Archive for October, 2011

Riding On The Plains

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Riding motorcycles on the prairie

It has gotten cool and we’ve had snow in Denver now. I know they’ve gotten a lot more snow in the mountains. I probably won’t be riding up in the hills any more any time soon.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be riding, though. It’s just time to change direction. In fact, I already took my first ride on the prairie this past weekend. Guess what? It’s really nice out there.

In the cooler parts of the year I like to ride around the outskirts of Denver and explore the new construction going on out there. If there’s road that is newly paved, I want to see where it goes. I find myself wandering around out there and sometimes getting lost but how lost can you get on Colorado’s eastern plains? The mountains are to the west.

Of course every time I do this it blows my mind how much construction and new development there is. We have friends who moved from west Denver a few years ago to Watkins and I used to think they were a long way out there. Have you wandered around out there recently? The city is not that far any more. It will probably swallow them in 10 years.

As it is now, houses go on beyond where Smoky Hill Road ends, and of course that road is four lanes almost to the very end. Heck, I remember when it was just two lanes, and I’m not even sure it was paved back when I’m thinking about. But I’ve taken rides out there with some frequency and watched the transformation. For years I looked at these mostly large houses and wondered where in the world all these people got all this money. Of course, now we know many of them never had that money and now I wonder how many of these places are sitting empty. That may buy our friends in Bennett another 5 years before the city gets there.

My point, of course, has nothing to do with houses or the economy. My point is just that even when the mountain roads are snowy there is still a lot of good riding to be done at the lower elevations. I don’t ever put my bikes away for the winter. How about you? Maybe I’ll see you out on the road sometime in January.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Only a biker knows . . .: Motorcycle wit and wisdom #19

Biker Quote for Today

I wonder where that road goes?

Time for More Weird Road Encounters

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Burro on the street in Oatman with motorcycles

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever run into on the road on your bike? By now several thousand Adventure Riders members have weighed in with their stories. It’s time to pass along a few more.
***************
I was on my normal commute on one of the coldest days of the year last winter.(17degrees on my home thermometer) The air was dry and my KLR seemed to be running extra good that morning. As I was rounding one of my favorite peg dragging corners the front pussed out then I totally lost the rear.I managed to save it after doing some weeding on the shoulder. I turned around to see what upset me and to my suprise (discust) I discovered that someone had puked in the middle of the road and it had frozen solid. Leaving a 3-4 foot round sheet of ice.
***************
An airborne 12′ aluminium dinghy with roof racks attached. I almost hit it! I was following the offending vehicle, just about to turn of the Kwinana Fwy heading north onto Canning Hwy. Just crossed the Mt Henry bridge and I thought….that dinghy is loose, that dinghy is flying, that dinghy is going to hit me in the face……..it did a loop the loop and landed in the lane next to me, upside down sliding along on the roof racks…..cars going everywhere…it was peak hour!! Moral of this story…..never follow closely behind boats when on bikes. If I had been two car lengths closer or a little faster….bammm.
***************
I broadsided a police car at about 40 mph that turned left in front of me while I was splitting lanes.
***************
A car raced past me and I thought ‘That bozo put the skis on the rack backwards!’ Tips forward and up!! There were 3 or 4 pairs and the whole set up was shaking like crazy… moments later the skis achieved enough lift to tear the racks off the car and everything went airborne. Fortunately for me, I managed to avoid everything, but it was quite a light show when they hit the highway at 120 km/h or so.
***************
When I was in college, late ’80s, I rode a ’78 RD400. I was heading home on the interstate. I liked to draft behind semis or big trucks. I was tucked in behind a loaded horse trailer at about 75 mph. All of a sudden up goes the horse tail and he proceeded to crap right in front of me.
***************
One second, I’m cruising down the road, not a care in the world, and the next, I’m laying flat of my back looking up and wondering what the hell just happened. According to the guy behind me, this big-assed buzzard came swooping down out of the sky headed toward some chunk of road-kill and buzzard and I intersected.
***************
While backroading up in Oregon, I came around a particularly fast, tight corner and narrowly missed a REFRIGERATOR sitting in the middle of the road. About 4-5 turns later, I passed a guy standing next to an empty flatbed pickup truck. He was inspecting his broken load straps with a very confused look on his face.
***************
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. I only heard the story from him, but I saw the quills permanently installed in to his boots. Imagine a squid doing that with flip flops!
***************
A boulder rolling down a hill on highway 20 going towards Truckee. It was traveling 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 weird wobble and crushed me. I followed it for at least a quarter mile before it went off the side.
***************
Almost hit = large Hog that jumped out of the back of the truck in front of me.

