Sunday, August 30, 2009

Old Rabbit Ears Pass to Walden to Loveland

Ouch my aching head! After living in Colorado for almost a year I still experience altitude sickness, although it’s not so bad anymore and I only get it when I’m spending the night over 9,000 feet in elevation like I did last night. I didn’t really get much sleep last night, when I try to sleep at high elevation I just tend to lay there and I'm unable to fall asleep. When I got up this morning I was feeling sick to my stomach but within an hour or twoI felt a lot better.

Camping in the woods at Routt National Forest

Breakfast is served

Packing up the bike and getting ready to leave, I grabbed this photo from CJ's camera

Posing at the Old Rabbit Ears Pass monument

The ST3 and the Old Rabbit Ears Pass monument

CJ riding out of the woods on his SV650

I'd say his bike is packed to gills, wouldn't you?

Everyone was up by the time I crawled out of my tent. There was one pancake left from breakfast and it had my name written all over it. By the time I ate breakfast and started packing, I was feeling much better. There was no rush to leave, the plan was to get home the same way I rode out there yesterday, which took only 3 hours. But since it was Sunday today and we were heading back to Fort Collins it was going to take a bit longer since there was definitely going to be lots traffic heading in that direction.

FR-315 and rain clouds

The ST3 on FR-315

That strange looking mountain peak on the right that looks like two bunny ears is you guessed it... Rabbit Ears

Some motorcyclist turning on to highway 14 from 40 at Muddy Pass

CJ and I were the last ones to leave. First we took some pictures with the Old Rabbit Ears monument, then we headed east stopping in Walden, where CJ lived for many years, for lunch.

By the time we rolled in to Walden, the dark clouds were right on top of us and decided to give us a brief shower. We pulled in to the parking lot of Moose Creek Cafe, grabbed a table outside and had some lunch. The rain had already stopped and we had a roof over our head anyway incase it started up again.

Well, I blew past the new Rabbit Ears Pass sign, the curves are so nice heading back down on 40, I did manage to stop at the Muddy Pass sign though

Parked at the Moose Creek Cafe in Walden, with rain clouds in the distance

Lots of bikes here today

Me and moose

By the time we finished eating the rain had moved off way to the east and we ended up riding on wet pavement but not in the rain. On Sundays the traffic gets bad near Fort Collins, the last 15 miles we were creeping and crawling following a long line of vehicles below speed limit. We turned off on to the twisty Stove Prairie Road and to my surprise there was no traffic on this road at all.

Lunch at the Moose Creek Cafe in Walden, the burrito was really good

CJ and I parted ways at the junction of Stove Prairie Road and 56. He took Stove Prairie in to Fort Collins and I took 56 down to Loveland. Another great weekend riding and camping in Colorado.

A stop on highway 14

CJ took this one with his camera, I don't know what I'm doing, maybe I'm saying "look the rain clouds are going away"

The ST3 and SV with some spectacular scenery on highway 14

One more, same spot different angle

Just a few miles from home on 56 at Stove Prairie Road

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A ride out to the Old Rabbit Ears Pass

This weekend a bunch of people were planning on camping in the Routt National Forest at the old Rabbit Ears Pass just east of Steamboat Springs. Some of them were going there to ride trails and dirt roads, some were going to fish, some were doing both.

I wanted to take the XT225 on another overnight camping ride and this would have been the perfect place to do it but this week was just a bit crazy and I just had so much to do since I was heading out on another multi-day ride starting next weekend and I was still finalizing the route and where to camp. Taking the XT225 was just out of the question at this point. It would take too much effort to try and pack the XT for an overnight ride. I had already declined my invitation but then at 10PM last night CJ e-mailed me to let me know that he wasn’t able to get his XR400 finished in time to ride out there and was going to take his SV650 instead. I wanted to ride the XT because I wanted to ride the many dirt roads in the area, but riding the ST3 out there and camping would be fun too.

