Archive for March, 2012

AMA Staff Put Heads Together, Offer Their Experience

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

bikers at Yosemite

Most of us have learned a lot of lessons in motorcycling by doing things that make us say, “Oops, I guess I won’t do that again.” It’s called experience.

Well, the folks who work for the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) have between them an awful lot of experience. And somebody got the idea for them all to collect the tips they have picked up along the way and offer their wisdom to all riders. The result is the Rider Resources page on the AMA website. It’s worth a look.

The page has three sections, Riding, Wrenching, and Learning. Each section offers a variety of articles on different topics. For instance, under Riding they offer “33 Secrets for Smart Touring,” “Tips for Crossing the Border,” and “Keeping Warm.” Under Wrenching the topics include such as “Used-Bike Buying Checklist” and “The Bike Stopped. Now What?” “Books We Love to Read” and “Riding With Disabilities” are two of the topics under Learning.

A lot of the info is sure to be stuff most of us already know, though newbies will find it very helpful. A lot is not such common knowledge. For instance, among the 33 touring tips are some jewels like this: If you’re nearing the end of your riding day and want to set yourself up for a quick getaway in the morning, consider riding to the far side of the next city you reach before you stop for the night, eliminating urban traffic the next morning.

At the same time, I find it amusing that the piece on what to do if the bike stops on you doesn’t mention what is probably one of the biggest reasons for this sort of occurrence: the kill switch. Who among us hasn’t had the experience of the bike either dying or failing to start and after beating our heads against the wall for . . . how long? . . . realizing it was just the kill switch. It happened to me one time when I reached over to engage my throttle lock and inadvertently hit that switch. I was stopped there by the side of the road for 15 minutes before it dawned on me.

That shortcoming aside, however, a whole bunch of riders offering their best advice has to have something of value for just about any rider. Take a look and see what you can learn.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Custom motorcycles to tour, one to be given away

Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re becoming addicted to riding when you crash your bicycle when you lock up the tire because you were trying to use the brake as a clutch lever.


ABATE Statewide Tour Adds Extra Interest To Your Colorado Rides

Monday, March 26th, 2012

OK, you’re going to be riding around Colorado as much as possible this year no matter what. Are you interested in an something that can perhaps introduce you to places you’ve never been, and that might also put some cash in your pocket?

Get on your motorcycle and go somewhere

The more you get around Colorado this year the greater your chance of winning some cash.

Oh, caught your interest, did I?

Here’s the deal. ABATE of Colorado is doing a fundraiser, for the second time, where you can purchase ($15) a Colorado Statewide Tour 2012 Passport Book that lists 178 businesses, points of interest, events, and other things. Each time you go to one of these you document it–receipt, signature, photo, whatever–and at the end of the year you turn your book in. For every five points you have checked off you get one entry in a drawing with three prizes: $1,000, $500, and $250.

Now, we all know that the odds with a drawing are that you will not win. Although three somebodies in this case will win. So while winning would be sweet indeed, it’s only a remote reason for playing. The real reasons are two-fold: Discovering new places or revisiting cool places you’ve been before, and raising money for ABATE.

The first reason needs no explanation. Why should you care about funding ABATE? Well, it seems like every legislative session that some bill gets introduced that motorcyclists get very interested in. Some we like, some we don’t. If we like them we want to support them; if we hate them we want to fight them. ABATE is our proxy in that effort. No motorcycling group in the state has more influence down at the gold dome.

Enough about that. What are some of the spots on the list? Here’s a random selection.

  • Corral Sports Bar in Brush
  • Barbour Ponds near Longmont
  • Beecher Island Battlefield south of Wray
  • Sunset Inn in Pueblo
  • R’s Pizza in Silver Cliff
  • Hovenweep National Monument near Cortez
  • All ABATE Campout near Ignacio Sept. 1-3
  • The Bike Shop in Sterling
  • Motobreck in Breckenridge

As I said, random. So how many of those places have you been to? Here’s your chance to go someplace new.

So I bought my passport book. I’ll be checking off spots any time I can. And who knows, maybe I’ll win some cash. But I’m not banking on it.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Weaker motorcycle sales expected in 2012

Biker Quote for Today

You can’t be lost if you still have half a tank.


Thief Hops On Bike At Steele’s, Rides Off

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

If your neighbor came home about a week ago with a new motorcycle, specifically a blue 2007 Yamaha YZF R1, you might be in a position to earn yourself a nice reward. It seems a prospective “buyer” asked to look at one of those at Steele’s Cycles South, 2025 W. Union, and as the sale guy was pulling his hoodie off the “buyer” hopped on and rode away. Good-bye bike.

stolen 2007 Yamaha YZF R-1

Spot this bike and you might earn yourself a reward.

