Archive for October, 2012

New Threat To MOST Program Draws ABATE, COC Together

Monday, October 29th, 2012
Diablo and Tiger at the MOST hearing in February 2012.

Diablo and Tiger at the MOST hearing in February 2012.

The Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) program is in danger once again. And this time the Colorado Confederation of Clubs (COC) and ABATE are on the same side of the argument.

Let me make it clear before I go any further that this is not a news report. If it was I would need to do a lot of research and pull together information that I frankly am not inclined to devote the time to. So what I’m passing along here is simply what Terry Howard, ABATE’s State Coordinator, told us at yesterday’s ABATE District 10 meeting.

I knew there was a meeting scheduled for Oct. 18 on the changes to be made to the MOST program, and while I considered going, I didn’t get around to it. In retrospect, I wish I had gone. What Terry told us about the meeting was totally unexpected.

It appears that the legislative committee working on the issue came to the conclusion that the extra amount motorcyclists pay when they renew their licenses should be reduced from $4 to $2. Now just to refresh your memory, the extra charge is to pay for MOST, which was created as a way to lower the cost to riders when they take approved motorcycle training courses. The idea is that better-trained riders will be safer riders and suffer fewer fatalities and other crashes.

Along with the fee reduction, the committee was proposing this: The subsidy for rider training would be eliminated, and the remaining $2 would be used solely to fund rider safety programs along the lines of the general motoring programs to discourage drunk driving, get people to wear their seat belts, and such.

Whoa nelly! That would essentially eliminate MOST and have us paying extra for the same sorts of programs that car drivers pay nothing extra for.

“You’re gonna have a fight on your hands if you pursue this,” is what Terry said she told the committee members. In short, ABATE would rather see MOST eliminated entirely than have the training subsidy ended while we continue to pay extra.

Not surprisingly, the COC feels the same way. That group worked against continuation of the MOST program back in February and you can bet they feel this sort of change would make a bad situation much worse. Terry said ABATE representatives and COC representatives have met to discuss this and other issues and it appears there may be a thawing in the chilly relations between the two. I’ll have more on that later.

So we’ll see what happens next. This will be interesting.

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Biker Quote for Today

What are you doing to protect your right to ride?

More On Heated Gloves

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Gerbing offers battery-powered heated gloves.

My wife, Judy, was reading this blog and told me last night that I had better not go running out and buy heated gloves because that would ruin her plans for a Christmas gift. Then she thought a moment and said that actually, she probably ought to do some of her Christmas shopping early, before Gerbing realizes they lowered the price on their gloves to meet the competition, while the competition raised their price. I think I’m going to have warm hands when I ride this winter.

I also heard from my friend, Dan Leffert, in regard to his experience with heated grips and heated gloves, and I figured I would pass that along. Here’s what Dan had to say.

I have Gerbing heated gloves and I have heated grips on both bikes. On the Harley, with a full fairing, heated grips are enough down to about 40-45*. Heated gloves are much more comfortable below that for any extended riding (more than about an hour, not the Iron Butt stuff). But I hear ya about what a PITA all the cords are!

Riding the BMW 650 with OEM hand guards, grips are enough for me for rides less than an hour and only down to about 45-50*.

I just bought a pair of ridiculously expensive Lee Parks Design heavier weight gloves that have some magical insulation that changes phases and is supposed to be good in both heat and cold, and to work better with heated grips. I’ve worn them in 80* temps and switched back to my summer weights, while the jury is still out on the lower limits since it really hasn’t gotten that cold, yet. I have worn them in temps in the higher 30s and they’ve been fine, just haven’t done lengthy rides in those temps.

So there you go. Hey, why have cold hands when you can have warm hands? I look forward to sharing my experience with all of you.

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Biker Quote for Today

Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.

Hoping For Warm Hands In Winter Riding

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Mobile Warming's website showing the LTD Max gloves.

I’ve had my eye on getting some battery-powered heated gloves for winter riding, and I thought the time had come, but things do change.

I am specifically interested in battery-powered gloves because I tested a pair awhile back that had cords plugging into the bike and those cords were a pain in the butt. I know some companies make heated jackets where you can just plug the gloves into the sleeves of the jacket, but that means you need to buy the jacket, too. Now we’re talking expense.

