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May 4, 2015

KTM 990 Adventure Electrical Issue

I think the alternator isn't charging the battery on the 2010 KTM 990 Adventure. It's been a headache since at least last summer.


5/7/2015 - Took my battery into Wal-Mart and had them check it just now. The battery I have is an EverStart ES9BS. The guy tested it and said the following:
Battery Test Results
Good Battery
Voltage: 12.92 V
Measured: 228 CCA
Rated: BTX9(BS)
Temperature: 75F
Battery meets or exceeds required standards.
Average life in area 59 months.

So, I think something is wrong with the KTM, not the battery. At this point, I'm taking it into the KTM dealership, I'm thinking.

5/13/2015 - Last night, I hooked up my battery to a 1.5 amp trickle charger. It showed that the battery wasn't fully charged, so I left it on charge all night and this morning, it showed that it was fully charged. I then took the battery in to Wal-Mart to have it tested again, as I wanted to compare the results. This time, it said:
Battery Test Results
Good Battery
Voltage: 12.95 V
Measured: 290 CCA
Rated: BTX9(BS)
Temperature: 84F
Battery meets or exceeds required standards.
Average life in area 59 months.

5/15/15 - Put the battery back in the back, it fired right up, no problem. Rode it to work today and back.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 4, 2015 at 6:50 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Copying gpx files off of the Garmin Montana 600

So, at some point since I returned from my trip to Alaska, I downloaded all of the .gpx tracks from my trip. There's not a simple way to copy the gpx files, unfortunately. It's sort of tricky. I'm trying to reinvent the process I used last time as I don't appear to have documented it for whatever reason.

But, I think what I did last time was to install EasyGPS to copy the .gpx files off.

It looks like I copied my AK2015.gpx tracks off of the unit on March 8, 2015. OK. Fair enough.

Now, I'd like to copy the files off again.

1) Launch EasyGPS.
2) Click on "Receive (from GPS)" icon.
3) Click OK.

Once it imports the .gpx tracks, you can select the tracks you want, zoom in, zoom out, etc. Then save off the .gpx tracks you want to keep. Mine seems to save them here, by default:


Pretty slick little app, really.

Now, I'm going to try to upload my .gpx tracks using www.GPSVisualizer.com.

Now, I want to delete the tracks off of my Garmin. This video explains how.

Basically, Setup - Reset - Clear Current Track.

Here's a screen shot of some of my recent trips up into Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 4, 2015 at 5:24 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Your power is off and there are armed people in your house

"Your power is off and there are armed people in your house."

Yesterday, I tried to make to make it to Rollinsville on my KTM 990 Adventure. It's my 3rd attempt this year and I've never made it. Always, I'm turned back by the churning rain and snow storms perched along the continental divide.

As I'm fixing to leave the house, I'm starving for food, but I'm so sick of eating the bachelor chow in the freezer that I decide I'll eat once I get to Idaho Springs. Oil the chain. Pour in about a half quart of 20W50 and leave my driveway at 4:00 pm in a puff of blue smoke as the spilled oil burns off the engine case.

Grey skies punctuated by a necklace of dark ominous clouds perched atop the continental divide. I don't know why I do this, only I know that I've got to get out. We have to ride if we are to live.

At Evergreen, I decide to skip eating and roll into the mountains beneath imposing thunderheads. I'm climbing towards the continental divide at 5:00 p.m. on an empty stomach with no food on the bike climbing into a maelstorm that promises to deliver rain, snow, sleet, and hail. Psychologists call this "poor impulse control".

This time, I plan to take a new route up a dirt road called Miner's Road. I'm looking for an old trail network I used to know like the back of my hand many years ago. I used to ride my ATV up here back in the day, but that was so long ago. Now, I'm not even sure where the trail head is and I turn off Fall River Road onto Miner's Road now climbing up a rock dirt road through the Arapahoe National Forest in Clear Creek County. Nothing looks familiar and now I see lots of police vehicles lining both sides of the road. Some Clear Creek Sheriffs deputies standing in the middle of the dirt road looking very menacing. If looks could kill I'd be dead and they do not want to deal with me. I don't want to deal with them.

And like...I hate authority. So much so you just can't know. And now I'm staring uphill at Sheriff Buford T. Justice and he's itching for a fight. He wants to crack my skull and he's staring downhill at me daring me to approach him, but he's not wanting to walk down the hill just to confront me. He's waiting for me to ride uphill to him and everything in his face says "do not fuck with me, boy".

And I'm thinking....like...how does stuff like this happen to me? Why me? I could have gone anywhere today and I leave my house and drive 45 miles straight into the eye of a massive storm brewing on the spine of the continental divide and somehow take a dirt road I've never been on before and run smack dab into the middle of a still-smoldering crime-scene. Why does this happen to me? Why is that?

So I bump my starter, roll uphill about 5 yards so I'm parked beside one of the dozen or so different official-looking vehicles and a National Forest Ranger in the driver's side of the truck rolls down the passenger side wind and I say, "Hey man...what's going on?"

"Crime scene. The road is closed. You have to turn back."

"Uh...OK....What happened?"

"I can't tell you..."

