Sheldon's 1998 Ural Deco - Week Three
"God Does Have a Sense of Humor"
Day 13, Sunday January 31, 1999... Went to bed at 2:00 a.m. this morning and it was 70 degrees f. in the house, slept in this morning till 9:00 and when I woke up it was 52 degrees f. A little cool for an inside temperature. I had been saying to myself, "Check the gas level" for at least two weeks, day after day, and I didn't do it. Darn... This is what Ben Franklin called an "errata" and I call an "oh heck". Spent most of the morning getting the electric heaters out, trying to get hold of the gas company and making arrangement for an emergency delivery. Had to pay the "emergency delivery charge" of $100 in addition to the cost of the 400+ gallons of LP Gas. Turned into an expensive day.
Finally around 1:00 I pulled the Deco out of the garage, jacked the front end up and adjusted the front brake. It had been way loose and I could hardly stop the bike. Almost went through a stop sign yesterday so figured it would be nice to get it at least working. Came in the house to put on some heavy clothes and my phone was ringing. It was Judy. She has been having car troubles so we talked for a bit and I invited her over for dinner and to go looking at new cars. That was the end of my bike riding plans for Sunday. We ended up visiting five car lots. They were all closed, but sometimes that is the best time to go there. No pesky sales persons.
I had received a 15 pound ham as a Christmas present from Owens Forest Products, where I work, and I had put it in the oven this morning, so by the time we arrived home from car shopping it was ready. Had a great dinner then watched a movie on TV. By the time she hit the road it was getting dark and I had clothes to wash, dishes to do and a bunch of web sites to work on. Darn, I may have missed taking a ride on one of the few really nice winter days. But I did get out yesterday...
Day 14, Monday February 1, 1999... Worked late, ate a late dinner, then tried to log on here but the server was down. So I am writing this Tuesday. Not a whole lot to report, more snow, slush and yucky weather.
Day 15, Tuesday February 2, 1999 (Groundhog Day)... Here in the United States we have a legend that says that if the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2nd we will have six more weeks of winter. Here in Northern Minnesota we believe that is just plain doesn't matter if the groundhog sees his shadow, dances a jig, or sips beer, we will still have more than six weeks of winter. As a matter of fact there have been years that winter lasted until June 1st. The local television stations always have the obligatory pictures of the groundhog and they always have the same stories, year after year. I guess even the poor groundhog has to have his "15 minutes of fame".
Today dawned clear and bright, but by the time I went home from work it was clouding over and the reports were that we were going to have snow and freezing drizzle. The roads were covered with slush and I didn't think it would be a good night for a ride, so it was another web site development night. Both Wednesday and Thursday I have jobs to work after work, then it is home to work on web sites. I have picked up several new accounts in the last week and they need my attention. Have to get some money rolling through the coffers so that I can afford to pay for my toys. Of course that is so that when they are paid for, I can buy more.
On the NARMA ListServe we have had a conversation about winter riding going on for the last few days. It is interesting that very few Russian motorcycle riders put theirs up for the winter. Almost to a one they ride them year round even in the most inhospitable of climates. We even have a Ural rider in Alaska that rides year round. Of course most of Alaska has weather that is not nearly as bad as Northern Minnesota. Because a large part of that wonderful state is bordered by the Pacific Ocean it is fairly temperate. But they do get some bad weather as I understand it. The people who live in snow states that use salt on the roads have an added problem to deal with. The salt quickly eats aluminum, electrical connections, and bodywork. It is felt that some kind of oil fog, WD-40 or other protectant should be sprayed on the bike before going out, and a trip to a car wash on the way home are the best ways to protect the bike. I did hear a new one today: Spray the bike with spray on starch. Never heard that before and was quiet surprised by it, but I suppose it is worth trying.
Day 16, Wednesday February 3, 1999... Another day, another something... Guess what? I worked late again tonight. By the time I made it home it was after 8:00 p.m. and it had started to rain and snow. Kind of a sloppy mixture, so certainly didn't want to drag the Deco out in it. So far I have meetings Thursday and Friday but I have no jobs lined up for the weekend. Hopefully I will get some riding time in and have something more to report here. A very short one tonight.
Day 17, Thursday February 4, 1999... Had lunch today with the head of program development for Lake Superior Writers. With writers' groups, seminars, workshops, writing contests and other programs, they are a very active group. They have a newsletter that has to be done by the 14th and of course yours truly is responsible for getting it done, between all the other things I have to do. Every time I talk to these people they seem to give me more to do. I can't imagine why. Of course it could have to do with their belief that I am the President of the Board of Directors. Somehow they got it in their minds that I might know what I am doing in running a non-profit, tax exempt institution. Some day they will figure out that I am a fraud and find someone to replace me. I've even been trying to resign for months, but they won't let me.
We met at a place called the Cyber Cafe, a trendy coffee shop with a flock of computers networked and on the internet. They charge ten cents a minute for access for their customers. Quite the exceptional, high tech, operation. We are going to use their facilities for some writers' group meetings and for some seminars this summer. Should be an interesting venue for the groups but I especially found it interesting because of the computer equipment and their E3 telephone connection. This is like the most mega telephone line you can can get, and the fastest internet speed possible on Earth.
