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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to Have a Motorcycle Run in the Rain/Cold/Sleet



Saturday, October 6 was the scheduled date for the 2012 Breast Cancer Awareness Ride. Hosted by the Mountain Shadow Riders, the Colorado Springs Chapter of Women on Wheels®. This is a big ride in our community and all proceeds raised is donated to the local Komen affiliate to help local people diagnosed with breast cancer.

It's a big deal.

Ever since I can remember, the event has always had beautiful weather. Last year, I think was the ideal; temperatures hovering around 80 degrees and sunny skies.

This year, it wasn't meant to be.

About two weeks before the run, the chapter starts watching the weather. This year, things were no different. The 10 day forecast wasn't too bad and the current temps were just as gorgeous as the year before. As the days crept closer to the event, the news was not good. A front was forecasted to roll in and with it--cold and rain. This being Colorado, we knew that the forecast was more wrong than right, so while we worried and started talking about a contingency plan, we also knew that the ride still had a chance to happen in great weather.

Unfortunately, by Friday, we knew that the weather would be uncooperative. Friday night, it started drizzling and we knew that the higher elevations would have a problem with freezing rain. By 2 am, the ride coordinator knew it would be too dangerous for riders in the community as well as participants to be out in motorcycles--and frankly, I would choose not to ride.

However, all was not lost. Historically, the ride was a "test your memory" ride. Riders would ride a segment of the designated route and then answer questions on selected items that they passed while riding. I typically was lucky to get one of the questions correct--so I knew that I would more than likely not have a chance of winning.

This year, the chapter decided to change the event. We would have carnival games at each stop and particpants would have the opportunity to win tickets. The tickets would then go into a hopper. Once all the stops closed and tickets were in, three tickets would be drawn and they would win the prize money.

At 5:30 am, the call went out...there would be no ride. Instead, the chapter would host the carnival games at the end venue, Stargazers. Instead of a "poker ride" there would be a "poker walk" in the safe, warm and dry confines of Stargazers. Each "stop" had a designated area in the auditorium and participants would play on!

Stargazers Theater

The 2011 run had over 600 registered participants and we knew that the weather would affect the numbers. We were correct.

However, all, was not lost. While I don't have the specific numbers, I do know at one point, the registration coordinator announced that the ride had, at that point, over 300 participants!

For a motorcycle event, we were all stunned!

From a event standpoint, this was more than anyone had expected from the motorcycling community. It was wonderful to see the turnout from our fellow riders and supporters.

Thanks to everyone for making the ride a success! Even with the cold and rain, the event had a great attendance and while the official numbers have not been posted, I know that the chapter will be happy. No matter what the amount, there will be a donation from the Mountain Shadow Riders on behalf of the Colorado Springs motorcycling community!

If you have Facebook, you can find additional information and photos at the Mountain Shadow Riders Facebook page as well as the link for event information. In addition, for the first time in a long time--the chapter has T-Shirts remaining, so if you are interested, you can find that information at the Facebook page and get one! Last year, all 500+ shirts sold out in less than a half hour of opening.

The event is that good!

My thanks to the Mountain Shadow Riders, the Event Coordinator, Stargazers, the motorcycling community, and all the businesses and citizens that donated door prizes or passed the word on regarding our run. Without them, the ride would not be a success.

Until next time,

Keep the Shiny Side Up,

~The Rainbow Wahine

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Next Generation: Day One

The time has been approaching--that my son, Alex, has wanted to get a bit more involved in riding. The past few years he been happy riding on the back of my Harley (yes, he thinks it is cool that mom can pick him up from school on the bike), but recently he has been asking questions on the process of riding.

I think part of it has been due to the fact that we now have a mini-bike in the house. The bike, a Kawasaki KLX110, is a three-speed with an automatic clutch is used as a pit bike to haul parts around. Alex has been chomping at the bit to ride it.

A few weeks ago, Alex was fitted with a new helmet and motorcycle riding gloves. In addition, he has elbow and knee pads. The first class was motorcycle maintenance--he actually had to change the spark plug and oil on the bike and learned how to care for it before he could ride it.


After the oil and plug change, the lessons started. Before getting on the bike and riding, he had a lesson on kick starting the motorcycle--and had to be able to successfully start the bike.

Next was the shifting and braking and the concept of riding and the importance of safety gear.

"Okay, Mom" he says, "Can we start now?"

Patience, grasshopper...

