Friday, May 31, 2013

DAY Nine - Maintenance and Rest in Laramie

This morning the forecast was not good for riding up toward Billings today.

Rig was running like a dog after the cross over from Fort Collins CO to Laramie, WY. I blamed it on the wind at the time. After checking the weather last night and again this morning, decided to stay in Laramie another night; take a day of rest and do minor maintenance.

Checked the air filter. I have not pulled it since it was installed 7000km ago. The K&N air filter is installed in a modified 4" PVC "T" air box I made. It was dirty but not too bad. I noticed there was a lot of dirt around the air box from when I got stuck in the mud and had to back it out using two wheel drive. Went to an auto parts store, bought the K&N recharge kit. They let me use their wash basin as I thought the motel might object if I washed a dirty oily filter in their bathroom. That would leave ring around the basin for sure.

Then I pulled both spark plugs. Had checked both of them just one day ago in Fort Collins. They were fine then. Today both spark plugs are carbon covered. One day later they are black as coal. I have a theory: (you are welcome to voice your opinions here) that the sidewinds were so strong (40+ mph gusts) that it was actually sucking air out of the air box, causing the engine to burn too rich. I was getting hesitations and halting power while fighting the winds on the later part of the ride yesterday. I have smaller main jets with me. But am hesitant to change them as up until now, the rig has been running fine with the 142.5 jets and one shim on the needles. What do you think?

Replaced both plugs. Just to be sure I did not have bad gas, added a half bottle of SeaFoam to the tank.

Darrell commented yesterday that he was missing the plug that covers the timing hole. I looked and mine was gone too. They main reason to have the plug in is to keep rain and moisture out. So rode down to ACE to see what they had. No rubber plugs, but did have a metal disk with prongs that looked like it might work. Bought two, one to use. other as a spare. Put it in, rode back to motel. Upon arrival, looked down and the new plug is gone. Shoot! It was a snug fit so either vibrations or internal pressure popped it out. It is just an opening to the flywheel, should not be any pressure there. Hmm..... Installed second disk and added Gorilla tape, not that I think that will hold on a hot engine. but ...... If I lose the second one, will have to wait until I get to a Ural dealer to buy the correct part. There are no Lowes or Home Depots here, so.....

Late this afternoon I looked closer at the rear pusher tire. Don't think it will go another 1000k before showing threads. So, mounted the spare which has about aa 1000k left on it. Will have to buy another tire before Canada. The last Ural dealer, Reiter's Kawasaki in Billings, hopefully will have a tire for me, but won't be there until Sunday.Will call him tomorrow.

Now to get a hot meal and turn in early. Riding starts at 5:15 am

Nite all.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

DAY Eight - Photo Day in Colorado

Awoke this morning and the winds were calm. Finished writing yesterdays blog page, called Darrell near Boulder and we agreed to meet in Greeley for coffee. Darrell, aka Coluralado, had offered to show me some Colorado mountains and photo ops.

After meeting at Starbucks, we rode into Fort Collins to meet Randy and Tammy, the owners of Unique Rides, the Colorado Ural dealer. Randy gave us several ideas for places nearby we could ride to.

Here are the photos from today.

Darrell with owners Tammy and Randy of Unique Rides in Fort Collins, CO
Colorado Mountain stream

Darrel coming through the tunnel in Poudre (?) Canyon.

Urals resting in mountain canyon

No shortage of rocks here

Time for lunch

Darrell, thank you for taking the time to show me some of Colorado. Hope to be back soon for more.

The last Colorado post office (closed) before crossing into Wyoming. Made it to Laramie WY fopr the night. Quit early today. After fighting the winds to cross the mountains to Laramie, I was beat. Felt like someone put me in a clothes dryer to tumble for five hours.


Forgot to mention that Da'mit had a run-in yesterday in western Kansas. Saw it coming, moving too fast, rolled in front of us. could not avoid it.

