Archive for March, 2016

Fighting Ethanol In Fuel

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
motorcycle engine

How badly do you suppose ethanol would gum up this old engine?

It’s pretty well established that motorcycle engines and ethanol do not play nicely together, particularly when the proportion of ethanol in the gas get beyond a certain point. And using high-ethanol gas can reputedly even invalidate your warranty on the bike.

So it should not be a surprise that ABATE of Colorado opposes E-15, which is a newer ethanol fuel that has 15 percent ethanol, vs. the 10 percent we have had for many years. E-15 crosses the line.

I got the following alert from Stump, who keeps track of legislation for ABATE and does what he can to promote or oppose bills. That is to say, he’s a lobbyist, our lobbyist.

On Monday, 3/28, SB16-175 (E-15 Gasoline Income Tax Credit For Retail Dealers) was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate Finance Committee Members are: Sen. Neville (chair); Sen. Hill; Sen. Holbert; Sen. Johnston; and Sen. Kerr. I requested a meeting with the sponsor of the bill. I also plan to get a letter out to the Senate Finance Committee members and possibly meet with a couple of them before the committee meets on this bill which is scheduled for Thursday, 4/14. Now would be a good time to write / e-mail the Senate Finance Committee Members and urge them to oppose SB16-175. I’ve attached some talking point about E-15 Fuel to use in your letters. Please forward this to your district members ASAP and encourage them to e-mail the Senate Finance Committee Members.

Thanks,

Stump

You can read that letter with talking points that he mentioned here.

There are two issues as far as I see it. First there are the detrimental effects, of which Stump lists four:

PROBLEM 1: DEBRIS IN FUEL
Gums rapidly form in the fuel tank and fuel delivery systems as ethanol fuels age. However, ethanol is also a powerful solvent that will strip away and disperse this build up back into the fuel as large, performance-robbing particles. This leads to clogged filters, injectors and carburetors.

PROBLEM 2: EXCESSIVE WATER IN THE FUEL AND PHASE SEPARATION
Ethanol attracts moisture from the atmosphere, forming an ethanol/water solution mixed in the gasoline. Ethanol-blended fuel will naturally hold .5% water in suspension, but when water levels exceed this threshold, or when the fuel cools significantly, the water/ethanol mix drops out of suspension. This is phase separation. Excessive water in the fuel tank causes engines to run rough, stall, and can lead to internal damage to engine components. Ethanol provides a significant amount of the fuel’s octane, so when the ethanol/water solution separates and drops to the bottom of the tank, the remaining fuel is left without enough octane to properly operate the engine. Additionally, the ethanol/water solution can become partially combustible, which can lead to engine damage.

PROBLEM 3: ETHANOL FUELS BREAK DOWN QUICKLY
Over a short period of time ethanol fuel begins to break down. As ethanol and other components evaporate, the fuel loses octane and becomes “stale.” This causes hard starts, pinging and engine knock, which robs your engine of power and can cause damage.

PROBLEM 4: ETHANOL CAUSES LOST POWER, PERFORMANCE AND DECREASED FUEL ECONOMY
Ethanol fuel does not produce as much energy as traditional fuel. This results in inefficient combustion, decreased performance, reduced throttle response and poor fuel economy.

–Reprinted from StarTron fuel additive info brochure–

The other is that the only reason this whole ethanol thing has not died is because of the political pull of the corn farmers. Like so many other people I supported the idea of adding ethanol to gas originally, but like so many others I have now come to see that the whole things is a waste. It takes nearly as much energy to produce the stuff as you get from burning it and it’s not good for your motor. We tried it. It failed. Let’s kill the program and move forward. Oh, no–now we have vested interests.

At least if we could get SB 16-175 killed we wouldn’t be giving a tax credit to the stations that sell the stuff.

Biker Quote for Today

Gone riding, be back whenever . . .

Ride The Texas Mountain Trail?

Monday, March 28th, 2016
map of the Texas Mountain Trail

The Texas Mountain Trail.

I’ve been to Texas quite a few times but nearly always in the east or central areas. While it’s pretty flat in a lot of places there are some hills, especially in the Austin area and east over by Louisiana. But mountains? Texas has mountains?

Well, yes, it does, and I’ve now seen quite a bit of them. And they even have something called the Texas Mountain Trail, which seems like a natural draw for someone on a motorcycle. But it’s not quite that simple.