All right. Just a reminder to be careful out there.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Polaris shows it’s more than serious about motorcycles

Biker Quote for Today

ATGATT: “Because the only crumple zones on a motorcycle are YOU.”

Wrenching 101

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Motorcycle Maintenance 101

I’ve never been afraid to get my hands dirty, but that doesn’t mean I’ve ever been all that much of a mechanic. Granted, with the guidance of some experienced friends I did once drop a new engine into a 1964 Ford Fairlane, but that was long ago and far away.

When it comes to my motorcycles I have always been the guy paying someone else to do all but the most basic maintenance. Heck, I’ve never even replaced a tire. I generally replace oil and filters, and adjust the chain on my old Honda CB750, and that’s about it. I did replace the shift-shaft seal on the Honda recently.

I’m open to learning more. To that end, I plan to attend a basic motorcycle maintenance session the Erico Motorsports is offering on Saturday, Nov. 5. Here’s what they intend to cover:

  1. Chain/chassis lubrication and adjustment
  2. Oil level inspection and change along with coolant level checks
  3. Brake pad and fluid inspection
  4. Inspection of tires along with correct tire pressure settings
  5. Frame and suspension inspection
  6. General safety check
  7. Benefits of a dynamometer and power commander
  8. Set up for storage/winterization
  9. Pre-ride inspection
  10. Scheduled maintenance
  11. Performance enhancement

Of course I have two interests in doing this. First, I’m hoping I might learn something. Second, I figure it will be an interesting session to write about.

In case you’re interested, you’ll need to contact Tai Beldock at Erico to RSVP at tai@ericomotorsports.com. There is no charge but they’ll be providing lunch and want to have an idea how many people to expect.

So stay tuned. Or maybe I’ll see you there. If you do come, please find me and introduce yourself. I’ll be the guy shooting pictures. I love meeting the folks who visit my website.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Butler Maps goes backcountry

Biker Quote for Today

Bikes are a ton easier to push through doorways when the guy on the bike isn’t holding the brake.

Byways, Byways, We’ve Got Byways

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Do you ever feel like going for a ride on your motorcycle but can’t figure out where to go, because you’ve already been everywhere, at least locally? I know I get tired of doing the same old routes again and again.

View of South Park from Boreas PassThat’s when it can be good to turn to somebody else’s idea of a good route. And with the modern day convenience of the internet, that can mean Byways.org.

Scenic and historic byways are routes that probably include roads you’ve been on, but perhaps you’ve never combined them in quite the same manner. Take the Lariat Loop. I’ve heard of that route for many years but never really looked into where it goes until today. It starts in Golden, goes up Lookout Mountain and then snakes over to Bergen Park, to Evergreen, and down to Morrison. Then it follows CO 93 back to Golden. I’ve been on all those roads, but have I ever ridden that route all at one time? No.

So Byways.org lists 11 major byways in Colorado, along with 14 others that it says “may be incomplete or contain byways that overlap.” To give you an idea of what’s there, here’s a sampling.

Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway — Down west of Pueblo, this route runs to Westcliffe, past Bishop Castle, and past the Jackson Hill Stage Stop.

Santa Fe Trail — This ride comes in from Kansas and heads down into New Mexico following–what else?–the old Santa Fe Trail. One nice thing about Byways.org is that it shows you the continuation of roads like this because it covers all the states.

