Sheldon's 1998 Ural Deco - Week Two
"God Does Have a Sense of Humor"
Day 5, Saturday January 23, 1999... This morning I had to go work on a computer for a lady who's son installed an Electronic Arts game on her computer. I have had massive problems with games from EA on other computers. It seems that once these games are installed on some computers they take over the modems and they no longer work. Fixing them is tricky on a good day, and today wasn't a good day. They also had a printer/fax/copier and sound card that were not working either. Five hours later I left with the whole computer working right again.
I called Marlow from my customer's house and he sounded very distressed. Turns out that when the bearing spun on the axle of the trailer it damaged the axle and they could not get a new bearing on. So options were to leave it there until someone could replace the spindle or take a chance and have Marlow deliver it on one wheel on the right side of the trailer. We opted to continue with the delivery and a few hours later the Deco showed up in my yard, about twenty minutes before I had to leave for my dinner and the symphony. It is now sitting on the trailer outside in the elements until morning when Son #1 is going to stop by to help me unload it. Hate leaving it outside in sub-freezing temperatures but I probably shouldn't chance trying to unload it alone.
Dinner and the Symphony went very well. Had a very nice time and the company was great. Lisa had just gotten back from three weeks in the interior of India. She had some wonderful stories about her trip and I was enthralled by them, and her. Took a photo of us to post here, and a couple of the bike in the yard, but when I went to plug the camera into the computer it didn't recognize the port. Was working fine last night and nothing has been changed on the computer. Don't ya just love these things? It is too late for me to mess with it tonight. I did try for almost an hour to get it working but now I have given up. I will try to fix it in the morning if I am not riding my new bike. (from the photos above you know that I did get it working in the morning, on my computer at the office though)
Day 6, Sunday, January 24, 1999... Today Son #1 showed up at 8:00 to drop off some Software that he had borrowed, of course I drafted him to help me unload the Deco. Took all of two minutes to get it off the trailer and into the garage. Then I had to get in the house and get ready to be at a the office at 9:00. Worked there until 11:00 then off to work for a consulting customer. Finished that one at 1:45 then off to another customers at 2:00 where I worked until 6:30. Another long day, and on a Sunday! Darn, but I do have two brand new bikes to pay for. And I need another vehicle by March 1st. March is still winter here in Duluth and I am going to be without a running 4 wheeler. The 67 Chev Pick up is back behind the garage needing second gear and a brake job. The 93 Ford Festiva is being used by Son #1 and his family as their daily runner, and my company decided to go to "fleet vehicles" instead of individual leased vehicles. My 97 Ford F150 4X4 is a company vehicle mostly. I do have to pay something for personal use but the lease is up March 1st and it is going back. Now when I go out of town I will have to use a fleet vehicle. So that means I have to either buy it, lease it, get something else or just ride Urals in all kinds of weather. We shall see what happens in just over a month. Buying three new vehicles in one year might put a bit of a strain on my relationship with my friendly neighborhood banker.
When I got home from work I check my e-mail and found over 100 messages waiting, then had three computer related phone calls while I tried to eat some dinner. Pork chops, potato salad and corn. Kind of a summer meal in the middle of deepest Minnesota winter. Sure was good. Finally I had just had enough computers for one day, weekend, month, and went out to the garage to start up the Deco for the first time. It was snowing pretty hard out. Kicked the bike twice with the key off, then turned on the key and was about to kick it when I thought, "electric start would be nice" and hit the button. It started right up, ran very smoothly so I let it idle for a few seconds before turning off the enricheners, then opened the choke just a bit and killed the bike. Did it all over again and it started right up. I let it idle while I went in the house to put coat and gloves on. I really wasn't dressed for winter riding. Thin jeans, T-shirt and a jacket. Went for my first ride on the new Deco...
