Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays

"Merry Christmas to all and to all a Happy New Year!"   I got a couple of new toys for Christmas.  Click PLAY, expand to full screen, adjust the quality to HD and crank up the volume.

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition camera to play with on my motorcycle adventures.  And to help me get them into more interesting shape Corel VideoStudio Pro X5.

And here's my first video project using the Hero3 and the video software.  It was shot in 720p HD. Riding with FLIR at sunset. 

I have ordered an in-line DVR to capture the output of the FLIR camera while riding at night.  The idea is to use the FLIR thermal image captured by the DRV and the visual night riding video captured by the GoPro Hero3.  Then I'll us the video studio software to combine the GoPro video as a small video in video superimposed over the full FLIR video.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The FLIR PathFindIR Project

Forward Looking Infrared:  A thermal imaging technology designed to literally see in the dark.  Ideal for night riding on a motorcycle. (Posts are in reverse chronological order)


This the last entry of this post.   See:  Using FLIR While Riding  The objective of this phase is integrate the FLIR under long distance riding conditions.  How best to employ the system, exploit its capabilities, and identify limitations under day and night operational conditions. 

Tuesday 12/18:  Ok, I have finalized all the placement issues with components, cables and wires.  One last thing on my FLIR farkle list is to fabricate a front cover for the camera mounting assembly.  The FLIR PathFindIR camera is already ruggedized to a high degree.  Placing an aluminum cover on the front of the mounting hardware will give more protection and disguise the camera.
Sunday 12/16:  This morning before dawn I rode to Gruene Harley Davidson for the last day of the New Rider Course I was conducting.  It was drizzling so I was excited to see how the FLIR looked in the rain.  The first thing I noticed is the lack of contrast between the trees, road, and other non warm blooded objects.  As you would expect from a cool shower of rain the ambient heat of most objects that were covered by the cool rain lost a lot of their thermal energy.  But, on Purgatory road I saw several hot spots on the side of the road some distance ahead.  When my headlights brought the objects in view I could see it was several rabbits.  They dispersed as my motorcycle approached.   In the absence of warm blooded critters the FLIR display in the rain is very grainy to the point of looking a malfunction.  But all it takes is something with some thermal energy and it comes alive.

Friday 12/14:  Installed the new rear view camera.  Much better in the bright sunlight.  It's a black/white camera but I actually prefer that over the color camera.  I'm working on a way to record video from the FLIR.  I've been scouring the internet for a mini DVR for 12v application or battery powered.  I'd like to record videos for the blog using the FLIR under various conditions; night riding, heavy rain, fog, on the Interstate, etc.  With the bike parked in my garage I recorded a video using my Canon PowerShot 495 rally camera.  The video of the monitor displaying the FLIR input is  grainy of course because the motorcycle is sitting still.  Something I've discovered about the FLIR PathFindIR is that it adjusts it's resolution dynamically as any camera.  But, if it is sitting still it doesn't change the resolution until something moves in view. This is a video viewing the FLIR monitor mounted on my BMW R1200GS Adventure.  As you watch me walk down my driveway to the street you can clearly see me against the cool background.  When I reach the street I walk a bit, turn around and head back.  When you see me waving my arms I"m actually standing behind the brush.  It's quite dramatic how easy it is to see warm blooded creatures using the FLIR PathFindIR thermal imaging camera.

Wednesday 12/12:  Today I wired up the two BMW power sockets on each side of the upper fairing.  So, now the FLIR and the monitor have their own dedicated power supply.  It really made a difference in the resolution of the FLIR.  It is much clearer with what seems to be enhanced resolution.  I'm very please with the setup now.  I put an in-line toggle switch for the FLIR power socket so I can turn it off during periods of bright sunlight.  It still works perfectly in bright sunlight but the monitor is not easy to see.  Besides, no need for a heat signature during the bright of day.  Now, I'm ready for some serious field work with the FLIR. I want to test it in heavy rain, fog and other conditions where poor visibility impedes riding.  Yesterday, I was at AlTex electronics store in Austin and saw a nice weatherproof black and white CCTV camera that I might try for the rear view during the day.  The cheap ($29) back up camera I now have tends to suffer in bright sunlight. 