West Elk Loop — Starting and ending at Carbondale, this loop heads up over McClure Pass to Hotchkiss, takes the road through Crawford that runs along the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, crosses the dam and heads east into Gunnison, and then turns north to Crested Butte. From Crested Butte, it goes over Kebler Pass back down to CO 133 and back over McClure to Carbondale.

Of course, you don’t need to double back to Carbondale. Heck, you don’t need to do the loop at all. The point is, at least for me, to look at these byways with the idea of identifying roads that perhaps you have overlooked. Or maybe learn about spots along the way that you were unfamiliar with and worth a stop the next time you’re out that way.

Plus, this sort of site strikes me as an excellent resource when you’re planning a trip to an area you are not as familiar with as you are your own home state.

Or you can just continue to ride the same old roads. Totally up to you. Just thought I’d offer an idea.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Study says 138 million electric two-wheelers by 2017

Biker Quote for Today

Adventure: The pursuit of life.

On the Shelf Road, Finally

Monday, October 17th, 2011

For the first couple years that I was working on this website the focus was entirely on paved roads. I didn’t have any off-road experience, plus there was plenty to keep me busy just putting up info on the paved roads, so I didn’t touch the gravel.

The Shelf RoadThen I got an email from Larry Matkovich, who runs Larry’s Custom Cycle in Canon City, suggesting I add some info on gravel roads (“dirty” roads as he called them) and he offered to provide me the scoop on some, along with a rating system he had devised. Thus was born the Dirt Roads and Side Trips page on the site.

The very first dirt road Larry introduced me to was the Shelf Road, which runs north out of Canon City to Cripple Creek. And although I’ve had it listed on the site for probably three years now, I had never been on it. Until yesterday.

I’m here to tell you, this is a good ride. Using the system he devised, Larry rated this road a 2, “Doable but not recommended for sport bikes, full dressers, some cruisers especially 2-up.” I might be a little more generous, maybe giving it a 1, “Fair gravel road, a bit more skill required, but OK for all bikes.”

Either way, it is a little rough in some places, with a good bit of washboard, but it’s doable. It’s better on a dual-sport, but if you’re on a street bike you can just take your time and ride around the potholes. Kind of like my friend Janet Linn does when she goes over mountain passes on her Ninja.

And boy, yesterday, with the fall colors, it was a beauty, as you can see in the photo. The weather is getting dicier so any of this kind of riding you intend to do you’d better do soon. Yesterday was a good one. It may be the best we’ll see for awhile. Hope you were out riding.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Hoka Hey finishers did get money

Biker Quote for Today

Go ahead . . . Get married, have kids, drive a van. LOL.

Viper Motorcycles Come To Colorado

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

The Viper Diamondback

Interested in picking up a Viper motorcycle? What? You’ve never heard of them? Neither had I, but they will soon be on sale in Glenwood Springs at Aspen Valley Harley-Davidson. So let’s find out a little bit about this outfit.

First off, the Viper Motorcycle Company is not a new company. I’m guessing that fans of expensive custom bikes have been aware of their existence for some time. Call me ignorant. As near as I can tell, they released their first models in 2008. The company is based in Minnesota and built a production plant in Alabama. The first model, the 152-cubic-inch Diamondback, just rolled off the assembly line. And, as you can see from that promo above, they’re claiming it to be the fastest production V-twin super cruiser in the world.

Hey, it’s a nice looking bike. I’ll definitely give them that. Since they’re not ringing on my phone to offer me a test ride I’ll direct you to this ride report in case you want to learn more. And to get the lowdown on features, go here and then click on the “Features” tab.

But anyway, the actual news today is, as I said at the beginning, that they’ve taken on Aspen Valley Harley-Davidson as a dealer. The dealership’s co-owner, Mike Lehman, is also co-owner of MBL Motorsports in Palm Beach, FL, and these are the first two “gold” dealerships that Viper has announced. What that “gold” refers to I don’t know, but they also have what they call “platinum” dealers.

And now you know where you can go buy one.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Hoka Hey finishers did get money

Biker Quote for Today

I need MORE CHROME!

