Thursday, June 30, 2011

Top Gun Police Motorcycle Competition, June 5th

Met up with several friends and went to watch the annual Top Gun Motorcycle competition. Usually every area of the state will bring riders out to compete. We go often and really enjoy it. These sort of competitions are held all over the United States!

This was a friend of a friend (Aurora PD), did a rather spectacular drop towards the end of the video (he's fine).

They also ran a new thing called "tandem" or something like that. Kinda a drill team exercise. It was neat! The point was to cross the cones at the same time.


Outlaw's Honda Sabre, my Ninja 650R, Swivel's Victory Vision

Our friends Timmy and Brandi's new son, Kyser

I felt bad for these guys taking their MSF basic course just next door! Talk about pressure. (The Motorcycle Safety Foundation basic course is similar to driving school for motorcycles)

Did I mention this is awesome to watch??

Beverly Hillbillies style.... I bought 100+ shop towels to use lubing my chain for $10...

Oh, and while Outlaw, Karla and I were waiting for Swivel (ahem), I scooted off to figure out how to get into the parking lot (there was construction). Well, Karla and I both failed to take off her seat pad. I got back and.... See it in the road? We have a little fixing to do...

Full slideshow, 32 photos:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our First Mountain Ride Together! June 12th

I had ridden with Karla around town a few times, and she'd been riding her bike loads, almost daily to and from work. For those that don't know, it's a 1982 Yamaha XJ1100. Yes, that's only a year younger than me and a full two years older than Karla! She put a lot of work into to get it running and has been enjoying the fruits of her labor.

After a full Saturday of working on the bike, we decided to hit the mountains Sunday!

We headed up 6th through the tunnels to Black Hawk, then up Peak to Peak with a detour through Raymond to check on the flooding down in that little creek side town. There were a few flooded yards and one flooded bridge (it was concrete though, no damage and still usable) so looked like everyone was fairing ok. All the way up to Estes Park, we had lunch near the Stanley Hotel. We used to stop and have lunch on their grounds, but now they charge a parking fee, so we avoid it. Heck, who charges the same for ONE motorcycle to park as they charge ONE pickup truck?? Anyways. They do have the best view, and easy to find a spot along side the small road.

It was a bit windy (always is) and we slept in, so we opted to turn around and enjoy Peak to Peak the other way! A stop for a photo (and an extra layer) in front of Mt. Meeker

I asked Karla which road she wanted to take back down off the Peak to Peak.... "Well, lets do something a little more fun." Ok! She thoroughly enjoyed Golden Gate Canyon road! And, I can attest she wore most of the nipples off the edges of her rear tire! She said she didn't touch a peg, but thought she was going to a few times. That XJ does have some nice highly placed pegs! Another stop to shed layers...

Then we got stuck behind a group of metric cruisers, the last three in a pack of 6 were so inexperienced it was scary... 3rd from the back was on an orange Sabre and almost dumped it doing 15mph in a corner when he grabbed both his brakes hard! YIKES. I felt bad for the guys. They all had nice, customized bikes (and a few very expensive paint jobs), no paper license plates so they'd had the bikes for a while, and man they didn't look like they were having any fun. The leader dropped his '09 Vmax in the dirt waiting for his buddies to catch up. Yikes. Lets just say we gave them lots of room and were happy to pass them when they pulled over to regroup (and pick up the vmax!).

Next stop was the Buffalo Rose in Golden! Was going to buy her a beer and Rocky Mountain Oysters (yum) but the place was packed so we settled on just a beer.

A bit of a headache with the parking.... I'm used to doing what I want, park here, park there, yada yada. Well, I wasn't communicating well and Karla got confused. We talked about it, next time I'll just let her pick the parking spot! Whoops... She did get LOTS of practice doing tight uturns though! You should see her, she doesn't even keep her feet down...

In the end did about 175 miles of twisties... 

View Larger Map

 She does however now want helemt communications. I agree, being able to talk would be great. "Hey I'm cold will you pull over?" "Lets stop to take a picture here." Yada yada... Thankfully she realizes we can't afford them! Put them on our "someday" list.

I'M SO PROUD OF HER! She did an excellent job. The bike ran well and got 42mpg, which according to the XJ/XS11 forum is good.