So last winter I ran across this company called Mobile Warming and they were new in the market with battery-powered gloves that were much cheaper than their main competitor, Gerbing. I decided to ask them to send me a pair to test and review, and I added what I figured was a sure-fire selling point, I said “If I really like them I’ll buy them.” The woman I reached replied that she’d love take me up on that, but late in the season as it was, they were all out of stock. Get back in touch in the fall, she said.

So OK, I got back in touch with her recently and this time she said she can’t handle this, I need to contact someone else. Now I don’t know about you, but when someone offers me an opportunity to sell a product and generate some significant favorable publicity, I would tend to do what I could to bend the rules a little to make it happen. Oh well.

Then, I don’t recall how this came about, I checked their website again and found that they have raised the price of the gloves substantially. Checking Gerbing’s site I also found that they–perhaps in response to competition–have lowered their price substantially such that the two have completely shifted positions. Gerbing now sells for what Mobile Warming was asking while Mobile Warming is now selling for what Gerbing used to cost. Obviously, if I’m going to buy I’m going to be interested in the Gerbings.

But there is a third option, though it’s not as good an option. My friend Jungle recommended getting some Aerostich Warm Wrap Grips, which are pads that wrap around the grips and connect to the bike. One huge difference is the price. They only cost $45, whereas the Gerbing gloves are $200 and the Mobile Warming gloves are $270. Heating the grips instead of my hands would mean no fuss with the wires once they were installed on the bike. And at that price I could get the wraps for both my bikes and still pay less than for either pair of gloves.

The disadvantages would be that the heat would only be on the palm side of my hands, and I would not be able to walk around with warm hands as I would with battery-powered gloves. I mean, I figure that with battery-powered gloves I could take the dog for a walk in the dead of winter and keep my hands warm. That’s part of the appeal.

So I don’t know. I do intend to do something, I’m just not sure yet what. But one thing for sure is that I won’t be buying the gloves from Mobile Warming. They had their chance and blew it.

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Biker Quote for Today

There’s no adventure in turning around. — Shoganai

A Parallel Route to Taylor Canyon

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Completing our recent weekend on the Western Slope, Judy and I were coming home via Gunnison and figured that rather than go over Monarch Pass again, as we had just a couple weeks before, that we would take Cottonwood Pass. Of course that means going north from Gunnison to Almont and then east up Taylor Canyon.

Heading up Spring Creek Canyon

Heading up Spring Creek Canyon.

But Judy had been looking at the map and had spotted an alternative. If you start up Taylor Canyon, there is a spot where a road forks off to the left that goes up through Spring Creek Canyon. It’s all gravel whereas Taylor is paved up through Taylor Reservoir, but hey, we’re into exploring the unpaved roads these days. Let’s do it.

Spring Creek Road is comparable to the gravel part of Cottonwood Pass. I’ve seen plenty of Harley cruisers doing Cottonwood so it’s not a question of could you do it, it’s a question of would you want to. It’s a beautiful canyon. Of course, when was the last time you saw an ugly canyon? And if this is your first time in the area, Taylor Canyon is probably prettier. But if you’ve done Taylor Canyon before, Spring Creek is a nice change of pace.

The one issue, of course, is that you would end up doing a lot more gravel. You might be fine with doing the little bit of gravel coming down Cottonwood. This extra 25 miles or so might not be something you’re interested in.

Unless you’re on a dual-sport bike. Then it’s a no-brainer. It’s a nice road, it’s a place you’ve never been before–what else matters?

After cruising up the canyon you come over and down to where you hit the road coming down to Taylor Reservoir from the north. The Taylor Canyon road comes up along the reservoir on the south. At the east end of the reservoir you meet up with that road, and turn left to go up Cottonwood.

So it’s an option. We enjoyed it.

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Biker Quote for Today

“Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius” — William Blake 1757-1827

Exploring the Unk Plateau

Monday, October 15th, 2012

The road down through the middle of the Uncompaghre Plateau.

Kevin Smith and I had plans this summer to head up onto the Uncompaghre Plateau on a couple of his V-Stroms, but thanks to a screw-up by his doctor, Kevin spent much of the summer recovering from that misadventure. (If your doctor tells you a procedure is successful 95 percent of the time, think really hard about what it would mean if you were in the 5 percent.)

