AWAY DAYS

AWAY DAYS

AWAY DAYS

As the school year draws to a close its been a very busy time for sports teams and activity trips. I
seem to have been getting my fair share taking track & field teams from all three school districts to
various locations and over the last week I’ve been on a bunch of “cultural visits” including  a chain saw carving demo, a trip to the Durango-Silverton train, a bit of hairy mountain driving through the Mesa
Verde complex to see the cave dwellings and finally last weekend a 3 day trip to Grand Junction for a
variety of tasks.

The trip for Mancos school to Durango for the train ride was seriously over subscribed with a lot of
parents joining their children for the adventure. The tour bus, which only seats 50 was sidelined in
favor of Sharon’s 71 seater Bluebird and even with that it was crammed full!

My 70 strong load of passengers are away on the choo-choo-puffer

I get to sit, and wait……..

5 hours later they are back

A trip to Mesa Verde was well worth the effort for both the elementary kids and myself. I didn’t realise
it was 20+ miles off the main road up and down some really challenging mountain cliff roads made
even more fun with rain and snow ! The site itself was quite amazing and I took time out to do some
exploring while the Park Rangers and teachers took them round and out on a hike.

The cave dwellings at Spruce House Mesa Verde

Very impressive !


Firepit with reflector plate

The following day I’m off with Cortez Middle School on some sort of cultural visit to Grand Junction
which is also hosting the “Regionals” of Track & Field for all the Middle Schools, which is what I
thought I was going on !

Thursday morning, bright and sunny, with temps already cresting 70 I turn up at the school with
Vonda’s newish superbus. I must admit she does keep it in pristine condition and quite rightly gets
very pissed off when it goes off on activity runs and she has to drive a spare.

Vonda’s fairly new pristine bus

27 students and 4 teachers are on the trip with 2 teachers taking a car with lots of goodies and
sleeping bags. The Day 1 plan is to get to Grand Junction, some 200+ miles to the north and find the accommodation at the United Methodist Church ?  Well, fortunately for me I get a motel room so I don’t
have to endure children 24 hours a day for three days.

Today’s routing will be via Monticello and Moab in Utah and then the freeway to GJ crossing back into Colorado and a lunch stop at the Colorado Welcome Center. One hour in and the first duty pee break
at Monticello and then onward to Moab where the others are now insisting on another bathroom break.
All the wind has gone and its getting quite warm and very pleasant. The Utah portion of the freeway is
deadly dull but the kids manage to persuade passing truckers to sound their air horns as they rocket
past the school bus limited to 60 mph.

Lunch stop complete, trundle on to find the church and get them settled in. Afternoon mission, a visit
to Mesa State University which seems to go well so having run them back to the church time for me to
find my motel and get settled in. 8.5 hours driving today so the bed at the “cheap & cheerful” motel is a welcome sight.

Pulling into The United Methodist Church in GJ

Friday and today is a long one as the plan is the Colorado Monument, picnics, hikes, multiple stops
and then an evening shopping trip to the Mall. Roll up at the State Park entrance and lady ranger
knows all about our trip and says another Ranger is at Devil’s Kitchen and waiting for us. I miss the
ultra tight entrance turn to the Kitchen and end up driving about 3 miles up the switchback mountain
road before I can turn the bus around. Well if its all like this then we are in for some fun!!

Devil’s Kitchen picnic area

Finally back at the Kitchen the group depart on their hike while I enjoy the mountain sunshine and go
rock hunting. I can visualize some superb trials sections from Ahrma through National modern and
walk a few and collect a rock sample which turns out to be 1.8 billion years old !

Good sections here !

Nearly 80 degrees when the hot, thirsty team get back and the picnic begins. Now time to tackle the “twisties” in the school bus for 20 miles to the visitor center. Quite a challenging road with all the switchback turns up the mountain and then very tight turns along the rim taking you right out to the cliff
ledges with perilous sheer drops if you make ONE mistake. Several stops along the way to take in
the scenery and marvel at the power of water and wind erosion.