Once we got him suited up, he kicked the bike to life and got on. The instruction was to ride around the cul-de-sac in a big sweeping circle.

And avoid the car parked on the curb!

Actually, he did very well! His first lesson was to get him comfortable on the bike--no shifting or maneuvering.

At the end of the lesson, he also learned how pick up a dropped bike.

Overall, a good day....

Of course, more lessons are in store because in less than a week, he's going to be participating at Bandemere Speedway for a youth mini-moto day.

Talk about scaring the Mom!


Until next time,

Keep the Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine

Monday, September 24, 2012

The BUFA Ride--Ride For One of Our Own

September 9, 2012 was the day for the fall BUFA Run. For those of you who do not know, BUFA stands for Bikers United For America--a club that brings all clubs together for a common cause. Created after the 9/11 attack, BUFA started raising money for to help those affected by 9/11. Since then, the members of BUFA (basically if you ride, you are a member) help select those in need. All money raised is given directly to the awardees--no money is spent on overhead.

BUFA holds two runs--one in the spring and one in the fall. The fall run commemorates 9/11 and this year, the run was held on September 9. One of the recipients selected for the fall run was MSR member Cheryl. Cheryl had a motorcycle accident in this fall and suffered many injuries--the most severe was crushed vertebrae. The money raised would not begin to touch the medical bills incurred during Cheryl's six week stay in the hospital; we knew she would need money for basic living expenses like paying her mortgage, food and other basic living costs. There was also another biker in the community that was selected--a man who was very sick and the doctor's were unable to determine what was wrong. As the main breadwinner of his family, the illness definitely took a toll on the family.

At this time, Cheryl is an unemployed widow, but attending school. However, all of that has been put on hold to focus on her recovery.

This run would help in the recovery process.

Since BUFA and the membership selected Cheryl as one of the recipients, the MSR got into action and immediately volunteered to select and man a stop. The stop location was The Black Bear Coffee and Tea Lodge on South Academy. Six MSR members worked the stop and it was great fun to have all the riders draw a card for the poker run. I normally do the run, so this was a different experience to actually meet and talk with all the riders that participated.

The BUFA run is a mystery run. Instead of knowing what order the stops were, bikers were free to go in any order to any stop. This alleviates big crowds of bikers rolling into a place at once and overwhelming the business. Riders could go in any order they wanted to and the winner was the best and worst poker hand.

Gates opened at 8:30 am and we eagerly expected droves of bikers!  LOL! After all, this was a coffee shop so we figured everyone was going to get here first! Hahaha on us!

Actually, the first bikers were in around 10:45--after all we were the closest stop to the end, so it made sense for everyone to hit us last. And then it got b-u-s-y!

We were busy until the stop close time of 2:00. Afterwards, we packed up and headed to the end stop where everyone gathered for a BBQ lunch and to hear who the winners were.

At the end of the day, it was a nice sum of proceeds that was raised for Cheryl and Cliff.

Bikers taking care of bikers.

Cheryl still has a long road to recovery. Anyone that is interested in reading her story in more detail can do so at Cheryl's story.

Crashing is never news a biker wants to hear. But it's good to know that the community rallies around us.

Until next time (that would be the BCA '12),

Keep the shiny side up!

~The Rainbow Wahine

Friday, August 03, 2012

The 5 In 1--Pike's Peak Harley Davidson's Cool Ride

The Pike's Peak Harley Owner's Group (HOG) puts on a ride every summer called the Five In One. It is a days ride that covers five mountain peaks over 10,000 feet in elevation. The PPHOG chapter puts in on every year and every year is different from the year before.

I've done the ride several times before and was on the fence about doing it again. However, some friends of mine did some "strong" arm twisting and I decided that it would be fun and agreed to go.

Unfortunately, the five peaks are usually close--like my next door neighbor, so riding is involved. I am not complaining about riding--rather, the time of the morning to get up and out the door. I think my time up was 4:00 am and I was out the door by 4:45 with my Nelson Rigg RiggPak Touring Bag securely fastened on my sissy bar and set off to meet my friends Cindy and Jamie. It was a little chilly, but my jacket and helmet kept me pretty toasty.

Coffee......I....need.....coffee......

Fortunately, the Ladies of Harley (LOH) had coffee and muffins available. I registered, drew my poker card and then chatted with a few hundred of my other friends. We mixed and mingled and I was once again reminded of the fellowship of the biker community.