Tuesday 12/11:  I talked with my BMW tech and decided not to have them install power sockets into the CAN bus system of the motorcycle.  If for some reason one of the outlets pulls more than 4 amps all sockets will be disabled.  So, back to my original plan to connect the sockets up to the Touratech CAN bus helper I already have installed.  It's very reliable and easy to configure for various power requirements on the bike. 

Monday 12/10:  Removed the camera and the monitor from the motorcycle.  I'm having Lone Star BMW install power outlets wired into the CAN bus system on the motorcycle.  This will provide a system monitored power source for each component of the FLIR system.  The FLIR camera draws only 2 watts under normal use and a maximum of 6 watts when the heater activates at 40F.  The monitor consumes a maximum of 4 watts.  Also, I'll be installing BMW power plugs on the FLIR and the monitor.  This will make removing the unit quick and easy. 

Saturday 12/8:  Went on a early morning (pre-dawn) ride to see how the FLIR performed after the heat of the previous day had normalized overnight.  It was a noticeable difference.  I saw several deer on the side of the road ahead.  The contract between the cooler surroundings and the white hot bodies of the animals was striking.  It was very easy to see animal heat signatures at a distance far beyond all the lights I have on the GSA.  I'm sold.

Wednesday 12/5:  Received the mounting hardware for the camera.  Placed just under the right turn signal the unit is at an optimum height above the ground.  It is securely attached to the brush guard via RAM ball and yoke.  I did a test ride to verify position and sturdiness and everything checked out OK. 

I also repositioned the display by raising it about one in more it my field of view.  This makes quick glances at the thermal image easier and I don't feel I'm taking my eyes off of the road ahead.

Monday 12/3:  Went on a training ride starting at dusk.  I live in the Texas Hill Country so it's a great place to practice avoiding critters.  The FLIR camera works well in all lighting conditions.  Remember, it registers the difference in heat generated by the natural and man made surroundings.  But, the display monitor is a limiting factor during bright sunlight.  At dusk or during an overcast sky the display becomes more useful.  My monitor has brightness/contrast settings that can be adjusted for daytime riding.  At dusk and riding at night I found that cranking down the b/c to a 10 setting works best. 

The threat while riding at night is not seeing a hazard before it gets within the total stopping distance of the motorcycle.  Normal headlights and high beam gives me about 5-6 seconds of lead time.  If I installed expensive auxiliary lighting it would extend this path of travel distance to about 8-10 seconds.  These bright lights should not be used with other vehicles are present as the lights can dazzle other drivers.  I have found the FLIR gives me a 12-15 second view ahead.  At 60 mph a 15 second view ahead is 1/4 mile.  It's difficult to see a naturally camouflaged animal on the road or near the shoulder of the road.  But with the FLIR they stand out like they are painted with white retro-reflective coating.  Very easy to spot even if they are several yard off to the side of the road.  Seeing the threat at that distance with just a quick glance at the monitor allows me to focus on the 4-6 second immediate path of travel to avoid hazards.  The more I use the FLIR the better I like it for night riding. 

Sunday 12/2:  Spent most of the day shortening the 6' monitor cable.  I was hoping the video cables were just like the RG174 cable on the FLIR.  Not!  The coaxial cables on the monitor were tiny 18 gauge wires with even smaller inner casing with the video lead.  I had to strip the outer casing off to expose the ground wire mesh, and solder the two grounds together.  Then solder the video lead wires to the cable segments that contained the BNC connectors.  I know, to much jargon.  At any rate it was a challenge for me.  But I got it done.  I am not happy with the power supply arrangement I have now for the FLIR and the monitor.  I have them both connected to a single power lead back to the CANBUS helper.  Tuesday I'm going to contact my BMW dealer and have them install two BMW power outlets in the upper fairing locations.  And, have the one on the riders right connected to an on/off switch.  I'm going to use that power socket for the FLIR and turn it off during the day. 

Saturday 12/1:  Today I hooked up the rear view camera to the monitor to use for day time use.  I also purchased a RG174 cable stripper to make adjustments to the OEM cables for better fitment and waterproofing.   RG174 is very thin coax cable and putting connections on the ends is trick without the right tools.  I'm going to shorten the video and power cables/wires to neaten up the project.  As it stands now I have already shortened the FLIR PathFindIR 20' OEM cable harness to 4'.  The monitor wiring harness is 6' long, so, it will be my first modification. 

