Are You Still Being Stupid?

November 13th, 2017
motorcycles on top of the Beartooth

Yeah, we did things differently way back then.

Do you ever ride stoned? I mean, hey, we can talk about these things. Marijuana is legal in Colorado. (Riding stoned is not!!)

We used to, some of us in the OFMC. A long time ago. Boy, you better believe we don’t any more. And I really don’t think it’s so much because we realized that riding impaired is stupid. I think it happened because we just got to where we couldn’t imagine riding stoned. “I can’t ride–I’m freaking high!”

But we used to. At least John and I. John had this thing where we’d head out in the morning but stop pretty soon, usually both to “drain the unit” and so John could pull out his pipe. Bill didn’t generally partake, but would on the rare occasion.

And then we’d get back on the bikes and head off again. It was not a problem. We never had a crash or any other issues.

Then I remember one time we were headed up to Encampment, Wyoming, and were in the Snowy Range and stopped at an alpine lake. Friggs surprised us by pulling out some weed that he told us his ladyfriend had confiscated from her son. Of course we were happy to toke at the kid’s expense, but a short time later I realized that wow, I was really stoned. And I wasn’t exactly enthused to get back on the bike.

But I did and we went on and all was fine. For me, I think that was the point where smoking and riding didn’t seem like such a good idea any more. I can’t speak for John on where it hit him but I do know that nowadays he just doesn’t even consider riding stoned, either. (Of course, John just sold his bike, so he’s not riding at all now.)

So am I saying it’s really cool to get high and ride, and you should just ignore all the “Ride Sober” warnings you see? Heck no, riding high is stupid. I know that now. Just like I know now that riding without a helmet is stupid, but I used to do that. Used to ride without eye protection. Just how stupid can you get?

I see this as proof that society does make progress. Or at least it can at times. I’m not anything close to the only one who used to do all these things. People learn. People change. Public attitudes change. It’s really not appropriate to judge ideas from an era long ago on the basis of current thinking, although a lot of people do. That doesn’t mean some of these ideas were any less wrong then than they are now, but they were prevalent and accepted. We’ve gotten smarter. Now they’re not accepted. But they were then.

Is there a point I’m making here? I had to ask myself that question. Maybe this: You had an excuse before; maybe not a good one but an excuse nonetheless. You don’t have any excuse now. Get with the century. Welcome to this century.

Biker Quote for Today

Bikers don’t go gray, we turn chrome.

Letting It Rip On Track Day

November 9th, 2017
Do yourself a favor and do a track day.

Do yourself a favor and do a track day.

Have you ever wished you could get out on your motorcycle and just let her rip? No worry about speeding tickets. No worry about hitting that pocket of gravel as you carve that turn. No worry about that idiot cager who’s just about to pull out in front of you at the intersection.

That’s why God invented race tracks.

The really cool thing is that race tracks are not just for the pros. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of days when race tracks sit idle and you’d better believe the people running them welcome additional users. The perfect scenario is for your riding club to hire the track for a day, bring in a couple riding instructors to give pointers and offer critique, and then each of you pay your share of the cost to go ride the track for a day. Alternatively, sometimes the tracks themselves set it up and provide the instructors. Then all you have to do is sign up and pay.

The Concours Owners Group that I have intermittently belonged to organized a track day at one point and I jumped at the chance. The day was set up in segments, alternating classroom instruction and parking lot practice with track time. They divided us up into three groups based on skill level. I knew I wasn’t in the top tier but I sure didn’t want to think of myself as bottom tier, so I went for the middle. My thinking seemed to predominate, so there were more than could be accommodated in the middle, but I was not one of the ones forced to join the lower group.

My group started in the classroom, and in many ways it was very much like the Experienced Rider Course (ERC) sanctioned by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, just omitting the portions on looking out for other traffic. They talked about braking before entering the turn, late apexing, where you go deep into the turn before initiating a sharp turn, and other such techniques.

