Archive for May, 2016

A Couple Interesting Upcoming Events

Monday, May 30th, 2016
Vets and Sidecars

A previous Vets and Sidecars ride.

I don’t yet know enough about either of these events to do a full blog post on either, so I’m combining them here with what brief info I do have.

I got a note from an outfit promoting the Moto Gymkhana of Colorado. Here’s a bit about what this is.

Moto Gymkhana is a motorcycle time trial sport in which riders compete to maneuver in the shortest time through a paved course restricted by traffic cones or other obstacles. Moto Gymkhana is open to experienced riders and beginners as well, because riders need little equipment and no special license to participate.

And then this.

Generally riders only use 1st or 2nd gear as moto gymkhana is not all about speed, it is more about you the rider and your skill set. Speeds are low to moderate thus there is a higher probability of falling due to the instability of motorcycles at slow speeds, but injuries and damage to the rider/motorcycle are rare. Because of the tight course layout of gymkhana, smaller lighter motorcycles often have an advantage over larger ones. However some courses may include long, straight sections in addition to tight turns, so various size/styles of motorcycles or scooters are potential contenders.

Moto Gymkhana demands that the rider has technique, ability, knowledge and motorcycle experience. You the rider must be comfortable on your machine to show your skills of acceleration, braking, handling and weight transfer, and also how to tune your machine to maximize performance. An analytical mind to assess the course for the most efficient racing lines is essential.

So if that sounds like something you’d like to see or even to do, it will take place on Sunday, June 12.

Then I also got a call from a fellow Alan referred to me, about the 8th Annual VA Sidecar Ride set for Sunday, July 3. According to Marty, “Once we arrive there (at the VA Hospital) we load up veterans from the Nursing Home unit, a short-term rehabilitation unit, and this year we will have a few guys from the PTSD unit. With a Denver PD motor officer escort, we send short lines of bikes and sidecar rigs to City Park and back. . . . In past years we have taken 15 or so veterans for rides and this year promises to have that many or a few more riders. We all have a great time carrying out this event and the VA residents are overjoyed to see us arrive.”

Obviously this is an event for riders with sidecar rigs. Alan has one these days, so I’m sure that’s how he got tuned in to it. I imagine they wouldn’t mind if someone showed up just to cheer them on.

Biker Quote for Today

No matter how bad your day is, your bike will always make you feel better.

Colorado BDR Ridden And Written In Motorcycle Explorer Magazine

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

I had never heard of Motorcycle Explorer magazine until Alan forwarded me a link. Apparently they’ve been putting this out for awhile; this is issue 11. And this May 2016 issue features a story about a ride a couple folks did of the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route.

So I was just looking through the magazine (it’s online only, and free as far as I can tell–I didn’t have to pay of join or anything to see it) and here was this feature article. Heck, I thought it was just a cool mag; I didn’t know it had local content. And it’s a 23-page piece with a lot of gorgeous pictures.

But here’s the kicker. On about the 22nd page there is a video. As they say on the page, “You don’t get this in a print mag ;)” And it’s a five-minute video they pair of riders put together from presumably GoPro footage they shot on the ride. Talk about getting a feel for the ride and almost being there!

So I really do recommend you go to the magazine and read it and look at the pictures but I’m going to cheat a little and give you the video right here. It’s on YouTube, after all.

Now, here’s another interesting thing. I went to this magazine on the web and got to this month’s issue. I wanted to get to a home page where I could see other issues. What I came upon was a web publishing platform that people can use to publish their online magazines. It allows you to peruse apparently every magazine published on their platform. There are categories and one category is motorcycles.

And boy oh boy, are there a lot of motorcycle magazines out there online! I see things like Louisiana Biker, On The Pegs, Ministry of Superbike, Trials & Enduro News, and a whole lot more, including a bunch of local Thunder Roads pubs. Very cool.

OK, I just did some more poking around and yes, Motorcycle Explorer is free and you can even subscribe. That’s probably true of the others as well. It’s gotten a lot harder making money with a magazine these days but once you put it together it’s sure a lot easier to get it out there to an audience of the whole world. Happy reading.

Biker Quote for Today

The road less traveled is a road worth riding.

