somewhat daily mutterings

/Motorcycling Rumors/Info on new BMW K-Bike

BMW has been working on a new generation of K-bike for a while, but there hasn't been a lot of info availble. Looks like that's starting to change a bit. From Motorcycle Online:

"Its all pretty radical. A 16V inline four designed for 1000-1300cc variants mounted across the frame is not exactly a novelty outside the BMW-Welt. However, starting with the hefty forward slant of the cylinders (60 degrees) and state of tune (160 to 170PS) things start getting pretty interesting..."

The above article has a comment that links to pictures of the new bike.

Posted: Sun Oct 26 10:47:27 -0800 2003

/Computing/Mac Man Expires at Keyboard Waiting on OS X Panther Install

As I type this on my PowerMac G4 I'm installing Panther on my iBook. I'm considering cryogenics to ensure that I someday see the freshly-installed OS actually running. It's taking for-freaking-ever. I guess I'm just impatient.

PS: I later realized that the install defaults to installing all languages. That's what was taking so long. How stupid is that?

Posted: Fri Oct 24 19:37:59 -0700 2003

/Computing/Mac Apple is Classy

I pre-ordered the Panther release of OS X, which is to be released today. Apple Stores are having a release special from 8:00-12:00pm, which is fine, but I'm not into the crowd thing (although you never know, I may go). Anyway, I had wondered whether Apple would ship Panther in such a way that those of us who pre-ordered it would get it on release day. The answer is yes. I had an email from Apple this morning letting me know Panther had been shipped via FedEx overnight. I checked on fedex.com, and indeed my package is in Denver this morning. Apple Rocks!

Posted: Fri Oct 24 07:32:19 -0700 2003

/Issues_and_Commentary The Kalam Cosmological Argument

This is really just a bookmark of sorts, for me, but you may be interested in the links (or not).

The argument, stated. A refutation.

Posted: Fri Oct 24 07:28:37 -0700 2003

/Music New 40G iPod

I broke down and bought a 40G iPod the other day. The 20G is for sale on eBay. 20G was never enough, but I dealt with it by only synching one playlist to the iPod. This was my "iPod" playlist, which excluded a bunch of stuff by genre, artist, and album. It was really getting to me that my iPod playlist's query window was getting so big that it almost filled my 21" monitor's height, and I was having to fool around with the query every time I ripped a new CD.

With the 40-gigger, I can just let the iPod take the whole damn music library. Such freedom!

Posted: Tue Oct 21 17:04:57 -0700 2003

/Programming/Java My Favorite Java Site - BileBlog

Actually I don't visit very many Java sites - I already know everything. I only wish I was half as funny as the person who edits BileBlog.

Posted: Mon Oct 20 14:25:05 -0700 2003

/Issues_and_Commentary A Consistent Conservative Voice, on the Limbaugh Drug Thing

Although I'm fairly liberal, and no Rush fan at all, I dislike the way liberal commentators are salivating over Rush's drug situation. It's too easy, and relatively unimportant. I realize it's hard to ignore the hypocrisy angle, however. I guess it's a little more annoying how many conservatives have come to his aid. If he were a librul, they'd be on him like a pack of dogs.

Which brings me to this article by Daniel Borchers, who has gained himself a new left-leaning reader. Borchers heads up the Citizens for Principled Conservatism, which is worth a look.

Posted: Mon Oct 20 14:22:47 -0700 2003

/Motorcycling A Picture of Me on my Bike

Here's a screen capture from a short movie that Steve took of me on my bike in Utah. Sorry about the quality, but it was a very small image that I blew up a bit.

Mike and Bike

Posted: Sat Oct 18 19:27:10 -0700 2003

/Motorcycling Test Riding the Triumph Trophy

I noticed yesterday that Foothills BMW (not my normal dealership) has become a Triumph dealership as well. "Cool", I thought, and when I saw that they had a 1999 Triumph Trophy on sale for $5k, I thought I'd give it a whirl. Even though I love my '95 K1100RS, I'm always willing to try something new if it represents an improvement (a very tall order, reinforced by my bike's awesome performance on my recent four-day tour).

I headed out to the dealership around 11:00 this morning, on what has to be one of the most perfect riding days ever. Riding to the dealership was made even more pleasant by the fact that I'd replaced the year-old scratched-up shield on my Schuberth Concept helmet with my pristine back-up shield (now to spend another $50 for a new backup).

