Archive for November, 2011

Still Some Riding To Do This Year

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

starting point for Last Brass Monkey Run

It’s almost December but that doesn’t mean the organized motorcycle rides are over for the year. There are at least three that I know of and I’m definitely not all-knowing.

Two of these are toy runs, to collect gifts for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have much of a Christmas. The other is ABATE’s Last Brass Monkey Run.

This Sunday coming right up is when Rocky Mountain Harley-Davidson will be sponsoring its 26th Annual Toy Run, which collects gifts for kids at Children’s Hospital. The ride starts out in Aurora, at Aurora Sports Park, 18601 Sports Park Drive. Registration is one new, unwrapped toy.

Then, two Sundays later, the Sleigh Riders Motorcycle Toy Run will be held to benefit the Santa Cops program of Weld County. Again, registration is one new, unwrapped toy. The gathering place is in Greeley, at Maui Wowi of Greeley, 2939 65th Ave.

ABATE of Colorado’s Last Brass Monkey Run is scheduled each year to be the last ride of the year. Thanks to the calendar, this year’s run will actually be on Dec. 31, a Saturday. There are two starting points, on the west side and the east side of the metro area, with the destination being the Grizzly Rose, at 58th and I-25. West siders will be gathering at Wrigley’s, in Golden, at 18200 W. Colfax. On the east side, the Pioneer Club is the spot, 18881 E. Colfax. The event offers food, games, a chili cook-off, door prizes, and live music. Riders will start leaving at 10 a.m. and the party gears up at the Grizzly Rose at noon.

So don’t even think about putting that bike away for the winter. There’s plenty of good riding to be done in the next few months.

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Biker Quote for Today

My goal is to see how many gallons of dead dinosaurs I can send through my bike.

Hassles of Communicator Testing

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Uclear headset

Judy and I have been in the market for awhile now for a new helmet-to-helmet communicator, ever since our last one just stopped working for unknown reasons. I can’t say we were ever thrilled with how it worked, but at least we could talk as we rode. And just FYI, that was a Collett Electronics model.

One thing stopping us from buying a new communicator was that we hated the idea of spending a bunch of money on something sight-unseen. We had learned something of the pros and cons of communicators from using our Collett and now we were more selective.

You can well imagine then that I was particularly pleased to be contacted last week by a rep from a company producing communicators asking me if I would like to do a demo of their latest device and write about it. Don’t throw me in that briar patch, right?

The company is UCLEAR, and the product is the HCB100. The company claims this is all military-grade technology, which is to say, very good. I particularly like the fact that the voice pick-up is not a boom, or some microphone that sticks out in front of your mouth. The device apparently just clips to the side of your helmet and is good enough to pick up your voice as you speak.

Now, I say apparently because I don’t have the device yet. This thing has the ability to connect to your bluetooth-enabled cellphone, to your GPS unit, and I’m not sure what else. I told the rep that neither my wife nor I have a bluetooth-enabled cellphone and he didn’t seem to feel it would be worth their while to have me do the test if I wasn’t going to be able to test its full capabilities.

No problem, I figured, I’d ask around and see which of my riding friends have bluetooth-enabled cell phones. Well, it turns out that apparently none of them do. Fortunately, while Alan does not have one himself, he knows someone who does, and he sent me an email with contact info for his friend. I sent an email but haven’t heard back yet, but I presume this will work out.

So anyway, maybe soon I’ll have that nailed down and UCLEAR will be sending me one of their units. And of course I’ll be right back here telling you all about it. And heck, I don’t even care about the bluetooth capabilities. As long as it works well as a communicator for Judy and me, I’m thinking we’re going to be buying this thing rather than be sending it back after the test.

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Can someone own ‘Sturgis’?

Biker Quote for Today

I am taking the advice of all those people who told me, “Hey kid, why don’t you go play in traffic!”

ABATE Considers Ending Red River Rally Boycott

Monday, November 21st, 2011

It was a statement that many felt needed to be made, but time moves ahead and sometimes you just have to let it go.

Bikers passing on a New Mexico roadAt the request of ABATE of Colorado‘s southern districts, the group’s long-standing boycott of the Red River Rally, in Red River, NM, may be coming to an end.

The boycott was agreed upon following a fatal crash during the 2004 rally and the aftermath of that incident. A 15-year-old boy, without a driver’s license, was playing chicken with a friend and ran head-on into two motorcycles carrying four people. Two of the four died and one was severely injured, losing a leg among other injuries. The four were all Coloradans and ABATE members.