The bendy road through the park. Devil’s Kitchen bottom right, Visitor
Center top left

The bendy road takes you very close to some perilous drops

At last the relative safety of the vistor center and the kids are now off for more hikes and a spot of
sketching to remember all they have seen. All students accounted for time to go down the cliff edge
road and get off this mountain. Ultra tight downhill turns and I’m well pleased I have the 4 stage
retarders to keep the speed under control. A brake failure on this road is NOT an option!!!

Back to the church, and let the girls shower and change for the shopping trip. Suitable vetting for inappropriate clothing and now we are ready to depart. Next problem a wallet has gone missing so a
square search of the church begins. No sign of the missing wallet or money……. did it ever exist? did
he actually bring it with him? etc, etc? Everybody chips in and he now has more cash than he
supposedly started with.

1730 and all dropped off at the Mall, time to refuel bus and self. Last night was my favorite Chinese
so tonight something different and lo and behold I stumble into Red Lobster in another section of the
Mall. Well of course I could really use a beer or two but again, not an option, as I’m driving but when I
get the little souls home I have seen a bar that backs onto the Motel and I’ll be heading there when we
are done.

Driving round Grand Junction its a bit like New York with all the yellow cabs but in this case its a sea
of school buses from places I have never heard of all going somewhere or waiting for students to
finish eating, shopping or whatever else was on their itineraries.

All aboard for the run back to the church and its 2115 already. We don’t get far when one girl
remembers she has left all her shopping in Target ! Back we go but it cannot be found. Around 2200
I’m back at the Motel and the bus is locked for the night and I enjoy a couple of well earned beers
sitting outside in the warm evening air.

Saturday morning and back at the Church it looks like the plan has changed as there is little urgency
to get the show on the road. Eventually they, and their kit, are all onboard and its off downtown to the
science center.

Outside a class is experimenting with rocket technology, maybe these boys are off to NASA in a later
life. A whole load of interesting exhibits inside and 2 hours is spent looking at all the wonders.
Meanwhile a mini thunderstorm arrives and washes out the planned picnic lunchstop which now
takes place inside the science hall.

Yes, this is rocket science

The route home will be Delta, Montrose for chocolates at Russell Stover’s, bathroom break in
Ridgway and a final stop on top of the Lizard before rolling into Cortez around 1830. I buy some of
the discounted Valentine’s chocs (3 boxes) and put them with my luggage in the overhead rack
behind me……. more of this later!!

Time for candies and icecream

Ridgway and up and over the two passes and soon we are on the Lizard for final group photos for
what they think was a worthwhile and enjoyable trip.  Shortly after 1800 we pull into Cortez Middle
School and unloading begins including trash removal.

10,000′ up on the Lizard with fresh snow

As we arrive there is much crunching of chocolate box paper and small fat boy deposits same in
the front trash bin. Strange I thought, that he too, would have bought Valentine’s chocolates ?  I check
that all my luggage is still in place including the Russell Stover’s bag which I notice is light by ONE
box of chocs ? It appears “fatboy” has eaten the entire box while sitting one row behind his teacher.
When questioned on the subject he claims someone threw the box at him ?????? ….. this still does
not account for how it magically jumped out of my bag, unwrapped itself and  fell in his mouth ????
The school was taking disciplinary action on Monday as this is THEFT whichever way you look at it. It
also begs the question if you are going to steal the Driver’s chocs you are now also Prime Suspect for
the missing wallet.

The end

TONY DOWN

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  • 6/2/2011 10:43 PM Jose Ludwig wrote:
    Your sidebar about the fat boy and the chocolates had me chuckling. I ‘ve been driving High School Teenagers down from Boulder to Arapahoe County (Private Jesuit School), but it’s only an 18-pass Bus. I feel all better after reading the stories of your escapades on the tight mountain roads.Although teens on a bus present a unique set of challenges.
    See you at Steamboat.
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INTO THE WORKSHOP

INTO THE WORKSHOP

INTO THE WORKSHOP

6 months without much use ….. it’s a mess!

No pool, no pets,but I do have some cigarettes! This weekend sees the grand opening of the
Workshop and time to get in there and sort out the bikes ready for my diminished season. Riding
wise with 4 events already completed I’m at a serious disadvantage so time to plan what to ride and
where?

