Sunday, November 29, 2009

Erik Buell: You say goodbye, I say hello

Riding friends that know me, are well aware of my personal feelings about Buell motorcycles. The several demo rides that I have taken on the 1125CR, 1125R and the XB9SX have left me repeatedly disappointed in the rough handling of the motorized machines. But, in saying this, I have a great respect for the master mind behind these iconic creations. A down to earth guy with a grassroots upbringing, Erik Buell epitomizes the all American motorcycle enthusiasts, with a side of crazy thrown in! And I have to admit, I'm going to miss the line up of Buell motorcycles for 2010.

Though Buell would not necessarily be considered a household word like Harley Davidson or Yamaha, but to us avid motorcyclists, we know the familiar name all too well. For the last 26 years Erik Buell and his Wisconsin based team have been on a credulous mission to resurrect the passion to enthusiasts about what a motorcycle should represent. But, unfortunately, his over zealous enthusiasm was to be the beginning of the end to his demise by his unrealistic expectations of what Buell, the manufacture was to represent.
His daring innovative creations like the under slung mufflers, ZTL brakes and fuel in the frame concept was unique and on-the-cutting-edge to many dedicated Buell owners, but to the vast majority, ultimately, were just not willing to invest hard earned money into his ingenious, approach.

Inevitably on November 20, 2009, Harley Davidson dissolved Buell in a ditch effort to save their own corporation with the ever expanding economic down-turn.
But, with every sad story comes a silver lining, and in this case, the launching of Erik Buell Racing. An independent motorcycle race shop specializing in the supply and race-use-only of Buell motorcycle parts and race preparation services for engines and motorcycles , along with the fabrication and sales of the Buell 1125R for race use.

The real cincher, is that Harley Davidson will be assisting Erik in establishing the business and to continue to support the race efforts that he is so very passionate about, clearly an affiliation that will never go down easily!

As said by a one-of-a-kind motorcycle enthusiasts, that will most certainly go into the history books:

" I'm looking forward seeing racers competing for wins and championships in the 2010 season and beyond and to helping Buell racers keep their bikes flying!" ~Erik Buell~


Friday, November 20, 2009

Part 5 AMA Women's Conference Keystone CO ~final~

Day 7 Keystone CO -Our final day

Both Cathy and I did not sleep too well in our "comfortable" queen size beds. I guess we were kind of missing our bunk beds!
We arose to grey overcast skies that was threatening a repeat of yesterday! We wanted to take a scenic route back to Denver before giving up our bikes to the rental agency, but was finding this simple task growing increasingly difficult due to time, weather and closed roads from road construction.

As we sat in this funky diner having a late breakfast going over alternate routes, these two girls offered a suggestion of taking hwy 6 which ran basically parallel to hwy 70, which was our main route. We liked this grand idea, so we took their advise and went for it.
We started out east on hwy 70 climbing the summit passing through the 2 mile long Eisenhower tunnel and for the next 40 miles until the hwy 6 turn off.
Hwy 6 was very picturesque with it's rugged rock walls, numerous chiseled out rock tunnels and meandering steams that seems to mimic the two lane road. After 15 miles or so, it led us to Golden CO, where the famous Coors brewing company made it famous. And as big a day, there it was, the big "Coors" sign atop of a big plant! A small town with a big beer gut!
We tuned on to hwy 25 from hwy 6 and by this time could see the skyscrapers in Downtown Denver in the distance. With a few wrong turns, we managed to safely return the BMW F800GS and the Honda VFR back to the owner of the rental agency. I think Cathy and I both simultaneously let out a silent sigh of relief after parking the bikes in the garage.
The next 45 minutes was consumed by unpacking, repacking our gear from the panniers to the suitcases, which we left at the rental agency. It was a bit challenging, but we did it!
Our shuttle arrived 30 minutes early, but we were surprisingly ready, but sad that our wonderful adventure was coming to a close.
I think the most difficult part for me was just not knowing when I would see my "Alaskan" friends again. I hope that we can manage to pull something together like we talked about doing during our week together, a tour of riding the Michigan Lighthouses the following June.

On the final closing ceremony at the AMA conference, they posted a 10ft banner for everyone to sign. Laura quickly grabbed the pen and in big bold letters wrote " The Alaskan 5 was here" and to me, it just summarizes it all!

I will miss you girls, until we meet again...


