Saturday, June 30, 2012

Five Day Time Lapse of the Waldo Canyon Fire

Thanks to Steve Moraco, who shot this five day time lapse video of the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs, CO.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fiery Sunset

Colorado's been in the national news of late, with two fires to the NW of the Denver Metro area and a large one near Colorado Springs.

I went nowhere near those locations, there's plenty of looky-lou's getting in the way as it is down near the fire locations.

Instead I just rode over to the nearby Aurora Racetrack and posed Valencia near her usual spot for sunset pictures.

Here's hoping the folks down by Boulder and Colorado Springs will soon only see red on the horizon because the sun is setting, not because of nearby fires!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

First Annual CZAR is a Success!

In motorcycling friendship of course! Also known as the First Annual CZAR or Colorado Zidecar Annual Rally, nine Ural Sidecar Rigs rode around the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) this past weekend and the rally itself was held near Grand Lake, CO.

We all met and lunched at the restaurant located at the Fall River Visitor Center and rode off as a nine rig strong formation into the RMNP. One thing I will say, everywhere we went, the Ural Sidecar Rigs proved quite the attention-getter!

Temperatures were quite warm for most of the areas that we rode in, though it was pleasantly cool up on top of Trail Ridge Road within the RMNP. Seven of the nine sidecar rigs met in Longmont at Tim L's home and we convoyed towards Estes Park to meet with the remaining two sidecar rig owners who were already camped out at near Grand Lake, CO.

The plan on Saturday was to tackle the dirt road that is Old Fall River Road. Steep inclines, sharp switchbacks, rocky gravel and dust were conditions we expected to overcome. Our main troubles were slow driving cars, ironically enough, causing our rigs to stop on inclines and forcing much feathering of clutches! Some rigs had to "take a break" a couple of times, to allow the clutch plates to cool.

Still, all nine rigs made it to the top of Fall River Road where the RMNP's Alpine Visitor Center is located and "there was much rejoicing". The road had proven tougher than experienced before by yours truly, I blame the slow car drivers who would block the road, to take pictures from inside their air-conditioned cars. Come on folks, give the people behind you a break....pull over and let them pass.

From the Alpine Visitor Center it was smooth pavement riding down towards the Winding River Resort where the rally's campsite was located. We set up our individual campsites and then later gathered at Steffen and his wife Jody's RV site where there was much eating, re-hydrating and happy conversations until late that night.

As a finishing event for the evening, Darrell had arranged with Ural for some rally giveaways. Riders wrote the name of their rig on a piece of paper, which was placed into a bag and Steffen's daughter Sophie drew out the winning names. Dave M got a reverse lever kit, Tim won a Ural tankbag, I managed to win a Ural flashlight and the remaining drivers won T-Shirts from the 70th Anniversary Ural Event!

The next day, Sunday, we regrouped in Grand Lake's Fat Cat Cafe for breakfast and some group pictures by the lake. From there, we re-entered the RMNP, but with only seven rigs this time as Steffen and Dave M's rigs were staying an extra day in Grand Lake.

The seven rigs took Trail Ridge Road to cross the RMNP, the nicely paved road provides several scenic stopping points for the park's visitors. We entered Estes Park, fueled up again and then headed south on CO Highway 7 towards CO Highway 72 and the town of Ward.

Ward was our entry point into the dirt roads which comprise the route we would spend most of the afternoon traversing. The main section of this ride was the twists and turns of The Switzerland Trail. This trail is an old narrow-gauge railroad roadbed between Gold Hill Road and Sugarloaf Roads to the west of Boulder, CO.

The hot temperatures, blazing sun, choking dust and extremely rocky conditions of the Switzerland Trail made life "interesting" at times but all our rigs did great taking on the challenging conditions. 

We didn't move as fast as the small dirt bikes that zoomed past us at times, but we made it! Kudos to Piper, Darrell S's wife, who's a new sidecar rig driver by the way....she took on Fall River Road, Trail Ridge Road and the Switzerland Trail with great aplomb and determination.

Once the seven rigs made it to Boulder via Sugarloaf Road, the group starting splitting apart as riders and rigs headed off towards their respective homes. I made it home shortly after 6:00PM, my rig Valencia having run great the entire time. 

Great first annual rally, looking forward to the next one (hopefully in cooler weather).
If you're a sidecar rig driver, join us next time, it doesn't have to be a Ural Rig or even have three wheels.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stewie's 500 Mile Service

One of the bennies of my current work is that I work from home most of the time, going in only when face-to-face meetings are necessary (which so far is quite rare).  So, as long as I have access to my laptop, power and wifi access to the Internet, I can do work.