 We had a wonderful time, and she clearly loves riding. Her skill level is very impressive, she's thinking ahead, driving defensively and smartly. She says she picked it up from me, which is flattering for sure. It's clear she's been paying close attention to my riding style when she's with me. I think the number of times she rides with me is going to start dropping off fast, unless I manage to get a second, bigger bike that's more comfortable for her.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ride for Breakfast with the Honda ST-Owners Group, June 4th

On Sunday, Juney 4th at 7:30am Karla and I (on my bike) met up with 8+ Honda ST riders (my last bike was a ST1100) to ride up to the Arapahoe Cafe in Dillon for breakfast. The route also includes a trek over Loveland Pass (12,000 feet) with some stunning views and we go right past a still open ski area. These gatherings are called "RTEs" aka Ride to Eat on the ST-owners forum, and the RTE to the Arapahoe Cafe has become an annual ride. The place is delicious! I failed to get any food pictures (too busy stuffing my face), but trust me their huevos rancheros and granola pancakes (homemade granola) are to die for!

(my apologies, it seems google maps isn't embedding properly... Please click THIS LINK for a map)

If some of the photos are hazy and/or blurry I do apologize. There is a lot of smoke here from local and the Arizona wildfire, the camera struggled in the low light.

Still skiing!

Dillon Lake

Followed two of our friends back over Loveland Pass on the ride home

We hopped off the highway and took a smaller road home. Beautiful day for it.

FULL SLIDESHOW, 54 pictures

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

We had a wonderful time last year in Taos celebrating our anniversary, it was important to us to do another trip this year in the same spirit. Memorial weekend is the perfect time as we both have a "free" day off! As we are saving up hard for our trip to NC in July, heading south to my folks' place in Albuquerque was an obvious choice! My mom was out of town with my sister in DC, my dad loved being the center of our attention, and we loved having him all to ourselves!Their seemingly never-ending hospitality is a godsend, as well as them living so close! THANK YOU.

GPS says we did 890 miles, and using the bike tripmeter we averaged 54mpg! We stuck to 2 lane roads, where speeds average 65-70mph instead of 80+ on the freeway. Much more pleasant.

We left at about 9:30am Friday morning, cause after all we are on vacation! No rush. It was a BEAUTIFUL day. Sun was shining, warm enough, no rain forecasted for the entire weekend, just wind. Which was all good, as we didn't have any room for raingear or that many layers. We opted for our mesh gear as we knew it would be hot in NM.

We made a beeline for highway 285 


Once over Kenosha Pass we would get to follow these for a long time

Lots of ranches back here, loads of open space. No big towns to ride through.

Lunch in Poncha Springs (near Salida). If you're in the area, this place is a no brainer! We had to be careful with the wind though, had to park the bike into it and watch to keep things from blowing away. 

A nice couple took our picture

Bellies full, we hit the road. Karla admitted she couldn't take that many pictures as the 30mph wind was blowing us around quite a bit. She couldn't stay steady enough!

How she managed to get this panorama I have no idea. Well done honey!

A little bit later I had to pull over to get this! Without a communications system I couldn't sort out how to ask Karla to lean over my shoulder and take a picture while we were moving. On the ST we could have a normal conversation doing 90... Not so much on the 650R! That's ok though, it's easy to pull over and borrow the camera....

See the sand dunes? They are a National Park! We didn't go over there, I knew it would be packed this weekend.


Some strange folks in this area... Even saw a UFO spotting tower, or so the sign said....

Beautiful though

Antonito, CO is a good gas stop, as you won't see anything else for over 80 miles on your way south....

Lots of

And some more of... But it's still LOADS better than the freeway! Especially in this wind. You just have to get through this boring 65mile stretch


On the little 650R I can feel when Karla moves, adjusts for a photo or looks around. Not so much on the ST11, so it's a new feeling. I could tell she was looking up, and had been looking up for a while. She was watching a hawk and a crow soar together!

I think we were both imaging the same thing when we saw this road... Someday!

We made it safe and sound to my parents' place in Albuquerque. I think Karla's butt was DONE by the time we hit Santa Fe... She was a trooper! No way I could sit back there that long.

Anyways, Dad had stocked the fridge and even hit up the beer store to fill our brew orders while we took a shower!

Next up I KNEW I had to introduce Dad to these frozen yogurt bar places springing up all over the place. He has a sweet tooth the size of Texas so I knew he'd love it! First stop was Petsmart though, their cats are a little too liberal with their scratching post choices... I showed dad some more options and gave a little coaching on the issue, he says it seems to be helping so far!

Oh yeah, it was a hit.

Man I can't keep up with those two. I drank three glass of water before we left trying to help my body process all that sugar!

We headed back home, Karla and I PASSED OUT in the awesome guest beds my parents have. I swear, it's like staying at a 5 star hotel....

The next morning Grace, one of my parents' two cats, showed us how it's done

Karla and I couldn't wait for the next stop! Our favorite local cafe, omg this place is soooooo tasty.

Next stop was to see the family horse, Amber. I've been riding since I was 7, my folks got Amber for me from a local barn when I was 15 (I think, LOL, my memory is terrible). She's "retired" at the same barn where we bought her, basically where she grew up. She's a great mare, and celebrated her 26th birthday the weekend before! Dad and all the ladies down at the barn dote on her constantly, she's got it good. I was very very happy to see her. It would be great to have her closer to me, but this really is the best thing for her!

Our ritual head scratch. Dad said she doesn't do this with him... Normally this is a great excuse for me to get an awesome back massage, but ain't gonna happen in this shirt!

"I know there are treats in your pocket..."

Back to the house, cause remember we're relaxed and on vacation? Yeah, I know, I'm not always very good at it... Working on it!

Once again one of the household queens showing us how it's done

Although I don't think she had this in mind!

Dad making amends

Jilly, the other queen (the shy one), made a few appearances... I did get her on camera while we were mucking around with Karla's shoes.

Time for a nap, cause those beds are just THAT GOOD.

When we wake up, what's next? Hehehehehehehe how about flying star again.... Did I mention they make all their own desserts?

Hmmm, what to do next? Wanna go out and watch the sunset? Check out this bar? Go for a walk?

Haha, we ended up sitting, talking and drinking beer for HOURS.

Before we knew it hours flew by and it was dark... We couldn't figure out why we were all yawning until someone looked at the time.... 11pm! When did that happen??

Snagged this before we hit the sack...

Which turned out REALLY NEAT when I messed with it:

The next morning we'd have breakfast with Dad then hit the road the back way up to Santa Fe. They had a free room at a new casino up there called Buffalo Thunder and graciously offered it to us!!

Woke up to sunny skies, 70 degrees (and of course wind) and a hankering to see some more pavement!

But first, must get fuel.... Back to Flying Star!! Did I mention this is like a 5 star hotel/vacation???

Next we took the back way up to Santa Fe, on the other side of Sandia Peak (the mountain right next to Albuqerque). What a sweet little road! Loads of bikes too.

And of course, it's New Mexico, so there is always some stuff that makes you go "huh?"

Hehehehhehehehehehe. (Note, for those that haven't seen the movie Wild Hogs, you will not understand why this is so cool to see in person!)

and I was hungry!

The lady manning the store totally made up for it! She was going tit for tat with some older bikers flirting with her.

Time for more pavement!!

Lots of folks out on Memorial Day.

Yep. Still New Mexico. More things that make you go "huh??"

Ah, our destination!


The place was booked up full for the weekend (thankfully Dad had thought to call ahead ) and we weren't able to check in yet. BUT the really nice bell guys held onto our stuff for us. So, we threw on our shorts and a nice shirt under our gear and headed into Santa Fe.

Seems there is always one of these going on

Old town plaza

FINALLY they made some motorcycle parking, this was right off the plaza! 

Do you think the 650R did this to her new neighbor? Yep, she was a beauty.

La Fonda hotel has a great restaurant, and our family's favorite lunch stop in Santa Fe.

Had a little something to give Karla before the food showed up... (for you non-biker folks, this is called a Gremlin Bell. You hang it on your bike near your engine and it keeps the bad gremlins away from your bike!)

YUM. We were really hungry! COMBO PLATES RULE.

