Archive for December, 2016

Great Colorado Weather Means Two Rides This Weekend

Thursday, December 29th, 2016
Last Brass Monkey Run

This will be the 29th year for ABATE’s Last Brass Monkey Run.

Pity those poor folks who have to put their motorcycles away for the winter. Not us! This is Colorado and we ride all year round.

And just to make that point, there are two rides coming up this weekend.

On Saturday, ABATE of Colorado is sponsoring its annual Last Brass Monkey Run. This is a last-day-of-the-year ride that often occurs when riding is, shall we say, problematic. Not this year. This forecast I’m looking at right now calls for a high of 43 and only a 10 percent chance of precipitation. There are going to be a lot of bikes at the Grizzly Rose on Saturday.

The ride starts from four locations around the area: Longmont, Colorado Springs, Aurora, and Golden. All roads lead to the Grizzly Rose. And of course there are a variety of activities going on at the Rose, starting at 11 a.m. Tickets are $20.

Then on Sunday the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club will be having its annual New Year’s Day ride, which ends up at Rockyard American Grill and Brewery in Castle Rock. This is in conjunction with similar rides sponsored by the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado and the Pikes Peak BMW Riders Club. The forecast for Sunday is a high of 45 and zero chance of precip.

The doings at the Rockyard is brunch with friends. For the RMMRC crowd it’s kickstands up at 9:45 a.m. at Performance Cycle, 7375 S. Fulton St., in Centennial. Brunch is set for 11:30 so that should be an easy ride. No cost but of course you pay for your own brunch.

So hey, got any riding plans for the weekend? You’ve got a great opportunity–don’t miss out.

Biker Quote for Today

Motorcycle you love–ride you must.

Examiner Resurrection: Motorcycle Control In High Winds

Monday, December 26th, 2016
Full dress Harleys

All that bodywork can make your bike tough to handle in strong crosswinds.

Yeah, OK, it’s the holidays. I cop openly to the charge of taking the easy way out and putting up one of these Examiner Resurrections rather than writing something new.

Do you hate riding in high winds where the blasts nearly blow you over into the oncoming lane? That’s always been one of the most unpleasant riding situations for me but I learned something new recently that makes a huge difference.

Of course, it varies depending on which bike I’m on as to just how much of a problem it is. On the Honda it’s no big deal because it’s basically a naked bike. The wind blows right through. The Kawi is a different story. Totally sheathed in plastic body work, the bike is like a big sail or a kite when the wind is hitting me square on at 90 degrees.

I was on the Kawi heading out to Limon a few weeks ago to meet up with the Run For The Wall and the wind was howling out of the south as I headed east. It was everything I could do to stay in my own lane and not get blown over the center line.

At times like these I tend to keep both my hands clamped tightly on the grips, fighting to keep the bike going where I want it to go. But this time, at some point for some reason, I let go with my left hand. And the change was phenomenal! Using only my right hand, control was a breeze (pun intended). I could keep the bike in the lane just as easy as pie, and after some thought I figured out why.

It seems that my death grip on the left side was applying turning input to that side. Hard as I was trying to control on the right, the left was counteracting. By letting go with the left, the right was in full control.

Now, there are some of you out there I’m sure who are reading this and thinking I’m a real idiot for not figuring this out years ago. Fine, I’m an idiot. But I’m passing this information along to the rest of us idiots who still haven’t figured it out. Try it. You’ll be amazed.

Biker Quote for Today

Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start thinking about what could go right.

Where Do You Want To Ride This Summer?

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016
motorcycles on the highway

Summer really will return eventually–where do you want to go then?

This 2016 has actually been a pretty disappointing year for me in terms of riding. I haven’t totaled my motorcycle miles for the year yet but I know when I do the number is going to be a lot lower than last year. And lower than what I had intended. A lot of it has to do with this thing they call a “job.” But that’s going to end at the end of January; I’ll be leaving the National Park Service for the fourth time. And this time if they call me to come back the answer is going to be “No.”

So what riding plans do I have for 2017? Good question.