Then we moved out into the parking lot. We practiced swerving, turning our heads to look as far into the curve as possible, standing the bike up before braking, and modulating braking to achieve maximum stopping power without skidding. Then it was time for the track. Hot dang!

As each group took to the track, the instructors also mounted up and rode with us. Singling out each rider individually, at times they would ride behind and observe your technique, and at other times they might pull ahead and motion for you to follow them as they demonstrated what you should do.

It turned out you really couldn’t blast your way down the track at warp speed because the straightaway was not long enough to reach that speed before you needed to start backing off. And no, there were no worries of gravel in the curves but there was one spot coming into a curve where an asphalt patch was much softer than the area around it and, of course, target fixation lead me to hit that spot consistently. One of those times my rear wheel would have slid out from under me in a low-side get-off but I planted my left foot well enough to recover and stay up.

I also found that my riding ego was a bit puffed up. While I had not wanted to be relegated to the low-skill group, I was the slowest rider in the middle group. Everyone else kept passing me, and I never passed anyone. Time for a little humility.

After lunch we repeated the circuit, with the added input of the instructors’ critique of our earlier riding. We each now had a better understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, and what we needed to work on. But the track day is only a beginning. Techniques do not become skills unless you continue to practice them. I have, and I believe I’m a better rider because of it, but nothing beats a refresher course once in a while.

Biker Quote for Today

This is a motorcycle rock. Throw the rock into the air. If it hits the ground, go ride.

Link for Today

Heading to Australia? Check out Procycles.

Riders Who Don’t Ride Any More

November 6th, 2017

We don’t stop riding because we get old, we get old because we stop riding.

I’ve heard that line for years but now I’m starting to question it. People I know are no longer riding and while age is not the reason in and of itself, the more specific reasons are directly related to age.

John with his bikeJohn is the perfect example. John had a Cushman scooter when he was a kid but then went years without a bike. Later, when he bought a 750cc Virago he opened the door for a lot. First he took me riding on behind and then before long I bought my own bike, my CB750 Custom. Then Bill got a Shadow and the OFMC was born.

That was a long time ago. Well, John has hung up his spurs. More specifically, he sold the Harley. He’s done riding.

John’s decision is based on health. He has started suffering from esophageal cramps, which basically render him almost comatose. He got hit by one while riding on this year’s OFMC trip. Scary situation. On top of that, he is suffering macular degeneration, which is causing him to lose the vision in the center of his eyes. He sees around the edges but when he looks directly at something it disappears.

This is very sad, and the OFMC will not be the same. This might be John’s motto: When I was younger I was afraid I’d die riding. Now that I’m old and falling apart, I’m afraid I won’t.

Dan with Iron Butt medallionThen there’s Dan. With Dan it was more direct–he suffered a stroke. More than a year later he’s still struggling to perform everyday functions; riding a motorcycle is out of the question, and the bike was sold long ago.

Mind you, this is a guy who used to routinely ride more than 30,000 miles every year. Dan had a decal on his bike that showed a map of the 48 states with the label, “My riding area.” He meant it. But now he doesn’t ride. So very sad, and so unfair. He had seemed to be in great health until one day he wasn’t.

This might have been Dan’s motto: Young riders pick a destination and go. Old riders pick a direction and go.

I know a bunch of other guys who used to ride but don’t any more but for them it was a decision; in some cases the dad decision, as in “I have a child and he needs a father–I’m giving up the bike.” Maybe in later years they will be back.

What this has meant for the OFMC is that this year there were only 6 riders on the trip. Not long ago we had had 10-11.

So don’t take it for granted. Get out there and ride every chance you get. And I’m going to take seriously the motto Roy told us he has subscribed to all his life. Roy just turned 86 but he’s as spry and active as someone 40 years younger. Here’s his take on life: Does as much as you can for as long as you can.

Yeah, what he said.

Biker Quote for Today

Hop on your steel horse and go find your soul in the wind.

Examiner Resurrection: Sidecar Racing: High-Speed Ballet

November 2nd, 2017
sidecar racers prep

Wade Boyd and Christine Blunck gear up to race their #6 Formula 2 sidecar.

