Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Vintage Colorado Motorcycling

Regular readers know, I am fond of the "Then and Now" motif for blog postings, depicting scenes/buildings from over a century ago and showing how they look today.  My main source of historical photos has been the great archive run by the Denver Public Library.

As I'd been focused on the "Then and Now" theme, I'd neglected to do more "fun" searches of this large set of photographical archives.  Here's what I found when I searched for the terms Sidecar and Motorcycle, I hope you enjoy these photos as I did.  Note: Unless noted otherwise, source of all photos is from the link above.

Circa 1910-1920, near the Archer Canal in Denver
The tug is a Thor Motorcycle, the logo on the sidecar appears to say Rogers
"That is not a happy looking monkey"

arl18, date unknown
 Otha Rice, a Denver Businessman, here as a teenager astride
an Indian Motorcycle.

Circa 1910-1920
A Denver neighborhood with a motorcycle parked out front.

Man on Excelsior Autocycle, near Archer Canal, Denver
Circa 1910-1915

Man standing with motorcycle, on Alameda Avenue, Denver
Circa 1910-1920

Circa 1910?
The engine/transmission is in the front wheel!

Circa 1922
Harry M. Rhoads and his Daughter
He was a Denver Post Photographer who apparently
rode this Indian motorcycle to assignments.

View of the Gates Rubber Co. Building circa 1910-1920
Closeup below is of the motorcycle shown in the photo above.

 It kind of looks like an Indian Motorcycle but not sure.

Circa 1925-1935
Closeup of Police Officer and motorcyle
in front of ambulance.
Anyone recognize the logo on the gas tank?

Old and New Steeds at an Play Fair Opening Day 
Celebration in Central City, CO.
Circa 1965

An early motorcycle race circa 1910-1930

 Winter-Weiss, got its start apparently with sidecars, and 
later on manufactured trailers for the military during WWII
Below three pictures were some of their products.
Circa 1930

 Next time you think it's a bother to bring along that small point and shoot camera:
Harley-Davidson Motorcycle and Winter-Weiss Sidecar platform
Circa 1920-1930

Mobile advertising at its best, back in the day.....
An Indian Motorcycle with a Winter-Weiss Sidecar Platform
and an oversized Milk Bottle.

Hope you enjoyed this peak at yesteryear in terms of motorcycles here in the great state of Colorado.  If you can identify any of the motorcycles more fully, please let me know.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Rider and his Left Pinky

The streets were dark and quiet, with a slight sheen to them when the rider would ride under the yellow glow of the street lights as he motored to his destination.

As the rider left his home base, the streets became more and more crowded with automobiles, their single occupants frowning in the darkness, eyes focused solely on their halogen beams and unwary of their surrounding, and probably uncaring.

The rider noted the temperature as 30°F, and was gratified to feel the heat coursing through the heated grips on his selected mission vehicle of the day, a 1987 BMW R80 Airhead.  Its Boxer engine purred underneath him and the rider constantly had to resist the temptation to wick the throttle wide open and speed ahead of the cage clusters he sometimes found himself in.

City intersection after city intersection came and went, mile upon mile was traversed and the rider continued his ride to headquarters.  The rider's head was constantly on a swivel, noting his surroundings and nearby cars with care, ever ready for evasive action or perhaps just a tap on the horn to wake up an unwary driver.  He could feel the cold and wind chill, surrounding him and trying to penetrate his riding gear and failing.  The cold made him feel alive and alert, he felt nothing but pity as he passed the drivers in the cars...warmly ensconced in their cages, driving drearily to their daily occupations, isolated from the world.

As he saw the city's skyscrapers begin to glow in the light of the dawn, the rider now also felt the pain of the freezing cold on his left hand's pinky.  A victim of near-frostbite from previous missions in the cold fields of Germany during the Cold War, the rider's finger tips always were the first to yield to cold riding conditions.

His trusty steed's heated grips helped immensely but where the rider's left pinky rested normally on the left grip, it was left in the wind and the heat tended to migrate to the top of the grip.  The driver continued his riding, shifting his grip to place his left pinky on the top of the grip, as he neared his destination.

The city streets near headquarters were even wetter looking than during the first part of his ride, and thoughts of black ice danced in the rider's mind as he slowed appropriately.  The BMW Airhead's tires never lost their grip though and it was mostly a wet appearance; not actual moisture that was evident as the dawn's light became stronger with the beginning of the sunrise.

