Archive for January, 2012

Elephant Ride Is On For Feb. 11-12

Monday, January 30th, 2012

The Elephant Ride in 2010

PsychoSteve has come through again. The Elephant Ride is on for the second weekend in February, but the gathering point has moved a short distance.

There was initially some concern because PsychoSteve no longer lives in the house in Grant that has been the starting point of this winter ride up Guanella Pass. Veterans of the ride offered assurances that if nothing else the plan would be to camp up the Guanella Pass road a bit as has been done before, but that won’t be necessary.

PsychoSteve announced on Jan. 15 on Adventure Rider that he had arranged with the new owner of the Grant Motel to use that property for camp-out, bonfire, launch point–everything. At this point all of the five rooms in the motel are rented but Elephant Riders traditionally pitch tents or sleep in their vehicles, as I done the last two years.

To really take part in the adventure you need to show up on Saturday night (Feb. 11) for the bonfire, the eating, the drinking . . . the fun. Then on Sunday morning at around 10 a.m. or so the assault on the pass will begin. While there hasn’t been a huge amount of snow this year, PsychoSteve and a buddy went up there a couple weeks ago and report that there are indeed spots with serious ice and deeply drifted snow.

In other words, it’s a normal Elephant Ride. So drill those screws into your tires and get out your warmest winter riding gear. The fun is about to begin.

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Biker Quote for Today

Bikers are a rare breed…Harley riders are a dime a dozen.

Dude, Where’s My Site?

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Very annoyedLet me apologize up front that this post has nothing to do with motorcycles.

I’m a little aggravated this morning. Maybe you noticed–this site was down for 1 hour and 29 minutes. And that’s not the first time recently the site has been down, although that’s the longest time by far. I filed a trouble ticket with my web host and asked what the hell is going on, but have yet to hear anything from them. If they respond as they have in the past I’ll get some message such as “We’re sorry your site was down, it’s back up now.” No shit?

It’s enough to push me a lot farther along the way to going to a new web host. I’ve been growing increasing dissatisfied with NetPivotal for quite awhile now and this may be what pushes me over the edge.

If I do move to a new host, it will make a clean third strike for today. First I went over to my bank, Wells Fargo, to ask about some unexpected charges that showed up on our statements. Seems they have added a bunch of fees, and when I said that was not acceptable the reply was essentially, “Too bad.” Judy has wanted to dump Wells Fargo for a long time so I came home and emailed her a message saying “Let’s do it.” We’ll be moving our accounts to First Bank.

Then I went over to my gym, Bally Fitness. Yesterday the Aurora club moved into a new location and this was my first time there. Their card reader would not accept my card. The manager told me my membership is not valid at the new location, despite my having asked that exact question as soon as they announced they would be making the move. I told him that was all I needed to know and came home and canceled my automatic renewal. When my membership runs out in April I’ll join 24-Hour Fitness.

Don’t anybody mess with me today, I’m on a roll.

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Biker Quote for Today

If I can’t pass at a reasonable speed I do it unreasonably.

Accelerate Publishes Mount Evans Article

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The road up Mount Evans

I’m very pleased to be able to tell you that Accelerate, Kawasaki’s publication for owners of Kawasaki motorcycles, has published one of my articles in its latest issue, which came out yesterday.

With the title, “To the Sky and Back: Colorado,” it’s a piece about a day ride up Clear Creek Canyon to Idaho Springs, out of Idaho Springs up Chicago Creek, and to the Mount Evans turn-off at Echo Lake on the Squaw Pass road. Then to the top of Mount Evans, back down to the the Squaw Pass road to Evergreen Parkway, to Evergreen, and down Bear Creek Canyon to Morrison. With photos, of course.

Now, what surprises me a bit about this is that Accelerate did not also publish a piece I did for them on the Morrison Inn. They like to do pieces on good places to stop and eat while you’re out riding and I did a piece on the Morrison Inn as a companion piece to the Mount Evans story. But it’s not there. I’ll have to ask Teri Conrad, the editor, about that.

I have hopes of doing a lot more writing for Accelerate. Of course, being the official Kawasaki publication it is essential that any bikes in the stories be Kawis. Fortunately, that’s exactly what I have, my 1999 Concours. I also have hopes of perhaps getting a dual-sport bike this year, and if I can count of selling a bunch more to Accelerate that will push me to get a KLR 650. The KLRs I’ve been on strike me as a bit tall, so I might go for something else without the Accelerate connection. But then, my Connie seemed extremely tall when I bought it and now, 12 years later, I’m as comfortable on it as you could possibly be.

