Sheldon's 1998 Ural Deco - Week 28
Day 170, Sunday July 25, 1999... Unseasonable weather again. 95 degrees. The entire Midwest is blanketed by hot temperatures. I worked in the yard, then had to go for a ride to cool off. Took another look at the front bearing on the Sportsman and it looks like the front end may have just needed to be tightened up. I tightened the axle and it seemed to be much better. I will keep an eye on it for the next few days but I did tell Son #1 to pick up some bearings and grease for me.
Then I pulled weeds, and had to go for a ride to cool off. Took the Deco this time and stopped at Wal-Mart and picked up tons of bike cleaning supplies. When I got home I hosed down both bikes and started to wash them. Washed and polished the chrome. Armor-All'd the plastic parts, put Wheel Bright on the wheels and other aluminum pieces, gunked the engine, dressed the tires and treated all the vinyl. The whole nine yards on each bike, in preparation for the rally and Monday when I may have some press coming to photograph the bike. I sent out press releases about the rally on Friday. It will be interesting to see if anyone shows up. Talked with a couple of TV stations and they were not interested in the photo shoot on Monday, but said they would show at the rally.
Each time I got something accomplished on cleaning the bikes I had to go for a ride to celebrate and cool off. Way too hot to be doing this kind of work but I have to get it done. On the last ride of the day, at about 4:30 the sky was getting black so I put both bikes in the garage and just as I was closing the garage doors the sky opened up. Turned out to be a very big storm with 70 mph winds (113 kph), and four inches of rain in two hours. My lawn flooded, the pond overflowed its banks and wouldn't you know it. The storm sewer system couldn't keep up and I ended up with another flooded basement. Seems like I just went through this a couple of months ago. So I spent the rest of the evening in the basement vacuuming up water. The Shop Vac sure earned its keep.
Day 171, Monday July 26, 1999... Some of the NARMA members are already on their way from their homes to Duluth for the rally. I sure hope they all have a safe trip. I am sitting here waiting to see if any press shows up for the "photo shoot". In the press release I stated that there would be sidecar rides and an opportunity for an interview and to get photos of two Russian bikes from 9:00 a.m. to noon. It is now 10:30 an no one has showed or called. So far I am a bit disappointed but there is still some time.
I am on vacation all this week, to try to get everything done for the rally, and to try to get a bit of relaxation in addition.
One newspaper showed up. The Cloquet Pine Knot came out and took pictures and interviewed. Then I went for a nice long ride.
Day 172, Tuesday July 27, 1999... I did a lot of running around today on the bikes. Had to pick up this, and that for the rally. Then at about 5:30 I went to Last Tuesday at Sir Ben's. There were about twenty five bikes there this time and we had another interesting night of conversation, lie telling, and ogling bikes.
Day 173, Wednesday July 28, 1999... Finished up some more of the rally stuff, then went for a ride. Came home and worked around the house, then went for a ride to the campground. Had my first Ural sighting in Cloquet, other than mine. Went to the campground and one of the summer residents told me there was a motor home that just pulled in that was from Oregon. Knocked on the door but no one answered, looked in the trailer on the back and there were bike tie downs in the back but no bike. Figured it must be one of our crowd, then went up to the office and the owner told me it was "the Thompsons".
I headed towards Cloquet, and eventually home and found Hal and Sharon at the Perkins restaurant. Pretty have to miss that green and cream Sportsman. Had a great chat, during which Chuck Sherman called my cell phone and we both got to chat with him.
Looks like they were the first to arrive, but I believe another one or two were coming in tonight also.
Later I cruised back to the campground on the Sportsman, and then had my first ride in a sidecar, as Hal ferried me back home to pick up the Deco. Then back to the campground with the Deco, and Hal again ferried me back home. Now I am just waiting for some of my fellow workers to pick me up in our company Vice President's Lincoln Navigator. They were in Minneapolis today with it, and he will be out of town all weekend and offered it to me as a chase vehicle for the rally. May as well ride in comfort. I will ride back into town with them, drop them off and then I will head out to the campground to see who might have shown up.