First off, these mountains are real, but they’re not like mountains in Colorado, or even in New Mexico. Whereas we have a lot of greenery, the mountains in Texas are almost entirely barren of greenery and are brown and very much like the desert. More cactus than pine, or even juniper.

That said, mountain roads inevitably have twist and turns and high vista points. Even in Texas. The other consideration is that in between the mountains it’s basically Texas, which is to say, pretty flat, dry, and hot. Even now in March we encountered temperatures as high as 98 degrees. So if you’re interested in riding the Texas Mountain Trail the time to do so is no later than March. February might be better. Or November.

We crossed into Texas just southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico, and almost immediately reached Guadelupe Mountains National Park. These were real mountains and this is where we picked up the trail. And this was the highest point in all of Texas.

We headed south to Van Horn and then east on I-10 to Texas 118, which was where we first realized there was such a thing as the Texas Mountain Trail. We picked this route down to Fort Davis because the map showed a loop that was marked scenic. It definitely was. There was even some green in the hills. And Fort Davis was beautiful.

On from there to Alpine and we left the trail to go to Marathon and then south into Big Bend National Park. After a couple days on the east side of the park, looking across the Rio Grande about 40 feet into Mexico, we headed to the west side of the park and picked up the trail again. Coming out of the national park you’re almost immediately into Big Bend Ranch State Park. This is where the road got really extreme. At one point we passed a sign warning of 17% grades ahead. 17% grades!!

At Presidio, we and the trail turned inland again, toward Marfa, and that was really the end of the mountains as far as we could see. We followed that trail in green on the map all the rest of the way to El Paso but this was just gaps between the high points. So take the idea of this trail with a grain of salt.

Still, if you can get the bike out of the winter down to where it’s warm, at least some portions of the Texas Mountain Trail would offer a good destination. Just be ready to burn up a lot of miles between the high stuff.

Biker Quote for Today

Riding washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.

Great Roads You Never Heard Of

Thursday, March 24th, 2016
Washinton Butler Map

North Cascades National Park looks to me like a must.

One of the things I look for most in a motorcycle roads resource is tips on roads I don’t even know exist. That’s one of the things I like best about the motorcycle maps made by Butler. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’m an unabashed fan of Butler maps. In a very you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours manner, they give me all the maps they produce and I look them over and write about them. Make no mistake, if I thought they were crap I’d say they were crap, but I don’t and I don’t.

So the latest one I’ve been looking at is for the state of Washington. Washington is far enough away that the OFMC has never gone there on our yearly trips, though I’m lobbying for those of us who are now retired to remedy that deficiency. Let’s take any of the wives who are interested (I know Judy would be) and make a two to three week trip of it.

And there’s one place in particular I see us heading: North Cascades National Park. Now this is kind of funny. I worked for three years at the National Park Service, on planning documents dealing with a couple hundred different park units. I’m pretty sure I worked on this one. So how did it slip by me?

More specifically, here is what Butler has to say about this yellow stripe (the best roads) called “North Cascades Highway”:

Highway 20 slices through North Cascades National Park — you won’t have to ante up the typical park fee to ride this beauty. It’s not terribly demanding, but no problem — the scenery is off the charts: glaciers and glacial lakes, dense forests, and giant rock formations abound. The route is roughly 80 miles and without services, so fuel up on either end of the park before making the trek. The road is wide, curves gently and often sees little traffic. Truly, this journey carries with it some of the most spectacular mountainous scenery of any road in the continental U.S. — in fact we rate it in the top 5 “must do” motorcycle routes in the entire country.

Yow! Top five in the entire country? I’m going to Washington! Are you other guys coming with me?

Of course, that’s not all Washington has to offer. I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympic Peninsula, but I see from the map that there is surprisingly little in the way of good motorcycle roads there. Fine, just go for the peninsula, not the riding.

Where the best riding is, it appears, is around Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. That’s the really good stuff. And then the northeast corner of the state has a heck of a lot to offer, as well. Tie that in with Montana and Idaho, where there is also fabulous riding in this area, and you could spend a month.

Off in the southeast corner of the state, on the other hand, it’s almost all flat and open. Best to go around this either to the north or west, where you have mountains. Still, just in the very corner, there is one patch of yellow, which is Oregon 3 coming out of that state and becoming Washington 129. This is Rattlesnake Pass, “a canyon climbers’s dream.”

This is the kind of stuff you could miss. That’s why I love these maps.