Authorities in Taos County, where the incident occurred, chose only to order the boy into counseling, levied a $175 fine, and allowed him to keep his learner’s permit. That was too much to take, and ABATE voted to institute the boycott. The idea was to stop Colorado dollars from bolstering the economy in the Red River area by keeping Colorado riders away from the rally.

According to Terry Howard, state coordinator for ABATE of Colorado, the boycott was reasonably effective the first year but each year less so. Now, the southern districts feel that continuing the boycott is hindering their efforts to attract members, and they have asked that it be ended. Each ABATE district has been asked to vote on whether they agree with the move, and the matter will then be decided at the next state board meeting.

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Biker Quote for Today

ATGATT: Cooler than a skin graft.

Riding Out to See Lions and Tigers and Bears–Oh My!

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Wild Animal Sanctuary logo

Judy told me on Sunday that she would enjoy going for a motorcycle ride, if that was in my mind, so of course we went. The mountains are not such a desirable destination at this time of year so I thought about where we might go on the plains. Hudson was what I came up with.

Not Hudson itself, really, but a fairly new attraction just outside of town that I had only heard of recently. It’s called the Wild Animal Sanctuary and they provide a home for rescued animals such as lions, bears, bobcats, emus, camels, and a variety of others. Yes, right out there on the prairie, in a climate where you have to wonder how the African lions and camels and such make out.

We checked the website and found that they’re open seven days a week and admission is $10. We geared up, climbed on the Kawi, and took off.

Now, it’s significant how I came to learn that this place existed. I had been following a thread on the Adventure Riders forum that is all about Colorado Front Range Tag-O-Rama. This is a game where you post a picture of your bike in a particular location and it is up to other players to identify the location and ride out, shoot a picture of their bike there, and post that shot. Then they select a new spot, get a shot, post it, and the game continues.

Map to Wild Animal Sanctuary

Well, very early in this game someone posted a tag at the Wild Animal Sanctuary. That’s where I learned about it. And because that is where I had learned about it, I kind of had the idea that the road to it would be paved. Wrong.

We got out there on Sunday and needed to turn south off of CO 52 onto Country Road 53 and 53 was not paved. I turned off onto it anyway but hadn’t gone more than 100 feet when it became clear to me that this just would not do. If we had been on the Honda I might have been game, but the Kawi is so squirrely on gravel that there was just no way this was going to be a good idea. The road was hard-packed underneath but on top there was an inch or two of loose dirt and gravel and I had no confidence at all that I’d be able to keep the rubber down over three miles to get to the sanctuary and then three miles back again. And with Judy on the bike with me there was no way I was going to risk it.

So we turned around, got back on the pavement, and followed a satisfactorily roundabout route back home. We’ll go back sometime in the car. In the meantime, it was still a good ride, and that was really the point all along.

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Biker Quote for Today

I would rather almost die riding in Mexico than almost live working in this stupid office.

A Final Look at American Throttle

Monday, November 14th, 2011

As a freelance writer it is standard procedure to do what you can to use the information you gather in as many different articles for as many different publications as you can. In that way you minimize your costs, maximize your earnings, and make more efficient use of your time, which in this case more than many others, truly is money.

I’ve written here about trying out this board game, American Throttle. I also wrote about it on I don’t just republish the same piece; I totally rewrite and make it a different piece with a different angle.

I also wrote about it for, where I do a regular column once a week and some other article every other week. That Rum Bum column was supposed to have run yesterday but it didn’t. My editor surprised me greatly by sending me a note saying, “I’m sorry but I can’t run this piece. It doesn’t at all jibe with the mood of the site. (A bunch of guys sitting around playing a board game is pretty much the antithesis of Rum Bum, which is all about living, having cool adventures, etc.)”

Now, I knew she didn’t want a product review sort of piece, so I worked hard to give it a very different slant than I had done here or on Examiner. Nevertheless, it got axed. But you know, I thought I had done a pretty good job with it and I hate to let a good piece of writing disappear without ever being read. So I’m publishing it here, below. Check it out.

Playing the Game

Dennis was on a Fat Boy, Bill chose another Harley, while Dan and I were both riding vintage bikes older than us. We had a heck of a ride planned, starting in Seattle and ending up in Hollister, CA, site of the legendary Hollister “riot” that set the image of motorcycling back for about 50 years, and which spawned the Marlon Brando movie “The Wild One.”

