Mr. Blue Jay

Yesterday afternoon something outside started making a lot of racket;
when I investigated I discovered it was this Blue Jay that was making all the noise.

Blue Jay, December 29, 2009, Denver CO

To Everything there is a season

"To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose under heaven."

"A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep."

"To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose under heaven."

"A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
a time to gather stones together."

"To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose under heaven."

"A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing."

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose under heaven."

"A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late."

From "Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season)" by Pete Seeger who adapted it from the Book of Ecclesiastes. The photos are my own.

Good night sweetheart. Well, It's time to go.

It appears, for me at least, riding season is over. Sunday evening turned cold and wet, and the rest of the week looks like crap too. Some of the guys will ride their bikes in the snow but I'm a fair weather rider - I don't like the cold and wet. It was raining hard when I came home from work, so tonight I popped the wind screen and saddle bags off the motorcycle and wiggled it into its cubby hole in front of the car. I can always get it out again if we get a nice warm dry stretch of weather.

Sunday was the clubs big outing to ride on the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad. Six of us went. I chose to "cage it" - I didn't ride the motorcycle. I and another guy shared a car to Leadville and back. Both of us had been watching the weather forecast and knew it was going to be too cold for us, and it was, otherwise it was an enjoyable day. We left Denver at 10:00 AM and got back at 6:30 PM.

I also shot a little bit of High Def video. I think I have enough to edit together a 1 or 2 minute video later this week.

I got a regular flu shot last week. I don't qualify for the special vaccine when it comes out.

Last week I watched all six episodes of the new Ken Burns series about the National Parks. I learned a lot from watching it but then I promptly forgot what I learned. Good thing there wasn't a test! Last night I watched Inspector Lewis (I am developing a crush on Laurence Fox).

Also see RMMC of Colorado

Motorcycle ride to Saratoga Wyoming

I and Two other guys rode our motorcycles from Denver Colorado to Saratoga Wyoming on Saturday. We met-up with a fourth guy just north of Fort Collins; he drove a car. We couldn't have asked for better weather. The sun was shining and the temperature was just right - not too warm and not too cool.

We started our trip by taking the Interstate Highway north from Denver then turned off at Fort Collins. We met-up with the fourth guy north of Fort Collins at a place called "Ted's Place" on US287. The Four of us continued north on US287 to Laramie Wyoming. We stopped in Laramie to get gas and eat lunch. We did a little local sight-seeing after lunch.

After lunch we took a side trip east on I-80 to the Lincoln Head Monument. Interstate 80 is called the Lincoln Highway named in honor of Abraham Lincoln. A few miles east of Laramie WY on Interstate 80 is the Lincoln Head Monument commemorating the highway.

After pictures at the Lincoln Head we continued east on I80, then a side road, to an almost forgotten monument called the Ames Pyramid where we took more pictures before heading back to Laramie.

We got back off the Interstate at Laramie and took Highway 130 west through the Medicine Bow National Forest. We stopped at Medicine Bow Peak and took some pictures.

The drive was wonderful. Many of the Aspens had turned bright yellow. There was a mixture of green, yellow and rust (the rust was mostly from the dead pine killed by pine beetle.) The road was fairly easy; no cliffs and only a couple of tight S-curves. We checked into the Sage And Sand Motel (now there is some nostalgia) in Saratoga WY, unpacked, and discussed what to do next.

We decided to all pile into the car and go searching for Aspen Alley. Aspen Alley, as the locals call it, was a full 42 miles south but it was a beautiful drive and Aspen Alley was worth the trip even though these Aspen had not turned yet.

On the way back to Saratoga we circled through the town of Encampment to look at some of the old buildings there.

After supper we went to the Mineral Hot Springs 2 blocks from the Motel.

What a difference a day makes. When we started our trip we knew we had a good chance of getting wet on the way back, sure enough, we ran into rain just after leaving Saratoga. We rode in rain all the way back through the Medicine Bow National Forest and we had to reduce our speed considerably. We got past the rain as we left the National Forest on the east side but had strong winds until we reached Fort Collins. Back on the Interstate Highway at Fort Collins it was a fast run back to Denver.

Round trip mileage was 455 miles.

Also see:

A weekend on top of the Rockies

August 7-10, 2009.

I just returned from a terrific four day weekend motorcycling around the "Top of the Rockies" in Colorado. I can't remember the last time I had such a good time!

Turquoise Lake Colorado

A member of the Motorcycle Club invited club members to spend a weekend at a Condominium in Breckenridge that he has access too. Those who didn't go missed out on a fun weekend.

