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Gerald Smith Copyright 2007
After completing the ride from Portland Oregon, USA to Fin del Mundo, Argentina (as far south in the world one can ride) I returned to Portland and produced the motorcycle adventure movie Burro Has Three Wheels. Now, one year later I have finally began the last leg of the top to bottom ride of the world. I am headed to Prudhoe Bay / Deadhorse, Alaska (as far north as one can ride) and you can follow on this motorcycle touring blog. Once again weighing a minimum of 1250 pounds with all of my gear, if Marilyn joins me or any passenger rides in the sidecar, attached to a Russian motorcycle called a Ural, the combined weight will be 1400 pounds.
My old friend Tom and his friend Linda (both in their 50s like me) have asked to accompany me on this portion of the trip. They will be riding two up on a Kawasaki KLR 650. Believe it or not!
Tom is no slacker when it comes to adventure riding. He has already completed a ride from Prudhoe Bay, AK to Mexico City, Mexico. Linda is a virgin...when it comes to motorcycle riding but is an adventurer in her own right. She has just returned from three years wandering about Central America while teaching English. On the other hand she has never ridden a motorcycle more than two times. The second time was only one week prior to departure and then only for about a 100 mile roundtrip.
This is only the second time Tom and I have ever ridden anywhere together. The first was just out for coffee. Many of you are probably thinking how could two guys who have never ridden together before, set out on such a challenging trip together. If an adventure rider knows anything it is that the stress of the road can carve some of the deepest chasms between the souls of two individuals known to mankind (besides getting to really know your companion).
Don't let our lack of riding together fool you. Tom and I have been through some of the most stressful regimes a person can face. We were training partners in a commercial jetliner the company we worked for operated. Let me tell you, you really get to know a person under those conditions.
It will be good to have some company and extra camera operators along. I am hoping that those of you who have followed my adventures through Latin America via the DVDs (Burro Has 3 Wheels) and those of you new to this site will be entertained when the new episode is completed around November 1, 2007. I have acquired new high quality video equipment (Canon GL2, lenses, filters & audio hardware) and am hoping for good results in the production stage.
Burro is new as well, sort of, she's a 2005 model. An older gentleman who had purchased one of my DVD sets called to ask if I knew anyone who might want to buy his Ural. At the age of 84 he just couldn't get his legs over the saddle. The clincher was, this new Burro only had 40 miles on her. I didn't feel that I was in a position to purchase her but the thought was tempting.
With a five week break before my next motorcycle travel lecture the thought occurred that I might just be able to work in a ride to finish the top portion of my ride in the Americas. When the older gentleman and I talked again, a few weeks later, I decided I ought to go over and have a look at her legs and watch her trot. Sure enough her teeth were those of a two year old.
With plans for the completion of an around the world trip, I certainly needed to knock off the top portion of the up and down ride and make it to Prudhoe Bay/Dead Horse. Also with plans for Africa next year I needed to start building (training) the perfect Burro for the trip. The new Burro is still a street model bike (Troyka) but I've added an engage-able sidecar drive and upgraded to a Ducati ignition. Also there is a new style air filter that is suppose to reduce water and dirt ingestion plus a power supply to support the video gear.
So that's it. My daily log follows. Updates will be posted as facilities allow. I hope you enjoy reading them.
June 18th, 2007
I rolled out of the driveway around 7 AM. Tom and Linda would be meeting me in Clatskanie, OR, a small town 40 miles from the mouth of the Columbia River.
I believe we got some great shots of Burro driving across the bridge at Astoria connecting Oregon to Washington but time will tell.
We drove into Ilwaco WA, and headed for the Cape Disappointment Light House. There is a great view of the Columbia River's mouth. Normally large rolling waves can be seen from here but today the seas were calm and the sky was clear.
We stopped for lunch (pan fried oyster sandwich on a hoagie) in South Bend, WA then headed to Humpatulip, WA. I had trouble with the name of the town and kept calling it Humpalot after the Mike Meyers movie "The Spy who Shagged Me". In the movie there is an evil woman spy named that. Here first name was Ivana. Enough Said! Anyway in Humpalot (Humatulip) we found a campground provided by the timber company Raynoir. There was no charge to camp.
Tom and Linda built a campfire and produced a bottle of wine to celebrate the first day on the road. So in Humpalot, we drankalot. The wine however was so cheap the only buzz we felt was from the road. Additionally the wine tasted like nothing more that watered down cool-aid.
June 19th, 2007
It was a good nights sleep. We puttered along taking pictures and stopping for breakfast. Our plan was to catch a ferry from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island. There we'd ride to Cowichian Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada and spend the night with friends Marilyn and I had made 3 years prior while on vacation in Zihautanejo, Mexico (Bryce & Dana).
It was a beautiful ride through the Olympic Mountains. We saw one doe standing in the highway as she waited for her two fawns cross. Before we knew it departure time loomed for the ferry. Hustling into town we rolled in behind some other adventure riders with only 5 minutes to spare. It cost Burro and I $38.00 to ride to Victoria BC.
Bryce had given good instructions to there home in the country and we arrived about 5 PM. Dana made a terrific dinner of steak and pork with wild rice. I didn't know she could cook....
Liquid spirits made up for the previous nights libation and and I've concluded; We've been to Humpalot, then we drankalot and tonight we will sleepalot.
June 20th, 2007
Bryce headed to work about 5:45 AM and Dana got up to make us all a breakfast of eggs and toast. Really...I didn't know she cooked!
We are heading to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and hope to catch a ferry to Prince Rupert on the mainland tomorrow. From there we will head to the Cassiar Highway which will connect us up with the Trans Alaskan Highway.
The day started out sunny but by the afternoon rain set in. This is the first test for the Ducati ignition and is is working great and no water is getting into the engine via the airfilter.
The East side of Vancouver Island is well populated but as we rode farther West forests became our scenery. We stopped in Quilcoom for coffee and pastry then rode on.
When we got to Port Hardy our first stop was at the Ferry Terminal. They told us we would be on the standby list as the ship was booked full. If we get on it will cost Burro and me about $380.00 for the ride. We have to be back at 5AM in the morning to stand in line.
We set up our tents in the pouring rain. I found out that my waterproof bag that protects my clothes and sleeping bag leaks. The sleeping bag is soaked. I guess I'll just be sleeping in my riding gear.
Wednesday night is fish and chips night here in Port Hardy so we ate our fill for about $8.00.
It was an early evening and we all adjourned to our tents setting the alarms for 4AM. About 1AM I awoke and realized that the campground had a clothes drier so I headed over and dried everything out. I was back in bed at 2AM. At 3AM an alarm went off. "Time to get up I hollered over toward Tom and Linda's tent. They were up in a flash. I don't think I could have moved as quick as they did. But when I tried to shut off my alarm I realized that it was only 3AM and not the alarm on my cell phone that was making all of the racket.
"False alarm, go back to bed I hollered."
It sounded like the chiming was coming from within in my tent thought and I worked to silence it looking for a travel clock I also carry. Linda hollered over that it wasn't coming from their tent so I kept looking for the noise.
"Are we going to have to listen to it all night?" asked Linda.
"I'm looking for it." I replied.
I opened all of my bags but every time I listened to the contents of the bag the alarm was not within it. I still seemed right next to me though.
Finally in desperation I exclaimed that it could not be coming from my tent and Tom set off to look in he and Linda's tent. Poor Tom...his cell phone was turned off but his alarm was going off. There was a red glow of embarrassment in Tom's voice as he apologized to all of us. All I could do was laugh...you had to be there. Really it was pretty funny.
When my alarm went off at an hour later at 4 AM it seemed like we had just gotten to sleep. We packed up our wet gear and headed to the Ferry Terminal.
The customer service agents told us that they always get motorcycles on and sure enough they did. When Tom got on his bike to move it, over it tumbled. Linda and I weren't around to watch the episode much to Toms appreciation.
I made coffee for all of us in the parking-lot while we waited. There we met three couples on adventure bikes ( 1 KTM and 2 BMWs) from New Zealand. They also hoped to get to Prudhoe Bay. After we boarded the ferry we spent a lot of time talking with them throughout the day.
The Ferry stopped in Bella Bella for a short time and then headed on again. We will arrive in Prince Rupert about 10:30 PM. Tom and Linda found a campground near the Ferry Terminal while they were aboard ship. The Purser had all of the information we needed to find a place to stay.
June 21, 2007
We started late this morning and didn't leave Prince Rupert until nearly noon. I tried calling Mar but was unsuccessful. Apparently the cell phone won't work here and the phone card I purchased doesn't' allow international calls. augh!
We had to stop in the pouring rain and wait for some landslide work to be cleared. We didn't see it but were told a car had been buried beneath the slide.
Today's ride became wet almost as soon as we left Prince Rupert. It lasted until we go to the highway 37 junction. Thankfully a fellow rider heading South told us there would be no fuel until Bell II, a small lodge and heliport community named after the Bell II river, not to be confused with the Bell I river. That was a distance of about 250 miles. Burro drinks fuel like it's going out of style (25 MPG). So I filled the extra 5 gallon can I had brought along.
The Cassiar Highway is spectacular. Two lanes, it runs on the East side of a beautiful glacier covered mountain range. And...at this time of year all of the flowers are blooming in the meadows and the new leaves have just burst forth upon the trees.
I saw one black bear by the road and Tom and Linda saw two others. Tom said one was just sitting there with his head above the grass as if he were waiting for a motorcyclist to drop in for a picnic lunch. I'm not sure what was for lunch but I wasn't stopping.
There were also some grouse along the way.
Over dinner at the cafe (only pre-made sandwiches) we met a fellow named Jim on a BMW R1200 who is also riding to Prudhoe. He is a contract pilot for JAL. Tom and I pegged him right away as a pilot. It was pretty funny. Jim has only been on the road for two days since leaving Reno. He is really making some time. I hope he gets a chance to enjoy the scenery.
June 22, 2007
We left early this morning and rode for an hour before we stopped to eat breakfast. The new owner of the lodge told us that it was originally a trappers lodge. Well...one winter he went out to check his traps with a snowmobile and while running across the lake he and the snowmobile fell in the ice covered lake. When they went looking for him he was still sitting in the seat at the bottom of the lake.
After the community of Dease the road was gravel and mud and it was raining. We were covered in mud and so were the motos. It finally quit raining just about the time we got off of the dirt road, we stopped and I cleaned the cooling fins of the mud which had accumulated. It was baked in. I must have spent 15 minutes getting the engines cooling fins into somewhat of a reasonable condition.
I saw one moose (cow) today trotting across the road.
We are spending the night at the cross roads of Jct 37 and The Alaska Highway. It is just at the border of the Yukon Territory in Canada. In order to take some video footage of the Burro in front of the Yukon sign I got to try out my sidecar drive wheel. It was a blast charging up a 15 foot bank and leaping onto the top. Wa Hoo!
Tom and I did mtx on the motos. He lubed his chain and I changed my oil, adjusted the valves and cleaned the air filter. It is also laundry night this eve. By the way, we have not been able to get cell coverage with Cingular/ATT since leaving Port Hardy, BC.
There are lots of mosquitoes here but our helmets and riding gear really do a good job of protecting us when we are out of our tents.
June 23, 2007
Rode the Alaska Highway to White Horse today. There were scattered rain showers but mostly a sunny day. We could scoot write along as the rode was good with only limited construction.
There was a metal grated bridge just entering Telis, warning signs stated that it was bumpy and hard to drive on but we made it across and I filmed the entire length.
Tonight were are staying in the Robert Service Campground at Whitehorse. Robert Service, for those who don't know was a poet. One of his famous poems was The Cremation of Sam Mcghee and The Shooting of Dan McGrew. Anyway I think those were the names of them.
Linda is getting a little saddle sore but otherwise ok. The reality of being on the road is starting to get to all of us. "It's work!"
I split up with Tom & Linda for the evening. They headed to get a bottle of wine to enjoy and I hung out at the campgrounds office to process film and this internet log. While there a fiftyish fellow named Roger came over and played guitar. He was great and his wife sang a few songs as well. Eventually the rest of us took our turns just in case we weren't humbled enough already by Roger's performance. Another guy showed up from town just to hangout. He seemed to know all of the doings in town and told me what a great art community Whitehorse is. He also said that he comes to the campground because they have the best coffee in town and there are always interesting people. As it turned out he was a big Ry Cooder fan (so am I). I stayed about 4 hours with the group and had a great evening singing and drinking cappuccinos.
June 24, 2007
We left Whitehorse Yukon Territory about 7 AM with good weather. Generally the roads were good for the first half of the day. Later there was a lot of construction and rain which got us muddy again. The last hundred miles of the Yukon and the first hundred miles of Hwy 2 in Alaska were full of frost heaves. One guy pulling a trailer nearly lost the whole load right in front of me when he hit the rough road.. I was surprised he stayed on the road. I quickly passed him hoping to put some distance between us.