Money and horsepower do not produce winners in sidecar racing. It takes teamwork, and a good team can make a poor machine very, very fast.

So say the folks who ought to know, the sidecar racers I spoke with (and rode with!) at last weekend’s Bonneville Vintage GP and Concours.

Wade Boyd and Christine Blunck are the points leaders for both driver and passenger as this racing season nears its end, and they were the ones I chanced to strike up conversation with as I sought to learn more about this sport. I also spoke with Rick Murray, the outgoing president of the Sidecar Racers Association-West.

Wade got into sidecar racing unexpectedly when he showed up at the Isle of Man TT one year expecting to race in three events. Finding that he had been shut out of two events, “I told my girlfriend to find me a sidecar.” He had never ridden a sidecar before but she found a driver in need of a passenger and he agreed to take Wade.

“I had a dynamite time, and then for four years it was like I had my thumb out. I’d go without having anything set and I’d find someone who needed a rider. Then I got to drive . . .”

Christine’s first involvement with racing was as an umbrella girl at various races, but she had a friend who ran a motorcycle shop, and who said of sidecar racing, “We could do that.”

That’s often how it happens, says Rick. “Quite often you have two friends or relatives who want to race together. We have many husband/wife, father/son, sister/sister teams. We have a fairly high percentage of women in the sport.”

Wade concurs, saying “Where else do you get to take a buddy for a ride?”

Wade is a steel fabricator by trade and he built his own rig for the most part, although “Mr. Bill” Becker of Becker Motor Works helped him out putting the motor in and with some of the other big stuff. Mr. Bill is known by all U.S. sidecar racers because he helps nearly all of them keep their rigs running.

That sort of helpfulness is characteristic of sidecar racing. “We’re competitive but friendly,” says Wade. “We want you out there and I want to pass you fair and square.”

It’s all about teamwork
The key to running a fast race is the teamwork. Each team pre-rides the track and then maps out their strategy for each turn on the course. On most turns the passenger will hang their weight out to enable fast turns without the third wheel rising off the pavement, or floating. That loss of traction cuts speed. However, in some instances, “letting the chair float” allows the rig to cut the corner sharper in order to get up speed in a hurry for the straightaway.

The passenger needs to know his or her position on each turn and the driver needs to be aware of the passenger’s location. On occasion the driver will look back but usually, “I feel her, the ESP is strong,” says Wade.

The passenger also needs to make their moves smoothly and gracefully. Harsh, forceful moves from one position to another will negatively affect the handling of the rig. Wade calls this coordinated, smooth movement “high-speed ballet.”

Despite the seemingly dangerous risks the passengers take, leaning far out of the rig just inches above the ground, sidecar racing in the U.S. is actually very safe. By comparison, Wade says, at the Isle of Man TT “they put a bale of hay in front of a telephone pole. After doing the TT, this (the track at Miller Motorsports Park) is easy. We rarely touch, but if you do touch you’re probably going to spin out, and if you spin out the passenger can get launched.”

According to Rick, the last sidecar racing fatality in the U.S. occurred in the 1980s, and there have been only three fatalities since the 1960s.

Passengers do sometimes get “spit off.” Christine’s most memorable such occasion came in Ramsey, on the Isle of Man when her driver clipped a curb in an S-curve. “It spit me off and I flipped through the air and landed upright on my feet in some gentleman’s front yard. I said ‘Hi’ and introduced myself.” She adds that there are times when the passenger wishes he or she was a monkey, and had that tail as a fifth hand to hang on with.

Sidecar racing is an inexpensive way to race, Rick notes, because you split the cost two ways. Plus, using wide, slick tires, as modern sidecars do, the costs are low because a set of tires will last one to two years. And most racers run stock engines so reliability is very high.

Still, there aren’t that many sidecar racers in the U.S., and they’d love to see that change. That’s one reason Rick and others love to offer “taxi rides” to spectators when they can. These taxi rides let non-racers suit up and take two laps around the track with an experienced driver at the controls.

