This is where Tom writes (blogs) about
motorcycles, Mexico, Colorado and other things he finds interesting. We hope you find it interesting as well.
E-mail Tom and tell him what you think.
November 21, 2011 - Mexico, Fear, Facts and Feeling
There is an anecdote about two boys who were frightened
nearly to death by a snake in their mom's chicken coop. They were
so scared that they ran out ignoring the door and smashing through
the wire wall. Their mom, seeing that they damaged themselves and
the building said, "you know better, a chicken snake won't hurt
you." "Yeah," remarked one of the boys "but being afraid of one
can sure do some damage."
At times being afraid is good response to have; it often keeps us
out of trouble. But it can also prevent us from understanding what
is really happening, can cause us to make unreasoned decisions and,
in the case of Mexico, deprive travelers from enjoying the serenity
and wonder available in this large and beautiful country.
Today, many Americans have concerns about traveling to Mexico based
on news reports about the security situation in Mexico. But, by
deciding to not visit anywhere in Mexico, travelers deprive themselves
of a great vacation experience. Yes, security is a concern in Mexico
and informed travelers will be aware about the specific geographic
locations where the problems are taking place. But if travelers
only consider the news reported on TV and in newspapers, they might
feel it is reasonable to stay away from Mexico altogether. We ask
all travelers to consider that these news reports might only be
focusing on the places in Mexico where there have been major incidents
and generalizing this information to all of Mexico. We hope that
by considering more complete information about other areas in Mexico,
the overall traveler's perception of Mexico will change from one
of being fearful to one of excitement and adventure.
To be safe, one must be informed. We would like to share some recent
statistics about Mexico. First, as reported by the news, we know
· Mexico is in the midst of a wave of crime
in which rival drug gangs are fighting with one another and with
the police and military.
· This situation has claimed as many as 37,000 lives in
· The State Department has advisories warning about Mexico.
But the following information illustrates the situation
more in detail:
· The situation is limited to a few cities.
Presently, Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico is experiencing
a very serious crime wave and travelers are advised not
to visit this city. Monterrey is also experiencing problems.
· Mexico is the 14th largest country by area in the world.
There are so many more places beyond Ciudad Juarez to visit that
are safe for travel.
· The U.S. State Department Advisory online clearly states
"Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year. This
includes tens of thousands who cross the border every day for
study, tourism or business and at least one million U.S. citizens
who live in Mexico.
· The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to
protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to tourist destinations.
Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico do not see the
levels of drug-related crime reported on the border and in areas
along major drug trafficking routes.
· The State Department Advisory in its entirety presents
a very different and more positive perspective than the clips
of information presented in the press reports.
· The number of innocent civilians lost to in violence,
while unacceptable, is small.
· The number of foreign tourists in Mexico that die due
to any cause in Mexico is miniscule. Cartel actions against foreign
tourists are almost non-existent.
· The homicide rate in New Orleans, St Louis, Detroit and
Washington D.C. is higher than any city in Mexico except Ciudad
· A million Americans live in Mexico. There are lots of
Canadians residing in Mexico too.
· 20 million foreign tourists visit Mexico every year. More
than 99.9995% come home safe.
· Northern and central Sonora, away from the larger border
towns is safe. The Nogales Mariposa port of entry is over a mile
from downtown, and is on a newly constructed multi-lane highway.
There are no traffic lights and few if any pedestrians along this
highway port-of-entry. The only stop travelers make is for border
inspections by U.S. and Mexican officials. Crossing at Naco or
Douglas is also quick and easy. Visas and permits are easily obtained
right at the crossing. The towns are small and in five minutes
you are on the federal highway.
Finally, consider this question: Would it be reasonable for news
of a shootout in Las Vegas to prevent a traveler from visiting
the Grand Canyon? We hope that by presenting what may be new information,
travelers can once again be excited about vacationing in Mexico.
Please call or e-mail if you would like to talk
more about the situation in Mexico and to plan your trip.
Turkey Creek Motorcycle Tours
Hotel Los Arcos de Sonora
Banamichi, Sonora, Mexico
303-838-6505 in the US
520-777-1503 in Tucson
1-623-231-0289 in Mexico
March 25, 2010 - Night Ride
The darkness is palpable. It swirls in great inky blobs over the windscreen and past my legs. It eddies in my
helmet and rolls in under
my bandana and creeps beneath my collar. All that can be seen is the dim, inadequate light of the gauges,
the black on black of tar strips on asphalt and the dashes and bars of the center line as it moves ceaselessly
beneath the machine. The night is as cool as it is black, no moon and no stars. A canopy of leaves only imagined above.
