Archive for November, 2015

Butler Map Turns My Eyes To Montana

Monday, November 30th, 2015
Butler Maps Montana

There is a lot more color in the northwest corner of Montana than anywhere else.

I’ve probably been through more of Montana than most people who don’t live there. So I was very interested looking over my newly arrived Butler Motorcycle Maps Montana edition to see that the one part of the state I’ve never been to seems to be one of the best for motorcycle riding. How did that happen?

Well, I know how it happened. The area in question is the far northwest corner of the state where only the narrow panhandle of Idaho separates Montana from Washington. As much of the western US the OFMC has ridden, including Glacier National Park, we have never been to the Pacific Northwest because it’s just too far to go when you only have a week. Now, that limitation doesn’t apply to me, but it does to most of the other guys, so we’ve never done that ride.

Looking over the whole map confirms what most people presume about Montana: the eastern part of the state is wide open with many, many miles without a lot of curves. The juicy part is in the west, where the mountains are. And we’ve been through those mountains, from the Beartooth Highway on the southeast up to Butte and Salmon, Idaho, but not north of that. This summer I got further north, to Missoula, and down over Lolo Pass. But never, ever north of Missoula.

Well, on Butler maps, the more color you see the better the riding. Guess where the most color is on this map? Let’s just say it’s not south of Missoula. That portion of the map above is what I’m looking at.

Another thing I like about this map, something I don’t think I’ve seen on other maps, is that they have a listing of the best dual sport adventure roads and the coordinates on the map so you can find them. And there are dotted red lines all through the mountains, which are identified on the legend as “Recommended Dirt Rd.” On the enlarged map of this northwest area the red dotted lines are everywhere. This is not the kind of riding the OFMC is ever going to do but maybe next year I can convince Kevin and Jeff to head up that way.

This is that time of year, isn’t it, when motorcyclists pull out maps and start dreaming about next year’s trip. Montana’s looking really good.

Biker Quote for Today

I like to ride dirt bikes to meet women. Nurses mostly.

HOV And Transponder Talking Points

Monday, November 23rd, 2015
Motorcycles parked on a stopped highway.

This would be a potential opportunity for lane-splitting, as these bikes could move up to the front and get off ahead of the cars once traffic starts moving again.

Stump is the Legislative Affairs Officer for ABATE of Colorado and he has been working with the state to ensure that motorcyclists are treated appropriately–in regard to federal law–when it comes to this whole thing with HOV lanes and the requirement to have a transponder on the bike.

Stump can’t do it all. The more people who speak to their elected state officials the more they will pay attention. Here are 10 talking points Stump has put together that sum up the argument pretty well. If you have the opportunity to say anything to your state rep–or if you choose to do so on your own initiative–these are the kinds of things you might want to say to them. (I’ve tweaked a couple for grammar and clarity.)

1. Motorcycles are considered a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) under all conditions per 23 USC 166 (b) (2) (A).

2. Federal funds were used to build the HOV/HOT lanes, qualifying the use of motorcycles as an HOV per #1 above.

3. Adding a requirement/restriction for motorcycles to use an HOV lane is not necessary for the federal law to apply.

4. Charging a motorcycle to use an HOV lane if it doesn’t have a transponder and not charging if they do is a double standard and restricts/prohibits/fines motorcycles for using a lane they are entitled to used under federal law.

5. The requirement of a “deposit” for a transponder is a collection of monies from motorcyclists by a governmental entity without the consent of the people being assessed.

6. HOV/HOT lanes are not both “toll roads” and must be considered to be two separate types of roadways.

7. HOV lanes were originally implemented to help relieve congestion, save fuel, address parking issues, etc. and provide a means for those who combined/shared vehicles to benefit from their actions. HOT lanes allow anyone who will pay a fee to receive an advantage based on money, not the original intent of the lane.

8. The Colorado Department of Transportation has stated that it is safer for a motorcycle in an HOV lane and the chance of a crash or injury is reduced, as compared to using a congested lane.

9. Requiring a transponder on a motorcycle requires those who only use the lane once or twice a year because of where they live in the state, or those motorcyclists from out of state who are unaware that a transponder is required, to pay a fine/fee to use a lane that is safer and, in the majority of states, is free.

10. Even if a picture is taken of a motorcycle and license plate, it would take only seconds to identify the vehicle as a motorcycle, discard it, and move on.

So OK, the second sentence in #7, in particular, is still a little murky to me, but in general I’d say this is good information. So if you have a chance to communicate with the people who represent you in the legislature, you’ll be doing us all a favor to bring out these points.