Biker Quote for Today

Push your limits until you crash.. then back off just a bit.

Idaho BDR Keeps Going and Going

Monday, March 21st, 2016

You’re going to have to be a serious, serious off-road, adventure bike type of rider if you intend to do the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route, as laid out on the Butler Maps map of that name. Not because it is so tough, but because it goes a long, long way. Not just from the bottom of Idaho to the top, but also because it takes a side-trip into Montana. I assume that is because that allows you to see some great parts of the state but also because there may not be any roads straight through–unless you want to do 50 miles of pavement. That would kind of defeat the whole BDR concept.

cover of Idaho BDR map

The Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route map from Butler.

The route starts at Jarbridge, Nevada, and heads north through dry desert prairie, which Idaho has a lot of in the south. Once you get past I-84 you get to the mountains and that’s where the fun begins. Plan on just running north through the hills for, oh, 700 miles. Now, how can that be? What I see tells me Idaho is only 479 miles from north to south. I’m thinking that’s the difference between going in a straight line and following the contours of the land. A lot of traversing up and down will do that for you.

When you reach the Clearwater River, a little outside of Grangeville, the route turns east and runs through the area of the Frank Church Wilderness. That’s about another 100 miles. Then you’re into Montana and have a lot of highway to get north to Lolo. There’s more pavement here than there would have been staying in Idaho so I’m guessing the route was determined based on not wanting to miss some great country. You came to ride, didn’t you?

From Lolo you go up over Lolo Pass on the pavement but on the other side you leave the highway and get back into the dirt. And a lot more mountains until you get to Pierce, where the road turns north again. And then it’s hills and more hills until you finally get near Canada, where the dirt options are limited. And if you do the entire thing, Butler says you’ll be covering a total of 1,253 miles. I said you had to be serious to do this whole thing.

It’s not all riding in the mountains, though. The map points out a lot interesting places to go and sites to visit along the way. There are hot springs, viewpoints, historical sites, waterfalls, and more.

Let’s face it: there probably aren’t many people who are going to do this whole ride end to end. So pick a section and do that. I’ve been up in that country and I can tell you, I’d be glad to take a couple weeks just enjoying the riding. And the sitting. And the camping. Idaho is an incredible place. If you haven’t been there you’re missing something. Go find out what.

Biker Quote for Today

Life without pleasurable pursuits is hardly worth living, and while the best things may be free, some pretty excellent ones cost money and have wheels. — Paul D’Orleans

OFMC 2016 Trip Is Set

Thursday, March 17th, 2016
OFMC near Trail Ridge Road

Taking a road-side break on last year's OFMC trip.

We’re not taking off until July but when you travel with a large bunch of guys you have to plan ahead. Everyone has done their work making reservations so the 2016 OFMC trip is waiting to happen. Here’s the route.

First night will be Cripple Creek. This is a short run for the guys from the Denver area and not bad for John coming from Montrose. And these guys all like to make at least one gambling stop each year so this one comes right at the start.

Our self-appointed trip planner, John, had it in mind to do something very different this year, so when we leave Cripple Creek we will be heading east. All the way to La Junta. We’re riding the prairie!

From La Junta we head down to Santa Fe for two nights with golf intervening. That’s another common characteristic of these trips. It’s nice to spend two nights in one place once during the week.

We’ll leave Santa Fe and come back up to Colorado, to Durango, and then the next day west to Utah to Moab.

The last night will be the expensive one, at a vineyard inn in Palisade. Wine tasting and a concert in the courtyard included.

For John then it will be a short scoot back to Montrose and we’ll jump on the highway and blast back to Denver. Should be a good trip. We haven’t had a bad one yet. We’re all looking forward to July.

Biker Quote for Today

Common Sense, Please

Monday, March 14th, 2016
Motorcycle Road Racers

How dare you convert that street bike to track!

I try to stay away from politics here but sometimes I bend that rule. Just to be clear, I’m not a Republican or Democrat. I’m an independent because I don’t like either party.

So this involves the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I know that there are a number of Republicans who think the EPA should be abolished. I frankly don’t understand that thinking. Do they want us to go back to a time when rivers catch fire from all the pollutants dumped into them? When the air is so filled with smog that people are dying from it? I mean, go look at China today. Is that what they really want?

That said, maybe it wouldn’t hurt if more Democrats were a bit more critical of the EPA when it oversteps. And it certainly does that at times.