The tires and the engine play a sweet duet - each imperfection in the pavement adds its own erratic syncopation.
The destination is not far ahead. The promise of light, of warmth and laughter awaits but the road,
the road and the night, the sounds, the night sounds, the road sounds, the sweet aroma, the smell of the night conspire.
I want to ride, I want to ride on and on in this tiny world that contains only me - only me, the machine and the road.
An entire universe within the cone of a headlamp.
January 14, 2009 - I'm Back.
Yes, it has been quite a while since I have written and, no there
is no good reason why. I have been doing other things, not just
sitting around. I wish I could say that I have studying classical
guitar for the whole time but or that I have been writing "The
Great American Novel." No, none of those things but I have been
down in Northern Sonora Mexico building a hotel for the past year.
We have a ways to go but more on that another time. The good news
is that "el Tigre de Plata," the silver Tiger is here with me.
The weather here is in the 60's most days in the winter just fine
for a ride to the bank or the hardware store or just around town.
Groups of riders from Arizona blast through once in a while and
riders from the city of Hermosillo show up on occasion. We hope
to boost the number of motorcycle riding visitors here in the
near future by offering a great place to stay and ride. The local
favorite ride is the Chinese made Italika.
They are imported and sold by a large Mexican company, Grupo Salinas.
They reportedly have up to 55% of the Mexican market for low displacement
bikes. Check them out. For better or for worse, Chinese bikes
will be coming to the US. By the way, I spotted a Chinese Chang
Jiang CJ750 sidecar rig at the Applebee's restaurant in Hermosillo.
This is the same concept as the Ural (and the same Applebee's.)
The Chang Jiang, like the Ural, is a knock off of the pre WWII
1938 R71 BMW. The owner told me that he bought it at auction from
US Customs after it was seized at the border for not having the
proper US safety and emissions equipment. At least that what I
gathered through understanding of Spanish. I did mistake it for
a Ural at first glance but the side-car was different. It did
have a machine gun mount. Search Google, lots of interesting info
on these bikes.
February 9, 2007 - Mountain Riding
Reading the news and watching the tube the last few days, it seems
that the weather has gone wild all over the country with snow,
unseasonable cold and ice storms from California to the Carolinas.
Northern Europe has been pounded as well.
Right now, I'm sitting here with temperatures in the teens and
blue skies. I'm thinking about getting on the bike and going somewhere,
anywhere. Maybe the post office, maybe the hardware store - anywhere.
While I'm thinking about riding it may be a good time to think
about some riding tips and mountain riding specifically. Some
of these are found on the Tips and Checklist page but I though
I'd expand them here
So what's different about mountain riding? It's you, the bike
and a road, right? Yes, but at altitude, both you and your bike
that will perform differently and mountain roads will require
adjustments in riding style and awareness.
First, the bike. Don't worry about having the wrong kind of bike
for the mountains. If you are staying on the pavement and maybe
a few well-graded gravel roads, any type of street-legal bike,
from an enduro to a full dresser will work just fine. Be sure
the bike is comfortable for mid to long distance touring. And
most important, make sure it's in top shape mechanically, with
good tires and brakes. If you rent a bike for your mountain ride,
don't select a type and size bike you've never ridden before.
Try to stay with something you are comfortable with in tight turning
The big issue for your bike at altitude is reduced horsepower.
For example, the published spec (at sea level) for my Triumph
Tiger is 106 HP. It pumps out only 89 hp in the Mile High City
and 78 hp at home at 8800 feet. By the time we get up to 10,000
feet (think Leadville) I have 75 horses to work with. Check out
this nifty on-line calculator
to see the effects at different altitudes. I have not done
the math to verify its accuracy but it matches up pretty well
to other sources I have seen on the subject. It only goes to 10,000
ft. but you can extrapolate above that. Control and braking will
be more important at high altitude than horses anyway. No high-speed
runs up that high.
What does reduced power mean for safe riding? Obviously, acceleration
is reduced from what you may be used to at lower altitudes. Twisting
the throttle to get past a hazard may not have the expected result
so it is important to get the feel of how the bike will react
before you need it. Starting, especially uphill, will require
more gas and a different touch on the clutch lever. Don't worry
about making adjustments to your fuel mix. If your bike is running
well at home, it will run rich here but not enough to worry about
unless you plan to stay. Modern carbs adjust for barometric pressure
and altitude, and electronic fuel injection pretty much takes
care of itself. The bike will let you know how it's doing. Keep
the revs up, use a lower gear and things will be fine.