Of course I’ll be doing a ride with the OFMC. That’s a given. We’ve been doing these summer trips for more than 25 years now.

And I want to take at least a couple trips just on my own. I like riding alone. I like going where and when I want and stopping when I want for as long or as short as I want. I don’t have any definite plans yet but I’m doing some thinking.

The really big question for me is what rides the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club will have and which ones I’ll go on. At the November meeting the whole meeting was focused on next year’s rides and there were a lot of ideas thrown out for consideration. Being new to the group I’m not sure how this all works with the winnowing down of ideas and the decision-making that determines which ones actually happen. But there were quite a few that sounded pretty darn good to me.

Some of the proposals are pretty local; others are not at all local–we’re talking some serious rides. I’m interested in both, and I’m figuring some of these would be really good for Judy and me to do together. Here’s the list that was sent out.

  • Bear Tooth Pass (3 Days)
  • Wind River Canyon (TBD Days)
  • Gateway Auto Museum (2 Days)
  • Capulin Volcano (2 days)
  • Guanella Pass (1 day)
  • Gore Pass (1 Day)
  • Chama, NM / Pagosa Springs / Gunnison (2 days)
  • Saratoga, WY / Snowy Range (2 Days)
  • Red River, NM (3 Days)
  • Vermillion Cliffs, UT (3 Days)
  • Pie Ride (1 Day)
  • Ice Cream Ride (1 Day)
  • Carousel Ride Burlington (1 Day)
  • Yellowstone / Jackson (9 Days)
  • Fall Colors / Ozarks (8 Days)
  • Nova Scotia / New Brunswick / Newfoundland (35 Days)
  • Roy’s Mystery Ride (1 Day)
  • Texas Hill Country (TBD days)
  • Louisiana / Cajun Ride (TBD days)
  • Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum (TBD days)
  • St. Francis Motorcycle Museum – First Annual Motorcycle Rally (1 day)

Anything there sound good to you? Maybe you ought to consider joining the group. Come on summer!

Biker Quote for Today

Friends will bail you out a jail. Biker friends can’t because they are sitting in the cell next to you.

Sidecar Tours Now Available In Colorado

Monday, December 19th, 2016
The City on the Side website.

The City on the Side website.

My thanks to Alan for giving me a heads-up on this: An outfit called City on the Side is now offering motorcycle sidecar tours in Colorado. They offer predefined tours or you are free to tell them where you want to go and what you want to see. They will take up to two passengers on their Ural sidecar rigs, one in the sidecar and the other riding pillion behind the “sidecarist.”

From the City on the Side website homepage:

side-car (sid’kar) n.
1. An extraordinary form of transportation that brings diverse people together for a multitude of reasons, the most prominent being sheer enjoyment!

Colorado can be discovered in many ways; however, none are as exhilarating and adventurous as on a classic Russian sidecar motorcycle! Our original and unique concept of tour operations delivers safe, unforgettable excursions creating memorable instances of excitement for all of our passengers.

City on the Side provides an exceptional sight-seeing journey, a different look, authentic and genuine, allowing passengers to experience Colorado from a completely unique perspective. An exhilarating, personal and private tour on a classic and glamorous Ural cT sidecar motorcycle. We are the premium sight-seeing tour experience, not available anywhere else in North America. Our passengers discover Colorado in the open-air, unconfined and free with 360° views of its breathtaking landscapes and magnificent beauty.

Four set tours are offered:

  • 1.5 Hour: Essential Denver City Tour — Various Attractions, Landmarks, Points of Interest in and around Downtown Denver
  • 4.0 Hour: North Mountain Exploration — Morrison, Idledale, Kittredge, Evergreen, Idaho Springs, Clear Creek Canyon & Golden
  • 4.0 Hour: South Mountain Exploration — Clear Creek Canyon, Central City, Golden Gate Canyon & Golden
  • 8.0 Hour: Peak to Peak / Estes Park — Clear Creek Canyon, Blackhawk, Nederland, Estes Park, Lyons, Golden Gate Canyon & Golden

Five extra services are also available:

  • Custom “Tailor-Made” Tours
  • We Do Weddings and Special Events
  • Give a Sidecar Motorcycle Tour as a Gift
  • Picnic Lunch in the Rocky Mountains
  • HD Quality Video of Your Experience

A guy named Scott Kirkwood is running this outfit, and while I haven’t had a chance to speak with him yet, I hope to do so soon. I’m always interested in these new companies that open up and offer motorcycle touring and/or rental opportunities. And you can bet I’ll be adding them to my Colorado Motorcycle Rentals and Tours page; in fact, by the time you read this I probably will have already done so.