Here’s the latest, and this is why I’m writing this in a blog focused on motorcycles. Apparently the EPA recently released some new regulations that, among other things, prohibit converting a street motorcycle into a racing bike. It has to do with the exhaust and the altering of the exhaust system to make the bike into a dedicated racer. What, are you supposed to build a racing bike from the ground up?

Anyway, the American Motorcyclist Association is fighting this and they sent out a release urging members to support legislation introduced in both houses of Congress to nullify this sort of absurdity. An excerpt:

Members of both chambers of Congress have introduced versions of a bill that would prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the conversion of street motorcycles and other motor vehicles into competition-only racers. The EPA failed to provide proper notice of this regulation, including it in an unrelated heavy-duty-truck regulation. The proposed rule would hurt thousands of amateur and professional motorcycle racing enthusiasts and the millions of fans who enjoy motorcycle competition.

The bi-partisan Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016 (H.R. 4715 and S. 2659, RPM Act) would ensure that converting motor vehicles into competition-only vehicles remains legal. Street motorcycles are considered motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act.

The RPM Act was introduced in the House by U.S. Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.) and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.).

The Senate version was introduced by U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Dean Heller (R-N.C.).

The act states that it was the clear intent of Congress when passing and amending the Clean Air Act that motor vehicles, including motorcycles, used solely for competition would be exempt from the Clean Air Act’s prohibitions against modifying emission control devices.

Really, can we have some common sense here? But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I want the EPA protecting the air I breathe and the water I drink. But let’s not do stupid stuff, OK?

Biker Quote for Today

You’re a biker wannabe if you take your bike in to the shop for oil changes.

Favorite Rides Offers Ideas

Thursday, March 10th, 2016
Favorite Rides & Destinations logo

Rider's logo for Favorite Rides & Destinations

If you subscribe to Rider magazine as I do, you probably already know this. If not, then here you go.

An email told me this morning that Rider has created a new online offshoot they have named “Favorite Rides & Destinations,” which is essentially a re-purposing of articles they have published in the magazine. A conveniently collected grouping of stories by a variety of riders about some of the best rides they have done. Just in case you’re looking for ideas as to where to ride.

Looking through the pieces in this first issue I was particularly interested to see one titled “Wild Texas: A Winter Ride To Big Bend.” This was apparently in the May 2013 issue, though I don’t remember it. But I’m interested now because Judy and I are planning a trip to Big Bend in the next few weeks. How very opportune.

So maybe you’re planning a trip to one of these places. Always good to do a little research before you go. Here’s what this first issue includes:

  • Arkansas
  • Salt Lake City to Las Vegas
  • Vermont
  • Texas
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Catskills area
  • South Dakota

This online publication appears to be intended as a quarterly edition. The first one is labeled “Spring 2016.” And of course I’m going to be very interested to see what they include in future editions. I’ve had a couple ride pieces published by Rider and I’d certainly be tickled to see them use one or the other of those. Not that they would be paying me anything more for doing so; when you sell them a piece it’s right there in the contract that they have the right to use it again elsewhere as they see fit. I’d just like to have them see fit to use my stuff.

Biker Quote for Today

A motorcycle is a bicycle with a pandemonium attachment, and is designed for the special use of mechanical geniuses, daredevils, and lunatics.

Caution: Stuff On the Road Again

Monday, March 7th, 2016
Motorcycles on road in Dinosaur National Monument

Nothing untoward on this road in Dinosaur National Monument, but when it rains it becomes impassable--don't even try.

I haven’t done this for a while so it must be due. More weird stuff encountered on the road, from a thread on Adventure Riders.