Got about ten feet. As I pulled out of the garage I noticed the headlight shining up in the tree tops. I thought, "either I have gained a lot of weight, or I had better adjust that if I want to see something other than owls in the treetops." Got off and adjusted it. Took off and went about a mile down the road before I really started to miss the windshield, winter clothes, hat, and my real goggles. I was using a pair of safety goggles because I had left my biker goggles in the Sportsman. One mile and I turned around, came back home and put on a bank robbers hood. Stocking cap thingy with eye and mouth holes. Probably should have put a hat on, changed to winter clothes and all that but it just didn't seem to be the thing to do, as it would have slowed down the beginning of my Deco riding experience.
Took it out to the highway and thankfully there was little traffic. A few heads almost spun off as they watched me zip by at a mind boggling 30 mph. The bike felt a lot different than the Sportsman. Seemed much less stable in the snow but it rode much smoother on the road. At 30 mph the front end didn't feel as stable as the Sportsman so it will be interesting to see what it is like after I can run it up to speed. Figured the prudent thing to do would be to go get gas. The gas station in beautiful downtown Esko was already closed for the evening so I had to go to the one out by the freeway. Filled up with high-test and went in to pay. Young lady at the counter said, "8 dollars", I said "say what?" She said, "8 dollars". I said, "it's a motorcycle with a 5 gallon gas tank and gas is $1.11... you must be looking at the wrong pump..." Well, you get the picture, she was clueless, but she finally did hit the right button and saw the 3.5 gallons that I had actually pumped. And she never even asked, "what kind of bike is that?" I am not sure she was from Earth. She may have just been dropped off by Vogans... (how many of you know what a "Vogan" is???? Hmmmm... done any hitchhiking lately?)
Somewhere along the way the left mirror had loosened up and it was turned straight back and worked perfectly if one were standing next to the bike instead of on it. Got home with 41km on the clock. Long ways to go to completion of break in. It was exhilarating riding in the snow on a 10 degree F. night. And made enough working this weekend to make the payment for the month on both bikes. Exactly as it should be...
It sure felt good to be up on a bike again. The last time was one week before Thanksgiving on the Sportsman. Well, off to bed to count sidecar rigs until I fall asleep.
Day 7, Monday January 25, 1999... Just another day of wrestling alligators at work. Took a bit of a long lunch to spend some time with one of my web site customers. Take a look at http://www.halvorlines.com , they are a trucking company and we are going to start to expand their site which I put up about a year ago. It is going to be a lot of fun getting back on this one.
Tonight, when I got home from work, I came in to cook dinner, then rushed right out to the garage. Re-adjusted the headlight, tightened the mirrors and checked out some of the other bolts on the bike before going for a ride. It is 0 F. tonight and a bit on the windy side. I was thinking it would probably be a short ride but I really was looking forward to getting out. Set the enricheners on the carbs, the choke, the petcocks and tried to kick it. She barely kicked over and didn't come anywhere near firing so I decided to hit the starter button. Not dead, but certainly in the nursing home... The battery didn't have enough juice to spin the engine any better than one RPY (revolution per year). Argh... There was no way I was going anywhere tonight.
Pulled out the trickle charger and started to remove the plastic side covers only to discover that at 0 f. they are stiff as boards and almost impossible to remove. Mashed my knuckles, blood all over the place, but the bleeding only lasted for a minute or so, before it froze. It was good and cold and once the covers were finally off and the charger was on, I retired to the house to work on web sites. Maybe tomorrow I will get to ride. Might even get to try it in some deeper snow later in the week. We are expecting a snow storm by the weekend.
Day 8, January 26, 1999... Good day at work today. Solved many of the problems that we have been having the last two weeks. Always feels good to get over the hurdles.
Left work a bit early to run errands for work and also stopped and picked up the NARMA T-shirts. They turned out very nice. Then I called Laura Switzer and asked if she would be available to model. Her husband Mike is the other Ural owner in Duluth. They pushed his 96 Tourist out of the garage and when I got there we were ready for the photo shoot. I should have the photos and pricing up on the NARMA products page some time tomorrow. Turned out to be a pretty good deal. I got a model for the price of a T-shirt, plus they fed me spaghetti dinner. Certainly more than a fair trade. To the right is a photo of Mike and Laura a few days before Christmas. They made quite a site touring all over the area and even made it on the evening TV news.