Biker Quote for Today

Is your motorcycle a 2 cylinder or 4 stroke?

A Buddy Named Jeff

Monday, November 16th, 2015
The spring on a side-stand.

It took Jeff about a minute to whip this baby out.

Is there some kind of law that if you rent V-Stroms you have to have a buddy named Jeff who is big into motorcycle mechanics and can fix just about anything on the spot? My experience would suggest that.

I know two guys who either do or have rented V-Stroms and both have that very particular Jeff. Kevin rented bikes, mostly V-Stroms, out of Gunnison for a number of years through his company, Colorado Mountain Moto. Ron still rents V-Stroms but also other bikes now through his company, Western Dual Sport Motorcycle Adventures.

I went on a 10-day ride this summer with Kevin and–you knew this was coming–his buddy Jeff. Jeff works as a motorcycle mechanic, which is a good thing because he rides a couple Moto Guzzis. From what I understand, Guzzis are “quirky” and if you’re going to ride them you’d better be able to work on them any time you need to.

Jeff needed to. And he did. And he had everything he needed to do whatever was needed. We ended up at his place outside of Boise later in the week and then we really got to see how into this he is. Besides a garage full of bikes and parts, he built his own very large shop that is full of more bikes that he is in the process of restoring. And any tool you might need was right there at hand.

Then more recently I was up in Boulder with Ron with the intent of replacing my worn out valve stem on my Honda. And where did we go to do this? To Ron’s friend Jeff’s house. Ron actually owns this tire changing machine but he keeps it at Jeff’s because Jeff gets a lot of use for it and Ron really doesn’t have a place for it at home.

Jeff is not a professional mechanic but he does race bikes and gets very much into working on them. While Ron and I were figuring we’d need to take the wheel off the bike and use the machine to break the bead so as to get to the valve stem, Jeff pulled out this handy little portable bead breaker and they were able to replace the valve stem in less than 10 minutes without taking the wheel off the bike.

But then the really amazing thing happened.

Ron and I were getting ready to leave and I got on the bike, kicked the side-stand up, and fired her up. Just then Jeff called out urgently to warn me that my side-stand was down. Funny, I thought for sure I had just put that up. So I nudged it up with my foot and it just swung freely. It wouldn’t stay up. There was definitely a problem of some kind.

I killed the bike, kicked the stand back out to hold the bike up, and got off. It didn’t take long to find the problem: the spring that holds the stand up out of the way was broken. One of the hooked ends had snapped off and it was just dangling from the other. This bike is a 1981 model so after 34 years the spring just gave out. And it gave out right here, at Jeff’s, of all places.

What happened? Jeff went rummaging through a drawer and in just a few seconds pulled out an identical spring that fit perfectly. He just happened to have it on hand and knew right where it was. It took longer for Ron and me to get the thing on than it took Jeff to find it. And there I was, all patched up, just that quickly.

I tell you what, I don’t care if you rent V-Stroms or not, everybody should have a buddy named Jeff.

Biker Quote for Today

Honda 919s are as reliable as an anvil, albeit faster. — Ray Nierlich

I Guess The BBC Doesn’t Want Me

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

I was pleased, though a little surprised, to get this email recently.

Hi Ken!

motorcycles on Trail Ridge Road

The OFMC does cover some miles each year.

How are you? My name is Ally Siegel and I work for BBC Worldwide. I am currently casting a new documentary, looking for ‪adventurers who are traveling the country on their motorcycles, meeting locals and exploring different sites. In my research I came across your blog and LOVED what I saw. Would you be interested in speaking with me? Either way, please let me know. I think this could be a great opportunity for you.

Thank you! I look forward to hearing from you.

Ally Siegel

Well gosh, of course I’d be happy to speak with her and somehow end up in a BBC documentary. So I replied to that effect.

Still, I wondered if I was really the guy she wanted. It’s not totally clear but I get the impression from that email that they’re looking for serious riders, the Iron Butt kind of guys who do many thousands of miles. I’m a more average joe who rarely does a trip of more than 2,500 miles. But if she’s read the blog and likes what she sees, and she’s interested in me, let’s go!

But we didn’t. We went through a bit of back and forth and then I got this note.

Hey Ken,

So sorry I missed your call earlier this morning. They have pulled me onto a different project for today through mid next week. I’ll be back casting motorcycle camping/travel Thursday. Can we chat then?

Sorry for the late notice,


And after another exchange or two, this one.

Hi Ken,

Sorry for the delayed response. Yes, I will call you this week.



