Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


One of the problems with riding any of the new Triumph motorbikes is that aftermarket parts are quite expensive, as compared to those parts made for other brands of bikes.  And, many parts aren't even available on the aftermarket, making it technically impossible to upgrade without custom fabrication.

Earlier, I briefly described installing XR-60 Honda replacement foot pegs on the Scrambler, since I can't seem to get PivotPegz to ship the set I bought from them.  (I am awaiting resolution of my dispute on PayPal to see if I can get my money back.)  The pegs work fine, but I spent about 3 hours with a Dremel, a bench grinder and various files in order to get them mounted.  I had to remove a spine of metal from the inside of the mount on the motorbike, as well as shape the pegs to pivot inside that mount.  I also had to grind down the length of the bushings on which the pegs pivot, replace the pivot pin with a nut and bolt, and cut a notch for the spring to seat in, so that I could pre-load it and get the pegs to snap back into place if they get pushed back.

I would much rather have just installed some pegs which were actually designed for the Scrambler.

Another piece that I wanted to replace was the shifter lever.  I had snapped the toe peg off of it on the ill-fated rocky ride, last month, and I had repaired it.  But, I wanted to have a pivoting shifter, like all the dirt bikes come with, to avoid breaking it again.  However, as far as I know, no one makes such a shifter lever for the Scrambler.

This morning, I rode the bike down to Performance Motorcycle, and parked in their lot.  There, I removed the shift lever and took it inside the store with me.  I went to the racks of replacement pivoting dirt bike shifters, and started comparing the shifters with mine.  I was looking for something which was reasonably close in shape and length.  After about five minutes (one of which was wasted in having to explain to a 17-year-old salesman that I realized I wasn't in the "road bike" section and that I did know what I was doing, thank you), I had what I needed.

It is an alloy MSR-brand replacement lever for the Honda CR-80 (or the CR-85).  It bolted right on, clears everything, and is actually easier to hit with my toe, from the peg, than was the stock version.

The stock lever went into the "removed stock parts" box.

So, this is how the bike sits, now, with new brake and clutch levers, shifter and pegs (plus Tourance tires, in place of the knobblies):

I will take it in for the 6000-mile warranty check, in two weeks (I made an appointment, this morning), and get the fuel injection remapped to optimize the K&N air filter /D&D exhaust cans combination.  Then, the next week, I am going to make a banzai-style run to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the last day of Speed Week, then back home, as a 3-day round trip.  We'll ride out on Thursday, go to the salt on Friday, and ride home on Saturday for a total of about 1400 to 1500 miles by the time we are done.

It's been a pretty fun summer, so far, on the motorbike.  It has almost made up for the lack of bicycling...


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Year of The Lepus

I had never seen a rabbit in my neighborhood, until this year. Now, we are overrun with bunnies, as though God has visited us with the cutest plague, ever...


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summertime Blues

It's hot, here in Denver (and lots of other places across the nation), and has been for quite a while.  But, one good thing about Denver is that you can escape the heat, for a while, simply by heading west.

Friday morning, I got up, with a tentative plan to head up into the high country in order to get away from the forecast 100 degree temps, and I turned on the television, to check the weather forecast.  Sometimes, mid-day thunder storms make high elevation motorcycling bit iffy.  That was when I learned of the shooting spree at the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie.

Getting out of town never seemed like a better idea.

So, I jumped on the Scrambler and headed out of town on Highway 285.  I rode up Turkey Creek Canyon, and then turned onto Parmalee Gulch Road, to get to bear Creek Canyon.  Parmalee is a very twisty road, lots of fun on a motorbike, but I kept the speed down a bit from my normal pace.  The news of the day was a bit distracting, and I didn't want to let a lack of concentration get me into trouble. 

At bear Creek Canyon, I turned uphill, went through Evergreen and turned onto the road to go over Squaw Pass.  As I climbed up the twisty pass road, the temperature dropped pretty noticeably.  I stopped at Echo Lake and pulled on my arm warmers.  I was wearing my mesh, summertime riding jacket, and I was actually a bit chilly.

I headed down Devil's Canyon, to Idaho Springs.  The road was smooth, curvy and a blast to ride.  For the first time on the ride, I was able to concentrate on the bike and forget (just for a moment) the horrible events of the night before.

At the base of the steep downhill, where the road flattens out on the approach to Idaho Springs, I passed a Honda Goldwing parked on the shoulder of the road, facing the opposite way.  Something didn't look good about the situation, so I turned around and went back to check on the rider.  I pulled up to the pretty wide pullout, where most riders would have parked, and saw a lady in her early 60s sitting on a log in the shade.  I pulled over to her, and cut the motor.

When I asked if everything was okay, the lady told me that the front tire was flat on the big Honda, and her husband didn't want to pull it off of the pavement.  Hence, why it was parked right on the edge of the road. 

Her husband had hitched a ride into town, to try get help.  When I asked her if she wanted a ride into town, she told me that she had no idea where in Idaho Springs her husband would be, and that she was happy waiting where she was.

I wished her well, and continued on my way.

In town, I filled up with gas, and grabbed some food at the gas station convenience store.  I threw the food into my saddlebag, and headed up I-70 toward Loveland Pass.  As I approached the Johnson/Eisenhower Tunnels, I turned off of the Interstate onto US-6 and headed up to the summit od Loveland Pass, at the Continental Divide.

In the 20 years that I have lived here, in Colorado, I had never ridden to the top of the pass on a motorbike. I had driven over it in cars, quite a few times, but I had always taken the tunnel when headed west on the bike, for some reason.

I climbed up from the ski area at about 45 or 50 mph.  The 30 mph speed limit makes good sense for cars and trucks, but the road is wide and smooth, and the speed I was going was fast enough to not be boring, while slow enough to feel relaxed.  Of course, the hairpin curves required slowing down, but accelerating through them is what makes riding a motorcycle so much fun.

At the summit, I pulled into a parking area, retrieved my food from the bag, and realized that I had neglected to bring a cap with me.  The sun was beating down on my bald head, so I took out my bandanna and fashioned an Axel Rose out of it, and climbed up the wood and earth steps on the north side of the highway. 

I sat down on the ridge, looking over the mountains and the line of ants which was I-70, far below, and ate my hotdogs and chips.  The temperature was around 60 or 65 degrees, with a slight breeze, and the sun was warm enough that I took my jacket off and sat in a t-shirt and arm-warmers as I ate.

I spent about an hour sitting there, just soaking in the scenery and enjoying the coolness.  I watched tourists taking pictures of each other at the Continental Divide sign, as young couples walked arm in arm along the hiking trail below me.  A teen-aged couple got out of sight of moms and dads and stole a kiss, as I drank my strawberry sports drink.

Eventually, I got back on the motorbike and headed down the Pacific side of the mountain.  At Dillon, I stopped at Starbucks for an iced vanilla latte (and a bathroom break), then I headed back the way I had come.  I rode over the Divide without stopping, then back down to I-70, which I followed all the way back to Denver. 

After stopping by Performance Motorcycle Parts to get some things for the Scrambler, I went home and worked on the bike for a while.  I have a PayPal claim in against PivotPegz USA, since I not only haven't gotten my replacement pegs, for which I paid them $179.00, but they won't answer emails asking if the pegs have been shipped.  So, I bought some pegs for a Honda XR-650, after patiently explaining to a young sales clerk that I did know the pegs weren't for my bike, and modified them to fit.

Sitting in my driveway, sweating in the low-90 degree temps that the cloud cover had dropped us to, I ground and filed the mounting points and the Honda pegs into a fit, and got my front peg situation remedied.

Later in the evening, as the sun went down, I sat in the front yard with some friends and had a few drinks.  We were all discussing the days events, and I was happy that I had managed to get out on my ride.  It didn't make the news of the theater shooting any less horrifying, but it certainly helped me process it without being crushed by the weight of it.

Sometimes, riding a bike, whether a motorbike or a push-bike, is excellent therapy for me.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Goals...I tend to set them for myself, both at work and in my personal life, just to avoid being useless.  Sometimes I achieve them, other times I don't.  The three of you who read regularly will probably remember that I set goals for big rides on each of my bikes, this year.  Then, my body let me down and I was forced off of the bike for a month and a half by Achilles Tendinitis.  No big rides to speak of, so far...

Getting old truly sucks.

The same malady forced me to abandon my commute-by-bike-every-day routine, last summer, after 838  828 work days (a bit over 4 years) straight.  Since then, I have felt somewhat adrift, personally.  I enjoy riding the Scrambler, but my life feels..I don't know...incomplete.  I can't seem to commute by bike "most days".  It tends to be an occasional thing, since I don't have the everyday thing going.

It is driving me up the wall.

So, I am going to set myself a short-term goal:  I will commute by bike on every work day during the month of August, come rain or shine, hell or high water, good tendons or bad.

I need to find myself, again.  And I usually do that on a bicycle.


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Punching a Hole - Part 2

I don't have the heart to rewrite the original, detailed post, which Blogger lost.  So, as Joe Friday is so often quoted as saying, "Just the facts."

We ended up camping north of Woodland Park, in a wooded area with plenty of trees for the hammocks, and some nicely placed rocks for lounging around, eating, and drinking beer.

We stayed up late, drinking beer, swapping stories, and watching satellites go by, with the Milky Way as a backdrop.  I used the Star Map app on the iPhone to identify Saturn, Uranus and Mars along with a plethora of constellations and stars.

In the morning, Tom spotted this, between our two hammocks.  It made us feel a bit weird to realize that we had slept in a mountain lion litter box!

We broke camp and headed out at about 7:00 AM.  After a bit of scare when Tom thought he had lost his wallet, I bought us some gas and we headed on to Florissant, where Tom conveniently found his wallet in his saddle bag.  I gave him a hard time about scamming me out of two gallons of petrol.

We spent the rest of the morning lost, trying to find our way to a supposed dirt road which would take us down to US-50.  Eventually, we gave up and just hit the paved route.  We finally arrived at the Texas Creek trailhead about 3 hours late.  Tom's buddies, Tommy and Rod, were waiting for us on 4-wheelers.

We unloaded the bikes and stored our stuff in the other two guys' trucks, and embarked on 5 hours of hell, for me.  By the time I realized that the trail was a lot rougher than what I was comfortable riding, we had reached the point of no return.

I broke both pegs off of the bike, in two of my seven separate crashes.  I moved the passenger pegs to the front, so that I could continue.  After that, I bent the clutch lever, scratched the gas tank and the left engine case, broke the peg off of the shifter and removed a bit of material from the cooling fin on the bottom of the crankcase, all while bonking due to the heat and the fact that I neglected to carry any food along with me.  (Thank goodness I wore my 100-ounce CameBak!)

I actually was able to shift between first and second gear with this little on-the-trail repair.  I later stopped at a store and bought a brass compression tee and a hose clamp to make it work well enough to get home.

When I got home, I repaired it by removing the threaded stub from the original peg, cut a piece of cromoly tubing and bolted it to the lever.  Then, I covered the tube with o-rings, and put heat-shrink tubing over that.  I plan to get a folding peg, at some point...

When I broke the shifter peg, I think I may have broken my foot, as well...

 I caught my foot under a rock overhang, on the way by, and couldn't stop.  Just after that, I noticed that the shifter was broken.  A week and a half later;  it still hurts.

After we finally got back to the trucks, we loaded up and headed back to Denver, by way of Salida and Buena Vista, to US-285.  We stopped at the intersection 219 and 285 (Johnson Village/Buena Vista) and ate dinner.  Then, we headed to Denver, as the sun set behind us, beyond the Collegiate Range.

On the way down 285, we hit a thunderstorm with some pretty vicious winds at Kenosha Pass, but at least we didn't have any deer walk out in front of us.  We rolled into my driveway at 11.20 PM,  a bit over 15 hours after leaving our campsite, that morning.

The next day, as I was working on fixing the damage to the bike, I managed to snap the clutch lever the rest of the way.

 So, I fabricated this one from the same tubing I used on the shifter peg, plus some aluminum flat-stock (along with more heat-shrink tubing).

I ordered both a set of new levers for the bike (clutch and brake) and a set of PivotPegz CNC-machined foot pegs for the bike, on that Sunday.  The clutch and brake levers got here in 4 days, direct from China (bought on eBay), and I installed them in about 10 minutes.

I still haven't heard from the pegs...but I put the passenger pegs back in their place, and transferred the passenger pegs from the Trident onto the Scrambler, as a temporary fix.

I touched up the engine case and the tank, while I was at it, and continued on.

One thing, for sure:  I won't be riding that sort of trail, again, on that bike.  If I feel the need to ride that kind of stuff, I will get a real dirt bike.  I like to ride the trails at Rampart Range, and cruise the jeep trails and gravel roads.  But, rock crawling with a 600 pound bike is not a lot of fun...

Having said that, though, I did have a good time on the ride, overall.  It was a pretty epic adventure, and I certainly improved my off-road ring skills!


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Punching Through the Edge of the Envelope

 I just spent an hour and a half writing the rest of this post, and blogger erased it when I published it.  I will try to rewrite it later...

Last weekend, Tom and I took an overnight camping/motorcycling trip.  The plan called for leaving Denver on Friday afternoon, after work, and camping on the way to Texas Creek (which is 10 or 15 miles west of Canon City and the Royal Gorge, on US 50).  There, we were to hook up with a couple of Tom's buddies and ride some off-road trails.

I was a bit worried about what kind of trail it might be.  "Don't sweat it," Tom said.  "These guys are in their late 60s, and they'll be riding 4-wheelers.  It'll be a slow ride, and they said that we would be riding the easy trail."

So, Friday afternoon, I made my way down toward Tom's house.  He needed to get home, and change clothes, prep the bike, etc.  I ended up getting to his area of town a little early, so I stopped off and filled up with gas.  A couple of doors down from the gas station was a liquor store, and it occurred to me that a -pack of beer would be a nice thing to have at the campsite, in light of the 100+ degree temperatures.

I went into the store, and looked around to see if they had any soft coolers.  No luck, so I just grabbed a sixer of Iron City, and went to pay for it.  As I was checking out, a gal walked up behind me, ready to check out, herself.  She had a big bottle of Crown Royal, and a 12-pack of Busch beer.

"Looks like you're ready to party," I said.  She laughed and agreed, then I grabbed my beer and went back out into the heat.  I was busily stuffing cans of beer into the empty spaces of my load when the "party girl" came out of the store.

"If I wasn't going out of town, I'd invite myself over,"  I said, as she glanced my way.

"Oh," she said.  "I was going to invite you..."

Feeling like a stud, I got on the bike and crossed the road to Walgreens, where I got a little soft-side 6-pack cooler for three dollars.  From there, I went across the parking lot to Starbucks, where I got an iced vanilla latte, and the girl behind the counter filled my cooler with ice.  I sat inside the air-conditioned Starbucks until it was close to time for me to show up at Tom's house.

I arrived at Tom's, after getting lost in his neighborhood for a little bit, as he was rolling his XR650 out into the driveway.  We sat around a bit, talking to his wife, then Tom and I took off.  After a stop at the ATM to get some cash, Tom led out.