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Biker Quote for Today

One man’s adventure might be another man’s daily ride.

Competition, Perhaps, For The Show & Swap?

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The International Motorcycle Shows in 2011

Here’s an interesting possibility I just picked up on. Marketplace Events (ME), an outfit that primarily puts on home shows around the country, including here in Denver, is expanding into the big deal motorcycle shows business. Their main competitor would seem to be what is currently called the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows put on by Advanstar Communications in 12 cities around the country. Denver is not one of those 12.

Advanstar’s event used to be called the Cycle World International Motorcycle Shows, but now they have a new lead sponsor, Progressive. During the Cycle World years, however, they certainly worked closely with Cycle World’s Vice President and Publisher Larry Little. Little has now been hired by ME as their Vice President & General Manager, Motorcycle Group. That puts ME on solid ground to launch this thing, called the American International Motorcycle Expo (AIME), which they plan to do in Fall 2013.

So what does this have to do with the Colorado Motorcycle Show and Swap? Well, with the IMS only coming to 12 cities it doesn’t seem that ME would want to go head to head with them except on occasion. It makes more sense to bring the show to towns that don’t already have the IMS. Of course, you want to come to the bigger cities, and Denver would seem to be a good choice.

To put it bluntly, if I were running the Show and Swap I’d be feeling a little nervous. Certainly the Show and Swap offers some things the AIME is unlikely to offer, primarily along the swap lines. The IMS doesn’t get into used parts or such, and AIME probably won’t either. Still, if AIME does come to Denver they’re likely to find a lot of vendors and organizations who set up at the Show and Swap who welcome an alternative. The Show and Swap is not a vendor friendly outfit, as I discussed a few days ago.

So who knows. Right now this is all speculation. Marketplace Events has yet to release any details about its plans, and probably won’t for a good while yet. But when the time comes, it should be really interesting to see how things shake out.

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Biker Quote for Today

Getting A Little Piggy At The Show & Swap

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Motorcycle Show & Swap

I’m a bit conflicted about going to the Colorado Motorcycle Show and Swap this year. I don’t go every year, but I have gone a number of times and had been thinking about it this year.

I’m a member of ABATE and each year ABATE sets up a booth. I worked the booth two years ago and was thinking about doing so again this year. At yesterday’s ABATE meeting they were making the point that they were short of people to work the booth, so why not?

Well here’s why not. It costs $15 to get in the show, and even though I was going two years ago to work the booth, I had to pay to get in. I asked Randy Savely, our District 10 rep, about that yesterday and he said oh yeah, that’s the way it is. In fact, he told me, last year when they went down on Friday night to set up, they had to pay admission to do so even though the show doesn’t open until Saturday.

Now hold on. You pay for the privilege of setting up a booth and then you have to pay to get in and man your booth? Or pay even to get in to set it up before the show starts? No, no, no. That is just wrong.

I mean, I can see how things could get out of hand if an organization set up a booth and then 100 of its members all wanted in free to “man the booth.” But that could be addressed just by saying, OK, each organization gets three passes; everyone else has to pay. But pay to get in the night before just to set up?! Please! To me, that smacks of just simple greed.

So you can imagine, I don’t feel very inclined to give these folks my $15. I may give in, but maybe not. It just smells a bit too much for my taste.

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Biker Quote for Today

MOTORCYCLES: created to keep us from choking the idiots around us.

AMA Urges Comments on Resource Management Plan That Would Limit Riding

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Riding in the hills above Lake City

January 17 is the deadline for comments on a proposed Resource Management Plan (RMP) put together by the Colorado River Valley (CRVO) Glenwood Springs field office of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). After studying the plan the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has issued an alert stating that “The current proposed RMP calls for a significant decrease in the number of miles for off-highway vehicle use as well as a total elimination of all cross country travel,” and urging motorcyclists to register their concerns with the plan. Letters should be sent to:

BLM CO River Valley Field Office
2300 River Frontage Rd.
Silt, CO 81652

Or you can email your comments to cormpkg@ttsfo.com.

Limitations proposed by the plan include the following.

