Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - The Year in Pictures and Happy New Year!

Quite the year, 2013, here's hoping the New Year will be an even better one for everyone.

Happy New Year from the Chang Gang!

Mileage Log:

22,102 miles ridden in 2013, as follows:

Valencia: 30,807 Kilometers (18,030 km of which were part of the Alaska Trip) or 18,484 Miles, ending the year at 48,062 Kilometers.

Brigitta: 2684 Miles (She went over 100,000 miles finally), ending the year at 100,666.

Yoshie: Only 934 miles (she spent most of the year on consignment), ending the year at 38,485.

That's 153,671 miles since I started blogging back in August 13, 2006.  I had taken the BRC during the Memorial Day Weekend of the same year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Weekend Ride of 2013

The last Sunday of 2013, we woke to about two inches of fluffy snow here in the Denver Metro Area.  I was now quite happy with my decision to have left the Steamboat Springs area a day earlier than originally planned.

After a late breakfast, my loving wife Martha had me go out and pick up some detergent for the mounds of laundry that needed to be done.

Valencia was the obvious steed of choice to go out in the snowy conditions and off we went to complete our tasking.

Of course, once we were outside, and our task accomplished......

We somehow ended up in the Travois Trail Neighborhood, after cruising through the Rocking Horse Neighborhood.  The sun was just right, temperatures at a balmy 18F (it would soar to 24F by the end of the riding), and all neighborhood roads nicely snow-covered.  Ideal URALing conditions.

Valencia and I wandered about the neighborhoods to the south of Inspiration Drive and the mountains were visible at points that required a stop for pictures.

 Rocking Horse Housing Development

 Travois Trail Development

 Near the intersection of Sandy Creek Rd and Forest Canyon Drive

Parking lot of the Saddlerock Golf Course

Here's hoping you get one last ride in before the end of the year.

Previously: Visiting Friends in Steamboat Springs

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Visiting Friends in Steamboat Springs

My family and I went in the latter half of this week to visit friends of ours who were flying in to ski at Steamboat Springs, CO.  We drove the rental car, a Hyundai Elantra, and boy let me tell you....its tires and FWD proved barely adequate for icy road conditions!

No, no accidents, just commenting.

Lee, his wife Lyn and their daughter Jennifer were the friends we were going to see.  I've known Lee since 1981 when we were both cadets in the University of Miami's Army ROTC program.  We linked up with them Thursday evening and had a nice dinner at the Slopeside Grill next to their ski resort lodging.

 Apres Dinner shot near the Slopeside Grill 

Lee and I, it's been a long way since our cadet days.

On Friday, Lee and his family took ski lessons on the slopes while the Chang Gang headed out of town to the Steamboat Springs Snowmobile company's operating area in the nearby Routt National Forest.  Paperwork and formalities done, we met our guide Reese and became part of a 12 snowmobile tour group.  Martha drove one with Miles behind her and I rode another snowmobile with Patrick behind me.  Neither of us had ever driven a snowmobile but it proved pretty easy for the tame conditions involved.

 Before the tour started....Patrick ended up having a good time, he
just wasn't that enthused here....I think he's not used to sunlight.

 The view from the tour's highest elevation spot.
It was a beautifully sunny day, with temperatures in the low 30s.

 At a large meadow, the boys got a chance to drive.
Here's Miles with Martha.

 After many circles of the large meadow area, I never did get the 
snowmobile above an indicated 30 MPH.  Here's me taking
a break by resting on Patrick.

 Miles did very well on his own.

Martha proved she wasn't going to be the slowest rider in the group!
I had a heck of a time catching up with her at times on the trails!

It was about a two hour tour, we all made it back to the snowmobile company's cabin with no issues though my snowmobile was on fumes when I got back; it made the throttle a bit jerky at times.

A small snow cat near the snowmobile company's office.

Our rental car proved its lousy capability to handle ice when I got stuck at the entrance to US40 while on the snow packed trail leading to the snowmobile company's office cabin.  I had to back up perhaps 300 feet to a flat area, then keep moving onto the shoulder of the highway until we could determine there wasn't any oncoming traffic!  A bit nerve-wracking.

Dinner again with Lee's family, pizza and the Big Bang Theory version of the game Clue.  A good time was had by all and yours truly won the game.  Lee and family will remain till Monday, doing more skiing and vacationing.

To avoid the Sunday rush down from the mountains, we left yesterday to get back home to Denver.  The road conditions weren't "bad" but not exactly great at the passes.  I moved at Ural speed and just had to shake my head at the idiots who drove like the roads were dry and ice-free.  