That’s a picture of the actual bike there. Steele’s has posted a notice on Craigslist and elsewhere that they are offering a “substantial” reward information. The theft occurred on March 15.

According to the notice, the bike (last six of vin # 007178) was taken by “a young Hispanic male about five foot nine, 135 pounds believed to own a late model Yamaha R6 and residing in the Englewood/Littleton area.”

Greg Zick, the salesman who was dealing with the guy, said he had been in previously looking at the bike, so he was pretty pleased to see him show up again. The fellow asked to have the bike turned on so he could hear it run, Zick went to pull off his hoodie, and bingo!

Now, my bet is that that bike will never be seen on the road again. If this guy already has a comparable bike, I’ll bet he figured this would be a good way to get an inexpensive parts bike. Some people are just jerks.

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Biker Quote for Today

Squid: The definition of stupid.


Guest Post: A Road Food Story

Monday, March 19th, 2012
Bikers Stop To Eat

Sometimes the place is worth stopping, regardless of the food. Sometimes it isn't.

This is a guest post from Rob Lobitz, with www.motorcyclehidxenonlights.com.

I don’t know about you but, for me, one of the great treats of taking a long bike trip through our beautiful state is the meal that comes at or near the end of a long day. My standards aren’t ultra-super high or anything, but when something gets in the way of that meal being served in a reasonably proper way, I can become just a little bit irritable.

Well, one day a few years back me and my biking buddy, Zayne, were taking a longish trip across the state on the way to visit another one of our friends. We’d both been arguing all day about which of the various motorcycle HID kits I should install on my Kawasaki, but then it was time to discuss where we were going to get our dinner a few hours hence. Zayne suggested a place he’d seen the last time he’d made the same trip.

“Why there?” I asked.

“There was like a gazillion cars and bikes in the lot. Looked like it must be really popular. The locals must know it.”

That seemed logical enough to me. So, after a long day of biking in some pretty cool and wet weather, it was nice to get to the place, which I am leaving unnamed for a reason. The warmth and that wonderful diner smell of coffee was such a sensory treat right then.

On the other hand, it should have been a sign when the host who escorted us to our chair had that vacant “I don’t give a @##@$# look” you see at convenience stores and the DMV from time to time, but we ignored that. It was just good to be some place warm and return to our friendly arguing over those motorcycle HID kits.

It took a couple of minutes, but a waitress finally appeared. She seemed friendly enough. I let Zayne order first because I always take forever to make up my mind. He ordered spaghetti — something I would never order in a non-Italian diner but, hey, it was his funeral. I was trying to lose weight, so I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and the waitress agreed to substitute rice pilaf for the fries. Life didn’t seem so bad.

We talked and talked and we finally resolved the great motorcycle HID kits debate to our mutual satisfaction. It suddenly dawned on us that we’d been talking for at least 35 minutes. No food. We chatted for another 15. Still, no food. Where the heck was our waitress? We then looked around. We saw mostly food-free tables and grim faces.

It was then, we realized why the well-located diner had such a crowded parking lot. Actually not that many hungry diners came in, but the foolish ones who did, like us, waited hours for their food. Hence, the crowded parking lot. It was the restaurant equivalent of a Roach Motel.

It was time to take action. Our waitress was nowhere in sight, so I got up and started a search. A few minutes later, I found her hiding out near the kitchen “Hey, I was just wondering what happened to our order.”

She looked at me blankly and said, “You ordered the chicken sandwich.”

I was dumbfounded. “What does that mean?”

“You ordered the chicken sandwich.” I tried again and got the same answer.

It was obvious to me she was of the opinion that, as a male, I had never cooked a grilled chicken sandwich for myself and would therefore assume that it could take at least an hour to properly prepare rather than, say, 10-15 minutes at the outside. (I might not be Mario Batali, but I can cook a slice of raw chicken long enough to be safe to eat and relatively tasty, also.)

We got our food about half an hour later, a full 90 minutes after entering the diner and, not surprisingly, it was kind of terrible. I almost wished I had ordered the spaghetti, bad as my friend’s pasta looked. At least she wouldn’t have the same stupid excuse.

