Archive for November, 2012

Riding Motorcycles And Visiting National Parks

Thursday, November 29th, 2012
OFMC at Zion 2012

The OFMC at Zion earlier this year.

I took a contract job recently at the National Park Service–my first regular job in 3-1/2 years–and my friend Dan very quickly emailed me to say he would be calling on my newly gained expertise. Seems he is working on earning the Iron Butt Association’s National Parks Tour Master Traveler Award. To do so you have to “Visit at least 50 National Parks, National Monuments, National Historic Sites, National Recreation Areas or any other site or park listed in the Passport book or other sources, such as those listed by the National Parks Travelers Club http://www.parkstamps.org in at least 25 states within 1 year.”

What many people may not realize, but what I’ve learned in my brief time on this job, is that there are nearly 400 park units around the country. Everybody knows about Yellowstone or Yosemite but how many of us have heard of some of these places I’ve been working on this past few weeks: William Howard Taft National Historic Site; Ocmulgee National Monument; Catoctin Mountain National Park; Cumberland Island National Seashore. There are a lot of them.

As the Iron Butt site explains, too, you don’t have to go to 2 per state in 25 states. They suggest you could visit 21 parks in California, 6 parks in Arizona, and then 23 parks in 23 different states. Whatever it takes.

As for that Passport book mentioned above, that’s something the National Park Service (I’m already inculcated. I would have abbreviated that but the organizational style is always to spell it out unless it’s used as a modifier.) offers. I’m sure it’s a way to generate money but it sounds cool and kind of fun. You buy the book and then at each park unit you visit you get it stamped. Each unit has its own distinctive stamp. Just something as a momento of your visit.

So anyway, you’ve got some hard riding to do Dan, but I know you’re an Iron Butt guy and you’ll have a great time. And I’ll let you know if I come across any especially interesting park units to give you a heads-up on.

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Butler Maps goes east to the Ozarks

Biker Quote for Today

Life is a Game. Play to win.

Now I’ll Have Warm Hands When I Ride

Monday, November 26th, 2012

My new Gerbing Core S-2B heated gloves.

It’s a done deal, and an early Christmas. I’ve got a pair of Gerbing Core S-2B battery powered heated gloves.

I checked around town at all the shops that carry Gerbing gear and only one, Performance Cycle, on south Broadway just north of Evans, carries the battery powered gloves. As it was, they only had size Small and XXL in stock, but this weekend, the weekend of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, they were on sale for only $170. That’s a bargain.

So we went over to the shop on Saturday because I wanted to see them for real and try them on. I figured I needed a Medium but if I bought them I would pay the sale price and then just wait for them to come in.

Turns out Small seems to be the size I needed. Judy whipped out her credit card and wished me a merry Christmas a month early.

At home, I immediately plugged in the batteries to charge and then last night we went for a walk to give them their first test. One thing I noticed immediately, as I had suspected might be the case, was that the battery in the gauntlet sits right on top of my wristwatch. For comfort I figure I’ll need to take the watch off when I wear the gloves. No big deal.

The controls work very easily. You plug the batteries in and insert them into the pouches on the gloves. Through a mesh window you can see the setting, so you push the Power button and then keep pressing it until it gets to the heat level you desire. What Gerbing says is that at 100 percent power the batteries should last you 2 hours. At 75 percent you should get 3 hours, at 50 percent 5 hours, and at 25 percent 10 hours.

I figure in the winter I’m not likely to be riding longer than 5 hours so 50 percent should do me well. On our walk they were set at 25 percent and though it was pretty cold, my hands stayed warm. Nice.

So we’ll see. Of course I want to take a ride and give them a real test as soon as possible, but Sunday was a warm day, in the 60s, so that didn’t seem like a good test. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of cold weather soon enough. Of course I’ll report the results here. Stay tuned.

