Sheldon's 1998 Ural Deco - Week 3

"School Birds"

And the, sort of, final chapter, for now.

I will keep adding to this site occasionally, but will probably no longer diary every day.

Day 199, Sunday August 22, 1999...  Sunday morning dawned a with a bit of fog, a bit of sprinkles, and a bit cool, but by 10:00 a.m. it warmed up nicely and I believe everyone had a nice ride home.  Christal came over in the afternoon and we just watched movies all day.  By late evening we had watched four movies.  I needed the relaxation.

Day 200, Monday August 23, 1999...  School was only supposed to have been for one week but last week one of the instructors was sick for a couple days and we just worked exercises, so this week we are doing make up work.  So I will be in school for the first three days of the week. 

Rode the Deco today.  I have hardly ridden it since the NARMA rally, only putting about 150km on it.  Went for a ride and when I pulled into my driveway it seems that the starter/generator dropped dead.  It has been a bit noisy for a while but not bad, just a slightly louder hum.  I had planned on using a rat-tailed file to lengthen the lash bolt hole this weekend, but the bike didn't make it that far.  This is the first real problem I have had with the bike in 1500+ KM of riding.  I will have to give Marlow a call and see if I can figure a way to get it down to him to get it repaired.  I may have to borrow Son #1s truck and the neighbors trailer.

Day 201, Tuesday August 24, 1999...  School today, studying tonight.  My brain is going to explode!!!!!!

Day 202, Wednesday August 25th, 1999...  School today, but no studying tonight.  Instead I went to Christal's house after work and she cooked a wonderful meal and we spent the evening relaxing.

Day 203, Thursday August 26th 1999...   Very foggy morning.  Drove the car, but I will be taking the Sportsman for a ride when I get home this evening.

Day 204, Friday August 27th 1999...  Not much to report today.  Christal and I spent a quiet night going to dinner at Louis' Cafe, the home to watch a movie.  We are leaving in the morning for Thunder Bay Ontario Canada for a bit of a weekend vacation.

Day 205, Saturday August 28th 1999...  Perfect weather for a ride.  We are taking Christal's Saab Turbo 900 on this trip.  Of course that means that I will not get to drive and be forced to sit still and relax.  She loves to drive as much as I do so she drives when we take her car.  Windows down, sunroof open, 75 degree day.  We were going to get a hotel room in Thunder Bay, but before we had left Duluth we decided to throw the sleeping bags and tent in the car.  Turns out there was a huge air show in Thunder Bay so there was little chance of finding a room there.  Instead we dropped into Judge Magney State Park about thirty miles South of the border.  They had two camping spots left at 9:30 a.m. so we took one.  Set up the tent and headed off to Thunder Bay.  After being waved through the border we had the wonderful pleasure of riding through the Sawtooth mountains.  What an incredible sight.

We spent the rest of the day at Old Fort William, then had dinner at an ethnic Finnish restaurant that had been recommended by friends in Duluth.  It was an interesting place and I did try a bunch of things that I can't remember the names of, let alone pronounce.  This French tongue just doesn't bend the same way theirs does.

Afterwards it was back across the border to spend a remarkably romantic night watching the almost full moon rise over Lake Superior, then hours of chatting and cuddling by the campfire.  It just doesn't get much better than this.




Thursday September 9, 1999...  Haven't been writing in here much lately.  Been so darn busy with work, the business, and Christal that I have been remiss.  Last weekend we went to our friend Joan's house in Wisconsin and had a great time.  The Deco is still down with a sick starter/generator and I have to find time, a truck, and a trailer to bring it to Northern Sports.  The Sportsman is running great and I have been riding it almost every day that I am home, although I have also been on the road for work.  Fall is in the air and winter will not be far behind.  The Moto Guzzi Land Speed Record Assault is coming along great and we are prepared to challenge the 1000cc Pushrod Engined record in October so I will be traveling to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the run.  I will try to get caught up her this weekend.