Da'mit got nailed by a tumble weed.

The severe storms have been all over the western states this week. They keep saying tomorrow will be quiet, but..... am to ride up thru Thermopolis WY on the way to Billing, Montana tomorrow. Will check the forecast before leaving in the morning.

Many thanks to all for following along on this ride.



El Dorado Kansas Newspaper Article

Wife says my five minutes of fame have arrived. Here is the link to the article

Interesting note for Ural riders. Because premium gasoline was not available in smaller towns in Kansas, had to fill up with regular. Then I noticed a drop in performance, loss of top end power, lower cruising speed. After finding premium again in Colorado, within 5 - 6 miles the power was back... Of course then the winds picked up and power fell off. At least I know it's not the rig losing steam.

DAY Seven - Ride the wind across Kansas

Well, not exactly riding with the wind, more like riding AGAINST the wind. This has been an exhausting day, fighting the wind to stay on the road. There have been tornado warnings throughout Kansas for the last two days. Normally when going down hill, the rig goes faster, but the wind was so strong it would even slow us down when going downhill if I did not keep the gas on. The forecast has been for nasty weather from Texas up through Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska all week. We keep our fingers crossed, get weather updates and keep moving.

Riding west out of Lyons, KS, we followed a rancher hauling a cow in a trailer. Wasn't a bull, was the udder kind. He was driving fast enough so we couldn't pass him and slow enough we had to slow down and follow behind. For fifteen - twenty miles we rode looking at the east end of a west bound cow. Now we understand that Alaskan expression, if you're not the lead dog on a sled team, your view of the world never changes. We must have been following too close and made the cow nervous, cause she lifted her tail and unloaded............ OooooohWheee, Back off Da'mit. My eyes are watering, Da'mit is coughing. Call the EPA. METHANE attack! The cow turned and looked like she was smiling. Sorry. no photos with smell-o-rama.

Dodging the rains across Kansas into Nebraska and Colorado. Riding in a zig-zag fashion, first west, then north, west again, north again, we avoided all of the numerous storm cells in Kansas we had been watching on the horizon.

Spotted these interesting figures on a ridge. Didn't see an explanation, who, why or what. Hunting party condemned to search the endless plains for the vanishing buffalo herd.....?


Da'mit wanted to join the hunt, but we had miles to ride.

Stopped in to use the wifi at the new Buffalo Bill Museum and Information Center in Oakley, KS.



Crossed into Nebraska for a few miles before landing in Yuma Colorado for the night. Rain finally caught us the last few miles, but we had been fighting that wind for ten hours, exhaustion was setting in. Grabbed the first motel where I could park close to the door. Threw the cover over Da'mit and collapsed in bed. Riding gear comes off later.

Tomorrow we stop in to visit the Ural dealer in Fort Collins. A fellow Ural rider from Boulder has offered to show me some cool mountain passes if we have time. Hopefully we will get some great photos of Urals and Rockies.

I'm done in, nite!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

DAY Six - Ural; Day in El Dorado, Kansas

In most of life's pursuits...

Many Want

Some Desire

Few Do

Today I had the privilege to meet one of the few.

The day started early in Cherokee, the alarm sounding before the first rooster crowed. Rode the four hours to El Dorado, Kansas to visit the 321 Kawasaki/Ural dealer there. They had just open for the day when I walked in. Met Bette and Lee, the co-owners. With Lee's sharp business sense and Bette's organizational and promotion skills, it is easy to see whyu they have been successful.

After talking about Da'mit and the UCCC ride, Bette exclaimed you need to meet someone here locally who is going to Russia next month to visit the Ural factory, then will tour Russia for a week on a Ural. Malcom lives in another town but I think you two should meet. While Bette tracked down Malcom, I went to McD's to upload two days of blogs. By the time I got back Malcom had arrived. Meet Charles Malcom, one of the genuine few:


Malcom is 84 years young, rides his 2007 Ural Patrol most every where he wants to go. When he bought it new, he rode Baja California with two other Uralists. Says he started riding dirt bikes when he was 55. So he has 29 years of riding experience under his belt now and still going strong. A real inspiration for us all.