We picked up a few others who asked if they could ride in so we ended up with six riders. One had never done group riding and another that had never done riding up in the mountains. We explained the mechanics of group riding as well as safe mountain riding and lastly stressed that their ride was theirs and not to attempt to ride beyond their capability. If they got separated, then they need not hurry, the lead would slow and wait.

Pulling out, the first mountain pass was Juniper Pass. Located southwest of Idaho Springs, Juniper Pass has an elevation of 11,043 feet. The ride up to Juniper Pass was lovely--we decided to stay off most of the interstate and just meander "that-a-way".

One of the advantages of living in Colorado is the beautiful mountain scenery and roads to ride. Unfortunately, we have to share those roads--not only with cars, motor homes, trucks but also with bicycles. Being summer time means that the many bicycle races are taking place as well. As I pass them, I say a small prayer of thanks that cruising up the mountain roads means I only have to twist the throttle.


Once at the top, we visited with other groups and chatted about the traffic. We also had a discussion about our group dynamic--how we could make the riding experience better for the less experienced. The leader also apologized for her need for speed--and we all quickly said that if she had it--then use it and we would catch up at the top/bottom!!!

From Juniper Pass, the next stop was Berthoud Pass. At 11,350 feet, Berthoud is a memorable ride. From Empire, the route goes up to Winter Park. It's a great ride, but can be a little scary for those that are unaccustomed to riding in the mountains. This is one road that does not have guardrails and the switchbacks are tight. Fortunately, there were to bicyclists...as a matter of fact, we saw only a few bicycles from this point to the end.


Once at the summit, it was back down the same way. I so love the twisty roads headed down the pass! From Berthoud, we headed to Loveland Pass.  At 11,990 feet, Loveland Pass was the highest so far. As a matter of fact, looking back, the passes were getting progressively higher. Hmmm....  Instead of a group pic, here is a snapshot of my friend Steve who was riding in another group!


From Loveland Pass, it was off to Hoosier Pass. This pass was 11,539 feet...a little "smaller" than Loveland. It was still a fun ride...any opportunity to ride the Rocky Mountains puts a smile on my face!! Denise and Christina posed for the photo opp!


Sadly, the last summit was the only one left. We headed out to Monarch. It took a bit of Colorado riding to get to Monarch Mountain. I was a little concerned as I could see storm clouds...in the direction we were headed! I am thinking that we should stop and put on rain gear. Because when you put on rain gear, it pretty much guarantees that it won't rain.

Fortunately, I was wrong. We had about 10 minutes of light rain and nothing major (unlike the Ren Fest a few weeks ago). We get to the summit and it's great to see all my fellow riders in the parking lot! Monarch pass is at 11,312 feet. The only photo I have has the photographer leaving his mark behind as you can see his finger in the image!


With the photos taken, we headed back down the mountain to Salida, CO. Salida was the end stop for the run and we pulled in around 4:00 pm. Not bad for a day's ride, I think!

My friends did wonderful--especially the newbies! I think they will be excited for next year's ride!

If you happen to be in Colorado in the middle of July, you certainly should take a look at doing this ride. I'm glad I did!

Until next time,

Keep the Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Waldo Canyon Fire: Sobering but Surviving

The other day a friend and I decided to head out for a coffee ride up to Woodland Park. This is the first time I have ridden up to Woodland Park since the Waldo Canyon Fire. It was a nice day, temps were a "little" on the high side up in the low 90's but not unbearable. The breeze was nice and cool so it did not feel so hot.


As I was riding up Highway 24, you could see the burned out area up on the right hand side of the road. I did not have the opportunity to really look at the terrain since I was leading and the traffic always seems to be heavy. I can't complain because the merchants of Manitou Springs have suffered financially by losing the tourist traffic during and after the fire. So, if there is heavy traffic, then I'm happy because they are supporting the local merchants.


We normally stop at Starbucks--yes, I know a "chain", but the coffee is consistent and it's always a fun place to hang out and people watch. However, Starbucks was packed both inside and out so we decided to walk next door to The Donut Mill. They have donuts, so I think it would be safe to assume there would be coffee available. 


There was.


My friend also decided to get a raspberry-filled donut. Like all the comments that I've read about The Donut Mill, the donuts are HUMONGOUS!  

Yes, it was.


Large enough that we easily split it and still had leftovers.


Coffee and donut done, we headed down the highway back towards Colorado Springs. As I was riding down, I got to see the devastation from the fire. I could see the burnt-out trees and land charred by the fire. In my mind's eye I could see the very dry trees bursting into flames.