Not Really A Motorcycle Movie

Monday, May 23rd, 2016
A Story Worth Living

Not really a motorcycle movie.

I came away from seeing “A Story Worth Living” Thursday night with decidedly mixed feelings. I had put up a blog post telling people about it and then, as it turned out, it really wasn’t a motorcycle movie. It was a movie that had motorcycles in it, but they were not the main thing.

Ostensibly this was a film about a bunch of guys who had little or no dirt riding experience taking some 800cc BMWs on some gnarly roads. But in fact that was not really the story, that was just the setting. The story was really about what the name gets at: a story worth living. It’s about doing things in your life that give you a story to tell, and to learn from, and not just meandering through life with no direction or purpose. Clearly that’s a much deeper, broader focus but when you’ve come expecting to see a motorcycle movie and you find yourself listening to philosophical discussions of things not particularly related to motorcycles it can be a disappointment.

To attest to that, people started leaving about mid-way through the show. Just a few here and there, but then at the end there is a lengthy talk portion, and by lengthy I mean 20-30 minutes. That’s when people started leaving in droves. We stayed to the end and by then the theatre was nearly empty.

So I said I had mixed feelings. That’s because some parts of it were very good while other parts I could have done without. There was way too much philosophy of the psychobabble variety. I don’t think many of us were there to be introspective. I’m not religious, so I could easily have forgone the Jesus portions. And if there had been more riding and less discussion that would have been very good.

And that’s the thing. The riding portions were great. The photography was terrific. I was wondering much of the time how they got the stellar aerial shots and was glad toward the end when they talked about the use of drones for the aerials. Very cool. And a lot of the other camera work was also very good.

Because it was shot in Colorado I was wondering all the time where they were. In particular, there was one shot they used a couple times, and which had been used in the trailer I had viewed beforehand, that I looked at and said, that has got to be where the Cinnamon Pass and Engineer Pass roads come together. I’ve never ridden Engineer but I have ridden Cinnamon, and I could swear I recognized that spot. In the discussion later on they talked more about where they were and from what I gathered I was correct.

Then they talked about riding the Shelf Road, down between Canon City and Cripple Creek, and that confirmed my suspicions as well. Most of the rest looked awfully familiar but just could not be placed. I would have liked it if they had said more often, “OK, today we’re going through this area” or something of that sort.

So I’d give it a 3 on a 5-point scale. I think for many of us who were there, if we had had a better idea what it was actually about it would have been better. But to come expecting one thing and find it’s something else was just not a pleasant surprise.

Biker Quote for Today

You only live once–don’t leave it covered in the garage.

Session Ends, Legislative Update

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Corn and Motorcycle

I really don't want that corn in my gas tank.


After my last post dealing with ethanol in gas I was interested to receive several comments from people in the ethanol industry contesting the remarks I passed along from the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and from Stump, the legislative liaison for ABATE of Colorado. These guys were pretty vehement that I didn’t know what I was talking about (“You are an idiot if you believe any of this bulls***.”). I replied that I was passing along what I hear from the AMA and I trust what the AMA tells me on things like this. But I also said I would try to dig deeper and do a follow-up addressing what they were saying.

Well, that is still my intention but we’ve been out of the country and busy since we got back and we’re leaving again in a few days for another trip, so I haven’t had the time yet. In the meantime there are a few more related things I wanted to pass along.

Of course, as you probably know, the legislative session ended. Here’s what Stump said about that.

In my last LegTeam update I urged you to write the Senate Finance Committee Members to oppose SB-175 (E15 Fuel Bill) and show up on Thursday, 4/14 for the Committee Hearing. Thanks to those who wrote and to Bruce, Bear, and Harry for showing up for the hearing. I also sent e-mails to the committee members and actually had meetings with 3 of the 5 members. All 3 agreed to oppose the bill. As it turned out, Sen. Grantham, the sponsor of the bill, requested the bill get laid over till 4/12. In essence, it killed the bill since the session ends on 4/11. So even though we stopped the increase in the amount of E15 being brought into Colorado by killing this bill, which would have given retailers a tax credit to sell E15, there is a much bigger problem with E15 on the National Level.

Bruce, Bear, Harry and I met with Sen. Neville after the hearing and he told us about a Federal grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand the number of fueling pumps that supply E15. Colorado could get $600,000 to install 7 tanks and 28 pumps at 7 gas stations. Of course the money has to be met 1:1 by the CO Department of Agriculture or private partners. Here are 2 links so you can read more about it:

www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/energy-programs/bip/index and www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome?contentid=2015/10/0300.xml .

I also found out Kum & Go is the company pushing to introduce E15 in Colorado, so if anybody wants to boycott them, feel free.

Related to this, as noted in the action alert I sent out yesterday, a bill has been introduced in Congress to promote wider availability of E15. On March 22, US Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA) introduced H.R. 4673 (the Renewable Fuel Utilization, Expansion, and Leadership Act – REFUEL Act) which would provide federal grants to purchase and install new or existing infrastructure for E15. It has 4 cosponsors already (2 from MN, 1 from IL, and 1 from WI) and with President Obama being from the 2nd largest corn producing state, is there any doubt who’s pushing for E15? Tell your US Representative to oppose H.R. 4673.

Of course, what I’m much more interested in is this thing with needing a transponder to ride in HOV lanes without getting fined. Stump hasn’t sent anything out about that so I’m still in the dark. And I haven’t had time to contact him to ask.

The legislature did pass and the governor signed the bill to do an audit at the Colorado Department of Transportation, so that could have an impact on the MOST program.

I’m feeling like this is kind of ragged. I’ll get back more in the swing of things when we get back from this next trip and I finally have time to really settle in again.

Biker Quote for Today

“Why ride?” Why breathe?

A Movie You May Be Interested In

Monday, May 16th, 2016
A Story Worth Living

The trailer for A Story Worth Living.

Alan sent me a note with a link to this movie, and after watching the trailer I decided I definitely want to see it. You may be interested, too.

The movie is A Story Worth Living. Here’s how BMW Motorrad International describes it:

When John Eldredge and his three sons planned an eight-day, 1,600 kilometre adventure ride across the scenic roads and trails of Colorado, U.S.A., their first stumbling block was a distinct lack of off-road riding experience. The next step was to acquire the required bikes. With the details sorted, their adventure of a lifetime swiftly became the start of a lifetime of adventure.

OK, that’s fine but is it really all that good? Who knows. All I have is the trailer, which you ought to watch, but which I’ll describe a little.

These guys got their inspiration from that Ewan Mcgregor thing, “Long Way Round.” So they decided they wanted to do something like that. Only problem was they had no dirt riding experience. As one of the guys said, “I am wildly unprepared for this.”

This, in this case, is a ride through Colorado, presumably–I am guessing–on the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route. Or something like it. And they’re a bit scared that something bad could happen. And apparently something did. I assume no one died.

So what I really wonder is, how do you go about filming a trip like this, making it into a professional quality movie, and then getting it booked into a variety of theaters for a one-showing special engagement? However it works, they did, and it is showing this Thursday night at these theaters in Colorado.

I’ve got my tickets for the Greenwood Plaza 12. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Biker Quote for Today

The brave don’t live forever . . . the cautious don’t live at all.

Humor, I Think

Thursday, May 12th, 2016
Section of Huffington Post page

The article in question.

I ran across an article on the Huffington Post titled “7 Myths About Motorcycle Safety That Need To Go Away” and of course I had to read it and see what myths they were talking about. And I guess you have to take into account that the Huffington Post is a general audience publication, not something focused on motorcycling. Because I had to laugh at a few of them. Here they are, with my comments.

1. Bikers Only Wear Leather Because It Looks Cool
Do I need to say anything here? We know this is absurd; totally aimed at non-riders.

2. Full-Faced Helmets Restrict Your Visibility
Now, this one really is aimed at riders because I’m sure non-riders never even think about it. But I have to object to the statement because I know for a fact that full-face helmets do restrict my vision. I have extremely wide peripheral vision and I can look straight ahead and still see my helmet on both sides. It may not be a major restriction, but by my definition it is a restriction, so that statement–at least for people with very wide peripheral vision–is in fact true. And by the way, that word should be “vision” and not “visibility.” Visibility means being seen by others.

3. Big Bikes Are Great For Beginners
Oh really? Who in the world ever said that was true?

4. Loud Pipes Save Lives
Not even gonna go there. I have my opinions, you have yours, and neither of us is going to change the other’s mind.

