Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sunday Ride From Denver To Sedalia

This was a short fun ride. I met up with my brother-in-law, Chris, at about the half way point. He lives in Idaho Springs and I live in Colorado Springs so we met at the mother-in-law's place in Littleton. It was sunny and clear when I left at about 8:00 in the morning so I took my Joe Rocket mesh jacket and left the rain suit at home. Of course this being Colorado, I would eventually end up wet (but just a little). We took off toward Deer Creek Canyon at the end of Kipling Blvd. There were several bicyclist's going up through the canyon, I'm not sure if this was a normal thing or if they were having an organized bike event. Colorado is a big bicycle state and the canyon seemed to be popular with bikes as well as sport bikes. As soon as we headed up the road several sport bike riders gave us the slow down sign. Cops ahead. Sure enough as we rounded a lovely tight corner there was "the Man" with a radar gun pointed right at us. Chris was in the lead and had the good sense to stick to the speed limit. Apparently the road is such a popular place for sport bikes it's a prime spot for Johnny Law too, we passed about three speed traps in less than four miles of road. While I don't advocate breaking the law or excessive speeding I do think that the speed limit in that canyon is set way to low to test even a beginner's skill. Before we even got through the end of the canyon I was promising myself I would be back on a week day when it's not so busy. We passed a lot of frustrated CBR, Ninja and Ducati riders.

Eventually we popped out on 285 and headed south toward Pine Junction. From here we headed down County Road 126 towards Deckers, site of my last ride. This time we were headed in the opposite direction. This road was less crowded and less heavily patrolled by the Police. We were still keeping the speeds reasonable. Chris just got a new Aprillia RSV and was getting use to the feel of it. CR 126 is a beautiful stretch of sweeping curves, long down hills and beautiful views. As you would expect, we passed whole buffalo herds of bikes, everything from more Ducatis and Ninjas to Harleys and Goldwings and several BMW dual sports. I like riding on the weekends for the feeling of community you get.

We made our way to Deckers and stopped for a few photos then headed for that stretch of dirt road that connects CR 67 to Sprucewood. It's a short four miles on decent graded road, treated with manganese to keep the dust down. Waiting for us on the other end was a decent meal at the Sprucewood Inn. It's a little hole in the wall diner catering to the trail riders that pass by on a popular dirt trail that runs right in front of the inn. There were several dusty families with satisfied looks on their faces coming and going for some pretty decent mexican food.

By the time we ate the clouds had rolled in and we took off a little faster. We got to Sedalia and split, Chris for Denver and me for home. As I topped Monument Pass I got a little rained on but had such a good ride I didn't mind. It's nice to have someone to ride with. I like to ride alone most of the time but it's always good to have someone that can share in the experience of a great ride.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Huh?!? Whu?!?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a typically incoherent statement suggested people sell off their motorcycles to help pay for food for their children. A better idea, especially in sunny California would be to sell their cars. The LA Times article is here. And a response letter to the Governor with some well thought out opinions is posted at the Iron Works blog, here. I, for one, am tired of hearing every stupid politician's opinion on how we should live our lives and this is just one more example.

4:34 PM | May 26, 2009

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been talking a lot about how the state’s leaders need to live just like ordinary citizens do: within their means. To that end, he has proposed addressing billions of dollars in projected deficits by selling off state landmarks, cutting off healthcare to children and adults, closing parks and more.

But the movie star turned governor clearly isn’t one of the ordinary Californians he is talking about. Before giving a speech about the budget crisis in Sacramento this morning to small business leaders, he took a few seconds to banter with an audience member about making a deal to buy some new motorcycles.

“And so I heard even there is someone out there that is from a Harley-Davidson shop in Orange County. Who is that? It's you? OK, I'm going to come to your table very soon after my speech and we'll make a deal to buy an extra few hogs, because I love motorcycles and I ride them every Sunday, OK? So it's good to have you here.”

Later in his speech, Schwarzenegger spoke of the people in the state who, unlike him, are unable to afford the motorcycles they already have.

“This is something that businesses have to do and individuals have to do in California. When they are in financial trouble they have to sell off their motorcycle or their boat, because they know that it doesn't make any sense to have a boat at the dock when you can't feed your family.… And that's exactly what California has to do and this is why we are having on the block today for sale San Quentin, Cal Expo, the Coliseum and the list goes on and on and on.”

-- Michael Rothfeld

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Colorado Springs>Trumbull>Castle Rock

Had a great ride today that thanks to Google Maps turned into a bigger adventure than expected. I mapped out a 123 mile circle from Colorado Springs to Trumbull Colorado on Colorado Route 67 and on to Castle Rock. The plan was to jump on I-25 for the last leg of the journey.