What was even more scary was the portion of Highway 24 that narrows into a canyon-like rock formation. It is close enough that the fire could have easily shifted over the highway and continued the destruction on the south side of Colorado Springs.


In talking to friends from Woodland Park a few days later, they told me that it was indeed a very perilous situation. The desire to not allow the fire to jump the highway was so great--and the firefighters were stationed 50 feet apart to quickly quell any flame that started. It was my understanding that they worked through the night.


The firemen won that victory. They drew the line in the sand and held it.


Once back in town, I also rode through Garden of the Gods. For the most part, the park was unchanged. There were a few of the trails that headed west that were closed. The park was full of tourists and locals, so it was good to see all the people enjoying the beauty of the park.


As I exited the park, I headed north and continued on down Centennial. It was here that I could see the large swaths of trees burned, their dark skeletons unclothed pine trees were like soldiers standing at attention. Down one mountain face, up another.

 (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti)

As I continued down Centennial, I noticed that many of the subdivisions had signs that said "local traffic only". I heeded the signs because I think the residents of The Mountain Shadows need time to come to grips with this disaster. I know at some point, I want to take my son up into the area only to show him the devastating effects of fire--and that it is indeed no joke.

Centennial then becomes West Woodmen and I continued my ride. The many signs thanking the first responders and firefighters were flying proudly on fences--many many many signs.

Lisa Price Waltman

As I was riding through the neighborhood on West Woodmen, I could see all the beautiful homes on the mountain side--all intact. There were some places that the fire came down to the road and there were places that fire burned in some backyards.

It was quite emotional. Thinking of the firefighters working to save homes even to the point that the fire was in some one's backyard, had my tears flowing.

As I rode home, I took comfort in knowing that our community has rallied together to pay homage to the first responders and fire fighters that worked to keep our community safe and open their hearts and wallets to help those that have lost so much.

Things have started to get back to "normal" with residents rebuilding. The folks at the Flying W Ranch will also rebuild. They have started a foundation that will help the ranch rebuild, so they can continue their 60 years of ranch history in The Springs.

Photo by RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

So while our community and the surrounding areas have had a trying time, we are still open for business. Pike's Peak, Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, and all the surrounding areas are all still here.

The rains came within the next few days, and thankfully, the fire was completely contained. 

Until next time,

Keep the Shiny Side Up....

~The Rainbow Wahine




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Colorado Renaissance Festival and What to Have in the Saddlebags

Sunday was a ride up to the Colorado Renaissance Festival. The Ren Fest is an annual event in Larkspur, Colorado and while in their 36th year, would be a first for me.


The day was cloudy and overcast--one that was welcome after the dry heat and Waldo Canyon Fire. Our caravan consisted of motorcycles and vehicles--some of my friends decided to really go all-out dressing up and felt that riding in fairy outfits consisting of short dresses and cute shoes would not be appropriate. I think they would have done it, but the weather forecast included rain--no fun in any situation. Riding the motorcycle to the Renaissance Festival is always a good idea! Parking is right outside the front door!

Another good reason to ride, I might add!

The Ren Fest was a blast! Not only was I transported in time, there was excellent food, libations, entertainment and shopping! There was also people watching--interesting the number of kilts were on-site. Hmmmm...is that a skirt or a kilt, LOL!!!


Yes, you can even get a massage by a maiden!

The weather was very cooperative. My friends commented that the weather is normally hotter than blue blazes and the cloudy and overcast weather made for a fine day! In addition, it rained the day before and therefore the dust from the dryness was minimal.

My friends and I decided to cut out mid-afternoon.

As we headed out, I noticed the rain clouds over the city were---well, raining. My mind's eye raised a few cautionary flags because the rain was coming down where we were going.  Unfortunately, the situation did not get any better with lightning flashes. As far as I was concerned, I was ready to pull off the road and call it good until the rain was over.

Have I ever mentioned that I do not like lightning?

We managed to avoid the rain for a while. As we get to the city limits of Colorado Springs, the rain started. Seeing that I'm riding with my Ren Fest garb, I decided that I should put my coat on. I pulled out of the group. Two of my fellow riders decided it was a good idea and did the same.

The rain continued and it was not too heavy--at least for the next couple of miles. The luck ran out when I rounded the curve to get on at Powers Boulevard and then sky opened up.

YOWZA! 

I pulled over again thinking that I wanted to put on my motorcycle goggles. Unfortunately, I did not have them in my saddle bag. At that point, I decided to not take Powers because of the rain and the speed--limits were 60 miles an hour and I felt safer on the side road.