Friday 11/30:  At the Best Western in Apline sipping on a cup of morning coffee.   Just a little about my impressions riding with the FLIR.  I first wanted to evaluate the stability of the mounting configuration.  Both the camera and the monitor are very stable.  I did not notice any screen vibration from the video input.  I have the camera mounted on RAM to the brush guards and it seems rock solid.  Also, the monitor is very steady and easy to view.  Speaking of viewing the monitor, it is slightly below my forward field of view.  Normally, looking down and anything creates stress about not keeping an eye on the road.  But looking at the monitor even for more than a second was not stressful as I was viewing the path of travel ahead.

The resolution is good but degraded in bright sunlight even with the contrast/brightness maxed out.  With just a little cloud cover the view improves.  Now, starting at dusk the view is dramatic and quite useful.  On I-10 I could clearly see the heat signature of vehicles 1/2 mile ahead.  They appeared as white dots and the shape became recognizable at a 1/4 mile.  After dusk and while on US67 heading into Alpine is when the FLIR really proved its worth.  With just a glance I could see features on the shoulders of the road ahead that would indicate animal activity.  Backing the brightness down made natural shapes stand out vividly.  At one point I noticed several hot spots on the right far ahead of my driving lights.   I watched these hot spots until they became visible in my headlights.  They were several cows laying in the grass just on the other side of the highway fence.

It will take me more field testing under varying riding conditions to train myself to get the most out of the FLIR.  But, this I notice right away while riding at night using the FLIR.  My stress level decreased noticeably.  I was able to maintain the speed limits and feel confident I would be alerted to animals ahead well in advance of seeing via my driving lights.  It was easy to check out the road, shoulders and behind trees and bushes on the monitor long before I could see them with visible light.

Headed north to New Mexico and turned right in Carlsbad.  Wanted to eat up some daylight to give the FLIR some more night time riding.  Specifically, I wanted to do some non-Interstate roads.  And what better place than the interior of Texas between I-20 and I-10.  Got dark when I arrived in Brady, about 3 hours away from home.  Stopped for gas, a sandwich and change into night riding glasses.  Adjusted the brightness/contrast on the FLIR and headed out.  The best settings I found for brightness/contrast are 10/5 respectfully on the monitor.  This gives the best view at night.  In addition to the ability to see the critters on the road, shoulders and on the adjacent field I found looking at the monitor screen when approaching vehicles and I pass each other.  I used to just look off to the right side to reduce the glare.  I often worried about hitting something just as I and the vehicle coming in the opposite direction pass.  Looking at the infrared display gave me a clear view of the road ahead.

I get better at using the FLIR with each ride.  I found that when I glance down at the monitor I should focus in the road at the point where my headlights stop.  This helps me to see if a critter is in the road on my path of travel.  By doing this I can also monitor the shoulder margins on each side of the road for the tell-tale white hot blobs of deer on the sides of the road.  This gives me more than a 10 second path of travel view with just a half-second glance at the monitor.  The last hour of riding was through some of the most critter infested parts of the Texas Hill Country:  Fredricksburg to Luckenbach to Blanco to Wimberley.  I would never ride this very familiar stretch at night and would choose the larger US290 to US281 highways instead.  The FLIR made is a lot less stressful.  I was a good training ride.

Thursday 11/29:  Today I'm going to neaten up the rat's nest of cables.  Yesterday, I had to have the 20 foot camera cable harness shortened to 4'.  That still leaves me with 6' monitor cable harness for a total of 10' of cables that needed to be securely and cosmetically stored.  I have temporary mounting hardware for the camera I fabricated out of a metal used for framing straps.  I works but is ugly.  I ordered the universal mounting bracket that was designed for the camera.

I'm going to begin field testing today.  I want to evaluate the ergonomics of the monitor, camera and the new position of my primary GPS.  Also, I want to evaluate the functionality of the FLIR through varying light conditions and the transition from daylight through dusk and into darkness.  I need to do this under actual extended riding conditions so I'll be heading out west.   