Around noon I stopped to take a picture of a beautiful jade colored lake and proceeded to sink the Burro up to her frame. I spent about 40 minutes digging and jacking her up eventually nearly making it back out when I got stuck again. A surveyor named Jim came by and helped me push her the rest of the way out.
We arrived in Tok, Alaska about 8 PM. We are staying at the Sour Dough Campground. It is 2 miles west of town on the road to Anchorage and has free internet and they also sell a breakfast. ItĄ¯s a great place. Sunset tonight is at 1245 tomorrow morning and sunrise will be at 4:20. augh! The skeeters are getting to me so that's it for today.
June 25, 2007
It was a pleasant ride today with some panoramic scenery. We left Tok at 11 AM and arrived in Fairbanks, AK at 4:30 PM. Tom and Linda saw 3 moose or mices (pluralĄ. I doubt!)
It looks like 2 more days to Prudhoe. I heard that 30 Harleys from Florida headed up last week and most made it. Seven had to be towed home and one rider was airlifted to Anchorage. I am tired and canĄ¯t think anymore today so thatĄ¯s it for now.
June 26, 2007
Well...I don't think the sun ever set today. When I got up at 3 AM to go to the biffy it was still light. Later when I got up at 6 AM and headed again to the wash room to clean up I created quite a scene.
Those of you that know me or have seen the videos know that my morning look is less than presentable. I tend to look like a homeless person. And that's exactly what everyone thought I was. We had stayed in a campground that was for motor homes and pretty swank at that. The previous evening we had shared a large bottle of beer to toast the day but most was still left in it when I picked up the campsite on my way to the washroom in the morning. As I walked to the washrooms at the campground's entrance there most have been about 30 senior citizen and some grandkids with them who witnessed this disheveled individual walking with a half bottle of beer there way. Apparently they were all getting on the campsite's tour bus for a trip around Fairbanks. With them staring at me all I could do was mumble good mornings. When I got a look at myself in the mirror I understood their amazement. All I needed was a cardboard sign and I could have made a little extra money to support the trip.
Its about 425 miles to Prudhoe Bay/Dead Horse. The ride continues to have amazing scenery at every turn. There was a lot of gravel road today interspersed with pavement. Don't let the pavement fool you. It can be pretty tempting to open your machine up. When you do...all of a sudden there will be chuck holes and frost heaves. Also there are slippery areas where calcium chlorate is spread to hold the gravel road together and keep the dust down. On dry roads it isn't a problem, but if the road crew has recently spread water on it to keep the dust down it is like a skating rink. Watch out for the wet areas, it will have a dark appearance to it.
No rain today only sprinkles.
While waiting for a pilot car where road construction was taking place, the flagger told us to be careful of Beaver Slid, its a 9% gravel grade. I'm glad she did. It was covered in loose gravel.
We stopped and took pictures as we passed the Artic Circle. We are almost to the end of the road. Tom said he new we were at the Artic Circle because those little dashed lines that you see on the maps were visible in the tundra. I'll have to take his word for it.
I was pretty dusty today so when we made camp in Coldfoot, I was glad to find a shower. Tom and Linda are doing great and Linda is even getting more comfortable. She is trying to talk Tom into running Africa with me as long as she gets to go with him.
In the morning it is suppose to be all gravel for the remaining 240 miles to Deadhorse where the road for private people ends. After that it is oil land and carefully restricted. The only way to go the remaining 10 miles, to the Artic Ocean, is via a tour bus which takes you through the oil reserve.
June 28, 2007
The sun is shining (even all through the night). We left Coldfoot about 8 AM. The run started off as gravel but later there were spots of pavement and then it was back to gravel and so on between the two but mostly gravel. The paved couldn't really be called paved because it was full of chuck holes and gravel as well. There was really only one stretch of paved good road which lasted for only about 10 miles. In fact there was a lot of wet calcium chlorate on the dirt/gravel parts making it very slippery. We really had to be careful on it. Especially Tom and Linda on 2 wheels. By the end of the day we were covered in the mud.
We crossed the Atigun Pass which is the continental divide here in Alaska. It is a very steep gravel pass. We took our time going down.
We met the JAL pilot Jim heading back south and this time he had his girlfriend aboard as well. He had picked her up in Anchorage.
After the Atigun Pass the Tundra begins. It was spectacular. The riding is far more technical than the drive down the Pan-American to Tierra del Fuego and surpasses anything that Tierra del Fuego had to offer (regarding the technical aspect).
There was gravel at least 6 inches deep and times and Tom had trouble keeping it up especially as we got near Prudhoe Bay.
We have arrived at Prudhoe Bay, AK (7PM) and there is a very cold wind off of the Artic Ocean with sea fog. All of us were so tired and with the cold weather setting in, it had us running for the hotel with little celebration at the waters edge. In fact I was the only one to stop and take a picture. And...that was a process because just as we got there my camera battery died. I had to fumble around in the cold and hot wire it to the Burro. This left me with only a long cord attached to the camera in which to record this momentous occasion. I'll take more footage in the morning. We are signed up for a tour of the oil fields with an eventual stop at the Artic Ocean. I haven't decided if I'll take a dip or not. IT'S COLD here.
This evening I have a shared room with two twin beds. There isn't another roommate so I can keep this room to myself. The hotel is made out of pre-fabricated mobile home type rooms stacked next and upon each other. There are showers and toilets down the hall. Three square meals are provided for the $110.00 price, plus there is food available at all times of the day and laundry is free.
I as very pleased with the entire ride including Tom but especially Linda for hanging in. All said, I wish I could have shared this portion of the top to bottom ride of the Western Hemisphere with my girl Mar.
Our route home is going to take us to a couple of hot springs along the way where we plan to hangout for a day or two at each.
June 29, 2007
This morning I headed out early to try and film around Dead Horse. I ended up at a security check point at the Northern most point allowable to civilians, West Oil Area (WOA). I went inside the security shack to find out the status of getting farther north. The guards were friendly and gave me phone numbers of officials I could call. Turned out the officials were in a meeting. On my way back to town I was stopped by a fellow named Bill who wanted to know about Burro. Turns out he is a superintendent of a oil field drilling company (Doyon Drilling). I followed him back to his office and spent about 2 hours talking and drinking coffee. Offering to guide me through if I was allowed, I made more phone calls and things were starting to look good as I continued to talk to higher ups. Finally I was given the BP Corporate Affairs Director. He kindly explained that an agreement had been reached a few years earlier prohibiting entrance of individuals like me due to safety concerns. I accepted his position and dropped the attempt to get farther than the security check point on my own.
The tour bus is the only way to the Artic Ocean and we have signed up for the tour. This tour takes you through the East Oil Area (EOA). The security check point here is not as far north but after passing it we finally got to the Artic Ocean. Needless to say I have become a Polar Bear though I am not sure if it is official with the Polar Bear Society though I am in possession of a certificate provided by the tour. The water was 34 degrees.
Afterwards Tom and I returned to the Doyon offices and drove the bikes inside to the warmth of a heated mtx bay where we changed fluids and checked nuts and bolts. We even got our bikes pressure washed. Linda stayed at the hotel to keep warm.
We headed out about 3 PM. On the road I was taking drive by videos and during one episode a trucks passing blew the camera over. Later I spent about an hour trying to get the video tape out as it because it was now stuck.
On the road l met up with a bicycle rider (Beren from the Netherlands) I had met him the day before. He was camping by a river and had punctured the fuel container for his cooking leaving him no way to heat his dried pasta or make hot drinks. I left him a roast beef sandwich and a tin of sardines. Before leaving him we wrapped duct tape around his gas container and hoped it would hold some pressure for heating until he could get it welded or buy a new one.
Eventually we camped about 30 miles from the beginning of the Atigun Pass with a terrific view of the valley leading up to it.
June 30, 2007
No bears came to our tent site last night so we feel pretty good. This morning, riding south, everything looked different and just as beautiful as the ride north.
We stopped again in Coldfoot for a late breakfast/lunch and rested. Later we stopped at a restaurant just off of the road near the Yukon River called The Hot Spot for dinner. The fuel service station at the base of the Yukon River was out of gas so I was glad I had kept my spare 5 gallon container full otherwise I would have been out of luck.
The bridge across the Yukon has wooden planking that is pretty beat up. Some fellows on KLRs told us that 2 of their party each got nails in one of their tires going across it. We took it easy. Of course I filmed the event keeping my eye in the cameras lens guiding Burro behind Toms path. It was tricky filming.
A guy we had met in Dead Horse, riding a BMW GS1200, passed us today. We are perplexed. In Dead Horse his bike and gear looked factory fresh. His bike we could understand clean even if he had actually rode it up, because he could have had it pressure washed, but his riding gear? Well when he passed us late today he and the bike were still clean as a whistle. Either he has some special energy field that keeps him clean or else he washes it and his riding gear at every river. We are a dirty mess.
I jumped in a river we are camped next to this evening in order to clean the dust off of me. The water seemed colder than the Artic Ocean, but then again I didn't spend much time in the Artic Ocean either. Mosquitoes are after us again tonight so we all headed for the tents ASAP and called it a day.
July 1, 2007
After spending the night on a river we headed into Fairbanks where we decided to get a campground with laundry facilities and internet. We spent the day visiting. We met a man who had escaped a communist country via a coal train. In order to protect his anonymity I won't reveal his name. We met an Actress who again I won't reveal her name, three ladies from Taiwan and a 62 year old woman who had adopted a 7 year old boy with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This was her first child. I was very impressed with her strength.
Tomorrow we will head toward Denali. Our plan after that is to turn east at Wassilla and head for the Top of the World Highway.
July 2, 2007
Driving out of Fairbanks this morning an adolescent moose stood next to the roadway.
We have arrived at Denali under a cool overcast sky. From the entrance nothing is visible. I have decided to stay at the campground and catch up on the log book and Tom and Linda have taken an 8 hour tour via bus ($28.00 ea.) of the park. Just like my decision in Peru to not go to Cuscus because I wanted to share it with my girl Mar, I will wait again to see Denali with her on another trip. Friends from Prince of Wales Island have asked me to stop by and stay with them but our trip will take us far away to the east this time and I am hoping to still return to Alaska in September for some fishing with them. Time will tell.
Tom and Linda saw a couple of grizzly bears on their tour.
Happy 27th Birthday to my wonderful daughter Molly. I am so proud to have you as a daughter.
July 3, 2007
When I woke up this morning it was time for clean socks (first time since we left Portland according to Linda). Ouch! Actually...I got stung by a yellow jacket that had mysteriously crawled into it. It stung me on the Achilles and hurt all day.
Tom and I both had our first mechanical issues today. I have a fuel seep on the left rear mounting bracket and Tom's luggage rack has a broken support bracket. I'll let the fuel seep as it isn't to much but we had to strap Tom's luggage rack together with a tie down strap.
We saw a big black bear along the road but I wasn't quick enough to capture it on film.
Today we lost track of each other on the road. Apparently I passed them without seeing them. It was raining and I didn't have my glasses on. I drove back and forth between Wasilla and Palmer. We played phone tag and finally met up in Chickaloon for the night. It was pouring down rain when I finally got the tent set up. Tom had picked a great place next to a river and behind a biker bar called the King Mountain Lodge. Pizza and beer were on the menu.
July 4, 2007
We packed up our wet tents and headed to Tok Junction again. It rained for 4 hours straight and we got soaked. The Burro was acting up a little and I was afraid I might have a water caused ignition problem. Finally she just quit as I pulled into a gas station. Before taking the ignition apart I decided to pull the main fuel line off and see if she had just eaten some bad feed (water in the fuel) and sure enough she had. I don't think the rain had anything to do with it though, it was just some bad gas. Afterwards she roared on without a problem. Due to the rain we were unable to see a glacier nearby but enjoyed the ride non the less.
I got a good video of two large bull moose.
Tonight in the campground they are supply live music in celebration of the 4th of July. It mainly bluegrass with some old time gospel.
In the morning Tom will have his luggage rack welded before we leave. He also needs to ship his hand gun home because we can't take back through Canada. Tomorrow we will head for Dawson City.
July 5, 2007
We left Tok about noon as Tom had welding to be done on his luggage rack. Our ride took us on the Taylor Highway to the community of Chicken. The ride was spectacular with a large part of it being gravel. Burro excels on the gravel. I was not expecting to be amazed at any scenery since we had driven up through such magnificence but I was thoroughly pleased today.
After Chicken we continued toward the Canadian Border. There were lots of large motor homes traveling this narrow dirt road. I couldn't believe that so many people would being willing to shake these land yachts, which seemed to me, to peices. Trucks and buses travel this road as well and the buses have a pilot car running ahead of them.
