Archive for the ‘Motorcycle sidecars’ Category

Thoughts While Riding

Thursday, September 10th, 2015
Looking toward the plains.

A stop on the way up to Mount Evans.

You have a lot of time to think when you’re riding, particularly if you don’t have a communicator and someone to talk to. On this ride Alan and Dan and I took up Mount Evans last week they were linked via radio but I was alone in my helmet. But there was a lot going on in there.

Alan, of course, is now riding a Gold Wing with a sidecar. He had an encounter with a deer and the Harley died. Now with the sidecar he and his wife go out together a whole lot more than they used to. He’s sold. I included a Biker Quote for Today awhile back that read, “Nothing like trikes and even less like three-wheeled automobiles, sidecars accentuate the balance and ineffable grace of a single-tracker in approximately the manner and degree that crutches improve the performance of steeplechasers. — Jack Lewis” and Alan emailed me to say something along the lines of “All true, but they’re still a heck of a lot of fun.”

This was the first time I had seen the new rig and yes it looks fancy and cushy. As we took off it made sense that he take the lead because going up the canyon to Evergreen–not to mention up the mountains–he was not going to be able to blast around corners the way those of us on two wheels could. So he set the pace.

Winding up along Bear Creek I got a little lazy. I knew that any turn Alan could take at whatever speed, I could certainly take at the same speed. So I hardly paid any attention to what speed I was going. And my expectations were met.

Up on the road over Squaw Pass I was thinking more about the wet road. And the increasing cold. I was thinking how I just might need to break down and get a riding suit like those that Dan and Alan were both wearing. My rain gear was very close at hand but stopping to put it on is always a pain, and if you don’t put it on you can get wet. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an all-weather suit that you just routinely wear when you ride and then the wet is no longer an issue. I could definitely live without the mad scramble to pull that suit on as the rain pelts you. Not to mention the awkwardness of removing it when it’s no longer needed.

We turned up CO 5 to go up the mountain and the ranger at the entrance told us it was snowing on top. Now I had plenty to think about. How bad is the snow on top? The sign board said the temperature up there was 34 degrees, so that’s not freezing, but what if there was ice on the road nonetheless? How good an idea is this? Alan at least had three wheels; he would be fine. And my bike, the V-Strom, is pretty light so I felt confident I could manage with it. But Dan was on his big Harley. This was exactly why I didn’t ride the Concours.

Up the hill we went and soon Dan, who was in the rear, was dropping behind at the switchbacks. With the light, agile V-Strom I was using trail-braking to just walk around the tight turns at about 5 miles an hour. I don’t know what cornering technique Dan was using but at the very least, that Harley can’t have as tight a turning radius as my Suzuki. And we were constantly encountering cars going down right as we were negotiating these switchbacks.

Then another thing I had noticed previously started popping into my head repeatedly. From the rear, Alan’s sidecar looks a lot like the back end of a PT Cruiser, in miniature. I can’t count the number of times I looked at him and thought there was a car on the road ahead of him a ways, only to realize it was the sidecar. You would think my brain would have gotten over that misperception after awhile but for this entire ride it happened again and again.

Of course, on the ride up my mind eventually turned to the pool of water collecting at my crotch and soaking into my jeans, and wishing I had had the common sense to put my rain pants on when I put the jacket on.

So we got to the top and didn’t stay long and then headed back down. I had intended to get out my camera and shoot some pictures on the way down but my hands were numb and there was little to see anyway because of the cloud we were in. So I left the camera in the bag. But the weather shifted dramatically while we were up there and as we headed down it had cleared off and also gotten warmer. My hands were no longer numb. And it was gorgeous. I wanted so much to be getting pictures of this spectacular scene with the road, the bikes, the clouds–everything. But it was not to be. And my thoughts turned, as they often have, to getting a GoPro camera and using it to capture all the incredible rides where I have so often in the past had this same regret.

Being alone in your head so much while riding, as all riders know, makes it all the more fun then to stop for lunch or whatever and talk with the guys about the ride and everything else. Which we did in Idaho Springs.

Some people don’t do well by themselves. I guess when they only have themselves for company they find that they aren’t very good company. I wonder if folks like that don’t ride motorcycles much. Me, I never get bored. If nothing else I’m putting thoughts into words and phrases and hoping I can remember them when I sit down to write. Maybe I could rig something up with a voice-activated microphone and record my thoughts as I ride, rather than trusting to memory. There’s got to be an app for that.

Biker Quote for Today

Dear motorcycle: Thank you for make me feel alive. P.S., is is the weekend yet?

First Report From New Sidecar Rider

Monday, October 6th, 2014
Goldwing sidecar rig on Red Mountain Pass

Alan and Cheryl with the Goldwing sidecar rig on Red Mountain Pass.

My friend Alan, whose Harley got wrecked when a deer ran him down, has replaced that ride with a sidecar rig. I had put him in contact with another sidecar rider I know, Dom Chang, and I presume Dom provided Alan with some good information on the subject.

Alan sent along a report of a recent multi-day trip he and his wife, Cheryl, took in the new rig and I’m taking the liberty of passing that along. Alan reads this blog so hey Alan, if you object, just let me know. But I’m guessing you won’t.

The ride was a blast! Cheryl loved it. Some things we learned about the rig that we will make some minor additions and modifications but overall we are pleased. We purchased an oscillating fan in Moab and used it. Although the sidecar has ventilation, there are times when it is hot outside but you don’t want to lower the top and remove the windows. Having a fan to move air even when you are stopped helped a lot. We will mount the fan inside the sidecar and put in a switch so you can use it when needed. Have a very tight window to snap shut on the left side and I will have to do a little stretching of the window to make it easier to snap shut. Also, I am going to add two plastic labels to the switches on the left side so you can tell which one opens the top and which one is the PTT for the CB radio. We brought a blanket along and found it helpful when the temps got to 39 degrees one night in Gunnison but it was also helpful generally. That is about it. Really some minor items in the whole scheme of things.

Was it comfy? Yes, very. So much so that Cheryl fell asleep many times just like when she rides in a car.

How did it handle? Well this is definitely not the rig to do canyon carving but it did well. Handles similar to a Harley trike but with differences. Pulls to the right on acceleration and little to the left when braking. Noticeable? Yes? Anticipated? Yes. Problematic? Not really.

I think we gave the rig a thorough workout. I really like the power and stability of the Goldwing. Also, having reverse without having to pay $2,000+ is definitely worth it. We traveled Denver to Moab (took the river road and overnight), then to Naturita, to Lizard Head Pass, to Telluride, to Montrose (overnight), to Durango, to South Fork, to Lake City, to Gunnison (overnight), to Fairplay, to Denver. We put 1,000+ miles on the rig, went over 10 10,000 foot mountain passes, had Interstate, 4 lane and 2 lane roads, highway speeds 75mph+ and 2 lane mountain pass roads of 15-40mph. The rig did everything we asked of it and yes, we like it!!!

Sounds good, Alan. Enjoy the ride. And now I guess Cheryl gets to enjoy the ride, too. That definitely works.

Biker Quote for Today

A shot of espresso is worth another 100 miles.