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Biker Quote for Today

I say, there’s no such thing as a bad day’s riding. — metaljockey

ABATE To Raffle A Dual-Sport Bike

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

This is just perfect for me. I’ve got a job again, so my disposable income is huge compared to what it had been for so long. And I’ve been wanting a dual-sport bike for several years, but didn’t have the money. Well, I learned at the ABATE meeting on Sunday that the state organization has decided to do a raffle, with a dual-sport bike as the prize.

Dual-sport Bike On Gravel

A bike like this could be yours (or mine!)

Tickets will be $10. As poor and broke as I have been for so long, I would have had a hard time persuading myself to even buy one ticket, though I really want what they’re giving away. I mean, how tiny would my odds be of winning? Well, my odds will still be tiny, but I can afford it now.

Here are some particulars. The exact bike has not been determined yet. They were passing around a flyer on a Kawasaki KLR 650, but Terry Howard, the state coordinator, said they’ll be calling around to dealers to see what the best deal they can get might be.

Tickets will be $10 and a maximum of 2,000 will be sold. So that tells you right there exactly what your worst odds will be: 2,000 to 1. Of course, if they only sell 1,500 then your odds will be 1,500 to 1. Or if you buy 3 tickets you’ll be 500 to 1. Those aren’t great odds but they’re one heck of a lot better than your chances of winning Powerball.

The bike will be on display and tickets will be sold at several big events in the next few months, including the Last Brass Monkey Run, on December 30, and the Motorcycle Show and Swap February 2 and 3. They’ll also be sold online through the ABATE website.

The drawing will probably be held in June, at the Randy Run. The Randy Run is ABATE’s annual fundraiser to help out riders who have gone down hard and need assistance. Considering that you don’t have to be an ABATE member to receive financial assistance, this is a run everyone really ought to consider taking part in.

So I’m going to buy some tickets. I know I probably won’t win, but oh man, what if I do!? And if I don’t win, then I AM going to buy a dual-sport. The time has come.

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Biker Quote for Today

People don’t understand what I’m doing. But it’s not for the lack of me telling them about it.

My First (Sorta) Cold Day’s Ride This Fall

Monday, November 19th, 2012
My Honda in the King Soopers parking lot in Aspen Park.

My Honda in the King Soopers parking lot in Aspen Park.

What a gorgeous day Sunday. I rode the Kawi to the ABATE meeting and then in the afternoon I took off on the Honda for a real ride. Time to give that battery a good charge.

It was so nice that the mountains called. I knew as I went up in elevation the temperature was going to drop but I was dressed warmly and had my electric vest on. Upward!

I cruised up through Morrison to Idledale, to Kittredge, and on to Evergreen. Lots of bikes on the road. Lots of bikes parked in Morrison and Evergreen.

And yes, it got cooler. It didn’t take long for me to be glad I had the electric vest on. It was sunny, but with the sun low in the south, the canyon was mostly in shadow. And the higher I went, the lower the mercury dipped.

By the time I reached Evergreen it was getting cloudy. I had wanted to stop but didn’t. You know how you have intentions and yet sometimes you never act on them. That was me. I turned south on Highway 73, the road to where I would meet U.S. 285 at Conifer. Now I was getting cold, especially my hands. I realized the time had come to switch to my winter riding gloves and I wished I had done so already. By the time I reached Conifer I was starting to wonder if my vest had stopped working; I was that cold.

So I cruised on down to Aspen Park and pulled off to get something hot to hold and drink. There’s a Starbucks in the King Soopers there and that was just the ticket. Feeling reasonably warm again, I rolled on back down the hill. By the time I got back to the city it was a comfortable temp again but I kept the vest turned on anyway. Felt good. And yes, it was still working.

The moral of the story, or lesson or whatever: It’s that time of year. I probably won’t be riding into the mountains again until sometime next year. And I really do need to get some electric gloves on my hands, sooner rather than later. Judy said she’d get me some for Christmas, and if I tell her specifically what I want she won’t wait for Christmas. I had forgotten to do that. No more forgetting.