Once at the dealership, I sat on a few Triumphs, including a brand-new Trophy. I also sat on a 1996 BMW K1100RS because it had a Corbin seat installed (I'll stick with my BMW stock seat, thanks). As I moved from bike to bike, I was approached by a salesperson and took the opportunity to inquire about the used Trophy. Turns out the used one was gone, but he was more than willing to set me up on their demo bike.

The salesman gave me a quick overview of the bike's controls, after which I attempted to fire it up. Easier said than done, even with the choke advanced. I tried unsuccessfully three times to get the bike to start until the salesman told me to crank on the throttle while starting the bike. With this, the Trophy was off to a bad start for sure (pardon the pun), since I'm used to my KRS leaping immediately to life with just one push of the starter switch.

Once underway on the dealership's "preferred route" (a black mark against them, compared to BMW of Denver, which has no such thing), I immediately noticed the softness of the Trophy's suspension, which I didn't like (note that I've had heavier fork oil put in my bike, and have the rear preload cranked to the next-to-highest setting, so I probably like a stiffer suspension than most), and the cheapness of the controls. Everything felt a little more wiggly and light on the Triumph, which did not fill me with confidence in its abilities. The brake lever was adjusted too close for my taste, and when I tried to adjust it at a stop light, I couldn't get the adjustment wheel to turn -- another black mark (unless there was an adjustment lock, or trick to it that I don't know about). These qualities combined to make me feel as though I was riding an old, used bike, not a brand-new one.

After a couple of stop lights, the Trophy was idling very fast, so I backed off the choke. Underway again, I noticed that I loved the seating position on the bike. It had plenty of leg room, and the bar reach seemed about midway between my K1100RS and an R1100RT. The bike's power curve is quite a bit different than my bike's -- it liked to be wound out pretty hard, something I didn't feel comfortable enough on the bike to really do very much. The power curve on the KRS, in contrast, is linear -- almost like an electric motor.

While I was stopped at the last turn before returning to the dealership, the bike died on me. I tried to start it a couple of times, then realized that the choke had been advanced again somehow. I backed it off, and started the bike with some throttle. I felt that I had to ride the throttle a bit while pulling back into the dealership to keep the bike running. All in all, not a confidence/lust-inspiring ride.

On a final note, I must say that I noticed a few things about the Trophy's appearance that aren't my cup of tea (to each his own, of course). The bike has a few chrome details that are a bit precious. The instrument cluster has chrome surrounds, and the dual headlights are also surrounded by chrome. These details were either cheap, or gave the appearance of cheapness, in my opinion. After my K1100RS' teutonically spartan (how's that for mixing cultural metaphors?) presentation, the Trophy seemed kind of tarty. I don't think my KRS has one piece of chrome on it, and that's fine by me. It's all business, mister, in typical German style.

It's always a relief when I'm happy to return to my nearly nine-year-old (but low mileage, at 12,500 miles) KRS after having ridden something newer. In this case, I was re-dedicated to my bike, as I have been a few times before. It truly feels more new than the essentially brand-new Trophy, which says a lot for German engineering (or little for British engineering).

It's getting to the point where I'm becoming somewhat untemptable. I've ridden almost every BMW, and would consider trading only to a couple of newer models that are out of my price range. The other bikes that I would consider are from brands that don't offer test rides (the Yamaha FJ1300, for example). Therefore, they have no way to convince me that their bike is better than my current ride. I still don't understand how those manufacturers manage to sell $13k bikes to people without a single test ride. Maybe this is a good thing -- it'll keep me on my current bike for a while.

Posted: Sat Oct 18 18:03:11 -0700 2003

/Motorcycling Steve and Mike's Big (Motorcycle) Adventure

The Route [more pix]

Recently, my buddy Steve rode out to CO from KY for a four-day motorcycle trip through CO, NM, AZ, and NM (Oct 9-12). The total mileage for the trip was around 1450 miles (naturally Steve put on tons of other miles just getting out here, and then back home). I thought it was worth writing the trip up.

Day One

Our target for the day was Montrose, CO via Hwy 285 and Hwy 50. We took off around 9:00am, and accessed Hwy 285 from Conifer, CO, which we reached via "High Grade Road" (a hoot). Hwy 285 was pretty and uneventful -- we didn't stop for any pictures.

