Sheldon's 1998 Ural Deco - Week Nine
"Las Vegas Lady"
Day 48, Sunday March 14, 1999... Logged on to AOL last night and my friend Kim was online. Kim and I are best friends. She is originally from Winnipeg Manitoba, but lived in Duluth for some years, and we worked together at Harcourt Brace, where we became close friends. We are the "When Sally Met Harry" type of friends. We always kid that some day, when we are both in the nursing home, we will get married. She now lives in Las Vegas and I usually go out to see her once every couple of years. We chatted on-line for a while, then she called me and we talked for two hours. Gave her a tour of my internet sites, especially the NARMA site, and she really seemed to enjoy the concept of the organization. I also showed her my European Motorcycle Universe and the Moto Guzzi section. I even showed her this diary, and she seemed to find it interesting. I can't imagine why anyone would find my musings of interest, but there seems to be no accounting for taste. I suspect she will be checking the site out every once in a while so I thought I would shake her up by posting a photo here. This photo was taken two years ago at her house in Vegas as we prepared to go out for a night on the town.
I know that some who read this also have Moto Guzzis, and Kim and I will be attending the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club rally in New Mexico June 24-27th. Come and visit us there... (May 29, change of plans. I won't be making Taos! I have a conflict. Darn, drat)
I have wondered if any of you folks have figured out yet that I have started to title the weeks with movie titles. It is kind of fun finding the appropriate movie title for the chapters.
Today's weather is for temperatures in the 30s f., about equal clouds and sun, and generally a pretty nice day. Mike Switzer and I are going to meet at his house at noon and head out to the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center for the Crocodile Production's Motorcycle Swap Meet. Should be a lot of fun, and it will be interesting to see how many show up on bikes.
It was an interesting day!! About 11:30 I went out and fired up the Deco and off I went to meet Mike and Laura Switzer. Had a nice ride, and the bike ran flawlessly. Then we rode into town and to the Swap Meet. Parked out back, on the bay side of the DECC. We were the only two bikes there. Hundreds of bikers inside but only two bikes outside, and they were both Urals. Wandered the aisles for a while, chatting with old friends, ogling parts that I have no need for, and occasionally we took a peek outside. There was always a crowd around the Urals. As a matter of fact, here is the first official photo of UDF in action. We were not even near the bikes when I shot the photo on the left.
The most exciting thing was that when we got ready to leave there were dozens of bikers milling around outside. We answered questions, bragged a lot, and had smiles a mile wide. When it came time to leave I hopped up on the rear peg and kicked. The Deco started on the first kick!!!! Then Mike kicked his Tourist, and it too started on the first kick. It was very gratifying watching the expressions on the Harley crowds faces as we rode off into the sunset. They saying, "Who were those masked men?" Well, not quite that dramatic but it sure was a good feeling.
We rode through Canal Park and took a few photos, then we rode through town and stopped for lunch at Sir Benedicts Tavern on the Lake. Great food, good company, and more smiles. After lunch, we split up. They took city streets to their house and I headed out on the freeway. Cruising along at about 45-50 mph in a 55 mph zone isn't all that bad on a Sunday afternoon.
Earlier in the day Chuck Sherman, from Ural America, wrote me asking how the bike was running. I told him "flawlessly". Big mistake. I am not superstitious but I should have "knocked wood". On the way South, out of Duluth, there is a long up-hill grade. It goes for several miles and is relatively steep. On the way up it the bike kept getting slower and slower, until finally I had to shift down to third gear. Wouldn't you know it, it popped out of gear several times. I still haven't quite gotten a handle on adjusting the transmission. I nursed it to the top of the hill and every time I put it in fourth and sped up, it got worse. I finally crested the top of Spirit Mountain when the bike all of a sudden just quit. I pulled to the side of the highway and the rear end was locked in place. In neutral the bike wouldn't roll ahead or back. My immediate thought was, "Oh no, the fluid out of the rear end?" That had happened to the Sportsman, but then I remembered that it was just the opposite, engine ran, bike rolled, but engine and rear no longer connected. So I commenced to check fluids, and fiddle with things. Rocked the bike but it wouldn't move. The engine started though, which was a good sign. Couldn't see anything wrong except that there was grease on the outside of the rear wheel hub. Didn't dawn on me what it might be. Finally I just sat on the bike for about five minutes, feeling quite dejected. After a while I rocked the bike again and it seemed to move, so I fired it up and went in reverse, at a very slow speed, about half a mile, back to the last exit. Backed around the corner and parked the bike. Walked up to the gas station on the top of the hill and called Mike. He said he would be right there with a tow strap.
While waiting for him I noticed a couple walking up the road, out for a Sunday afternoon walk. You can just see them, behind the mailbox on the right side of the road, in the above photo. They waved as they were about a block away. As they got closer I realized that it was Bob Talarico and his wife Carol. Bob owns the Spirit Mountain Motorcycle Shop and was at one time the President of Arrowhead Riders, a club that I rode with some years ago. We sat there chatting for a few minutes then he told me that my rear brake had locked up. Said it had all the signs and that once it sat for a few minutes it would again be fine, but I would have to find out what was causing it. I had backed out the breaks several more turns just minutes before, on a hunch. While we were standing there Mike showed up and he followed me home. When we got there he took the rear wheel off and replaced it with the spare, adjusted the brakes and the bike was fine. Such a simple little thing, but scared the heck out of me. There also was a problem with the brake light staying on so we tried calling Chuck Sherman, but he wasn't available. Then a quick call to Derek Smith convinced us that was a separate problem, and all we had to do was adjust the brake light switch. After some fiddling Mike got it adjusted right and it worked great. After mike left my phone rang and it was Chuck Sherman. Turns out that he had Caller ID on his phone and it had logged my call. He wanted to make sure everything was ok, and we chatted for a few minutes. I wonder how many brands of motorcycles there are, where I would have access to the importer's Tech Support people on a Sunday afternoon? Not many I would guess. Incredible service!!! But then, they both know how helpless I am.