“I tell people you’ll love it or hate it,” says Rick. “I’ve never seen anybody go half way. They’re either ‘Get me off’ or ‘Where can I buy one?'”

And if you do love it, says Rick, “You can spend $4,000 to $5,000 and have something to have fun with.”

Biker Quote for Today

Sometimes your knight in shining armor turns out to be a biker in dirty leathers.

Biker Buddy Latest Sharing App For Bikers

October 30th, 2017
Biker Buddy website.

The Biker Buddy website.

Everyone is familiar with AirBnB, right? Well, how about something very similar aimed specifically at those of us who ride motorcycles? That’s Biker Buddy. And let me hasten to point out that the URL for this outfit is not “.com” but “.co.” (And just in case I need to be even clearer, that second period between the quote marks is not part of the quote or url, it is the end of the sentence. That’s the way we do it in the U.S., although the Brits put that period outside the quotes.)

I have written many times about the Motorcycle Travel Network and yes, Biker Buddy appears to be a direct competitor for them. The MTN is more casual and you pay less to stay with someone; Biker Buddy handles it all–including payment–via an app and the rate is higher. Specifically, for MTN you pay the host $15 for one person or $20 for two, with each additional person an added $10. With Biker Buddy the fee is $40. And that $40 is a fee, whereas with MTN the $15 or $20 is considered a gratuity to cover expenses.

Technically what that would mean is that if you had a lot of guests via Biker Buddy you would need to deal with the IRS. Presumably the MTN gratuity would not be taxable, although the IRS might differ with that interpretation.

Biker Buddy is so new that I certainly don’t have any experience to relate about it, though I have signed up. Looking at the app, so far I only see a few others signed up in this region, all in Wyoming: three in Casper, one in Newcastle, and two in Upton. Then I see one up in Dickinson, North Dakota, as well. Members also in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas; near Austin, Texas; and near Nashville, Tennessee. That appears to be everybody at this moment.

So what we’re talking here is another way to find an inexpensive place to stay when you’re on the road, with people who share an interest in bikes. We have never had a bad experience with the Motorcycle Travel Network. If you’ve ever used AirBnB you should definitely jump on Biker Buddy. But heck, you really should have been using MTN for years already. I’m going with both.

Biker Quote for Today

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know when to just go riding.

Gerhard Was Our Latest MTN Visitor

October 26th, 2017
Motorcycle Travel Network site.

I neglected to shoot a photo of Gerhard and his bike so I’m using this screenshot of the MTN site.

As I mentioned previously, we had another Motorcycle Travel Network visitor a couple days ago, Gerhard from Illinois. Once again we enjoyed meeting a fellow biker and were happy to have him stay with us.

Gerhard, who is 83 years old, is a serious rider. I’m not sure how many miles he has put on his bikes at this point but he told the story of renewing his driving license eight years ago. In Illinois you have to take and pass the riding portion of the motorcycle validation test. On his big BMW cruiser he was not able to navigate the cones and was afraid he would lose his accreditation. The tester, however, told him privately that he noticed his “400,000 miles” sticker on his bike and figured that if he has ridden 400,000 miles on a motorcycle and is still alive then he was not going to deny him a renewal on his license.

So that was eight years ago; I don’t know how many miles he has added since then.

It was interesting, too, because I know just what Gerhard was facing. When I first got my motorcycle accreditation on my driver’s license I had no choice but to take the test on my Honda 750. That’s a big bike to take the driving test on. I failed it the first time but passed it the second time by intuitively revving the engine, dragging the rear brake, and working the clutch to walk the bike slowly and deliberately around the cones.

I told Gerhard about this and said he could easily do the same and he surprised me saying that yes, I could do it because I’m an expert, but he is not an expert. He has ridden probably more than 500,000 miles on a motorcycles and he does not consider himself an expert? Really?