So with the Unk Plateau, as the locals call it, beckoning, that was the next destination for Judy and me after we came down off the Grand Mesa on the Land’s End Road. All it took was a short jog north on U.S. 50 and then a left turn onto CO 141 at Whitewater. CO 141 is the road that runs to Gateway and through the Unaweep Canyon, itself a terrific ride, and all paved.

To get up on top of the Unk Plateau you just cruise about 13 miles until you reach the turn-off for the Divide Road. Through a series of switchbacks you climb quickly to the top of the plateau and then the road heads south.

Although the locals all know and are familiar with the Unk, I have the strong impression that most other people in the state have no idea it exists. It’s a large area–more than 60 miles long by about 15 miles wide–and there are no towns and only gravel roads up there. Not surprisingly it’s a favorite for hunting, fishing, and camping. Also for ATVs and dual-sport or dirt bikes.

Unlike the Land’s End Road, I would not even want to take my Honda on the Divide Road. It’s too rough in too many places. This is definitely dual-sport or dirt bike terrain. But if you are riding one of those, the Unk is calling to you. There are hills, canyons, cliffs, lakes all just waiting. Think Grand Mesa, but with a lot fewer people. Heck the Divide Road even goes over a pass, Columbine Pass, as it traverses the plateau north to south.

It’s big enough, too, that we didn’t even cover the entire north-south cruise as we intended because it was getting late in the day. Instead, midway we turned off on a road that headed down to Delta. If we had taken the Divide Road to the end it would have brought us out in Montrose. So there’s plenty more to see. Maybe Kevin and I can get up there next year. On bikes.

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Biker Quote for Today

If you dump it in front of me, I promise I won’t run you over.

Land’s End Road A Great Ride If You’re OK With Gravel

Thursday, October 11th, 2012
The Lands End Road running off Grand Mesa

The Lands End Road running off Grand Mesa.

Utterly, utterly spectacular. I’m talking about the Land’s End Road running off Grand Mesa down toward Whitewater. A week ago I had no idea this road existed. Now I’ve been on it.

I have to acknowledge that this is another instance of Judy and me going on roads that would be fabulous on a dual-sport bike but doing so in her Subaru Forester. Because I still don’t have a dual-sport bike. I’m really, really hoping that by next summer that situation is going to have changed. But in the meantime, we drive these roads and I view them from the motorcyclist’s perspective. And oh man, what a perspective this road offers.

You can go either way on the Land’s End Road but I strongly recommend down. I suspect that climbing you just wouldn’t see it the way you do descending. So to do that, you take CO 65 onto Grand Mesa, either coming from I-70 on the north or from Cedaredge on the south, and catch the well-marked turn-off at about the 31 mile marker. That road heads west to the edge of the mesa, runs along the rim a ways, and then reaches the point where it plunges downward. Oh. My. Gosh.

Up to this point the road alternates between good gravel and pavement. Starting down it is all gravel until you get down off the mesa and get near U.S. 50. But it’s good gravel and I would probably be willing to take my Honda CB750 Custom on it. No way would I take my Kawasaki Concours on it. The Connie hates gravel. On a dual-sport or a dirt bike I’d be in heaven.

If you’ve never seen this road you really owe it to yourself. Heck, go there in your car if nothing else. I just can’t believe I’d never even heard of it till now.

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Biker Quote for Today

You know the sign that says ‘Pavement ends’? I want to see more of those.

A Biker-Friendly Motel to Recommend in Hotchkiss

Monday, October 8th, 2012
Kris and Andy Bartol

Kris and Andy Bartol outside the office of the Hotchkiss Inn.

OK, you’re forgiven if your first reaction is to wonder, “Now, where the heck is Hotchkiss?” Just so you’ll know, Hotchkiss is just west of Paonia as you come off of McClure Pass and just 20 miles east of Delta.

If you know the area at all that should tell you, Hotchkiss is in the middle of some pretty nice country. And as we found out this weekend, it makes a good base of operations for some terrific riding. Which is where the Hotchkiss Inn comes in.