I respect waiters and waitresses. Theirs is a tough, physically demanding job and I’m usually a very decent 18-20% kind of a tipper. However, for the first and only time in my entire life, I wanted to stiff the waitress on the tip. Not for taking so long but for insulting my intelligence with that idiotic answer about the chicken sandwich. If she had answered even remotely honestly and said the place wasn’t able to handle the number of people it was trying to serve, or some such, I would not have been nearly so ticked off. Clearly, she just didn’t care enough even to come up with a decent lie.

Zayne insisted on leaving 10 percent, figuring the drop would send a strong enough message. I disagreed but was too tired to argue. That was three years ago and I still wish we’d left zero tip.

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Biker Quote for Today

Yep! There’s just something something about about a gal in leather and can ride too!

2012 Colorado Motomarathon Will Be July 27-30

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

John Metzger, of Boulder, is at it again and has announced the events for the Motomarathon Association‘s 2012 season. This year there will be five events–the most ever–and the Colorado Motomarathon is slated for July 27-30.

Motomarathon checkpoint

Snagging a checkpoint on the 2011 Colorado Motomarathon

In case you’re unfamiliar, the Motomarathon, now in its fourth year, is a series of four-day rides through some gorgeous country. Every year at least one of the rides is here in Colorado, owing primarily to the fact that this is where it all started. While each day’s ride is fairly long, especially on slow-going mountain roads, they nevertheless top out at around 400 or 450 miles. This intentionally not as extreme as the 1,000-mile days that the Iron Butt Association puts on.

Mainly the idea is to have some fun riding through some beautiful country and sharing that with a bunch of other folks. As John says, “It’s not a race, it’s a vacation.”

Other events this year will be New England, New York, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Motomarathon plans ambitious season

Biker Quote for Today

Twisties: For some it’s a time to slow down. For others, it’s just a reason to get closer to the pavement.


Bikes And Buddies: A New Motorcycle Blog I Recommend

Monday, March 12th, 2012

I usually try to stick with topics that have to do with Colorado motorcycling, but I do stray at times. In this case I want to point you to a new blog, Bikes and Buddies, that I was introduced to recently.

The Bikes and Buddies blog

How to set your motorcycle on fire

Kevin Moore is the guy running this blog and from what he has put up so far, I’d say he’s quite a good writer and has some pretty interesting things to write about.

Take this “Motorcycle Conflagration” piece that the screen-shot I’ve included is taken from. No surprise there that he’s telling about a time when he made a few dumb mistakes and ended up with his motorcycle on fire next to the pumps in a gas station. Yow! It would be an interesting story in any case, but Kevin tells it well.

Another piece tells of some dirt-biking in an old strip mine and some youthful bravado involving a seemingly impossible stunt. And then there’s a piece about an odd character he encountered once when out of a ride.

That’s actually it for the moment. As I said, this is a new blog and Kevin is just getting started. But I’ve subscribed so I’ll know each time he posts something new. I’ve also been in touch with Kevin and he tells me he has written a book, which is about motorcycles and becoming a dad, titled “Motorcycles and a Baby: Stories of a Geardhead’s Roadtrip to Fatherhood.” He has found a publisher but the publisher wants him to demonstrate that he has an audience for the book. Get 2,000 people to subscribe to your blog and we’ll print your book, they told him.

Of course I told Kevin that I’d be happy to review his book here and on Examiner.com once it gets published. So I’m urging you to check out his blog, and if you like what you see, subscribe. If the book is as good as the blog is so far, we’re going to be in for a treat.

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Biker Quote for Today

The adventure starts when things stop going as planned.


‘Unconventional Attire’ Bill Goes Nowhere

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

That didn’t take long. One day a bill came up for consideration in the Colorado House that would prohibit businesses from barring bikers from their establishments because they are wearing colors. The next day that bill was killed on a 6-3 vote in the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee.

Bikers wearing colors

Would you let these guys in your establishment, dressed like that?

The bill, HB 1128, was proposed by Rep. Joe Miklosi, at the urging of constituents who belong to the Veterans of Vietnam America Motorcycle Club. I would assume it also had the support of the Colorado Confederation of Clubs, considering that they are whole-heartedly against businesses that ban erstwhile customers wearing colors. Just an assumption, but I could be wrong.

As an aside, here’s the Biker Friendly Or Not page on the CCC’s website where they list establishments that sit on both sides of that fence.

The vote in this case was not strictly a party-line vote. With five Democrats and four Republicans on the committee, the three who sought to keep the bill alive were all Democrats but two Dems joined with all four Republicans to “postpone the bill indefinitely.”

