Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year and 2014 in Pictures

Another year has come and gone, and with it, some changes in life and some changes in the stable.

The moto-blogging world lost one of its pioneers when Bobskoot of Wet Coast Scootin passed away while driving with his loving wife Yvonne.  We miss you Bob.

I've changed jobs, hopefully for the foreseeable future, which now has me working fulltime at home.  This opens new travel possibilities but initially all its done is cut down on the amount of miles I ride my motorcycles since I no longer have a commute.

This year saw me trading in my 2006 Suzuki V-Strom/Dauntless Sidecar Rig: Yoshie and my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig Valencia to Unique Rides in exchange for my 2014 URAL Patrol Rig: Scarlett.

Here's some of the pictures I used on the blog during 2014, I hope you like the video.

Some stats for record.

Total mileage ridden in 2014: 14,852 miles broken down by motorcycle:

Scarlett: 14,239 Kilometers or 8543 Miles

Brigitta ('87 BMW R80): 4306 Miles

Yoshie: 1485 Miles

Valencia: 864 Kilometers or 518 Miles

This brings my total miles ridden on motorcycles to:  168,523

Martha and I wish you and yours a Happy New Year in 2015!

Last Sunset for 2014

Previously: Yoshie has a new home.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Yoshie has a new home

I've been meaning to blog about this for days now, but other rides and snow riding got pushed to the front of the line.

Yoshie has been bought from Unique Rides where I had traded her and my 2011 Ural Patrol Sidecar rig, Valencia.

Her new owner's name is Cecil and he lives in the Elbert, CO area.  He picked up Yoshie for quite the good price and is now in the process of going over her in detail, to include doing a valve clearance adjustment and replacing the drive chain.

He found a damaged master link on the old chain and got a new one from Krause.  You can get all the details and latest pictures from his new blog about his new rig:  LINK

Here's a picture of Yoshie, borrowed from Cecil's blog, as she arrived at her new home:

I tried to give all the information possible to Cecil before the purchase and I believe he'll be happy with Yoshie once she's put back together.  Though Cecil has never ridden a sidecar rig before, he is planning on taking the Basic Sidecar/Trike Course given by ABATE this coming Spring.

Previously: Checking out the mods on Darrell's Rig

Monday, December 29, 2014

Testing the Mod on Darrell's Rig's EFI Throttle Body and checking out the other mods.

As of the time I write this, the unofficial word from IMZ-URAL is that the dealers voted at their last dealer meeting to NOT have URAL release a tool for 2014 URAL Sidecar Rigs to owners.

The dealer tool, is a software program and a special cable that connects to a laptop's USB port and a special OBD connector located behind the left side cover under the rider's seat.

The owner tool, at its most basic, would allow owners like me to balance the throttle bodies instead of having to ride up to the dealer and having the dealer do it.  At it's fullest capability, it would allow the upload of new or different EFI mappings by the owner instead of the dealer.

Initially, URAL had said they'd be releasing a tool for owners by this past summer, but now, that is no longer the case.

Apparently, some other dealers have been charging for this service (not my dealer: Unique Rides) and couple that with the cost of said tool ($800 was what dealers are charged), it is not going to be an option.  I don't agree but what are you going to do right?

Well, I'll tell you what this URALista is going to do!

Thanks to my fellow Uralista Darrell S, who had the idea on his own, there's another way to balance an EFI rig's throttle bodies without the fancy schmancy cable and software program from Electrojet/URAL.  Here's a video he shot about the installation of the vacuum ports:

Bottom line: you add vacuum ports to the throttle bodies and use established methods for balancing the 2014 carburetors!

To test all this, Darrell came down on Christmas Eve as I had bought the Harmonizer Tool from him for use on my BMW Airhead and my 2011 URAL Patrol, Valencia.  We were going to test the feasibility of the vacuum ports he'd previously installed onto his rig's throttle bodies.

Sorry about the focus, but you can clearly see the vacuum port that Darrell added.
He'd checked with a guy at Electrojet, the outfit that makes the EFI for URAL and
the location of the vacuum port is a "designed-in" location for a vacuum port by whomever makes
the throttle body assembly itself.

 We hooked up the Harmonizer tool as if it was going to a carbureted motorcycle
and went through the procedures to check and balance carburetors.

We found Babe, Darrell's rig's idle balance a small bit off center and corrected for it, finding that because the ECUs of the EFI system "talk" to each other that careful adjustments of the idle screws was required on both throttle bodies.  There's a picture of the screw used to adjust the idle pictured below.

Following usual procedures, we then checked the balance with the throttle at around 1800 RPM and found it pulling higher on the left side of the scale.  Darrell loosened the adjustment nut on the left side cable and a few twists later, we had it rock steady in the center of the Harmonizer's electrical bar graph.

Of course, we then had to tweak the idle a bit but no problem.  We strapped the Harmonizer to the GPS unit on Darrell's rig and off he went for a test ride.  Darrell came back and reported things running great and the displayed position on the Harmonizer as dead center!

Both of us were quite happy this experiment with the vacuum ports worked out and I'll probably be doing mine the same way very soon.

Here's a video Darrell shot as we worked with the Harmonizer:

Darrell also brought me an extra HD Sportster muffler, he had one left over when he converted his rig to using a two-into-one header pipe assembly from Raceway Services.  This gained him a greater amount of ground clearance on the left side of the rig where Uralisti regularly knock off the factory muffler when on rocky terrain.

 Left side header pipe comes out of the left jug and routes over
to the right where it junctions with the header pipe coming out of the right jug.

 You can see the junction of the left and right header pipes, the leading
towards the rear where Darrell connected one HD Sportster muffler using
an adapter as the piping was different sizes.

Just look at all the ground clearance on Babe now!  
No more knocking off the left side muffler when on rocky trails!
You can see part of the HD Sportster muffler in the back, note how
Darrell ended up removing the stock centerstand because of the way
he hung the muffler on the right side of the rig.

As I don't have the extra $400 to spend right now, I'll not be installing the Raceway Services two-into-one header pipes but instead am going to explore the use of the extra HD Sportster Muffler Darrell gave me to see if I can gain some ground clearance over that provided by the stock muffler from URAL motors.

One last picture from Darrell's rig, he's got the stock URAL belly pan skid plate:

URAL Skid Plate

It's not as "beefy" as the one I bought from Mr. COB but I am sure it does the job just fine with the first few hits.  I just think the Mr. COB version will probably last longer or take more hits in the long run?

Mr. COB Skid Plate, pricier but beefier.

Previously: Sunny Skies, Snowy Views

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunny Skies, Snowy Views

Saturday, December 27:

We got perhaps another half inch or so of snow yesterday, the Friday after Christmas Day.  I woke to temperatures that were a bit on the cool side.  The house thermometer read 9°F(-12.7°C) as I rolled out of the house shortly after 9:00 AM.

It was clear skies and sunny, snow-covered neighborhood roads became mostly clear main roads as I headed back to the same neighborhood where I shot pictures on Christmas Friday.  Conditions were radically different in terms of lighting though, as you will see.

Such a clear morning, one could see Mount Evans, one of the tallest mountains visible from Metro Denver stood clearly outlined under blue skies.

 Mount Evans

 A view of the Front Range Mountains

Got home shortly after 11:00AM, temperatures had soared into the upper 20s!  There were chores to be done, another driving practice session for Miles, my youngest son and just relaxing.

Below pictures shot today Dec 28, at Westlands Park in the DTC.  Playing with long focal length perspective.  On a clear day, you'd see Mount Evans but today it was hidden by incoming weather clouds; the mountains you see are called the foothills.

91mm Zoom

210mm Zoom

Previously: Valencia is published on Motoplus Magazine

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Valencia is published on Motoplus Magazine

The lady who runs, a graphics design company in the Netherlands, contacted me before Christmas asking about a picture she'd found online showing Valencia, my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig, who is now owned by a lady in Washington State.

She wanted to use it in an ad for Motoplus, a Dutch motorcycle magazine.

After some brief email exchanges, a fee was paid for a First European Use License.  (Thanks, Jack Riepe, for coaching me through this process).

Here's the original picture from back in December 2012:

The magazine was published on the 17th of this month and today I got a scan and photos of the magazine:

 Google Translate:  We Wish you Happy Holidays
The ad sponsor is apparently a site similar to where 
one can sell or buy used motorcycles/vehicles:  

It's always gratifying to me, especially if they're willing to pay, for folks to ask for the commercial use of my photos; it helps pay for gas and tires you know?  Thank you Annouck, this made my day.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Friday Snow

It snowed overnight here in the Metro Denver area, but my surrounding neighborhoods got only about an inch or so of snow covering the ground.

I headed out before 7:00AM hoping to get some pictures of Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig on the snow before it all got messed up with traffic.