Then it was home and hook up the trailer to deliver it back to Tony and into the house to work on web sites. I did stand in the garage and stared at the deco for a while. It sure looks good. Can't wait until I can really get it out on a nice day and just ride all over the place.
Day 9, Wednesday January 27, 1999... We had about 8 inches of snow overnight with 25 mph winds, a veritable blizzard. Left for work thinking that this was when a four wheel drive truck is the truly the proper vehicle to be in. Got to the freeway and about a mile up the road there was an accident with a semi in the median and two cars crushed on the highway. I and everyone else cut our speed by about 10 mph after that. Kind of shows the power of a good blizzard. Got to work and had to go back out to pick up a co-worker who's car wouldn't start and her original ride had gotten into an accident. If there were no other cars on the street I would love driving in this stuff, but people, even those in Duluth, sometimes have no conception of how to behave in the snow.
Flu has been going around the office and I got a touch of it today so I ended up only working for four hours and leaving at 10:30. Went home and when I got there I had some phone calls from the office and had to log into the network and make some adjustments. Around noon I laid down and took a long nap. Slept for several hours and when I got up I felt much better so decided to go out and blow out the driveway. Here in the north we have something called a "snow blower". This is a piece of machinery that substitutes for a heart pacemaker. If you use one of these, there is less chance that you will need the other. We consider shoveling snow just a part of the Minnesota Body Building Program, but some of us have outgrown body building (pun alert) and have snow blowers.
The fun thing about snow blowers is that they have engines, and they are machinery. Just an extension of our passion for things with engines. It is a good thing I no longer like to do the mechanical work or I would probably have that thing turbocharged and intercooled by now. Imagine a 454 snow blower... My 8 hp blower will throw snow about 30 feet, a blown 454 would probably move my snow from my driveway to my neighbors with little effort. Wouldn't he love that...
About five minutes into my snow cleaning I decided to take a break and start the Deco. Well, you know how that goes... Sure enough, I warmed it up then started to look for an excuse to take it out. I thought, my banker is still in the office and I am sure that he would love to see what he financed now. So putting on tons of clothes and a ski mask I pulled out of the garage with a bit of power. There was a pretty consistent 8-10 inches of snow in the driveway and I made it about 15 feet before one of those 10 inch spots stopped me. I am sure that the Sportsman would have made it through but the Deco came to a stop. I tried to rock it out but it was no go. This snow was very heavy and so dense from drifting that you could almost walk on top of it. I pulled out the blower and cut a path to the road. In a short period of time I was off to the bank just a couple of miles away. The folks at the bank almost all had to come out to look at it. As I was getting ready to leave I said to the bank manager, "Here I am, standing by the door of a bank, with a black ski mask on. How long do you think it will be before the S.W.A.T. team shows up?" Seemed pretty funny at the time.
Left the bank and went off towards home and as my finger was reaching to click the directional light to turn into my road the bike just kept going down the road past the street. It is funny how that happens. I often cannot make it home no matter how many times my conscious brain tries to go there. Went off down the road to the local Chevrolet dealer to get a quote on an S-10 pickup. Pulled in there and everyone in the building was standing in the window watching the crazy guy on the bike. Remember, this is all in the middle of a blizzard. All the schools in the area, and some of the businesses were closed today.
Of course there was a large portion of UDF served (Ural Delay Factor) before I got my quote. Spent enough time there to warm up then it was back on the road again. This time I got as far as my driveway before I drove past it and wandered around neighborhood streets for a while. I did have one problem with the bike today. It popped out of third gear twice as I was going up hills. I suspect it is just an adjustment thing and I am going to have to go out looking for the instructions for adjusting it before my next ride.
