for the two. And apparently the prices had gone up in the interim and we would have to pay the higher price. When we’re on the trip we each pay for rooms and even it out in the end, so I had already paid for one and left the desk when this came to Bill’s attention. He argued that that was inappropriate but she wouldn’t budge. We suspect, frankly, that they use corporate Super 8 software and she just didn’t know how to override its defaults, so she did the only thing she could do, which was to cancel and rebook.

So here we were at the Super 8 paying, with tax, $108 for one room and $135 apiece for two other, identical rooms. Now, I don’t know about you, but $135 for a room at the Super 8 strikes me as pretty dang pricey. Especially when there was another motel right next door with vacancies running, per their website, $45 to $110 per night. Bill went ahead and paid but none of us were happy about it. Of course if we had just canceled it all and gone next door they could have stuck us with the late cancellation fee.

And then later we noticed they had a sign out front that said “Special Walk-In Rates.” So like, $135 a night is less–or is it more–than their normal rate? We did qualify for the walk-in rate, didn’t we?

I hoped the next morning to find someone else at the desk who I could talk with who spoke better English but no dice. Same woman. I mean, she personally was a very nice person, smiling and friendly, but charging us the higher price just seems wrong. Add to that the fact that there were comparable but cheaper places close at hand, I can only conclude that there is no reason to stay at the Super 8 in Gunnison. Even if they are biker-friendly.

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Biker Quote for Today

My soon-to-be EX-wife knows my ’75 750F has been around MUCH longer than she has and understands this (scratch that) DOESN’T HAVE A CLUE.

Mapping Software for Your Motorcycle Trip

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Microsoft Streets & Trips mapping software

OK, I’m going to shill a bit here but it’s a product I use and believe in and I’ll make it worth your while to read this.

I was contacted the other day by a fellow working with Microsoft to market their Streets & Trips application. He offered me a free 2011 version and also offered to provide free copies to a few of the folks who read this blog.

Now, the fact is, I’ve been using Streets & Trips ever since I starting building the www.MotorcycleColorado.com website back in 2005. Every map on the site was created using Streets & Trips. And when I got a new computer I bought a new version of the application because the old version wouldn’t run on the 64-bit processor in the new machine.

That’s all to say, I like it, it’s easy to use, and it does everything I need it to do. In fact, it does a lot I don’t even use it for. I don’t have a GPS unit but if you do you can use Streets & Trips to generate files for your GPS. Don’t ask me to explain what it does or how because, as I said, it’s not a feature I use, but it’s there. And honestly, the 2011 version is not a lot different from the 2009 version I’ve been running. But if you don’t have any version, getting your hands on the latest could be very cool.

So here’s the deal. As part of this marketing campaign, Microsoft is running a “Cruisin’ the National Parks Trivia Sweepstakes” through the end of this month. Visit the site, answer the trivia question put up each week, and you could wina $50 Visa gift card. On that same page there’s a button to “like” Streets & Trips on Facebook and for everyone who does Microsoft will be giving $1 to the National Parks Foundation.

And here’s your chance to pick up a free copy of the software. Leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post telling about the most amazing thing you’ve seen riding your motorcycle through a national park. Three of the best stories will be selected and you’ll get a copy. When posting your comment be sure to leave your valid email address because I’ll need to contact you to tell you you’ve won and get mailing info to provide to Microsoft so they can send it to you. Ready? Set? Go!

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Biker Quote for Today

Any adventure journey has secret destinations unknown to the traveler.

Erico Presenting ‘Art of the Ducati’

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

This looks like it could be an interesting event. Tomorrow (Friday, Aug. 5) from 5:30 to 9 p.m., Erico Motorsports is hosting “The Art of the Ducati.” For this event, Carlos Guerrero, a local “Graffiti Artist” (that’s with their caps, so I hope that means he’s an artist dealing in murals, not some tagger) will be creating a multi-media piece that includes the bodywork from a Ducati Monster. The piece he creates will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to Ronald McDonald House.

Art of the DucatiThis is all part of the RINO (River North Art District) First Friday series of events. Music will be provided by Canyon Station, a band that includes John Beldock, the co-proprietor with Tai Beldock, of Erico.

Figuring that the more the merrier, Sqream, Denver’s scooter club, which has received a lot of support from Erico, will be there as well celebrating their 7th anniversary and “doing a scooter crawl of the River North First Friday Art Walk.”

Sounds like it could be a good time. Erico is at 2855 Walnut St., in downtown Denver, north of where Broadway cuts diagonally toward the river.

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Biker Quote for Today

You’re a biker wannabe if you think that a kick-starter is a mocha latte.

MP3: A Three-Wheeled Scooter of the Leaning Variety

Monday, August 1st, 2011

I’ve ridden motorcycle trikes before and I’ve never cared much for them. They don’t lean and they’re too much like driving a car for my taste. So I’ve been very interested for a long time in trying out the Piaggio MP3 scooter, which has three wheels but is not at all the same as a trike in its handling.

Piaggio MP3 above the Coors Brewery in Golden.With abundant thanks to Tai Beldock at Erico Motorsports, I can now report that I have ridden an MP3 and it really is everything I expected it to be.

The difference with an MP3 is what Piaggio calls its “parallelogram suspension.” What they’re saying is that whether you’re leaning into a turn, one wheel’s going into a pothole, or whatever, those two front wheels remain parallel to each other. It’s like having one wheel in front in terms of handling, but two wheels in terms of stability.

That’s not to say that, trike-like, the MP3 won’t fall over; it will. Remember, it handles just like a two-wheeled motorcycle. If you come up to a stop on a regular bike and don’t put your feet down you’d better have exceptionally good balance. Same with the MP3, except that the MP3 has a button you can push at below 5 mph that will lock the fork and keep you upright. The lock disengages as soon as you start rolling again. Still, I found it easier to just treat it like any other bike and put my feet down.

Thanks to the elements I had a good chance to test the MP3’s stability. Going up and down Lookout Mountain there was gravel in many of the curves and having three wheels was very comforting. Later it rained heavily and splashing through puddles and turning on rain-slicked streets the MP3 again felt very secure.

This scoot–and it is a scooter, no gear-shifting going on here–comes in three engine sizes, 250cc, 400cc, and 500cc. While the 250 will theoretically run at interstate speeds, when I tried it I felt best in the right-hand lane. The bigger models do go faster, though not much. The main thing the bigger engines offer is increased acceleration and carrying capacity.

Now, I’m not about to go adding a scooter to my garage any time soon, but presumably decades in the future these big bikes I ride now are going to be a bit much for me. A lot of guys I know say they figure someday they’ll have a trike. Not me. Come that time I’d rather move down to something lighter, whether it’s a motorcycle or a scooter. And the MP3, or whatever like it is on the market at that point, would definitely be an option I would consider. Meanwhile, for anyone today who finds the stability of three wheels appealing, the MP3 is definitely something I would suggest looking at.

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Biker Quote for Today

I am in the relentless pursuit of 6th gear. I keep trying and it still isn’t there.