Todays 149 mile route to the old Rabbit Ears Pass located in the Routt National Forest; highways 14 and 40, and FR-315

I decided to head out there this weekend but I still couldn’t leave early in the morning to ride out there with CJ. Now that I decided to ride the ST3 I was also a bit concerned that the forest road to the campsite might not be paved. I asked CJ to text me when he got there and let me know if the forest road road was paved. At noon I got a text message stating the road was paved but people were not camping at the Dumont Lake campground. Instead the group had set up camp just east of there. This is what I love about Colorado, in most of the forests you can pitch a tent anywhere and camp for free. I was really glad to know that the road was paved since I really dislike riding gravel on my heavy ST3, especially since I don't flat foot the bike.

My paper maps show the road as FR-315 or CR-315, but some on-line mapping software show it as 199, Old Rabbit Ears Pass is located on that road just east of Dumont Lake (N 40°23'59" W 106°37'05")

I had brand new tires on the ST3 so I was excited to be able to try them out this weekend and heading up toward Steamboat Springs meant I was going to ride the curvy highway 14 AKA Poudre Canyon. I packed up the ST3 and got going around 2:30PM, a little later then I wanted to but I just had so much to do a the house. The ride there was 149 miles and Microsoft Streets and Trips informed me me that it would be 3 hours and 13 minutes. Even with a stop for gas in Fort Collins and a stop for bathroom near Cameron Pass I still made it out there in 2 hours and 45 minutes. I didn't stop for any pictures on the way since I wanted to get there quick.

Parked for the night across the road from Old Rabbit Ears pass

Some people rode their bikes and some brought their cars

This is the Rabbit Ears Pass memorial up close, you can see in the distance in the above pictures

Dinner: chili and beer

Eating dinner and chit chatting, once it got dark this is where we ended up spending the evening, sitting in front of a camp fire

Camping right off FR-315 in the Routt National Forest

The ride out there was great. The brand spanking new Pirelli Diablo Stradas dove in to each corner so effortlessly. There was hardly any traffic on highway 14 heading west this late in the afternoon and if that wasn‘t already a treat, part of highway 14 had brand new pavement. West of Walden I turned east on to highway 40. I rode past Muddy Pass and Rabbit Ears Pass, and found forest road 315, also CR-315 on some maps, and a few minutes later I found the group camping on the side of the road just across from the old Rabbit Ears Pass memorial at 9,680 feet in elevation. I showed up just in time for dinner and before I could even get my gear off, I was handed a beer and some chili.

Looking at the camp site from the road

This is my tent, I left my bike near the road for an easy exit tomorrow

CJ rode his bike on to the grass and parked it next to his tent

After dinner everyone went fishing at the nearby Dumont Lake. I needed to set up my tent before it got dark, but after that was done I joined everyone at the lake although I was the only one not fishing. We stayed at the lake until sunset, then walked back to our camping spot and spent the rest of the evening sitting around the camp fire. The night was chilly, but I was pretty comfy inside my 15 degree sleeping bag although I didn't sleep very well, most likely due to the high elevation.

FR-315 is a narrow paved road, looking west at 315 from the Old Rabbit Ears Pass

The dirt road to Dumont Lake

Dumont Lake

It looks like CJ caught something

A few of the others brought cars so they could bring their kayaks and canoes

Monday, August 24, 2009

Review: Continental Road Attack

The Continental Road Attacks were good tires and performed well until the end. My only complaint is that they just didn’t last long enough.

This second rear tire only gave me 6,500 miles. The first rear tire I took off at approximately 7,000 miles last summer because I was getting ready to do a long ride and didn’t think the old rear tire would make the trip.

First Continental Road Attack rear tire had something stuck in the rubber when I took the wheel of to get the new tire mounted

The second Continental Road Attack rear tire had a nail stuck in the rubber, although it went in sideways and didn't cause any air to leak since it punctured the rubber only - two tires near the end of their life and two punctures - kind of weird

I went with a second Road Attack rear because I still had the first Continental Road Attack front tire on the bike and wanted matching sets. I get a new front tire for every two rear tires.