  • Eliminate all cross-country travel currently allowed on 123,000 acres
  • Decrease designated route mileage for full-size vehicles from 760 miles to 470 miles
  • Decrease designated route mileage for ATVs from 82 miles to 62 miles
  • Decrease designated single-track route mileage for motorcycles from 85 miles to 66 miles
  • Closure of an additional 47,900 acres currently open to snowmobile recreation
  • Closure to snowmobile usage on anything other than a trail on an additional 14,800 acres

The particular issues the AMA has with the plan, and what they consider the talking points to be raised in making comments, include the following.

  • There is a lot of information provided in the plan for different uses; however it is disorganized and hard to review.
  • Travel management analysis and decisions appear to have been overlooked in the development of the plan and there is no analysis offered as to why all routes closed to motorized usage are assumed to be available for non-motorized and mechanized usage going forward. The lack of analysis for travel management related issues is a violation of NEPA’s requirements for a detailed statement of high quality information of why decisions in the Plan have been made.
  • Motorized users are the only loser in the plan as travel management is the first tool used to address management issues that have nothing to do with travel management, like big game hunting issues and cave management.
  • Alternative D is the best alternative but it still fails to address usage trends on the CRVO.
  • Alternative C is very weak scientifically and violates both state and federal planning guidelines.
  • The Plan moves to a fully designated trail system for all users; however the stated benefits of the proposed changes are simply not addressed. The Plan does not analyze why this protection is not enough and further closures are necessary, when most habitat management plans never identify the need for any trail closures to protect the species.
  • Loss of the Gypsum Hills Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) is unfair and runs counter to the reason it was originally created (to off-set the impacts of two Wilderness Study Areas (WSA’s). The WSA’s are still present and the SRMA should not be removed until there is a proposal to re-open the WSAs.
  • User conflicts are often overstated to obtain closures for other reasons and most user conflicts can be addressed without the closures of trails and roads.
  • Closure of the Hardscrabble Area for motorized access and subsequent designation of the Hardscrabble area for targeted recreational motorsports activities is inconsistent. This plan fails to give any analysis of the existing motorized opportunities that will be lost in the Hardscrabble area.
  • Many of the Wilderness characteristic areas and areas of critical environmental concern designations are inconsistent or conflicting.
  • Many proposed management standards violate multiple usage requirements such as the standard of managing all big game habitats to optimum standards

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Biker Quote for Today

Life is long enough – it just isn’t wide enough. Although I do enjoy a good single track now and then!

HBC 100 Helmet Communicator: Tried It, Loved It

Monday, January 9th, 2012

UCLEAR HBC 100 Moto helmet communicator

Hearing that I had tried out the UCLEAR HBC 100 Moto helmet communicator and loved it, my friend Patty Davis, National Motorcycle Travel Examiner, remarked that she still preferred her CB helmet communicator because it has greater range and as many people as have them can be on the same conversation. The range with the HBC 100 is about a tenth of a mile and only two riders can be in communication.

Those are certainly valid arguments. It’s also something I discussed with Kelly Kern, my co-tester, when we put the HBC 100 through the paces. And for starters, let me just say that Kelly and I both loved the HBC 100.

Kelly does a lot of group riding and she made note that a lot of people on these rides do use CB systems. She also noted that they are a lot more expensive. We didn’t discuss, but a bit of searching suggests to me, that CB systems generally come with boom microphones. A boom, in case you’re unclear, is one of those arms that sticks out from the unit and needs to be positioned in front of your mouth.

Judy and I have used a boom microphone communicator and we found the boom to be a big pain in the butt. We had to be sure it was properly positioned each time and for me that meant that much of the time I actually rode along with it grasped lightly between my lips the whole time. The HBC 100 has microphones built into the speakers, which are placed inside the helmet by your ears. The mics pick up your voice when you speak, plain and simple. And the clarity is vastly superior to our old system, which, by the way, just up and quit working a couple years ago.

I totally understand Patty’s interest in having multiple people in on the conversation. In my review of the HBC 100 on Examiner.com I made the point that if I was a honcho at UCLEAR it would be my top priority to make that available on my next product upgrade. And if that is a top priority for you then you probably need to look at a different product.

For Judy and me, however, our interest is in rider to passenger communication. In that case, range is immaterial, since she’s sitting right behind me. Having more than two on the conversation is immaterial, because we just want to talk to each other. And meanwhile, not having a boom, not having to make some sound to activate the voice-activation, having crystal clear sound quality–all of these things are huge for us. With the units installed, all we have to do is put on our helmets, turn the units on, and talk. Just talk. Nothing more. Add to that the fact that the HBC 100 is affordable at $200 for one unit and another $50 for an accessory pack that lets you connect two helmets, and there’s just no reason we would even look at anything else.