There is a lot of old gold mining history in this area. Besides seeing an old dredge I found a couple with a portable dredge panning for gold. While the husband, wearing a wet suit dug out large rock then directing a suction hose on the stream bed, his wife searched what was gathered in the trough. They told me they had some success. She was even wearing gold nugget earrings from some of the gold they had found.
Later while rounding a corner a Ural motorcycle/sidecar came from the other direction and the driver shouted, "Are you Gary Smith." I stopped in amazement considering my location on the planet earth and circled back around. It turned out to be a great older guy named Jack Heidt I had met in Salem Oregon (Raceway Motors) before leaving on the trip. His sidekick was his dog named Chico. We talked for about 20 minutes and then I headed on down the gravel road to catch Tom and Linda.
Further along what is now called "The Top of the World Highway" in Canada (and it seems like it really is the top of the world) I met Tom Ryskra and Jerry Boltsky from the Blaine, WA area. Tom Ryskra is a well know Pacific Northwest sidecarist. Today he was riding a BMW GS1200 with a terrific Native Alaskan Bird symbol painted upon it. Tom also has a 1960 somthing R50 upgraded to an 800cc engine which supports his sidecar. We all ended up riding the ferry across the Yukon River into Dawson City. He offered us a free place to spend the evening with a friend he had in Dawson City but we had already agreed to a site once we got there so we thanked him just the same.
Tomorrow we head toward Whitehorse.
July 6, 2007
This morning we went back into Dawson City for some video shoots and purchased some snacks before heading on.
Burro was running a little rough at slow idle, indicating that she just wasn't feeling up to par. I noticed that she seemed to run a little better with the choke pulled out. In an effort to run down the problem I drained the carburetor bowls using the screw on the bottom of each bowl and checked the spark plugs but I found no problem. I motored on. when we stopped for breakfast at the Moose Lodge I decided to check the air filter. Whoa...I should have guessed. The air filter was full of dirt from all of the dirt roads we had been on. Overall the new air filter designed seems to be better than the old design. Considering the weeks of dirt and mud we have driven through especially on the Haul Road to Dead Horse I am very pleased that Burro didn't complain until now.
I exchanged the dirty filter for the clean one I had packed prior to departure and sure enough the ole girl jumped to life. I'll need to change the rear tire tomorrow or the next day. I've gotten about 4500 miles out of it.
The road has been mainly paved except for a few miles of gravel reconstruction.
In the afternoon I stopped to take video along the way. While doing so Tom and Linda drove by without seeing me as Burro and I were parked up a logging road. I met up with them an hour later. This is about the time Tom figured that he must have passed me because I would have run out of fuel by then. I pretended to drive by without seeing them and watched Linda waving excitedly at me just for fun and then turned around.
Though today has not been a terrific scenery day, as days go here, there was one highlight as we passed The Five Fingers Rapid area of the Yukon River that provided a grand view.
We made camp around 5 PM The campground is called the Coal Mine Campground and is next to the highway and borders the Yukon River. It is located about 2 hours North of White Horse.
This evening I washed the dirty air filter in the lavatory of the campground. After dinner I fell asleep for 2 hours. As I write this evening, Tom (I think is the one...) is snoring in his tent. If I didn't know better I'd think it was a bear prowling around the camp site. I think I'll knock this log book stuff off and go make some growling sounds myself. Goodnight!
July 7, 2007
It started raining about 3 AM and continued until about 10AM. After that it was perfect weather and great vistas. We stopped in Braeborn for breakfast. The restaurant/motel is famous with bikers and they offer a 12" round 4" think cinnamon roll. We are spending the night at the Baby Nugget RV park. It is the same place we stayed when we reached the intersection of Hwy 37 on the trip up and is about 14 miles to Watson Lake.
This time the RV park is charging us twice the price before. We are each paying $18.00 to pitch a tent. This is way out of line but we are tired. the excuse for the increased price has something to do with the restaurant owners (Linda) mother who seems to think this is a good practice. If I were to tell anyone, I'd say just move on. In fact the only good things are the showers ($1.00 for a few minutes) washers and dryers ($2.50 ea) and internet ($5.00 I've found typical in Canada). Most commercial campsites in Alaska are giving WI FI hookup free. Tonight I ordered a pie-a-la-mode and a latte. It cost me roughly $5.00 for the slice of pie, $5.00 for the a-la mode and $5.00 for the small cup of latte. Wow....This is highway robbery at it's finest. I have to say one good thing about this place though, the cook Dave is excellent and besides the prices Linda and her husband are very personable. Personality aside next time I come up I'll have to bypass this place even though it it the only place in Nugget City/Jct. Highway 37 (Cassiar Highway).
I feel that I need to address the road conditions and experience required for motorcyclists headed to Prudhoe/Dead Horse. I may have done so already but here it goes. It is my impression that the bottom line is... The Haul Road north of The Artic Circle and the Taylor Highway to Chicken (Canadian border to Chicken) should be done using equipment suitable for light off road and gravel highway use. A lighter motorcycle is best because if you are alone and drop the bike you can pick it up if it falls plus it's easier to maneuver.
I've seen quite a few BMW GS1200. They were made for this type of touring and handle it extremely well under an experienced rider. Ninety percent of the time there are 2 of these bikes traveling together, so at least someone is around to help if the other decides to sample some Alaskan D1 gravel. No matter what bike a person may want to take on these roads the rider needs to have spent time riding on gravel with the load they plan to carry before they begin the trip.
Fancy road bikes will suffer damage and may not have the ground clearance required, so that has to be taken into consideration. In fact, a fancy road bike is going to run into a fair amount of gravel anytime they drive through Canada. That's because in Canada when the road is rebuilt in the outback the entire road is dug up and then resurfaced with gravel. Or, the road is just sprayed with calcium chlorate and gravel spread on top. Vehicles then provide the packing of the gravel. Anyway this is just for your consideration.
The truckers on The Haul Road were very courteous with the exception of only one who blew by us fast. The others always slowed down when they saw a motorcycle. This is not what I expected to see. We were all impressed with the truck drivers professionalism.
Dust from the big rigs is a problem and reduces visibility to zero. A motorcyclist should come to a stop in these conditions especially if they are not sure if another truck is right behind the first one. Otherwise it is a long 120 feet through the dust without seeing a thing.
Tom and Linda got a picture of a Black Bear today and I nearly ran over a red (colored) fox. My drive tire is still on and now has 4800 miles on it. There is no core showing yet and I may wait until I see that before I change it. Also I found that my rear drive fluid drain bolt was loose so of course I tightened it. I wish I would have brought a spare drain bolt for the fluid drains, just incase.
While eating lunch in Teslin I heard, "That's Gary Smith!" Ha...Two guys from Portland were on their way to Dead Horse. Both had bought the movie. So lets see...one guy yesterday knew me and now two guys today. If it's 3 tomorrow that would be to weird.
Since we are back in Canada none of us have a cell phone connection. We all have ATT/Cingular. I was told by them I would have roaming here but none of us have been able to connect. The only bars we have are the ones on the road. We have to walk to them.
Tomorrow we are headed to The Laird River and Laird Hot Springs. I can't wait. But the most important thing about tomorrow is that it is Mar and my 20 year anniversary. I love you Marilyn. Thank you for a wonderful 20 years. I so adore you. You're my girl. I wish we were together to celebrate.
July 8, 2007
Well we are at Liard Hot Springs. On the road we saw quite a few bison. It didn't take us long to pitch camp and head for the hot springs. Tom and Linda spent quite a while there and I enjoyed it for about half an hour before heading back to camp. It's a hot springs...
This evening there were a lot of mosquitoes and some small flying bugs we have no idea as to their name. I called Mar for our anniversary.
July 9, 2007
Tom and I spent the morning doing preventative mtx. He changed a tire and his chain. I changed the rear tire, changed the oil and adjusted the valves.
I got 4800 miles out of a Heidenua 6 ply tire.
Linda has admitted that she wishes she could just fly home. After considering the cost of an airplane and a bus she has decided to stick with it but we will put her in the sidecar tomorrow and see how that goes. She has said that she is really sore riding on the back of the KLR after 4500 miles. Apparently her thighs, left knee and lower back had had enough. Tom and I are understandably sympathetic.
July 10, 2007
Today is Mar's birthday. I am so happy she was born. I'll be looking for a phone to contact her.
We spent the better part of and hour and a half this morning figuring out how to load both of the motorcycles now that Linda will be trying the sidecar out. We are hoping that she will be comfortable in it. After initial loading we set out. It didn't take long to find out that the KLR just had to much gear on it. At our second stop the KLR tumbled over and tweeked the front forks. We removed some of the load and put it on Burro. She now weighs 610 kilos according to the truck scales. That's about 1342 lbs. The KLR weighed 350 kilos or about 770 lbs about one hundred pounds shy of the weight of Toms gold Wing. Burro is only getting 20 MPG and I think this is due to to rich of jets in the carb. Even the cylinder head temps are low so I am going to have to put some smaller jets in the carb.
Today we started off seeing two black bears, some caribou and later mountain goats. This evening we saw two grizzlies eating a moose calf carcass and I shot some video of them before I got scared. There were also two large dead moose on the roadway nearby. A fellow camper said he saw a black bear eating the brains from one of the moose. In fact both moose had their heads missing and one was half eaten from the rump already.
The ride between Muncho Lake and Summit Lake is the highlight of the trip on the Al/Can and I consider a must see.
We are spending the night at Bucking Horse River Campground about one hour south of Fort Nelson. Tomorrow we will go to Dawson City and have Toms bike looked at. We will spend the night there.
We also saw the remnants of yesterdays Twin-Otter crash at Muncho Lake. Of the five people on board all escaped except an older man. Word is, the the aircraft was over weight and taking off of an unimproved strip that is normally only used for a helipad.
Augh...I just taped something over the grizzly bear feast. I could kick myself. Mar...that isn't an invitation!
That's it for today.
July 11, 2007
Due to the bear encounters yesterday I awoke to a funny tail from Tom's tent. Apparently Tom had a dream about a train of bears coming through our camp last night.
I think I know how to improve my mileage on the Ural. Step one, don't ride with the parking break on. Augh! I found that I had engaged it while putting the car in reverse. I knew I could smell something weird but It didn't occur to me that I had the brake set. Also...I have kept my top speed at 55MPH and I am not running 3rd gear above 45 MPH unless shifting into 4th at which time I will run up to 50 just for the shift (this is important because I do not want to lug the engine and get detonation). I will shift from 4th down to 3rd at 50 and run no higher than 45 until ready for the 4th gear. This has brought my MPG to 26 but I will still need to reduce the carb jet size when I get home because the engine is running to cool (R cylinder 280 f and L cylinder 320 f). The book calls for 380-420 f.
Well today started off pretty good then we had a close call with a deer. As a doe stood 20 feet from the roadway it's fawn darted from the opposite side of the road between 5 on coming vehicles. Then it ran directly in front of the sidecar only missing being hit by us by an inch. I can still hear it's little feet clip/clopping franticly in front of me.
There was more good scenery but we hustled down to Charlie Lake and stopped for breakfast. We had hoped to stop in Wonowon for breakfast (our friend Dana's home town) but there was no where to eat and the one place that used to be there was bulldozed down.
In Charlie Lake we met two young Brits (James and William) who had just finished there Tierra del Fuego to Prudhoe Bay/Dead Horse ride. They both rode BMW 650s and looked great aboard their sticker clad machines. We all headed out on the rode to Hudsons Hope which is a twisty of terrific proportions. 13 KM down the twisties James lost control of his moto and ended up in the ditch. It was about an hour before he realized where he was. While we provided some care Jack Heidt rode up on his Ural with his dog Chico and helped as well.
James kept saying "Is this on TV?" Linda and William kept him talking even though he wanted to fall a sleep. Eventually he started regaining his memory (he didn't even remember riding the Pam American). I shaded him until the paramedics arrived then I directed traffic. All of that airline marshalling I've seen from the cockpit must have paid off because a Mounty told Tom and Linda I really looked like I knew what I was doing. At the accident scene Tom picked up moto parts and offered more support.
After we all helped and the ambulance took James to the Fort St. John Hospital we waited for the tow truck and Tom made sure that the driver didn't cause anymore damage to James's moto. Then we all headed to the hospital to see if all was well and remarkably there were no broken bones except a broken clavicle that James has repeatedly broken over the years. William and James apparently will ship the bike to Calgary and then fly home to London as they had planned in a week or two.
Linda liked riding in the sidecar and I am getting used to seeing her helmet there.
We are spending the night in Chetwyn. We told Linda it was Canadian for passing gas. It's a cute village all the same. Anyway the campground is just fine because we needed a shower and that makes everything great.