But then I think about the guys I ride with and I understand what he’s saying. Dennis is the one in our group who has ridden more than anyone. And yet I’ve seen in numerous instances a demonstration that Dennis does not understand this same simple procedure for controlling the bike at very slow speeds. I gave a demonstration once riding my bike in a U-turn on a narrow road and then watched as each of the other guys jockeyed their bikes back and forth making a series of Y’s to get turned around. Guys, did you not see what I just did? You really can do it if you try.

So Gerhard is no “expert” rider. Well, he certainly is a distance rider. He came here from Kanab, Utah, in one day–600 miles. And he left the next day headed for Lincoln, Nebraska. That’s a shorter distance, and one that I myself have ridden in a day a couple times, but still what I consider a long way. I’ve never ridden 600 miles in a day. And then Gerhard was planning to ride the rest of the way home, to Illinois the next day.

And remember, he’s 83. Good for you Gerhard, keep going as long as you can. I hope to do the same.

Biker Quote for Today

Imagine life without motorcycles. Now slap yourself and never do it again!

Getting My Fix

October 23rd, 2017
motorcycle above lake

A rest stop on the OFMC’s first California trip.

When you’re seriously addicted to cruising on two wheels you’ll go to extremes to get your fix. I know I did when a company I once worked for sent me to Sacramento for a month. This was going to be an opportunity to ride some fabulous roads in a place too far from home for us to reach on our usual summer trips. How could I possibly spend a month in California and not have a bike to ride? I couldn’t.

My first thought was to ride my Honda from Denver to Sacramento so I would have it there. Instead, I took a simpler approach: I flew to Sacramento and bought a bike when I got there.

I arrived in Sacramento, picked up a rental car, checked into my hotel, and went to work the next day. As soon as work was over I drove to PCP Motorsports and asked to speak to the manager. Don “Badge” Bajurin, one of the owners, came out. “I’m going to be here for four weeks,” I told him, “and I’ve got to have a bike. Can we set something up where I’ll buy one of your used bikes and then you agree to buy it back from me, at a lower price, when I’m ready to leave?”

The thing about motorcycle dealers like Badge is they generally love bikes as much as or more than their customers. With the very clear understanding that if I crashed the bike the repurchase deal was off, he agreed. I seem to have gotten lucky, too, because Badge told me no other dealer in town would have made that kind of deal. But he was friends with Fay Myers, who runs a dealership in Denver, and he loves to go ride in Colorado on a bike provided by Myers. He understood the reverse was true for me. And I had a bike, a 1984 Honda Nighthawk 550.

False Start
I waited impatiently for the weekend and come Saturday morning I was rarin’ to go. But the bike wasn’t. Being in an unfamiliar place, with my bike parked in the open, I had taken a security measure I normally do not: I had locked the fork. The only problem was, in my unfamiliarity with this procedure, I had set it in a position where the fork was locked but the headlight was also on. Of course the battery was dead when I tried to start it.

I didn’t know that was the problem, though, so I called Badge. He sent a truck over to pick up the bike and they took it to the shop, checked it out, and charged the battery. Then they hauled it back to me, and they did this all at no charge. Nice guys!

And then I took off. With the late start I just blasted down through the Napa Valley on my way to Oakland, where I had friends and would spend the night. We went riding in the hills behind Oakland the next day and then it was back to Sacramento.

The following weekend I had to work on Saturday so that only left me Sunday. Being chronically overambitious, I figured I’d just take a quick cruise down through Yosemite National Park. That turned out to be one heck of a long day, much longer than I had anticipated, but a lot of fun just the same.

Saving the Best for Last
The best came last. On my third and final weekend I had two days and I took advantage of them. I headed west through Davis, up a canyon to Lake Berryessa. I stopped in the canyon and saw a huge blue heron take flight. I then looped around the southern end of the lake, on nice twisty roads, down into Napa Valley. I stopped at a couple wineries and then headed for the coast.