It was 14°F (-10°C) when Scarlett and I headed out of the neighborhood, enjoying the white-covered landscape.  I would see a low of 12°F (-11°C) during the 90 minutes or so of riding, and a high of 20°F (-6°C).  Good riding conditions when one is geared up correctly and astride three wheels.

My pusher tire is nearing its useful life, I could feel it slipping more than usual on the uphill climbs and moving from dead starts.....still, I didn't have to engage 2WD.

Light conditions, even after the sunrise, were monochromatic at best.  It led to some photographs requiring some tweaking and adding of effects through online tools and photoshop to make them usable.

It was snowing lightly as I took the pictures today, so I was trying not to expose the camera too much to the elements.  I suppose adjusting the White Balance setting instead of leaving it on Auto WB would have rendered less "blue" results.  I'll have to remember that next time.

Going home, I tried some other usual picture locations but the lighting or road appearance made for unappealing shots.  One somewhat close call, a light went yellow on me as I approached and I tried stopping, but instead slipped and slid almost into the intersection.    Pretty much in control, just let off on the throttle and kept the rig basically straight.  Should have gone through on the yellow light like previous times.

I'm hoping the sun will come out by noon, and perhaps the lighting will be better.

Update: 5:15PM.  Though the sun came out a few times during the day, I was inside doing work.  When I finished the workday I rode out to the local church parking lot but the sun was hidden behind a solid gray wall of clouds.

Still having issues with today's lighting....another highly tweaked photo.

Previously: Christmas Day Ride with Brigitta

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day Ride with Brigitta

After the traditional activities of Christmas morning, and the subsequent cleanup afterwards, my family settled into a quiet morning; leaving with with an hour or two to do some riding.

Brigitta and I rode out sometime after 10:00, enjoying the sunny skies over us and temperatures in the mid-40s.  You could see, to the northwest, large gray cloud formations coming at us with forecasted snow for the Metro Denver area.

About twenty two meandering miles later, we'd seen all the usual close-in picture spots but the approaching front occluded views of Mount Evans soon after I took the shots below.

Using the Panasonic Lumix ZS8 Zoom for effect.

Here's hoping everyone's Christmas Day is an enjoyable one wherever you might be.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and yours the merriest of Christmases!


Many things have changed in our lives these last few years since I started riding motorcycles.

The most important things for Martha and I being our two sons: Patrick and Miles, also known as Thing One and Thing Two when they were younger.

Universal Studios 2003
"Pure, unadulterated joy"

Christmas, 2008

Christmas, 2009

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 Winter Solstice Sunrise

Ah yes, the first day of Winter here in the great state of Colorado....

Rode out shortly after 6:30 AM and there was already the beginnings of light showing in the pre-dawn darkness.

Scarlett and I hurried over to the vicinity of the Aurora Track and found ourselves a good position to watch the sunrise.  At first I worried I'd parked Scarlett too close to one of the lamp posts situate on the road leading to the track but in the end, it gave depth to the pictures.

 One of the early shots, in Sunset mode, I think turned out the best.
The shots are in sequence, very minimal tweaking done using's online tools.
Besides using Sunset mode where notes, there was no tweaking of the colors produced
by the new camera, just slight addition of clarity, shadows and of course, resizing.

 above and below shot in Sunset Mode, the second
shot was two minutes later.

 Shot using iAuto mode

Sunset Mode, the camera's sensor shot it with at f/4 1/60sec ISO 100
really bloomed the reds out didn't it, kind of looks like the sky is on fire.

 Same shot, but now applying the "watercolor" artistic filter,
just playing around with Photoshop.

 As the skies brightened, I also shot Scarlett as she was illuminated
by the pre-sunrise dawn light

 As the Sun crested the horison, its bright light dulled the previous light show

On the way home, we saw a view of Pikes Peak in the distance

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Perry Park, the Day before the Winter's Solstice

A nice sunny day here in Colorado, we've got snow forecasted for tomorrow, the Winter's Solstice.

Temperatures stayed in the 40s all day as I rode to and from Perry Park, using CO 105/Douglas County 105.  I even saw several other motorcycle riders enjoying the nice weather before the incoming storm.

It was a late start for today's riding as the family and I first had to try and get a good picture for the annual Christmas letter.  The one with the boys and Scarlett turned out OK, the one with all of us will probably have to be re-shot.  Still trying to master the use of my iphone while it's connected to the camera via WiFi and enabling the shutter remotely you see.

 A view of the Perry Park Golf Course

 The backside of "Camel Rock"

 Camel Rock

Houses along Red Rock Road

Scarlett and I got back home safely by 3:30 PM, the weather had warmed up into the high 40s by then.  A really nice day for riding here, hope you got a chance to ride wherever you are.