Hope safe and sound, I think I'll have to revisit my vehicle choices if we end up doing this again next year.

Still, a new experience for myself and Martha, a good visit with longtime friends, some family time out in Colorado's snow-covered wilderness, overall a great time.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

For my fellow moto-bloggers: a useful website

Hope you had a great Christmas Day!

Most of you readers know my penchant for the ocassional posting featuring "then and now" photos.  They show a landmark/place usually as it once was and as it is now, preferably with one of my motorcycles somewhere in the "now" picture.

Martha, my loving wife, discovered by accident (through googling) a website that provides a source of "then" pictures, superimposed onto Google's StreetView feature of Google Maps.  Very cool.

I'd been lucky to have access to a huge repository of archival photos of yesterday, courtesy of the Denver Public Library.  Now perhaps, you can access photos from near you, to see what was there before and what is there now.

Here's a link to the site:  LINK

It's name is whatwasthere.com and its superimposing feature of old onto new allows you to adjust the opacity of the "then" shot so you can see where it fits on the Google StreetView photo that is "now".  For the most part, the photos are aligned pretty well.

 Near the Brown Palace Hotel in Downtown Denver

The Trinity Methodist Church near where I work in 
Downtown Denver.

Not a bad little tool for the quick creation of "then and now" shots I believe.  It also gives me the idea of figuring out how to do the same in photoshop, with future "then and now" shots of mine, so they'll include a shot of my motorcycle choice of the day as well.

Hope you like this site, and that it inspires some "then and now" postings of your own.  The site is North-American-centric for now, but perhaps as folks upload their own shots and the coverage of Google Maps Streetview spreads further.....

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas Eve's Eve, Martha and I, along with our sons wish you all a very Merry Christmas Holiday to you and yours.

This is the card we sent out via snailmail, and by we I mean Martha
of course, she's the traditionalist in the family.

Speaking of traditions, last year it fell to Valencia to bring the Christmas Tree home from the local big box store:

Christmas Tree, 2012

This year, this duty fell to Stewie, Martha's Genuine Buddy Scooter:

Christmas Tree, 2013

Yep, it's the Christmas Tree from "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

As you spend time with your family and loved ones, we ask that you keep in your prayers the men and women of our armed forces, as they stand their post, most away from home and some in harms way.

Please keep in mind too, the first responders, on duty and standing watch....ready to serve their communities.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice Ride

First Day of Winter, though the temperatures have been quite cold and also quite warm here in the great state of Colorado, today would be a day spent in below freezing temperatures.

I left the house shortly before 9:00 AM and headed west through Denver's Hampden Avenue, aka US285 until I left the metro area and arrived at Morrison.  I continued westward through the mountain towns of Idledale and Kittredge, not much of a snow accumulation to be seen at all.

Transiting through Evergreen, Valencia and I diverted onto Upper Bear Creek Canyon.  We watched the crowds skating and fishing on the frozen lake on the west side of Evergreen as we wound our way towards Witter Gulch Road.

The distant peaks were partially hidden in mist and fog today.  Valencia and I then turned onto Witter Gulch Road to ascend towards CO 103, aka Squaw Pass Road.  This is the road that leads one to CO5 which is the Mount Evans Road; it was of course closed for the season.

Spotted the above bucks, two of four total along Witter Gulch Road

Upon reaching Squaw Pass Road, I turned left and ascended slowly towards Echo Lake.  The road conditions weren't bad at all.  Hardly any snow/ice covering the road until perhaps the last mile or so before Echo Lake.

 Peak Views as one rides on CO103 towards Echo Lake

The clouds pretty much obscured the views of Mount Evans and the peaks visible from Echo Lake so Valencia and I just proceeded on down towards Idaho Springs.  Surface conditions were a bit "less optimal" for two-wheeled vehicles on the western portion of CO103.  There were some pretty long stretches of road that were completely snow/ice covered and I had to adjust my speeds accordingly.

Close to Idaho Springs, there's the turnoff for the West Chicago Camping Area run by the National Forest Service.  I'd been down this road a couple of times, never having quite made it to the campground itself.  Today would be the day.  The road conditions started off fine, but as we got near the campground, I started loosing momentum on the snow covered trail.  Soon, I was stopped and had to move out of the way for a cager behind me.