I’ll make note right up front that Kris and Andy Bartol, the proprietors of the Hotchkiss Inn, are advertisers on this website. Whenever possible, I like to become personally acquainted with my advertisers so it was just natural that Judy and I would go spend a weekend at the Hotchkiss Inn. Plus, that allows me to add my up-close-and-personal comments about a place on the site.

Of course the Hotchkiss Inn is biker friendly; that goes without saying. They wouldn’t be listed on the site if they weren’t. Beyond that, our first impression was strongly favorable. We pulled up to a clean and tidy, obviously well-cared-for establishment, and there on the sideboard in the office was cheese and crackers with a choice of wines to greet arrivals. Now, Kris told me later that they don’t set the food and wine out every night, just the nights when they have a bunch of new arrivals coming in, but it was a very nice touch.

Our room held a pleasant surprise in store: It was a two-bed room but there was only one bed. The rest was increased living space with a table and three chairs. Judy and I only need one bed, and this is certainly true of a lot of travelers. Why not get rid of the second bed in some rooms, keep them in some rooms, and turn that extra space into something nice? That’s what they’ve done. And Kris tells me the plan eventually is to add a small couch in these rooms.

It’s all a little at a time. Kris and Andy just took over the Hotchkiss Inn in June of 2011 and there was a lot to be done. You can’t do it all at once but they’re chipping away. Of course one of the first orders of business was to put in really nice, new beds. The pillow-top bed we slept on was very nice. And what’s more important than the bed when you’re deciding on a motel?

The rooms have coffee pots and microwaves but there is also an included continental breakfast in the office. Coffee, yogurt, and a banana will just about do me but they also had rolls, hot and cold cereal, orange juice, and other selections. If you want a cafe type of meal, there is a cafe right across the street.

We are not television watchers but there are also new flat-screen TVs in all the rooms. Unlike us, you might turn yours on.

And what is there to do from Hotchkiss? Well, for starters, there is the Grand Mesa. That’s always a nice ride along CO 65 on any bike, and if you don’t mind some gravel there are even more possibilities. I have a terrific one, in fact, to tell you about soon, but not today. Just keep Land’s End Road in mind.

Of course there’s the ride over McClure Pass down to Carbondale, and from there you can go to Aspen. And on from Aspen if you wish, over Independence Pass.

Another option is to take CO 92 down through Crawford and along the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnision. That’s a gorgeous ride. Or run down to Ouray and up over Red Mountain Pass. Or go back past Paonia and take Kebler Pass into Crested Butte and down to Gunnison. Of course, if you did that you could loop back to Hotchkiss on 92 along the Black Canyon.

The point is, there’s a lot of great riding out there and Hotchkiss is a nice place to ride out from and back to for a couple days. And we do recommend the Hotchkiss Inn. So. Just some ideas to kick around.

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Biker Quote for Today

So we rip along with nary a care in the world, no traffic, great roads and it’s E-M-P-T-Y!!!

Winter Closures Begin On Great Motorcycle Roads

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
motorcycle on Mount Evans

On top of Mount Evans.

It’s just a fact of life that some of the best motorcycle roads in Colorado close during the winter. And the closures have begun.

First to close was the Mount Evans road, which occurred on Sept. 27. That tells you that Trail Ridge Road, Independence Pass, and the road up Pikes Peak can’t be far behind. Then there’s also Kebler Pass and Cottonwood Pass.

The best place to find out if these roads are still open or not is always the Colorado Department of Transportation’s site, On their listing they include a snowflake sort of icon circled in red to indicate seasonal closures.

Of course what this means is that it’s time to get out there and do some riding while the weather is still good. I’ll be riding all year round, as always, but you can bet I won’t be on the bike as much in the next few months as I have been in the last few. I am planning to try out some heated gloves and/or heated grips soon, however, so that will force me to do some cold weather riding. It’s a dirty job and all that. If they turn out to be wonderful then I guess I’ll do just that much more winter riding.

So today is supposed to be one of those gorgeous fall days. A good day to be out. I’ll let you guess what I’m going to be doing as soon as I wrap up this blog post and a few other chores.

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Biker Quote for Today

Motorcycles: “It’s just really, really cool. You guys, seriously. They make this noise that’s like BRAAMM and they go superfast…”