Saturday September 18, 1999...  Had an interesting day today. Borrowed Son #1's truck and the neighbors trailer and loaded up my 1998 Ural Deco Classic for a trip to the dealer's to have the starter replaced and to get it's 2500km checkup. The dealer is in Garrison Minnesota which is 110 miles from home. Decided to take the long way around though and first went South to Mora Minnesota and Caswell's Cycle, the nearest Moto Guzzi dealer.

When I arrived the place was like a circus. Les Caswell also sells Kawasaki bikes, watercraft and snowmobiles, Sea Doo boats, Ski Doo watercraft and snowmobiles, Stihl chainsaws, and about a dozen other products so there were people absolutely everywhere. When Les saw me he left the crowd of people hovering around him and came right over to me. I know that even though Les loves all of the products he sells, he LOVES Guzzis. The guy has been a Guzzi nut for most of his life.

We chatted for a while then he rolled a naked Jackal outside for me to take for a test ride. It was a gray one with 1.7 miles on the clock. I am never comfortable riding a bike without a windshield but I had brought my old Arther Fulmer Helmet along and that certainly made it more bearable. The first thing I noticed, once I fired up the bike, was that my left foot barely reached the tab on the kickstand. I thought I was going to have to call Les over to lift it for me, but I finally managed to tip it up with my toe. That has to be the longest kickstand I have ever seen, and the furthest forward. I suppose I could become accustomed to it.

I pulled out on the highway and the next thing that struck me was the wonderful sound. The pipes were certainly not loud but seemed to be much more rich than the 98 California that I rode there last year. Because it was brand new I certainly didn't want to wind it up, but when I rolled on the throttle the bike responded with gobs of power. The bike was so low and light that it was a dream to throw it around a bit.

For the first five miles or so I felt a bit uncomfortable, until I realized that I had not ridden a two wheeled bike this year. Everything I have ridden had three wheels. As soon as that realization hit me I started carving the corners a bit more steadily. The bike felt so very good. There was plenty of power for my needs, the riding position would just need one adjustment for me. I would probably swap out the short handlebars for a set from an EV. With my short arms they were stretched out way too far. I did get the feeling that Guzzis are built with 6 footers in mind, although this is the first one that I really am able to put both feet on the ground at a stop.

(2-23-2002, Note from Sheldon:  I did eventually end up buying a Moto Guzzi Jackal )

By the time I got back I was falling in love with the Jackal and had a smile a mile wide. When I walked into the building Les was with a group of customers who were buying a snowmobile. He told them, "I'll be right back" and came out to see me. Somehow the guy always make me feel like I am the only customer in the dealership, and I have the feeling he would make any of the Guzzi folk feel that way.

He asked what I thought and I told him that I loved it and that I would only change two things. I would want it with the longer bars and in Red. He pointed to the floor and to a Red Jackal that I hadn't noticed amongst the EV's, Eldorados, and other Guzzis. Bright Red, gorgeous! He also told me that he has already done one conversion to the longer bars on a Jackal and it worked great. Oh my.

I asked him if I could just leave the Deco there as a trade in but he told me that he needed my Sportsman and might have trouble selling the Deco. The Sportsman, with its two wheel drive is much in demand in his neighborhood. So, I told him I would be talking to him and headed out to Garrison to drop the Deco off for servicing. By the time I got there I had decided that by spring I need a Jackal, so I told the Ural dealer to repair the starter, do the 2500km service, clean it up and put it on his display floor. I was just playing at the possibility of selling it before, but now that I have ridden the Jackal I has got to go to make room, both in my garage and wallet for another Guzzi.

Next year I will have to think about getting a 2001 Ural to fill out my fleet again, but my next diary may be a Guzzi one...

October 19, 1999...  Just getting ready to head out to Salt Lake City Utah and the Bonneville Salt Flats where a bunch of people from the Moto Guzzi List will be trying to take a Land Speed Record away from Harley Davidson.  If you are not yeat tired of my diaries please go to  and follow our exploits there.  There should be daily postings from the Salt.