Once the cager was past me, I engaged the 2WD lever and Valencia strongly pulled onward and upward on the trail.  We made it to the campground shortly afterwards and I decided this was a good time to try the snow chains on the pusher tire.  The chains took perhaps ten minutes to put on seven of them of pusher tire, I elected to not put any chains on the front or sidecar tires.

 West Chicago Camp Ground

Not the steep part that temporarily stopped me, but you can
get an idea of the snow cover on the road.

Valencia and I ended up in Idaho Springs around 12:30 PM.  The weather had soared into the mid-20s from a low of perhaps 19F near Echo Lake.  It was almost balmy as I motored slowly through Idaho Springs to snap these pictures:

 That's I-70 behind the fence, I've always wanted to stop and take a picture
of the frozen waterfall, today was the day.

 The view along Riverside Avenue, in Idaho Springs.

 The ARGO Gold Mine, you can apparently tour it when you're in town.

 I liked those small mine cars

After Idaho Springs, it was frontage roads back towards the Denver Metro Area.  I entered via US285 once again and stopped at Fort Logan to visit the son of a friend of mine.  Long time readers of this blog know I try and visit this particular grave site; the final resting place of Staff Sergeant Brian J. Joiner, USAF and pay my respects.  Last weekend, the 14th, was Wreath Across America Day, and I had asked the organizer for Fort Logan National Cemetery to have one placed at Brian's tombstone.

I was happy to see that the wreath was still in place, I hope next year to lay it in person after the ceremony; other duties prevented me from doing it for this year.

Thanks for your service Brian.

Valencia and I having finished our visit with Brian, we motored onto our home neighborhoods via the usual routes.  About 130 miles covered today, with temperatures ranging from 19F to about 30F, and an occasional view of the sun.  Pretty good riding day overall, hope you got some riding in.....no sense wasting this time on travails such as Christmas shopping!  :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mid-December Sunset

We had us a lovely sunset this Sunday, halfway through the month of December.

I'd noticed, on my recent commutes home, that there was some good lighting conditions brought on by the sun setting and the way the light shone on an overpass crossing over E-470 on Quincy Avenue, west of the junction with Gun Club Road.

There had always been, during the commutes, way too much traffic to either safely take pictures or get pictures without cars intruding into the pictures.

This evening, conditions were near perfect.

That's Mount Evans way in the background.

As I rode home, the clouds which had been golden yellow for me just a few minutes before, turned fiery red and quite beautiful to the eye.  Sorry, but I didn't capture those colors today.  However, they were similar to the red colors captured during sunrise in this previous blog posting: LINK.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Heated Grip Redundancy

Back in November, Steve Williams of ScooterintheSticks, blogged about a malfunction with his heated gloves and how things got cold really quick while riding.  LINK.

That same day, my own heated grips on my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig, Valencia, kept having the inline fuse blow due to a short in the cabling!  Karma?  Regardless, that night at home I found where the wiring had developed a bare spot in the insulation and that was that.

Today, while riding to work on my 2006 Suzuki V-Strom/Dauntless Sidecar Rig, the left hand grip was not generating any heat that I could feel.  The heater control had power so I knew it wasn't that perhaps.  I did notice the thing would not hold a heat setting, though the power LED remain lit the whole time.  That points to insufficient power according to the manufacturer's website.  I'm hoping perhaps a loose connection on the wires leading to the left grip, as the right grip remained pretty toasty.

Still, things got unpleasantly cold for my left hand's finger tips.  Now, with two failures in as many months, I think perhaps the motorcycling gods are trying to tell me something.  I just ordered from Aerostich some inexpensive heated grip wraps:

These "temporary" grips will be my redundant heated grip option if/when my primary heated grips fail on any of my three motorcycles.  All three motorcycles have the SAE electrical connector pigtail wired directly to the battery for charging, so hooking it up should be easy enough.  These will travel in my "gloves bag" which gets transferred from motorcycle to motorcycle.

I picked these not only because its easy to move them between motorcycles, but a fellow Uralista uses them and he seems quite satisfied with them.  It's on/off in terms of heat but for a backup heated grip source, they'll do just fine I think.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Three out of 12 for 2014

It's that time of year when folks in the Yearroundriders online forum for the revealing of the pictures selected for 2014.

This online forum is where I really got my start in the world of online motorcycling information and in the case of this site: the desire to ride all year round, no matter what the conditions.

Last year, my picture submissions resulted in five being selected out of the twelve winners for the 2013 calendar.  LINK

This year, only three of my submissions were selected for the 2014 calendar.  To be honest, I forgot to submit pictures for a couple of the months, but its all good.  I like seeing the pictures of fellow yearroundriders.