Previously: A Distant Pike Peak's Sunset

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Distant Pikes Peak Sunset

I finished up work around 3:30PM today, the end of a rather long week dealing with things that sometimes made me wonder about my life's choices.

To clear my head, I headed out around fifteen minutes later and took the back roads to the town of Parker.  Once there, I was in the beginning portion of the evening traffic rush.  Surrounded by massive SUVs and cagers preoccupied with getting to their own homes, I rode south on CO State Highway 83 to and then through Parker.

I transited through the next town, Franktown, several minutes later with the sun dipping ever lower into the western horizon.  I wondered if I would be in time to catch the sunset's light on distant Pikes Peak.

Soon I was passing by the main entrance to the Cottonwood Canyon State Park and parking Scarlett on the small parking area where one can observe Pikes Peak, about 30 miles away as the crow flies.

The sun was just beginning to touch the front range mountain peaks as I started taking pictures.  The sun's angle this time of year precluded it setting behind Pikes Peak of course, so I had to make do with incidental lighting.

I rode home in darkness, back to the town of Parker and now the second half of the evening traffic rush.  Got home with no issues, I think perhaps the time to try a photo of the above spot is before late morning hour when the sun is shining fully upon Pikes Peak.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

12-13-14 Ride

A heavily overcast and gray day here in Colorado, with snow in the forecast for tomorrow.  Yay.

After a lazy breakfast, I headed out shortly after 9:10:11 AM (see what I did there?) and made my way through the Metro Denver area towards Morrison to see what we could see.

Scarlett and I first meandered into Red Rocks Park to let my new camera show me its stuff in terms of rocky formation photography; I think it did pretty well:

same spot, the next day, after a disappointing snow fall

same spot, the next day, after a disappointing snow fall

same spot, the next day, after a disappointing snow fall

Leaving Red Rocks Park, we turned west onto Bear Creek Canyon Road and twisted and turned our way through the hamlets of Idledale and Kittredge, ending up in the small town of Evergreen.  To the west of town is Witter Gulch Road but first the standard posing of one's motorcycle on Golden Willow Road which is just past the gulch road.

Golden Willow Road and a view of peaks to the west

Witter Gulch Road used to be a fun dirt road to ascend and descend from the vicinity of Squaw Pass but now its nicely paved and without much challenge except for a couple of tight hairpin turns.

Once on Squaw Pass Road aka CO State Highway 103, Scarlett and I continued westward, ascending towards Echo Lake and the junction with CO5, the road to Mount Evans.  The road to Mt Evans is closed for the season but there were several spots on the way to Echo Lake and around the lake that lent themselves to pictures:

 Along CO 103, east of Echo Lake

Scarlett and I continued west on CO 103, descending fairly rapidly on pavement which sometimes presented ice and frozen snow.  There wasn't much but a couple of spots would have given me pause had I been on two wheels!

Soon enough, we made it to the town of Idaho Springs which straddles the I-70 Super Slab.  I spied an old locomotive and turned back towards town to get a closer look.

 Some joker turned the number plate on the front of the engine
upside down, what is it with people not being able to leave things alone?
I sent an email to the mayor to let him know.

 Check out the oil lamps hanging by the ceiling....I think I would
have been a bit nervous riding with such above me.

 Standing where the coal would have been carried, ready to be
shoveled into the locomotive's furnace via 
the door below

The small waterfall, slowly freezing over, which is a landmark
for Idaho Springs.

The rest of the ride was boring super slab riding on I-70 heading back into the Metro Denver area, retracing the morning's route.  We got home shortly after 3:00PM, no issues to report except that the low fuel sensor on Scarlett has once again failed.  It's been replaced once under warranty, I don't think I'm going to bother getting another one from the dealer.  Scarlett averaged 39 mph during this last tank of gas, and still had 3/4 of a gallon in the tank when I topped her off with 277 km on the trip meter!

Here's a comparison of basically the same shot at Echo Lake, new and old cameras, I think the sony picture is crisper but the colors are a tad better on the Panasonic.  You'll note I photoshopped the signs out on the Panasonic picture.

Also, the colors were more accurate on the Sony picture, based on what I recall from today's riding.

Echo Lake with the Sony A5000 and Telephoto Lens

Echo Lake with the Panasonic Lumix ZS8

Update: 15DEC14: Added "after" shots of three spots in Red Rocks Park.