"I can't tell you. But it's serious," he offers.

Buford T. Justice is still up on the hill and he'd like nothing more than to shoot me and go back to chewing his tobacco in peace but there's too many cameras around for that. I'm furious that I'm not wearing my helmet cam but it is what it is.

I turn and point the bike downhill and hit the starter and that's when things go from bad to worse. The bike makes a loud "click" sound and that's all it does. All of the lights on the dash go out and now I hate the KTM more than any person has a right to know. Like, I'm always trying to stay on the fence of whether or not this KTM is the worst mistake I've ever made or not. But every time it pulls something like this on me I swear to God I want to sell it, get back on the XR650 and forget that I ever owned a KTM.

This over-engineered bucket of shit.

So now, I can't start my bike and I'm in this hornets nest of police...people just itching to beat me into a coma with no OHV sticker on my bike...riding through the National Forest like I own the place...and now my bike won't start. It won't deliver me from evil. This is not a good feeling.

Riding a bike is an amazing experience. Like riding across the surface of the planet on a magic carpet. But then, when you're stranded, it's like you have a front-row seat to the worst nightmare you've ever dreamed up.

Panicking, I do the only logical thing....clucth in...roll downhill...pop the clutch and pray that it roll-starts. But the lights on the dash are so fucked up there just aren't words. They're flashing on and off. The analog tach keeps going from zero to 12,000, then back to zero. Just pegging back and forth between 12,000 and 0. The digital speedometer keeps groing from all 8888888 to blanks. Back and forth. On and off. Like...somehting is seriously fucked up with this bike.

I have no clue what's going on. I'm just sliding down a gravel road, clutch in, clutch out, throttle...pray....clutch in, clutch out, throttle, pray. Finally, the bike sputters to life...wheezing and coughing...sputtering....on and off...stumbling forward barely running. I have no idea what's going on but I'm sort of limping away from the police presence and I'm glad of this at least.

Immediately, I decide the trip is over. Only plan now is to try to somehow make it home on the bike. The bike is missing badly...choking and coughing....I'm trying to run it fast so the engine won't die....if it dies I may not get it started again. In the curves, I pull in the clutch and throttle it up trying to keep it alive.

I want to shoot a video of the instrument cluster so that I call report to KTM what it's doing accutately. Like...surely there has to be a solution to this, right? If I was back in the South, I would take this KTM and drive it into a river, but we don't have rivers like that in Colorado. So I'm stuck with it, see?

The only reason I don't shoot a video of the instrument cluster is that I have to take my gloves off to make the iphone work and I'm afraid I'd crash. I've had a lot of near-death experiences lately and I'm not wanting to temp fate unecessarily at this point. Last time I took off all my riding gear I blew the front tire going into a tight curve in a deserted canyon on the Sea-to-Sky Highway in BC.

I do notice that my Garmin Montana GPS is working like a champ. It shows the speed limit and my current speed, which I obviously can't get my from instrument cluster. I have plenty of fuel, so that's not an issue.

Then, when I get somewhere near Evergreen, the problem goes away, and the bike runs fine. The only difference is my F1 light is on, and my ABS light is on. Other than that, it's working fine. I have to think that my battery died and something is wrong with my alternator. I think that the alternator is not charging the battery and my symptoms are related to a single issue of a bad alternator and maybe I shouldn't be dog-cussing the KTM, but the Honda never gave me problems like this. It just never acted like this. The KTM is over-engineered...there can be no dispute about this.

At about 6:00 pm I roll up to my house, a PTSD victim. Like...I'm just stunned...like a bird that hit the picture window. Glad to be alive. Confused. Somehow, I just stumbled onto a crime scene, and had a near mechanical meltdown of my bike and limped home. I'm also starving.

Park the bike the garage, walk into the house, and as I'm standing in my kitchen I hear someone say this in a loud clear voice: "Your power is off and there are armed people in your house."

My head goes into a tailspin. There are people in my house with guns. The power is out. Glancing around, I notice that the power is probably out. No lights are on. But who's in my house? Where is the voice coming from?

There were no cars in the driveway. Who is here?

The voice calls out again. "Your power is off and there are armed people in your house."

The only thing I can think is there's a swat time in my house, and they've cut the power and stormed the house, hoping to catch me off guard. But I wasn't home. Now, I've walked into my house and sort of caught them off-guard as they're raiding/illegally searching my home.

My adrenline is running high now. Much higher than when I was fleeing a crime scene on a cripple motorcycle 40 minutes ago. Now, I'm in a fight for my life against an army of secret agents in my basement. Why does this happen to me? Why can't I just have a normal life? I paid my power bill. Why is the electricity turned off. Also, I checked my mail...there were no warrants for my arrest. Why are there police in my house if there were no vehicles in my driveway? Nothing is adding up.

And now, my next-door neighbor pops up. She comes bounding down the stairwell.

"Hey...the power is out and there are UN-armed people in your house," she offers. That's what she was saying "UN-armed people are in your house" ...my bad...in my adrenaline crazed world, I misheard her. I've been on the bike for the last 2 hours and my hearing isn't great to being with. So I'm half-deaf and misheard her, apparently.

