A Lesson From Riding New Mexico and Colorado

July 9, 2014

This past weekend, I took an opportunity to ride New Mexico and Colorado.

Let me first say that to prepare for travel, you look at the weather forecast in northwest New Mexico and see that it will be 98°F (36.6°C). You then bring the proper gear for such a temperature. This means: half helmet, sunglasses, mesh armored jacket, Kevlar and armored riding jeans, and light gloves. You allow a family member, who also rides, to decide on the route.

Through the good graces of the father-in-law-to-be, you get to ride his Kawasaki Vulcan 1500. With a windscreen. And highway pegs. This is not a naked Kawasaki in Norway. It’s properly fitted.

Now, said family member, who is a primary participant in a wedding (he brought the cash for his daughter’s grand day), provides you a map of the route, says, “Text me when you reach Silverton, and I will meet you at this spot.”

And off you go.

It is hot, Africa hot, as you make your way along the route. Alone.

Soon, however, you can’t help but notice that it is getting cooler. “Hmmm,” you think, “It must be the trees and the shade.”

And then you see a sign, at the top of the winding road, “Coal Bank Pass Summit, Elev 10640 ft.” I think I know why it is so “chilly,” now.

And then it starts to rain. Not hard, but not a drizzle, either.

Where’s my rain gear? Oh, yeah, it’s at home, because the forecast for New Mexico showed no rain.

A short time later, as you are properly dampened, you see a turnoff for a small park. Might as well stop and take in the scenery and snap a few photos. What does the sign say at this stop? “Molas Pass Summit, Elev 10910 ft.”

Oh,boy.

After a short break, and a nice chat with a fellow biker, who told me that it is not uncommon to have snow in July up here, I start the descent into Silverton, Colorado. And as the town comes into view, it starts to rain. Really rain. I think I have called this “biblical rain.” All of the bikes I saw ahead of me, have taken refuge under the awning of the only gas station in town.

Much to the disdain of those in cars.

I park under the awning, gas up, get a little food and drink in me, and look at my phone.

I have a text from the family member saying that I am to meet him at the Durango Mountain Resort back up Route 550.

The rain isn’t stopping. In fact, I think it is raining harder, which doesn’t seem possible.

I need to mention that in this part of the US, the use of concrete or asphalt seems to not have caught on. The parking lot and driveway of the gas station is gravel. With a lot of low areas. I need to navigate a 900 pound bike over gravel, up a slight rise, and onto the highway. In pouring rain.

I make it. But as I do, and I start heading south on 550, back up the mountain, it starts to hail. It’s now a combination of biblical rain and hail. Remember, I am dressed for a different climate. I can say, with first hand knowledge, getting hit by hail, as you travel along at 40-50mph, hurts. It really hurts as it hits your uncovered face. A lot.

I make it to the ski resort, where a very dry family member awaits with his Ducati.

I hate him.

But, he is soon “enjoying” the rain, too. Although, he is wearing a full face helmet, so he isn’t getting the same enjoyment as I am. At least there is no hail.

We are traveling in a normal staggered position, heading down the mountain, in the rain, when he signals for a left turn and starts to slow. I am a few seconds behind him, caught suddenly unaware of the new direction we are taking. It’s one thing to maneuver a 400-500 pound Ducati, something else entirely to do the same on a 900 pound Kawasaki. I use the back brake, it’s raining, and we are in a slight curve.

I hit the traffic paint on the asphalt, which marks the left turn lane, while braking. The back end starts to slide out from under me. I release the back brake, the bike straightens and goes upright, I roll over the painted area, and now use both brakes. Gently.

I blow right by my riding partner, but am slowing, heading into an area of the highway that is marked for no traffic.

I stop the bike about 30 feet past the turn.

Damn, that was not fun, but it ended well. Note to self, traffic marking paint, when it is wet, is very slippery.

Family member, at the next stop sign, “That turn off came up sooner than I expected.” Yeah, I got that news pretty quickly.

And then it started to hail again.

This was turning out to be quite a ride.

However, we were now rolling into Durango, Colorado, and, at about 6,000 feet, it was starting to warm up. I was happy to realize this, as I was soaked and cold. Soon, it was about 98°F (36.6°C), and what was once a relief started to make me feel like I was in a clothes dryer. The water was evaporating off of me, creating a very humid riding environment. For a short while, we were on the highway, which sped up the drying process and it got to be much more comfortable to ride.

At the end of the ride, with the exception of my socks, I was totally dry.

This was one of the strangest rides I’ve been on; pretty much every season was represented in a few short hours and within 4,000 feet of elevation change.

The route (what I can remember of it):

NMandCORide

Click on image for an interactive Google Map.

The elevation profile (thanks to this site for the image):

NMandCOElevationProfile

 

If I had known the elevation profile before starting out, I would have brought the liner to my jacket. It wouldn’t have provided a lot of cold weather protection, but I would have been a lot dryer (and a bit warmer) in the higher elevations. I’ll know for next time.


Dash4Dosh 2014: Let’s All Laugh

June 9, 2014

For your enjoyment, some random pictures from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

First up, Chris pitching his tent. Yes, the photo looks grainy, but that isn’t the fault of the photographer, it was raining. In an epic fashion. Doesn’t he look happy that he will be “sleeping” in a tent?

2014-05-24 21.21.05

I found Paul’s toilet in a Statoil station:

2014-05-25 09.21.12

And Paul’s bike:

2014-05-26 09.48.33

 

The Arctic Circle, Sweden:

2014-05-26 11.08.04

Chris, in his natural pose, taking photos (at the Sweden/Norway border):

2014-05-27 09.49.38

 

And photographing Paul’s bike at the Arctic Circle Center in Norway:

2014-05-28 15.23.53

 

Freshening Paul’s bike:

2014-05-29 16.01.17

Which lead to a bit of freshening of my bike (paybacks are a bitch):

2014-05-31 09.51.11

 

A Chris Harris inspired selfie:

2014-05-31 16.05.55 HDR

 

A beautiful view spoiled by freshly washed undergarments:

2014-06-01 21.07.54

 

Paul discovers that boots with holes in them make for poor waterproofing:

2014-06-02 18.53.08

 

Who would’ve known that there was no pooping in the shower?

2014-06-03 09.52.43

 

Chris, enough said:

2014-06-04 12.55.23

Chris, showing me that I am “Number One:”

2014-06-05 11.35.21

 

The bike that Chris thought he bought, but didn’t:

2014-06-04 19.47.36 HDR


Dash4Dosh 2014: A Quick Overview

June 8, 2014

There will probably be a few blog posts concerning this adventure over the coming weeks. This post is simply a quick overview.

Stuff I brought but didn’t need:

  1. Flashlights. I brought three little LED flashlights but didn’t use any of them. Thankfully, they didn’t take up hardly any room at all.
  2. Ben’s Wipes. Brought two packages of these excellent tick and insect repellent wipes but only used two wipes. Total.
  3. Leatherman. While I didn’t use it, there is no way I would travel without it.

Stuff I should have brought:

  1. USB 1TB hard drive. It was selfish of me to think that others would have the space to copy all of my GoPro movies to their computers. I owe Paul a debt of gratitude for copying my movies to his Mac. It won’t happen again.
  2. More dark t-shirts. Wearing a white t-shirt is ridiculous when you are wearing it for more than one day. Because of the technology in the undergarments I was wearing, I could wear the same outerwear for more than one day. White is very bad choice of colors. For obvious reasons.
  3. One more Smartwool Icebreaker t-shirt. This shirt is made to be worn several days in a row without smelling while providing excellent wicking properties. To wash it, simply put it in a sink with a little soap and water, wring it out, and it will be dry by morning.
  4. A one man tent. However, as I rented a bike, there really wasn’t any room on the bike for a tent. I will know for next time.

5742.9km (3568 miles). It was a lot of fun, though it wasn’t easy. Especially on a rental bike. However, I would, in a minute, join Chris, Paul, Vladimir, Roy and Arvid on another trek. Wherever it may be. They are exceptional riders and a lot of fun.

I’m already hoping that we embark on another adventure next year. Route 66 in the US? Another European adventure? Scotland and Ireland? Whatever it is, I will be there.


Finding Connections on Google Play

May 1, 2014

When searching for “Connections” on Google Play, here are the results:

ConnectionsonGooglePlay

I might suggest a different search: “ibm connections,” unless you actually have found what you were looking for.


Open Mic Webcast: Notes Traveler Support – Common issues, Interim Fixes, Q&A – 30 April 2014

April 30, 2014

Anyone else get this invite just a day or two ago?

Join members of the IBM Notes Traveler Development team as they share information on supporting IBM Notes Traveler, including common issues, Interim Fix deliveries and more. After a presentation, attendees will be given an opportunity to ask our panel of experts questions. Throughout the event, attendees will also be encouraged to comment or ask questions in the IBM SmartCloud Meeting Web chat. Join us for this interactive, educational, lively session.

Topic: Supporting IBM Notes Traveler – Common issues, Interim Fix deliveries, Q&A

Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Time: 11:00 AM EDT (15:00 UTC/GMT, UTC-4 hours) for 60 minutes

More details, including call in numbers, web meeting URL, and more, can be found here.

 


Dash4Dosh 2014: An Update

April 29, 2014

We are less than a month away from riding motorcycles to the Arctic Circle, via Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway. And camping. God, are we REALLY camping? We must be, I have a sleeping bag, a camping pad, and a spork. Paul Mooney bought a tent! (let that sink in for a minute).

Never before have I asked for donations to any sort of cause. Yes, I support those that ask, but fundraising just isn’t my thing. When Paul setup the Dash4Dosh 2014 JustGiving page, and I saw the £4,000 goal, I thought “We’ll never make that number.”

Today, I am totally crushed by the outpouring of support for our cause.

Dash4Dosk2014target

“Thank you,” while appropriate, doesn’t adequately convey how truly humbled/amazed/chuffed I am with the support we’ve received.  Well, it’s either that, or you’re hoping that with adequate support, you can gleefully wait for some “interesting” posts/photos on our Facebook page which will come back to haunt us for . . . decades. If that’s what it takes, so be it.

Our calls over Skype have increased in number, as we head into the final weeks of preparation. What seemed like a great idea has turned into impending reality. Yes, I have purchased a sleeping bag, camp pad, spork, proper riding boots, survival suit, and a new helmet. But now starts the race to Denmark, when I have to make sure that I have everything I will need for this adventure. I have a list, now it’s time to work through it.

Oh, and there’s a small detail about hiring a bike. It seems that the business where I was to get my bike is now bankrupt. Others offered me their bikes, but what they meant was “bicycle,” not “motorcycle.” Everyone’s a comedian.

What will we see in Norway? Here are few pictures to give you an idea of what we will be living.

Atlantic Road

Lysbotn Road – This is heaven for riders.

A fjord we will see

Thank you, again, for your support.

 

 


Dash4Dosh 2014: Riding to the Arctic Circle

March 4, 2014

I really haven’t figured out a good opening paragraph to this story. Too many thoughts going through my mind (giving back, relatives lost to cancer, father beating cancer, and so on). So, let’s cut to the chase.

I have scheduled eleven days of my corporate provided holidays to join Paul Mooney, Sean Cull, Vladimir Veletic, and Chris Harris, to meet up with some friends from Denmark, and a few support cars, and embark on a motorcycle ride that supports Macmillan Cancer Support. This isn’t just a little ride around the countryside (okay, so, technically it is). For me, it is a ride from Copenhagen, Denmark to the Arctic Circle. The others, Paul, Sean, and Chris will be riding from Ireland/Wales/UK to meet me in Copenhagen, I will be taking the “easy” route and flying into Copenhagen.

Trust me, I looked into having my bike shipped over there. While the cost was high, it was the fact that I would be without my bike during prime riding season in Ohio that made me decide to hire a bike for the adventure.

The route is a bit fluid, but in general: through Denmark heading east->the east coast of Sweden->Finland->West to North West Norway->South the west coast of Norway->back to Denmark. If I still have time to make my flight back to Cleveland, I will follow the other riders west through Denmark and bid them a fond farewall at the ferry dock. Then, back to Copenhagen and catch my flight back to Cleveland.

Total mileage for me will be around 3,600 miles. Riding about 8 hours a day. It is a long haul. On roads that are not highways. Speed is strictly enforced.

We are paying for this ourselves. However, we have setup a donations page for Macmillan Cancer Support here. Please support us, whether that is with a donation, good vibes, or sharing this page with your friends and relatives.

Paul will have a page dedicated to the trip, so you can follow along virtually with us. I will be bringing my GoPro, so that later, you can witness the trip. And the rain (Paul is coming, after all).

Hopefully, I can lobby the group to stop here.

 


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