Wednesday 11/28:  I received both the FLIR PathFindIR camera and the mounting hardware for the monitor yesterday.  Spend most of the day working on mounting the monitor to the windscreen supports of the GSA.  I purchased a GPS mount from Touratech to attach to the top mounting bolts of the monitor and a couple of insulated clamps and support rods for the bottom mounting bolts.  As you can see by the finish product it actually looks quite OK, at least better than I expected.  I did have to switch from a 6" RAM extension to a 4" to lower my zumo 665 to take it out of the line of sight to the monitor.  The picture below is from the rider position which shows both the monitor and the GPS unit.  The view is out the door of the garage up the driveway. If you look in the lower right corner of the right picture you can see the FLIR mounted just below the right turn signal.

Sunday 11/25:  I've been occupied over the Thanksgiving holiday period scoping out and doing dry fitting of the different components that make up the FLIR project.  My plan is to mount the FLIR camera just over the right front fog light.  I have already run the power cable from the CAN Bus helper to the front of the motorcycle.  This single (pos&neg) cable will "Y" at the end to power both the monitor (2 watts) and the FLIR camera (2 watts and 6 watts when defroster activates at 39F).  The monitor power wire has an inline 3 amp fuze and I expect the FLIR camera will have something around that also.  So, if I do my electrical math correctly with both the camera and monitor pulling their max wattage it will be less than 3 amps.  (2w + 6w) / 12 volts = 0.667 amps. 

Tuesday 11/20:  Found an inexpensive rear view camera to add functionality to the FLIR Project.  It's the Boyo Vision VTK-350 universal rear viewing camera with a wide viewing angle.  It's supposed to be waterproof, but one customer review complained of his getting wet.  Installing this camera on the back of the GSA will give me a rear view while riding during the day.  The monitor I have is capable of doing split screen or toggle between cameras on the fly. 

Monday 11/19:  The monitor arrived this morning.  Wow, that was fast.  I placed the order on Friday 11/6.  I'm very please with Rugged CCTV, a Texas company. I did some quick dry fitting of the monitor and like most farkles it will require solving several problems.  But I'm excited to have one of the components of the project to play with while I wait on the camera.  Oh, this particular monitor can receive input from two cameras and display the two images in split screen.  Hummm....wonder how a review view camera would help me watch my "Six"?

Friday 11/16:
As a long distance rider I do a lot of riding at night.  The conventional solution to enhancing visibility at night is the auxiliary lighting.  These lighting systems can bathe the countryside with lots of light.  Of course one has to dim them for approaching vehicles.  Just when they are needed the most in some cases.  I have decided a different approach to increasing visibility for night riding.

With the PathFindIR FLIR camera feeding a thermal image to a waterproof 7" TFT LCD monitor I will be able to see the heat signature of animals, people, vehicles parked with their engines running up to 1,000 feet ahead, day or night.  As with most technologies there are limitations.   And, my prototype configuration uses a relatively large monitor.  My goal is an inside helmet mounted display similar to the Recon Instruments MODE Live goggle mounted display. 

I have used FLIR technology while serving in the US Army.  Our aviation assets employed FLIR tech for all kinds of applications.  So, when the technology migrated over to the civilian market I was keen to try a system out on a motorcycle.  After several months of research, justifying the cost and specing out system this week I purchased the camera and a waterproof (IP69) monitor.  The monitor will be mounted several inches below my normal field of view.  The idea is to use the monitor as one would use a rear view mirror by just glance at it every few seconds.

I purchased the camera from FLIR authorized dealer for the standard market price.  There are few if any companies that discount the item as it is tightly controled by FLIR.  The name of the dealer is The Midnight Rider.  I paid the current market price for the black & white 30 Hertz model.  This is the same unit that is in the US Army M1 Abrams main battle tank.  It's battle tested and ready for the motorcycling environment.

Check back to see the acquisition, installation and field testing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The New Mount

Saturday 12/29:  I got this new 2013 BMW R1200GS Adventure for the Rally.  My 2008 GSA was put out to pasture after 160,000 adventurous miles.  Standing next to the new mount I engaged in a bit of zen bonding.  I began to tell the GSA what was in store for it with all the training rides, field testing, and a couple of practice rallies all culminating in the "Ride of a Lifetime".  I told the GSA I needed to depend on it performing flawlessly, like it's predecessor. 

Then, I asked my motorcycle if it understood that our partnership was special.  That we are a team and I am the team leader.  I asked if it had anything to say about it's role in our riding adventures. 

Just then, as if by some flash of serendipity, the stereo in my garage began playing......