Yesterday, between meetings, I rode Stewie.....Martha's Genuine Buddy 125 Scooter over to Sportique Scooters on Broadway Blvd for his 500 mile service.  I wanted the dealer to do the first service to get a good baseline hopefully and am planning on doing further services myself.  (Although, its actually not that expensive a process).

Martha had the time but not the inclination to brave heavy city traffic which must be challenged to get to the dealer so it fell to me.  Bummer.  ; )

Got to the dealer, handed over the keys and plopped myself down on the waiting area couch.  Logged onto the Internet using the dealer's wifi and worked for the next couple of hours while they serviced Stewie.

Of course, there were the occasional stretch breaks where I wandered about the dealership and admired their offerings:

 New scoots....interesting color schemes

 The scooter shop also sells Enfields

 These are out in "the yard".  Not sure if awaiting repair or 
that's where they store their "used" scooters for sale.

 The Stella Offerings

 A restoration candidate perhaps?

Right at the two hour mark, Stewie was ready.  Services done, no issues found.  All for less than $165.00.  A comparable service at the Beemer dealer would be closer to $400!  Methinks perhaps it's more cost-effective for me to have this dealer service Stewie than use up my time to do if only the BMW dealer was so cheap.  

Rode Stewie home with no issues, weather was cool and the sun was warm....perfect two-wheel riding day!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Evening Ride

Happy Father's Day to you out there who are fellow fathers.....

Quiet day for me, the morning was mostly consumed dealing with work matters as there's a major release going on with the software offerings at the company I am contracting at.

Lunch was sumptuous, thanks to my loving wife and the help of my sons who helped her prepare said lunch.  

I spent the afternoon hanging out with my boys, doing a repair chose with Miles and finishing that with a good session of an "antique" video game called "Doom".  Patrick hung out with us as we played, offering somewhat helpful remarks and kibitzing.

Went out after dinnertime, having waited for the sun to be somewhat lower in the sky and not blazing hot as it had been all day.  Temperatures read in the mid 90s and it felt like it when out in the sun!

I rode Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig and she did great.  I wandered about the prairie-bordered county roads to the Northeast of my home neighborhoods and happened upon this field of wheat which had yet to be harvested:

Amber waves of grain.....

Moseying on, not in a rush and no real traffic to speak off to push me along at or above the speed limits, I enjoyed passing farm lands and ranches, not a person out and about.  The breeze was picking up as the sun crept slowly towards the horizon, cooling me off nicely as I rode.

I ended up going through the small town of Watkins, then turning back West towards "the city".  As I cruised south on Gun Club Road, the sun was setting nicely against part of the front range mountains and I stopped Valencia on Jewell Avenue, next to the E-470 Slab for these shots:

Then it was homeward bound in the gathering darkness, the headlight beam on Valencia showing me the way.  Hope you got a ride in today.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back from D.C. Sunset Ride

We're back in the Great State of Colorado after a week in our nation's capital: Washington, D.C.  Yep, a whole week without riding a motorcycle, though I must admit, I was too tired at the end of each day to even think of riding!  Hot and muggy and crowded were the conditions mostly.  Still, the boys had wanted to go and I hope they got something out of it.

We got back shortly before Noon today, flying in from Grand Rapids, MI where we had a stopover in the flight from Ronald Reagan National Airport.  I had work to do and so I didn't get a real chance to go riding until sometime after 6:30 PM.

I rode Brigitta, my '87 Airhead Beemer R80.  She started right up and we were soon meandering about the neighborhoods near my home enjoying the cooling evening.  The setting sun was mostly masked by a big cloud formation to the west but there was a brief period where the clouds caused the sun to appear to shoot rays through the clouds:

 Shot near the Ireland Street Overpass, the sun was bathing
downtown Denver with warm rays of sunshine.

 The evening was also very clear of the usual haze and "brown cloud" that sometimes
hangs over Denver, permitting the above and below view of nearby mountains

It appears darker than it was, was shooting in "Sunset" mode.

After the above pictures, I rode around a bit more as I waited for the sunset to happen near 8:30PM.  I must have ridden perhaps two hours or so, just enjoying being able to cover distance without depending on mass transit or my tired feet!

Near sunset time, I spotted some nice looking cloud formations forming to the South and headed towards the Aurora Race Track and Reservoir hoping for some good angles.  The big cloud formation I'd mentioned before precluded any sunset silhouette pictures but it did paint the southern clouds interestingly:

At the Aurora Race Track, looking South.
The horse trailers in the background kind of ruined this shot but.....

Seeking a better angle on the above cloud formation, I left the race track and headed towards the entrance of the Aurora Reservoir.  I spotted a dirt track leading towards the entrance of the reservoir and positioned Brigitta thus:

I like this shot the best from this evening's ride.

My family and I are so glad to be back in Colorado.  The D.C. area is just too hot and humid and crowded for us.  Traffic was more horrendous than we remembered from our days of living there in Northern Virginia and I doubt the riders that I did see wearing gear were very comfortable.  Did I mention humid?  And, it's not even summer yet!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Pea-Sized Hail and Tornado Sirens

The boys were having a sleep-over at a friends house at a nearby apartment complex.  In fact, Miles, my youngest son was already there with his friend Aaron.

I took Patrick, my oldest son, over to join them; leaving the house around 6:45 PM or so.  There had just been a very brief shower (with very fat drops I now recall) and we'd waited till it slackened before taking off on Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig.

We got almost halfway there and then the heavens opened up and it started pouring rain and hailing pea-sized hail on top of us.  At first, it wasn't too bad or too heavy, the hail, but it got worse fast!

Soon we were both racing through the driving rain, hail bouncing off every part of us and the sidecar.  Poor Patrick just leaned forward and let the helmet he was wearing take most of the impacts.  The only place I felt the hail was in the upper chest area and on my hands, clad only in summer riding gloves!  That hail stung!

We made it to the apartment complex, its inner streets running heavily with water it was raining so hard.  I found the right apartment complex and quickly pulled into an open sheltered parking spot.  Patrick and I then waited out the worst of the rain and hail while in the meantime the neighborhood Tornado Sirens were wailing!

Probably not the best of times to go riding I think.

A shot of the rain and falling hail
We had pulled into one of the covered parking areas belonging
to some resident.

A radar picture of the storms at 7:00PM AFTER
they'd gone overhead as we rode along!
We were under the bottom-most group of red radar signatures.

As I write this, my county and several others are under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning (No Kidding) and two counties to the SE of us are under Tornado Warning.  Not quite the peaceful sunset we had yesterday, but then again, that's what weather in Colorado can be like!

As I finish this, that's what's overhead of us....apparently, it's orbiting
so we're going to get a good amount of rain I think.

If things start flooding, which they do when really heavy rain hits here, I may have to go riding again!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A Better Sunset Ride from Bennett

A long and busy day at work today, I was ready for a nice long ride after dinner!

I chose to head out on Quincy Road east and north towards the town of Bennett and it's large grain silos, thinking they'd make for a good photo subject.

There was a strong wind blowing in a north-westerly directly that kept trying to shove me and Valencia over the road's center line but it amounted to no major issues.  On two wheels though, I think the ride would have been more than interesting.

I arrived at Bennet, at the beginning of the "Golden Hour", that time of day when the sun casts everything in a very mellow yellow light.

 On Quincy Road, I liked the way the setting sun cast light on
the power lines, making them look like spider web lines.

The older and smaller of the grain silos in Bennett, CO

As the sun was sinking lower and lower into the horizon, I rode on back towards Quincy Road via CO79 and ended up just in time to pose Valencia in the empty parking lot of the Aurora Race Track which is located near the Aurora Reservoir.

You know how you shoot many pictures in the hopes one or two shots will come out OK and usable?  The motorcycling gods must have been smiling upon me and Valencia this evening because I had several very nice shots come out.  I've been, for several years now, been trying to get that perfect sunset silhouette shot of the motorcycle against the setting sun.

I give you Valencia, and a gorgeous Colorado Sunset:

 At the start of the shooting, my Panasonic Lumix in "Sunset" Mode

 A broader view of the sunset a few minutes later
Still in "sunset" mode with the camera.

 The above was shot in HDR "Art" mode
I retouched it a bit more as well

The sun has set and the after glow is still quite bright in the sky

Here's one of the earlier shots, heavily retouched
to get the burning sun effect.....

As I was riding away from the race track, the after glow effect of the sun light coming now from below the horizon served to continue the beautiful light show all the way home:

I hope you liked the sunset shots, for me it was quite the sunset ride.  I hope you got in a good ride today as well!

Monday, June 04, 2012

To Perry Park with Valencia

A lazy Sunday with no chores to get done, no oncall duties, just the day off to ride around on Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig.

