19 November 2012

I got my girl back!

Of course, now my horn isn't working, so she'll be going back on Tuesday. (Insert scream here!) But, I took her out for a spin this weekend. I hadn't realized how crappy my steering had been. What a difference now. I was given my old steering parts, and they were heavily notched where they should have been smooth, and really worn down. Apparently the bushings in my forks had all of the Teflon worn off as well. All the new work felt great, and I was so happy to head out for a nice long ride.


It was a gorgeous, amazing, sunny autumn day here on the front range. I set off from home, heading to Golden, and then north on 93. As I drove past the Spyderco Knives Factory, I noticed cars parked everywhere and a sign saying they were having a sale. So...I stopped for an hour and a half to stand in line with about 100 other people. It was well worth the wait, and I picked up a couple of new knives.

Non-reflective blade with Spyderco's serrated edge. Made in Golden, Colorado, USA, Earth. Small, lightweight and perfect for my hand.
I also talked to a number of people about motorbikes and riding. As I got back to my bike, a man came over to talk about BMWs, and give me advice on riding that basically amounted to: Stay upright, try not to hit anything, women always ride 650s, and always think people in cars are out to kill you. Thanks, dude.

I continued up to Boulder, then on to Longmont. As I got to the south side of Longmont, I kept to the west--mountains off my left shoulder, houses and people off my right. I stuck to small, two lane roads, and just let myself get lost in the autumn countryside. It smelled so good--like dried leaves and horses, with a distinct lack of exhaust and city smells.

I hit highway 14 and rode through Poudre Canyon behind a fancy new 1200GS with a couple riding two up. She was wearing the same Olympia AST2 jacket as me and I realized how much more visible I am when I wear my hi-viz. Looking around as I rode, lots of fire damage from this past spring was evident in the hills, but the scenery was still beautiful. Riding east, I stayed ahead of the rain that was coming through the canyon.

I stopped for a bit in a nice little area next to the Cache la Poudre River, and met another motorbiker. Sledge was out on his KLR650, leaving his Triumph Tiger 1200 Adventure at home. He had some great stories to tell about riding in Peru, and he will be leaving on a hard-earned trip around the world sometime in May. He'll be getting a website together for the trip, and once he does, I'll post it here. I guess if I can't go along, I can follow along.

My new friend Sledge, who will be taking four years and riding RTW.
Sledge and I chatted for about an hour, and I realized I needed to get back on the road. It would be getting dark in about an hour, and I really wanted to get close to home before it was completely dark. I drove through Ft Collins and hopped on I-25 to cruise home. The sunset tonight was gorgeous! If I hadn't been hell-bent on flying home, I would have taken pictures of it.


Getting ready to head out for the day. Look at that beautiful blue sky!
I started the morning out having brunch with my friend Diana. The plan had been to run errands and do laundry, clean the house a bit afterward. But as we sat outside with tea and Eggs Benedict, I decided there was no way I was going to waste my day--it was way too beautiful! Who knows how many more clear days we will get around here on weekends that would allow for a nice long ride. And after not having the bike for four weeks, getting another show put up at work, and laughing hysterically (no really, I needed someone to slap me) at a $30,000 hospital bill the night before, one day of riding hadn't been enough.

I had no plan that morning, but quickly decided I would head through Golden and take Golden Gate Canyon Road out to 119. It's a quick little twisty road that is sort of my go to ride after work when I want a quickie. However, I was paying too much attention to Midge (BMW SUV in front of me on Hwy 93 with a license plate which said MIDGE) and I missed the turn off. So...I kept going. I really hate turning around and backtracking. Instead, I turned west on Hwy 72. This was the road I drove last weekend in the truck, and I figured that after a week of decent temps and no moisture, it should be relatively ice free. I passed a large number of motorbikes coming the opposite direction, so that helped confirm a clear road.

Highway 72 also meets up with 119, and when I got to it I turned right and headed towards Nederland. I stopped there for a few minutes, and I think it may be the windiest town I have ever been in. I don't think I have ever stopped there when the wind wasn't blowing insanely. Frozen Dead Guy Days two years ago was the windiest day I had ever experienced.

Out of Nederland I continued on towards Estes Park on the Peak to Peak. It got colder and colder as I gained elevation. When the peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park came into view, I had my heated grips AND my electric gloves on. It was cold but beautiful! I have to send a big thank you to Jim Lautenbach in Wisconsin for sending the heat controller for my Gerbings to me. It makes all the difference in the world compared to the simple on/off switch I used to use with them.

Hello Rocky Mountain National Park! It looks cold there. It was in the low thirties where I was standing to take that picture.
Hey look, no wear bars on my tires!
When I got to the junction with Hwy 7, I turned right going towards Lyons. I rode this route once last spring and loved it. I think that must be my favorite road in CO. My bike was never vertical. The entire road is long sweeping curves running along the St. Vrain River. The canyon was steep and snow and ice filled at the top, but as I lost elevation going into Lyons, the temps warmed considerably, the snow disappeared, and I pulled into the Oscar Blues Brewery in time to watch the first half of the Broncos/Chargers game.

