Friday, October 31, 2008

Devil's Backbone - Loveland, Colorado

Happy Halloween! Another beautiful day here in Colorado. With the temps in the high 70‘s today we decided to do a short hike this afternoon. So hard to choose with so many good hikes in the area, but since it was Halloween we decided to head to Loveland, about half an hour away and hike the Devil’s Backbone.

The the trail at Devil's Backbone Open Space connects to Horsetooth Mountain Park west of Fort Collins and Coyote Ridge Natural Area just south of Fort Collins, do the whole thing for a long, long hike.

We just hiked past The Keyhole and back (see small insert on the right)

The main trail at Devil’s Backbone can be used by mountain bikes, horses and hikers, but only hikers can go up to The Keyhole, so that’s where we hiked. The view was really cool. We continued further past The Keyhole until the trail started to climb again and turned around to hike back past The Keyhole again and back down to the parking lot.

The trail at The Devil's Backbone Open Space

Mike climbing the trail

Unique rock formations along the trail

On the trail to The Keyhole

This was a very enjoyable trail, with nice views and the hills made it a good work out. Now we can eat all the left over Halloween candy without any guilt.

The Kehole comes in to view

Approaching The Keyhole

Standing with The Keyhole behind me, you can see the Rockies in the distance from here

Looking toward Loveland, CO

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Faulty EGCV and air intake valve servo motor

After 42,360 trouble free miles, my Honda CBR 954RR maybe having it’s first problem. I say maybe because we won’t know until we open the servo motor. I’m hoping there is some grime in there, or it's a faulty sensor, or something silly. I just hope none of the expensive components need replacing.

The bike is running fine but on my ride today the red light lit up and stayed lit along with the “FI” icon. I was a bit nervous riding the bike 150 miles back home with the red light staring at me the whole way. Not knowing what problem the bike was experiencing and if it would even make it home.

After arriving home I started to dig around in the service manual and there is it was.

Below text copied/pasted from the service manual:


Place the motorcycle on its side stand.

Start the engine and let it idle.

If the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) does not light
or blink, the system has no memory of problem data.

If the malfunction indicator blinks, note how many blinks.

The malfunction indicator lamp (MlL) will start blinking only with the side stand down and with the engine off (engine stop switch in RUN) or engine revs are below 5,000 rpm In any other conditions, the Mil will illuminate and stay on.

So we went in the garage and started the bike. The red light didn’t automatically turn on when the engine was started. I was watching it all day and it wasn't turning on until the engine was warm and running at about 179 degrees.

We let the bike run in the driveway and waited. The engine temp was already way past 185 degrees and no red light yet. Since it was on while I was riding, maybe the bike had to be ridden for the light to come on?

I already took my contacts out so Mike took the 954RR for a spin, within minutes he was back with the red light on and the “FI” icon displayed on the dash.

We put the bike on the side stand and turned the engine off, the red light started blinking. We counted 35 blinks.

Then we went back inside the house to read what 35 blinks meant.

It was the Faulty EGCV and air intake valve servo motor.

So my ST3 is not running right and still has to go to a dealer to get looked at and now my 954RR has a problem. On the bright side, winter is coming and the riding season is coming to an end. And I still have a dual-sport bikes that runs.

Wyoming: Battle Pass and Snowy Range Pass

I look at maps and I see squiggly lines representing roads, then one by one I want to ride these roads and see what they are all about. With the fall season in full swing and winter just around the corner, even though some of the mountain roads are still open for another few weeks, the riding conditions may not be favorable at higher elevations.

The weather has been great with temps in the 70’s all week. I wanted to take a chance and head up to so some of the passes in Wyoming. I checked the Wyoming website for road conditions and the roads were dry. The two roads I wanted to ride would be closing soon and wouldn’t be reopening until late May so it was ride them now or wait until next year.

Our 340 miles route included a ride up to Battle Pass and though Snowy Range Pass

With another beautiful day upon us and temps in the 70’s we headed north out of Fort Collins on 287. It was a windy day and the wind was really blowing on 287. The route I had planned for today was 340 miles long. The plan was to ride WY 230, then ride WY 70 up to Battle Pass, turn around and head toward WY 130, and continue past Snowy Range Pass until reaching Laramie and then head home.