April 25, 2000...  Hope you read the information on the LSR Guzzi site as we had a blast out there last October.  A lot has happened since then.  In November Aaron lost his job and by January 1st, he, Tami, Amanda and Nick were looking for a place to live.  I told them they could come live with me for a few months while they got on their feet.  In January he got a better job and somewhere in mid March I decided that they needed the four bedroom house a lot more than I did.  So, on April 1st I moved out of my house and into an apartment in Duluth.  Don't feel too bad for me, the apartment is in a complex on the shore of Lake Superior, in a great neighborhood, with a wonderful address.  I still own the home in Esko but I've given them up to five years to find conventional financing and told them I would give them a portion of my equity in the house as a down payment.  Not a bad deal for them, and I'm not really doing bad either as I now have simplified my life a bit.  Not that it will last...

Now that I am on my way to establishing a residence in Duluth it looks like in three years I will be running a campaign for the Mayor's office.  A bit far to look out but I really do need to start building a base now.  I have been very frustrated with the "Development at any Cost" attitude of the present administration and feel that I have to step up to the plate and take a shot at it.  The present mayor has pretty much gutted the planning department, and development is running out of control, with no regard for the environment, historic districts, or even the wishes of the people.  One example is that there was a mall development planned and the citizens circulated a petition that would have stopped development of a green space.  They raised enough names to get it on the ballot and put to a vote of the populace.  Development was voted down 75% to 25%, and a large green space, with trout stream was saved.  Or so they thought.  The administration found a loophole and the place is now stripped of trees and construction is going on.  They just built a Home Depot there instead of the mall that was stopped.  Ergo, I will be running for public office...

On April 8th, Tom Timmons from Michigan came and picked up his, new to him, 1998 Deco Classic.  He seems to love it and we may even append his diary to this one.  When I first bought the bike I got such a great deal on it that I was able to sell it to him at a low price and I even managed to still receive almost what I paid for it.  Not bad after riding it about 2,700km.  He has now replaced the starter and speedometer and has it on the road again, terrorizing the good folks in Frankenmuth Michigan.

If you are interested in my latest diary check out:  wherein I now wait patiently for delivery of my new Chrysler PT Cruiser that I first ordered almost a year ago.  Seems like I sure do a lot of waiting...  But the payoffs are certainly worth it.  Hope you enjoyed my drivel, and that you ran right out and bought a Russian motorcycle, because if you did I know you are now having the most fun you could possibly have on a motorcycle.

Sheldon Aubut, Duluth Minnesota, April 25, 2000 

If you would like to follow Sheldon's continuing adventures:

PT Cruiser Diary

Corvette Station Wagon Diary

Moto Guzzi Jackal Diary


February 23, 2002.  A lot has changed in the almost two years since my last posting in this diary.  For the whole story read my new diaries, but for a synopsis:

I've published a book on Duluth History: and have a second contract for "Prohibition and Prostitution in the North Woods."  Should be fun writing that one.

I've bought a Moto Guzzi Jackal, but will be trading it in March on a new Moto Guzzi Stone Metal, with chrome gas tank.  I'll be putting a Russian Sputnik sidecar frame, with a Chinese "Flying Tiger" sidecar.  Should be quite the rig.

Christal unexpectedly moved on to another relationship.  Devastated me for a while, but then I met Patti and it turns out that she is even a better match for me.  She moved in in January of 2001 and we are getting married in June.  Aaron and his family are now all out in Scottsdale AZ and Patti and I are back in the house.  Never realized what a woman's touch could do to a house.  My "early American rummage sale" furniture and decorating was not up to her standards so we've been improving the house constantly.

In July of 2001 I was "downsized" at Owens Forest Products.  For about a day I was in turmoil, but then I realized that it was the best thing that could ever happen to me.  I'm working my web site design company, and I don't think it will be too long before my income comes back to what it was.   I'm having great fun working on my own.  I'll be putting on more motorcycle rallies and attending a bunch.  Working from home is wonderful and the drive to work doesn't bother me at all.  I love most just looking out the window at snow and saying, "nah, nah, nah, nah.....

I bought one of five Greenwood Sport Wagons known to exist.  It is a 1979 Corvette and there was a whole adventure associated with picking it up in Florida.

2001 was probably one of the most traumatic years of my life, but at the same time it was one of the best.  The way things are going I think that 2002 will be the best of my life.  Life is wonderful...


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