The same thin air that robs horsepower can also affect your body.
The effects of altitude on your body are usually just a feeling
of being out of breath. It may seem obvious but we often have
to remind people to breathe. If you find yourself out of breath,
a few slow deep breaths and avoiding physical exertion for a few
minutes will help. Some people visiting the mountains may be susceptible
to altitude sickness. Over 8,500 feet, a very small percentage
of people may start to get headaches and feel vague, flu-like
symptoms. Don't ignore these but let your companions know so they
can keep an eye on you. These will usually go away in a day or
two and acclimatizing at lower altitudes, like Denver's mile-high
altitude, before spending time in the high country will help prevent
symptoms. Drinking lots of water often clears the symptoms completely.
If the symptoms don't go away, the best treatment for altitude
symptoms is to return to lower altitudes (8,000 feet or lower),
which almost always brings quick relief. It's important to note
that severe symptoms are rare at the altitudes typical for riders
in North America and medical treatment is rarely required. In
any case, it is critical to watch out for one another and discuss
any symptoms with your riding partners so together you can handle
any issues and make good decisions. A person's strength or level
of fitness has no bearing as to whether they will be affected
and there is no reason to feel embarrassed by altitude sickness.
Ok, Now you know how your bike and your body will react what's
different about the roads? Cliff on one side, rock wall on the
other, no guardrail, tight turns with limited sight lines. Add
rocks, gravel and critters on the road, a slow moving RV or even
an extreme sports dude on a skateboard and worries about horsepower
tend to fade away. Brakes, and time and space for evasive action
quickly come to the fore.
The first rule is don't ride beyond your own or your bike's abilities.
Rule two is to expect the unexpected. Riding a perfect line through
a blind turn won't mean much if there is an elk in the road or
a car coming at you in your lane and you have no where to go.
Ride single file and stretch out your following distances - four
seconds is the minimum where sight lines are limited. More is
better. When approaching a curve, keep your head up and look as
far as you can into the curve. Always ride your own ride.
Expect loose gravel and sand on the inside of sharp turns from
cars cutting the corner and watch for rocks and other debris on
the road in steep areas. When you are riding through a series
of switchbacks glance up and down to spot cars on the roadway
above or below that may be closing or approaching. Be aware that
you may not be able to see all the traffic this way. Practice
your low speed riding and u-turn skills, keeping your feet on
the pegs. These skills can be very helpful when maneuvering through
tight switchbacks and will make you a better all around rider.
Stopping on a hill requires the foot brake. If you park and you
can't find a flat spot, face uphill and leave the bike in gear.
If the slope is not too great, park across the slope with the
side-stand on whichever side provides the safest lean angle. If
the angle isn't comfortable then move to a better spot. Picking
up a dropped bike on the downhill side of a slope is no fun. And
always watch for loose sand and gravel under your feet when stopping.
Another thing to remember when parking your bike in a high exposed
mountain area is the wind. A strong gust can easily blow a bike
over. Gauge the wind direction and park so the wind will tend
to push the bike onto the side-stand as much as possible and always
leave the bike in gear. I have seen middleweight cruisers lifted
off the side stand and rolled backwards by the wind. Once again,
if you don't feel comfortable parking the bike, make adjustments
or move on.
What about the weather? The mountains make it tricky to guess
the weather (I said guess, not forecast for a reason.) Prepare
to ride through three seasons each day on your way up and down
with temperature changes that can be 40 degrees or more each day.
Proper gear including a rain suit, warm gloves and a good jacket
liner are essential. Layers are best. Bring a heated vest or jacket
liner if you have one but it's not a requirement. If the rain
suit and extra layers stay packed, then better still.
The final thing to remember is why you ride in the mountains.
If you want to enjoy those beautiful mountain vistas then slow
down or pull over where it's safe and get out the camera. Splitting
your attention between a narrow, winding strip of asphalt and
a snow capped peak won't allow you to enjoy either one to their
Riding in the mountains isn't hard and it is much less dangerous
that riding in city traffic. It does require that you make adjustments
to your riding style and your mental awareness. Relax, slow down
and enjoy your high altitude adventure.
December 28, 2006
I hope you all had a great Christmas and you are looking forward
to a great 2007. Since I wrote last time, Denver and the metro
area has been in the news. Two feet of snow hammered Denver and
closed the airport a few days before Christmas. Up here in the
foothills, we got 42 inches of snow and we are facing another
big storm as I write this.