We left an hour late then we wanted to, about 11AM so we already knew there wouldn’t be too many stops on today’s ride.

230 was a long, long road. Most of it was rather straight running through vast open spaces, there would be a hill or two here and there and some curves, some elevation changes and a portion running through the forest. A nice and relaxing road with little traffic, although the wind didn’t let me relax too much. We saw some pronghorn in the distance and a fox crossed the road in front of the bike.

We passed through Riverside, then turned on 70 and rode through Encampment, both very small towns. As we started to climb Wyoming Highway 70 into the Sierra Madre Mountains through the Medicine Bow National Forest I had to stop and finally put on my Gerbing heated liner which was still in my tank bag. This was the first stop since Laramie.

Approaching Sierra Madre Mountains

70 also known as the Battle Highway. The road climbs to 9,955 feet in elevation at Battle Pass. There was lots of snow on the side of the road here but none on the road. We took a short break here for pictures and to play in the snow. This road was nice, very nice, the curves were delightful and so were the views.

Parked at Battle Pass on highway 70

There is a snow ball heading towards me, if you look close you can see it right next to Mike's hand - he missed

He got me with this one since I was closer

Heading back down from the pass toward Encampment, WY

We headed back down the mountain and stopped in Riverside to get gas. Not to many gas stations around here. We gassed up in Laramie, then noting until the station here at the intersection of 230 and 70. From here there wouldn’t be another gas station until past the Snowy Range Pass in Centennial. We were pretty hungry at this point and decided to eat the sandwiches we brought with. We wanted to stop and have our lunch at the top of Battle Pass but it was too cold and windy up there. Here at Riverside it was in the 60’s degrees and less windy.
After lunch we took off toward the scenic byway Wyoming Highway 130 which is also known locally as the Snowy Range Road. From the east it travels across the plains then climbs over the Medicine Bow Mountains. 130 is one of the shortest of Wyoming’s scenic byways, both in the number of miles and in the number of months that it’s open to traffic. At Snowy Range Pass the road climbs to 10, 847 feet in elevation.

At lower elevations on 70 heading toward Encampment, WY

Gas stop in Riverside, WY

This was also our lunch stop, we had some home made sandwiches, cookies and water with us, no need to eat out

Even though I planned the route to hit the lower of the passes first, which was Battle Pass on 70, allowing all day for any ice to melt on 130 at Snowy Range Pass, the road still had a bit of ice and snow on it in some places. Nothing major, but I did keep my eyes on the road, slowed down and watched my back tire loose traction just a tiny bit on two occasions. Not to scary, but enough to keep watching the road.

Mike on highway 130

This road was truly scenic. The curves and views were beautiful. I couldn’t wait to stop and take some pictures, so I stopped at the first frozen lake realizing just after I stopped that it was getting late now and we really couldn’t afford to stop anymore.
I climbed up the pass and was told later that I totally rode past Mike, who was parked at one of the scenic pull outs. I must have been looking at something else. Apparently this scenic spot had spectacular views and Mike didn’t have a camera.

A frozen lake on highway 130

It was very hard not to stop for pictures on this road. I was passing by beautiful lakes with mountain backdrops, scenic pullouts fro which you could see down the mountain and into the distance. I had unplugged my Gerbing the first time I stopped since when I plan on stopping a lot for pictures I don’t like to be plugged into the bike and having to unplug the Gerbing cable at each stop, so toward the end of the twisties I stopped one last time and got the cable out for my Gerbing and plugged it in. It was getting chilly riding without heat.

Medicine Bow Mountains

Scenic Wyoming byway 130

Since I didn’t know that Mike had pulled over I though he was still in front of me so once down the mountain I stated to head toward Laramie to catch him, then 15 minutes later I see his headlight in my mirror. We headed back to Fort Collins and arrived just before it was totally dark.

The ride on 230 was OK, I don’t expect to ride that road too much in the future now that I’ve seen it. I did like riding up to Battle Pass, the road and curves were fun. But 130 through Snowy Range Pass was definitely the highlight of this ride. There are so many opportunities for pictures on 130 and so much nice scenery and great curves, I was a bit bummed that we ran out of time and couldn’t really stop. It’s too late in the year to go back up there with the bike, maybe we’ll have to drive up there before the road closes. Either way this road is definitely on my list to ride when it opens back up late May next year.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

RMNP: Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lakes

We were looking forward to hiking some more trails at the Rocky Mountain National Park Today. The temperature in Fort Collins was in the upper 60’s today, so we were expecting the temps in the mountains to be in the 40’s and 50’s. The wind was blowing in the mountains but the sun was out.