But oh man, what a great day to be out for a ride. After doing all this riding this past summer I haven’t been on the bikes all that much this fall. And now I’ve started a job, for the first time in more than three years. I’m back at the point where when I occasionally go for a ride it hits me that, “Hey, this is really fun! I should do this more!” From here on it’s all about the weather.

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Biker Quote for Today

The world belongs to those who can laugh at it.

More Weird Stuff Bikers Have Encountered On The Road

Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Motorcycles on dirt near Gunnison

Riding dirt near Gunnison.

Wow, it’s been more than a year since the last time I did one of these. The question posed in this thread on the Adventure Riders forum was, “What is the strangest thing you’ve ever run into on the road?” Here are some of the more interesting and oddest responses.
*************
I was on my CB1000, my buddy was on his Goldwing (1500?). Late at night on I-75 making tracks back to Chattanooga from British in the Blue Ridge. He tags an alligator with the chin spoiler of his GW. The gator flips up in the air all slow motion like. It’s comin’ right for me but I had no time to react. It went by my head at 75+ mph. Seemed like it was inches away, It may have actually been 2 feet. Either way the pucker factor was quite high.
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Doing a high speed run on my 87 GSXR907 Big Bore went through a flock of finches at over 170. Yeah I had some bruises.
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Couple of years ago…. large sheet of painter’s plastic in the highway, kicked up just perfectly by a cage in front of me. Hung there like a shower curtain as I plowed right into it. Had to move over three lanes blindly, through traffic, to get to the right hand shoulder and stop so I could peel it off of me and the bike.
*************
A whole flock of white leghorn chickens decided to cross the road. Left a LOT of white feathers!
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I was riding in a 35mph zone at the edge of town when I was sure I was about to hit a dove. We were on a collision course when a hawk swooped in and changed the dove’s course to parallel mine. The outcome for the dove was the same, but the hawk & I were happy.
*************
Four of us are riding along one day. I’m the second guy. We come around a curve and there’s this huge dead black snake in the road. I went to point it out with my right foot and inadvertently kicked it up. It goes sailing and wraps all over the guy behind me. He almost shit himself.
*************
Riding down through Pennsylvania to visit a friend in Bethlehem, a loud ‘thwack’ announced the impact of a firefly on my face shield, then two more. I shut the lights off for a moment to confirm that the green glowing effect all over my field of vision was not a hallucination.

Want one scarier? Similar road winding alongside the Big Thompson River heading up to Estes Park, Colorado. Something snapped across my face shield that left a respectable gouge in the plastic. Turns out it was a fly fisherman’s line with a fly & hook on the end of it!
*************
There must have been 50 geese crossing the road 3 to 4 deep. I came around the curve at 70 mph and there they were. I went thru them, but missed hitting any of them. They scattered around and went on off the road before anything else happened. The “Highway Grandfathers” were looking over my ass this morning.
*************
I was hauling ass down a fire road in my younger days, just about to run over a yucca stalk when it started wiggling. It was a friggin 6′ rattlesnake sunning itself on the road. I don’t think I helped it any hitting it square in the middle but I didn’t stop to ask if he was OK.
*************
Heading home from a long day in the saddle. Sun had just set and was pretty close to being dark outside. All of a sudden the rear of my bike rose up as if I hit a speed bump. The front tire never hit anything. It scared me, but after a few minutes I forgot about it. Until I got home that is. The stench of skunk all over my rear wheel was too much to take. I had to let the bike sleep outside that night. Never even saw the critter. Lucky my front wheel didn’t hit him!

Yeah, hey. The stuff that goes on out there! Ride carefully, OK?

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Biker Quote for Today

Trials is an amazing sport. You can get hurt really really bad without even leaving the campsite!

Researcher Seeking Women Motorcyclists For Survey

Monday, November 12th, 2012
woman motorcyclist

Research study seeks women riders.