This has certainly put a damper on riding for the past week. While
we are in good shape with well-plowed roads up here in the foothills,
the city streets are still snow packed and a real mess.
With my rides safe in the garage, I'm envious of my 14-year old
neighbor. He has been out riding his dirt bike, seemingly oblivious
to the ice on the roads. He says its no big deal, you just ride.
I am not one of those riders who grew up on dirt bikes and I haven't
spent any time riding them so I guess I just don't understand.
I've been a street rider for all of my riding time with a few
forays onto dirt roads (like the one we live one.) Now that Lynn
has a BMW F650GS and I have a Triumph Tiger (old adventure touring
style, not the '07 FJR clone), we are prepared to do more detours
off the pavement. But I'm still not terribly comfortable on an
icy road. While we do occasionally get snow on the high-mountain
passes during our summer tours, it doesn't stick on the roads
very often and its gone in a few hours. I guess my winter riding
is put on hold for a while unless I get ambitious and get the
sidecar rig out.
The jacket and pants appear extremely well made. Both have an
abundance of pockets inside and out. All the outside pockets have
storm flaps using hook and loop fasteners and zippers. The jacket
has a double pull zipper, snaps and hook and loop patches to keep
the wind and rain out. The double pull zipper allows you to open
the bottom of the jacket to get to the watch pocket in the pants.
The pants have two large flap pockets on the thighs and long zippers
to make it easy to get them on over riding boots. Heavy CE approved
body armor in all the right spots and reflective piping enhance
rider safety. The jacket has lots of well placed vents for warm
weather riding (without the liner) while the pants do not have
Aside from the heated liners and the overall quality, I really
liked the neck on the jacket. The flap folds back with a handy
snap to keep it away from your face when open and zips up high
under the chin in the cold. Unlike some of my other jackets, it's
easy to close and comfortable to wear when closed.
The heated liners pump out prodigious amounts of warmth, even
at below freezing temperatures. I used the Gerbing dual thermostat
controller and the handy leather case. With the controller on
my belt, I was able to adjust the temperature and even turn it
off with out taking my eyes off the road. Definitely recommend
this optional accessory.
The jacket and the pants do weigh a bit. The heavy thread count
fabric, the weight of the wires and the connectors combine with
the heavy-duty body armor and the pounds pile up. This isn't a
problem when riding but the clothing is bulky to pack and will
strain those cheap hangers when you hang it in the closet.
The jacket will work for 3 seasons or even year-round riding.
The heated liner is easy to zip in and out and a shot of warmth
will be a great way to chase the chill off a cool mountain morning.
The lack of vents on the pants may make then too warm for summer
riding. The jacket liner is wired to attach heated gloves and
the pants ready to plug in heated socks. If you have heated grips,
the gloves are not critical but if you are riding in cold temperatures
buy the socks.
E-mail me and let me know how you are dealing with winter
December 12, 2006 Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.
Winterizing. Interesting word. There are all kinds of forums and
motorcycle magazine articles that explain the process and it sounds
complex. Drain the fuel or use a stabilizer, overfill the oil
or not. Of course there is the battery to worry about. Did you
know a battery can freeze? Here in Colorado, we don't worry too
much about these things. The extremely dry climate almost eliminates
issues with moisture in the fuel system or on the cylinder walls.
The best thing is that it's easier to winterize yourself instead
of the bike and keep riding whenever you can.
Winter weather along the front range of Colorado runs the gamut
from heavy snow (30 inches here in Conifer on Oct 26) to mild
sunny days (80 degrees in Denver the week before Thanksgiving.)
This is a very different world than up higher at the ski areas
along the Continental Divide. Any of you who have skied Colorado
have seen the difference between the Denver area and the mountains
70 miles away. The reasons for the winter weather are complex
but the simple explanation is that the Rockies block most of the
really harsh weather from reaching the Front Range. The storms
that really sock us in are those that take the southern route
and wrap back in from the east.
But as long as the road is clear of ice and snow all you need
to do is deal with the temperatures and the short hours of daylight.
(Oh, and those crazed drivers rushing to the mall.) The temperature
swings in the thin air can be as much as 40 degrees or more and
when the sun goes down, it cools off fast.
Assuming your battery is in good shape then you need to stay warm.
If you ski, you might just have much of what you need to beat
the cold. Long undies, a heavy, wind proof parka and ski pants
can keep the cold at bay but won't provide the abrasion and injury
protection that a good motorcycle jacket and pants will. I have
worn ski bibs and parkas over leathers - it just fits better that
way - and allows layers to be removed or added as the temperature
changes. Just watch out for nylon on hot engine and exhaust parts.