I have to think this was another situation where the biker community, at least those of the cruiser persuasion, and the Republicans who they generally work in concert with, ran into some friction. They would seem to be opposing views of freedom, i.e., the freedom of business owners to run their businesses as they see fit vs. the freedom of individuals to dress as they choose without fear of retribution.

There was a time years ago when my buddies and I went out to a bar on our bikes and were denied entrance because we were wearing motorcycle jackets. No colors or anything, just jackets. We figured that was pretty absurd. And you can bet we’ve never been back to that bar.

On the other hand, “No shirt, no shoes, no service” is a common sign and people seem to accept that with no argument. So the issue would come down to how you write a law that goes far enough without going too far. You probably can’t, so maybe it’s just best to leave it alone. The government doesn’t need to make the rules on everything.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Virginia bill banning motorcycle-only stops enacted; federal legislation pending

Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re becoming addicted to riding when you start putting your gear on in the morning, only to realize you need to take the cage to work . . . but you consider leaving your gear on to make the commute “more motorcycle-ish.”


Freedom H-D Changes Hands, Now Avalanche H-D

Monday, March 5th, 2012

I’m sure there are others who already knew this, but I just found out yesterday that Freedom Harley-Davidson is no more. Under new ownership, the company is now called Avalanche Harley-Davidson, although at least for the time being the URL for their website is still http://www.freedomh-d.com/.

Freedom Harley-Davidson

Good-bye to the eagle?

According to a report in the Denver Business Journal, owner and founder Ken Allen sold the dealership he established at 8000 W. Colfax to Michael Veracka, who is a partner at several other Harley dealerships around the country, including Grand Rapids H-D in Michigan and Rawhide H-D in Olathe, KS.

Although I don’t ride a Harley, my emotional connection to Freedom H-D goes way, way back. About 25 years ago, before I even owned a motorcycle, I was editor of the Sentinel newspapers in the suburbs north of Denver. We were always receiving gifts and various schwag from businesses hoping to get some free publicity out of it. As editor I got to pick and choose what I wanted and would distribute the rest to my staff.

One day a package arrived and it contained a T-shirt from Freedom H-D in connection with a poker run or something else they were sponsoring. I didn’t have a bike but I had always wanted one, ever since I was a kid. And in fact it was just a very short time later that I did buy my first bike, my 1980 Honda CB750 Custom that I still own and ride.

Anyway, I kept that shirt. And I wore it a lot, until it was finally shot full of holes had to go in the rag bag. So I’ve always felt a bit of connection to that dealership that I have never felt to the others.

Now time marches on and there’s a new owner and new name. I just have to wonder, though, why they changed the name. It seems like you’d be hard put to find a better name than Freedom. Just makes me wonder.

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Biker Quote for Today

Hot women come and go, but a beautiful bike stays with you long after you sell it.


Women’s Empowerment Tour Will Go Denver To Carson City

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

For a lot of people, getting into riding motorcycles consists of simply throwing their legs over the bike and riding off. Never mind that that may be just a bit less preparation than would be good, most do eventually figure it out.

Others are a bit more hesitant. They welcome some coaching, and even once they learn to ride they still welcome coaching to move to the next level. That’s where the AMA Conference Tour comes in. Organized by my friend Alisa Clickenger (aka MotoAdventureGal) and her associate, Karen Thomson, this ride is intended to help women riders gain confidence in and learn the ways of motorcycle touring.

I’m interpreting some of this from their website but as I read it, their name for their venture is Women’s Empowerment Motorcycle Tour, and this AMA Conference Tour is one of two they are promoting this year. The other is a 10-day Pacific Northwest Tour. Their first ever event was the original Women’s Empowerment Motorcycle Tour last year. (I’m sure Alisa will clarify this for me if I’ve got it wrong.)

So anyway, this AMA Conference Tour starts out in Denver on July 20 and is a 6-day ride to Carson City, NV, where the American Motorcyclist Association will be hosting the International Women & Motorcycling Conference.

As they note on the site, “Besides the normal tour itinerary and enjoyment, the tour will include pre-trip personal coaching, confidence building exercises, and during-tour seminars to give every rider a toolbox of skills they can rely on when planning or implementing their own future trips.”

Now, there’s no mention of the return trip, so I have the idea that once the riders get the experience going out there they’re going to get to put what they’ve learned into practice immediately getting home on their own.

So hey, great time. Road trip. Just ride the dang thing.

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Biker Quote for Today

Motorcycles make good girls do bad things!