Clean, keen, but covered in dust

Currently on the Ahrma side it looks like Turkey Rock, Casper and Milliken but that is only 6 rides of
the required 7 and therefore makes missing Buckeye at the beginning of the year even more annoying. Would have been nice to do Donner but fuel costs have put a wet blanket on that! Other events that
might get a look are Steamboat where I could sleep in the car and  The Ute Cup which is fairly close
to home by USA standards.

Brenda’s parents are keen on us driving over to New York State for a visit and it just so happens that
there is a Vintage 2 Day event just over the Canadian border and a trials school hosted by old friend
Mick Andrews.

Another trials school helping Mick ?

Before I get stuck in on the bikes there are a few of “Brenda’s Projects” that need to be done in order
for me to have a demi peaceful run at carbs and polishing after a major clean up of floors and
benches and relocating all my tools which have been “borrowed” over the last 6 months.

Tools everywhere

The BMW also needs a charge up on the battery and maybe repair the battle scars from its Napa
experience when it fell over in the trailer. The BMW could get quite a bit of use in the very near future
as I have quite a few sessions over at Mancos where its 50 mpg could save a bundle on daily fuel
costs and of course provide some pleasant morning and evening riding subject to the suicidal deer
population which are on the move big time!

Eventually caught up with Howard, the RV Guru, who was having problems with a new cell phone so
the RV will be dropped off for those rear axle seals. The RV was duly moved to Howard before he sets
off on his annual fishing trip but its still so bloody cold in these parts I am still not that keen on nut
twiddling in the workshop!

The day continued, still unpleasantly cold, it snowed a bit, but eventually I braved the workshop and
set up the cable to the trailer and put the BMW on charge. The forecast is 70’s this week but now its
40, snow, and wind so I’ll wait.

First of the Beemer repairs done

3 days later and the weather improves a bit and time to open up the trailer and get the BMW out. On
opening the trailer the horrid little yellow light on the charger is still flashing rapidly so it looks like the
battery maybe toast! Checking locally the price seems about $125 which I could do without but it is the original and is six years old. Somehow the brain remembered an old sage once said that if a battery
gets too low on charge a standard motorcycle charger will never get it back in action. Battery suitably
removed and attached to hi-tech car charger. Nothing seems to be happening ……. but come Saturday morning a quick look and believe it or not it is now fully charged!

…… and lo, there was light

Refit…….. and BINGO! lights, cameras, action and she bursts into life. That was about as far as I got
with my personal tasks as now Brenda wishes to dismantle the old pond and convert same into a
series of waterfalls using natural rock and be done with fish keeping as they normally don’t make it
through our severe winters.

The next project

But first the grass. Out with the Craftsman lawnmower which is a bit like the Christmas lights. It was
working perfectly when it was last used and put away and you know damn well it ISN’T going to start!
All the usual carb cleaning and blow throughs and then say the magic words “Honda, Honda” …….
and as always when threatened with a replacement Honda the Craftsman bursts into life and the
lawn regains it’s Wimbledon look with stripes a’plenty.

Grass first, then dismantle and stack

By mid Sunday afternoon the rock is all removed, tons of junk in the trash and the area made ready
for phase two. This will be the removal of all the dianthus plants and an ever growing wild strawberry sanctuary. I’ll be sitting down sometime this week designing this next Rodin structure!……. now she
doesn’t like the red brick retaining wall !!!!!!

End of phase One

Rocks removed, sized and stacked

What’s wrong with the red brick ?

Since then two weeks have elapsed and the only progress has been plant removal as it has been
non stop rain, hail  and …………

Tuesday morning, No, not base camp on Everest but our camping area
here at CC with 5 tents full of university students on a “bug hunt”

TONY DOWN

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SUCK, SQUEEZE, BANG, BLOW

SUCK, SQUEEZE, BANG, BLOW

SUCK, SQUEEZE, BANG, BLOW

The Title sounds like a Porno movie but is in fact father’s description of the four stroke cycle of ICPE.
So after further review of the first four rounds of the Ahrma Trials Championship it seems the only
logical class to ride in will be the Premier Heavyweight Expert division. All the others have somewhat
considerable head starts so I would be fighting a rear guard action and with only 6 contestable events
I rather suspect I would have once again been on the wrong side of the birthday cake with insufficient candles!