Ski gloves can work well if you can maintain good a good feel
for the throttle, brake and clutch. Protection for you neck and
face can be had by using a neck gaiter and a full-face helmet.
I wear a half helmet with the collar zipped on and a flip up shield.
A silk balaclava and the neck gaiter do the trick. Cold feet are
always the problem for me. Heavy socks don't fit my riding boots
all that well so I've put up with it up to now.
If all of this sounds like a lot of hassle, it can be. If you
have the cash or if it's not too late to get on Santa's good side,
opt for heated clothing. Gerbing and Widder both make a full line
of heated vests, jackets, pants, and liners to keep you warm.
They also make heated gloves and socks. I had the opportunity
to try out a Gerbing Cascade Extreme Jacket and Pants on a ride
from Florida back to Colorado in early December. I didn't have
the socks or the gloves but the bike had heated grips. I was snug
and warm and had the protection of gear specifically made for
motorcycling with body armor in the right places. My feet were
cold so get the socks. (An article on the ride and review of the
Cascade clothing will be in an upcoming issue of Motorcycles:
On the Road Again Magazine
There are kits and instructions for sewing your own heated vests
and jackets available on the Internet but I have not looked carefully
at them. The concept seems to be that you thread the thin heating
wires through an existing garment, like an insulated vest, and
add a plug. Seems simple enough. I'd like to hear from anyone
who has tried it.
The important thing to know before buying heated clothing is how
much electrical wattage your bike produces vs. what it needs to
run the bike. What's left is the juice available to run the clothing.
You'll need the right connections from your battery or accessory
plug to get hooked up. Check the Gerbing
websites for info on determining wattage requirements. It's also
critical to get the right fit. The heated clothing must fit snugly
to allow good heat transfer to your body. Heated clothing is not
just for riding in the dead of winter, it can extend the riding
season in spring and fall.
So keep riding if you can, stay warm and stay safe.
My neighbor Harry came over today to show off his new toy. It's
a GPS system for his car. It mounts on the windshield with a color
display and a touch screen. It even has a Bluetooth connection
to his cell phone and a built-in MP3 player. It gives him audible
turn-by-turn instructions and shows him where he is. It is very
cool and according to Harry, it is very accurate. His verdict:
it works great and everyone should get one. Based on the barrage
of ads on TV, they will be a big gift item for Christmas this
I have an older GPS. It's great for telling me the elevation when
we are touring in the mountains (people want to know.) It's also
useful for figuring just how far off our motorcycle speedometers
really are. But, even though it has mapping features (not color)
it doesn't talk to me and I don't use it to find my way around.
I either know where I'm going or I look at a map. I have a good
sense of direction and a good memory and that's why, like most
real men, I never get lost and never need
to ask for directions. (Note to reader, italics indicate sarcasm.)
So I like maps. I'm trying to remember the first time I used a
map. I'm pretty sure I had the classic wooden puzzle map of the
US when I was a kid (the lower 48 only, yes, I'm that old.) My
grandmother had a map hanging on the wall in her basement. It
was "The World at War" put out by the Esso Petroleum Company.
(They call themselves Exxon in the US now.) It was very cool,
it had the shapes of both the Allied and the Axis warplanes on
the legend, apparently to help civilians identify any enemy planes
in the skies over Long Island, and it showed which side controlled
what territory. I think my grandparents used it to keep track
of where my mother was in the South Pacific. Mom showed us where
she went to WAC boot camp, and showed us New Guinea and the Philippines
where both she and my father served in WWII. That map is long
gone and I don't know what ever happed to it. Later, in high school,
we learned to read topographic maps to study geology and I guess
I was hooked.
Maps have lots of eye appeal, you can see the big picture, there
are photos of the area and those free maps provided by the state
tourism agencies even have a photo of the governor. I just found
some old maps in a box of stuff. These are oil company maps that
were handed out free at gas stations. I smiled at the drawings
of the gas station attendants wearing a cap and a bowtie. It took
me back to when I was a kid, a time when you didn't pump your
own gas, they washed the windshield, checked under the hood and
gave away freebies like glassware and dishes. Sadly, the maps
are in bad shape, torn, with coffee stains, and coming apart at
the folds. Worse, they are hopelessly out of date. They were never
meant to last too long. I'm not even sure how I came to have most
We encourage clients to bring their GPS units on tour. It makes
it easy for them to take off on their own and meet back up with
the group but they get a map of the day's ride every morning during
the daily ride briefings. Maps can't give me turn by turn instructions,
can't tell me where to find a Denny's but that's ok - they don't
need batteries either. I have my maps (and my Boy Scout compass)
and over the years, I've even figured out how to refold them.