Oh That Crazy Hoka Hey

Monday, October 10th, 2011

What if they gave a Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge and nobody got any prize money? No, I’m not talking about last year’s questionable event, I’m talking about an awards ceremony that was held over the weekend . . . and Big Jim Durham said no one gets a cent.

Will Barclay at 2010 awards ceremonyI owe Dan Leffert and Alan Baumbach on this one. They were the ones who alerted me. I had pretty much ignored the Hoka Hey this year, even though they did come through a bit of Colorado. And like a lot of other people, I was only aware that Will Barclay, last year’s winner, had won again. But even Barclay doesn’t get paid this time.

What’s the reason? As it says on the Hoka Hey blog, the winners must not exceed the speed limit. Last year all they had to depend on was issuance of speeding tickets by local jurisdictions. This year they had GPS and other fancy gear that could actually track such things. And surprise, surprise, every single one of the supposed winners exceeded the speed limit at one point or another on their 11,000 or so miles of riding.

So no one get any prize money. Gosh, what do you suppose Jim Durham plans to do with all that cash?

And a bigger question than that, I wonder what the reaction is at Harley-Davidson? Harley signed on as a major sponsor this year but you really have to wonder how happy they are about this turn of events. Will they be back as a sponsor next year? I guess we’ll just wait and see.

I’ll also be extremely interested to see if even 10 riders sign up for next year’s Hoka Hey.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Report: All finishers in 2011 Hoka Hey disqualified, no cash payments made

Biker Quote for Today

Horsepower: Because sometimes testosterone is not enough.

Guest Post: Motorcycle Safety Tips To Ensure A Good Ride

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Motorcycles riding through Central City

This guest post has been provided by Sarah Henderson. Sarah is into road safety and making our roads much more safe for cyclists and also motorists. Click here for more information. I hope you’ll find it useful and perhaps thought-provoking.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

There’s nothing like the feel of riding your bike on a beautiful, sunny day. Staying safe on the bike is really up to you. Here are some tips to help you stay safe when you’re out on the bike.

Bike Maintenance

Give your bike a quick check once in a while to ensure that everything is working. Check the lights, brake lights, turn signals and oil on a regular basis. Look at cables to be sure they aren’t frayed or worn and lube the train.

Gear

Quality gear can make the difference in an accident. The helmet should fit well and snugly. It should have the DOT label to show that it meets federal standards. Quality leather pants and a jacket not only look sharp, they also help protect you from road debris. Black is the natural choice, but a brighter color will make you more visible to other drivers. Gloves should be non-slip and the shoes you put on should cover the ankles.

Respect

Motorcycles are naturally harder to see. Engaging in risky behavior like riding on the shoulder or weaving through traffic will increase your chances of being in an accident. It’s also important to obey the speed limit when riding and, of course, never drink alcohol or take drugs before hitting the open road.

Assumptions

Normally, you want to avoid making any assumptions. But when you’re on a bike, there are some that make sense. Assume that there is a car in the lane you want to merge into and check on its location. Further, assume that the driver in that car has not noticed you and proceed with caution.

Take a Rider Safety Class

There are classes available to help make you a safer rider. Consider signing up for one of these affordable classes so you can spend more time enjoying the road and less time dealing with accidents. Plus, several insurance companies offer a discount on insurance premiums if you take a safety course. Allstate Insurance, for example, will reward you with a five percent discount on insurance premiums if you take a motorcycle safety class. Nationwide is another insurance company that will insure your bike and give you a five percent discount for taking a safety course.

Remember that Drivers are Blind

It’s not a conscious choice, but it is a fact that far too many drivers just don’t notice motorcycles. Motorcycle awareness, or the lack thereof, is often cited by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association a leading factor in motorcycle accidents. Make yourself more visible by using your turn signals when possible. Take the time to check your mirror before braking so you can not only watch the object in front of you, but also the car behind you to be sure it is slowing down.

Smooth Riding

Easy accelerations, gentle braking using both brakes, proper gear choice and smooth steering will help you stay safe. Your bike will hold traction on the road better and you will be less likely to land in a ditch.