Here's the three that made it into the 2014 Calendar, they're featured in the January, June and September calendar pages.

 January on Loveland Pass Road

 June along the Dillon Reservoir

September Leaf-Peeping on Guanella Pass Road

Monday, December 09, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Snow Ride

Sunday, a bit of snow during the early morning, coating all the messy ice and snow with a nice fresh white coating of snowy goodness.

The morning was spent on chores and coming to grips with the plans for tomorrow as we'll not have access to the insurance company provided rental car until sometime tomorrow morning.  I'll be shuttling both Martha and Patrick (my oldest son) to the high school a mile away, then working from home to take receipt of the rental car, turning it over to Martha in the afternoon so she's once again mobile.

After a sumptuous lunch of stir fried beef and bak choi (delicious), I cleared the small amount of newly fallen snow from the driveway and sidewalks and then headed out for a short ride.

The temperatures ranged from 14-16°F and it felt quite balmy.  Heck, after the frigid temperatures that have gripped our state the last few days, it was quite "nice".  It didn't even feel cold at all as I removed gloves to take pictures!

I wandered about the ranching neighborhoods to the SE of my home neighborhoods and got these shots:

I then motored over to the road bordering the Blackstone Country Club's grounds.  The trail had about 2-3 inches of snow covering it and it the silence and solitude was very nice.

Valencia did great, some slight sliding on built up snow mounds but no big deal otherwise.  The main roads were clear and wet, no problem for the cagers out seeking solace from their cage-centered lives.  Best part of the day?  Taking Martha in Valencia to go food shopping during the morning, what a trooper:

Sunday, December 08, 2013

I Broke Martha's Car, Schnitzel

I was driving Martha's car, a 2005 BMW X5 we'd named Schnitzel, yesterday just before Noon, enroute to Oscar's house to talk mechanical stuff in his warm garage.  Temperatures were around 5F, quite chilly.

There's a small hill just before Oscar's house, with a negative-cambered slope on the downhill side.  I was going just below the posted limit of 25 mph as this is a neighborhood street.  However, I didn't account for the fact that it was basically slick ice on the downhill side of the hill.

Schnitzel, started sliding, the tail moving to the right, I let off the gas and tried to counter-steer but to no avail.  I believe, the right front tire hit the curb first, spun the car around 90 degrees so that it was now headed sideways towards the far curb.

The impact took out the stop sign and lamp post located on the corner.  I was unhurt, and after a second or so, drove slowly off the curb, turned the car around and parked it to assess damage. (Airbags didn't deploy)

 The stop sign above had actually been thrown into the fence and caused
the hole you see.  I think the local utility crew had moved it when they put up
the temporary stop sign you see.  I believe the parallel dirt tracks are where
Schnitzel's left side wheels rode up over the curb.

This was the body damage I initially saw and thought myself lucky to have
only sustained on Schnitzel.

The left front tire was flat, knocked off its bead by the impact.  I called Oscar and asked for the loan of his jack since he was only a block away.  I got the spare tire out, and prepared for the tire swap.  Oscar shows up, does most of the work and the spare tire was in place.  However, this is when the real damage was noted by us.

 The right front wheel is pointed straight, which left the left front wheel
pointing at an off-angle as you can see in these pics.  
Oscar believes that the lower struts were bent, at the very least.

Obviously not drivable, I asked for a tow truck through my insurance company.  I'd called the police who showed up as we finished work on the tire.  Because there was property damage, he cited me for "driving too fast for conditions".  Apparently, I was the officer's third similar citation of the day, the neighborhood streets all over being quite slick.

Oscar drove me in his truck to his home and there I waited the almost four hours it took to get a tow truck to pick up Schnitzel.  Busy day for the towing companies I imagine.

When the tow truck did show, he informed me he couldn't take me home as I'd assumed.  Oscar generously took me home in his truck, what a good friend.  My thanks to Oscar and his lovely wife Janet for letting me camp out in their house during the frigid afternoon, for their help and finally his driving me all the way home in darkness and icy road conditions.

Schnitzel sits in a secured storage area today, tomorrow hopefully gets taken to an approved repair center and the decisions are made by the insurance adjuster to either fix her or total her due to her mileage and value.  I really hope they decide to fix her, Martha really likes Schnitzel.  

We'll be taking receipt of a rental car on Monday, under insurance coverage fortunately, so Martha will be mobile once again as the cold weather continues its grip on our area.