The rider reached the parking area near headquarters with no incidents.  As he parked his motorcycle in the still empty motorcycle-only section, the rider reflected on recent mission briefings by other riders.  He'd have to soon retrieve the hand guards for the R80 he thought, ugly as they were, as his hands needed to be pain free to do their job.  The rider felt the weight of the accumulating years, a lot of miles and perhaps too many missions he thought.

Still, as he walked towards current headquarters, he felt the remnants of the ride's exhilaration.  The slight adrenaline flush and smile on his face made nearby pedestrians wonder what could possibly make the strange man in riding gear and bearing a helmet in his hand smile so widely so early in the morning.

By the time he cleared security, his pinky was once again fine, the rider prepared mentally for the day's work.  His mind however, was already looking forward to the ride home....which should be in balmy 47°F weather if the weather-guessers had done their job correctly.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Icy Work Commute into Downtown Denver

Woke before my alarm clock and peered outside, about 1-2 inches of snow on the ground.  The weather guessers had predicted it, and this time, they delivered.

As I was up and wanted to give myself some extra time, I got ready for work and geared up to include raingear as it was still snowing very lightly.

I left the house perhaps 25 minutes earlier than normal and slowly made my way through the neighborhood roads, my tracks being some of the few carved into the snow at this early hour.  It was 17°F and dark and I immediately saw it would be a "slick conditions" kind of a commute.

All the roads were snow/ice covered with slight evidence of previous vehicles in the form slight ruts in the snow/ice.  Trouble is, I think there was ice on what looked like clear portions as well.

Followed my regular route, Himalaya Road north to where it becomes Tower Road and then turn west onto 6th Avenue and take that across the I-225 exchange (this is the scariest part of the commute due to cars).  Stayed on 6th all the way to Monaco which I took North to 17th street.

The 17th street neighborhood, with its tree-lined roads was very slick and dark.  Fortunately, the cagers out and about along with me (well most of them anyways) were proceeding nice and slow.  I was actually quite pleased with the careful driving I saw all around me each time I either caught up or was caught up to by a cluster of cagers.

A couple of times, from a standing stop at a light, I could feel the pusher tire spinning a bit as it fought to gain traction but other than that, no worries in terms of Valencia's ability to grip the road surface.  I didn't even have to put her in 2WD!

Got to the parking garage and was the only motorcycle there, as expected.  The only other motorcycle I really expected to see would have been Spat's URAL rig.  The parking attendant came by to chat and we both agreed it didn't seem like the city had spread ANY magnesium chloride on the rides, leading to the really icy conditions.

Oh well, safe and sound for my first work commute in snow/ice to Downtown Denver.  I must remember to keep my heavy gloves with me as I walk to the building where I work; though only about 1 block away, the temperatures were cold enough to hurt my bare hands as I walked there.

No pictures till dawn breaks, then I hope to get some of the city from the building's 40th floor.

Update: 8:30AM

Some pictures of the surrounding buildings, the lighting was really poor due to the snow conditions.

 The TIAA-CREF Building under which I park.

I had to really tweak things with this last picture
of the Four Seasons Hotel (I think that's what it is)

Update: 5:17PM:

The roads were much better on the way home, I did take off 30 minutes earlier than usual though as I was a bit anxious about Valencia starting after sitting in a cold parking garage all day.  She did start, though it was a slight struggle.  The commute home was uneventful, roads were pretty clear in the metro area, getting more ice/snow covered as I neared the home neighborhoods.  Temperatures had dropped throughout the day and it was a brisk 12.4°F on the ride home.

Valencia in one of the parking lots belonging to the local high school.

It's supposed to be the coldest night of the season tonight, with temperatures in the single digits.  Nothing to hardy riders like RichardM in Alaska but pretty cold for the Front Range area.  I'm just hoping there's no melting on the roads which will re-freeze overnight, it would make the morning commute too interesting, and today's riding was challenging enough!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lazy Saturday Afternoon Riding

I headed up to Northglenn, a city on the northern side of the Denver Metro Area, to meet at Darrell S's house to participate in a tech day he'd planned and centered on a new airbox he was installing on his URAL sidecar rig.