Lunch was in Buena Vista (pronounced Byoona Vista), after which we rode up to Twin Lakes (great scenery -- I've written about it before), and up Independence Pass. From the pass, we doubled back to Buena Vista and continued south on 285/24, then west on Hwy 50. This part of the ride was all new to me, and was really beautiful. There weren't many aspen, but there were plenty of mountain ash trees, in full color, to entertain. Along Hwy 50 we crossed Monarch Pass, and rode through Gunnison.

Just past Gunnison begins the Blue Mesa Reservoir, a huge man-made lake that stretches for miles along the highway. Unfortunately, we were in this area as the sun was very low on the horizon, so riding west was a bit sketchy. We stopped across from the Dillon Pinnacles until the sun went down. This, of course, made for a dark and cold ride into Montrose, where we stayed at a quite crappy Days Inn for $35 (worth every penny). After unloading the bikes, we ate at a (too) nice (for us, given our road-wearied look) restaurant called the Glen Eyre.

Dillon Pinnacles, Day One [more pix]

Day Two

Day Two's route was to take us to Farmington, NM in order to set up for Day Three's ride through Monument Valley. The route to Farmington included the west side of the "San Juan Skyway" scenic loop (Highways 62 and 145), including a short stop in Telluride, continued on to Cortez, CO, and then westward on Hwy 160 to Durango, and then southward to Farmington.

I have to say that the San Juan Skyway route lives up to its reputation for beauty. I only wish we could have done the whole route. Many stands of Aspen were still in full color, and the mountains seemed close enough to touch. It was so picturesque that photography was frustrating. I'd stop for a minute in one spot, then take off again only to want to stop a minute or so later. We'd never have left the area if I'd have stopped as much as I wanted to.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our lunch stop. We stopped at what seems to be about the only going business in Rico, CO -- the Rico Hotel Mountain Lodge. There we met some really nice dogs, and grabbed a first-class lunch of Reubens with home fries and onion rings.

The end of Day Two was probably our most trying experience. We made good time into Farmington, and so decided to push on to Shiprock, although we'd been watching a lightning show from that direction as we rode toward Farmington. Just as we were heading out of Farmington toward Shiprock it started to rain, and the wind picked up. We took cover under a flea-market stall and put on our rain suits, then continued on to Farmington in a drizzle. Unfortunately the drizzle was just enough to coat the road with gooey crap that was very hard to see through when plastered onto a face shield, and again we were riding into the sun. We had a particularly close call as we rounded a shady corner into full-on, low, sunlight, and I nearly rode up Steve's rear fender.

Despite the conditions, we made it into Shiprock unscathed, and started scanning for hotels. Our scanning proved fruitless, so we pulled into a Subway on the far side of town to ask where the hotels were. Turns out, Shiprock has no hotels. Can you believe it? A town of 8000 with no hotels. Despondent, we headed back for a wet (and now dark) ride to Farmington. As a bonus, I discovered that my face shield was covered with fine scratches from wiping off road goo with the squeegee-clad finger of my rain gloves (gee, thanks FirstGear). We did get a decent hotel in Farmington (after a few false moves), and got a great meal at another hotel across the street.

Aspens along Hwy 145, Day Two [more pix]

Day Three

Today was our big trip through Monument Valley. However, to get there, we had to ride deep into northern Arizona (Kayenta, to be exact), and head north. The ride across northern NM and AZ was nothing to write home about, really. Both states have prettier areas, and the roads were pretty crappy. Also, the wind was kicking up pretty hard out of the south, and that was kind of tiring. We reached Kayenta around lunchtime. To my surprise, we had great pizza in Kayenta (Pizza Edge, check it out). From Kayenta we headed north into Monument Valley, then onwards into UT toward Moab. Regrettably, I didn't get any pictures in Monument Valley, though I did make a couple of (failed) attempts at from-the-saddle photography.

In Moab, we made a fairly long stop to goof around on some slickrock and take some photos. Then we got some gas and continued up to Arches National Park. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was getting late, and we didn't think it would be wise to ride out of Moab in darkness. So, we headed out of Moab on 128, which follows the Green River through a beautiful canyon. This was probably my second favorite part of the whole trip, with a great twisty road and scenery almost as good as Arches.