Slow Down when Necessary

If visibility is poor or the car ahead of you is slowing down, you need to slow down, also. Keep the speed in line with what you can see and leave a distance between you and the car ahead of you.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Royal Enfield making inroads in US

Biker Quote for Today

Gear: Because walking away in disgust beats riding away in an ambulance.

ABATE Statewide Tour Is A Passport Away

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Motorcyclists generally don’t need a reason to ride, they just need a destination. If that destination comes with the possibility of winning a bit of cash, so much the better. All the poker runs that go on all summer long attest to that.

ABATE D-10 patch

My ABATE D-10 patch.

Well, here’s an option to consider for next year. (It’s a little late to be getting started this year.)

The ABATE of Colorado Statewide Tour is set up in this manner. For $15 you buy a book–your passport–and in the book are a variety of stops located all over the state. Your job is then to visit as many of these stops as possible and create a record of having been there. For every five stops you visit you get one entry into the grand prize drawing that is held Dec. 31 at the Last Brass Monkey Run. The top prize is $1,000 and there are other prizes of lesser amounts.

I talked with Terry Howard, the State Coordinator, and here’s what she told me about the tour.

In this year’s book there are 120 stops; there should be more in the 2012 book. These include restaurants, bars, parks, museums, and more. If it’s a business ABATE asks that you go in and make a small purchase so that the merchant has an incentive to continue to pay for inclusion. Whether you do or not, you need to shoot a photo of yourself with your passport booklet in front of the business, or whatever the stop may be.

This year, 2011, is the first year ABATE of Colorado has run this fundraiser. Several other states, such as Wisconsin and Indiana, have similar programs and that the program here is based on those. Next year’s passport booklets will go on sale at the Last Brass Monkey Run. At the end of the year you’ll need to get your materials to ABATE by Dec. 15 so that the winners can be determined by Dec. 31.

So there you go. You can support ABATE, visit some places you’ve never been before, and have destinations galore. And heck, you might even win some money in the process. Count me in for next year. As much as I get around this state I suspect I’ll have quite a few entries in the drawing.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner

Motorcycle safety research ongoing at many levels

Biker Quote for Today

Borrow my dog, perhaps, borrow my girlfriend, possible, borrow my motorcycle, NEVER!

Guanella Pass Really Is Open Again

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Guanella Pass

I owe thanks on this one to Steve Farson, author of the newly released The Complete Guide to Motorcycling Colorado. I reviewed his book last week and mentioned that he did not tell his readers that Guanella Pass is closed. They closed it in 2008 and the most recent thing I had heard was that there were no plans to reopen it.

Well, what do you know, Steve emailed me to thank me for the positive review AND to tell me that in fact, Guanella was reopened earlier this year. Finally. And he said the road was beautiful, that they have done a terrific job.

Of course Judy and I had to go see for ourselves, and we did on Saturday.

Holy smokes, what a nice road! The asphalt is beautiful, there are a lot of guard rails where there didn’t used to be any, and the new retaining walls are impressive. On top of that, the pavement goes a lot farther than it used to. Used to be, it was paved all the way to the top on the Georgetown side and then just over the crest it turned to gravel. Then it was gravel all the way to Grant, except for some spots where the asphalt from many years ago was still holding together a little.

We checked it on the odometer and here’s what we found. From the top headed toward Grant, the new pavement extends another 3.8 miles. At 8 miles from the top the old surviving pavement starts to get bad and at 9.2 miles it ends altogether. There are then 3.6 miles of gravel before you hit pavement again 0.5 mile from Grant.

So there’s really no reason not to ride this pass. The 3.6 miles of gravel are easily traversable on any street bike as long as you take it nice and easy. Heck, before they closed it for nearly 3 years I used to see Harley baggers and everything else up there, and there was a lot more gravel back then.

Truth is, this road is so much better than it was before I’ve concluded I need to promote it on the website from just a “Dirty Road” mention to its own full page. Look for that sometime next year, as I doubt I’ll have time to get to that right away.

Thanks for the update Steve.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
‘Mythbusters’ reiterates previous ‘bikes not greener’ conclusions

Biker Quote for Today

So many roads, so little time!