And I thought my F-150 SuperCab 4X4 was a nice rig. The Lincoln Navigator is an incredible machine. It does every thing but wash your clothes, and I probably just missed that button.
Got back to the campground at about 9:30 and Richard Maund and Sidney Pollard III were there. I was also told that a couple relatives of Gary Kelsey's showed up but had already gone go bed. So, there are at least seven of us here for the rally. Oops, I almost forgot that Richard brought his son with, that makes eight...
Hal, Sharon, Sid and I sat around chatting until about 10:30 when we were told that there were storm warning. Then we scrambled to put Hal's bike in his trailer, and I parked both of mine under the pavilion. Left for home about 11:00, a long, fun day...
Day 174, Thursday July 29, 1999... Rally starts... Can't wait...
What a crowd. I have laughed so hard that my sides almost split. People were arriving all day. Several of us went to the Hong Kong restaurant for dinner where we ran into Jay Williams who had come all the way from Oklahoma pulling his 1957 Chang Jiang. It is about the nicest rig I have seen in many years. It was really fun riding with several other Urals.
Day 175, Friday July 30, 1999... So far we have 22 bikes. Not a bad showing for the first ever rally. We started gathering at the pavilion about 10:00 a.m. to go for our "Sportsman Ride". This is a 20 mile stretch of abandoned railroad bed, gravel trail, along the Cloquet River. We had 17 bikes for the ride, including three solos and one Royal Star. The trail is fairly rough but not impassable. Things were going along great until about 8 miles into the trip. I was leading the pack when, to my surprise, I heard this sound like something hitting the bike, then the tire popping, and finally a sound like the driveshaft had torn loose. I stopped immediately and the drive tire was flat. Boy was I embarrassed. All these bikes and of course my Sportsman was the one to fail. I then looked at the driveshaft and found something sitting on top of it. I reached down and pulled out a railroad spike about eight inches long. Derek Smith volunteered to help change the tube or tire. When we had the tube out there was a hole straight through it. What appears to have happened was that when I hit the spike it went between the tire and the rim, broke the bead then went through the inner tube. Luckily the tire did not seem to be damaged, but the tube was destroyed.
Today was the hottest day in many years. Turns out that it was nearly 100 degrees f. with high humidity. It took nearly an hour to take things apart and fix them. Bye the end of the hour the natives were getting restless and ready to rebel. I was about ready to keel over from heat stroke. But we got it together then finished the ride and headed out to the Dairy Queen to reward ourselves for a great ride.
We finally got back to the campground about 1:00 and a press photographer showed up at 3:00 to take pictures the we hope will be in the Duluth newspaper. We lined the bikes up on the grass and shot tons of photos.
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I believe the most unusual bike at the event was Paul St. John's Ural Sportsman with a Jet-Ski mounted in place of the hack. The trailer was extra wide so he could carry the hack also. It was an incredible sight watching him launching the boat from the bike, then blasting off across the lake. A while later he removed the Jet-Ski rails and re-installed the hack. It seemed that it took him less than 15 minutes to go from water-craft carrier to people carrier. Pretty impressive stuff, and the Jet-Ski is painted Sportsman green.
About 5:00 a huge wind hit us from the West. No warning, just high winds and clouds rolling in. We rushed to put things away then sat around talking and waiting for the rain to start. It never did as the rain seemed to go just South of us. Even though the sky was still threatening we decided to take our chances and head into Cloquet for a dinner at Gordy's Hi-Hat. What a sight we made with 22 bikes going down the road. I was thinking, "It just doesn't get much better than this", as I rode down the street.
Day 176, Saturday July 31, 1999... The day dawned beautiful, with the temperature 62 f. (17 c.). Christal and I went out to the campground about 9:00 a.m. and people were just starting to get moving. I set up the T-shirt sales and we started to prepare for the day's ride. It was great just standing around, kind of morning groggy, and chatting with folks. What a great bunch of people we have. They are about as diverse a group as one can imagine. The one thing they all have in common is a need to be just a little different than their peers. And riding these bikes surely puts them on the fringes.