We started our trip Friday morning from Cheesman Park in central Denver and proceeded west on Interstate 70 to the Frisco exit then south to Breckenridge. We unloaded our gear at the condominium, ate a Power Bar, drank some water then headed back out.

This excursion took us through historic Leadville Colorado, around picturesque Turquoise Lake, over Tennessee Pass to Red Cliff Colorado. After a short rest in Red Cliff we continued north through Minturn to I70, back to Frisco and Breckenridge. There is a historic picturesque bridge just outside of Red Cliff unfortunately there wasn't a place to pull off and take a picture. Except for loosing my water bottle, when I hit a bumpy spot in the road, this was a wonderful tour.

We stocked the refrigerator with groceries then fixed burritos for supper. I ate 2 extra large burritos and drank 2 beers. This may explain why I woke up at 3AM.

Saturday was a laid-back day. We got up when we got up. After packing a lunch we headed over to Dillon to watch sailboat races. We didn't see any activity that looked like a race but we all enjoyed kicking back and doing nothing but watching the lake. After eating our pack lunch we rode over Swan Mountain road back to Frisco where we toured the Art Street Fair (nice but expensive stuff.)

We ate a huge spaghetti dinner for supper Saturday night. We were also fortunate enough to be in Breckenridge on the night of their 150th celebration and were treated to a great fireworks display! Breckenridge is 150 years old.

Sunday we were back in Leadville for the Leadville "Boom Days" Celebration and annual Burro races. Leadville Colorado, steeped in history and draped in beauty, is truly a magical place. I will seriously consider retiring in Leadville. Pot-roast, potatoes and veggies for supper.

Carlos, Allan, Todd. Leadville, Co. Aug. 9, 2009

Monday morning we set about cleaning the Condo, doing laundry and re-making the beds. After setting the Condo right and packing our gear we headed out. We took Swan Mountain road over to Keystone where we joined old US6. US6 took us past Arapahoe Basin and over Loveland Pass to the Loveland Ski area where US6 re-joins Interstate 70. We stopped at the top of Loveland Pass and took pictures.

Clyde and Todd. Loveland Pass Co. Aug 10, 2009

This excellent weekend came to a close as we rode back into Denver. We waved good-bye as we each went our separate way. Total mileage was 455 miles.

Some might shrug off a weekend like this as "no big deal" but for me it was. Many things came together to make this a memorable and enjoyable weekend.

I haven't actually taken a vacation in many years. My parents use to have a summer home in Wyoming - set back amongst the Pine Trees next to a flowing creek - but the family had to sell that special place when Dad died. This was a "mini" vacation - not too long but not too short. There was also the joy of Motorcycling and going someplace I've never been before but more importantly it was relaxing and recreating with good friends and good food.

Slide Show

A big bug says a little prayer

Praying Mantis

I spotted this Praying Mantis outside the office this morning. It was between 4 and 5 inches long.

Reflections on a year with a motorcycle

Getting a motorcycle was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I have had the bike for a year. What a year it's been! I've done things in the past year that I've never done before and wouldn't have considered doing before getting the motorcycle.

In the past year I have: taken a motorcycle riding class (actually 2), ridden Golden Gate Canyon Rd and Cole Creek Canyon Rd, been to Red Rocks, rode in the Cruise Against AIDS run, been to Buffalo Bill's grave, ridden down Lookout Mountain Rd, rode in the Molly-Dharma run, rode at the head of the Gay Pride Parade, been to Breckenridge and South Park, got rained on in Roosevelt National Park, rode in the KSL run, rode to the top of Mount Evans, rode through Rocky Mountain National Park on Trail Ridge Road, and rode to the top of Pikes Peak. Before getting the motorcycle I would never have done any of these things.

This raises the question "Why haven't I done these things before now?" None of these things require a motorcycle.

The answer is both simple and complex but the root cause has always been Fear. I haven't done these things before, not because I'm lazy or disinterested, but because over the past 35 years I've gotten comfortable with my routine, now I am afraid of moving beyond my comfort zone. This has nothing to do with motorcycles.
  • I am afraid of being uncomfortable. Does anyone like being uncomfortable? No, but most people learn to grin and bear it.
  • I am afraid of the unknown. Most people are afraid of the unknown but some people live for the unknown.
  • I am afraid of looking like a fool. There was a popular song in the 70's titled "Everyone Plays the Fool Sometime", it must be your turn.
  • I am afraid of being unprepared. Who said anything about being prepared? Just go with the flow.
  • I am afraid of being labeled incompetent. So what? Everyone starts out as a novice.
  • I am afraid of loosing control. You never were in control; believing you're in control is just an illusion.
It's true that a motorcycle comes with some elements of risk but so does all of life. Some risks we have to accept, some we can avoid, and some risks can be managed. Most risks associated with a motorcycle are manageable; those risks that are not manageable must be accepted or avoided. Moving beyond my comfort zone, as with life and motorcycles, comes with some elements of risk but most of those risks are imaginary and the rest are manageable.

Not only has the motorcycle rekindled an old spirit, that died out over 35 years ago, and renewed a once forfeited liberty, it was via the motorcycle that I discovered the Rocky Mountaineers Motorcycle Club of Colorado where I have made some new friends. I hope they will be patent with me, maybe even lend a hand, as I struggle to push beyond my comfort zone and over new horizons.

The motorcycle and I will have our first anniversary on August 7, 2009 but the year isn't over yet. There are a few adventures yet to come: a weekend in Breckenridge CO; a weekend in Saratoga WY; and a weekend in Amarillo TX. That's a lot of riding!

It's true I could end up getting killed on the motorcycle but it's just as true I could die of a heart attack tonight. All I need to do is manage the risks that can be managed and accept the rest. Like President Franklin D. Roosevelt said "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."

Motorcycle ride to South Park Colorado

Monday morning, while I was having my first cup of coffee and thinking about how I should spend the day, Todd called and asked if I wanted to go riding. I didn't need any convincing and said yes. We agreed to meet at Cheesman Park at 9:15 AM. A third guy was a no-show.

We rode west on US-6 then took I-70 west into the mountains. We stopped at the visitors center in Georgetown to look over the map. We started up Guanella Pass road, fortunately it was closed and a forest ranger told us it wasn't paved all the way, the road exceeded my skill level. We came back down and rode on to Breckenridge.

We stopped at the Blue Moose Cafe in Breckenridge and had a late breakfast. We met-up with a friend of Todd's that works in Breckenridge unfortunately he wasn't able to go riding with us. It was about 12:30 PM when we started south on CO-9.

The road south from Breckenridge was in good condition and a fairly easy ride. There were a couple of hair-pin curves - just slow down before the turn and look where you want the bike to go. The road goes over Hoosier Pass which is on the Continental divide. We stopped and took some pictures at the pass. Todd put his camera on time delay and took a picture of us together in-front of the Hoosier Pass sign (I hope he will send me a copy.)

We continued south from Hoosier Pass through Alma into Fairplay. We stopped in Fairplay in-front of a tourist site called South Park City; it is a tourist site built from old historic buildings and artifacts collected from the local area. In reality, South Park isn't a city or town, it is the name given to a valley between the east range of the Rocky Mountains and the west range of the Rocky Mountains. There are three such valleys - North Park, Middle Park and South Park.

We gassed up in Fairplay then continued on CO-9 to Hartsel where we turned east on US-24. My bike took 2.2 gallons of gas and the trip-meter read 108.5 miles (49.3 miles/gallon). We stopped at the junction of CO-9 and US-24 and snapped a couple of pictures of the South Park valley. It was so green and lush - just beautiful.

We stopped for a rest and a drink at the Thunderbird Inn in Florissant before continuing on to Woodland Park. At Woodland Park we turned onto CO-67 and rode north through Deckers to Conifer. This road took us through the Pike National Forest and the 2002 Hayman Fire burn area. It is still beautiful country even with the fire damage.

We dodged a rattlesnake crossing the road north of Deckers. I've encountered many prairie rattlers but this was the first timber rattler I've seen. We ran into a little bit of rain too but got out of it when we reached Conifer.

We came down US-285 from Conifer back into Denver. We ended our trip at Charlie's of Denver (6:00 PM) where we had a couple of beers. We traveled 262 miles in 8 1/2 hours (5 1/2 hours in the saddle.) I was completely exhausted but had a really good time and saw some beautiful country.

2008 Suzuki Boulevard C50 Gas Gauge

The Suzuki Boulevard has a funky gas gage on it. It's a little hard to tell how much gas you've used and how much is left. The owners manual isn't much help; it tells you that all 5 LED's will be lit when it's full, the left most LED will be lit and the right 4 LED's will be out when there is about 0.9 gallons left, and the left LED will start flashing when there is about 0.4 gallons left. That's not very useful.

I did a simple experiment to find out how much fuel each of the 5 LED segments represented. I filled up each time another segment went out then recorded the fuel and mileage. The gas gauge is not liner and should be used in combination with the motorcycles trip odometer. My findings are shown below.