Alas, I didn't find out till I got there that I got my dates wrong, the event was scheduled for next weekend and Darrell was elsewhere!  Doh!  Senility, it sucks.

So I meandered on home, enjoying the sunshine and temperatures in the high 50s with just a slight amount of wind.

As I neared home, along Powhaton Road, I spied a lone and delapidated windmill which had seen better days.  It reminded me of the pictures of lone trees shot by Steve of ScooterintheSticks, and so I pulled over to pose Valencia.

Not much else to report for today, just a lazy Saturday afternoon in the great state of Colorado.  No real snow yet for the Front Range area yet, though the weather guessers are teasing me once again with hints of snow for tomorrow.  We shall see.

As I write this, the mountains are supposed to get 4-8 inches of snow so that'll help the ski resorts hopefully.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pikes Peak in the Fall, a URAL sidecar's perspective.

A beautiful Fall Sunday here in the Great State of Colorado, it beckoned Valencia, my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig and I up to the summit of America's Mountain: Pikes Peak.

I left the house soon after 8:30 AM and by 10:20 AM I had made it past the fee station at the bottom of Pikes Peak Highway and was making my way to the summit.  The temperatures at the top were reported to be in the low 20s as opposed to the low 60s that the lowlands would achieve.

Valencia's engine pulled strong and steady up the steep inclined portions of the Pikes Peak Highway, the views above the timberline soon appeared and were as magnificent as I remembered from previous rides.

 Such a clear day, you could almost see forever.

 Just a portion of the many hairpin turns on the Pikes Peak Highway

 Don't you just love the way they carved the road out of the side
of the mountain?

 Really, not much snow has collected on the mountain.

The requisite sign picture at the top.
It says 14,110 feet at the sign, but my
GPS reported 14,088 feet while standing next to the sign.

The vast views afforded to one at the top of Pikes Peak mandated my trying out the panorama feature on my new camera.  It's very easy to use, no more stitching required afterwards.

 View from the top of Pikes Peak, near the summit sign.

 View from near the weather observatory building.

A view of the visitor center/Cog RR station on Pikes Peak,
while standing in the center of the parking lot on top of the peak.

Now it was time to start heading down, the cold up on top wasn't too bad as I was dressed quite warmly in my riding gear.  The winds however, were quite strong at times!

 Pikes Peak doesn't lack for views

 As Winter approaches, pooled water holes are almost frozen over.

Kind of looks like the peaks are floating on top of the haze, doesn't it?

We made it down to the Bottomless Pit area, and while waiting for cars to vacate the area, I tried the pano function once again.

 It's quite the view but not quite bottomless....maybe when its foggy
on the mountain.

Now, for a series of hairpin turns as Valencia and I wound our way down the mountain, taking time to pose on the outcrop formations created by the hairpin curves.

 OK, I may have gotten carried away with using the pano function.

Shortly after I left the "rock pile", I found the gate to a trail that is normally closed, open!  It led one down a dirt road to a round rocky hilltop below the entrance.  I'd always found the gate closed, so I couldn't resist going down and posing Valencia thus:

Valencia and I would soon reach the timberline and trees would block our view of the mountains as we motored downwards towards the exit of the Pikes Peak Highway.  I would reach home about 90 minutes later, with temperatures in the low 60s and the sun shining brightly.  I'm happy to report Valencia did great.

Hopefully, the next time I motor up Pikes Peak, there will be much more snow on the mountain.

P.S.  Happy Birthday Marines!

P.P.S.  Want to see conditions at the top of Pikes Peak?  LINK

Previously: Yoshie is back home.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Yoshie is back home

Back in July, I dropped off Yoshie, my 2006 Suzuki V-Strom Sidecar Rig, at Unique Rides (the URAL dealer in Fort Collins) to have him try and sell her on consignment.

This week, I got a call from Unique Rides, asking me to take her back as they'd not been able to sell her and with Winter coming, they didn't see a sale happening during their slowest time of the year.

So today, I drove Martha's BMW X5 Urban Assault Vehicle with her, to Unique Rides up at Fort Collins.

Though they had some issues getting her to start (motorcycles really don't like sitting unused for long periods of time); she was running smoothly as I arrived.  I geared up and took her for a short test ride and she performed well, reminding me how powerful her 1000cc engine pushed the rig along smartly.