Through incredible good luck, I cut over on what proved to be a narrow, winding, often one-lane road through dense forest, along sheer hillsides, up and down, with curves galore. Following this Skaggs Springs Road I finally reached the ocean at Stewart’s Point, where I headed south along the coast on the fabled Highway 1. My stop for the night was Bodega Bay, where Alfred Hitchcock filmed “The Birds.”

In the morning I continued south to Point Reyes Station and then cut inland. From the coast to the Sonoma Valley to the Napa Valley to the Sacramento Valley it was one narrow, twisting road after another where my little 550 Nighthawk could really shine. What an absolutely glorious time!

Then it was time to sell the bike back to Badge and head home to Denver. This addict had gotten the fix of his lifetime.

Biker Quote for Today

We know you’re a poser if you’re too cool to wave at the kids in the mom-mobile in front of you.

Motorcycle Travel Network Brings More Good Guests

October 19th, 2017
motorcyclists taking off gear

John and Cindy on their arrival.

In this era of AirBnB it may not seem as odd as it once did to open your home to total strangers, but that is what the Motorcycle Travel Network (MTN) has been about since long before AirBnB ever existed. We have belonged to MTN for years and have been hosts and guests numerous times. We had a chance to be hosts again last week, and as always, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

John and Cindy are from Pennsylvania and they had been on the road on their new 1600cc Beemer for a month, mostly out in Utah. Being from the east, they had never spent time in Utah and were thrilled with the beauty of what they encountered. Of course, those of us who live out west are fully aware of what Utah has to offer. One of the beauties of MTN is that if we were to go to Pennsylvania, I fully expect John and Cindy could direct us to some places we are just as unfamiliar with.

It was a spur of the moment thing. I opened my email that morning and there was a note from them, from Grand Junction, asking if we could host them that night. I quickly checked with Judy, who assented, and I emailed back that we would be happy to have them. They called a few minutes later to ask if we had any route recommendations.

Mind you, this was just after our snowstorm last week so I may have done them a disservice. I mentioned the storm and suggested they just stick to I-70, that they might find Vail Pass covered in snow and ice, which would be bad enough. As it turned out, Vail Pass was totally clear with 60-degree temps. Maybe I should have suggested Loveland Pass. But I have no idea if it was clear then or not.

They arrived and turned out to be really nice folks. You always kind of wonder before you meet someone but we have never had a guest we wished we had not met, and many have been people we would love to see again. Maybe it’s just that the kind of person willing to stay with a total stranger is just going to be on the same wavelength of the person who is willing to open their home to a total stranger. Of course, you always know right from the start that you are going to have motorcycles in common.

As it turned out, we had much more in common with John and Cindy than just motorcycles. And this has been their experience in the group as well. John told us about several good friends of their who they have ridden with many times who they met through MTN. I guess it’s just a good bunch of people.

So come morning we decided to ride with them a ways. They were going to be heading east but staying south to avoid colder weather so we led them out Parker Road down to Franktown and then east on CO 86 to Kiowa. There we said our good-byes and turned north on the Kiowa-Bennett road and looped back home while they continued east.

And you know what? We have another MTN guest coming next week. Oh, boy! This is fun.

Biker Quote for Today

Nobody gives you freedom. If you’re a biker, you take it.

Riding In The Waning Days Of Summer

October 16th, 2017
motorcycle in the mountains

Summer is waning and there won’t be many more rides like this this year.

I was heading up Clear Creek Canyon when it started to rain. It was at that moment that it occurred to me that my rain suit was in the bag on the Honda. I was on the Concours. Not going to do me any good now.

No matter, it never rained hard. In fact, it was pretty cool. They were tiny drops and so rather than plummeting to earth they danced on the breeze, hanging semi-suspended. With backlighting from the sun, each individual drop was visible and scattered color around in a zillion mini-rainbows. I had my visor slightly cracked and so the moisture was coming in and wetting me around my mouth, which was also pleasant. Felt good.

It wasn’t long, though, before I was reminded that my number one job at the moment was riding the bike. A sharp curve brought that focus back very abruptly. Oh yeah, first things first.