When I got home tonight I checked the mailbox and there was a package from Europe. I rushed in the house to see what it was. Felt like a child with a Christmas present. The last package I received from Europe was from my friend David Smith, and it was a "Moto Guzzi Club Netherlands" wall clock. This didn't look like his packaging though. Turned out to be from NARMA member #32 Chris Burgess from UralMoto in England. They are the British distributor of Urals. The package contained a present for me and one for NARMA. He sent two carburetor kits for the Russian domestic carbs. They were used on the older Urals and Dneprs which were imported into the U.S. prior to Ural America bringing them in with the upgraded Mikuni carbs. We will be raffling these off at the NARMA rally.
The present he sent for me is a set of cooling fins for the exhaust heads. They are really cool looking and I will try to post a photo of them here tomorrow (and there it is on the right). He tells me that they are Russian after-market units, and to check with Ural America before installing them, to make sure they do not void my warranty. I doubt that they should, as they could only help to improve the bike by dissipating the heat. But I will dutifully check with Chuck Sherman before installing them. If they do effect the warranty then I will just have to wait until the warranty is over to install them. They really are way cool. Chis is in Irbitz, at the Ural Factory, for the next couple of weeks. I think he will turn into our direct connection to the factory as he spends a good portion of his time there working with them, and sourcing parts.
Day 18, Friday February 5, 1999... Not much to write. Came home from work and started working on a web site. Then received calls from four customers in the course of the evening. Tried to check the NARMA chat but got bumped out just as I received another call from a customer with computer problems. Got off the phone at 11:00 p.m. so it was a long work day.
Day 19, Saturday February 6, 1999... Big bike day today. I worked until 1:30 this morning and finally got to bed. I had tried to schedule all my customers so that I would have a weekend to just work on web sites and ride my bike. Right, first customer call was at 7:00 a.m., then a My Boss's wife, Mary Ellen, showed up at my house at 11:00 with his laptop. They had tried to load PCAnywhere on it and it had crashed, she also brought her laptop along because it needed a modem installed. By the time she left, at 2:00 p.m. she had two working computers with her.
Within five minutes of her leaving I was outside getting the bike ready for a ride. The temperature was about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. I had put the trickle charger on the bike early this morning. She still seems to go down overnight. When they put in the electric starts, on the 98's they remove the electrical shut down switch that is usually under the seat. I suspect this is not a good idea as the stock alternator and the Starter/Generator are neither able to keep up with the needs of the bike. but I am used to charging the battery. I did cut a slot in the right side cover so that I can easily remove it from the bike. Normally one of the hack braces goes through a whole in the cover and you cannot remove it easily. With a slit cut in it the thing comes right off. I have just been keeping both covers off for the winter. The covers become very stiff in cold weather and are almost impossible to remove otherwise.
Headed out for a ride to Wal-mart to pick up Christmas presents. Yes "Christmas". I have a granddaughter that I didn't see before Christmas and I wasn't doing my duty by getting presents in time. She is coming over with her mom and dad in two weeks and I thought I should go shopping, plus it is a great excuse for a ride. The bike ran flawlessly on this one. Some of the looks on cage driver's faces were priceless. Seeing a motorcycle in Duluth Minnesota in the dead of winter is obviously a bit disconcerting for some people. One old gentleman even ran halfway through an intersection before he stopped for the red, blocking traffic and staring at the bike. Even though the sun was shining and it was just a bit below freezing it felt good to be riding. I was bundled up quite well so the cold didn't effect me much. I made one concession to the cold though, I wore a helmet for the first time in about 13 years. It helped quite a bit. This bike is quite breezy without a windshield and at these temperatures it is easy to freeze body parts.
Came home, ran into the house and had a bowl of split pea soup, then went back out to re-warm the bike. The local chapter of A.B.A.T.E. (American bikers for Awareness, Training and Education) was having their mid-winter "Bunwarmer" party this evening at Legends in Carlton which is only about 12 miles from my house. Once the bike was warmed and I was bundled up, I took off for the party. It was interesting, and I was able to see some old friends, make some new friends, and have a very nice time. I was sitting at a table with four other bikers when we suddenly realized that three of us had Moto Guzzis. We decided that we were the entire Northern Minnesota chapter of the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club. Actually we were missing Kathy Follman from Virginia Minnesota, and a guy named George from Duluth, or that would have been true.
What was most fun was that there was only one motorcycle in the parking lot. And it was a Ural Deco Classic. It certainly was a cold ride over and back though. The temperature was about 5 degrees f. I hung around for a few hours and came home not long after the band started. It was a very loud rock band. I had work to do at home, so I left early and headed home. As I was driving along I noticed that I was speeding a little bit. One moment I was cruising along at 48 mph and the next I was going 100... then a moment later I was stopped, Speedo read zero, but it was so cool because I felt like I was still going 48 mph. When it started bouncing from one stop to the other I finally know that something was wrong. I guess something must have given way in the thing. I will try to check it out tomorrow. I now have 150 km on the bike.
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