Down on candle power

Having just made the decision I haven’t told the Enfield yet and I’m quite sure the Cub will be very
upset but if other plans come good then she could get outings at Steamboat, the Ute Cup and maybe
the Canadian Vintage 2 Day.

Happy Enfield, on the other hand a sulky Cub

So with the “tool”decided on all that remains is to “get out there” and do something about it and get
over any reservations I might have on weight. The Enfield was last out and about in 2008 when it took
the Prem Int Championship with ease. At the time it was eating plugs but I rather fancy this was carb
related and I think I got that finally sorted last year so we will see how it runs when I have her out for
some light practice sessions.

Nice handling with tight turning

Uphills are fine ……. just big steps and logs make me think twice !

As I have said before the No Excuse Cub is such a delight to ride and does everything I ever ask it to
do. Whereas the Enfield is nearly 100 lbs heavier and although it handles and turns well, big steps
and log crossings always give cause for alarm as by comparison it is slow to repond. So far it has
climbed over things I didn’t think were possible but the “engine room” definitely requires some
advance warning if the front wheel is to be lifted.

Nice lightweight “factory” engine and gearbox at 120lbs !!!

Last question to be answered is should I change the front end or not ? Time will tell.

TONY DOWN

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EXPLODING ANOTHER MYTH

EXPLODING ANOTHER MYTH

EXPLODING ANOTHER MYTH


 Gas prices where I live last November, ……. and then …….

With some knowledge on the subject the current ridiculous fiasco at the petrol pump needs a little understanding for the layman. We “the populace” are fed yet another pack of lies, are soft talked on
how it is a global problem, ….. disruption caused by mini wars……..and how we will be self sufficient
and not dependant of middle east oil. Honestly what a load of CRAP !!

Weak government, lack of global knowledge and understanding are perhaps the greatest failures
here and allowing investors and money markets to run riot without holding them in check are making
matters worse for everyone. I have watched our current leader having the audacity to say that despite
the rise in oil prices the average family should be able to cope with the costs thanks to the tax savings
given by his party?????

Where we are today……

Let’s be VERY clear here, there is NO OIL SHORTAGE, thats right NONE !

Back in the 80’s when I was flying around the UK and European coastlines there was NO Oil
shortage, the UK was enjoying all the North Sea harvests from off shore drilling and all our refineries
were FULL. Tankers from the world’s oilfields sat at anchor just outside the 3 mile limit and with their minimum crews waited out the FIVE years at anchor rusting away until they could come into port to
offload their cargo.

Riding out the 5 years at anchor

Each one carries more than the daily total output from Libya 

These “Supertankers” were built in Taiwan and were lifed at 10 fully laden trips before scrap and if we
cast our minds back to that era there were several so called “accidents” as these vessels neared the
end of their 10 trip package. Do we remember Torrey Canyon, Amoco Cadiz, the Exon Valdez and
many others ? Maybe the insurance companies at Lloyds do as the Lutine Bell kept sounding.

When I was in Saudi after the first Gulf War gas prices were so low that I could fill up the Range Rover
for peanuts as the price was about 10c a gallon. While I was in Saudi the main oil pipeline to
Dammam, their major oil terminal, was running at 1/2 volume as their own refineries were full and
there was nowhere to pump it. Did we all forget that Saudi Arabia financed the WHOLE of  Gulf War l ?
They did this by turning the valve to 5/8 and this paid for everything.

All the post war rearmaments were negotiated between the Arabs and the Western Powers in Petro
Dollars which of course continue to flow except the Western World really doesn’t have anywhere for it
to go as we haven’t built any more major refineries. Also during my four years in Kingdom I met many
officials of Saudi Aramco the state oil company who told me they had discovered a major, and I mean
major, oilfield under the Empty Quarter. They were unable to develop this field as by their calculations
this deposit was bigger than ALL the rest of the World’s current oilfields put TOGETHER !!  In OPEC’s wisdom the price of a barrel of crude needed to be fixed at around $30-35 such that gas prices
globally remained fixed within their own economies. If they had developped the Empty Quarter, as
they eventually will do, the price of oil would have plumetted to below $10 a barrel.

