This is Charlie6, author of Redleg's Rides, my host for a couple days of unexpected riding in Colorado. Anyone who's followed his blog knows a few things about him:
1. As much as he can he rides all year through all kinds of weather.
2. Riding takes him far afield and into the Rocky Mountains.
3. He racks up miles -- over 60 thousand in the last three years.
4. There's little boasting in his writing.
5. Unless you search carefully you can't quite tell who's behind the helmet. I've taken care of that.
I'll share a few things learned from observation. And a few other things can remain secret -- like the significance of certain street signs and the jungle in Panama.
The casual Redleg's Ride reader may have missed the author's name is Domingo Chang. Or that he's published an article in the BMW Motorcycle Owner's Association's Owner News magazine.
The article is titled Monument Valley via the Million Dollar Highway. It's a good read.
He's a serious rider. A look at his machines, gear, and attention to them give the strong impression that Mr. Chang is not a casual, fair weather rider.
I could go on but I don't want to embarrass him or screw up any chance of further riding should I return to Colorado.
Last Saturday morning Dom gave me the choice between Vikki, the V-Strom I had ridden the day before, or his beloved Brigitta, a beautiful 1987 BMW R80 airhead. With the thermometer reading 29F at departure time I chose the BMW because it had heated grips.
Our destination was about an hour away -- Red Rocks Park -- a little taste of the mountains before I had to fly back east. Once we arrived Dom told me to take the lead, go where I wanted, stop whenever I wanted to shoot pictures, we had plenty of time.
The bad feeling I get of having people waiting for me is one of the reasons I ride alone. I can stop a lot. The day quickly can become about photography and not riding.
As I scrambled up the red clay towards the rocks Dom probably was wondering what the hell I was doing. By the time I returned he said he would ride on ahead and I could catch up. He shot a video of me when I finally caught up. The startling slowness should serve as ample warning for anyone who thinks of riding with me.
The place was beautiful. The sky, the landscape, the feeling unlike anything I experience in Pennsylvania.
Charlie6 is all about the motorcycles. Whenever I turned the camera towards him he commented that the pictures should be about the motorcycles. So I had to switch to stealth mode, useful for reluctant or nervous subjects.
While Dom composed his artistic motorcycle arrangements I grabbed a shot of an R1200 GS (?) putting by.
Dom does look like a police officer. You would think people would steer clear. While we were here an SUV drove up and a woman leaped out and came running over and asked us if we wanted her to shoot our picture. First thought in my head was of Jack Riepe and the stories this encounter could generate. Then I wondered if she thought we looked like the Village People.
We politely declined the offer and I noted a scooter decal in her back window as she drove away. Obviously just a fine, friendly human.
It kind of bothers me that Jack Riepe pops into my head when I'm out riding. What the hell is that about?
Dom shoots as many, perhaps more, pictures as I do. He was curious how our pictures would compare. I'm always interested in how different people see the same places.
Nothing like big, red rocks for subject matter.
I learned something else about Dom when making this picture. He likes his motorcycles just so. When I set up the bike I had turned the front wheel to the left. Opposite of how one learns to leave it when you dismount in an MSF class. But I like the way the bike looks when the wheel is askew.
Dom likes the wheel straight and trotted over to fix things.
We rode to the top of Lookout Mountain and walked up to Buffalo Bill's grave. Only a foothill of the Rockies I still felt the 7500 foot elevation. At this point I wasn't shooting many pictures because the clock was starting to tick in my head and visions of security checkpoints at the airport were dancing in my head.
Going down the other side of the mountain towards Golden, Colorado placed us in clusters of bicyclists making their way up and down the mountain. I was glad to have a motor. At least for a few more moments.
After shooting this picture I couldn't get the BMW started. Dom came over and swore there should be gas in the tank. A quick dismantling of the fuel bowl of one of the carbs confirmed there was gas. Turned out I put the fuel shutoff valves in the wrong position. How would I know? I ride a Vespa.
After another Panama jungle experience we gassed up and hit the freeway to get back home and to the airport before I would have to buy another ticket. Brigitta followed Vikki and at times I saw the speedometer needle pegged at the maximum. Smooth and stable despite a nice crosswind.
Bikes safely back in the garage Dom checks to make sure I've not left anything behind before we go the the airport. Unfortunately we both forget the long underwear I borrowed. (They're in the wash now and I'll mail them back soon.)
At the airport I say my goodbye and head through security to meet motorcycle blogger Richard Machida as he heads back to Alaska. Dom must be a puppet master to pull off all this interaction so smoothly.
By the time my ass sinks into the seat of the Boeing 757 I am really tired. Five hours of riding is a nice sedative before flying. And a great way to end a great week in Colorado. I hope I can return the favor should Dom and his family visit Pennsylvania.
Dom -- thank you for your kind hospitality and trust with your motorcycles. The keys to the Vespa are yours whenever you want.