"I'm going to make this place your home!

Seemed pretty fitting, to me.

Friday 11/30:  Headed north to New Mexico and turned right in Carlsbad.  Wanted to eat up some daylight to give the FLIR some more night time riding.  Specifically, I wanted to do some non-Interstate roads.  And what better place than the interior of Texas between I-20 and I-10.  Got dark when I arrived in Brady, about 3 hours away from home.  Stopped for gas, a sandwich and change into night riding glasses.  Adjusted the brightness/contrast on the FLIR and headed out.  The best settings I found for brightness/contrast are 10/5 respectfully on the monitor.  This gives the best view at night.  In addition to the ability to see the critters on the road, shoulders and on the adjacent field I found looking at the monitor screen when approaching vehicles and I pass each other.  I used to just look off to the right side to reduce the glare.  I often worried about hitting something just as I and the vehicle coming in the opposite direction pass.  Looking at the infrared display gave me a clear view of the road ahead.

I get better at using the FLIR with each ride.  I found that when I glance down at the monitor I should focus in the road at the point where my headlights stop.  This helps me to see if a critter is in the road on my path of travel.  By doing this I can also monitor the shoulder margins on each side of the road for the tell-tale white hot blobs of deer sign.  This gives me more than a 10 second path of travel view with just a half-second glance at the monitor.  The last hour of riding was through some of the most critter infested parts of the Texas Hill Country:  Fredricksburg to Luckenbach to Blanco to Wimberley.   I would never take this familiar route at night.  I would take the larger highways of US290 to US281 instead.  Riding with the FLIR made this experiment worth while and was less stressful.  It was good training.

Thursday 11/29:  Got a new farkle for the new mount and I'm going on a shake out ride to see how it does on the road.  See:  The FLIR PathFindIR Project posting for details.  I want to do some hill country roads, some interstate and some dessert highways to get a good workout for the installation configuration of the camera and it's monitor.  I've already determined the FLIR picture is not very effective with direct sunlight on the monitor.  But, it's primary use is for night time riding and spotting critters on the sides of the highway up to 1,000 feet ahead.

Wednesday, Nov 7:  Doing a shake out ride to the Texas Gulf coast and down to South Padre Island where I'll RON.  Then on Thursday head up along the Rio Grande to Laredo before turning north back to home.  A little over 1,025 mile ride. 

Ok, I got the new ride and it's pretty cool.  Has that new bike smell and feel.  Got finished wiring up my GPS harness, CAN Bus helper, modified the rear seat to accommodate my "BackUp" back rest, and tail bag.  I rode it to Gruene HD for my weekend class and plan on doing a 450 mile around the block ride on Monday to get the 600 miles on it for the initial break-in service.

Been working on farkeling it up to meet the functionality of the old GSA.  Here's a list of the things I've been doing to the new GSA to get it long distance ready.

  • Tank bag
  • Installed the oil cooler protective grill. 
  • Headlight plexiglass protector.
  • Foot pegs on the crash bars.
  • Windshield extension
  • Installed water bottle holder
  • BakUp back rest onto the rear seat pan
  • Tank bag holder on the rear seat pan
  • Gas cap lock quick release
  • Throttle tension adjustor
  • Garmin zumo 665
  • Spot Personal locator mount
  • Freeway Blaster Fiamm low tone horn
  • Retro-reflective stickers on panniers
  • Anti-slip striping on pannier lids

As I make modification I'll post them here. 

Today, Tuesday, October 23rd,  I'm riding my un-farkled 2008 BMW R1200GS Adventure to Lone Star BMW in Austin to pick up my brand spanking new 2013 BMW R1200GS Adventure.  I was holding out for one of the new water cooled Adventures but they won't hit the market until late in the model year.   Even though my 2008 GSA is rock solid dependable, it currently has 160,000 miles on it and would have well over 200,000 miles on it by the time I trained up next year's rally season.

It's a Deal !
"Hey Gary, this looks just like the old bike."  "Yeah, I know Tim, and it's costing you a lot more to boot."

The Old Mount:  SOLD!
I put the 2008 up for consignment at Lone Star BMW/Triumph in Austin.  It is covered by an zero deductible extended warranty until July of 2015.  I put in a new clutch when it blew a U-joint at 123,000.  I will miss this trusty ride but have great hopes for the 2013 GSA.  The initial asking price for this excellent motorcycle is $9,500.