The board for American ThrottleWe weren’t taking the direct route, however, straight south. We were doing an abbreviated Four Corners Tour, with stops in New England and Florida before reaching Southern California. Not to mention occasional side trips to Music City, the Middle of Freakin Nowhere, and elsewhere. And being that this was a motorcycle ride, we would hit the big rally locations, including Sturgis, Daytona, Laughlin, and a few more.

“Wow,” you might ask, “That’s one heck of a tour. How long did this take you?”

Oh, about an hour and a half the first time. Second time we made it in about an hour.


OK, OK, we weren’t really out on the actual road on real motorcycles, fabulous as a trip like that would be. We were playing this board game, “American Throttle,” that is part trivia game, part poker run, and part a test of your motorcycle knowledge. On a Friday night in November it’s not very likely that you’re going to be out riding, so if you want to get together with your riding buddies it’s nice if whatever you end up doing has at least something to do with motorcycles.

I had acquired this game almost two months earlier and told all the guys about it and said I wanted to get together and play it. Were they interested? Everyone said yes but finding a night when we could all get together took two months. Even then I could only get five, counting myself, and at the last minute Alan called to say he had a plumbing emergency and would not be coming. So four of us played.

Was it a viable winter substitute for actually getting out and going for a ride? Of course not. But it did bring some of us together, and of course the number one topic of conversation was motorcycles. Plus, Bill and Dennis are members of the OFMC, while Dan is someone I met working on a piece about Iron Butt riders, and they had never met each other. So this brought them together for the first time.

As always happens, no ice breakers were needed. All three of these guys ride Harleys and they launched right into it. Dan, being an Iron Butt guy, immediately started probing to see if there were any potential Iron Butt riders in the group. He quickly identified Dennis, as I knew he would. Dennis’s longest one-day ride to date was about 800 miles, and that was on two-lane roads. Dan pointed out that that was hardly different than riding 1,000 miles on the interstate.

Life is often like a game, in that you put pieces into motion and have no way of knowing the outcome. I’ve always enjoyed bringing people together. We’ll see how this game plays out.

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Biker Quote for Today

I was a motorcyclist before I even rode one. I’d buy the magazines and dream.

Motorcycle Tourers to Colorado in 2012

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

In 2010 I had hopes of getting down to the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association‘s (MSTA) annual gathering that was being held in New Mexico that year, but other commitments stood in the way. The group is helping me out a bit this coming year now, as they just announced that STAR 2012 will be held here in Colorado, in Avon. I’ve got it on my calendar and I bet a lot are loading up their bikes on their truck bed (check this FB profile to learn more about those truck ramps) right now to transport their precious lifestyle toys there. I just hope nothing else ends up being scheduled at that same time that would prevent me from going.

STAR 2012 logoI’m not as well acquainted with the MSTA as I’d like to be. Motorcycle touring is my big thing and heck, I ride a Kawasaki Concours–an out-and-out sport-touring bike. But my only experience with the group to date was when we hosted Chuck Davis, who at that time produced the group’s newsletter, on his way to Taos for STAR 2010. Chuck found us via the Motorcycle Travel Network, which is a group that you ought to look into if you like to travel inexpensively on your bike and like meeting other riders around the country. Chuck tried to entice me to head on down with him, and I would have were it not for the aforementioned prior engagements.

The center for the gathering will be the Christie Lodge, in Avon, which is right off the highway there at the Avon exit. And this is the group’s 30th anniversary gathering, so they’re promising that it will be extra special. It will run June 24 to June 28. Basic registration is $45, but you can also write a bigger check if you want to receive a copy of the group picture, T-shirts, raffle tickets, and a lot of other things. Plus, if you sign up in advance and are not and have not been an MSTA member for at least five years you’ll get a free one-year MSTA membership. A standard one-year membership runs $35.

What do you get for your membership? Honestly, I don’t know for sure. Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you more as this thing draws nearer. As of right now, I’ve got my calendar marked.

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Biker Quote for Today

Touring by motorbike, more than any other mode of transportation, allows us to be more fully engaged with people, culture and the natural world – especially the bugs.

Playing the Game — American Throttle

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Playing American Throttle

The game was on Friday night and we played American Throttle, this motorcycle poker run board game that I spoke of last week. We were planning on five but a last-minute plumbing emergency kept Alan at home. The players were me, Bill, Dennis, and Dan.

Part of the fun of the evening was that Bill and Dennis had never met Dan–and vice versa, of course–so it was good to bring them together. Bill and Dennis are long-time OFMC members, while I met Dan back in January of this year working on a piece about Iron Butt riders. As always happens with bikers, familiarity came quickly and easily as talk turned to motorcycles.