By 10:30 we were all lined up and ready to roll. We lost Richard Maund though and we waited a bit longer for him. His son had gotten ill the evening before and he had to make an emergency trip to the Laundromat to wash clothes. We finally left at about 11:00 and rolled out on our way through Jay Cooke State Park. The park was in full splendor, with everything green and lush, and the river flowing at about a medium strength. The 10 mile ride down the mountain, with the river on the right was quite spectacular and I am sure everyone was suitably impressed. We stopped at Oldenberg Lookout so that people could get a panoramic view of the river as it flowed over rocks and is several hundred feet across. The miles and miles of rapids are quite a sight.
We left the park and drove through Gary/New Duluth to Becks Road, which winds back up Spirit Mountain, then took the freeway frontage road to Thompson Hill where we stopped at the rest area/tourist information spot. The view of the river and bay is incredible from up here and I gave the folks a bit of a historical overview of the region. Got into my tour mode, but I suspect the people enjoyed the information.
After the rest area we moved off along Skyline Drive, which is a very curvy road which winds along the top of Spirit Mountain until just past the cemetery when I noticed the bikes behind me pulling over. Turned out that one of the BMWs in the group threw a shoe just as we passed the cemetery. He had ridden the bike from Michigan and had gone the long way around the North side of Lake Superior. When we took the tire off it was worn through the threads. Took about a half hour for the tire changing crew to put a new tire on. We were able to take one of the 18 inch spares off of a Ural to get him going.
Next we went down the hill, through Lincoln Park, another winding road, with a river on the right, to Aerostitch. Before this our plans had been to go to Aerostich, where I thought they were to have pop and cookies, then off to a restaurant for lunch. When we got to Aerostich they had fruit platters, cheese and meat platters, pop, juice, buns, vegetables, chips, dips, and much more. No need to go to lunch now. We packed the food in, took a tour of the factory, and some folks even bought things in their outlet store. They were very gracious and were much more excited to just have us there than to sell us products. When we left the packed us up with prizes for the nights raffle also.
We then rode through Canal Park, the major tourist area in Duluth, which was somewhat of a mistake as the traffic was terrible and trying to keep a group of motorcycles together was very difficult. Then off through the tunnels on the freeway and on to Brighton Beach (Kichi Gammi Park) where we dismounted and I dragged everyone down to the lake with the suggestion, "It is tradition that everyone coming to Duluth has to put either their hands or their feet in the water of Lake Superior", well it hadn't been tradition before this, but it is now... It did get them all down to the lake to enjoy the warm rocks, cold water, and another Duluth story by me.
Next we went to Enger Tower, which is on the highest point on the Mountain. Some climbed the tower, others walked to the gazebo overlooking the lake, and others just enjoyed the wonderfully maintained gardens.
Afterwards it was off for the cross country trek back to the campground. We got there about 6:00 and a few minutes later the BBQ wagon pulled in. Quite the operation, with two cookers, two cooks and they laid out a wonderful feast of BBQ country ribs, chicken, fruit, potato salad, beans, buns and other stuff. By this time we counted 67 people standing around, and 55 of them ate dinner. Not a bad turnout. After dinner we had the "Flying the Chair" competition, which was very loosely organized, and judged, which was won by Russel Noe from the Pacific NorthWet Pod. He took home the Russian Samovar trophy.
Next we had the awards for long distance riders, best modified bike, and worst rat bike, then the Tin Foil Hat Contest, and a good long bunch of door prizes were given away. With sponsors such as Ural America, Sears Auto Stores, Vanson Leathers, Russian Life Magazine, Sovietski Catalog, Dennis Kirk, and a bunch of others you can imagine how nice the prizes were.
I believe that everyone had a blast and the rally was a huge success.
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