Well that's it for today.
July 12, 2007
We took a late start today. The scenery continued to get better as we left Chetwyn for about 100 KM. We were amazed because we sort of expected that we had already seen the highlights.
Ya know coming home is always difficult. I personally just want the trip to continue. And...I'd love to continue it even more if Mar were riding with me. I think she ought to retire and let me take care of her. That aside, Mar and I have agreed that I should just continue the trip and head East bound in order to be in Wiekert, Pennsylvania for the ISOK Ron Dee Voo IV sidecar rally on August 3rd. This means that Tom and Linda are spending their last night with me. In the morning they'll head home via Bellingham and I-5. I'll head to Caches Creek and head east toward Calgary then likely drop down into the U.S.. I am sad to be splitting up with them. This will be a whole new trip for me know.
The temperature today has been about 95 degrees f. We are camping at Roberts Roost in South Quesnel. It is a nice place with showers on a lake.
Well so much for today.
July 13, 2007
I watched Tom and Linda ride out this morning and then I headed out myself about 10 minutes later. My early plan for the day was to just drive Burro to empty and see what I got as far as mileage. Wouldn't ya know it, she ran out of fuel 3 KM from a gas station and I put the reserve jerry can fuel in her tank. I was amazed to find that she is now burning 28 MPG as long as I don't drive over 55 MPH.
Then I took the sidecar's windscreen off just to see if it would make a difference. But there was no significant amount of change caused by it's drag. I'll put it back on later.
The ride from Quesnel to Caches Creek was farmland early on but as I got closer to Caches Creek the scenery began that of the high desert with sage all around.
After Kamloops there began to be more trees and eventually I was climbing back into the mountains of forest again as I head for Calgary. There is a lot of traffic on Hwy 1 and it is mostly single lane.
Canada is expensive. Today I stopped at an auto parts store and bought 2 qt of engine oil, 1 qt of gear lube, a small container of wheel bearing grease and some paper shop towels. It cost me $26.00 basically $5.00 each! By the way...if you calculate U.S. gallons to liters, it costs $1.00 more per gallon in Canada than in the U.S..
To night I am staying in Revelstoke B.C. near Canada's Glacier Park. Apparently the fellow who is responsible for importing Ural motorcycles into North America lives here. Tomorrow I will get to Calgary and try to find some smaller fuel jets. I hope this will get me to the temperature and fuel burn stated in the manual.
There were many kinds of weather today. It was very hot today...36 degrees C and the road temperature was 132 degrees F. Late this afternoon the skies opened up with a thunderstorm and I got soaked (didn't put on my rain gear) but I didn't mind a bit. Also prior to the thunderstorm the wind was so bad I had to stop for 10 minutes to let the downdrafts pass. The wind made it impossible to operate Burro safely. By the way I learned from a gentleman that motorcycles are safer to ride than horses because you only have to deal with one mind. I'm not sure where Burro fits into the equation or for someone with multiple personalities.
I met a couple of men today one was from Argentina (ex Argentine Airline B707 Captain and we swapped stories. The other told me a great story about his recent first airplane trip to meet his 27 year old daughter for the first time. He had tried to fine her when she was 12 but could not get in touch with her. Eventually she called him.
July 14, 2007
I left Revelstoke about 6 AM after stopping at a Tim Hortons donut shop for yogurt, a donut and coffee. This again continues to be terrific scenery. I headed for Radium Hot Springs at one of the entrances to Banff Park also the head waters of the Columbia River. Since I have crossed the Columbia River bar in my trawler a few times I wanted to see what it looked like at the beginning of it's flow.
Then headed to Calgary I drove through Banff. Wow...that's about all I have to say about that!
In Calgary I headed for the Ural dealership (ScootGo) to pick up a new mirror (my drivers side wouldn't stay in place) a spare tire for the steering wheel (in case I needed it, I didn't want to break one off of the spare rim) new carburetor to cylinder intake hose looking doo dads and to see about reducing my carb jet size to increase my mileage.
When I got there RJ the owner was out delivering a moto, so his wife suggested I head over to the casino a block away and enjoy a free cup of coffee in the air conditioned atmosphere. It was over 100 f in Calgary. While at the casino I put $5.00 in a machine and walked out 10 minutes later $37.00 richer.
RJ showed up and what a personable guy. We hit it off right away. When all was said and done we decided that my fuel mixture was about as lean as I would want it. Then he refused to let me pay for the parts and even took parts off of his showroom stock. This of course makes ScootGo of Calgary, Canada, my first sponsor (sort of) since they are the only one to have supplied gratis, any of the parts I need to continue riding Burro around the world. I am still carrying the majority of the financial load and would like to point out that I have never asked for sponsorship but am pleased that RJ has the vision to see the value in the journeys I have undertaken.
Since the Calgary Stampede was going on and his shop is only a block away, we just stood out front and watched the revelers. With the 100 f temperature all of the cowgirls walking by his dealership were dressed...well, in a manner to stay cool. Many of them wanted to pose on the Urals as I videoed RJ. Some of the footage will have to be cut from the new episode because we all know that I only produce G (for Gary) rated videos. I had remembrances of Daytona Bike week this year. It was like having beach front property.
After closing up shop RJ, me and a friend Matt, who showed up on his Ural, went out to eat dinner and they also wanted to show me around Calgary. We ended up at the "Rock" (The Shamrock Grill) a biker bar and enjoyed some great rock n' roll and a good meal. I gave both RJ and Matt a "Burro Support Patch".
I am sporting a ScootGo.com sticker on the sidecar now. If you're in Calgary stop by and visit RJ at 129B- 17th Ave. SE, Calgary, AB T2G1H3 Phone: (403) 228-6080 it is on the corner of McLeod Trail and 17th SE.
By the way, for some reason today...even before I got to Calgary, the Burro's fuel consumption had become about 30MPG. Maybe running over 10,000 km has something to do with it.
July 15, 2007
I spent last night in RJ's van "Vana White". He left me the keys to the shop so I could clean up and I left the keys for him when I left in the morning. He wanted me to stay around but ya' know I've got itchy feet and have to keep movin'.
It was another scorcher today. I crossed back into the U.S. and stopped in Shelby MT for a break. Later while heading to Havre MT the afternoon storm buildups began and I had the strange sensation of enjoying the cool rain while it pelted me accompanied with a 30 knot crosswind. This nearly blew me off of the road. The entire experience was a classic example of how pleasure and pain are so closely aligned.
At one point today I just had to stop and rest in the shade of Burro's sidecar. the heat was tough. Laying in the broad leaf grass on the roadside I quickly fell asleep until the the sound of a locomotive woke me up. It was nice to lay in the grass and not have any bugs after my body.
My Dad has told me that he was going to be in Oshkosh WI for the annual EAA Fly-In a week from today. I am looking over my itinerary and trying to decide whether to stop there or push on in-order to get to New Foundland and back to Wierkt PA by August 3rd. I can't make that decision today because I haven't got a map of the entire route yet. After Mar and I attend the sidecar rally in Weirkt, we will be visiting friends in NY, so I could head to Newfoundland after that I'll try to figure it out tomorrow.
I found a campsite in Havre MT at the fairgrounds for $10.00. Carnies are packing up there tents and only one other moto camper is here but there are about 10 land yachts. Maybe I'll runaway with the carnival. I could probably learn to guess peoples weight like Steve Martin did in the movie The Jerk.
While sitting in my tent writing this evening's log a thunderstorm is over head and the wind and heavy rain are trying to collapse the tent around me.
OK, that's it for today.
July 16, 2007
I changed all of the lubricants in Burro this morning before I left.
Wouldn't you know it, it began raining as soon as I started but it felt good just the same as it was apparent, it would be hot today.
I touched base with Tom when I stopped in Glasgow. He and Linda made it home on Saturday night.
Down the road my oil filter began leaking and I had to stop and replace the O-ring. This happened to me on the South American trip as well and at about the same mileage/kilometers (11,000 KM). So now I know, replace the O-ring every 10,000 Km or every 4 oil filter changes.
It was another scorcher again, 100 f, so I stopped for the day at around 3 PM in Wolf Point, MT. At this rate it should put me in Oshkosh about Sunday.
At this point I am planning on picking up Mar in Buffalo NY on the 1st of August and then we'll drive down to PA. I'll forgo Newfoundland until late August. Then Burro and I will head to Florida.
As I write this little nats are driving me crazy. Earlier red colored flying ants were dropping out of the tree I have camped under landing all over the campsite including Burro and my head.
I have met a terrific couple from Germany who are bicycling from Toronto to Seattle. They've invited me to stay at their place in Frankfurt and I the same to them in Portland.
The bugs are driving me crazy so that's it for today.
July 17, 2007
There was actually a chill in the air last night and early this morning when I had a good-bye coffee with Erwin and Vesna. After that my start was delayed because after fueling I met Les Shockley. Les is famous for his jet powered dragsters and trucks. He does a lot of demonstrations at air shows and was on his way to Grand Bend , Ontario Canada for a show on Saturday and Sunday. We yaked for about 1 1/2 hours. Speaking of Yaks...he has one. A Yak is a Russian aerobatic aircraft. If you've been to an air show in the last 30 years, you've probably seen his demonstrations. Les even sat on Burro for a picture. I'm sure he was wondering how he could attach a jet engine to her.
Finally I said good-bye and made my way to Williston, ND. When I got there I was getting very bored with the Northern Montana planes. Big Sky is correct. This area is nothing like the west or southern portions of Montana. I was ready for something new. It occurred to me that wide open is fine for a while but I feel more comfortable with the closeness of the mountains. I guess it is sort of like wrapping a baby up tight in a blanket for comfort. On the other hand it is nice not to see everything at once. In the mountains, you don't know what is around the next corner. In northeastern Montana...you do!
Thankfully North Dakota has a little more to look at. And one more thought...I did not realize there were so many oil wells in these two regions.
When I tanked up in Williston I decided to take a secondary road (1804) to New Town and this paid off. There were a lot of good views. In New Town I met a local who suggested I should head south on Hwy 22 to Killdeer ND. I'm glad I did because this took me through what I believe is called the Missouri Breaks or at least some of the Bad Lands.
For the most part the Bad Lands were pretty good. At this time of year there is a lot of green. On the little Missouri River the landscape actually got bad like I am used to thinking the Bad Lands are. It was beautiful as well. This road is a great motorcycle road. I was glad I came this way.
I almost had a pheasant dinner for the evening when a hen nearly collided with Burro.
I finally stopped in Killdeer ND and found a city run campground that operates on donations. It is located at the west end of town. There are showers and electrical hookups. But...I cannot get a cell connection here.
For dinner I went to steakhouse called 2 7/8. It was a quarter mile west of the campground. When I ordered a steak, to my surprise I was lead to the kitchen, showed the meat, and told to grill my own. So I did. Actually that's the way they do it at this restaurant. I was relieved that I didn't have to do the dishes as well.
After dinner I walked over to a small rodeo stadium and watched elementary-hi school kids competing in barrel racing on their horses. It was a nice way to spend a few minutes.
I am a little leery of the campsite this evening because there are 3 guys who are driving a new ford pickup and staying in one tent together. I've over heard them talking about not having any money. The whole thing seems a little weird but I'm staying put. Oh...and there are a lot of flies in this town for some reason.
Tomorrow I'll head out on Hwy 200 eastbound. I am going to try and stay on secondary roads. I like the feel.
July 18, 2007
Well last night the guy with no money came back to the camp drunk and puked a lot. I didn't hear the other two return. But all is well. I saw the two other guys at the Conoco station as I was having coffee and fueling up for the first leg today. I have figured out that they are from Washington State and must be working on the farms in the area.
Today I had two deer run across the road in front of me. I could barely see them. Later I saw a dead doe on the side of the road so I looked for babies. Sure enough there were two fawns 1/4 mile down the road. Of course it made me sad.
Saw a beautiful Pheasant rooster today plus quite a few dead skunks in the road.
With all of the farm land it left me thanking the farmers who provide my daily food. Where would we be with out them.
After driving 250 miles I called it quit for the day in Mayville, ND it is near the Minnesota border. Again this town has a public campground and is very well kept. there is an adjoining flower garden to walk through as well.
Hwy 200 will take me all of the way to Duluth, MN. I haven't' figured out when that will be but at least in a day or two.
July 19, 2007
It was a pleasure to get back into the forest lined byway along Hwy's 200 & 2 of Minnesota. I found the forests to be similar to that of Alaska in that the evergreens were small in stature. There were also smaller varieties of trees that almost looked like bushes. It was even possible to see the lakes. This meant for a pleasant day.
As with each day I had to stop and lay down near the roadway to overcome the sleepiness that has plagued me on this trip. I don't know what it is but I have to stop at least 2 times a day to rest. I just lay on the ground next to Burro and place my head on the helmet and almost immediately fall asleep for 10 minutes.