This time I forewent the  dark clouds that were gathering over the Front Range Mountains and instead headed south through the town of Parker and towards Castle Rock via the Crowfoot Parkway.  CO105 was the objective road for today, a favorite of motorcycle riders, it didn't disappoint today with bright sunny skies overhead and very light traffic.

There was however some large bicycling event on the road, occupying large portions of the northbound lane on CO105 and causing us in the southbound lanes to slow down a bit.  This was fine by me as Ural owners are rarely in a hurry, by choice.

I turned off of CO105 onto Red Rock Road and into the Perry Park Country Club development.  I was going to introduce Valencia to the cool rock formations in Perry Park, the last time I was there, snow have covered the ground.  Today, not so much.

 The backside of Camel Rock

 Camel Rock

 Saint Andrew's "Drive"

At the corner of Red Rock Road and Perry Park Blvd

I wandered among the rock formations, trying the dirt trails up until the point where the road was too rough. Soon enough though, it was time to head out of Perry Park and head south towards Palmer Lake and the town of Monument.    From there, it was east on CO105 towards Parker Road which I took northbound.

A slow meandering loop ride, perhaps 130 miles at the most.  The weather was quite warm by the time I got home shortly before 3:00 PM and the air conditioning inside the house felt very good!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Stormy clouds for Yoshie

It was time for Yoshie, my 2006 Suzuki V-Strom/Dauntless Sidecar Rig to get some exercise this past Saturday.  No real destination in mind but having spotted gray clouds over the Front Range Mountains, we found ourselves headed their way.

Yoshie and I rode the southern half of the beltway that almost circles the Denver Metro Area, getting off at the Wadsworth Blvd exit so we could get onto Deer Creek Canyon to see what we could see.

What we saw was dozens and dozens of bicyclists riding up and down this canyon road, must have been some event that drew so many there.  I turned off and headed towards High Grade Road and Pleasant Valley Road, still not escaping the bicyclist and but at least there were fewer on these steeper mountain roads.

Soon enough we were in Conifer and we took CO73 towards Evergreen, still trying to get closer to the storm clouds.  We did get sprinkled on but it didn't last long now was it heavy enough to cause me to stop and put on rain gear.  It was here though that I found out my horn wasn't working, bummer.

Once I got to Evergreen, we rode on CO74 eastwards towards Bear Creek Canyon Rd in the vicinity of the town of Morrison.  Traffic was remarkably light for a weekend but I wasn't complaining.

The skies were solidly gray overhead but I was not having much luck finding suitable cloud formations to use as a backdrop, so I settled for some rock formation shots:

 A view of the curvy roads one can enjoy on Bear Creek Canyon Road
west of Morrison, CO

 I see this ring-like rock formation each time I cruise through 
Bear Creek Canyon, this time I stopped to get a picture of it for you.

It's not really an arch though it is similar to one....more like a couple of
rock columns joined at the top into an arch.

Since I was in the neighborhood, Yoshie and I turned into the Red Rocks Park to check out its rock formations in the gray light that pervaded the area.  The park was crowded with cagers, parked in spots which precluded good shots for me.  Still, managed to pose Yoshie in a couple of spots for you:

I left Red Rocks Park and entered Morrison via CO93, cruised on through and then connected with US285 to get back on the C-470 super slab and once again traverse the bottom half of the Denver Metro Area.  Merging onto the E-470 Tollway, it was pretty light traffic again after the usual chaos that is E-470 on a weekend.  I got off the Gartrell Road exit and saw some interesting cloud formations off to the west and north.

I was rained on twice while on the expressway, but neither event caused a lot of water and Yoshie and I outran the rain each time.

Stopping near the Cherokee Trail High School, I was able to get a shot of the cloud formations which had caught my eye, turning around, I saw that the storm clouds had followed me off the mountains and were almost overhead!

 Near the Cherokee Trail High School, north of Smoky Hill Road
That's the Aurora Reservoir in the distance.

Now heading towards home, I saw this gap in the storm clouds where the Front Range Mountain peaks were visible.  I made a quick stop near the weather radar "golf ball" on Smoky Hill and got the above and below shots:

There was plenty of lightning and thunder by now so I made a quick stop to fuel up and then headed on home.  I made it with plenty of time to spare before the little rain we got started coming down.  As I write this, the counties to the SE of us were getting "Severe Weather" alerts, with reports of winds gusting to almost 60 mph!    I guess the storm just blew right over us and decided to give the folks to the SE of us some grief instead.