E-mail me and tell me your preference - maps or GPS.
November 9, 2007
It was a very warm day for November but a big cool down is coming
for the end of the week. Our next tour isn't until February when
we have a tour in Sonora
Mexico, so as winter sets in, I'll be riding a bit less and
spending more time inside at the keyboard writing.
I did get out earlier in the week and Lynn and I had coffee in
Evergreen with Randy Klamm, CEO of Chicane USA. Chicane manufactures
great looking, high quality motorcycle touring luggage - (check
out their site.) We talked motorcycles, motorcycle travel
and finally, we talked about what makes some of us strike out
across the landscape while so many others stay close to home.
We really didn't come to any conclusions over coffee but I thought
about it about all day.
So why do people leave their homes and their families and set
out across the ocean, across the desert or over the mountains?
What makes them different than those who stay behind? I guess
I'm glad that my ancestors had that wanderlust, that sense of
adventure, that need to go and didn't stay still. Funny thing
is, that as I look at my brothers and sister, only two of the
four of us wandered from home, and yes, I'm happy to say, a lot
of my wandering has been on two wheels.
There's nothing better than just getting on the bike and just
riding. Ride to the store, the post office or over the mountain
just to see what's on the other side. That's why we started our
touring business. We want to get those riders who might not take
the plunge into touring to experience what we have, to embrace
their need to wander and do something different.
Even though we put a lot of planning into our tours, there is
always something new, something special on each trip. A herd of
elk in a meadow below us, a towering thundercloud in the distance
or a rainbow. One of my most memorable moments riding was a cloud
burst in the Uncompahgre Canyon on Red Mountain Pass. Water was
everywhere. It seemed like a hundred waterfalls cascaded down
the steep sides of the canyon and low clouds hung below us. It
was incredible, like something out of Lord of the Rings, and we
stopped the bikes at every turnout to stand and marvel at what
we were experiencing. There were smiles all around and no one
complained about the rain or about getting wet. Don't get me wrong,
riding mountain passes in bright sunshine with clear blue skies
is great but this was truly special.
So wander. Come ride with us, find that special moment and see
for yourself what is on the other side of the mountain.
October 31, 2006
Last time, I wrote about Colorado weather and about motorcyclist's
penchant for participating in charity events and raising money.
I'll continue that theme. Early in October, something amazing
happened. After the tragic shooting in late September at Platte
Canyon High School (in Bailey, Colorado just 10 miles south of
our location) local resident Danny Patino was angry and upset.
He got on his bike and rode. While he rode, the idea came to him
that others felt the same way and he put together a ride to raise
money for the victims and their families.
Danny's thoughts went back to the Columbine shootings that took
place just 40 miles away and he felt this latest incident must
be opening old wounds for their community as well. Thus was born
Columbine to Canyon Ride (also know as Emily's Parade) for shooting
victim, Emily Keyes. Dan gave himself only 10 days to pull the
event together. With many volunteers from the both the mountain
community and Columbine area, they pulled it off. Local Denver
media, biker clubs and dealers jumped on board and on October
7, 2006, over 7,000 bikes made their way from Columbine High School
up Turkey Creek Canyon and on to Bailey and Platte Canyon High.
more here.) The final tally of money raised is close to $60,000.
An incredible job by Dan, the community volunteers and motorcyclists
from Colorado and as far away as New York. Thanks to all. (Additional
info and photos here.)
The weather for the C to C ride was perfect - Blue skies and cool
fall temperatures. But October weather did take a turn though
with two snowstorms including a 30" dump on Thursday the 26th.
(Denver, down the hill, got 4 to 6 inches.). The fun part is that
it has been sunny and warm for the past several days and, you
guessed it, people were out riding Saturday. (I didn't get out
until Monday.) There is some sand on the side streets and melt
water on parts of the highway but the sky has been that famous
Colorado blue. A cold front just moved in and temperatures dropped
about 10 degrees - just in time for Halloween - but the long term
forecast shows things warming back into the 50's later in the
If you like to ride in this kind of weather, or ever find cool
summer mornings a bit too brisk, then check out this local Colorado
Hoodlum Gear . These fine folks have super neck gaiters and
hoods to keep you warm year round. With Christmas coming, these
will be a great gift idea and they are perfect to wear on those
holiday charity runs coming up.