I announced this on Examiner but I figure I ought to go ahead and announce it here, too. Ginger Bucher, a Ph. D. candidate at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (I’ve never heard of that school, have you? That’s a little odd, isn’t it?) is conducting a study on women motorcyclists, both riders and passengers, and if you are a woman, she is looking for your input.

Here’s the letter she sent me:

Currently, I am collecting data as part of a dissertation through Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I am a rider, former MSF-certified RiderCoach and Assistant Coordinator of the PA Motorcycle Safety Program. In my role as an independent motorcyclist researcher, I am focusing on women motorcyclists both passengers and riders.

The online project began in October and continues through December, 2012. You can view the details at:
www.research.womenmotorcycling.org

To date, over 530 women motorcyclists from the US and Canada have completed the questionnaire representing over 3,000 individual comments and responses to essay questions. The online community and network of motorcyclists has made the response possible. I am reaching out to UK and Australian female motorcyclists as well.

I am asking for your help to increase awareness in the motorcycling community about the study. While I have an enormous amount of data to sort through already, I am interested in gaining the most complete picture that is possible in a short time with limited resources. The project is purely academic (i.e. self-funded) with no commercial or industry sponsorship.

When ready, I plan to report the findings in a wide array of settings. Given the level of interest from national organizations, I foresee the possibility of follow-on research to further explore the rich experiences of women motorcyclists.

Thank you for taking time to read about the study. I hope you will consider some options to get the word out. I welcome your suggestions and input.
Ginger Bucher
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

So, if you feel like adding your voice to her data, or know any women who might be, go for it. And hopefully, Ginger will be back later to share her results.

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Biker Quote for Today

Bad decisions make good stories.

An Email Hello From Someone I Quoted

Thursday, November 8th, 2012
dual-sport bike on gravel road

Gwen wouldn't think twice about taking this road.

If you’ve been reading this blog you know that I end each post with a “Biker Quote for Today.” I gather these quotes from a lot of places. Some I just run across; others I find by searching. One of my most fertile places to search is the discussions on Adventure Riders, or ADV for short.

More than most motorcycle forums, the ADV folks really get into putting cool, funny, interesting remarks in their signatures. Anytime I’m on the site I keep my eyes open to see what gems I can find.

One such gem was the quote I used on Oct. 22, at the end of my “Hoping For Warm Hands In Winter Riding” post. It read, “There’s no adventure in turning around. — Shoganai”

Well guess who I heard from: Gwen Phillips (aka Shoganai).

Gwen said she had been searching on Google “for an old thread I started on an old forum years ago” and lo and behold, “I was stunned to find something I said to Jim aka Drif10 this year when he came to visit our home.” So she was tickled and wrote that she was honored to be quoted.

And actually, I had heard first from Drif10. He noted in regard to Gwen’s quote that, “And she isn’t kidding about that quote, either. She’ll take a road bike places that make me think twice about taking my dirt bike into.”

Good for you Gwen.

This is actually the second time I’ve heard from someone I quoted. Believe me, I really enjoy getting these emails. And I really enjoy the quotes. Some day I’m going to put together a book with the quotes and pictures that match the quotes, more or less. Really, I am. I’ve already got part of it done. But at this rate it will be a few more years before I finish it. I guarantee that when it’s ready you’ll hear about it here.

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Biker Quote for Today

Bones heal, chicks dig scars, pain is temporary, glory is forever. — Evel Knievel

Getting Acquainted With United Dirt Bike School

Monday, November 5th, 2012
United Dirt Bike School

The banner on the United Dirt Bike School web site.

I’m not much of a glad-hander, so even though I’ve been an ABATE member for several years now and I go to my district’s monthly meetings as often as possible, I still don’t even know most of the people’s names, and I’ve never spoken to most of them. So I was very interested to figure out recently that one woman who has been coming for awhile, and whom I had never met, is Kathy Banning, one of the co-owners of United Dirt Bike School. And so at the meeting last Sunday I approached her afterward and we spoke.