Unfortunately, as we exited the canyon it was twilight and we still had many miles to go to reach I-70. On the way up to I-70, we rode through Cisco, UT, which we thought might be a good place to hole up for the night. Turned out, it would be great -- if you were a ghost! Cisco, at night is a spooky little ghost town with decrepit, twisted buildings, and lights on posts in what seem to be odd places way off the road. It kind of gave me chills riding through it, and it wasn't just because it was freaking cold by then, either.

Just before hopping onto I-70, we added our rainsuits to help block out the cold. Once on I-70, we had a pitch-dark, high-speed run into Grand Junction, where we holed up in a nice Wyndham hotel, and got good food at a local brewpub.

Slickrock, Moab UT, Day Three [more pix]

Day Four

Day Four took us southward from Grand Junction, through Delta, and back into Montrose to rejoin Hwy 50. My main recollection of most of this ride is that of being really freaking cold. My second recollection is that of being worried about running out of gas between Montrose and Gunnison, since my gas light started glowing just outside Montrose. We pushed ahead anyway, hoping for a fuel stop somewhere along the way. After a couple of false stops, we happened on a small station in Cimmaron, CO, where I got my only picture(s) of the day. At this station, Steve grabbed a squeegee out of a pail of water in order to clean his face shield, and pulled out a thick circle of ice with the squeegee. That's how cold it was.

We continued on to Gunnison, where we stopped to warm up in a convenience store. I managed to burn the back of my throat with hot chocolate, but it didn't matter much to me, because I'd snagged the last filled, chocolate-covered donut from the day-old bin (although it was filled with jelly instead of creme, which just ain't right). We chatted for quite a while with a nice couple from Iowa riding a GoldWing, and headed toward the Grand Canyon, then headed back out toward Canon City.

The descent into Canyon City was pretty cool -- almost as cool as the canyon ride out of Moab. One of the great things about it is that it got warmer the closer we got to Canyon City. By the time we got there, I couldn't wait to get out of my cold-weather gear. I'm guessing it was close to 80 degrees at this point. We grabbed a couple of Jalapeno-dogs at a convenience store and headed back out toward Hwy 115 to Colorado Springs. Once through CO Spgs, we exited in Monument, and came into Littleton via 105 and 85 (Santa Fe). We arrived at my house around 4:00, satisfied with the trip, but glad to be home.

Cimmaron, CO, Day Four [more pix]

Posted: Thu Oct 16 20:48:54 -0700 2003

/Cycling OK, so People Do Get Killed on Bike Paths

I recently ranted [1, 2] about bike path speed limits, and definitely had my doubts that many people get hurt badly on trails. Well, here's a story about someone who died in a trail accident, right here in Denver.

I wonder how often this actually happens? The story is short on details, so it's hard to know what caused the accident. For example, if the victim was truly riding single-file, then how was he hit by someone coming from the opposite direction? Was either cyclist going over the "speed limit"? If not, can the speed limit actually save us from harm? If so, was it speed that killed?

Posted: Thu Oct 16 07:27:46 -0700 2003

/Travels Visit to Twin Lakes, CO

Ever since I rode through Twin Lakes, CO on my Central CO motorcycle tour, I've wanted to get MB to the area. We finally got around to it last weekend, and it exceeded our expectations. Twin Lakes and the surrounding Collegiate Peaks area has to be one of the prettiest areas of CO, even taking CO-native MB's breath away a couple of times. For even more scenic beauty, we also drove over Independence Pass and into Aspen, which also didn't disappoint, even though we were a little late for the height of fall colors.

We had a small cabin on the north side of the lakes, with an incredible view of the lakes themselves, and the peaks of the Sawatch Range beyond (three of the below pictures were taken from the cabin's "front yard"). It's got us serously considering a property purchase in the area.

Twin Lakes, afternoon [more pix]

Twin Lakes, sundown [more pix]

Mt. Massive, sunrise [more pix]

Twin Lakes, Jake, south shore [more pix]

Aspen, Aspen, CO [more pix]

Posted: Tue Oct 07 23:17:02 -0700 2003

/Travels Fall Colors

MB and I headed out for a "fall colors" drive over Guanella Pass. I was pretty crowded on the (unpaved) pass road, which was kind of a bummer because of all the dust, but we managed to see the beauty and get some photos of it anyway.

Mount Bierstadt (on the right)

Valley, heading toward Georgetown

This scenery only whetted my appetite for what I'll experience on my Motorcyle tour in just a few days. It should rock!

Posted: Thu Oct 02 19:49:47 -0700 2003

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