Another great gift idea is giving a tour -
Mexico in February or a great summer tour. We can provide
a special gift certificate and a Turkey Creek tee shirt to put
under the tree. Call or e-mail and we'll get it ready for you.
In the mean time, put on those long johns and that heated vest
if you have one and get out and ride.
October 3, 2006
I slept late this morning and woke up starving. I want to eat,
no, not just eat, I want to gorge myself on nuts and berries,
pizza, pasta and pretty much everything. I feel the need for large
amounts of calories. It's this way every October. I assume that
somewhere along the line, I have taken on some of the characteristics
of a bear. Part of me just wants to eat and then hibernate for
Well, I know it isn't going to work for me, never has and never
will. Besides, there is too much to do during the cold months.
Ski, snowshoe and of course ride. (Oh yeah, and work on the 73
Now I'm looking out my office window. The sun has come up over
the ridge and the gold and orange aspen leaves appear lighted
from within. I love this time of year.
Along the Front Range of Colorado we can ride all year. Winterizing
a bike is an option but riding it is a better one. It will get
cold, it will snow but there will be glorious days with temperatures
in the 50's or higher, brilliant blue skies and clear dry roads.
It does take a bit of knowledge, preparation and a look at the
weather and the road reports before heading out. Colorado weather
is famous for its wild swings. A 70-degree day in November or
December is just as likely to be followed by temperatures in the
20's and snow the next. If the road is dry even at our base at
8,800 feet we can ride as long as we look out for sand on the
road. (In the snow, the sidecar rig is a hoot.)
If the uncertainty of the weather (or the certainty that it will
change) makes you nervous, then head south to New Mexico, Arizona
and southern Utah. Watch our website for developments in this
area as we will be adding Fall and Spring tours in the Southwest.
Sunday, December 3rd is the 21st Annual Toy Run for Children's
Hospital in Denver. Sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Harley Owner's
and supported by many other groups like the Triumph RAT and other
riders. Its truly amazing how committed the motorcycle community
is to local charities here in the Denver area and across the country.
At Turkey Creek Tours, we want to support Motorcycle Clubs that
support charities. We have instituted a program that provides
donations to your club's favorite charity when you book a group
tour with us.
Shoot me an e-mail, or call at me 303-838-6505 or 1-888-763-6185
Ride safe and ride warm.
September 6, 2006
Romancing the road.
Way back in high school, my friend Rich and I would ski whenever
we could. My approach was always to "attack the mountain." I'm
not sure what I really meant back then and neither did Rich. Many
years later, we skied together again and Rich asked if I was still
The answer was no. I told him I had decided it was better to be,
"one with the mountain." It's the same on the motorcycle - I don't
try to beat the road because, like the mountains, it can't be
beaten. Riding a motorcycle in the mountains brings this into
Now, whether on skis or on the bike, I just let the mountain take
me. . Maybe its age and the fact that I don't ride a sport bike,
but let's put the hardware piece aside. Just to be out on the
bike is a joy. A twisting road, a rushing creek, towering peaks
rising up to blue sky - it all lets me lose myself, lets me live
in the moment. Of course I try to ride a clean line and pay attention
to what's going on but getting that extra 5 miles per hour through
a turn is not important. I just want to let the road caress the
bike and caress me with it. In return I try not to be too clumsy,
to keep the rhythm, not to break the mood, never to hit a false
note. It doesn't work all the time, I get sloppy and either under
or over think things. And, ok, this is not a technical discussion
of how, it's more a matter of why.
I guess this is the essence of riding for me. Sure, I use my motorcycles
as basic transportation, I ride to the store, to the post office,
business meetings and I even enjoy that aspect of riding. But
it's out on the open road that it hits you, that the sense of
it creeps into your consciousness and it all starts to click.
All your senses tune in, but not in a mechanical way. There is
a feeling that you, the bike, and the road are a trio, playing
off each other. The road provides the rhythm and you and the motorcycle
each take a lead, showing what you have. But not in a boastful
way, not showing off but just expressing the joy of it all.
This would seem to make this type of motorcycling a solitary pastime,
perhaps even antisocial but this works with the group as well.
It requires a bit of compartmentalization and some compromises
to lead a group and still fully experience these feelings. It's
like being with someone you're madly in love with while with a
group of people. You stay aware of the group dynamic, the conversations,
what's going on and where the group is heading but you steal glances
and whispers and maybe a brief brush up against one another. So
check the mirrors then steal the moment and let the road take
you through the curve, surrender yourself to it and enjoy.