"We came over to play with the kittens..." she continues.

They're certainly welcome to come and play with the kittens. I'm glad to have them over. I love to share the kittens. They enjoy the attention. I was just caught off-guard.

"Yes..yes...of course...let's go play with the kittens." So we go upstairs for some kitten time which is truly the best feeling on earth. They're soft and fuzzy and growing up so fast. They're climbing the couches and attacking everything in sight....mom...neighbors...brothers and sisters.

"Why is the power out?" I ask, trying to make sense out of a very strange day. Like...let's try to fit some of the pieces of this puzzle together now that I'm not facing down a brigade of sheriffs, stranded on the continental divide and I'm not facing down a swat team in my basement.

"The whole neighborhood is out. No one knows why..." she offers.

I pick up the nearest kitten and stare into giant blue eyes. They should hand every new inmate a kitten to help him deal with his incarceration. I'm trying to reconnect with reality.

I'm so hungry I could eat a bowl of kitten food. I'd planned on coming back and cooking a pizza in the oven, but now that's not possible. I can't even fill the cat's water bowl without electricity, as we're on a well.

The neighbors leave and I slowly realize that I can't do the things I normally do. Can't surf the internet or watch TV. Unsure of what to do, I roll around the neighborhood in the ATV, looking to see if anyone has power. Somehow, the new neighbors have added a deck onto their house in the time that I've been on an afternoon bike ride.

I've heard that some of the neighbors have generators, and I'm searching for something. Someone to talk to and maybe toss me some scraps of food, the way coyotes follow the lions through the mountains.

At Bill's house, they're lighting candles. They're lighting candles in fading light and setting them out at different tables. Enormous parafin candles that burn without smoke or fumes. These are mountain people candles. The candles of people who've spent their lives in the mountains where the power is as reliable as any other third-world country.

The other bachelor in the neighborhood comes over, and they invite us to join them for dinner and I'm so hungry there just aren't words. Gettign old sucks. My memory isn't good and my taste-buds have changed. I have no sense of smell any more.

But tonight, the food is delicious. It's just spectacular. Like eating at a 5-star restaurant.

Bill doesn't have a generator, but he does have a lighted liquor cabinet and, after dinner, he opens up the liquor cabinet and now we're drinking scotch, rye, and bourbon, listening to stories about Vietnam and Indonesia.

At some point, I casually ask "Did y'all hear about anyone getting murdered up on St Mary's Glacier today?"

But no one has heard of it and the conversation sort of turns in a different direction, back to golf clubs and vietnam and single malt scotch. Periodically, we gather before the brightly glowing liquor cabinet, worshipping the genius of master distillers we'll never meet.

Eventually, the lights come back on and we quit the neighbor's house and wander home. It was a crazy day and,in a way, I'm glad I live in the mountains with such great neighbors. I'm glad the power went out and I'm glad my neighbors came to see the kittens. It gave us a little chance to turn off the tv's and the internet and talk to each other for a change.

Update: 8 days later, I found out that hikers had discovered a headless corpse with no hands. Some psychopath had killed his future mother-in-law, and cut off her head and hands so she couldn't be identified. He missed the trick about a distinctive tattoo, apparently.





Posted by Rob Kiser on May 4, 2015 at 10:08 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

May 3, 2015

Maybe in May

Maybe in May

Maybe in May, the snows receded, exhuming the bodies of winters wrath. Deer and elk. Piles of bones. Antler sheds. Sticks and stones and broken bones.

Maybe this winter went on too long. Maybe it snowed too much. Maybe in April it rained too much.

It's hard for the people down the hill to believe the carnage up here. Hard to describe it to them. A fantasy theatre for children.

Down the hill, the red bud trees bloomed and hyacinth and tulips climbed out of the ground. Spring unfolded quite orderly, with homeless people on street corners begging for anything but work.

And, while all of this is unfolding down the hill, up here in the foothills, April is just playing with us. Batting us around like a kitten.
Every weekend in April it snowed. They closed the schools and we went to get Piper and got so stuck we had to have a Bobcat pull us out. Down the hill, they got nothing.

"I can't come into work today...I can't get out of my driveway...they aren't plowing the roads...we have 4 mountain lions feeding on a deer carcass in my neighbor's yard..."

Where do you live, man? Christ?

Like, it's hard really for them to understand.

But Maybe in May, the skies finally cleared and the sun came out and melted away winter's last transgressions.
The Mountain Lilac bloomed. 2 weeks ago it was pressed to the earth evenly, ironed flat by the snows. But somehow it lived.
And now the hummingbirds have found the feeders. Maybe they slipped in quietly in April, under the radar. But now they're flying around like they own the place. Hummingbird dogfights. Buzzing the feeders. Divebombing the cats.

And Maybe in May, the yard turned green and the crabapple bloomed. and the dandelions.

The birds returned with a cacphony of noises, each one a forgotten song from summers past.

A Stellar Jay performed his best imitation of a Red Tailed Hawk, but fooled no one.

At night, huddled over campfires, we laughed and cursed the snow. We kicked the bones of winter into the fire, whistling past the graveyard.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 3, 2015 at 11:01 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink