Archive for June, 2016

Brunch With The Boys

Thursday, June 30th, 2016
Getting on the motorcycles.

Gearing up before leaving the casino.

Bill contacted us all to ask if we wanted to ride up to Central City for brunch Saturday. Who could say no to that?

I selected the Honda and we met up out in Golden. Cruising up Clear Creek Canyon was a dream–we somehow found ourselves with no one at all in front of us almost the entire way up. Hey guys, time to cruise!

The deal, as always, was to have brunch in a casino and then do a little gambling. The OFMC guys love to gamble, especially Bill, who is almost always a winner. That’s why our summer trip each year always includes a stop in a gambling town.

So we ate and played some slots for awhile and then it was time to head on. I pushed the starter button on the Honda and it cranked over with vigor but just kept on cranking. I hate that.

I tried again and the same thing. I knew it couldn’t possibly be running low on gas–and I opened the tank to confirm this–but I went ahead and threw the lever over to Reserve. Again it didn’t start.

Bill suggested I roll it down the ramp in the parking structure we were in to jump it but I tried once again and it finally caught. Yes!!

We headed out. And we pulled out of the parking garage into a light rain. Bill was in the lead and he turned the corner, went down the block and turned the next corner, and pulled right back into the garage we had just pulled out of. Now, this was the kind of light rain that I figured to just ride through so I was surprised at this move. Their talk quickly explained it to me, though.

These are guys who like to always have their machines sparkling clean. A few raindrops, a little wet thrown up from the road, translates into a lot of time rubbing and spiffing up the bike. As for me, I try, with only partial success, to make a point of cleaning each of my bikes at least every couple years.

Five minutes later the rain was gone but the road was wet. I’m guessing the guys had some cleaning to do when they got home. We headed over toward the Golden Gate Canyon road to come back down and all of a sudden it was a lot cooler than on the ride up. A bit of rain will do that to the air temperature. No matter, I knew it would warm up as we headed downhill.

Except it took a lot longer to get warm than I had expected. I had another layer in my bag but had figured I wouldn’t need it. You never really learn, do you? How many times have you made that mistake? More than a couple I’m willing to bet.

In fact, heading down we were catching up with the rain. Now it was looking like we were going to run right back into it, but just then we reached the turn-off to Golden Gate State Park and the road hooked away to the south and away from the clouds. And it finally started to get warm.

Back down to 93 and we split up and went our separate ways. I stopped and got gas just to be sure. My 5.5-gallon tank only took 2.9 gallons. There was no way I was low on gas. Why did it not want to start? I hope this was just a fleeting thing and is totally forgotten in a short while. But I’ll be holding my breath the next time I ride that bike.

Biker Quote for Today

The reason the front tire lasts so much longer is that it spends less time on the ground.

More HOV Lane Info

Monday, June 27th, 2016
Motorcycles on the interstate

Going up I-25 on your bike? Go ahead and use the HOV lane.

I got a bit more information on the push to exempt motorcycles from needing transponders to ride in HOV lanes without paying fees or having to get a transponder. The intent is clear and undisputed but the problem stems from not getting input from the public when the system was designed.

Carol Downs went with her husband, Bruce, and Stump to see how the systems of cameras and tracking works that enables the new system of toll lanes. Everyone had assumed up to that time that it would be simple to just recognize a motorcycle and send that file to the trash, with no dunning notice sent to the owner of that license plate.

Not so easy, Carol told me. While it easy enough to recognize a motorcycle from the photos, the photos feed through to the people charged with issuing the fee statements from the entire system with no way for them to tell if this rider is in the HOV lane on I-25 or on the E-470 toll road. If you’re on the toll road you have to pay a toll, no matter what kind of vehicle you’re in/on. If you’re in an HOV lane you don’t. But if they can’t tell what road you’re on they can’t just trash your file, unless they are willing to let some riders use the toll lanes for free. And maybe until they get this fixed that is exactly what they should do.

Funny how easy it could have been if there had been public input. ABATE would surely have gone to any hearing and raised the very same issue that was raised after the fact. And the software could have been designed from the very beginning to deal with this situation.

In the meantime, ABATE has been assured that any rider who wrongly receives notice of a fee to be paid can have that fee canceled. And in fact, one rider, who is not an ABATE member, contacted ABATE about this very thing and when ABATE spoke to the tracking company that fee was dropped. Not that the person who called decided to join ABATE to show their support for this kind of action, or even bothered to say thanks, but the group was looking for just that sort of situation in order to push the matter.

And then Larry Montgomery, the ABATE metro region coordinator, told me he deliberately rode his bike in the HOV lane its full length up I-25 just to see if he would get a letter in the mail. To date he has not.

