Monday, February 18, 2013

Alaska again? Why? On what?

Alaska is calling.....

Twice I have ridden a motorcycle to Alaska, and twice on the way home have vowed, "Okay, that was great but the distances are too great, the trip too long and the saddle too hard. That was enough!"

As the seasons come and go, memories of the hardships fade and highlights burn brighter.  The urge to once again ride a motorcycle to Alaska grows until it is an itch that must be scratched. The excuses we tell ourselves, or to anyone who will listen to the irrational ravings: "Well, have to do it while we still can. Not getting any younger...  I missed seeing that town the first time, need to go back to check it off...    Hey, they speak english and you can drink the water...    Or, this time we'll do it on a different motorcycle... make it more of a challenge".

The last is my lame excuse.  Have ridden Alaska on two different two wheel motorcycles, now let's try it on three wheels. And let's make the distance even longer:  How far you say? Let's tart in Key West and ride to Deadhorse, only 7000 miles. Oh, and do it 30 days or less.  Considering the top speed for a Ural is 60 mph, but much prefers cruising at 52 mph. Has a 350 miles per day range but needs a gas tank refill every 120 miles, that begins to take shape of a real challenge. If we can do it,  we will qualify for an Iron Butt Challenge paper certificate... for the Ultimate Coast to Coast Challenge.... if my iron butt can endure it.

So what kind to sidecar rig am I planning to make this run on? A Russian Ural sidecar rig, of course.  The only factory production sidecar rig in the world. 750cc of brute tractor speed with a utilitarian beauty that only a Russian farmer/soldier could love. All other sidecar rigs you see on the road are prissy after-market add-ons to a modified two wheeled motorcycle.

After obtaining a 1938 BMW design just prior to World War II, the Ural factory in Russia has been producing this sidecar rig design ever since. First they produced for the Russian military, then after the war, for several decades build agricultural rigs for Russian farmers. Starting in the 1960's they exported Urals to the world markets. Today the bulk of their annual  production goes to the USA where the lure, romance and challenge of riding three wheels grows every year.

Mine is a 2011 Ural Gear Up painted a Gobi Desert camouflage color scheme. It has four forward speeds, reverse and optional two wheel drive. It is more than just a Russian machine, it is fondly named DAMIT.   Why Damit, you ask. When I worked with the Guayamy Indians in the Panamanian mountains of Chiriqui, my mode of transportation to the nearest town eight hours away was horseback. Well, not exactly horseback, I had two mules, Elizabeth and Damit.  Once a month I would saddle up and ride Elizabeth.  Damit was charged charge with packing in all the heavy gear and boxes back from town. Hence, my modern day pack mule is called... Damit.  Pronounced with emphasis on DAAAAAmmit, Let's GO!

Over the next couple of months I will be finishing the many modifications in preparing this rig for the run to Alaska. Next posting I'll go into the more detail on the mods and farkles Damit has experienced.
For now, Ride safe Ya'll.


  1. Hey, there, I am really interested in that kind of road trip and matter of fact, I have one gear-up as well, the forest fog one.

    I am also interested in road trip together with other Ural riders sometime, if you are interested, please contact me! and good luck on your trip!

  2. Currently doing Alaska via URAL Patrol....I may have gotten here a bit early. The locals are also telling me its been an almost record-setting cold spell for "Spring" here.

    Redleg's Rides

  3. Zheng Shi, thanks for joining in. Urals are great for road trips if ridden as they were designed. There are Uralists all over the country interested in riding together. Come to a rally to meet and organize a ride.

  4. Charlie6
    Am following along with your blog. Wishing I was there with you. Ride safe and hopefully out paths will cross and we can share stories of adventure.

  5. Good Luck CCjon it looks like you've prepped you Ural well for the trip. Wish I was going with you too.
    Ivan Rider