I had read the instructions but knew there were a few things that were not stated as clearly as they might have been. We figured we’d work it out as we went along. Perhaps not in the way the guys who created this game intended, but we did.

Besides rolling the die, you move ahead in this game by landing on particular spaces and by correctly answering questions on the two decks of cards, “What the Hell Is That?” (WTHIT) and “Two Wheeler Trivia.” You can put money in the pot to be divided between the player who finishes first and the player with the best poker hand, but we chose not to. It didn’t seem to affect our enjoyment of the game.

Many of the cards were really tough. For instance, I got a WTHIT card with a picture of a stator on it. I’ve heard of stators for years but had never seen one. Suffice it to say I didn’t get that one right. And while all the cards are supposed to relate to motorcycles in some way, some were a bit of a stretch. For instance, 50 of the WTHIT cards were pictures of the various state flags, the idea being that if you’re out touring you’re going to be going to numerous states and might be familiar with their flags. Except for the really easy ones, like Colorado or New Mexico, we mostly shook our heads asking “What the hell is that?”

The trivia cards were much more closely tied to motorcycles so in those cases we mostly just showed our ignorance. Or knowledge. That’s what trivia is all about.

Some of the spaces have you doing silly, crude biker-type things like belching a name. Bill was the first to land on one of these and he impressed us all by doing so successfully. The rest of us either passed and took the penalty or tried and failed. I went to Music City one time and had to sing a song but the guys were all glad that I kept it very short. They were lucky I didn’t know that one very well.

I think it was Bill again, but maybe Dan, who ran into what seemed like an endless loop at one point. He landed on a WTHIT space, answered the question correctly, and moved ahead one space, as directed by the card. The cards tell you to move either one, two, or three spaces ahead and one is the most common. The problem was, moving ahead one space put him on a space that said “Sparks plugs fouled. Go back one space.” That put him back on the WTHIT space. He answered correctly again and moved ahead one space . . . and right back to WTHIT. That happened about six or seven times in a row. Yeah, we all had a good laugh about that. He finally did answer a question correctly and got to move ahead two spaces.

Overall then, what’s the verdict? Well, we definitely had a good time. Part of that, of course, was just getting together with friends but we did have fun playing the game, too. The game made for its share of laughs, as games should. We were a pretty tame lot, with Dennis and Dan both having long drives to get home and Bill needing to work in the morning, so we broke up fairly early, after only two games. As host and not needing to drive, I was the only one of us who had two beers. Can you tell we’re not young kids anymore?

If you like board games and you like motorcycles, American Throttle might be right up your alley. With winter approaching it could be a motorcycle-related activity to get together with your riding buddies. But here’s a hint: Bone up on your state flags before you play.

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Biker Quote for Today

The shortest distance between two points isn’t always the most fun.

Gonna Try Out This Motorcycle Poker Run Game

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

American Throttle game

It has taken a couple months but I’ve finally managed to pull together a bunch of guys to come over on Friday evening to try out this new board game I’ve got. It’s called American Throttle — The Game, and the box describes it as “The trivia poker run board game for motorcycle enthusiasts.”

I ran across it on an online forum and sent a note to the guys that if they’d like to send me a copy I’d be happy to try it out and write about it. The funny thing was that when they replied affirmatively, and asked for my address, it turned out they live right here in Denver, so David Veal brought the thing to my house himself and we had a chance to meet.

David told me he and his partner, Steve Schader, have had a good bit of success in marketing this thing, and I’m guessing they had a bit of fun creating it. For game pieces you get to choose from cruisers, sportbikes, a cafe racer, some customs, and some vintage bikes. The square board shows a route across the U.S. with stops at some of the major rallies, including Daytona, Sturgis, and Laughlin.

If you land on a “Two Wheel Trivia” space you draw a trivia card and, if you answer correctly, move ahead the additional spaces indicated. Of course the trivia questions have to do–at least to an extent–with motorcycling.

Elsewhere on the board are “What The Hell Is That?” spaces. On these, you draw a card and have to identify the item in the photograph which, again, will be at least somewhat related to bikes.

There’s also a deck of cards, and the point here is that you’re on a poker run. The best poker hand at the end presumably wins something. I haven’t played this yet so I’m not clear on the details but I guess I’d better read the rules before the guys start arriving on Friday.

Should be interesting; hope it’s fun. I’ll let you know.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner is a great resource for getting off the pavement

Biker Quote for Today

I accept no responsibility for swearing, drinking, motorcycle riding or your pregnant teenage daughter.