After the ride I had a business meeting at my house for an hour or so, and this evening is just being spent trying to catch up on a bit of my web site stuff. Hope you all had a great riding weekend.
Day 49, Monday March 15, 1999... Today started off cool but nice. I hadn't watched the weather report so I had no idea what was coming, and I wasn't quite ready to hit the road with the Deco until I made sure the rear was ok. Turned out to be a very nice day and I darted out the door at work about 15 minutes early. Just couldn't contain myself anymore. Arrived home, ran in the house and put on a jacket, out to the garage, started the bike and off I roared. Only paused along the way to warm the bike for a few minutes and decided that I must need to rent a video. Hey, it's an excuse...
Went to the video store then started for home, except the bike just kind of went out of the parking lot going the wrong direction. I don't quite understand why it does that, but this bike just cannot, and will not, go directly home. About five miles down the road I started to regret not putting on riding clothes. No hat, dress pants, work shoes and severely underdressed. It was 42 degrees when I pulled out of the driveway. 40km later, and one hour, it was 25 f. when I pulled in the driveway. Rode through Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton and Scanlon. 40 kilometers to go one mile to the video store! It is not going to take long to break this bike in.
Day 50, Tuesday March 16, 1999... Today dawned bright and sunny. It was only 18 degrees at the house but supposed to warm up during the day. Almost rode the bike, but decided to drive the car. As I came over the top of Spirit Mountain the sun was just starting to rise over the Lake. You must remember that Lake Superior is 385 miles to the other end and it is quite an impressive sight seeing the sunrise over the water and ice floes. I hurried down behind the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center and shot a picture of the Aerial Lift Bridge with the sunrise behind it. What a great way to start a day.
Tonight I had to do some emergency work on a web site. One of my customers had asked me for some changes over a month ago. I had completely spaced it until today when they e-mailed me asking where the changes were. The site, Halvor Lines, is turning out to be a very nice one. Well, I may be prejudiced but I do like the colors on the opening page. I really wanted to go for a ride, but my duty actually stepped in, and I worked tonight.
Tomorrow morning I can sleep in till 6:00 or so, as I have an 8:00 dentist's appointment. Yuck...
Day 51, Wednesday March 17, 1999... Weather report is horrid so no riding the bike today. Rain, snow and high winds. Dentist visit was also horrid, five teeth needed filling. My Dentist of many years died of cancer last year. When I was young I went to his father, and out of loyalty to him I didn't look for another dentist until after he died. He had been sick for several years so I had been neglecting my teeth waiting for him to get better. Should have changed a long time ago and I wouldn't be having to do so much work right now.
Got home and started working on catching up on e-mail, and updating a couple of web sites. Often when I work I rent movies or watch documentaries as background noise while I work. I seldom pay a whole lot of attention to them but last night was an exception. Rented a British movie called "The Man Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain". Thoroughly captivating movie and I had to turn off the computer and migrate to the couch to watch it. It is very seldom that happens. Just a nice Disney-like movie, but with wonderful characters.
Day 52, Thursday March 18, 1999... Worked, worked, worked, rode, rode, rode. Got home from work and it was 18 degrees f. but I couldn't help myself. Warmed up the bike and went for a ride. Short one around the local area but it felt good. Then came home and worked some more.
Day 53, Friday March 19, 1999... Worked from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. then came home and worked on the beginnings of a web site for Hurtis Heating & Air in Marathon City Wisconsin. Then chatted in the YAHOO NARMA CLUB with Derek Smith for about an hour. Heard from Marlow today about the Sportsman. He is planning on delivering it to me tomorrow afternoon. He is going to do a quick 500 km checkup on the Deco while he is here also. That will save me a trip all the way to Garrison. I feel like a kid on Christmas eve...
Day 54, Saturday March 20, 1999... Worked on web sites for a while in the morning then called Marlow at 11:30. He said he would be here at 4:00 and that he also had a side cover for Mike Switzer. I called Mike to tell him it would be here and decided to invite Mike and Laura over for Dinner. Figured I could feed Marlow, Mike and Laura a spaghetti feed. Marlow showed up early though. Pulled in about 2:45 p.m. and we unloaded the bike. He then did part of the 500km check up on the Deco. I will change the fluids myself though as he was in a bit of a hurry to get back to Brainerd for a meeting. He left before Mike and Laura got here. As soon as he was gone I kicked the bike. Took about 8 kicks but it started. After all it was below freezing outside. Warmed it up and then took it for a ride around the neighborhood. Put a few miles on it, and noticed that the directional lights, neutral switch light and brake like weren't working. Marlow had to replace the kill switch so there must be something balled up in the headlight. I will have to check it out tomorrow. Probably nothing of any consequence, just loose wire or something. While I am at it I am going to swap out the windshield brackets like I did on the Deco. Raising the screen a couple of inches makes a big difference. Otherwise it wants to sit right in front of the top part of the headlight. Then at night the whole outer perimeter of the windshield lights up by the fiber optic effect. It looks good but is very distracting when riding in the dark.
First impression after not riding it since the day before Thanksgiving, and riding the Deco recently, was that it feels much more solid at low speeds than the Deco. Didn't have it above 35 mph so I can't yet give a good evaluation of the differences. Hopefully the weather will brighten up tomorrow and I will be able to get both bikes out. Just wish I could ride them at the same time... <grin> Should have some photos of both of them tomorrow.
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