I passed small rivers today with the names of Mississippi and St. Louis. The map indicates that sure enough these are the headwaters of The Mississippi. I don't know if this is the area for the headwaters of the St. Louis but I suspect so and will have to look it up. The Mississippi River near Lake Itasca and was no wider than 10 feet. The St. Louis River, a little farther east, was about 30 feet across.
I was told to watch out for deer near Lake Itasca but I never saw any.
I made it to Duluth, MN and could see Lake Superior from a highway rest area. This is the first time I have seen any of the Great Lakes from the ground except Lake Erie.
I will be in Oshkosh within 2 days and will spend time there with my Dad at the Air Show.
Tonight I am staying in a campground in Superior, Wisconsin and it's laundry night.
After laundry while talking to the only 2 other campers, they pointed out a badger that was luring around. this is the first time I've seen a wild badger.
The couple I was talking to were in their 50s and owned a HD. I was saddened by their story. It seems they both work for a company that produces computer disks. The woman had worked for them for 20+ years and the man for 18 years. A few weeks ago they found out that their jobs were all being shipped to Mexico. The state (I think North Dakota) is so mad they want the grant money they gave the company back ($18 mil). 20 homes went up for sale the first day but no one can sell them.
July 20, 2007
I slept in until 6 AM. As I packed to leave this morning the badger was still there. I didn't get to close, I didn't want my ankles bitten but I did get some video.
On the road it took about an hour to actually get to a pull over where I could actually touch the waters of Lake Superior. I could see the lake for most of the time and kept thinking that any minute I'd be next to it. As the day would turn out Hwy 13 which runs along a panhandle of Wisconsin, never lets you see the lake except for a few times once you are beside of it. You actually have to take side roads to get to the lake.
From Red Cliff you can see some of the Apostle Islands. they are an archipelago of 22 islands and archeologists have dated first Americans here to 4000 B.C..
There are a lot of cute villages along this road. Eventually I got onto Highways 51 & 47. More cute towns. At Woodruff I continued a few miles out of town to a State run campground and called it quits for the day. I like this part of Wisconsin. The scenery is pretty and the state does a good job of promoting out of doors activities. For instance; they make a special paving area across the road for snowmobiles to cross over. There are lots of snowmobile trails. I guess they are used for ATVs as well but am not really sure.
Though Wisconsins will probably not admit it they really do pronounce the word "oh" with an extended O. Such as; Ohhh ya don't say!
Tomorrow I'll stock up on food for Oshkosh and by some walking shorts as I didn't take pack any for Alaska and hadn't planned on continuing to the East Coast.
July 21, 2007
I took a leisurely departure from my campground . Spent the morning shopping for supplies and finally arrived in Oshkosh about 5 PM.
K C Armstrong, a friend of John Bakken who is bringing my Dad, met me at the gate and showed me to our campsite. K C is a very likeable guy. Wow, EAA really has this place set up nice. Thanks to K C we have a great campsite under the trees. Dad, John and two other really nice guys Craig and Nick are also along.
There was a lot of interest from other campers with regard to Burro.
The festivities don't actually start until Monday but the place is packed. We'll see how long I can take this kind of a crowd.
That's it for today.
July 22, 2007
Though the air show is not really underway until tomorrow, we walked around this morning and checked out some of the rapidly increasing displays. We spent about 5 hours looking at aircraft before heading back to camp for the day.
I spent the afternoon doing preventive mtx on Burro. I packed the drive and steering wheel bearings and changed both of the same two tires. Tomorrow I work on the sidecar bearings and hopefully lube the cables.
By the way, the Ypan Ural brand tire I had installed back at Liard Hot Springs, B.C. lasted 3200 miles before I dare not run it any longer (the Heidenua lasted 4800 miles). No cord was showing but it was about to. The same Ypan Ural brand on the steering forks still has plenty of tread at 13,000 KM but I felt like putting new rubber on for when I pick up Mar. I'll use that tire now as my spare. I'd like to find an Avon tire that has harder rubber for the drive wheel. I was able to run an Avon from Nicaragua to Argentina last year. I'll keep my eyes out for another one.
Not a very exciting day but at least a good day.
July 24, 2007
I ran into my old friend Jim Vanik today. Jim and I go way back to my early gyro-copter days. He was instrumental in teaching me to fly Gyros. He had a new machine capable of of flying at 15,000 feet. It is a 2 place all composite 2 place copter. Jim's company built the oven, mould and all of the parts. It is very impressive.
Since we hadn't seen each other in nearly 18 years I was able to pretend that I was an interested costumer and had him going until I took my sunglasses off. We spent a lot of time talking about mutual friends and hoping them good fortune.
July 25, 2007
Enjoyed the EAA Air Venture during the last couple of days.
I finished packing the sidecar's wheel bearing and lubed all of the cables including the speedo mechanism (but it still jumps around). I also adjusted the alternator position by loosening the nuts and turning it. I did this to try and quite it down by smoothing out the gear interaction.
While checking the valve adjustment I found that the bottom front nut on the left cylinder/head had worked loose. Wasn't this the same one that was loose before? I 'm not sure. As I tightened it down the stud starting coming out. OK this is a problem.
I took a thinner nut off of the rear drive attachment and used it for a lock nut to try and tighten the stud back in, but the stud just spun around so I took it out. When I pulled it out some thread came with it. I was bothered by this turn of events. I found that the stud had more threads on the end that had come out of the engine. This would allow me to put the lock nut on the long threaded area and use the shorter threads back into the engine block. I hoped it would thread in. I didn't want to put in a heli-coil in if I didn't have too. My good luck held and I was able to torque the nut down to proper specs. I hope it continues to hold. Time will tell.
I felt sad leaving Dad today at Oshkosh but my feet were itching to get under way.
I am spending the night in a campground in Gladstone, MI on upper Lake Michigan. Here I have met two helicopter pilots who work for Transport Canada & are on loaned to the Canadian Coast Guard. They work on an Ice Breaker in the Artic Ocean. They are on their way to the EAA Air Venture at Oshkosh. Very nice fellows.
That's it for today.
July 26, 2007
While checking the head bolt this morning I found that it had loosened up. I had to re-torque it again.
Since I have a few days to kill before Mar shows up in Buffalo, NY I am taking more side trips and really enjoying the secondary roads.
This afternoon I headed to Paradise, MI and The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. I figured that since I am familiar with the Columbia River Bar (possibly the most dangerous bar in the world I ought to check out what happens on The Great Lakes.
Over 6000 ships have been lost on The Great Lakes quite a bit more dangerous than the Columbia River Bar. It makes me feel better to know that I am not boating in such a dangerous place as Whitefish Point, MI.
The most famous of those wrecked here is the Edmund Fitzgerald. With Gordon Lightfoot playing in the background I watched a video of the recovery of it's bell and the replacement of one memorializing those lost. I also toured the museum.
This evening in a campground I again checked the bottom left front cylinder head bolt and it was loose again. I am reminded that this engine is a 2005. I am wondering how the other 2005 engines are holding up.
Before sunset I set out with a new plan. I removed the head but left the cylinder intact because I didn't' want to take the chance of not getting the rings back in place (or finding a broken ring) and besides I didn't need to remove the cylinder. The valves and top of the piston are in great shape and show no wear or detonation issues.
I swapped ends of the stud so that the longer portion would again be in the block. I was able to do this because I didn't have the head in the way and I used another head bolt as a lock nut. Looking back on my previous attempt I imagine I could have just removed the rocker arm and gotten more bite.
By the way, the top studs have the long threaded ends pointed to the head, the bottom studs have the shorter threaded ends pointed toward the head. I am not sure if this is a procedure but just something I noticed.
I didn't have a new head gasket so I will just hope that the old one works and tighten in down a few more pounds. I wasn't able to finish the job before sunset and will finish in the morning.
Currently the head nut has a good bite and I have left it with about two threads that are not grabbing the stud. I did this on purpose because I want to make sure that the stud can grab as many threads as it can in the engine block. I checked the valves and made sure the push rods spun with the valves in overlap. If it holds, only time will tell.
July 27, 2007 (Friday)
I finished the job this morning by re-installing the exhaust. In Toronto I will pick up a new head gasket, cylinder gasket, spare rings and a heli-coil with tools to install it incase I need it. This will also require a drill and bit.
Down the road everything was going fine until I decided to open the throttle up. For some reason the engine started cutting out. I have heard that the ducati ignition can start cutting out if the engine rpm is taken to high. the fix seems to be to shut the engine off and restart it. However in this case I found by opening the fuel pit cock to the center position, as if I needed to prime the carbs, the engine worked just fine but I wouldn't suggest doing this for to long of a time.
In Sault (Sue or Sooo as it it commonly spelled and called the Sooo) St. Marie, Michigan I drained the carburetor bowls, and drained the fuel tank so I could clean the main fuel screens. The tank screens were dirty with rust. I also checked the air filter but it looked just fine. Though I didn't drive very far afterwards, Burro seems to be running a top performance again.
I watched a freighter making way through the locks from Lake Superior into Lake Michigan then headed over the bridge into Canada.
I am spending the night at a KOA in Sault St. Marie, Ontario just over the border in Canada. I plan to arrive in the Toronto area on Tuesday. I'll try to stop by some of the Ural dealers there if I get a chance. If all goes well I will pick Mar up at the airport on Wednesday.
July 28, 2007
I took a late start from the KOA at The Sooo and headed North on HWY 17. This is the main road north from here. A 2 lane road along Lake Superior's east shore, it is very busy.
At a stop for breakfast at what I believe is called Northgate an older man with a young boy waited for the boys mother to show up. The boy told me this. Anyway while they waited the boy played with a dead Monarch Butterfly. The man told him to put it down and then to wash his hands. WHAT!!! Oh brother is this guy a little nuts or what? I had to write about it because it seems so ridiculous. Hmmm...maybe that has something to do with waiting to meet the mother.
I was glad to reach Wawa and pick up Hwy 101 east bound.
This is a forested area with many small lakes along Hwy 101 though the landscape has a drier feel to it. I only met a vehicle every 5 minutes or so. I really enjoyed that change from the traffic. It is a good moto road.
I reached the small town of Chapleau (Shoplow) about 4 PM and began looking for someplace to set up camp. There wasn't anything in town so before heading east again I stopped for dinner at a restaurant called The Three Meals. Everybody knew everybody. Small towns are like that and many of the patrons spoke French helping me to feel that I was truly in another part of the world besides my home in Oregon.
Chapleau is home to the author Louis Hemon who wrote Maria Chapdelain. It is a story about pioneer life in these parts and apparently there is much more to it because the novel created somewhat of a sensation when it was published. Though I do not know what Hemon was doing on a train track, neither did the engineer because Hemon was struck and killed there and now lays buried within a local cemetery. I will have to read this book.
Directed by a young gas station attendant I headed to Borden Lake in search of a campsite. this worked out great. The evening was spent talking to 3 lovely ladies and 3 terrific gentlemen who all have camp trailers in the park. Most if not all of them keep the trailers there all year round. I was glad for their company.
With the skitters getting to me I called it a night.
July 29, 2007
Well the left bottom head nut needed to be re-torqued again this morning before I left. I will check it again tomorrow morning. It appears I will have to put a heli-coil in the case to correct the problem but will discuss it with Ken Beach at Old Vintage Crank in Hillsburgh, ON near Toronto when I get there on Tuesday. I hope it holds until then.
Also changed the engine oil/filter this morning at 14,250 KM.
I really like the back roads of Ontario. This is terrific moto country. There are a lot of twisties and lakes seem to appear around every corner.
I stopped for breakfast at Foleyet, ON. It is a small railway and lumber town. But when I asked a resident what the industry here was he replied "beer". There is a small school that appears to me anyway, to provide for all ages. As I ate breakfast I watched two motos pull up for fuel and while they filled their tanks the wave I have become accustomed to was taking place. No they weren't waving at me...they were waving the black flies away.
Bugs aside, I think Ontario is great and in fact all of Canada. I am really enjoying talking to the people. They are friendly and sincere. I also enjoying hearing French spoken so often. It makes Canada unique.
So tonight I am staying in a Provincial Park named Half Way Lake on Hwy 144 north of Cartier, ON. I nice young woman checked me in. This I could not believe though...seems she is going to college to get a degree in automotive sales. Wow...now a person has to go to college to sell cars. Crap...I'll bet she'll be able to sell you your own shirt off of your back when you go to purchase a new car. Better look out! When I said that she must be able to tell me a lot about cars se said, "No, you don't have to know about them, it is about marketing."
That's it from Lake Wobegon!