Finally made it home and finished blowing out the driveway, shoveling the walks and went inside to work on web sites. Picked up a new customer today, and an old customer came back... As I was sitting here working I started to contemplate why shoveling snow seems to be such wonderful therapy. It is a job that usually has a start and a completion point, it requires little mental activity, and you have the feeling of accomplishment in the physical activity. I really don't mind shoveling and blowing snow. And the last couple of winters have been light snowfall winters with only around 60 inches per year. Normal is closer to 130 inches so this is kind of nice.
NARMA T-shirts are already almost sold out. I am going to have to order another batch. I am sure the reason they are selling so well is because I didn't model them myself but coerced Laura into doing the modeling. Here is a picture of Laura with the NARMA shirt.
Day 10, Thursday January 28, 1999... Not much to report today. Worked all day, then worked all night. Had two customers to take care of this evening so didn't get home until late. It is almost 10:00 p.m. and I just finished dinner. Cooked up a big pot of New England Boiled Dinner. Turned out pretty good, corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and onions. Yummy.
It warmed up here a bit today. Was in the low thirties f. and things started to melt a little. We are supposed to have warm temps for the next few days. Hope the roads clear up so I can do some riding this weekend.
Day 11, Friday January 29, 1999... Worked late again. By the time I got home I was too beat to go anywhere or do anything. Just kind of relaxed and watched some TV. I had made a mistake when I left work and left my internet logged on. So I wasn't able to get on to update the diary or check the NARMA chat area. My ISP kicks you off after one minute if you are already connected and it would be an 8 hour wait until it automatically logged me off. Even a call to their tech support was not able to manually log me off. Managed to check some mail and log into chat, but as soon as I would get in it would kick me off.
Day 12, Saturday January 30, 1999... 10:30 a.m. Had to go to the post office this morning so I went out to fire up the Deco. Of course the battery was dead. Put the trickle charger on it for an hour and tried again. It fired right up so I drove it out to the street and took some photos. My serial cable is down at the office so I won't be able to unload the camera and post a photo until tomorrow at the earliest. It is another beautiful sunny day here in Duluth. The temperature is 40 f. and it is only noon. Unusually warm weather but I am certainly going to enjoy it.
The roads are a bit sloppy so I will wait awhile until the streets dry off a bit. I am afraid to get much road salt on the bike so waiting a little while may be the prudent thing to do.
3:15 p.m. Took the bike out for a little spin around the block. Well, you know how that goes, I now have 103km on the bike. Most was at 30-40 mph. The back roads were a little sloppy but the main roads were nice and clean. It was a very cool ride though. Even though the thermometer said almost 50 f. it seemed much cooler than that. I guess I am not used to running without a windshield. It has probably been twenty years since I have ridden without one.
Bruce Wagner is building a calendar of Russian motorcycles and I had promised that I would get a good picture. I was hoping I would have the Sportsman back for that but I set out for the ski hill. Got some great shots near the Chalet. I wasn't able to get close enough to the slopes to have skiers in the background though. The place was packed. All of the parking lots were full and I even had a hard time finding a spot to sneak into to shoot the bike. Spirit Mountain is a very popular ski area. I will post one of them here also, once I get down to the office. On my way home the bike did it again!!! It went clear past my road!!! Never even attempted to turn in. I wonder how it does that. I guess it really wanted to go to the car wash before it came home. Cruised the local Ford dealer and most of Cloquet before finally going to the car wash and rinsing the gunk off the bike. Then I finally did go home. Off to dinner and a play tonight so I am going to put the bike away, take a nap, shower and head out.
One thing that I noticed today. Everyone waved. That isn't too unusual on one of these things, what was unusual was that even the 20-30 year old males waved. They seldom do other wise. Every other group of the population waves but this group generally seems to consider themselves too cool to wave at a crazy biker. But today I received many, many thumbs up and waves. Of course I was probably the only motorcycle on the road within 100 miles in any direction. Sure felt good to ride...
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