In the meantime, the High-Performance Transportation Enterprise, which operates the tolling system, can’t get started on redesigning their software until they get the go-ahead from the Colorado Department of Transportation. And CDOT is entangled in all sorts of bureaucratic issues so there’s no telling when that will happen. But go ahead, ride in the HOV lanes. And if they send you a fee statement, give them a call and tell them to cancel it.

Biker Quote for Today

Motorcyclist: A person willing to take a container of flammable liquid, place it on top of a hot moving engine, and then put the whole lot between their legs.

Hard Drive Crash; No Post Today

Friday, June 24th, 2016

I never miss a post. I have a schedule and I stick with it. But not today.

I’ve been dealing with a hard drive crash and what a mess that is.

Should be back on schedule on Monday. The weather is nice; go ride.

No Change Yet On HOV Lane Use Without Transponder

Monday, June 20th, 2016
HOV lane sign

You still need a transponder to ride free in the HOV lane. How quickly will CDOT fix that problem?

You may be wondering why the whole issue of motorcycles currently needing transponders to ride free in HOV lanes has slipped from sight. I certainly was. The last I had heard (and passed along) was that various legislators had taken a big interest in the subject and were applying big pressure on the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to rectify the situation, now.

So when I have a question I ask. I emailed Stump, the legislative liaison for ABATE of Colorado, with this query:

Hey Stump, I’m wondering whatever became of the effort to get this HOV lane thing changed. Last I heard the rep or senator–can’t remember which–was pressing CDOT and/or the company to make immediate changes. Where has that gone? Thanks for the update.

And I promptly received this reply:

Hi Ken,

Bruce and I have been in contact with E470, the agency that monitors the tolls and must make the changes. We actually had a tour of the facility to better understand the entire process. E470 is waiting for the “OK – Go Ahead” from CDOT before they can make the changes. Then it should only take a couple of weeks, per the person who will actually make the computer changes. It’s actually a pretty involved process as we learned form our tour. Bruce has been in contact with the executive director of CDOT inquiring what’s taking so long and we expect another update shortly. I’ll keep you updated. Thanks for your concern.

Stump

Now you know as much as I do. I’m sure we’re all curious how quickly CDOT will move.

Biker Quote for Today

Happiness keeps you sweet, long rides keep you strong, sorrow keeps you human, life keeps you humble, riding keeps you growing. But motorcycles keep you going.

Kids On Motorcycles–Good Or Bad?

Thursday, June 16th, 2016
Little girl riding on back of motorcycle.

A bunch of people tried to shame the mother who let her little girl ride.

I happened to see this and thought it was kind of interesting.

It seems a girl of seven was filmed riding on the back of a motorcycle and someone posted the video. Then the stuff hit the fan.

While many people gave it a thumbs-up, others said the mother should be charged with child abuse or something for putting her child at risk like that. They tried to shame her on social media. The mother has responded by organizing a biker parents rally this weekend to promote the idea that “Kids Are Bikers Too.”

We are having a day of fun with our family: blood, bikers, and supporters to spread awareness that KIDS are bikers too. Everyone is welcome to come out and share the love of riding.

The mom, Mallory Torres, initially responded to the attempted shaming with this comment.

Some of you may have seen this picture on Facebook, and some of you may have even seen this in person…This is my 7 year old daughter riding home from school on a motorcycle. Yes. She’s 7, and she’s on a motorcycle. ‘Why?’ Some of you may ask… Because I love my daughter. That’s right… I LOVE MY DAUGHTER and she loves to ride, so I allow her to ride on the back of a motorcycle in full gear with my boyfriend who has 20+ years of experience.

So what do you think of the whole thing? I know that I would have been totally thrilled to get to ride on a motorcycle when I was that age.

At the same time, that image of the two of them on that sportbike makes me a little edgy. If there was a sissy bar of some kind, a backrest, to help keep her on I’d feel a little better about it. I know Judy has not been comfortable on any of my bikes until I got something on there behind her. Or if there were something substantial for the girl to grip, rather than just putting her arms around the boyfriend’s waist.

Clearly I disagree with the folks who would say no child should be allowed on a motorcycle at all. Heck, I think having a kid riding their own bike at five is a great thing at the dirt track or somewhere else where that is appropriate.

Anyway, I just thought the whole thing was interesting and thought you might think so, too.

Biker Quote for Today

If you don’t like motorcycles then you probably won’t like me, and I’m OK with that.

Ride to Rocks

Monday, June 13th, 2016
I-70 Geological Point of Interest

Just to the left of the cut through the rocks you can see Thunder Valley Motocross Park--but only kinda, at least in this picture.

Judy is more into hiking than I am, and I’m more into riding motorcycles than she is. But we both enjoy both so what she often suggests is that we get on a bike and ride out to some place where we can take a hike.

She suggested that on Sunday but I countered with a proposal catering to another of her interests: geology. Judy has always had an interest in geology and recently took a geology of Colorado class. So now it’s a given that we’ll be seeing more of that sort of thing, and hopefully much of that will be by motorcycle.