One of the few issues I have had with the Ural, is the elastic loops that tie down the canvas sidecar cover had broken. Bette knew of an upolstery shop that might fix it. Malcom and I rode our Urals over there and waited while they replaced the factory loops for heavy duty ones they used for boat covers. Here is what they new loops look like, The back side is plastic so will not scratch the Ural patina.


Those should hold the cover tight.

When Malcom and I returned to the dealership, Bette had lined up the editor of the local newspaper, El Dorado Gazette. to interview both Malcom and myself. Julie the Editor was very patient as Malcom and I told her story after story of our adventures and misadventures riding motorcycles in various parts of the world and riding Urals in particular.

Julie interviewing, Bette listening and me trying to think of a clever answer.
Showing Julie how she could ride to Alaska in a sidecar. She declined.

She asked that Malcom and I pose next to our machines for a photo to go with the article she would write about us. One thing is for sure, Ural owners are not couch potatoes glued to a TV. They are out going and doing, age is just a number, not a limitation

Got a final photo of Malcom, the 321 Kawasaki/Ural owners, Lee and Bette. We wished each other the best in their adventures. Was time to get back on the road to bank a few more miles. Am half a day ahead of schedule.

Am really glad I met Malcom today. His attitude and positive outlook inspires me. I feel like the new kid on the block when with him. Thank you Malcom for dropping everything at the spur of the moment and riding over to meet. Your upcoming Russia ride and factory tour sounds exciting. Something few do, while riders like you, just do it.

Ended the day in Lyons, KS. Forecast is for heavy winds and thunderstorms tonight. Tried to camp but the wind was so strong I could not hold the tent down long enough to stake it. A guy stopped and offered to help hold it down, but by then I figured the storm heading our way might be too much for my little tent to withstand. Don't fight mother nature, go with it. Got a room for the night.

This ride has been memorable. Am not even halfway there yet. Will be in Fort Collins, Colorado in two days to visit the Ural dealer.

Life is good ya'll, so go live it.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day five - M&L - Then on to Kansas

Jim cooked up a great breakfast of bisquits and sausage gravey, scrambled eggs with cheese, coffe just the way I like it, (made their way, mellow, not bitter). Thank you Jim and Cathy for the warm hospitality, for opening your lovely home to a fellow Uralist stranger. If you ever get down to Houston area, you have a place to stay.

In Mountain Home, Arkansas, Cathy, CCjon and Jim


With clothes in the washing machine Jim and I changed the engine oil, the transmission oil and the final drive oil. Da'mit was due for her 7500km service. Then we dismounted the cupped front tire and mounted a slightly used Duro tire that Jim had. Then we rotated the three rear tires. Am trying to get the maximum mileage from all three before buying new ones. Still have the one spare mounted under the front of the sidecar. My security blanket. There are three tires waiting for me in Fairbanks, but most likely will need the extra spare before then. Will have to make that decision by Montana. Once in Canada will be very difficult to find the right size tires for Da'mit..

By noon everything was done, clothes clean, dry and packed - we're ready to head out. Jim and Cathy rode with me to the other side of the Missouri border where we had lunch out on the balcony of the Antler Inn.

After saying our goodbyes, I headed north to Ada, MO, turn left to go west on Rt 14 toward Kansas, but first had to get past Joplin.

Jim helped me study the map last night, so had a good idea where I wanted to cross.

Caught portions of the old Route 66 too.


Even though the sky was overcast, it was hot. How hot did you say?

Well, It was so hot...even the cows decided to visit the ole swimming hole to cool off.

Made it to Cherokee, Kansas. The wind is picking up. Decided to camp in the city park. The policeman who came by said it was against city ordinance to camp there. After talking awhile, convinced him to call up the mayor and see if I could stay the night in the park in a picnic shelter. Came back ina few minutes, said the mayor approved it.