As I climbed through the canyon I paid attention to the steep rock walls. Many years ago I became jaded, having been through this particular canyon so often that I lost all sense of its beauty. That appreciation has come back to me, however, and with the weather as it was it was particularly beautiful that day.

All along the road there were cars pulled over and people hiking and climbing and generally enjoying the day in the canyon. My focus was spread wide to take it all in. Then I passed into Tunnel 2 and was struck with the abrupt constricting of my focus–the literal reality of tunnel vision. No wide-ranging view, just the road ahead of me. I don’t recall it ever striking me with that force before.

Gaining in elevation as I was, it was getting cooler. This was the first time this fall I have used the electric vest and I was glad to have it on. And this was just a harbinger of the ride I took up Guanella Pass a couple days later. Summer is over. Pretty soon, chilly days like this are going to seem balmy and demand that I ride. Right now I’m just trying to take advantage whenever I can.

Later as I was headed home it occurred to me that I would be just in time to stop and have dinner with the RMMRC. Only one more big ride left this year and the next few meetings will be focused on rides for next year. I had planned to go on a bunch of them this year but family matters conflicted and those rides mostly didn’t happen.

The year is coming to a close and now my sights are on the future. I’m looking forward to a good 2018.

Biker Quote for Today

All I care about is riding . . . and like maybe three people and beer.

Last Ride In The Hills This Year?

October 12th, 2017
motorcycle in the mountains

A beautiful day on the pass, even if I was too late for fall colors.

Sunday was warm and sunny, and you could still ride up onto Guanella Pass. I know, because I did. By Monday, not true. This may have been my last ride in the mountains in 2017.

I had been wanting to get up in the hills to enjoy some of the fall color but with my Mom ill I had been in South Carolina for awhile. Then I got back and we had almost two solid weeks of overcast and rain–not at all like typical Colorado weather. Finally the sun came out but other demands kept delaying me, until I realized it was Sunday or not at all. I geared up and headed out.

Not that I really geared up sufficiently. Heading out of town across Hampden/U.S. 285 I was already getting chilly but I did have my electric vest on so I flipped it to on. I was wearing long underwear and had multiple layers on top, but only my least warm gloves. And I had intended to wear my leather chaps but forgot them as I got ready.

No matter, the vest really did the job. With it pumping out heat, everything else abated.

My intention was just to run up Guanella Pass from the Georgetown side and then back the same way. I had other things I needed to do at home and going down to Grant and home on 285 would have taken a lot longer. But I began reconsidering as I saw all the traffic streaming down on I-70 and realized it was the dreaded Sunday afternoon. Maybe I better rethink this.

Off I-70 at Georgetown and starting up the pass. I didn’t really know for sure if the road was clear or if maybe it had ice on it at places. Turns out it was completely free of that kind of slippery stuff but in all — and I mean all — of the switchbacks there was plentiful gravel, obviously spread there to improve traction–for cars, not motorcycles. Take it slow; not a problem.

The V-Strom is a fun bike to ride on twisting mountain roads. It is (relatively) light and agile and every time I got clear of traffic in front of me I was able to whip it (except on the switchbacks). This is what makes riding in the mountains so fun. There were very strong winds in just a few spots but not for the most part. What caused those isolated blasts? Heck if I know.

So before I even got to Georgetown I knew I was too late for any color up on the pass, but there was snow alongside the road and on the hills, so that was a different kind of beauty. And the top of the pass is particularly scenic, as you can see to an extent in that photo above. Still worth the trip, especially if the real purpose of the trip was just to go for a ride.

I did decide to go back the way I came and then I was surprised to find that the dreaded Sunday afternoon traffic was absent. Maybe because Monday was Columbus Day and a holiday for some, and/or maybe because it is mud season, where it is too early to ski but too late to camp or do so many other summertime mountain activities. Whatever the reason, I blasted back down into town rarely going slower than 65. Often a good bit faster.

All in all, a nice day on the bike.

Biker Quote for Today

Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning to ride in the rain.