Finally, I would personally like to offer my best wishes to these folks to make a terrific success of this endeavor. It sounds like something a lot of people might really go for.

Biker Quote for Today

Sometimes people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.

Want To Be A Riding Instructor?

Thursday, December 15th, 2016
motorcycle rider trainer and trainee

You, too, can be a rider trainer, and now it won’t cost you a bundle for the training.

It used to be, if you wanted to take the training class to become a motorcycle riding instructor it cost you $450. I know this because I took that course several years ago. And then I ended up never teaching a single class, so good-bye $450.

Things have changed. I recently received my December issue of Spokesman, the newsletter of ABATE of Colorado, and there was this section in the state coordinator’s message:

ABATE is looking for Rider Ed instructors. We will provide the training.

Whoa! I want to look into this!

So I talked to Bruce Downs the other day, the aforementioned state coordinator. And yes, it turns out that there is at least one good thing that has come out of having the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) taking on the contract to administer the Colorado Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) program: The rider training instructor program is free. Don’t ask me how that works out, because I don’t know.

So this is a great chance if you have ever wanted to be a rider trainer. I asked Bruce for more information. Here’s the gist of it.

It’s not clear to me but you probably can’t just call the MSF and say, “Hey, I want training.” I believe you have to go through a training organization. Some group like, oh, I don’t know, umm . . . ABATE!

And then once they have enough prospective trainers lined up they will ask the MSF for a training program. Bruce says this is likely to be in May or June because the MSF has made changes to its training curriculum and as of July 1 all training will need to conform to the new program. It’s the Beginning Rider Course Updated, or BRCU. That U is the new part. So there’s no reason to train on the old program and then turn around and have to get retrained on the new.

The pay is actually not bad. You earn $70 for each student and there are generally six students in each class. So that’s $420 for two days work. And you can work as much or as little as you want, although you have to lead two classes a year to keep your certification current.

If you’re interested the person to contact is Deb Craig at ABATE at abategeneral@abateofcolo.org., or call 303-789-3264. She’ll send you an application and you’ll be on the list.

Biker Quote for Today

Accidents hurt — safety doesn’t.

Loving Warm Days

Monday, December 12th, 2016
empty, torn bag

It could have been something fabulous, but no.

Saturday was overcast with strong, gusty winds, so I was not inclined much to go ride. That is, not until I looked at the thermometer and saw it was in the mid 50s. I guess I’ll go out after all. Besides, I still had two bikes that had not been ridden in December. As soon as I threw the door open to roll the Honda out I was hit with surprisingly warm wind and I knew I would not be disappointed.

Both the Honda and the Kawi were prime examples of why I make a point to ride each bike at least once a month all year round. Neither one was eager to start. Each turned over weakly at first but fired up, and then needed to run awhile before they settled into smooth purrs.

The Honda was first. The only difference in my gear from my last time out was that I wore long underwear this time. They were a nice addition. I never got cold at all.

So I rode for a bit and on my way back I came across the top of Cherry Creek Dam and spied a duffel bag or whatever that someone had lost along the road. There was traffic, though, so I kept going, but I wondered what might be in it. At home, I parked the Honda and fired up the Kawi and went right back the way I had come, this time trying to ensure there was no one behind me so I could stop right there on this road with no shoulder.

The bag was still there so I picked it up and rode on (see photo above). Turns out it was nothing; just an empty, torn bag. And all the things it might have been! Fifty thousand dollars in $100 bills. A fancy camera with exotic lenses. Someone’s dirty gym clothes. Nah. None of the above. I threw it in the trash.

I don’t care. I got out for rides on two of my bikes on a surprisingly nice day in December. That was all the reward I needed.

Biker Quote for Today

It takes 37 muscles to frown, 17 to smile, 7 to twist the throttle.

Upcoming Motorcycle Issues At The Legislature

Thursday, December 8th, 2016
motorcycles in the mountains

Yeah, we can at least dream about this kind of riding in the next few months.

The new legislative session will begin shortly after the first of the year and there will for sure be two bills of interest to motorcyclists on the docket. This bill would create a new classification of motor vehicles, removing autocycles, such as the Polaris Slingshot, from some rules applying to cars, some rules applying to motorcycles, and removing things such as autocycle crash statistics from being merged with motorcycle crash statistics.

The Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) program will also be coming up because when it was created the Colorado Sunset Law required that it be periodically renewed. The Department of Regulatory Agencies has conducted a sunset review and is recommended it be continued for another five years.

ABATE of Colorado, as well as other interested parties, will be watching those bills. According to Stump, ABATE’s legislative liaison, the language of the autocycle bill is not exactly what ABATE would prefer but it is good and it may be able to be improved in committee.

MOST is something ABATE would like to see either abolished or revised to take it back to its original intent. Again, revisions are possible in committee.

Because I am interested in these and other legislative matters concerning motorcycles, I recently allowed myself to be elected the ABATE District 10 Legislative Affairs representative. The following are some excerpts from the letter Stump sent each of us about what we’ll be doing this year.

The emphasis this year is getting as many ABATE members legislatively active as possible. We’re going to have a very busy schedule down at the Capitol and we need a lot of help.

I’ll be sending out weekly updates on legislative issues. It will be your job to get this information to your district members. More important, I’ll be sending out “Action Alerts”, when I need you to contact your legislators. Sometimes I’ll send out talking points and sometimes I’ll send out a form letter, depending on where the bill is in the process and how much time we have to take action. A personal letter from talking points is more influential than a form letter, but sometimes we might only have 1-2 days to contact them. In such case, a phone call to your legislator, which is probably even faster than sending an e-mail, might be more appropriate.

Besides waiting for an “Action Alert” and a specific reason to contact your legislators, there is a lot more you can do to help our “cause”. Everyone should be contacting both their Senator and Representative and introducing themselves, mentioning you’re a constituent and an ABATE member. You might even explain a little about ABATE. Also congratulate them on winning their election, if appropriate, especially if they’re new.

Lastly, you can all help out by coming to the Capitol. Set up a time with your legislators and have a face-to-face with them. It’s the best way to introduce yourself. Or you can just come to the Capitol without an appointment, but chances are you’ll wind up talking to an aide rather than the legislator. Either way, you get to express your concerns as a constituent. Try it; you just might have some fun!

I was down at the capital a lot last session so this won’t be much of a change, I’ll just be operating in a more official capacity. And of course I’ll keep you up to date right here.

Biker Quote for Today

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.

The Winter Guessing Game

Monday, December 5th, 2016
motorcycles on the highway

Get out an ride while there’s no snow on the road!

I took the V-Strom out for a first ride of December on Sunday. It would have been a crime not to take advantage of such a nice day.

So how warm was it really? We have thermometers outside our windows in the front of the house and in the back. Our house faces south, so in the front there is sun, while in the back there is shade. The difference in the two readings can be 4 or 5 degrees. The thermometer in the rear said 52.

OK, so how warmly do I need to dress? This is the winter guessing game that I play again and again. It’s easier when it’s only 30 degrees–I put on all the warmest gear I have. At 52 it gets tricky.

I opted for just jeans, no long underwear; my winter gloves, not to be confused with my heated gloves; and a sweatshirt and my electric vest. No scarf. I wavered on the electric vest, wondering if I really needed it, but decided it wouldn’t hurt to have it just in case. But 52 is pretty warm.