Everything started out innocently enough, the ride through town to CR24 was routine. The weather was 62 degrees and perfect. The stretch from Manitou Springs to Woodland Park was the usual, a twisty spot allows me to escape the pack of cars that always coagulates half way up the mountain. I started getting excited once I hit CR67, new untravelled road, my favorite kind. The first sign out of town placed Deckers 23 miles up the road. I remembered from the map (which I forgot at home) that was the area I was headed. The first part of this stretch was pretty high speed and straight with a few long sweepers and light traffic. There were just a few cars to pass and plenty of places to do it. After a while the curves started to tighten up and it really got fun. Most of the road was down hill so I got the speed up a few times and the corners really got my heart thumping. People always compare that kind of ride to a roller coaster but I've never been that thrilled on coaster.

I got into Deckers, a small fishing spot on the left of the road and a coffee shop, liquor store and bait shop on the right. I pulled in for a bottle of water and ended up getting a hot dog too. While I was sitting outside an older gentleman pulled up on a pristine '79 BMW R65. We talked for a little while and he gave me some advice about the route. If I had gone the way I told him I was headed it would have been more accurate advice. He was justifiably proud of the bike, it had one previous owner and a mere 35,000 miles on the odometer when he bought it. It was garaged and well tended to and had quite a few miles more on it by now. After sharing the remains of my hot dog with the neighborhood dog I was off.

Deckers is actually at the crossroads of where I should have turned. I decided to follow Goggle not the directions of the motorcyclist obviously familiar with the area. This led me across some more great twisty road but also to Platte River Road. For the next 17 miles I was making my way down a very twisty, very dusty dirt road. Fortunately it was a well maintained dirt road, one that I had been down a few years ago when my wife and I were looking for ghost towns. The bike actually handled the washboards better than her Tacoma. The ride was scenic as all get out and I stopped and took several photos. I eventually ran past this creepy old abandoned hotel Lisa had taken me to before. I finally came out on paved road. It turned out to be the road I would have taken if I had followed the local's directions back at Deckers. The road sign said Deckers was ten miles, I had gone about 25 extra miles, 17 of them on dirt. I guess there are two ways to look at it, I had to go 25 extra miles or I got to go 25 extra miles. Anyway, after getting the bike up to speed and just getting back in the groove, I came to my next turn - back onto gravel! This was an interesting road with some steep inclines and narrow stretches hanging on the side of the hills. It struck me as a logging road almost, albeit nicely maintained. I passed a few SUVs and received a few curious glances as well.
This stretch of dirt turned out to be a mere four miles and I popped back out on CR67 and headed north to Sedalia. This section was another cork screw dream come true. It felt good to be leaning at extreme angles on smooth pavement again. I took a right at CR150 and there the tale basically ends. I rode into Castle Rock and got an angry stare from some short little guy on a big custom (apparently because I had the audacity to be in the lane next to him during a red light). But that was about it. I-25 was I-25 but by this time I didn't care, I was tired and thirsty.
All in all this was an exceptional ride. I couldn't help but notice while going down the dirt road how I was in a state of zen (not to overuse that term). After a while my speed started to pick up and I started to learn something new about the bike I've been riding for the past seven years. And here I thought I knew it inside and out. I also learned a little something about my own abilities. I surprised myself by not turning around from the unknown. This ride gets a ten out of ten. The ride was a total of 168 miles when it was all said and done.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Daily Commute

Now that stricter CAFE standards have been introduced my motorcycle is more important to me than ever.  I've long bragged about the muscle car performance with two-thirds the price tag I get with my two bikes.  Mine aren't even two of the hottest performers although the Vmax had his day in the sun.  Now with the hope of buying myself a 2009 Dodge Challenger quickly fading in the rearview mirror I'm really learning to love my bikes.

Since I got the tire repaired last month, I've ridden to work every day but two, which had nothing to do with weather (I'm a rain or shine kinda guy).  My only regret is that the commute isn't a little longer, I'm just starting to get my groove by the time I'm pulling in to the parking lot.  My fellow commuters can present quite a challenge sometimes.  I know people say this to the point of cliché but I think people really are becoming worse drivers.  I don't notice a lot of people on the cell phone these days, maybe that message is finally sinking in.  But despite that one blessing, I see more and more drivers running red lights making left hand turns across traffic, tailgating, not yielding and just more road raging in general.  I may have mentioned it before but I've always enjoyed that element of motorcycle riding to a certain sick degree.  I liken it to a video game.  I enjoy looking in the minivan two cars ahead of me to read what the diver is going to do.  I watch the rearview to keep an eye on the twenty something girl weaving from one lane and back to speed past everyone else.  I always try to remember where she is and calculate where she'll be.

I really believe as I get lazier and lazier in my other pursuits, this is the one thing that keeps my mind active.  It's also the thing that clears my mind for the coming day on the way to work, and brings me down from a stressful day on the way home.  Really if I were to think about it (which obviously I am) I would say that riding is the most important thing I do for my mental health and the reason I have 120/80 blood pressure.  I used to have a t-shirt that said "You never see a motorcycle parked outside a psychiatrist's office".  Truer worlds were never silk-screened.