Bottom line, I’ve never heard back from her. Once again, it makes me think she’s really looking for the guys who burn up three or four sets of tires in a year. If she found someone else who better fit what she was looking for, good for her. But hey Ally, if that one project got put on the back-burner for awhile and you still want to work with me, just call. I’ll be happy to hear from you.

Biker Quote for Today

I ride a bullet… a two-wheeled, multiple-explosion powered machine with enough moving parts to remove entire fingers and surfaces hot enough to cook flesh. It propels me at neck-breaking, bone-snapping, flesh-shredding, speeds over and around obstacles I can see only as blurs. It’s a sport that kills the careless, maims the best, and spits at the concept of mercy. Now what were you saying about your new golf shoes?

Exploring The Prairie

Monday, November 9th, 2015
motorcycle with mountains behind

On a beautiful, clear day like this those mountains are right there even when you're 50 miles away from them.

It’s the time of year when I don’t go up in the mountains much any more. Even if it’s warm and dry down here on the prairie it can be cold and snowy up high. So when I go for a ride I turn my sights east.

I did that on Tuesday. It was a gorgeous sunny day so what else could I do?

As is so often the case, I had no plan in mind when I started off. I figured I’d ride across the top of Cherry Creek Reservoir dam over to Parker Road and make up my mind from there. And then I immediately took a left onto Quincy and rode it out of town. Now, looking at the map I see that I could have taken Quincy all the way to Deer Trail. I didn’t know that at the time, though I do now.

I got as far as Watkins Road, which I believe was only paved in the last couple years, so I decided to take that all the way up to Watkins. If I saw anything interesting along the way I would turn. There really wasn’t anywhere to turn east, however, so on the south side of Watkins I turned down the road that leads to a development where some friends of ours live. Cruising its length, whereas we go left to get to their house, I saw that that road is now paved to the south so I turned right. Now it was time to explore. This was county road 101, by the way.

Wow, there is a lot back in there. It’s mostly farms and ranches–saw a lot of horses and a lot of corn and wheat fields shorn of their crops. I saw a lot of really large houses, and big agricultural endeavors. One thing these farmers/ranchers do not seem to be is poor. And I saw a lot of dead ends.

I was on the V-Strom so if the pavement had ended I would have been good with going further, but it seemed that no matter which road I turned down, inevitably it dead-ended at someone’s dirt driveway. Maybe there is a “No Exit” sign at the turn-off from Watkins Road that I’ve never noticed. This entire area–a really big area–is one big dead-end.

But at the eastern extent of the area I was amazed at the forest I ran into. There are one heck of a lot of trees out there on the prairie, along the river drainage.

So I was looking for a way out that wouldn’t force me to back-track all the way to Watkins Road but it doesn’t exist. So I did. I’d covered a lot of miles in that cul-de-sac, and heck, I was all the way out east to Watkins, so it was time to head back. I had work to do at home. Heading back south on Watkins Road I took the first right I could, Jewell, and rode that all the way back to town. I bet I know more now about that area south of where our friends live than they do. I love exploring.

Biker Quote for Today

The back roads around here are better than Prozac. — Clement Salvadori

Suggestion: Don’t Kill Yourself On Your Motorcycle

Thursday, November 5th, 2015
motorcycle on the ground

Oops, how did we get here? Fortunately this was just a dropped bike, not a crash.

I’m serious. There are way too many guys doing exactly that. Killing themselves on their bikes, I mean.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve launched my own small effort to persuade reporters and editors that if a motorcycle crashes into a car that has turned left in front of it that is NOT a “motorcycle crash,” it is a “car-motorcycle crash.” While many multi-vehicle crashes are referred to simply as motorcycle crashes, clicking on the links to read the stories I have found that very, very many so-labeled stories are indeed about motorcycle crashes. Here are the ones just from today’s Google alert.

KY Man Killed in Motorcycle Crash
Kentucky State Police say 60-year-old Robert Topp lost control westbound on Kentucky 132 near the Crittenden-Webster County line. He then slid across both lanes and down an embankment.

Man dies after crashing motorcycle in Saginaw Township
Police say Timothy Ducharme-Patton was driving west on Weiss near Churchill on Tuesday night when his motorcycle ran off the road along a curve.

Man killed in south Travis Co. motorcycle crash
Investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety say the motorcycle was travelling westbound on FM 1626 when, for some unknown reason, it crossed the center line and slid on the roadway. One vehicle hit the motorcycle, and another vehicle struck the driver.

Cobb intersection reopens after fatal motorcycle crash
According to the Marietta Police Department, the motorcycle hit the bus Wednesday near a transfer station at South Marietta Parkway and Aviation Road. Witnesses say it appears the motorcyclist tried to hit the gas to beat the bus, and lost.