I'm now so full.......

Yep, Karla too....

But she always finds room for the last bite of sopapilla....

oh yeah!

Last time we were here the church was closed for renovations... Not this time! I love this place, it's beautiful and dedicated to the coolest saint: the saint of animals!

This was new... A statue of the first "Indian of North America" saint!

View of La Fonda from the church

We walked off a bit more of the food, and Karla got to do her favorite Santa Fe activity: Shopping! She's not much of a shopper ever, but she loves the street venders from the reservations. Some of the jewelry and stuff isn't all that nice, but a good 70% of it is well done hand made stuff.

Watching money for our big trip, she picked up a really neat cuff bracelet, a combo of brass and copper! It looks great on her. And I utterly failed to get a picture with the camera!! Here's a picture Karla took with her cell:

Alrighty, now our lunch is well digested and we've walked quite a bit... Whatcha wanna do next honey?
"Will you take me on a ride around the small streets?"
OMG I love this woman..... It's near impossible to get lost, but you can get very turned around. Off we go!

This guy is thinking... "huh??"

Up Canyon Road, the main avenue of the art galleries. Well, "art" atleast...


Then time for the more residential streets

Check out the wall built around the tree

Back to the casino... Heck even the 15min ride between old town and there was beautiful.

Ha, the 650R totally scored with parking partners this trip... Such a good shot I had to take it twice...

YAY we get to check in. Check out the room! Holy cow that bed was GINORMOUS.

And the view from the balcony! We were on the very end.

Ok, so I have to admit I've never been in a casino... Heck I don't gamble, AT ALL. Not even lottery tickets. So, guess I better go check it out...

After barely walking around the whole thing I was . My head was pounding and my eyeballs hurt trying to take in and process the barrage of information, and Karla said the place wasn't even that big! We fled back upstairs to the safety and relative normalcy of the rest of the hotel. Then, after looking at the menu upstairs ($$$) we realized we'd have to go back downstairs to eat in the "diner" in the casino.

(They were showing "minute to win it" on tv, we got sucked into watching... Better than watching the gamblers!)

Bellies full we ran back upstairs. Whew. This was much better:

We just sat and watched the light change with the setting sun

It was rather awesome.

Whoops it got dark again. Funny how that keeps sneaking up on us.

Time to head back to the room. We got distracted () and then had to make sense of our stuff that had mysteriously ended up all over the floor....

If I make piles does it make more sense??    

The next morning woke bright, sunny, and even windier. Wind warnings from here to Denver calling for gusts of 60mph. Well, no better time than the present, but we better find breakfast first.

Thankfully the hotel had a more reasonably priced and tasty breakfast buffet. I meant to pilfer some food for lunch but forgot. Anyways, off we go!

It was really cold... The wind was FREEZING. Mesh gear not good. We saw temps from 28-54, combined with the cold wind I was jealous of the big touring bikes we saw. Thankfully Karla said it wasn't as bad sitting behind me.

Can you see the shadows of the clouds keeping up with us? And we were cruising at 70mph.

Gas/lunch stop in Alamosa. The wind almost blew over my bike, twice. We were in the gas station for easily 30min just trying to warm up.

Wind was picking up all the sand in the basin where the sand dunes are

There are mountains back there

There are mountains on both sides of this long basin/valley

 Whew. The wind didn't die down but atleast we got out of the SAND.

Then we turned right into this and the temp dropped to the low 40s. Thankfully nothing came of it...

The high winds made for some really dramatic clouds, and spring is the most dramatic time to see the mountains.

We got snowed on, just a smidge.... And it stuck in the upper 30s to low 40s for almost 80 miles....

Relief showed up:

We weren't the only cold bikers in here either!!

Sort of defrosted and refueled, we hit the road for the 1.5 hour home stretch. Dunno why, but no more pictures... Coming down into Denver on 285 was like stepping off the ski slope into a hot tub. Ha, we even had our headsocks on and didn't care even though it was 65 degrees in Denver. We got home around 4:30 greeted by happy pets, a warm shower, leftover burritos and a movie on the futon. What a great time! A huge THANK YOU to Dad for hosting us and for the room in Santa Fe!