So as with any purchase, it really depends on what you need. If what you need fits with what the HBC 100 offers, I would strongly urge you to check it out. There may be comparable units on the market, I don’t know. But this is one unit I now have some familiarity with and I like it. A lot.

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Biker Quote for Today

The “better” rider waves first.

Bike Miles Double Car Miles Again In 2011

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

My Kawi at the Utah state line

For the second year in a row I put more than twice as many miles on my motorcycles as I did on my car. And on this gorgeous January day I was out doing what I can to make that happen again in 2012. What a fabulous day to be out on a motorcycle! And I saw a lot of guys out there, too. At one point there were four of us going three ways at an intersection. You’ve got to love Colorado.

On the Kawi in 2011 I rode a total of 6,875 miles. That’s actually down from 2010, when I put 10,004 miles on the bike. I also rode the Honda 506 miles, which gives a total of 7,381 on the bikes. The total on my car was just 3,556. Working at home has a way of reducing the miles you put on any and all of your vehicles. Have I ever remarked on how much I love not having to commute to work?

Of course, these figures don’t include things like the miles I put on the rented Harley up in British Columbia, but they also don’t include the miles we put on the rental car we had either. Nor does it include the miles I cover in my wife’s car when she and I go somewhere together in it. I just keep it simple by considering only my own vehicles. Doing anything else would be too much brain damage.

If my plans work the way I hope, I do expect to get a lot more miles on the Kawi this year. I mentioned previously that I’m hoping to make it out to Ohio for the AMA’s Vintage Motorcycle Days, and if I do, that trip should put as many as 3,000 miles on the bike, depending on which side trips I take along the way.

So here’s to a great year of riding in 2012. Just ride the thing!

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Biker Quote for Today

The life of a vagabond isn’t always riding, sometimes you have to stop & pose for pictures with the natives. It’s not much fun, but how could I disappoint these poor Kazakh girls? — rtwdoug

Wussing Out on the Wind, Testing Communicators

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

riding on gravel

I was first out of bed on Saturday and when I saw how the wind was blasting I started reconsidering doing the Last Brass Monkey Run. Then when Judy got up, her first words were “I’m not going with you on the Last Brass Monkey Run.”

I had already decided not to ride when I got an email from Alan Baumbach that he sent to several people saying he wasn’t going to ride in this wind. Said he lost a friend a while back due to a crash presumably related to strong winds. So I guess I wasn’t the only one.

Still later I heard from other people who did ride, and did do the run, and they said it wasn’t all that bad. Good for you guys, I was still glad not to be out in that.

By Sunday the wind had died down and I was ready to ride. It was cold, only around 33 degrees, but we’ve got electric vests and other warm clothes. Besides, I had finally received the second UCLEAR HBC 100 Moto helmet communicator and I got them installed in our helmets. We wanted to take a ride and test them.

As I mentioned before, these communicators do a lot more than let the rider and passenger talk. They also connect with your cell phone, your GPS, or your iPod. I’ll be testing all those things later, but on Sunday we were just trying out the rider to passenger communication. And really, we need to do a lot more testing than we did. We didn’t stay out too long because it was cold and our fingers were really feeling it after not too long.

So just from what we found, these communicators are pretty sweet. They installed pretty easily and they work very well. There’s no boom in front of your mouth and yet they pick up your speech very nicely. The sound coming out of the speakers is amazingly clear. We just rode and talked. That was it. It was that simple.

Now, we did have a little trouble coming through at higher speeds, and that’s one of the things we want to play with. The units are supposed to automatically compensate for higher and lower levels of noise, but we had manually turned them down before we took off. Around home we were getting a lot of random noise and that was less annoying with the volume turned down. Once we got out on the road, however, that noise went away entirely. I suspect it’s a lot of stray signals from other devices on or near that same frequency. Get away from population and you get away from the noise.

So this is just an interim report. Now in the next few days, which are supposed to be very nice, I’m hoping to get together with someone who has a bluetooth-enabled cell phone to try out the other features on these communicators. Once that happens I’ll have more to tell you.

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Biker Quote for Today

Whatever it is, it’s better in the wind…