Monday, October 1, 2012

DYI Long Distance Riding Adventures

Riding long distances is all about being safe.  Knowing your limits and riding within them.  It is about extending your riding horizons beyond your local area.  Want to get more out of your limited vacation time?  Learn how to ride long distance.  All it takes is a full tank of gas and an empty bladder.  No, seriously, LD riding is nothing more than staying on the motorcycle from fill up to needing gas again.  By doing this you begin to know what things on your motorcycle cause discomfort.  What items of your riding gear need to be changed.  Riding long distance is about solving problems that come up while riding the motorcycle.  

Do Some Homework:

Archive of Wisdom -- 28 Tips & Techniques from Iron Butt Rally veterans
Long-Distance Riding in Hot Weather - Tom Austin, IBA Chief Technical Advisor
Motorcycle Fuel Economy -- Tom Austin, IBA Chief Technical Advisor
Fatigue and Motorcycle Touring, by Dr. Don Arthur.
Fatigue and Riding Smart -- PowerPoint Presentation
First Responder Actions -- PowerPoint Presentation
(Dr. Arthur's work posted here with his permission)

Do Some Training:  See ROG Testing post

1.  Pick a day to ride
2.  Pick a route on interstate highways (highest speeds, highest consumption rate)
3.  Fill your gas tank and 1 or 2 gallon safe/approved gas container.  Be sure to stow it safely.
4.  Zero your trip odometer and head out on the highway
5.  Ride until the motorcycle runs out of gas.  NOTE ROG distance
6.  Add the contents of the gas container and ride to the nearest gas station.
7.  Fill the gas tank and determine total capacity (fillup + gas can - gas used from ROG point to gas station)
8.  Go to step 3 above and REPEAT!

This is basic LD training.  It's not about the scenery along the way.  It's all about bonding with your motorcycle.  The goal is to be able to comfortably ride out 90% of a full tank of gas.  So, to that end it is important to know the fuel endurance distance (FED) of your motorcycle at sustained highway speeds.  Don't focus on miles per gallon, rather how many miles can you get out of a full tank of gas.  Sustained speeds, over 55 mph, on the interstate will give you the lowest fuel endurance miles. 

Be sure to hydrate while riding at a pace that will not fill your bladder too quickly.  Feel free to stop for rest between gas stops during your early training sessions.  If you feel discomfort while riding note what is causing it and work at solving the problem.  Your body will tell you what needs to be corrected.  Use the same tactic for solving motorcycle mechanical and equipment issues.

Make your motorcycle a comfort zone:

These items work together to solve the "monkey butt" issue.  The combination of a solid seat foundation with the ceramic beads allow for air flow and changing pressure points for added blood circulation.  The undergarments wick moisture away from the skin to keep the backside and thighs dry.  The outerwear riding pants are Gore-Tex waterproof and slide on the ceramic beads very smoothly.  The system works well for me for long hours in the saddle day after day after day.  See the complete list of my riding gear here:  Farkle Data Sheet

  1. Seating foundation:  Sargent Seat
  2. Dynamic Pressure/Air Circulation:  BeadRider ceramic beads
  3. Underwear:  LDComfort riding shorts "Wonder Fabric"
  4. Outerwear:  Aerostich AD1 Riding pants
Having highway peg helps with differing ones leg position while riding.  Also, being able to stand up while riding allow for blood to flow more freely in the legs.  It is important to wear compression socks to avoid lower leg swelling and the risk of blood clots.  Dr. Scholl's therapeutic compression socks work great for me and are available at Walmart for $8.95.

I use a motorcycle back rest mounted to the passenger seat pan.  It's made by Bakup USA.  It's an American company that has both rider and passenger back rests available for all makes and models of motorcycles.