  • I had to dodge a claw hammer that bounced off a pickup truck’s rear bumper after he hit a bump.
  • A wheel w/ tire rolling across the road from an oncoming truck.
  • Couple weeks ago, my wife was heading to work on her PC800…crested a hill, and right in the middle of her lane was a damn Fisher-Price playhouse!
  • Boulders. Large boulders for landscaping / construction. An 18 wheel dump truck was turning in front of me, across my path of travel, about 100 yards away. The truck, being overloaded, flipped on its side. 6 or 7 large boulders rolled out, and tumbled straight toward me. They were round enough so they actually rolled a good distance. It was such an unexpected event that I had a strange feeling of calm, and actually steered around one as it rolled past.
  • Took a bat in the chest at 70 MPH crossing a bridge one night. That was weird, and painful. Thankfully it was the flying kind, not the baseball kind.
  • After moving from Alaska in 1990 I met up with local riders in Oregon where I moved to. They managed to make me paranoid of deer (we didn’t have them, just moose), one early morning I was riding toward Bridgeport Washington on a sunny morning a few months later. The light through the trees was incredible. But for some reason my mind had gotten back to the deer. . every shadow started worried, then I came around a beauty of a right hand sweeping corner doing about 70 mph and there it was. . the biggest Pig I have ever seen in my life smack dab in the middle of my line. Missed it by a foot at best, afterwards the first thing that came to mind was the epitaph for my head stone “They never warned me of the pigs”
  • My friend was hit by a fish in the chest. He startled an osprey who dropped his catch.
  • Hit a boat once, in the middle of the desert. Long story…
    (Other ADV member) Was it the Calypso?
    Nope a small fishing boat. Came up over a hill on my Buell s1w. Paved road winding thru the dez. Came up over a hill and a truck turned left in front of me. No problem I thought, get on front brake and get around him to his right though I knew not much room for error. All looked good then I saw he was towing a fishing boat. Broadside the boat, I went up and over, the bike stopped still. Bike totalled, me just a few broken bones, bruised kidneys and liver, ATGATT saved my ass. He was nice enough to offer me a cold beer and some whiskey, at 8 am. Yes he was cited including for dui but hey he was going fishin’ after all..
  • Narrowly missed a pile of elephant poop in the road — massive turds — while up on some twisties in the mountains. That would have ended badly….
  • Narrow miss. Giant 10 or 12 point buck in full velvet in August. Hard on the brakes and missed his tail by one foot. It was the full velvet up close that was freaky.

OK, enough fun. Now it’s time to get out there and ride so you can have your own thrilling encounters and add them to this thread.

Biker Quote for Today

Squids: tee-shirt, temporary tag, sneakers, shorts, and no idea what the yellow line is for.

A Ride On The Prairie

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
Patty Ann's Cafe

I strongly recommend Patty Ann's Cafe in Kiowa.

We’ve had such great weather that I suspect even people who normally put their bikes away for the winter have been out riding. I suspect riding is even possible in the mountains, whereas I normally don’t ever go up there at this time of year. Maybe I’ll give it a shot soon but so far I’ve stuck to the flatlands.

That means going out on the prairie if you’re going to go more than just around the neighborhood, so I headed out east on Jewell, which has become my go-to route out of town. It turns to gravel just east of Gun Club Road but it’s good, hard-packed gravel, and besides, I was on the Honda, which does OK on gravel.

I reached the T intersection at Watkins Road and turned south to Quincy, another T intersection. I had been at that point numerous times, going both directions, but had never gone further east on Quincy. It was time.

I didn’t know what to expect–I was just exploring. But I figured if I found a place to turn south I could work my way to Kiowa or Elizabeth. I just didn’t know how far I’d have to go before I would find that road south.

I came to Tom Bay Road (ever heard of that?) and it looked possible but after I made the turn I saw it went to dirt right away and the dirt didn’t look all that great. So I continued east on Quincy. Next came Brick-Center Road and I didn’t even try that one. Someday I suspect these will be as familiar–and paved–as Gun Club Road, Tower Road, and all those. But not yet.

Then I hit Kiowa-Bennett Road and I knew that was my baby. South I went. Not too much out here but a few clusters of mini-mansions and a lot of farming and grazing land. But pretty, in a prairie kind of way.

I got to Kiowa and was glad I was going the direction I was on this route. If I had come out on CO 86 looking to turn north I might have missed it. There’s no big intersection or anything; it just looks like any other street in this small town. But it does seem to be a somewhat common route for motorcycles. I passed a fair number going the other direction. I’m guessing they gather at the Stagecoach in Franktown and head east, then north, before turning back west to town. The opposite of what I was doing.

At this point I was ready for lunch and Kiowa had a selection of places to eat. Patty Ann’s Cafe had a sign saying “Bikers Welcome” so I went in there. What a good choice! It appears that all their food is prepared from scratch and it has real flavor. I just got a bowl of soup but it was no little bowl. It had to have been at least twice as much as most restaurants serve as a bowl. Plus, it came with fresh-baked biscuits. Yum!

From there it was back west through Elizabeth to Franktown. Then north on CO 83 through Parker and back to Denver. What a great day to be out on the bike.

Biker Quote for Today

She said “the bike or me.” Decision made.