July 31, 2007
Well Burro made it to Hillsburgh ON with the lose head stud/bolt (2000KM). Ken Beach of Old Vitage Crank helped me put a double heli-coil in it and we check everything else out including tightening the spokes. Ken came in late in the evening after the shop was close to help me out. He is one great guy and I cannot say enough about his kindness. He even let me sleep in his pasture then took me out to breakfast in the morning. During the night I heard coyotes in the distance.
If you are in Ontario and need assistance don't hesitate to look him up at "Old Vintage Crank" 28 Main Street, Hillsburgh, ON N0B1Z0 Phone: (519) 856-2822
I stopped at Niagara Falls for photos and then headed to Buffalo. I'll pick Mar up tomorrow, Wednesday in the evening.
August 5, 2007
Well this is a catch-up report. I picked up Mar August 1st and we spent the night with friends. Mar headed out to see her mother and I headed to the drag races with my friend George and his Super Pro dragster. George won two heats but lost the 3rd money run heat. I got to stand in between the cars at the starting line and film the burn-out and start. Then I went to the finish line and filmed that as well.
The next day August 2, Mar and I headed to Jamestown, PA, it was time to visit other friends. I had decided to take the back roads and man o man, it took us one hour to get out of the Buffalo area. We got lost multiple times because the roads were being re-built and many of the road signs were missing. Just like Latin America. There was a lot of stopping and asking directions. It was wonderful to see the Amish carriages on the road. Finally after 8 hours we got to Jamestown.
August 3rd we headed to the sidecar rally in Weikert, PA and this time we stayed on the Interstate.
August 4th I gave my lecture and answered questions about traveling south of the US border. About 150 people were in attendance. What a terrific group. The USCA was there along with the publishers of HACK'D Magazine, Chris and Gary. Also attending were Rich Maund and the rally organizer Claude Stanley. Mar and I were warmly received and everyone that participated in the rally were absolutely wonderful. We had a great time.
Mar and I the next few weeks visiting friends and thereafter return to Portland together.
August 31, 2007
Today I am back in Buffalo, NY and headed for Labrador/Newfoundland/Nova Scotia and then down the eastern USA to Key West, FL. I am planning on finishing this years journey by the end of September.
Since it has been nearly two weeks since I have been on the road I found that butterflies were forming in my stomach. I knew I'd have to put some distance between me and Buffalo before I would feel comfortable on the Burro again. After loading her up she baulked at first when I put the bit in her mouth but a minute later she was ready and willing to go.
I headed out on highway 20 from Lancaster, a Buffalo suburb. There I picked up 17 and headed for I 90. I 90 is a Thruway otherwise none as a toll road. At I 81 I headed north to Watertown until I found highway 37 that will take me to the border with Canada at Cornwall.
I was glad to get off of the Interstates. There was so much traffic and when I stopped the noise from the traffic and in the Thruway rest stops drove me crazy. Highway 37 has been a pleasure to drive. There are lots of rolling hills and farm lands to enjoy.
I only got as far as Lisbon, NY and found a campsite for $17.00 on a slough of the St. Lawrence Seaway. I will likely cross into Canada in the morning.
Sept 1, 2007
I left Lisbon about 7 AM. Before I knew it I was crossing the bridge at Cornwall back into Canada. I had hoped to stop at a convenience store to check out my previous days purchase of lottery tickets because New York had a 300 million dollar jackpot. The chance at winning such a large amount of money gave me plenty to think about today. I called George and Marveen in Buffalo to find out out when I would have to pick up my winnings. But...alas I guess I will have to continue to make Moto Adventure movies because I didn't even have one number right.
The ride on 401/40 was boring and the traffic heavy. I made my way through Montreal and when I got to Quebec City I ended up taking the long way through town on highway 138. If I would have taken a closer look at the map I would have seen that 440 would take me around the city. Oh well, I enjoyed seeing the city.
To night I am spending it in Baie-St-Paul about 450 km from where I started today. this is a cute town and is full of Labor Day weekend travelers. I am spending $36.00 for a camp site.
Quebec is in one way more than I had thought it would be. Being use to the western areas of Canada I expected it would be the same. But no...If you want to speak here you better brush up on your French. I knew the people spoke French in Quebec but I did not expect that so many would not be able to speak English. I have only heard a few syllables of English today and everywhere in the campground the beautiful sound of the French language carries through the trees. I like it and just wish that I had prepared myself. Everyone has been friendly. Only I feel self conscious due to my lack of language skills and have found that I retreat from from interaction. Augh!
On the road...even the traffic signs are in French.
I had to ride in my full gear today because it has been cool. This evening it is about 50 f.
Sept 2, 2007
It was another leave at 7 AM kind of morning. The temperature has taken a plunge and a bank thermometer showed 10 c. There were no clouds to start off with but a high ceiling rolled in around 10 AM and stayed overhead for most of the day.
La Malbaie, the first town I came to was beautiful. A river that ran next to the highway and emptied into the small bay made for a terrific setting where one could imagine they might be in France. As with all of the towns in this part of Quebec the church steeple is a prominent highlight of the town.
Each village/town I passed through during the first 100 km showed a strong tend toward tourism and good economics. Many small buildings were close to the road as one might find in Europe. As the kilometers progressed tourism lacked giving way to older economies such as lumber and fishing.
In Baie-Comeau I turned north onto highway 389. While asking directions to find this road a nice gentleman offered assistance. He had a unique story about a friends wife who was in one way or another related to one of Prime Ministers of Canada (I think). The Prime Minister as the Manic Cinq dam named after him and the reservoir is named after his good friend. Both died within three days of each other. Anyway it is something like that. I probably have it all mixed up. Anyway highway 389 takes me to Manic Cinq and the Manicouagen Reservoir 215 KM north.
All of this route to Manic Cinq is paved but it is covered in frost heaves. As you turn onto the highway a sign says "Twist and Turns for the next 215 KM, a motorcyclists dream come true. Due the the condition of the road it was rough going but fun. There was one gas station at KM 95 prior to my destination (KM 215). At this gas station I met Ken Burr ( http://www.gwrravdq.com ) who was leading a pack of about 12 motorcyclist. When I rolled in I gave them all a big "Burro" hello/wave. they all laughed. Lots of questions were asked and then they headed back down the road toward Baie-Comeau (Como Bay). I guess that if I am the Burr"o", then Ken Burr can be the Burr "aye" (since this is Canada).
I arrived in Manic Cinq about 5 PM and decided to stay at the only motel here because...Since I am north of the 50th parallel I suspect the bears are going to be grubbing for all the food they can get since winter is approaching. I don't want to be another Timothy Treadwell (Grizzly Man).
The motel here (Les Motles de L'Energie) serves as the only gas station/cafeteria as well. It is costing me $84.00
I suspect that all of the hamlets en-route Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador will be small in this sort of way, serving only the industry that is it's reason for being.
By the way, the dam is really amazing. Anyway tomorrow I will head to Fremont near the border of Labrador. It is about 400 KM.
Sept 3, 2007
Another up and at em' morning. I was met with rain as soon as I sat upon Burro. Before the day would finish, past Fremont and to Labrador City, Labrador, I would be soaked and cold.
In Relia Gabriel I had breakfast, fueled Burro and met Bob. Bob gave me an incredible description of where I was actually standing.
As it would turn out this area is the site of a massive meteor strike. The heat could have been felt all the way to New Jersey and the impact concussion sent a wave around the earth.
The town of Gagnon which shows on the map is just a paved road and sidewalks. There are no longer any buildings there. But...on the south end of town where the dirt road meets the asphalt if you take the road east it will take you to an abandoned mine.
There is no fuel now until Fremont 250 KM or Labrador City, NL another 24 KM.
Now for the news...there is no ferry out of Goose Bay after Tuesday (tomorrow) until next Sunday. This means I will have to get up before sunrise to travel the 335 miles over dirt road to Goose Bay. Augh! I hate driving in the dark. Besides it is suppose to be 6 c with spots of rain. I'm going to bed early. Heck, I don't even have a reservation on the ferry. Here's hoping I get on.
Sept 4, 2007
I woke up at 2:30 and was on the road at 3 AM. The clouds kept any light of the moon from illuminating my way. It was a slow start as I got my night driving legs beneath me. Gently I increased my speed to about 40 MPH on this graveled/potholed road. It rained the entire time.
I stopped 3 times to rest en-route Churchill Falls (150miles) and when ever I did it was DARK. I kept wondering if a bear would come out of the trees or bushes looking for a snack.
Arrived in Churchill Falls, my only available gas stop, at 7:12. The only gas station did not open until 8 AM. While waiting I met Ken and Michael. They were also heading to Goose Bay to catch the ferry. Ken's pickup truck had a bad tire, bad tie-rod/ball joint and a hole in the fuel tank. With a help of a truck driver they changed the tire, put a bungee cord around the tie-rod and ball joint to hold it together and bought extra fuel. Michael would follow him in his pickup.
Churchill Falls has a pretty incredible dam. Though I didn't see it apparently it is built into the side of a mountain with the water shafts that power the turbines being drilled down ____ feet.
I left Churchill Falls at 8:12 a few minutes before Ken and Michael. It is about 170 miles to Goose Bay. Of course it was more gravel road and nearly steady rain. Road graders were working to fill the pot holes. The problem was that they filled the potholes as well with the sand that is the basis of these roads. I hit these sand filled potholes multiple times and every time I did the Burro jumped three different ways. Even though; there was only onetime I felt my heart in my throat but I kept riding. Since it was now daylight I was able to run along about 55 mph for much of it but Burro and I must have looked like a scene from an old war movie in hot pursuit of the enemy. Left and right, twist and turn around the potholes we raced. This is one of the few times I have ever pushed to my limit. My desire is not to ride in this fashion. I want to enjoy the scenery.
I was disgusted that I had to hurry through this area because it is beautiful. There wasn't a lot of time for filming but I tried. I arrived in Happy Valley/Goose Bay at approximately 12:13 PM. The ferry office was closed for lunch so I waited to make sure I got on the standby list as soon as possible. As it turned out it was no problem and I was issued a ticket to Lewisporte, NL (Newfoundland, the island). This is a 36 hour trip.
I had thought about just going to Cartwright NL (Labrador, the mainland) and driving the gravel road to Blanc Sablon where the ferry crosses from the mainland to Newfoundland but I was so disappointed with having a hurry up ride from Labrador City to Goose Bay I did not want to do another hurry up ride strictly this time due to the weather. I figured that if the current weather conditions remained, it was going to prevent any meaningful riding, sightseeing and/or filming. If it turns out that the weather is good when I get to Cartwright, I'll get off and drive that road. This leaves me an option.
When Ken and Michael showed up they were surprised to see that I arrived before them. They told me later that they kept looking in the ditches for me. The road was bad. Likely the worst road and weather I have ever driven for such an extended period of time. 310 miles (9 hours)...that's a lot of tough road. Everybody is commenting that the road is in the worst condition they have ever seen it. All attribute this to the heavy rains in this part of the world throughout the summer.
Anyway, Ken and Michael were kind enough to offer me one of the spare bunks in their cabin as one of their party was not going to show up. I accepted.
I headed back to town to find a Laundromat in order to dry my wet clothing. My brand of riding gear is leaking at the crotch. I am using a full piece jumpsuit and the water collects where the fabric bunches up around the front of the waist. For the 9 hours it took me to get to Goose Bay I could feel a steady drip, drip, drip into my underwear. From my belt to my socks I was soaked.
On the way to dry my clothes I saw a sign that stated RV dump so I headed there to use its water hose to clean all of the sand and mud off of Burro.
Back at the Ferry Terminal I met Ben, Rob and James. Ben was traveling on a BMW 1200 GS and Rob was on a Triumph Tiger. They are headed to Cartwright NL on the mainland. When I tried to film them driving aboard ship the crew chased me away telling me no one was allowed in the car deck while loading due to safety concerns. This was weird to me as all kinds of people are down there getting in and out of cars. Later I learned that there was a recent fatality when a woman was run over by another vehicle. So I guess the crew has the safety bug now.
Onboard Ben, Rob, James and I spent the evening telling travel stories. When I bid good evening and head to my room, Ken and Michael were having a party with a couple of cases of beer. As we talked a message was broadcast for Ken to come to the Pursers office. Apparently fuel from his gas tank was leaking all over the vehicle deck. Ken had attempted to run the pickup out of gas just before he loaded it onto the ferry but apparently was not successful. The hazmat team was in full swing. The outcome for the evening was that the Chief was going to have his pickup removed in Cartwright.
Sept 5, 2007
I was up early in the morning about 4:30, I just couldn't sleep. While sitting in the passenger compartment a young woman in her middle 20's came up smiling and initiated conversation. I certainly enjoy talking to people so I wasn't put off...right away.