Great, up went the hammock, in went the sleeping bag, zz time coming fast. Tomorrow we ride to El Dorado KS to visit another Ural dealer, 321 Kawasaki.

Nite- y'all





Day Four - Mississippi to Mountain Home

Up with the sun, broke camp and set the sights on Mountain Home, Arkansas for today. But not before taking at least one photo of the view from my camp site.


Easy ride across Mississippi, being a Sunday morning, had the highway to myself for miles and miles. Crossed the Mississippi River at Helena, Arkansas. The new road leading to the bridge was ten miles of bronco buck riding time. At a gas station before crossing the river, commented to a Mississippi driver about the road. His reply was, "Oh, it's worse on the Arkansas side. He was wrong. It wasn't. Had three long UDF's at that stop. For the non-Ural reader, a UDF is a Ural Delay Factor. When out riding people approach you and want to talk about your rig. May slow down your travels but I can't say I had not been warned. If you don't like talking to strangers, don't buy a Ural was the advice.

Another interesting observation: Most motorcyclists when passing will give the left hand wave to another rider. Except Harley riders are notorious for not waving at non-Harley riders. The standing joke in BMW circles is: Why won't a Harley rider wave at a BMW rider? Answer: They are too embarrassed! Now with the Ural, every Harley rider has waved back at me. At a gas stop in Florida, a Harley "biker" type in full leathers, jacket patches and tattoos came over to inspect Da'mit. After we talked awhile about bikes and riding, Diego handed me his club card and said if I need a place to stay, "they" have houses. I would be welcome. Walking away I saw the club name "Demons" in large letters across his back. That would never have happen to me when I was on a BMW. Ural's are so old school cool, they bridge the gap between all motorcycle lifestyles.

After getting lost again in Arkansas, but that's okay as I stop and talk with people and meet some really nice folks, I finally made it to Batesville. Called Jim, a Soviet Steeds member who had offered me a place to stay and wrench on Da'mit if need be. Yes, they were going to be home all weekend. With directions in hand, or in the GPS, off we went. The twisting winding mountain roads of northern Arkansas can be thrilling and challenging both at the same time.

Arrived in Mountain Home, Arkansas just in time for supper with Jim and his wife Cathy. Ribs, scalloped potatoes, salad and chocolate chip cookies, Hmmmmmmm. Heaven.

Jim has a 2010 green Patrol that he and Cathy love to ride. His Ural doesn't get lonely as there is also a BMW 1200GS, a KLR 650 and a DRZ 400 to keep it company.

Tomorrow we service Da'mit, oil change, tire rotation and check all nuts and bolts for tightness. When I commented about the front tire cupping badly, Jim offered up a new tire and tube for Da'mit.


The tire we are taking off that has one oz of Dynabeads in it. The three tires in the rear all have Ride-on balancer and sealant in them. They are wearing, but evenly.

So day five will be bike maintenance, laundry and resting. Da'mit is on schedule so no pressure. Will check the weather radar to see if a change in routing or timing will be necessary.

Everyone have a relaxing Memorial Day tomorrow. Because of those who served, we can enjoy the lives we choose. Thank you one and all.

Nite all




Sunday, May 26, 2013

DAY Three- Alabama

A morning moon setting over Alabama. This is why I try to be out riding before the sun comes up.

After getting routed onto an Interstate near Montgomery, decided that was not what I wanted, so jumped off, followed some local country roads, got lost, ask a local for directions. The road he put me on landed me in Clanton Alabama. Stopped at the Main St. Cafe in downtown Clanton for a country breakfast. Here I write. Very picturerquese, flowers are blooming, the people are friendly. One local couple admiring Da'mit, told me Clanton is the real Alabama small town. Nothing fake, real southern hospitality. Enjoy while you are here. Thanks, I'll try.


Is interesting just to sit in a small town country cafe in the south, enjoy a real home-cooked eggs, thick salty bacon, grits with a dab of butter ( the real stuff, not margarine), biscuits with sausage gravy, hot cakes and coffee, while quietly listening to the word use, southern phrasing with Alabama pronunciation. Words have no "g's" and the "a" is drawn out. Hung around extra just to listen to the words - song of the south.

Time to make some miles, need to get to Hamilton to visit the Ural dealer there before day's end. Nothing wrong with Da'mit. No worries there. I had written each of the Ural dealers that would be along my route as well as the Ural importer, explaining my trip and how I might need their assistance. Since I didn't, wanted to stop in and meet them anyways. Rode Rt 43 from Tuscaloosa to Hamilton.

This Alabama plantation home had a for sale sign out front, but Da'mit said it did not fit her style.


The owner of Motorsports Superstore was not in, but the general manager called him and he came right over. Said Ural America had contacted him also about my trip. The general manager, service manager and technicials all took photos of Da'mit and asked questions about the farkles. Jeffery XXXXX, the owner, and I talked for over an hour about Urals, riding, Iron Butt rides, etc. They closed shop at 3 pm, so said my goodbyes. They gave me a t-shirt, cap and water bottle for good luck on the ride. Left them a copy of my poem, Ride The Horizon and a link to the blog.

Jeffery, the owner. If you live within a couple hundred miles of Hamilton, go see these folks. Their Ural mechanic has been thru the Ural school in Redmond.


Decided to get a few more miles in before sunset. Crossed into Mississippi. In trying to stealth camp at the end of a large field behind a Baptist church, got stuck in the mud. Da'mit. Must have been why that portion of the field was not mowed....Duh! For the first time, Da'mit got to try out her two wheel drive. Didn't like going forward, but shift into reverse and she walked right out. Of course now, I owe her a bath. Da'mit bears the markings of a true adventure motorcycle.


Few miles down the road was a sign to Trace State Park, two miles to the right. Let's take a chance. They have primitive camping site, restrooms with showers, senior rate, $13.00. Am writing this from a picnic table next to the lake. My Hennessy Hammock is up and waiting. Big Agnes sleeping bag and Thermarest are inside. Too dark for photos now, but in the morning, depending on what time I leave.

The hammock is quicker setting up and taking down than a tent, iunless there are no trees, like out on the tundra.

Ending odometer today, 7043. That makes 521 km, or 324 miles. All in all a good day, no rain, not too hot. Less humidity.

Please understand that most of my writing is at night after a long day, when I tend to be more error prone. Am also writing in a diary with the idea that between the blog and the diary I can recover most of the details of the trip.

Night all.


Day Two - Crossing Florida

Before leaving Sebring, I removed the breather rubber hose/copper tube track and air vent. The wind coming around the side of the windshield was creating an updraft, blowing an oil mist on the backside of the windshield, gauges, helmet shield etc. Bought a 3 ft section of hose, rerouted the breather to the left rear swingarm. Far enough back and to the side so it would not oil the rear tire, but drip roadside. Crude but it works... an WWID solution. For non-Ural riders a translation "WWID" = What Would Ivan Do?" The simplest solution is normally the best for a Ural. Do not over-think or over-complicate things unnecessarily.

Ridingwise, not a lot to report today, mainly saddle time. Left Sebring with the odometer reading 5851, heading north, then west then north, then west and north again. The temps were rising, by 2 pm was over 90 degrees. The wildflowers along the roadside made for miles of pink borders to follow.


I mentioned the other day how beautiful Floral City is. Here is a shot of the street...

The heat and distance was sapping my energy. Round about 2, pulled into a library parking area, threw the rain poncho on the ground in the shade under some pine trees. Once I laid down, was asleep instantly.

Awoke refreshed after a half an hour. These power naps on the ground work great to relax the mind, rest the eyes and straighten the back.

Back in the saddle, arrived in Marianna by 3:30. Had a few UDF's at the McD's. Decided to close the chapter on Florida, so headed north to Alabama. Arriving in Ozark, AL, found a place to rest for the night.

Ending odometer, 6522.... that's 671 km (417 miles) for the day. That was too much. Hopefully that will be the only day of intense riding. Need to throttle back the pace and enjoy the ride.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day ONE, and the Challenge begins..

After midnight started hearing the big trucks roll down toward the Keys. By 3:45 I had to get up and join them. Da'mit and I made good time and were in Key West by 7'ish. Found my two witnesses at the Central Fire Station,then over to the 90 Mile buoy for photos.

and finally an Official Pump generated gas receipt to start the clock.

My start time is May 23, 2013, 7:31 am Eastern Time Zone. So to qualify for the Ultimate Coast to Coast Challenge, Da'mit and I must arrive together in Deadhorse before 3:30 am Alaska Time Zone on June 22, 2013.

Today we took the first bite out of this Iron Butt elephant. Immediately we left Key West and rode for the mainland. Just to verify that we actually were in Florida, took several more photos,

Then had to wait for a draw bridge to close


In Texas we have Road Gators that can bite you if you hit one while riding two wheels. Gina is a long time motorcyclist who doesn't even own a car, rides everyday. A Texas Road Gator got wrapped up in her bike and she took a spill, breaking her ankle in the process. Here's what they look like.

In Florida they have Road Gators too, here is what they look like (CAUTION - BLOOD & GUTS)

Hit one of those when on two wheels and they can bite you. Hello asphalt. He was about 4-5 feet long.
Back to riding, A roadside wizard forecast a pleasant ride, Said Da'mit soars like an eagle and Alaska was in our future. Also said he could forecast the weather: If the ball is wet, it's raining, Dry, the sun is shining. If he can't see the ball, heavy fog.
Around the corner was his gargoyle friend. His facial expression and hand gestures are the same as mine after a rough patch of Louisiana back road.

So how much ground was covered today? Left Homestead, rode to Key West, turned around and rode back to the mainland, across the Everglades and arrived in Sebring for the night. 488 Km today. In spite of the forecast, no rain today.

Tomorrow I expect to exit Florida north of Marianna. Am ahead of schedule, as I said in the beginning, planning and schedules are great, but once the ride begins, it takes on a life of its own.

For the fellow Uralists:

Was having a small leak in the final drive when I arrived at Gene's. We thought it might be overflow. In 2011Ural tried a different fill plug on the final drive, but soon found it leaked. I have one of those plugs. Gene looked around and found an old style plug. We put that in, plus the "NEW" exact amount of gear oil. Gene said they got a memo saying to put less. I was using 75-90 gear oil, Gene likes the 80-140, so we went with that. Bottom line, after two long riding days, the final drive is DRY.

If you switch out to the old style fill plug, carefully measure the correct amount of gear oil, then dip it, look to see where the new level is, then notch the dip stick as the notches on both the old and new sticks are no longer correct.

The seat back is UGLY as sin. But with a slight tweaking to it, I think it stays on the rig, at least for the duration of this trip. It was pushing me forward in the seat so I rebent the frame, slightly. Now it is there when I want to sit back, or if I sit upright I don't even touch it. With all the farkles and mods, Da'mit never was going to win a beauty contest, but she sure does ride nice.

Da'mit is running smooth and strong. Drinks gas like a mule but gallops down the highway like a horse. Her sweet spot is 4000 rpm. No issues. Tires might present a problem down the road as the pusher is being eaten faster than anticipated. Gene thought it was because of all the weight I was carrying. Am not so sure, my camping stuff doesn't weight more than most spouses. Do they wear out tires?

The only mechanical problem was the RAM mount dropping the iPhone, then another piece of it fell off, so I removed it.

Well, a great first day, only 29 more to go.


Night all