Your First Iron Butt Association Certified Ride

The entry level IBA certified ride is the SaddleSore 1,000 or Bun Burner 1500.  I recommend the Saddle Sore 1,000 as your first IBA ride.  It can be done is under 18-20 hours.  It takes only one witness a the start and one witness at the finish.  For a detailed PowerPoint presentation on how to prepare the documentation see Dr. Howard's easy IBA Documentation Presentation.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Pick a day to ride
  2. Pick a route that is easy to document and verify (See rules)
  3. Pick a time to start
  4. Get start witness sign off first
  5. Get start dated business receipt (DBR) to start the ride clock
  6. Get a DBR at each pit stop
  7. Get a finish DBR to stop the ride clock
  8. Get finish witness sign off last
  9. Submit your certification package (see rules)
  10. Start planning your next certified ride

Here are some LD riding adventures you can do anytime you want.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Heaven to Hell 1,000 - Gold

IBA Certification

Starting Odometer:  152,528   Ending Odometer:  156,252   Total Miles: 3,724 (TX to Denver, H2H 1,000 back to TX)

This adventure had two parts:  attend the IBA International Meeting in Denver, CO and riding the Heaven to Hell Gold challenge ride.  I'll be departing home on Monday, August 13 and returning around Wednesday, August 22.  See the full SpotWalla Map.

Monday 8/20:  Refreshed from our rest we had a quick hotel breakfast and departed for our second mandatory DBR spot in Ely, NV.  I had programmed a waypoint in my zumo 665 for the gas stop some weeks ago.  Our original plan was to do our rest stop in Ely.  I was leading on this segment so I just rode to the Ely Gas waypoint I had in the GPS....effectively passing a much better choice right next to the turn off to Beatty.  I caught hell from my rally mentor, Dr. Howard, for relying too much on the crap in the GPS and not paying attention to the road signs.  We ended up spending about 30 minutes for a gas stop and riding around in Ely.  At this point our slack time to the Badwater finish was down to about an hour.  We still had to stop at Beatty, NV just outside of Death Valley for a mandatory DBR.

Howard leading the way
The wide open spaces on this segment meant we could push a little harder and make up a few minutes.  By the time we got to Beatty, Howard had gained us 25 minutes.  We gassed up, soaked our LD Comfort shirts down and departed on the last 58 mile segment. 

Don't drink the water
Odo and Temperature
It was 114f on my bike thermometer when we pulled into the Badwater parking lot.  Time was just after 2 PM PDT on August 20th.  Spot'd our arrival, took a couple of pictures and headed towards Boulder City.  The temperature climbed to as much as 118f as I was riding out.

Joe was there!


We stopped in Kingman AZ for the night.  Took a shower, walked across the parking lot for dinner, then back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.  We're parting company tomorrow.  I'm heading back to Texas.  Joe and Howard are taking I-40 east to get some NPT stamps along the way.

Got Oxygen?
Sunday 8/19:  Going to pack up and get ready to re-position to the top of Pikes Peak for our 3PM MDT departure.   Check out the route plan sheet for the timing to waypoints.  Joe Green joined Dr. Howard and myself on the ride to Pikes Peek.  Our plan was to depart around 3pm local so we are on I-70 during most of the night riding time.  We got to the summit a little after 1pm and took in the sights.  Pictures to follow shortly.  Wow, "Got Oxygen" .... I really noticed the lack of oxygen at 14,100 feet.  Hell, I was out of breath taking a piss in the port-a-john.   After taking in the sights we went into the gift shop an had lunch.  I took a nap after lunch for about 30 minutes.

Mandatory Waypoint
After making a gift shop purchase to establish our starting DBR (dated business receipt) we departed the mountain top at about 3:15PM.  Next mandatory waypoint location was Independence Pass on CO 82 on the way to Aspen.  Dr. Howard and Joe are doing the National Parks Tour soe they stopped just of US24 for a park passport stamp.  I waited at the highway intersection for them to return.  At Independence pass we stopped for a quick bonus picture, "Spot'd" and rode down the mountain. Very narrow parts along the steep mountain parts.  At the junction of I-70 we topped off our fuel for the long ride to Delta, UT.  The was our rest stop and we arrived there a little after 1pm.  Our plan was to do 5 hour rest stop.  By the time we got to Delta we were about 1:45 behind our ride plan.  We cut the rest period down to 4 solid hours.   

Iron Butt Association International Meeting

Saturday 8/18:  The breakout sessions today were interesting.  I attended an over view of Garmin's new mapping software BaseCamp.  I've been experimenting with BaseCamp for a while now but have not found it more useful than MapSource.  But, I found out that BaseCamp will be including a way to include dwell time in the properties of a waypoint.  This is a significant improvement while planning multi waypoint routes to get an overall and more accurate route travel time.  I also attended the 2013 Iron Butt Rally briefing where the general location of the rally check points were announced.  This will help all those entered in the rally.  As you might expect the rally will encompass the entire lower 48 states and maybe much of Canada and Alaska.  More information to follow. 

Friday 8/17:  Today was filled with lots of good information about long distance riding. The IBA organization has done a great job putting this meeting together.  The venue at the Marriott Tech Center is first rate.  The speakers have been very professional.  Of particular interest to me was the presentations by Dr. Donald Arthur (USN ADM) who is very active in the long distance riding community.  His article on FATIGUE and Motorcycle Touring is the must read for rest management.  He delivered a presentation on First Responder action, or what do you do if you come across a motorcycle crash with victims.  His presentation tomorrow on Fatigue will be very interesting.  Howard Entman and I have been going over our plans to ride from the top of Pikes Peak to Death Valley.  We're changing our departure time from early morning to 3pm MDT to minimize riding on two lane road at night.  By leaving in the mid afternoon that will put us on Interstate 70 during most of our night riding.  More later about the ride on Sunday. 

Thursday 8/16:  Got up early this morning to see off the 40 or so Rally 101 participants depart for their training ride.  The Rally 101 classes yesterday were about creating a ride plan from a rally book.  A set of bonus locations and rules for a long distance motorcycle rally.   The all arrive back later today and go through the scoring process.  Speaking of scoring, I attended a class on scoring the Iron Butt Rally.  Was a great learning experience.  Lots of attention to details and focus on the process.  Going to work on the audio issue I'm having with my helmet and XM audio amp.  Also, I want to reboot my zumo 665 to see if that resolves the time zone change issue.  Want to get finished before happy hour.....

Wednesday 8/15:  Slept in today.  Walked across the parking lot to the Waffle House for breakfast, yummy!  I'll probable leave Castle Rock and ride the 40 miles or so to the IBA International Meeting hotel at the Marriott Tech Center.  I'll be there till Sunday when Dr. Howard and I ride to the top of Pikes Peak for our Heaven to Hell Gold challenge ride. 

Tuesday 8/14:  North to Denver, well actually just outside of Denver.  I did a GPS time zone function check while crossing from CDT to MDT.  I prefer my GPS clock to stay on CDT and all subsequent time calculations to be made using one time zone.  It's less confusing to me.  My zumo 665 will change the arrival time to a waypoint as I cross a time zone.  I've emailed Garmin technical help but they skeptical.  So, just before crossing the TX/NM border from CDT to MDT I took a screen shot of my unit clock settings that shows the "Automatic" box unchecked.  Then, just before crossing the border I took another screen shot that shows the clock, location, arrival time to Denver.  Shortly after crossing the border, another screen shot.  Sure enough, the arrival time at the destinations increased one hour.  When I got to my motel in Castle Rock I sent Garmin the screen shots.  

Monday 8/13:  Left home around 11am to head west.  Took the southern route on US90 instead of the usual I-10.  Of course it was warm, around 102f till I reached Sanderson.  The ride into Alpine was a lot more comfortable with temperatures in the high 80s.  I'm trying a new neck cover made of Dryline fabric.  It's a Halo head band but instead of putting it on my forehead I tied it around my neck as a bandana.  It was much more comfortable than my usual cotton bandana.  I could feel the evaporation on my neck working.  

The IBA International meeting is a gathering of long distance enthusiasts from around the world.  Held every two years it is put on by the Iron Butt Association.  The agenda for the meeting is jammed pack full of seminars and breakout sessions with the focus on the various aspects of long distance riding and the sport of competitive rally riding.  The event runs from Wednesday, 8/15 though Saturday 8/19.

On Sunday, August 19, I and my rally mentor, Dr. Howard, will depart the Marriott Tech Center hotel in south Denver and ride to the top of Pikes Peak.  We are shooting to be at the summit around before 9AM MDT.  This will be the start point for the IBA challenge ride Heaven to Hell Gold.  Ride from Pikes Peak, across Independence Pass, through Ely NV and finish at Badwater, CA in the middle of Death Valley, all in under 24 hours.

A - Pikes Peak Highway, CO
B - Independence Pass, CO
C - Ely, NV
D - Beatty, NV
E - Badwater, Death Valley, CA