However, the wind chill at 60 miles an hour knocks that perceived temperature right down 10 or 15 degrees. Within a mile I had flipped on the vest and with my legs getting chilly I was wondering if omitting the long underwear had been a mistake. Plus, my hands were getting pretty chilly.

I got over it though. It didn’t take long and I wasn’t minding the cool legs and my hands didn’t feel so chilly. It was a really nice, sunny day, and I was glad to be out on the bike. Of course the fact that the electric vest was keeping my core nice and toasty made a huge difference. But after awhile I even cracked my visor so I’d get some breeze on my face. It felt good.

Didn’t see a lot of other folks out on bikes, just one guy on a sportbike on Parker Road. Come on now, you’re telling me you weren’t driven to get out on such a nice day? It’s only going to get colder, at least for this next week.

I didn’t go a long way; I’ve got this shoulder that was hurting me pretty bad because of some strain I put on it doing some work on my driveway earlier in the day. That was another project that needed to be done on a warm day and it was actually my first priority. I’d go for a ride afterward. But that meant when I got on the bike I was hurting.

Still, I got out, and it was nice. I suspect next time I get out on a bike it’s not going to be so nice. But in that case I won’t need to play the guessing game.

Biker Quote for Today

When life gets you down, remember, it’s only one down and the rest is up.

Passes & Canyons On The Radio (Or Podcast)

Thursday, December 1st, 2016
The "Bernie's Colorado Journeys" website

The “Bernie’s Colorado Journeys” website.

I did a radio interview today. Bernie Jwaszewski had contacted me and wanted to talk about the website for the benefit of people interested in touring Colorado. Bernie does a podcast/radio broadcast called “Bernie’s Colorado Journeys” on KCMJ.org or at 93.9 FM.

Seems Bernie has been into touring for a long time but just last year got himself a Harley trike. That opened up a whole new world for him, as you might well imagine. So he is interested in the best motorcycle roads in Colorado. Bernie, you came to the right place.

So we talked about the Passes & Canyons: Motorcycle Touring in Colorado website.

First off he asked about myself and why I built the site. That was easy: it combined my interests in writing, motorcycling, and tech. And then we went through each of the tabs at the top of each page that go to the main pages on the site, discussing each as we went along.

What was interesting for me was to have a chance to see the site at least partially through someone else’s eyes. For instance, Bernie looked at the page for motorcycle-accessible campgrounds along the Peak-to-Peak Highway and he came to the conclusion that Cold Spring Campground would not be suitable for someone pulling a camper. No, no, no, I assured him. The campground has pull-through sites but I just don’t go into that because the website is about motorcycles. I also mentioned that the campground pages are very dated and it is my intention in 2017 to update all of them.

That was the other point of interest for me. Time and again we would discuss this section or that page and I would add that my intentions are to expand this or update that or redo this–it just comes down to time to do it all. Hopefully I will find that time once I am no longer working for the National Park Service (hello end of January). But the updates and revisions I want to do could probably keep me busy for a solid month.

And then there are the other states in the region. When I first started building the site it was my intent to then do the same for other states in the west. When you figure I’ve had this site up for 11 years now and still have a ton of work that I don’t have time to do, it’s not hard to see why that plan has never gotten off the ground. But I haven’t given up on it. I’m thinking that maybe I’ll do a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding and then just go off for a month to two months and do an entire state all at once. Ride and shoot pictures and gather information during the day and build pages in a motel room in the evening. Get up the next morning and do it again. We’ll see.

So I’ll be interested to see what Bernie does with the interview. I mean, I’m sure he’ll want to do some editing, so it will be interesting to see what he focuses on. Also, just a note, he has also spoken with Steve Farson, who wrote the book The Complete Guide to Motorcycling Colorado. Steve’s book is very good and I’ll be interested to listen to Bernie’s podcast with him, too.

And one other thing: I’m interested to explore Bernie’s site. Who knows, maybe he has found some places in this state that I’ve never seen. You never know.

Biker Quote for Today

A cold hamburger can be reheated quite nicely by strapping it to an exhaust pipe and riding forty miles.