5. Drivers Will See You
Again, nobody who has ridden for more than a few weeks would ever make a statement like that.

6. Roads And Streets Are Safer Than The Interstate
Oh, heck no! Roads and streets are where people and animals and stuff can come at you from any direction at any time. The interstate is a more controlled environment and at the very least you can see things farther away. This one is true and is a myth that definitely needs to be done away with.

7. If You’re About To Crash, Lay It Down
OK, here is one that really is a myth, and it does need to go away. Motorcycles are fantastically agile and the chances are that the bike has more capability than you have the skill to extract from it. But if you’re in a life or death situation, your chances are much better if you push the bike to its limits–and beyond your own–than if you deliberately lay it down.

So overall it’s a fair piece with some validity. My only question is who it is really intended for. Those of us who ride already know these things and those who don’t probably don’t care.

Biker Quote for Today

We rode out, we rode back, nobody died. It’s a good day.

Motorcycling Thoughts From Spain

Monday, May 9th, 2016
motorcycles filtering to the front

Motorcycles filtering to the front in Madrid.

We got home a few days ago from three weeks in Spain and of course I paid a lot of attention to the motorcycling scene over there and have some thoughts to pass along.

The first thing that struck me was how, unlike Paris or Rome, Madrid was actually not engulfed in small motorcycles and scooters. Yes, there were far more of them than you’ll see in any U.S. city, but not as many as in those other capitals. I think part of that may be that in Madrid–and in all of the Spanish cities we visited–the streets are generally wider, making things less congested and therefore the benefit of two-wheeling it is lessened. Just my speculation.

I was also interested to see that the Spanish seem to do a lot less lane-splitting. That seemed to be due to there not being enough room to get through up the middle when traffic stopped at red lights. Instead, the riders would filter to the front as much as they could by riding in the gutter–or even up on the sidewalk–or riding down the center stripe or even over into the oncoming lane. Then, as everywhere, when the light changed they would blast ahead.

Small bikes and scooters, and even a surprising number of larger bikes, were very common throughout the older, medieval areas of the cities where the streets are extremely narrow. We had rain off and on and I had to wonder how their tires gripped on the cobblestones and marble that were so common. I have a pair of Rockport shoes I took along and they slipped like crazy on wet marble, so much so that I quit wearing them if it was wet out or rain threatened. Presumably the tires had better grip.

I noticed how many of the scooter riders cruise along with one foot down. It makes sense. In the stop and go of working your way through dense city traffic you would forever be lifting your feet and putting them back down again. Many just don’t bother.

The city with the most bikes and scooters turned out to be Barcelona, the last stop on our trip. At last I was seeing the hordes of bikes I had expected to see in Madrid. Mostly scooters. Here it was amazing how sometimes almost entire blocks were given over to motorcycle/scooter parking only, and every slot was in use. Rather than stop in traffic and roll backward into a parking slot, the common approach was to pull up on the sidewalk and drive straight into the slot off the curb. Barcelona also has a large number of broad streets so actual lane-splitting, coming up the middle between lanes of cars, was much more common.

It was particularly interesting on Sunday, April 24, when we were driving from Sevilla to Arcos de la Frontera and the roads were full of motorcycles. Motorcycles by the hundreds, if not thousands. What, does every Spaniard go riding in the country on the weekend? I couldn’t believe how many bikes there were.

Well, we figured it out. We got to Arcos and were having beers and tapas in the bar at our hotel and they had the TV on. They were reporting on the Spanish Gran Prix, which had been held that day in nearby Jerez de la Frontera. All those bikes we saw were people riding home after the race. Valentino Rossi won, by the way, so he’s apparently not totally washed up yet, though he’s no longer the top dog he once was.

Most of the Spanish countryside we saw was not very interesting, and didn’t look like particularly compelling riding country. The one place that was not true was in the de la Frontera area. This area of what they call the Spanish white hill towns is, as the name suggests, a very hilly area. Narrow, twisty roads going up high with fabulous views. It’s probably like that up north in the Pyrenees, too, so if you ever go to Spain to ride just head straight for the good parts.