So where are we ? we have all the oil we need, there is no shortage and irresponsible reporting and govermental rumouring that prices are being driven up by the manic forces jumping in to have a war
with anyone we don’t like. Neither the US or UK has ever imported oil from Iraq or Libya since the last
time the US had a skirmish with Gadaffi back in the 80’s. The loss of Libya’s 1.3 million barrels a day
to the world market would not even be noticed as Saudi has an emergency capacity of 5M per day to
deal with world losses or disasters. So yet more lies to cover what is really going on…… and we the
sucker taxpayers fall for it again.

In my 50 years as a user of fuels I am somewhat amazed that we have made little or NO progress
with our internal combustion engine. My first cars in the 60’s ALL did over 30mpg and here we are 50
years later with advertising for our newest vehicles claiming 31 and even 33 mpg!!!…….. as though this
is a major step forward ?  I rather suspect we really don’t want to develop the all electric car.



Man that things ugly!

Almost there, the Volt

…….. and what happened to the cheap alternative fuel?  As we started refining for better petrol or
gasoline we ended up with a whole load of less volatile crap and had no idea what to do with it !
Eventually someone invented an engine that would burn this junk ……and he-ho the diesel is with us.
Down on power, noisey, smokey, and all the rest but what the hell we can get rid of this bi- product ,
we can use it commercially for big trucks with big engines, burn as much as we like, let the engines
run all day, and who cares if we only get 4-9 mpg as there is a ton of it and it’s cheap!!!

Not any more!!!

So with farm machinery, generators, RV’s and big trucks and rigs using all this “cheap” fuel we have
a good balance between cars and bikes and the others. Strangely the once cheap fuel bi-product is
now seriously MORE expensive and this adversely affects everything. As the USA only has a road infrastructure all goods and foods are transported by road and if we leave fuel prices to free range
with the “futures” speculators EVERYTHING will go UP in price!……… and all because of what ? ……
…Yep, a false economy that doesn’t exist!!

In the last few days some of this “futures” trading in the oil market has seen a massive drop in the
price of a barrel of crude as investors tried to offload and make huge profits in a commodity that has
yet to be drilled or pumped. Of course with pump prices where they are it will no doubt take forever
before they come back down and we are still paying for something at a grossly unfair price.  The fuel
that you are pumping into your car was in all probability bought 5-7 years ago, was refined 3-5 years
ago and has been in suppliers depot tanks ever since. All paid for way back when. The instantaneous increases have been seen daily as the world “bad news” is reported, and while it “may ” have been
true had there ever been a shortage or increased cost to produce the commodity…… that is ALL in the
future and has no reflection on the stuff you are currently purchasing which has ALREADY been paid
for all the way along the line!

The fuel that was delivered by the road going tanker to your local pumps 2 weeks ago was invoiced
at a set price, yet the pump price has gone up 22 cents a gallon in that time and WHO I ask is making
ALL this profit and, why, oh why, are they allowed to ?

Time to go into town for groceries and vitals….. I might be awhile

Back to the bicycle and Shank’s pony !

TONY DOWN

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  • 7/18/2011 9:02 PM Jose wrote:
    You have some very well reasoned arguments here. I do believe in the profit motive, but there seems to be a crying need to ELIMINATE the tax at the pumps, especially for the sucker (me ) who fills up a luxury sedan almost EVERY DAY , so that, when fuel hit $ 4.00 plus a gallon last summer, My fuel bill for one month was the same as my mortgage. And I had to pay both.
    Or when we got the contract to drive High Schoolers to a private school, from Boulder to Arapahoe Rd and Parker Rd, the one run would cost the driver around $40.00 in Diesel. ONE WAY ! The argument for the other side goes that 1 (or maybe 2) out of every five jobs in America have some connection to the Automotive ( or Truck) World. So we have created the monster which is eating us alive. The perfect example of a really toxic mode of Laissez Faire exists in the Greater Metro area of Los Angeles. You would think ” Hundreds of thousands of people on Motorbikes, right?” Weather’s on your side,maneuvers better than anything on 4 wheels, the MPG factor, etc, right?
    Au Contraire! Non, Monsieur! A very small percentage indeed. Take the bull by the horns and do Lane Splitting. It’s like the ultimate Trials, splitting lanes by riding the white stripe on the Freeway. It’s legal. Also, you can move up between the cars at any intersection, so you can take off first. Not many do it.
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