Now, back to business; check on the group behind but be ready
for the next moment. It balances the needs of the group with the
feeling of the road. It's a subtle thing but it makes you more
aware, a better rider and a better ride leader. Of course, if
you are driving in city traffic or on the interstate there is
no romance allowed. Total concentration is required but on that
2 two-laner rising into the forest you can let go.
Neither Rich or I ski much anymore; he also gave up his motorcycle
and now is a very serious bicyclist. I hope he can say as I do
that while riding, he is one with the mountain.
August 31, 2006
"Are you sure you want to sell it?" That was the third time I asked the
question that day. I had asked twice that many times on the phone and in e-mails the week before. Phil started to answer, paused and his wife said, "Yes, he
needs to get it out of the garage." After a pause, Phil allowed that this was the right
answer. In any case, he had a new project, we had just picked up his 30
year old Honda Ellsinore from his brother-in-law and had no room for the
street bike. I handed over the cash, Phil signed over the title. I told him
to run it up the ramp and into the trailer. He jumped on the bike, fired it
and took the long way - around the block - before he ran it up the ramp and brought it to a stop
against the chock. We strapped it down and closed up trailer. A few more goodbyes and I was
rolling back home.
I remember when Phil first rode the bike to the office - A Honda CB 750 with
only 1800 miles that he bought for a song. It was fast, it's still fast.
My CL350 (long gone) was tame, almost pathetic in comparison. Like many of
us, Phil stopped riding on the street as his family grew although there was a
set of high passenger pegs installed for his son.
So now the CB 750 is in my garage along with my Triumph and Lynn's Shadow.
other two bikes, an '81 Honda CM and a 2001 Enfield Bullet with a sidecar
are in the shed. This makes me wonder, how many bikes make a stable? How
many bikes do 2 people need?
I don't know the answer. I have people tell me I can only ride one at a
time although I have ridden all 5 bikes in a single day - if only just up
and down the driveway for two of them but that's not the point. It's a
visceral thing, and in your blood, under your skin and deep in your psyche
Is it a sickness, an addiction, a harmless compulsion or something else? Is
there a 12 step program, a support group or maybe a pharmacological
solution? I think the answer for me is less complicated and already made for me - floor space is
the limiting factor. Half the garage is now bikes and the shed is full with
bikes, an emergency generator and assorted motorcycle parts. I'm out of
room. To bring one in, I have to let one go. I can't build another shed
because I live on the side of a mountain and there is no more flat space
available. I could swap the Bullet with the hack out and replace it with 2
others as the sidecar takes up as much space as a separate motorcycle. But I
kinda like the thumper and with the car bolted on, it gets lots of attention
and makes people smile. For that matter, so does the Triumph. It causes
what one guy called the "geezer effect". Since I am rapidly approaching
"geezerhood" I take offense at the term, but it means that old guys who had
Triumph back in the '50s, '60s, 70's and the first 3 years of the '80's all
want to talk about it. This is a good thing, I get to meet people and hand
out business cards. As for the Shadow, well, Lynn loves that bike. Lynn's
CM 400? Well that's a collectors item and its going up in value. I guess
that leaves the CB 750. But wait, I'm going to clean it up and get it back
to stock or close and then I'll sell it.
Does this mean I can't buy another bike? What about that Kawi Concours on
E-bay that I'm watching or that Sportser that needs a new home. What if a
really good deal on an FJR comes up or a Tiger? And I've never really done
much dirt bike stuff, maybe one of those.
Maybe it is pathological, maybe I need a psychologist. Jonathan wanted
to talk, wanted to help. Wait, he's a motorcycle saleman, he wanted to sell
me a new Ducati Strada. This isn't working, I have to stay out of the bike shops.
I have to face facts that I
just really like motorcycles. I like to look at them, I like to see them on
the street and watch others ride them. I like to look at antique
motorcycles restored or not. I even enjoy looking at a basket case to try
and figure out the puzzle. I'm not into working on my bikes other than oil
changes and minor stuff and I not fanatical about keeping them spotless. I
like to walk out into my garage and see them lined up. But most of all, I
like to ride them. By myself, with Lynn own a tour group, I like to
ride. I'll ride to the post office, the bank, the grocery store. Take the
car? Not if I can carry my purchases on the bike. Gallon of paint in the
tank bag? No problem. (32 foot extension ladder, not happening.) I don't
even care that much what I'm riding as long as I'm riding.
So maybe I'm ok after all. I think I'll ride the Triumph tomorrow, check
out a new route, get a burger. No e-bay, no classifieds. Yes, I think I'll
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