Click image for a more readable view.

2008 Suzuki Boulevard C50 (VL800) Gas Gage
4.1 US Gallons. 5 LED segments.
Empirically verified.
The gas gauge is not liner; it is a rough guide.
Use in combination with the trip odometer.
Click image for a more readable view.

Specifications call for regular unleaded gasoline with a minimum pump octane rating of 87 ( (R+M) / 2 method ).

All 5 segments will be lit up while there is more than 3.1 US gallons in the tank. The 5th segment (far right) will go out when the level has dropped to about 3.1 US gallons.

The 4th segment (2nd from right) will be lit up while there is more than 1.95 US gallons in the tank. The 4th segment will go out when the level has dropped to about 1.95 US gallons.

The 3rd segment (center) will be lit up while there is more than 1.33 US gallons in the tank. The center segment will go out when the level has dropped to about 1.33 US gallons.

The 2nd segment (2nd from left) will be lit up while there is more than 0.84 US gallons in the tank. The 2nd segment will go out when the level has dropped to about 0.84 US gallons.

The 1st segment (far left) will be lit up while there is more than 0.40 US gallons in the tank. The 1st segment will start flashing on-off when the fuel drops below about 0.40 US gallons.

The gas gage is not liner. The gage should only be used as a rough guide and should be used in combination with the motorcycles trip odometer.


May 4, 2009: As I left work the 5th segment went out; I was close to a gas station so I pulled in and topped off the tank (the 5th segment came back on as I pulled up to the pump.) It took 1 gallon to top the tank off. The gas gage is not linear.

The odometer read 40.1 miles which yields a better mpg than the last 4 tanks and a whole lot better than 29mpg. The last 4 fill-ups have all calculated to be less than 40mpg.

The 40.1 miles above was comprised of 20 miles at highway speeds (>50mph no stops) and 20 miles city traffic (<40mph>
May 10, 2009: On the way home from a group ride and picnic the 4th segment went out (2nd from right). I was close to a gas station so I stopped and topped off the tank. It took 2.15 US gallons. Segment 5 (far right) represents about 1 US gallon used and segment 4 (2nd from right) represents about another 1.15 gallons used (total 2.15 gallons used) leaving about 1.95 gallons left in the tank.

The odometer read 74.8 miles (34.8 miles/gallon); not quite as good as last time but about 64 of these miles were stop and go city traffic. Still, I think I should be getting better mileage.

May 18, 2009: On the way home work the 3rd (center) segment went out. I was close to a gas station so I stopped and topped off. It took 2.77 US gallons. Segment 5 (far right) represents about 1 US gallon used, segment 4 (2nd from right) represents about another 1.15 gallons used, and Segment 3 (center) represents about another 0.62 gallons used (for a total of 2.77 gallons used) leaving about 1.33 gallons left in the tank.

The odometer read 82.7 miles (29.8 miles/gallon.) These miles were all stop and go city traffic and also included 4 hours on the ABATE practice range. Never the less I think this is piss poor mileage - time to take it in for a tune up.

May 31, 2009: The 4th segment (2nd from left) went out this afternoon. I drove for another 1 1/2 miles before I was could stop and gas up. It took 3.26 US gallons. Segment 5 (far right) represents about 1 US gallon used, segment 4 (2nd from right) represents about another 1.15 gallons used, segment 3 (center) represents about another 0.62 gallons used, and segment 4 (2nd from left) represents another 0.49 gallons used (for a total of 3.26 gallons used) leaving about 0.84 gallons left in the tank.

The odometer read 119.4 miles (36.6 miles/gallon.) About 20 of these miles were at highway speeds, about 5 miles were on twisty mountain road, the rest were in stop and go city traffic.

Hang gilding over Buffalo Bill's grave on a motorcycle

While Nick of 5wonderfulthings has started his bicycle trip through England and Scotland, and Jack of 2wheels2alaska is on his 10,000 mile motorcycle trip to Alaska, I prefer the shorter half day rides.

I took the motorcycle out for a short easy ride up to Lookout Mountain in the Windy Saddle Open Space Park east of Golden. I stopped at Buffalo Bill's grave and took pictures and shot some video.

I took US40 up to Lookout Mountain then rode Lookout Mountain Road back down into Golden. While Lookout Mountain Road is in good repair it is narrow with a lot of very sharp turns and there were 100's of bicyclists on the road. The ride down was challenging but a lot of fun.

Looking through the pictures I took, I noticed that I didn't snap a picture of myself or the motorcycle, and it didn't occur to me to put my helmet camera on. Darn! That's what I bought it for! I should make the ride again with the helmet camera.

One of the highlights of the morning was seeing the Hang Gliders taking off and soaring high in the sky. I snapped some pictures and posted some video of them.

Buffalo Bill's grave

Lookout Mountain Road. That's the road I'm about to ride down on.

Rocky Mountains

Hang gliders

More photos at View Photo Album

All photos by Clyde Hoadley, Creative Commons, 2009, some rights reserved.

Gravity and wind

I took the motorcycle out on the highway a couple of weeks ago and opened it up. I really took a lot of wind buffeting so I ordered a windscreen for it. I installed it today. It looks good and cuts down the wind buffeting a lot and the glove bag is really nice to have.

2008 Suzuki Boulevard C50 (VL800) with National Cycle Switch Blade 2-up windscreen,
Baron Custom Accessories Chrome Engine Guard, Fatboy Saddlebags, and me.

I took the ABATE Experienced Rider Class Saturday afternoon. I got some good practice in and learned a couple of things. I dumped the bike once during the U-turn exercise - odd thing was I had gone through the U-turn box (on both sides) twice before I dumped it on the third time; I think I may have looked down at the ground (never look down at the ground.) I also learned It helps to lean forward a little when going through tight turns. On a cruiser, leaning forward moves the center of gravity forward causing the suspension to raise a little and that makes the turn easier to take.

Even though "Motorman" said his "Ride Like A Pro V" course isn't the same as the ABATE course, I still went to the ABATE course expecting it to be like the Ride Like A Pro course - it defiantly is not. The ABATE course puts you through many of the same drills that are in the Foundations class but you're on your own bike, the pace is a lot faster, and there is less classroom time.

The bike and I got a couple of bruises yesterday but we still got a good workout.

I passed! I passed!

Resistance is futile

Disclaimer: I am not an expert. All I know I learned from Google.

The weather has warmed up and the snow has melted off again so I got the motorcycle out and road it to work today. The forecast had called for it to be worm and dry all week but they are now forecasting a cool-down with chance of rain and snow on Thursday. Oh well, it's spring time in the Rockies.

I'm not getting the gas mileage that I should be getting. It started out getting 45mpg but it has dropped a little with each fill-up. It's down to 34mpg. Other C50 Boulevard riders report 45-48mpg city/50-52mpg highway. Something not right. Aside from mechanical problems there are several other factors that can affect gas mileage on a motorcycle.

Wind resistance probably has the biggest impact on gas mileage. Anything that sticks out (or up) into the air flowing around the bike as it's moving down the road causes wind resistance. The rider is typically the most prominent wind obstruction on a motorcycle. That's why a lot of motorcycles have a windscreen and fairing. I know this has a major impact at highway speeds but I don't know how much of an impact it has at city speeds. My motorcycle doesn't have a windscreen or fairing.

Tire pressure also has an impact on gas mileage. Too low of a tire pressure can can wear out the tread faster and ruin the tire, can make cornering more difficult, and reduce gas mileage. The specifications for my motorcycle calls for 33psi in the front tire and 36psi in the back tire (cold). Some riders will lower the tire pressure down a little for a smother ride. The streets around here tend to have a lot of ridges, ribbons and cracks in them; It's worse at intersections where cars apply their breaks or turn. I had lowered the air pressure in my tires down to 30psi and 35psi hoping it would smooth out the ride a little. I didn't notice any difference so I've pumped them back up.

Using the wrong octane of gas can also affect gas mileage. The specifications for my motorcycle calls for 87 octane - I've been using 85 octane. That doesn't seem like it should make too much of a difference until I factor in the fact that from September - February they sell oxygenated gas. Oxygenated gas produces less air pollutants but it also reduces the gas mileage! I need to be buying 87 octane during the summer months and the next higher octane when the gas is oxygenated. I could try a different brand of gas too.

Lugging the bike (running at too low an rpm for the gear) also affects gas mileage. My motorcycle doesn't have a tachometer on it so I shift based on what the engine sounds like and how the bike feels to me. This might not be a good gauge for shifting. I tend to shift into 2nd fairly quickly. I also use the friction zone a lot going in/out of the garage and when pulling away from stop lights so the engine might be lugging a little then. The problem is, I don't know what the rpm really is or even what it should be! I miss having a tachometer.

I've got the right octane in the gas tank now and have pumped the tires up to the right tire pressure. I think I will get a windscreen. I really don't know if I'm lugging the engine so I won't worry about it.