The first I noticed was the her purposeful exposure of her cleavage as she bent down to speak. Smiling she held her pose. I had heard that the folks up here are friendly but know I'm really impressed. Anyway it wasn't long before she told me a story about taking the ferry to attend college in Gandor, her lack of money, her 3 kids, her mother that died of cancer 3 months ago and she didn't even tell her father she was headed to Gandor for college. On top of all of that she stated that she didn't having a berth to sleep in. That, was accompanied with a really big smile.
Ok...I know you are reading this and thinking, "Shee's Gary, give her a break".
Well I kept my distance but continued to talk pleasantly with her. Eventually she moved on. Through the day I saw her work every unaccompanied man aboard ship. Wow...she can really put the beers down too. She was even drinking the drinks left by other passengers. No...I didn't spring for any though she did get one of my bunk mates to buy her one drink at least.
Now her bags have somehow gotten into our room but we have all agreed that she can't stay in the room with us and will have to take her bags. We are thinking she may have found someone who wants company tonight because she has disappeared to all of our delight. I'll update you later.
Oh yeah...Now I'm told that she has also stated that she has been pregnant 9 times besides her 3 children.
I bid farewell to Ben, Rob and James in Cartwright.. The wind is blowing about 40 knots and the the rain is sheeting. I thought about getting off at Cartwright and riding south for more of a Labrador ride but with the weather the way it is I'm going to stay on board and continue to Lewisporte. Heck it took the Captain of the ferry one hour just to dock the ship due to the weather.
Good news for Ken...his pickup's fuel tank finally quit leaking. Yup, it ran out of fuel. Ken and his truck get to stay on to Lewisporte.
OH, OH...During a time when we are allowed to go to the vehicle section Ken went down to check on his dog and decided to have a smoke in the pickup while he was there. The ship is pretty restrictive about smoking. Anyway when the crew saw him smoking in the pickup...after it had leaked gas the Captain was notified and he has now been threatened with being hauled off by the Coast Guard when we reach port if there is any other incident with him during the journey. I wonder if this includes smoking in the sleeping berths as we have been doing?
The weather report for Newfoundland tomorrow is sunny and 21 c. I think I made the correct choice.
Sept. 6, 2007
In the middle of the night Ken went to the head and forgot to lock the cabin door when he returned. Sometime later there was a knock at the door and then the young woman from yesterday came in and crawled in bead with Michael. Augh!
The boat docked about 8 AM in Lewisporte and we all said our good-byes. I stopped to buy a rain jacket to cover my riding suit in hopes of keeping the rain from collecting upon my lap then headed for Gros Morne National Park, it is on the Viking Trail (Hwy 430). If I would have continued up the same road I would have come to where the Vikings first landed in the new world. But...I decided not to go to the Viking settlement.
After a quick run through the southern area of the park I headed toward Port Aux Basques where I will catch the Ferry to Nova Scotia. On the way I stopped at a motorcycle museum. For some reason I was particularly fascinated by a steam powered bicycle.
Newfoundland is of course beautiful and the people as friendly as I have been told. While stopping for a Tim Horton donut, two different motorcyclist pulled in to see Burro and talk.
I arrived in Port aux Basques just after dark. I was warned about moose on the road from dusk to sunrise. Fortunately I didn't see any. Then again they may have been crossing the road in front of me and I just didn't see them.
I was put on the standby list for the ferry and had to go through a potato inspection. They wanted to make sure I wasn't carrying a bunch of potatoes in the sidecar. Fortunately for me I ate as many as I could and then flushed the rest down my port-a-pody that's also in the sidecar. What were they thinking? Oh well, these ferries are really mini police states. I have been surprised by this.
Pros VS Cons of this ferry system. Pro...they have a shower available at the terminal building before you leave. Con...they won't let you sleep on the floor in the cabin (health reasons). So...even though I could lay my sleeping bag down they will make me get back into a seat. I think someone in this company is screwed up to tight.
Sept. 7, 2007
Well I got on. Seems there is always a place for a motorcycle. I broke the rules and slept on the floor. Of course there were other riders on Harleys, and BMWs. I even got to see my first BMW 800. I hadn't read anything about them and was surprised to see that the bike has a belt drive and is a thumper. the owner a young woman really loved it.
I woke up as the ferry was pulling into the dock near North Sydney, NS around 7:30 AM. the riders I had met on the ferry told me about one of the premier rides in the area. It is called the Cabot Trail Loop. so after a stop at a Tim Horton's Donut Shop I spent most of the day on the loop.
This meant I didn't get very far south bound but at least I made it to Glasgow, NS before the sun went down. There I was guided to a campground by a fellow on a Shadow. The owner of the campground was not sure if I'd be to happy there because the campground was full of Dog Show people and she told me there would be howling all night. Well the only howling was from the campers themselves. Someone's party lasted until 2 AM.
Before I went to bed I swapped the rear drive wheel with the sidecar car's wheel because the drive was getting pretty thin. In the process I leaned on the Burro and she fell to the ground. I spent an extra hour getting her back on her feet while I fought off the mosquitoes.
Sept. 8, 2007
I headed out early to arrive in South Maitland, NS in order to see the world famous Tidal Bore. This area is on the Bay of Fundy which is known to have the largest high and low tides in the world. Though it is a minus tide at this time it was fun to watch water switch directions and immediately rush back the other way. There was a good surge and local business were giving rides to thrill seekers in Zodiac type boats.
The weather finally started getting hot. I drove half the day with out gear. However the wind was a killer as I crossed into New Brunswick.
This evening I am in St. John, NB. I've spent the night here because I wanted to see the Reversing Falls. This is also part o f the famous tidal anomalies in the Bay of Fundy. It is suppose to run backwards about 9 AM tomorrow morning.
I'm hoping to put on some miles in the next few days so that I will arrive in Manhattan on Sept. 11. We'll see how it goes.
Sept. 9, 2007
I was pleased that my campsite at the Rockwood Campground had internet action.
I headed for the Reversing Falls and watched the tide change. Then I headed for the US Border at Calais Maine. The morning was bright and sunny but as got got farther into Maine on Hwy 9 the rain began. Since I am hoping to arrive in Manhattan on Sept 11 I tried to put as many miles behind me as I could so I hoped onto I 95.
There was one thing I needed to do however and that was buy a new tire or two. So...I headed for Poland Maine. Bill at V.T. Cycles is located near there. The address is 179 Raymond Rd. Poland, Maine, 207-998-5616 email firstname.lastname@example.org
When Bill told me how to get there I nearly misunderstood his Maine accent. He told me to get off of I 95 at "Aubin". That is Auburn to the rest of us. It made me wonder if "Poland" was really Portland. As it turns out...there really is a Poland, Maine. Poland bottled water comes from there.
Bill is a terrific guy. He told me to just send him a check and not worry about paying today. I got two tires (Duro Brand) and we reattached a loose shock absorber whose shaft had come unscrewed from the top mounting bolt. Of course we did this all in the rain.
An hour later I was back on the road in the pouring rain. Driving out of Bill's driveway he shouted heartily with his New Englander's accent, "goa by i", for the rest of us tha's goodbye. I took hwy 202 because I wanted to get the back country roads of New England under my belt.
I am spending the night near the New Hampshire border in a town called Sanford. I will swing by Woodstock, NY tomorrow then place myself for the run into Manhattan on Tuesday.
Speaking of Woodstock I would like to borrow the tune from CSN using my own words and say, "By the time I get to Woodstock the half a million were all gone... but I'm riding' down the road, and my soullllll's free". I am forty years to late.
One more thing...I lost my head and taillights just after sundown and had to drive about thirty minutes with only my blinker on until I found my place to rest this eve. Good-night
Sept. 10, 2007
As it would turn out, this morning I found that the halogen headlight's low beam had burnt out and the headlight casing had been rubbing on a panel light for the speedo. That was what was blowing the light fuse. The low beam lasted 21,000 KM. Also I have a a taillight burnt out as well.
Staying on U.S. Hwy 202 I wandered around the country side getting into New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Finally I hopped onto the "Mass" turnpike and headed toward Albany, N.Y. An old Paul Simon song came to mind as I passed Stockbridge. As I drove a signed welcomed me to the Berkshires. So many names of places I had heard about before and now I was driving through them. Around 4 PM I began my way south to Woodstock.
The town of Woodstock of course is not where the original gathering took place but all the same it was fun to drive through. I met a man who told me that the Yazgar (if that's how it's spelled) was up for sale as of two weeks ago. He had seen it in the paper. He also told me that there is a barn at the site with a big peace sign painted on it. Oh yeah, one more thing. Apparently the old hippies of Woodstock break the law everyday and smoke pot in the town square. I thought that is what I saw going on.
I had hoped to have a cup of coffee with Mar and my friend Georgette as I passed by her town but it was dark and I missed the off ramp. the traffic is incredible.
I could have gotten a little closer to Manhattan this eve and scored a motel room but as it is getting late I am going to camp in the Ramapo Rest Area. I think I've found a place on the other side of the trucks that I can tie up Burro, which should be out of the way, and throw a tarp on the ground for me. The weather is warm and is not raining. I am hope it doesn't change. I'll just sleep in my gear and save some money.
In the morning I will get up early enough to get into Manhattan around 6:30 AM. I want to try and stay out of as much traffic as I can.
Sept. 11, 2007
I slept ok last night. It started to drizzle about 2 AM so I just grabbed the end of the tarp and wrapped it around me.
I left the rest area about 5:30 AM and joined a multitude of vehicles into Manhattan. Rain, rain, rain. It seems to be following me. I wanted to cross the George Washington Bridge but missed the exit due to the lack of visibility, wet road and traffic. I ended up crossing the Tappan Zoo bridge north of the city and then followed I 87 into town. Crossing the Third Street Bridge I was in Harlem and tried to work my way south.
The traffic was heavy with the early morning rush and the streets were slippery. I got the Burro sideways a few times when I tried to stop short for a taxi or other car.
The Police were everywhere. Some streets were blocked off. I am not sure where I went but finally after about 45 minutes I grabbed the Brooklyn Tunnel and headed for the Verazano/Narrows Bridge across Stanton Island out of the city into Elizabeth, NJ.
Now I began a sprint for Washington, DC. I felt spent a lot of time thinking about the suffering these two cities had 5 years ago. I would have liked to get to the Penn. field as well but that would have been a lot of driving today.
Taking the NJ Turnpike I headed to DC. More rain and traffic. Burro is handling the expressways just fine.
In DC I got lost again but eventually found Pennsylvania Avenue and picked a direction to head. It brought me to the Capital building. Had I chosen the opposite direction I would have ended up at The White House.
Traffic was slow on I 66 and we crawled out of town. I 66 takes me to Royal Front, VA. This is a town at the top of Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park. At the end of the drive it becomes The Blue Ridge Parkway and ends in Roanoke, VA. I will begin the drive tomorrow.
Sept. 12, 2007
It was great to get a good rest and clean up after the days on the road in the rain.
Stopped at an Ace Hardware to purchase a nut for the left muffler that I lost and successfully corrected that.
Wow...The Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway are great. I am currently in a campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Roanoke, VA. I performed more mtx on Burro this eve. Changed the oil at 22,200 KM and replaced the spare tire with one of the new ones.
I understand that Mt. Airy NC has the original Floyds Barber shop from the Andy Griffith Show. I am going to try and drive by it tomorrow.
This road is a motorcyclist dream. There are curves galore and the scenery is magnificent. Saw deer and turkeys today. the road runs all the way to Cherokee NC.
Another road I may try to take is called the Tail of The Dragon. It runs from near Knoxville to somewhere near North Georgia. this should get me to Randy and Pam's house in Peachtree City, GA on Saturday.
Sept. 13, 2007
I had planned on just sleeping out under the stars last night but wimped out when I thought about the snakes in this part of the world. I didn't want one of them snuggling up with me in order to get warm. So in the dark I set up the tent and crawled in. Afterwards there was an owl who hooted much of the night, keeping me company.
Starting my days ride I couldn't help but grin from ear to ear. What a great road. All the motorcyclist on the East coast have heaven in their back yard.
I stopped in Floyd, Virginia for breakfast. This town is know for it's Friday music festivals. The best musicians from all over the country come hear to play. the streets open up and the music goes on into the night. I wanted to stay but that will have to be another time.
In Mt. Airy, NC I stopped for fuel at Wally's gas station. Before it was all over I was stopped by a 1950's ford police cruiser and thrown in the cell. I was finally let out. Boy, they are tough her in Mayberry (Mt. Airy).
Tonight I am staying in an Econ Lodge in Ashville, NC. The other guests are somewhat suspect. I think I like camping better. Oh well, I needed a shower and an internet connection. To top this all off I have been told to keep my door locked because a desperado has escaped from a Tennessee prison and is in this area. Augh... I hope a sleep well.
Tomorrow I will finish the blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee, NC and then head for the Dragons Tail (Deals Gap). It's a well known twisty, on highway 129 between Knoxville and Topton, NC.
Sept. 14, 2007
It was pouring down rain (remnants of Hurricane Humberto, the fastest spawning hurricane on record) when I left Ashville, NC this morning. Between the rain and the fog it was slow going but eventually I dropped off of the Blue Ridge Parkway just North of Cherokee, NC.
From Cherokee I headed to Hwy 129 to run The Tail of the Dragon. This road has 318 curves within just 11 miles. I tried filming and am not sure of the outcome as the road was difficult to film on especially in the miserable weather. Be that as it may I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. In fact it was so much fun I ran it back the other way.
This road is so curvy the tire companies must love it. I will be changing out the drive tire tonight (23,300KM). Also the starter quite working today and I am thankful for the kick starter. I think all of the rain might have something to do with it. I'll check it out once I am in Florida. I guess it might be a relay.
Tonight I am staying in Blairsville, GA. I will have about 100 miles to get to Atlanta in the morning.
The operator of this motel is an old cigarette smoking grandma lady in her early 70's but she looks like 80 without her teeth in.
I have spent the last 3 hours just trying to dry out all of the gear. Wow...what alot of rain.
Sept. 15, 2007
It was a quick run to Atlanta and Peachtree City, GA.
Along with Randy, Pam and with their lovely daughter Charlotte, we headed for a local barbeque spot along I 75 and the Jackson, GA off ramp. The restaurant is setup so that everybody sits together at a table with a large lazy susan in the middle. Dishes of southern home cooking is setup upon the lazy susan and at it dig in time. Black-eyed peas, potatoes, fried chicken and other vegetables are within easy reach. Peach Cobbler was for desert and it was eat all you want.
Sept. 16, 2007
Randy and Pam gave me a tour of Peachtree City using their golf cart. Throughout this planned municipality paved trails allow the residents to drive to the stores without using their car. All of the businesses are hidden from the main roads by a berm. If you don't know that they are their you might just drive by them.
Saying good-bye I headed to Columbus, GA to visit old friends there for lunch and then headed south.
I took US Highway 27 until I saw the cut-off to Plains, GA the boyhood home of President Jimmy Carter. I passed through Lumpkin, GA. It had a beautiful old courthouse building and the down was picturesque with it's old building. Just about any side road off of the main highways it this part of the world are a wonder to behold. The small towns are just incredible.
Tonight I am staying in Cordele, GA. I found a cheap hotel for $33.00 including tax. that is just about as cheap as camping. Tomorrow I'll head to Hastings, FL to see my brother Mike and Patty. I am hoping to plan my route through the Okefenokee Swamp of south GA.
Sept. 17, 2007
It rained off and on today. I arrived in Hastings, FL about 3 PM.
Sept. 18, 2007
I spent the night in Homestead FL.
From Hastings I proceeded down Hwy 19 until it joined US 27. US 27 was a mess all around the Orlando area (70 miles any direction). I was glad to turn off of it when I headed toward Immokalee and Everglades City. Everglades City accommodations were expensive so I pushed on toward Key West until I got to Homestead. Motels weren't any cheaper there.
I stopped at a NAPA Auto Parts store and purchased a new 5 prong relay for the starter circuit. The starter works just fine now. I was really glad to have the kick starter. so many bikes don't have that option now.
En-route I came upon a horrible head-on accident between a big rig and and older Jeep Cherokee. Only 30 seconds behind the incident I was the third to arrive and people were still getting out of their cars. The driver of the Jeep was killed immediately leaving a horrifying scene. I was glad when someone found some plastic to cover him up.
The first on the scene only spoke Spanish and the 911 operator couldn't speak Spanish. That seems weird for Florida but anyway I took over the conversation and gave the accurate location. The problem seemed to be as to what county had jurisdiction. We happened to be within a mile of the county lines between Dade and Collier County.
An off duty Policeman arrived on the scene and took over. After I placed the reflective triangles which the big rig carried upon the road, I left.
Sept. 19, 2007
I was all smiles today as I headed out to Key West and still remain so after reaching the end of US 1 and the Southern most point on the Continental US at 12:13 PM today.
I have treated myself to a wonderful Key West style Bed and Breakfast, right on Duval Street. The place has a pool and nice court yard with a hammock and chickens seem to have free range here. There are not many people in Key West today and that suits me just fine.
Know it is just wait for Mar to show up next Monday morning and we will vacation until the middle of October when we both return home. At that time I will begin the production and editing of this trip
Burro is going to spend the winter in Hastings, FL fattening up on some good grass.
Thank you to all who have followed my journey.
Happy Trails, Gary
Note: In Alaska there is not a single mosquito here...they are all married with large families.
Please note; these may not be according to the manufacturers guidelines & please don't get this 2005 model confused with a 2007 or newer.
Technical and Parts
Raceway Motors (Salem, OR 503-588-7227)
ScootGo.com (Calgary, AB 403-228-6080)
Old Vintage Crank (Hillsburgh, ON 519-856-2822)
VT Cycles (Poland, Maine 207-998-5616)
Type; Ural, Troyka 2005 (street version not off road version) that has been modified with a factory designed engage-able sidecar drive, while still retaining the street forks. This required a new (off road version) frame for the sidecar.
How I drive it; When shifting from 3rd to 4th gear I always run up to 50 MPH before shifting into 4th gear. On the down shift I always shift to 3rd gear at or around 48 MPH and there after do not run 3rd gear above 45 MPH until ready to shift to 4th gear after accelerating to 50MPH. I never go beyond 3/4 throttle.
On inclines I may roll on just a fraction of my available throttle to see if the engine will accelerate. If it does I don't roll on anymore throttle. If the engine does not accelerate I hold the my level cruise setting and let the speed bleed off. In this way I help to prevent the possibility of detonation. Detonation is extremely hard to hear with ear plugs in. (I pulled my left head and Cylinder at 15,000 KM and the valves looked great after using this procedure however there were a few minor scores on one side wall of the piston just above the top ring.)
I know the engine sounds great if you lug it along but don't do it. This engine doesn't like it and it will let you know by having a complete head, cylinder, rings, piston and wrist pin replacement required.
Engine; 750 cc (stock, does not have the 2007 model Austrian Timing Gears or German Transmission)
Carburetors; Keihin (stock)
Ignition; Ducati (upgraded from stock ignition)
Air Filter; 2007 (upgraded from stock 2005 air filter)
Electrical; 35 amp alternator (stock) & Odyssey Battery (Sealed Rechargeable Drycell)
Fuel; 90 + Octane I run high octane when I can get it, otherwise I use what is available and do add an octane booster. My mileage per gallon increased after 10,000 KM. On level ground near sea level at 50 MPH I can get 32 MPG, at 55 MPH I get 30 MPG, at 60 MPH I get 27 MPG and at 65 MPH I get 24 MPG. On a "full" tank of fuel I can go 265 KM @ 50 MPH/90 KPH.
Tires; 4.00-19 I initially put a Heidenau brand tire on drive wheel because of it is made of harder rubber and got 4800 miles out of it. The next drive tire was a stock Ypan Ural brand on the drive wheel and I got 3200 miles out of it. I removed the steering tire at 13000 km even though it had at least 1/4 inch of rubber on it and will use it as a spare. Sidecar tire at 13000 km still has nearly new rubber.
Lubrication; Pennzoil 20W50 Engine and Transmission I have changed the engine oil and filter every 3000KM. I have thought about using a synthetic motor oil but since my travels take me to various parts of the world it is not always available. If 20W50 isn't available I use what ever I can find. I always carry 3 qts. of extra oil for changing en-route. The transmission oil is being changed every 6000KM. The drive is being changed every 10,000KM with Pennzoil 80W90. I have repacked all wheel bearings, greased both drive shaft splines, all break linkage wear points and lubricated all cables (clutch, brake, speedo and throttle) at 13,000 KM.
Halogen Headlight lasts for 21,000 KM.
Problems and Positives
1. 13,000 KM Left cylinder bottom front head stud is working loose and have re-set it deeper into crankcase. At 14,000 KM it was still working loose. I noticed the stud threads were rolled a little but I have heli-coiled the block for this stud and will replace the entire stud if it works loose again. So far the stud has stayed put.
2. On the haul road (it is rough) to Prudhoe Bay the Left and Right front fork had blown out their fluid. But remember I am running street forks and not the leading link forks. At 14,000 KM and 26,000 KM, I replenished the fluid.
3. 2 years old I had rust in fuel tank when I bought the bike with only 40 miles on it. Apparently the original owner did not keep fuel in the tank which caused the initial rusting to take place. At 13,000 I again had to drain and clean fuel tank screens to remove rust. Also the tank has a fuel seep near the left rear of the tank on the bottom.
4. Chrome on left forward push-rod tube peeling and the right rear push rod tube is rusting at only 2 years old.
5. Chrome on sidecar windscreen handle peeling at only 2 years old.
6. Paint on fuel tank bubbling at 2 years old. This is a possibly due to not having any fuel in it for 2 years. Now with 13,000 KM on the bike, wind abrasion is actually taking place peeling paint from the fuel tanks top left front corner.
7. Air filter compartment works better than the old style but put up against the KLR 650 that I rode with to Prudhoe Bay, AK that bike never had to clean the air filter on the dusty roads. I eventually had to change/clean on my way back down.
8. I have an Odyssey battery which is great because it never need filling but the motorcycle's side cover forward upper snap digs into the battery. I have broken the ends off of the snaps while still leaving that snap available to attach.
9. The Ural isn't geared to run Interstate highway speeds above 65 MPH but above 55 MPH the engine and fuel consumption complain.
10. Speedometer jumps around over 60 MPH. I have lubed it and changed cable positions and rotated up the clutch cable bracket near the rubber boot that attaches to the transmission. The repositioning of the cable bracket seems to have corrected the problem.
11. Fuel consumption (32 MPG)
12. Piloting a motorcycle sidecar requires more strength in a cross wind.
13. Re-seated the left rear turn signal light holder. The rivets that hold the holder in had worked loose. I removed it from the housing and vise gripped them down tight.
14. Replaced drive wheel tail light bulb and right front parking light bulb@ 26,000 KM.
15. On the ride from Florida through Mexico in 2009, at 36000 KM the rear side car strut (attaches from motorcycle frame to sidecar) weld broke and had to be re-welded. I found that both from and rear strut attachment bolts were loose. This likely lead to the weld breaking.
1. I can mount a tire on a rim in about 5 minutes... most newer bikes including the KLR required a bead breaker and can take about 35 minutes (2 people) using the kick stand as a bead breaker to remove and mount. Also my wheels interchange so changing to the spare is also quick. My friend Tom was amazed how fast I could change or mount a tire/wheel.
On my Troyka because it has a disk brake on front, I can use the spare tire mounted an a drummed wheel by using a spacer I've fabricated. But...I don't have a brake on the front now and will only use this procedure when absolutely necessary.
2. On gravel/dirt the Ural/sidecar out performs 2 wheeled bikes. I could run at 50 MPH on The Haul Road to Prudhoe Bay, AK with little worry. That is not possible on 2 wheels.
3. Repairs when needed are easily made by anyone with a little wrenching experience. Almost everything can be reached without disassembling other items.
4. The Ural is not intimidating to people you may come in contact with. You are always making friends.
5. A sidecar is better for me than a trailer. I can reach things while underway, I can carry more supplies than a trailer...usually, I have great left turn cornering/traction off road, if I have a passenger I can visually communicate with them and they with me.
6. A moto with a sidecar is easier for other vehicles to see.
7. I have a reverse gear.
8. The Ural is inexpensive considering its capabilities/equipment/sidecar/maintenance.
9. Besides an electric starter the Ural has a kick starter. I don't have to worry about being stuck should the electric starter fail.
10. The Ural is FUN, no doubt about it. I ENJOY it immensely.
11. If you are considering a motorcycle with a trailer consider this; It is harder to find a spot to park with a trailer attached, such is in normal parking places due to the length of the motorcycle and trailer. You can get as much and more in a sidecar than you can with a trailer.
Issues I have Heard May Develop
1. The alternator mounting housing bearing that connects the alternator gear to the timing gear may fail beginning around 15,000 KM. I have not experienced it and have traveled over 50,000 KM so far. The bearing still sounds good. It is possible to keep tabs on the bearing by listening to it utilizing a stethoscope or screwdriver. I am experimenting by using my cell phone's recorder as well to document changes in this bearings sound. It is important to know the sound of a good bearing in order to detect the possibility of this bearings possible failure. If this bearing goes bad it can cause damage to the timing gears which could cause damage to the crankcase. If you hear a screeching noise...shut the engine down immediately.
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