Today our hike would start at the Bear Lake Trailhead located at 9,475 feet in elevation. We were planning to hike first to Nymph Lake, then to Dream Lake and finally to Emerald Lake, then using the same trail back to the car. The hike was approximately 4 miles long and climbs 605 feet in elevation. The trail climbs continuously starting at Bear Lake Trailhead and reaches 10,080 feet at Emerald Lake.

Within the first 10 minutes of hiking we had to put on our hats and gloves. The wind was cold and blowing hard at times. This was the largest elevation gain so for on a hike at the park, and there were many stars to climb here, many covered by snow and ice. This was definitely a workout.

Mike in front of Nymph Lake

On the trail to Dream Lake

Amazing views of the mountains from the trail

Above two pictures are of Dream Lake

Mike in front of Dream Lake

Me in front of Dream Lake

A submerged log in the frozen waters of Dream Lake

The views were amazing and photographs unfortunately can’t capture such beauty. Nymph Lake was first, most of it was covered by ice. It was pretty but not as pretty as Dream Lake. Much Larger, it also had ice covering some of it. The wind was really blowing hard at Dream Lake but it was so pretty here we decided to eat the sandwiches we brought for lunch. We hid behind some rocks to hide from the winds gusts but as soon as we finished eating we were ready to continue our hike. It was cold just sitting around. The trail ended at Emerald Lake, appropriately names as the water did look green.

On the way to Emerald Lake

Snow and ice on the stairs makes for a careful climb

Approaching Emerald Lake

Me in front of Emerald Lake

This was the windiest spot so far on our hike and we only stayed here for the duration of the pictures.

Heading back down the trail - lots of stairs

I’m glad I had my trekking poles, they helped climbing the trail over snow and ice. And even though I brought an extra layer in case I was cold I never had to use it. This trail was a bit crowded but then again it was the weekend.

We hiked the hi-lited trail, approx. 4 miles round trip, 605 feet elevation gain

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Deadman Rd CR-162 & Cherokee Park Rd CR-80C

If you have been following my blog you might have noticed the recent lack of dirt riding. Our last ride on dirt took place in March - that‘s like 6 months ago.

We actually did plan a dual-sport weekend ride to Iowa early in the summer, but at the last minute the weather turned bad and we decided not to go. We also wanted to tow the bikes to Northern Wisconsin for a weekend, that ride didn’t happen either. We had many street rides planned for the Spring and Summer and adding a few dirt rides that required towing the bikes just never happened. Towing the bikes to go somewhere for a few days is not so bad, but towing the bikes just for the weekend ends up being more work than it’s worth. Not to mention that we’d have to drive a few hours to get anywhere worth while and that takes away from our riding time.

Well, I’m happy to say that the dirt riding hiatus is officially over. Today we did a ride on our dual-sports and we didn’t even need a trailer to get our bikes to the good roads. We rode them there. Got to love Colorado and Larimer County where we live. I found a nice little pie chart from 2006 that showed the percentage of paved vs. non-paved roads in Larimer County.

It was a beautiful day today, the temps were supposed to be in the low 70’s and we wanted to do a longer ride.

The idea for this ride came about when I read something about CR 80C, also called Cherokee Park Road. I wanted to ride this road on my street bikes but then I found out this road was not paved. Now I really wanted to check it out.

Our 150 miles route

Mike had wanted to see the area around Red Feather Lakes just south of CR 80C. The road to Red Feather Lakes is paved. Mike found a road that connected the Redfeather Lakes Road, also known as 74E, to CR 80 C. This connecting road was dirt and was called the Deadman Road, also knows as CR 162 and it climbed to over 10,000 feet in elevation. It looked like we had a dual-sport loop.

If we didn’t do this ride soon we might not be able to do it this year, since soon there would be too much snow up there to ride safely. With a 150 mile route planned - 80 miles of the roads being paved and 70 miles being dirt, we got on our dual-sports and headed north.