Biker Quote for Today

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

Examiner Resurrection: Where Bikes Go To Die–Denver’s Motorcycle Graveyard

Thursday, May 5th, 2016
Steele's Cycles

Steele's Cycles is the Denver motorcycle graveyard.

Steele’s is certainly still there. I’ve found a few things I needed for my 1980 Honda there. This early 2009 post is definitely still relevant.

Like elephants, motorcycles have their common burial grounds where they go to die. Unlike elephants, parts off these dead bikes come back to keep their compatriots alive.

In Denver, the motorcycle graveyard is located just west off Santa Fe Blvd. at Union. It is called Steele’s Cycles. The address is 2025 W. Union Ave.

Steele’s sells a bit of everything. Their showroom holds about 80 bikes of all sorts, from cruisers to dirt bikes with a good share of sport bikes. Accessories and other parts are stored inside as well, and then there is the outside.

Outside you’ll find the carcasses of hundreds of motorcycles of all makes and models. If you’re looking for a frame, or a fork, or a crankcase for a particular model you can probably find it here. Just be prepared to spend some time finding it. Bikes are grouped by make but it may not be easy to recognize your model with half its parts gone.

Steele’s bills itself at “Colorado’s oldest and largest new and used motorcycle parts source. They also perform service and they sell new parts as well as used ones.

Long-time Steele’s employee Bob Burkler observes that while the bad economy is hurting everyone, salvage is “probably a pretty good business to be in right now. Someone who might have just gone to a dealer for a new part might come here now to get that part for less.” He also notes that the demand for small bikes is up a lot. Steele’s sells used bikes of all sorts but does not have much in the way of scooters.

Burkler also says that Steele’s is a good place for anyone with an older bike. Dealerships will tell you right out that they do not want to do service on older bikes, but that is what Steele’s specializes in.

So. Looking for a headlight for that 1980 Honda CB? Need a front fender for that 1987 Virago? How about an entire motor kit for a 2002 Suzuki GSXR 600? Steele’s may very well have just what you need.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Call 303-781-5339.

Examiner Resurrection: Motorcycle Ice Racing Is A Chilly Blast

Monday, May 2nd, 2016
Ice racing

Two wheels, three wheels, and four wheels--they all raced on the ice.

Harry’s Roamers is still going strong and I’m pretty sure the information here is just as good now as it was then (except the dates, of course).

Two wheels, four wheels, three wheels, and even third wheels, they all raced on the ice. The ice racing season for Harry’s Roamers Motorcycle Club started today and will run four more times in the next five weeks.

A frozen lake up at Rainbow Falls Park, south of Deckers along CO 67, provides the venue. Racers drill sheet metal screws into their tires to provide traction, or they run on bare tires with sipes cut in the treads. The ones with screws go so fast and take the curves leaned over so far you can’t believe they’re on ice.

I had really hoped to have a slide show here for you to see a dozen or so of the terrific photos I got, but our slideshow functionality is not working at the moment so I guess you have to be satisfied for now with a couple. Once the slideshows are working again I’ll post a bunch more pix.

Tom Flint, this year’s vice president of the club, told me they have about 40 members and are the oldest motorcycle club in Colorado. In addition to ice racing, the club takes one five-day trip each summer, one day trip each month during the summer, and goes dirt-biking in the Rampart Range every Tuesday while the weather is warm. Occasionally they will also sponsor a vintage motocross event.

Two wheels, three wheels, and four wheels–they all
raced on the ice

The bikes used on the ice are no different than any street bike except for the studded tires and a special type of fender that helps prevent mishaps from getting a foot caught between it and the tire. Riders are all ages, from retirees to tykes so small you would expect to see them on tricycles. In fact you do see some of them on tricycles–their racing bikes are fitted with training wheels or outriggers.

The club raises money at their events and donates it to a variety of charities. Tom said they like to keep it in the biker community but they give a lot of money to a lot of different causes.

“It’s a great spectator sport, it’s a family affair, we have lots of kids here,” said Tom.

If you’re interested in joining in the fun, there will be races on Jan. 11, Jan. 18, Jan. 25, and Feb. 8. Racing starts at 10 a.m. and figure at least an hour and a half from Denver. Admission is $8 and kids under 12 are free.

Dress warmly!

Biker Quote for Today

Only cool grandparents ride motorcycles.