First Continental Road Attack rear at about 7,000 miles (left), second Continental Road Attack rear at 6,500 miles (right)

The Continental Road attack front tire had 13,500 miles when I took it off and it had some weird uneven wear. The last 1,500 miles I started to feel the clip-ons jerking just a tad in the corners. This uneven wear still wasn’t as big of a deal as that bulge that developed on my Avon Azaro front or the two Bridgestone fronts that cupped.

The front Continental Road attack with 13,500 miles

I’m going with a set of Pirelli Diablo Strada for the front and rear on the ST3 now. I love the set I have on the 954RR, the tires have held up very well. They have close to 12,000 miles now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

ST3: New tires - Part 2

When I left my bike in Dalton’s garage last Sunday and needed to take his car to get back home because the caliper bolt was stripped (see previous post) and I didn‘t have a spare, we decided that I’d come back during the week with a new caliper bolt. We would only need a few hours to install the rear wheel on the ST3. Then I could ride the ST3 home and Dalton could have his car back.

So I made it back to Dalton’s with a new bolt for the rear caliper earlier this week. I picked up the rear caliper bolt at the Ducati dealer and paid $5 for it - yikes! I was going to get some spares but not at this price. By the time I left work and made it to Dalton’s we only had about three hours to get everything done before I had to head back home.

While trying to get the rear wheel back on I grabbed the GIVI top rack and it moved. Then I noticed that the GIVI top rack wasn’t bolted down in two places. Two bolts were missing, one on each side. You can’t see the bolts with the side cases on, so who knows how long they were missing. Couldn’t have been too long though, the top case would have been too heavy to stay up on the rack without those bolts so they fell out very recently. Probably at the end or after the 4th of July trip.

A GIVI top rack bolt is missing, the same bolt is gone from the other side

Getting the rear wheel back on and adjusting the chain took way longer then it should have. We still needed to figure out how to secure the GIVI top case rack using some zip ties and I still had to put the plastics back on the ST3, which is very time consuming and a pain. And before riding 95 miles back home I wanted to do a test ride to make sure the rear tire and everything was good to go.

We worked as fast as we could but it just wasn’t going to happen and you can’t rush these things. I would have to leave my bike here until the weekend after all. Dalton made some measurements for the GIVI rack bolts that were missing. I would not be going to the Ducati dealer for those and paying too much.

So this weekend I was back to finish the ST3. I had with me two 8mm x 25mm bolts that I picked up at a hardware store for $0.87 each. Dalton was going to install a new front tire on my ST3 but first I wanted to get those two bolts back in to the GIVI top case rack. After examining the situation, I couldn’t believe it, but I was going to have to take the whole plastic off the tail section and unbolt the Nonfango rack that holds the side cases in order to get those two GIVI rack bolts in.

Picked up some bolts at a hardware store for the GIVI top case rack; they fit

In order to get those two GIVI top case rack bolts in I had to take apart the whole tail section of the bike

After two hours the GIVI top case rack bolts were in and I could finally concentrate on taking off the front wheel. Dalton mounted and balanced the front wheel and we got the wheel back on to the bike. I was finally done! It took two weekends but the ST3 had new tires, new coolant and two new GIVI rack bolts and was ready to come home. The new Pirelli Diablo Strada tires felt awesome. New tires always feel great but I really love the Stradas. With exactly 33,333 miles on the odometer I headed home. I’m hoping to get 10,000 miles out of these tires.

It's a very happy moment when the plastics are all back on the bike

Check out these really cool and high-tech brake caliper holders

While I was messing around with the bolts and plastics on the ST3, the VFR got a new rear tire mounted

Work in progress: VFR missing the rear wheel, ST3 missing the front wheel

Dalton taking off my old front Continental Road Attack

Mounting my new front Pirelli Diablo Strada

Heading back home on fresh and shiny new tires

The odometer turns 33,333 miles

Because the Pirelli Diablo Strada tires are very pointy, the ST3 is slightly taller and leans more on the kickstand. Pointy tires turn in quicker