Now if you read the previous ride report, I wrote that it felt weird to ride my 954RR after not riding for 2 months. Well, let me tell you, it was super weird riding the XT225 after not riding it for 6 months. And I think I totally forgot how to ride on dirt.

Gas stop east of Red Feather Lakes

287 North from Fort Collins is posted at 65MPH, I let many vehicles pass me since it’s uphill and the XT was topping out at 60MPH and people tent to drive that road about 10 over. We turned West on 74E Redfeather Lakes Road. Gas was going to be an issue on this ride, Mike has a huge tank on his XR so we brought a hose with us so we could siphon some gas from his bike if I ran out. My gas that I used to ride with was in storage in Illinois. I didn’t bring it because even though in the beginning I carried extra gas with me, I actually never needed to use it. We were in luck though, around 50 miles in to the trip there was a resort on the left and they had gas so I filled up again. There is a gas station is Livermore, but they had plastic bags covering their pumps. Now I had enough gas to make it back to Fort Collins.

Cowboys herding cattle across Redfeather Lakes Road, see the red bike behind all the cows, that's Mike

There was a bit of traffic on Redfeather Lakes Road, after all it was the weekend. Further down the road some cowboys were getting their herd of cattle across the road and Mike got stuck waiting for the road to clear. This is the Wild West, don’t you know?

Mike passing cars to get behind the horses

Then just as I was laughing in my helmet about the “Wild West” notion we came up to a line of cars going painfully slow. Ahead of them there were two horses running in the middle of the road. Mike passed all the cars and followed the horses and I followed him. They were not moving out of the way and it looked like they were racing each other. This is the Wild West! After about two miles or more they started to move to the shoulder, then one of the horses noticed Mike passing him and he started race him. One horse was no match for multiple horse power bike, the horses finally moved over to the dirt shoulder and we passed them.

Still following the horses

Redfeather Lakes Road turns into Deadman Road and that’s where the pavement ends. At first the road is gravel, but after you enter the Roosevelt National Forest there is less traffic, no weekend homes and the road becomes nice hard packed dirt. This is where I started to really enjoy the ride. Crisp fresh air with scents of pine, spruce and other evergreen trees rushed in to my nostrils. The road climbed gently and soon there was some snow on the grass near the road but a bit further there was snow on the road. Parts of the road were covered in melting snow, so I was getting a bit of mud on me, but some parts of the road that were in the shadows were slick, specially the parts that had melted and re-froze.

Starting the climb on Deadman Road

Huge mountains behind me

Mike riding on Deadman Road through the Roosevelt National Forest

Once we climbed to 10,353 feet in elevation, the highest elevation displayed on the GPS, the road got even more twisty. The going was good but I was slowing down over the snow sections. My back tire slid out a couple of times and that didn’t feel all that great specially going downhill.
We came down the mountain and the road opened up to an amazing view. We brought some sandwiches and snacks with us, we decided to stop here and have lunch.

Some snow on the road at 10,000+ feet in elevation

More snow on the road through the downhill curves

After lunch we continued to descend in elevation and turned north on to CR 80C, I think this road is called Cherokee Park Road further to the east of here, I don‘t know what it‘s right here.
CR 80 C was not at all like Deadman Road. Where Deadman Road ran up and down a mountain and through a forest, CR 80 C ran through an open area at first, then some hills, then a bunch of ranches, toward 287 there was some awesome canyons.

Near the end of Deadman Road

Our lunch spot, see Mike sitting near the road

Such beautiful views are worth one more picture

End of Deadman Road at CR-80 C

I didn’t take too many pictures toward the end of the ride, the sun was low on the horizon and we wanted to get home before it was totally dark. We got on 287 heading towards Fort Collins, since it was downhill my bike got up to 76 MPH in few places.

CR-80 C

CR-80 C

Toward the east CR-80 C is also knows as Cherokee Park Road

So many awesome rock formations on this road

It's black and white with spots but looks nothing like the cows in Wisconsin

Cherokee Park Road

This was a great ride on some great roads. And there are so many more dirt roads to explore in this area.

Our GPS tracks showing approximately the location of the highest elevation we reached on this route

Elevation chart from this ride