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Part 4 The AMA conference in Keystone CO

Day 6 Keystone CO

I got up early to go for a run, but a run was not to be taken. Ellen, her husband John, Laura, Ted and Jon were to head back to Huston TX. And even though, I of course knew this, I was going to give my hugs and good-bye send offs and then go on my way. There seemed to be a slight glitch in this perfect plan, one of the Harley's had a flat tire!
After numerous phone calls and several hours later they were on their way to Denver, as luck would have it they managed to find a garage on a Sunday to change the tire. We found out later, they made it to New Mexico on the same day.
Jane took her Soft tail Heritage and rode back to Denver in order to catch a 3:30pm flight back to Connecticut. Cathy and I were left to stay another night, but not without giving up the "funky" house to go stay in a hotel down the road.
We got a late start on our day ride, and as the day progressed on, so did the cloud cover. We headed towards Leadville, from hwy 70 west for about 10 miles then cutting off to hwy 91 straight into a cute 1800's flavored old silver mining town in the Rockies.

We pulled in around 1pm had some lunch at the Mile High burger joint with a perfect view of MT Elbert while we dined. I found my CO motorcycle license plate I had been looking for all week, to add to my collection on the wall in my garage, yeah!
It was 3pm when we decided to push on and head towards MT Elberts Pass. The skies grew increasingly more intimidating, but it was our last riding day and we really wanted to make the most of it.
For the next 14 miles it went from cute little mining town to low rolling hills where the hills had been rapped from the mining days of yester-year, with beat-up and broken down houses surrounding them, one of the saddest sights I seen in this beautiful country side.
We turned on to hwy 24 towards the majestic mountains beyond, the massiveness was unbelievably grand to watch as we rode around this beautiful lake in the foreground.
We had a illusions of grandeur in hoping to make it to Aspen, but with a late start and clouds looming, it was clear, there was no way it was going to happen! Winding our way up to the top of Elberts Pass, taking 10 mph twitch backs on many occasions, with shear drops and no guard rails to speak of, it left little room for error in our riding skills.
Finally reaching the top we were surprized to see a big sign saying "Continental Divide 12,095FT" We parked the bikes and walked down this beat up path to arrive at this unbelievable view of the valley below and all the winding roads we had just rode. We took pictures and hung out for awhile, but knew we better get going to try and beat the weather that was now coming in fast.
By the time we got to the bikes it was now starting to rain! Coming back down the switch backs with timid caution as the rain was now intensifing! Luckily for us, as quickly as the rain would come, it would also disapate, giving us a much needed break.

We rode on back into Leadville, refueled and continued on to connect to I70 leading us back to Keystone. As we approached the split 20 miles out, the skies could hold back no longer and it poured! Then came the thunder and flashes of lightening, I found this so incredible being on the bike with the powerful and intimidating intensity of the storm, being totally exposed to it on the bike- I loved it! I found myself laughing out loud in my helmet!

Cathy and I pulled off into a gas station right before hwy 70 to assess the damages. After dismounting under an overhang we took one look at each other and started laughing our heads off! There was a family with a pickup truck next to us, desperately trying to tie down tarps over their precious cargo. They noticed us laughing at the sight of each other and then they too, started to laugh. In the eye of storm, it was a funny thing to experince. Soon after two women pulled in in a convertable with the top down! Now we had seen everything! It seems they couldn't get the top to latch, so Cathy and I helped them by laying ontop of their soft top to get enought weight to hold it down to latch, worked like a charm. But another pretty sight, two women in full "wet" motorcycle gear laying on top of a convertable!
We changed gloves got back on the bikes with the blustering elements in full swing, but with 10 miles to Keystone, we knew we could make it.

I watched the spikes of thunder plant itself across the sky, but never could hear the thunder, which I found strange....It poured for all those 10+ miles up until we pulled into the hotel parking garage. We looked like two drowned rats, I found the whole scene hysterically funny! We made our way up to our room and immediatley noticed it had stopped raining!! This just added to the hysteria!
We pulled garments off assessing what got wet and what didn't. Cathy faired the worst as she discovered her waterproof gear wasn't so waterproof, with wet pants and wet socks. Her top was the driest.
I did pretty good, , wet gloves, wet feet and the lower portion of my shirt got wet. Still can't figure that one out??

Needless to say, after 2 hot showers and some dry comfy clothes, we weren't going anywhere for the night!