I continued on Hwy 36 to Boulder, turned south on Broadway (which turns back into 93 on the south side of Boulder) and headed home. The wind was gusting pretty strongly, and I had enough time to get home before it got dark, so I slowed down a bit, tucked into my bike and just cruised. This was a good decision as the road was heavily patrolled--speeding home may have meant a ticket that night.

It was a great weekend of riding. Sometimes it might have been nice to have a friend or two to ride with, but it worked out well anyway. I met some nice people and had a good time chatting with new friends. We may not get many more clear riding days this winter, but this weekend's 400+ miles will get me by for a little while.

In case you're wondering, the playlist for the weekend--Corb Lund, The Lumineers, April Smith and the Great Picture Show, Paul Oakenfold, Fun., Flogging Molly, Feist, P!nk, The Avett Brothers, Meat Loaf, Scorpions. It was a good playlist of music to sing along with at the top of my voice inside my helmet!

18 November 2012

I do it cuz I love it!

A couple of weekends ago, I took an ambulance ride to the hospital and spent the night in the ER, radiology, and finally the ICU. This had nothing to do with motorbiking. In fact, my bike was in the shop and I had just been relaxing and kicking back on a Friday evening. It took me a little more than a week to recover the incredible amount of strength I seemed to have lost in one night, but I'm doing really well now.

The reason I am bringing any of this up is due to the conversation I had, before being released from the hospital, with the ICU doctor (who, I feel I need to state, appeared to be all of 24 years old). When talking about things to avoid for a while, I asked if I should avoid riding my motorbike once I got my strength back, if I needed to wait a bit.

The doctor turned to look at me and inform me that I should avoid riding my motorcycle, not for any reasons concerning what brought me to the hospital that weekend, but because he would hate to see me end up in their trauma ward. He said I should see the motorcycle accidents that come in.

The young man then proceeded to lecture me on the dangers of riding a motorcycle, and how if I was going to do it I should always wear a helmet, blah, blah, blah. I write that last bit because I pretty well stopped listening to him. Although I understand that he meant well, I was completely put off by his attitude and his need to tell me how to participate in a sport that he clearly had no experience in.

For the record, I always wear a helmet, and I don't ride with anyone who won't. I pretty typically wear riding specific boots, jackets, and pants that are armored. I try to avoid riding like an asshole, and I ride very defensively. All that said, it is still a dangerous sport, but something that I love, love, love. Unless one has done it, it is almost impossible to understand: I know I didn't until I started seriously riding.

I had a low speed get-off about halfway up that road you see behind me. With all my gear on, all I had to show for it was one bruise on my left hip.
I also like skydiving, but I chose not to bring that up with the doc. After listening to the first lecture, I wasn't interested in anymore. What am I supposed to do? Sit around, kicking back and relaxing, and wait for my blood pressure and heart rate to tank again? Is that safer? Maybe. Will I be happy doing that? Not even remotely.

If you ride, you know how I feel. If you don't, please try to understand. When you meet a new rider, don't tell them about the motorcycle wreck you heard about, or how you think it is crazy or dangerous. In my extremely short time riding, I seem to have heard all of this numerous times. It doesn't make me a better rider, it just makes me cranky. We as riders know there are risks involved. I hope that as someone who knows and loves me, or someone who knows and loves other riders, you will remember that this is what makes us happy and what we consider living.

See that smile! (Waiting about 20 mins for a ferry in the Yukon. My helmet is sitting on my instrument panel in front of me!)

11 November 2012

No motorbike for 3 1/2 weeks!

Three weeks ago I pulled my bike out of the garage to go for a ride, and noticed fork oil all over my forks and front wheel. Under advisement from Mike at Supertune (my bike mechanic) I decided to trailer it over rather than riding. This was the third time in 18 months that my fork seals blew, and we knew there was probably more of an issue than the seals alone.

A week before this happened, I sold my little truck. Crap! How am I going to get it to the shop? My awesome neighbor Tim! He parked his truck and trailer in front of my house one night, and the next morning, we loaded her up for the trip to the shop.

No, of course I'm not using my phone to take a picture of my bike while driving...that would be illegal!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Tim Burton for helping me!

So what do I do while I don't have my bike. Well, I solved the issue of not having a pick-up anymore, and purchased something far more suitable to the Colorado experience. It is only three years newer than its predecessor, but it uses all four wheels when I want it to! He's been dubbed The Cos', because he does look just like he is the cousin to Ian McLeod's truck. Of course.

I took the new truck out to try the 4WD in the snowy mountains. I didn't have to go far, and found myself in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. It was lovely up there, and I think I'll be heading out for some camping trips in that area.


Good lookin' truck...

...and a happy girl!

It is also hunting season here in Colorado, and the boys have been out, and are going out again. Not that they even got a shot off during first season, but it was decided that some range practice was needed. I decided to accompany the boys, and borrowed a .270 from a friend. It's been ages since I fired a rifle at a range, but after a couple of shots, it all seemed to come right back and I had a blast.


My dad will be so proud!

So, although I have been pining for my sweet bike, I've been having a good time here and there without her. She is supposed to be ready on Tuesday...I know I'm ready to get her back, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. My first ride out on her will feel so good!