Though Yoshie could easily attain and maintain the 75 mph speeds along the I-25 Super Slab, I elected to drive here at more sedate speeds along frontage roads and less traveled state highways.  A much more enjoyable experience rather than mixing it up with cagers and trucks on the super slab.

Yoshie got me home with no issues and there followed some minor re-arranging of vehicles within the two bays of the garage to accommodate her.

At the moment, I will again view Yoshie as my spare sidecar rig.  She'll be more suited for foul weather commuting into Downtown Denver.  Though not as capable as Valencia in snowy conditions, she does just fine on plowed roads.

Perhaps, I'll put a "For Sale" sign on her as I ride her in daily commutes, in the hopes a  snow-bound rider will consider her for year-round riding.

Perhaps, I'll separate Yoshie from the sidecar and sell them separately.  I am told it might be easier this way.

Who knows?  In the meantime, she's back in the stable.

Previously: Brigitta and a Fiery Sunset

Friday, November 08, 2013

A Fiery Sunset with Brigitta

We had us a beautiful sunset today as I rode home on my regular commute route from Downtown Denver.

Though temperatures were rapidly dropping as the sun set, I had to stop and snap pictures of the wonderful colors the sun was leaving behind.

You have to love a Colorado Sunset, it's one of the reasons I like living in this great state.  Now if only we could get some snow down here in the metro area.....

Previously: A Quick Ride to Loveland Pass

Saturday, November 02, 2013

A Quick Ride to Loveland Pass

There is snow forecasted this coming week for the Denver Metro Area, 1-2 inches tops but enough to make me think it was perhaps the day to take Brigitta, my '87 R80 Beemer, up to Loveland Pass.  I needed a longer than usual ride to make sure all my wrenching on Friday hadn't caused issues you see.

The day was beautifully sunny and in the low 60s down in the metro area, and I would see a low of temperatures in the high 30s at the top of the pass.  Great riding conditions!

Well, except for the first mile of the Loveland Pass Road, on the east side where I started up towards the pass.  The road was wet from melting snow and it had not evaporated as this portion of the road is in the shadow of the mountainside.  I chose to go nice and slow and steady, stopping twice to either let cagers get past me in their rush to the top; or to "evaluate" going further or turn around.

Mind you, I wasn't feeling slippery conditions, it just looked "icy" at times.  Still, once I rounded the first main turn on the road up, it was sunny and 99% clear road conditions.  The top of the summit was crowded with lots of cagers and folks snowboarding, but I was able to find a good spot for Brigitta.

 The requisite picture of one's motorcycle by the Summit Sign.

 The view to the east from the top of Loveland Pass

 View to the west of the summit of Loveland Pass

Mountain peaks to the north of Loveland Pass

Brigitta and I then motored on past the summit, enjoying the lovely dry road conditions.  We rode down towards the hairpin turn that marks the lowest point of the pass area.

 Looking West towards Arapahoe Basin

The summit of Loveland Pass is to Brigitta's left, almost 500
feet further up in altitude I am guessing.

At this point, it was time for me to turn around and head back towards the summit.  I really didn't want to be negotiating the wet roads near the bottom of US6/Loveland Pass Road when temperatures dropped.

Just before the pass summit, you can see the cars parked up there.

Brigitta and I cruised once more through the summit area, and then made our way down towards I-70.  I had to stop on the side of the road a couple of times to let cagers pass me as I was going near the speed limit and apparently that's only guidance to those cagers.  The last stretch over the wet section of road was thankfully without a cager behind me.

Soon Brigitta and I were motoring along at 65 mph on the I-70 Super Slab heading back towards Denver.  The ride back was uneventful, traffic was light to medium and the weather warmed nicely as I approached the city.  Brigitta elected to use I-70 all the way through the metro area and then took back roads back towards home.

I would end up basically doing a big loop around the metro area, with Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide being the "highlight" of the ride.  About 140 miles or so I believe, and Brigitta ran great.  I checked the swing arm pins upon my return and no issues with loose lock nuts.  I believe Brigitta is good to go in terms of that service task.

Update: 03NOV13: Brake fluids replaced on both Brigitta and Valencia.

Previously: Halloween and Previously Scary Beemer Maintenance