That’s one day. Here are a few more.

Man killed in a motorcycle crash in Northampton
The Northampton Police accident reconstruction team was investigating a motorcycle accident that left one rider dead and closed a section of Elm Street Monday night. “Only the motorcycle was involved,” Northampton Police Lt. David Callahan told 22News. “There were no other vehicles involved.”

Man arrested after crashing motorcycle into back of pickup on Broadwater
A man was arrested early Sunday after he allegedly drove a motorcycle into the back of a pickup truck, injuring himself and his passenger.

Man identified in Sunday Pasco motorcycle crash
Diaz-Cruz lost control of his motorcycle and hit the curb. He was thrown off the bike, and the motorcycle continued to travel into the southbound lanes of U.S. 41. Diaz-Cruz died at the scene, officials said.

Young Marine, Father Dies in East County Motorcycle Crash
Justin Dorson, 26, died Sunday after he overcorrected his 2012 Triumph motorcycle and ran into a large boulder on State Route 94, outside of Dulzura.

Coroner IDs victims in motorcycle crash on Lincoln Road
The preliminary assessment, he said, suggests both vehicles were headed westbound on Lincoln Road. The full-sized pickup was in front of the motorcycle and the wreck happened when the truck driver attempted to make a right-hand turn onto Painted Sky Drive.

OK, that’s just one day as well, from yesterday’s Google alert. It may feel good to be smug and complain about idiot drivers hitting and killing bikers, but these are all cases where there was only one person at fault–the rider. I watched a video recently of motorcycle (and sometimes car) crashes that were caught on video. It was crazy how many of them involved only the guy on the bike, nobody else.

So yeah, I’m serious. Do us all a favor: don’t kill yourself on your bike, OK?

Biker Quote for Today

Transitioning to dirt from squiding?

Ride A Bike To Hike

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Judy is very good at merging what I like to do with what she likes to do so we both have a good time, and hiking is one of those things.

Bikes Up Golden Gate Canyon

Bikes heading up Golden Gate Canyon.

Don’t get me wrong, I like hiking, too, but perhaps not as much as she does. So now and then she will suggest that we get on a motorcycle and ride out somewhere to a trailhead and then do a hike. That’s what we did on Saturday.

One of the best things Jefferson County has to offer is an extensive list of open space parks and such, so we ended up having to choose between many appealing options. We chose Mount Galbraith Park, which has a trailhead just about a mile west of where the Golden Gate Canyon Road turns off CO 93 on the north side of Golden.

It was a beautiful, sunny fall day as we got geared up, this time remembering to connect our bluetooth communicators, which we’ve made a habit of forgetting and thus have probably not used in two years. Go figure. We headed west on Hampden/US 285 and then by the time we turned north on C-470 it was already getting cooler and had also turned blustery. I hadn’t worn my sweatshirt under my jacket but had brought it along. I was figuring at this point I was glad of that.

North to Golden Gate Canyon Road and then west to the trailhead and oh, man, was that place packed. The parking lot was overflowing and people were parked all along the road for a good ways. Being on the V-Strom we just pulled right in the parking lot and got the best space you could ask for.

There are three main sections of trail in this park, along with a number of smaller, unofficial(?) ones. From the parking area you climb toward the top of Mount Galbraith and then another section can take you all the way down into Golden or you can circle the top of the mountain and then return the way you came when you reconnect. We did the latter.

Climbing the first portion you get to where you have a really nice view of the canyon road below, as you can see in that photo. Then as you get higher you get views of North Table Mountain, South Table Mountain, and finally the whole metro area. Circling around the mountain top counter-clockwise, as we did, you get over on the west side and a whole area of unfamiliar hills, with nothing particularly dramatic. It took a while before I realized what we were seeing was the uphill area running down to where US 6 runs up Clear Creek Canyon. Now, Clear Creek Canyon is very narrow and the walls are pretty sheer but from this perspective you would never have known it was even there. The only thing that finally tipped me off was when we saw the cell towers on Lookout Mountain and I put two and two together.

So it was a good hike, about 5 miles altogether, and boy did it get windy! We had been getting blown around on the bike as we arrived and I was figuring we were really going to get blasted when we left. Nothing to do but to do it, though, so we climbed back on the V-Strom and headed out. And glory, glory, it really wasn’t all that windy down at this level now and we had a very pleasant ride home. What a really good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Biker Quote for Today

If the countryside seems boring, stop, get off your bike, and go sit in the ditch long enough to appreciate what was there before the asphalt came.