If you’ve been reading this blog you know that for some time I have had a growing interest in riding off the pavement. I’m not necessarily interested in the serious, really difficult trail riding that some people do, I’m just tired of missing out on all these great roads that Colorado has that don’t happen to have asphalt on them. I’ve ridden a bit with Kevin Smith, of Colorado Mountain Moto, and Ron Coleman, of Western Dual Sport Motorcycle Adventures, but I want more. And most especially, I want my own dual-sport or dirt bike.

What I don’t want is to get out somewhere, all on my own, and get in trouble. Now, I’m a confident sort of person and I think I’m pretty good at recognizing my limitations, so I don’t really think that is all that likely. But what if it did? One way to improve my odds would be to improve my skills. I’ve taken the MSF Beginning Rider Course and the Experienced Rider Course, so why not take a dirt-riding course? And Kathy and her partner, Michael St. John, are both MSF certified to teach dirt riding. I told Kathy that I’m interested.

An interesting thing is that apparently, so are a lot of other people. They have limited access to the training course they use and from what Kathy tells me, they have a line of people waiting to get in their classes. That’s a good problem to have, I guess, though you would actually wish you could accommodate everyone who wants to pay for your services.

So I got the scoop on it all. They provide the bikes and the gear. You need gloves and proper footwear. A full-day class runs $175 if they provide the bike, $150 if you bring your own. Get on their email list and they’ll keep you apprised of class opportunities. And even with winter coming on, that doesn’t pull the plug on classes. As long as conditions allow it and they have interested students, they teach all year round.

I’m not saying I’m definitely going to do this, but I’m definitely thinking about it. And after working totally as a freelance writer for the past 3-1/2 years I have now taken an editor position, on contract, with the National Park Service, so I’m going to have some money again, at last. As always, you’ll read about it here if it happens.

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Biker Quote for Today

Paved roads…… Just another perfect example of needless spending by the government.

ABATE, COC Finding Common Ground?

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
A Beginning Rider Course

Rider training has been an issue between ABATE and the COC.

Continuing what I was saying earlier, Terry Howard, ABATE of Colorado‘s State Coordinator, was telling us on Sunday about how there is a move to bury the axe between ABATE and the Colorado Confederation of Clubs (COC). The bad blood has existed for some time, and Terry said there have been previous unsuccessful attempts to put it to rest, but maybe this time.

The possible rapprochement got started when representatives of both groups were attending the Motorcycle Riders Foundation‘s Meeting of the Minds. According to Terry, a couple of the COC folks came up to her, saying, “We need to talk.” So they did.

Terry’s speculation is that some of the COC folks had an eye-opener when they looked at the list of training organizations that were in violation of MOST regulations and found that ABATE was not on that list. In discussion, she said, it came out that ABATE has an issue with one person in the COC and the COC has an issue with one person in ABATE. Fine, let’s leave them out of this.

The COC wanted to talk about how the two groups can work together for the common cause. Specifically, they were interested in three things.

  • They want to ensure that if the MOST program continues that it is not cut back to simply forcing motorcyclists to pay extra for safety programs that other motorists don’t pay extra for.
  • They are also looking for riders to work with them in an effort involving blow-test devices that are used on the vehicles of people convicted of DUIs. Colorado currently allows this but has no provision for doing so on motorcycles. The result is that a rider automatically loses the privilege of riding their bike. Other states allow this, and Colorado’s legislation does not disallow it, but there are issues that need to be worked out. The COC wants as many riders as possible to ride with the devices on their bikes to do testing so these issues can be addressed.
  • The COC also wants help in addressing the issue of police profiling of motorcyclists. If you’re speeding, you’re speeding, no issue. But if you get stopped apparently just because you’re on a bike, they want to know about it and get the details. The idea is to build up a base of information about such incidents to see if there is a pattern or whether there really is even a problem.

So maybe the past can become history and, moving forward, these two motorcycle rights groups can work together for the common good. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Biker Quote for Today

Learn to ride a motorcycle, it will help keep you sane.