Anyway, I suggested we ride out to that cut where I-70 goes through the hogback just west of town. There are all these strata of rocks exposed as they’ve been tilted up onto a slope and the area has signs offering interpretation and a path to walk along and see the strata. And then as long as we were both out there, we could also go to Dinosaur Ridge and see the fossils.

I-70 Geological Point of Interest

Judy is reading a sign that is being buried by the hillside sliding down over it.

Now, the Dinosaur Ridge preserve is really what used to just be West Alameda Parkway as it ran across the hogback. I remember driving over that many years ago but somewhere along the line they shut down the road and made it a route for pedestrians and bicyclists only. And they built a visitor center and museum, as well as a gift shop and cafe.

So that’s where we headed.

Dinosaur Ridge was the first we came to so we stopped and hiked on up the hill. There’s one place in particular where this whole slab of rock, tilted steeply, shows quite a few amazingly clear dinosaur footprints. I had no idea, driving on that road years ago, that these were there. Up over the crest and down on the other side there are also dinosaur bones. We figured we’d go there after the I-70 Geological Point of Interest.

Going north from the Dinosaur Ridge visitor center you can take Rooney Road and that runs right past Thunder Valley Motocross Park. Judy had never been on Rooney Road so we went that way. It’s always pretty dang cool seeing those guys taking big air up over the whoops at Thunder Valley. I told Judy if I had a dirt bike I’d definitely be spending some of my time there at Thunder Valley.

“So why don’t you?” she asked.

“Because I don’t have a dirt bike.”

Oh, right. No, I don’t think my V-Strom would be the right bike for a track like that.

Anyway, on to the I-70 cut. First we pulled in to the area on the south side of the highway. Walking up the trail we were surprised to find it buried inches deep in dirt/mud with numerous rocks of all sizes laying where they came to rest after tumbling off the exposed cut. And there were no interpretative signs, though there were some stone pedestals that appeared to once have held signs. The whole area has just apparently been abandoned. And about 20 feet from the end of the trail there was barbed wire drawn across with a sign saying to keep out because beyond this point it is a firing range for law enforcement. And we could hear the pop, pop, pop of gunfire.

OK, so we could see that there are interpretive signs on the trail along the north side of the cut. We headed over there.

Sad to say, as we walked along the north side we found the signs totally wrecked by vandals. As the passed the fourth totally obliterated sign Judy remarked that she hoped the jerks were lazy. What she meant was that maybe they wouldn’t have taken the trouble to destroy all of them. And she was right. Starting with the fifth one, they were all in pretty good shape. What is happening with these is that the hill is sliding down on them and covering them over. On several the stone pedestals are completely covered and the dirt is encroaching on the signs themselves. This is the kind of thing you get when you don’t give the government the money to maintain the facilities it is charged with maintaining.

But the walks on both sides were interesting, and the interpretation added to that by explaining what it was we were seeing. If you’ve ever thought about stopping there you should.

By this time we were both getting hungry so we skipped the other side of Dinosaur Ridge and rode on into Morrison, with the patio at the Morrison Inn in mind. As I eyed a stretch of bikes in front of the restaurant a guy stepped out and waved his arms to indicate that no, I shouldn’t park that Japanese bike here with all these Harleys. It was in fun and we both smiled. But I parked down the street.

We enjoyed some food and refreshment, listened to a little live music, and then headed home. Storm clouds were threatening seriously, but we made it home dry. It was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Biker Quote for Today

I’d rather push a Yamaha than ride a Harley.

More Upcoming Events of Interest

Thursday, June 9th, 2016
Riding Cinnamon Pass

Riding Cinnamon Pass, one option if you're based in Silverton.

We’re in the thick of the riding and event season and my email has brought me word of several more happenings that you may be interested in.

This coming Sunday, June 12, will be the ABATE Scramble Statewide Poker Run. This is an interesting sort of event, intended to make it easy for people all over the state to be involved without anyone needing to ride clear across the state to participate. (Although it does appear to be primarily the Front Range.)

The way it will work is you’ll go to one of the starting points where you will purchase however many hands you wish to play–$20 per hand–and you’ll be given a list of stops you can go to pick up a chip. You can go to any location and as many locations as you choose. It gets a little murky from there but I believe you then go back to your starting point or various other points and cash in your chips for cards, then play the hand.

Here’s a list of starting places.

Aurora: Scooters Bar & Grill, 13698 E Alameda Ave
Berthoud: Derby Grille , 110 Bunyan Ave. (start and end only)
Colorado Springs: Knuckle Tavern, 2627 Delta Drive
Denver: Bubba Chino’s, 5595 N Federal Ave (start point only)
Denver: McCoy’s, 4855 Federal Blvd (end point only)
Evergreen: Cactus Jacks, 4651 Highway 73
Ft. Morgan: Nick’s Place at The Queen, 112 W Kiowa Ave
Littleton: The Shack, 151 W. Mineral Ave
Pueblo: Tumbleweed Tavern 214 S. McCulloch Blvd

Then a little further in the future is the Rocky Mountain Adventure Riders Silverton Rendezvous, July 27-31. Mark Odette had been telling me about this Moab-based thing last year and this year they’re doing it in Moab again but also in Silverton.

This event’s goal is to raise at least $10,000 for “Colorado Trail Preservation Alliance” (TPA), so they can fight to keep your public trails open. All amounts raised over expenses go to the TPA!! With a sold out event, we will make this goal to $10k to the TPA.

The cost will be $250 per rider or $100 for non-riders and registration will close once there are 100 riders signed up. You’re basically looking at three days of terrific non-pavement riding in the Silverton area. Plus a whole lot of camaraderie. (Am I going to be there? I’d love to but this is exactly when the OFMC is going to be doing its ride this summer.)

Biker Quote for Today

I don’t have a bucket list but my bike it list is pretty long.

Bikes Worth Seeing At Vintage Motorcycle Show

Monday, June 6th, 2016
Vintage Motorcycle Show 2016

Not sure if this is vintage but it was definitely interesting.

I went to the annual Vintage Motorcycle Show today (I’m writing this on Sunday) and it was worth the trip. There were some very interesting rides on display.

It was a good trip, too. While this thing has usually been held at Heritage Square, that venue is going through some changes and the show got moved to Colorado National Speedway up by Dacono. A good bit further to go.

The distance was no big deal, but what hurt was the extreme shortage of shade. Heritage Square has trees and is a pleasant spot. The pit area at the racetrack is pretty much just sun. There were not a lot of people there when I was there, although they were always coming and going. I suspect many people were just like me: arrive and park, spend 20-30 minutes looking at the bikes, head out. I hope they can move back to Heritage Square or some other place more pleasant next year.

So without further ado, let’s look at some photos.

Vintage Motorcycle Show 2016-004

I believe this is called a service cart or service wagon or something of that sort.

Vintage Motorcycle Show 2016-007

This Vincent has some pretty slick body work.

Vintage Motorcycle Show 2016-009

A Harley cafe racer.

Vintage Motorcycle Show 2016-011

Almost a bicycle, but with a motor.

Of course, one thing about going to any motorcycle exhibition is that there inevitably are some interesting bikes in the parking lot as well. Here’s a heck of a rat bike. And notice that as hard core as this guy appears to be, he uses a helmet.

Vintage Motorcycle Show 2016

This is a hard core bike, and it wasn't even in the show.

Biker Quote for Today

Motorcycles: The brand is not important, the fact that you ride is.

Endless Motorcycle Roads Down South

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
Motorcycles In South Carolina

The South has endless curvy roads.

We just got back from a five state trip (Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama) and I’m left with two big thoughts on motorcycle riding down there.

1. It doesn’t matter where you go, at least in the hilly parts of the state every road in every direction is curvy, up and down, and through endless greenery and beauty.

2. When all you see is trees on both sides of the road, trees towering above you so you can’t see anything else, it doesn’t take long for one curvy stretch of road to look exactly like every other one, as if you were going in a circle all day.

Really, as long as you stay off the big highways, it doesn’t seem to matter where you go, the good riding is everywhere. If there are hills–which there are plenty of up in the northern areas where these five states all cluster together–the riding is good. But even when you know you’re going up a steep hill and there ought to be a terrific view out over the valley, you almost never get to see that view because of the trees.

Judy and I noticed this a long time ago. We were in South Carolina visiting my mother and when we got back to Colorado we were both overjoyed to see the sky again. Back there, all you see of the sky is that narrow strip overhead between the trees on both sides of the road. And those trees are tall.

We cruised along the Blue Ridge Parkway a short distance and at least there they have deliberately managed the forest to allow for some views. But when we went up to the top of Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you could see a long way but one tree-covered hill looks a whole lot like every other tree-covered hill. It was nothing at all like the kind of views we’re accustomed to out here in the west.

We did get one tip, however, that you might want to remember if you’re planning a trip down that way. We were at Little River Canyon National Preserve and all we could see of this deep gorge was trees. We almost couldn’t even see the water. But the park brochure explained that winter was a good time to visit because with the leaves gone you can see the rocks. And the fall is good because you get riotous fall colors and, when at least some of the leaves have fallen, you can also see some of the rocks.

So time your trip for the fall. I’m betting it’s pretty spectacular about that time. And with so many roads to choose from, if you pick an out-of-the-way one, you won’t have to share it with 10,000 other motorists.

Biker Quote for Today

Killing bugs is a full-time job.