If I had my goggles, I would have been fine. However, since I was riding with my usual sunglasses, I had to deal with the rain on my windshield as well as the rain on my sunglasses. It's typically not a problem, but since I am a contact lens wearer and the rain was heavy enough that I had the rain running down my face, that my vision was very limited.

I got a couple more miles in and then decided to pull off the road. Normally, I would have taken shelter at a gas station, bank, or other building with cover. There was none to be found.

So there I was, off the bike, flashers on, standing out in the rain. Not too much fun. With my vision being limited, I felt it was safer this way. So, if you were in north Colorado Springs on Sunday afternoon and saw a motorcyclist on the side of the road just standing in the rain...that would be me.

Fortunately, my friends came and rescued me--I got to ride home in a dry warm car, any my bike was ridden home by a rider with a full-faced helmet.

The story ends well--no harm, no foul. Another memorable story from what would have been a "ordinary" riding experience.

Note: I did put goggles in my bike!!

Until next time,

Keep the Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Waldo Canyon Fire: Saving the Motorcycles

Here in Colorado Springs, the locals and media have been focused on the Waldo Canyon Fire. This fire started the end of June, and within a week, had burned over 18,000 acres. As of today, the fire has been 98% contained and we've been experiencing rain the past few days, so the threat of danger is about gone.

Unfortunately, about 350 homes have been lost and two people have lost their lives. Most of the damage was done around 4:20 pm on Tuesday, June 26th when the fire blew over Queen's Canyon and ran down the mountain face to devastate the Mountain Shadows Community. None of the firefighting experts anticipated this happening; the fire was on the other side of the canyon and they felt that the city had protection since the likelihood of the fire coming to the top of the ridge, down into the canyon and back up then to the face of the front rage was highly unlikely. The fire crews had been working to cut fire lines to contain the fire.

Until the perfect storm.

A thunderstorm formed changing the speed and direction of the wind. The storm generated 65+ MPH winds--pushing the fire to jump over Queen's Canyon and down towards the city. In a blink of an eye and within 20 minutes, the city was facing a raging fire at its doorstep.

In the midst of all this activity, a group of my close friends were on vacation--out of state. They returned back on that Tuesday. They did not travel together, so they started arriving around 6:30 pm--about two hours after the start of the fire storm. One friend was lived in an area that was pre-evacuated. I was caring for the house and pets, but after the pre-evacuation, decided to move the pets and gather important personal belongings. If the city had called a mandatory evacuation, it would have been difficult to get in to get the pets and items out since I was house-sitting and didn't have any documentation stating otherwise (I mean, really, who'd have thought something like that to happen?).

After the firestorm, his neighborhood was called to mandatory evacuation. My friend arrived back to town at  8:30 pm and did manage to get up to his home to get a few more things. He told me that he had never seen the entire ridge up on fire and burning like it did.

I had another group of friends that arrived back to town around 11:30 pm Tuesday. They had not called any evacuation, but the speed and ferocity of the fire stunned everyone and frankly, people were freaking out. The fire was creeping closer to those friend's homes and by Wednesday afternoon, the decision was made to  at least get the motorcycles out. It was something that could be moved quickly.

My friends and I gathered up into a small group and we drove down. To evacuate: five motorcycles--four to be stored at my home and one to be stored at another friend's place. For those that ride, the motorcycle is a very personal item. Many riders spend time and money personalizing their iron horse. In addition, the adventures that are "found" during rides form strong and lasting memories. So the motorcycle does become an extension of a rider--almost a living and breathing thing.

The smoke was pretty heavy since the fires were burning so close to the city. Fortunately, the wind was being cooperative. Until the WIND SHIFTED.

Fires bring special weather and that day was no exception. Riding back home, we felt the temperature drop and the wind once again shift. Riding back was a scary experience--the air grew very heavy from the smoke and we were pelted with ash and soot.



We did make it home with no incidents, thank goodness!

The motorcycles were safely stored and more importantly, my friends did not suffer any fire loss or damage.

Last week, we worked to return property and most order in our little group has been restored.

Sadly, I do have friends that have suffered losses and are working through the process to try and get back to "normal". I have faith that they will persevere. In addition, I have pledged to volunteer my time to help the victims of the Waldo Canyon fire.

My lesson learned is that life can change in a blink of an eye. I am glad that I was able to help my friends in their time of need.

Until next time,

Keep the Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine