Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pikes Peak in Winter

As I had to work this past Saturday, my boss agreed to let me have half a day as comp time. So I spent this time riding over to nearby Pikes Peak and checking out how it looks during Winter time with snow just about everywhere and clear skies overhead. Perfect.

At Crystal Reservoir, with a view of the top of Pikes Peak

On a clear day....

Just have to be careful not to get too close to the edge!

The requisite sign picture at the summit
Man, it was cold up there, windy and 21°F (-6 °C) 
The strong winds up top made the cold feel like knives cutting through....

A distant view of the peaks forming the Continental Divide

Closer views of the nearby peaks, while sitting next to the
US Army Weather Lab Building

Looking back towards the visitor center at the summit

The view one sees as one exits the summit parking lot area

I believe the above is near the last hairpin turn before the summit

Approaching Devil's Playground

Approaching the Bottomless Pit Overlook

At the Bottomless Pit Overlook.

I started having battery issues around this point.  I had to use the emergency battery start to jump start Fiona.  She seemed OK after that, I could see the voltmeter reporting 13+ volts when the RPMs were at least 2000.  So I took the remaining shots while leaving the rig running.

A view of the road's curves

At the Rock Pile

Rock Pile

Last shot before battery completely died on Fiona

As I was taking the above shot, I didn't hear Fiona's engine cut out due to the battery level now being too low to sustain ignition.  At least that's my theory since voltages were below 6V per the volt meter!  Arrgghh.

I drained the emergency battery startup unit and it wasn't enough to bring voltage up to about 11V which is apparently minimum required to sustain ignition.

What to do, what to do?

Leaving the emergency battery hooked up (mostly for luck I think), I held in the clutch and turn off the ignition so no lights on the rig.  I coasted down the mountain, watching the voltmeter slowly, ever so slowly, rise to 11.0 volts.  Not being able to use engine braking, the brakes got pretty warm on Fiona!

As the battery got to that voltage, I reached a point in the road where it was no longer sloping down.  I engaged the choke and the engine started and stayed on after the second attempt with the starter!  Yay.

I kept the revs high as I cruised on down the remainder of the mountain road, and while the engine was running, felt some misses on acceleration.  It would take me several minutes and clearing the Pikes Peak fee station before I realized I'd left the choke on!  Doh.  The misses went away after I turned off the choke, go figure.

I made it back to the RV site at Cheyenne Mountain State Park with no further issues and Fiona is now on the CTEK battery charger getting replenished.

My theory is that the cold up at the summit, coupled with my many stops for pictures, zapped the battery.  More testing to be done of course but I'd hate to think this particular battery has gone bad, it's not even a year old!  More to follow on this.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cañon City near Sunset

Left the house at 11:35AM Sunday, driving Umarang the URRV and towing Fiona, the '99 Bural on the trailer.

The day's destination wasn't far, an RV site in the Cheyenne Mountain State Park near Colorado Springs.  Sites were allocated as first come, first serve and I managed to snag one easily enough, a pull through with full hookups.  $56 for two nights, pretty cheap considering the location near Pikes Peak and Cañon City's Skyline Drive.

Got myself settled in and by 3:30 PM or so, I was headed towards Cañon City via CO Hwy 115, about 35 miles away.  Got there in plenty of time to get some shots of Fiona along Skyline Drive while the sun made ready to set behind the mountain range to the west of the road we were on.

 Looking south

It was right about this time that I discovered one of the hand grip covers lying by the guard near the final drive!  Damn.  It then dawned on me why this woman in a car had gestured urgently back behind me while I was approaching Cañon City!  My waterproof jacket liner had disappeared from Fiona's tub!

It's going to be a cold ride back in the dark back to the RV site I thought to myself then.

Looking north, that's US50 down there.

I didn't stick around for the sunset, and headed out of Cañon City along US50, hoping against hope to spot my lost jacket.  Damned if I didn't do something right recently, for there it was, crumpled up against one of the highway guard rails near the junction with US67!  Hah!

Jacket recovered, I proceeded to a gas station in nearby Penrose where I donned the jacket as things were starting to cool down a bit!  I filled up Fiona's tank and off we went for the remaining 25 miles or so back to Colorado Springs.

I kept watching my rear view mirrors, seeing how the disappearing sun was really starting to paint the western sky in some nice colors.

Once the setting sun's rays finally didn't reach above the western horizon though, it got pretty dark pretty fast.  Still, Fiona and I made it back to the Springs with no issues and no close encounters with deer.

Got myself dinner at Subways and checked in with Martha, Fiona did great by the way.

A portion of the lights of Colorado Springs, from the RV site.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Sunset for Keith

L. Keith Raske, motoblogger and all weather rider, passed away, January 27, 2017.

He was a man who rode in all types of weather and conditions, and many including myself followed his postings detailing his commutes and rides.

His blogs were "Did He Ride Today?" and "Twists and Leanings".  First time I saw a picture of him, it was of this maniac who'd just gotten home from riding on two wheels in the snow....I knew then he was someone to get to know!

This was during the early days of my present fascination with snowy weather riding and along with other moto bloggers like ScooterintheSticks and RichardM, he is partly to blame for my riding predilections!

We lost him to cancer, which he'd been fighting for quite some time, and there'd even been hope of remission but it was not to be.

You will be missed, Keith.

Here's a set of sunset pictures from today, here in Colorado, in Keith's memory.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mountain View Serenity...

A little bit of mountain scenery for us here in the US, after a long week of watching too much political crap and angst on TV and social media.

Didn't follow my own rule about avoiding the news.....I'll do better.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sunset on Inauguration Day

Closed out Inauguration Day with this sunset....

Here's larger versions of the same pictures:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Loveland Pass in January

Took yesterday, Thursday, off as I get to work this Saturday.

We had a narrow window of sunny weather this week, with Thursday being the last day of the sunny stuff before the next series of snow showers hits us.

Pikes Peak was not clear all the way to the top so Fiona, my '99 Bural and I headed through the miasma that is Metro Denver commuter traffic to Loveland Pass.  Note to self, next time, wait till 9AM, the lighting is better on the mountain peaks at the pass; and you don't have to fight commuter rush hour.

Fiona powered on up into the mountains along I-70.  It was an enjoyable change, not having to downshift to third and even then only maintaining 45 mph as when I am riding Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol.  Fiona can not only hold speed while in fourth gear going up a hill but can actually slowly accelerate all the way to 55 mph!  Probably could have gone faster but this was enough for me today.

The new speedometer matches the GPS pretty closely up till 50 MPH, then it reads 2-3 miles slower than actual speed per the GPS!  Good to know.

Got to Loveland Pass about two hours after leaving the house or shortly after 9:00 AM.  Traffic was light as it was a weekday, the sun was out, the skies were mostly clear....temperatures were in the low 30s so perfect riding conditions!

 Seven Peaks off in the distance

 There was so much snow piled up that I was able to get a 
higher view than normal

 This was around 10AM, the majority of the nearby peaks are 
still a bit shadowed since the sun was still climbing up in the sky.

As I waited for the sun to get higher in the sky, I retraced the eastern half of Loveland Pass Road to get the below pictures.  Everything had been in the shadow of nearby peaks when I first drove through in the morning.

It's hard to tell, but with all the snow, it was hard to see where the road's edge was, and Fiona's sidecar wheel dropped off a couple of times....a little power and she was fine but still a bit unsettling.

Retraced my way to the vicinity of the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort, as you can see the peaks that form the basin had a bit more lighting.  Very tough to shoot though as the sun ruined a lot of the shots I took. Oh well.
 Which one of these two similar shots do you like best?

 The view from the summit parking lot

As I descended back towards I-70, I spotted a car which had gotten stuck off the side of the paved road. He'd definitely gone too far in and gotten stuck all the way to the car's belly pan area.   I stopped, offered up the use of my tow straps and the driver flagged down a passing pick up truck who agreed to help.

Took two attempts, the first time we tried with the truck pulling uphill, didn't get very far.  Next we tried pulling out of the snow bank by pointing the truck downhill.  That did the trick!  Sorry, no pics, busy putting the strap into position, watching for careening cagers coming off the mountain and just trying not to get hit.

The Buffalo Overlook area....nice shot of the continental divide eh?

Just for grins and to show how easy it is to manipulate "reality"
same shot but without cars/trucks

Fiona powered her way back to the metro Denver area with no issues, holding 55-57 mph easily.  If only she had cruise control, my right wrist cramped up a little bit as the heated grips add bulk to the grips.

From 28°F  (-2°C) at 7AM, it would soar to 56°F  (13°C) by the time we got home shortly after 3PM!

A great day of riding.  Fiona is doing great as my backup rig.  Scarlett's engine has been pulled and Ural is deciding whether to ship parts to Randy or have Randy ship the engine to them.  More to follow as I find out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Replacing the Speedometer on Fiona and a new GPS mount

Talk about fast service, I asked Unique Rides, the premier URAL dealer in Fort Collins, CO yesterday to send me a replacement speedometer for Fiona and it arrived today!

Background: Fiona's speedometer needle had gone into "windshield wiper" mode at the start of the last cold snap we had a week or so ago.  And while it still kept mostly accurate record with the trip meter and the odometer, I'd been forced to use an old iphone4 as a GPS speedometer.

This arrangement allowed me to verify what the odometer was displaying in the old speedometer was mostly accurate.

Kilometer reading on the old speedometer 

It only took a few minutes for me to remove the old speedometer (and managed to do it without dropping the small nuts that hold the speedometer bracket in place, into the rats nest that is the headlight bucket).

Installation of the new one was straightforward as well.  I put the headlight back on, geared up and went for a test ride.  The new speedometer works very nicely and matches the GPS pretty closely from what I was able to see during the short test ride.

New speedometer in place, after the test ride.

I had thought, instead of using the old iphone, to use Martha's TomTom GPS that we'd bought a while ago for her car.  She doesn't use it anymore, preferring to use the Waze app on the iphone.

We'd used a similar sized GPS unit while renting a rig in Ireland this past summer and I'd liked the waterproof case the rental company provided with the rig.  So I bought one via Amazon:

This TomTom XXL is a nice unit but I discovered after I bought the case that it doesn't have a trip meter!  I mean really, every GPS I've ever owned has one to record mileage driven, why not this unit?

So, I won't be using the TomTom, for speedometer/trip meter functions.  Just for navigation perhaps on trips.

The case though, will hold the old iphone just fine for those rainy days.

I'll keep the iphone GPS mounted for a while longer to gauge the accuracy of the replacement speedometer, then it'll go back into storage I think.

Scarlett Update:  Randy of Unique Rides has pulled the engine from Scarlett, now waiting on word from Ural in Redmond as to whether to ship it whole to them for analysis/repair or just the engine case minus the jugs and such.

Odometer vs GPS update:  19JAN: Rode 189 miles per GPS, Odometer says: 172.8.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

After the Snow Day

It started snowing very lightly on us here in the Metro Denver area this past Sunday afternoon, by Monday about two to three inches of snow would accumulate by the end of the day under very overcast skies.

I elected to wait till Tuesday morning, to venture out under clear blue skies and warm-feeling temperatures that ranged from 25°F (-3.8°C) to a balmy 33°F (-.5°C) at the end of the ride.

The main roads were clear for the most part, the only part I had to engage 2WD on Fiona, my '99 Ural Patrol with the '87 Beemer engine was ironically on my uncleared driveway and in the cul-de-sac!  

Fiona, you see, is not equipped with the Heidenau K37 Knobby tires that I'd fitted on my primary snow riding rig, Scarlett.  All Fiona has is the Duro 308 Street Tires so traction is sometimes less than desirable.  It still is pretty good, mind you, just not as good as knobbies on snow.

We've got warm temperatures forecasted for the next few days so all the snow will likely be gone by the weekend.  Next snow fall is Tuesday of next week.