Sheldon's 1998 Ural Sportsman - Week 3

A Bruce Wagner Graphic5/9/98 Day 15 Didn't get home till late tonight so it is after midnight when I am reading my e-mail.  Received a message from Marlow at Northern Sports that he had heard from Ural America that my starter would be shipping in time to be installed on the 16th.  I then went to the Ural America web site to check out the message board and sure enough they had posted me that the parts needed had come in.  I am very pleased and I can surely kick the bike for one more week.  Here are the most current messages from their discussion area:

Topic: retro-fit starter (4 of 6), Read 31 times, 1 File Attachment
Conf: Parts
From: Bruce Wagner (
Date: Friday, May 08, 1998 05:05 PM

Hey ural dealers out there!!
Is there any of you out there who can give this nice guy a hand with a starter? for instance ship him one that you mite have in stock, or on a bike that is in stock, and I am sure Ural America will send one back to you as soon as they get one. Wont you Ural America? Lets all stick together and help each other out. We are a small group of motorcycle enthusiast who when in need should be able to just ask for a hand. Sheldon is obviously in dire need of this thing or I'm sure he wouldn't be pleading like he is.
just another URAL NUT

Topic: retro-fit starter (5 of 6), Read 21 times
Conf: Parts
From: URAL Tech Dep't (
Date: Friday, May 08, 1998 06:18 PM

Dear Sheldon-

"Retro-fit" starter may not be the best choice of words...Dealer installed is perhaps much better, and would pertain to items the dealer had on hand at the point of sale.

URAL America prides itself on maintaining a large inventory, and this is why we are able to ship 95+% of our parts orders the within 24 hrs. As a result, many dealers have come to assume that we have every item on hand at all times. This is perhaps why your dealer, one we like very much, promised such quick turnaround on a part he did not have in stock.

We have received the required components to machine and assemble your Electric Start, and we are processing these orders on a "first in, first out" basis, and will get your starter out to you as soon as possible.

URAL Tech Dep't

Topic: retro-fit starter (6 of 6), Read 2 times
Conf: Parts
From: Sheldon Aubut (
Date: Friday, May 08, 1998 10:40 PM

Thanks Ural Tech department. It sounds like things aren't as bad as I thought they might be. Glad to hear the parts are in. And thanks for your help. I will hopefully be saving my leg pretty soon. If I weren't having so much fun getting older I would wish that I were still young enough that I could easily kick a bike.

Great news and a good way to start off week three.  One more week and I will have the starter installed.  A big thanks to Ural America and Northern Sports.  They have come through on this one.  Heck, this story will probably sell a lot of new pre-installed electric starters.  If you think you might need one, pop for it up front.  I bought my Ural off the floor without it and it was the last one the dealer is ordering without from what I hear.  Ural America better stock up on them...

It is after 1:00 a.m. so it is off to bed I go.  But tomorrow (really today) is supposed to be in the 70s F. and I will for sure be riding.

6:00 p.m.  The Ural now has 1,050 km on the odometer.  IT was very windy here today with gusts to 40 mph and temperatures from 45 F. near the lake to 60 F. away from the lake.  Because of the high, cool winds it never reached the 70 F. that had been predicted.    Went for a ride out in the country with friend Daryl in the hack.  Did about 100 miles, and when done I felt like I had fought a battle.  Pushing 42 mph with a 40 mph headwind is pretty tough.  There were spots where the bike wouldn't go over 35 mph because of the wind.  And the wind was cold.  Driving through the little town of Barnum  a guy in a Buick passes me, then slows so I pass him, then flags me to pull over.  He stopped and I stopped right behind him.   I knew it would be another UDF stop, and sure enough it was.  He was probably in his late 50's and has been a bike rider for many years.  Said he had a friend that has a Ural and he had been thinking about getting a hack.  We sat on the side of the road and chatted for at least 15 minutes.  Turns out he only lives a few blocks from me and has e-mail.  I guess I am just going to have to start working on him to get one.


Do not buy a Ural Sportsman if you are a Wallflower.
Do not buy a Ural Sportsman if you are a Shy Person.
Do not buy a Ural Sportsman if you do not like attention.
Do not buy a Ural Sportsman if you fear personal contact.

Afterwards we stopped in the little town of Wrenshall Minnesota at the Brickyard restaurant and had a patty melt.  It was a nice ride except for the wind.  North of Duluth it is all forests but this trip was to the South of Duluth and went through lots of farm land with all the smells and sights associated with farms.   The Ural ran flawlessly and didn't miss a beat.

Granddaughter/mechanic,  Amanda tuning the motorcycle

Granddaughter Amanda - the only one who has more trouble with the kick starter than me.

Tonight we took the truck into Cloquet to get desert at the Perkins Restaurant.   The hostess sat us in a booth and a few minutes later the bus boy, who was filling condiment containers on the tables stops and looks at me.  He says, "Turn around, let me see your profile."  Strange request but I did it, thinking maybe he recognized me from my tours or plays, and he said, "I know that pony tail.   You were riding a bike with a sidecar today.  I was behind you at an intersection."  Then he went on and on about it.  As he finally walked away, the waitress came to take our order.  She said, "Do you know him?"   I said, "No, he just was asking about my motorcycle."  She said, "Oh, you're the one who has that sidecar bike.  I've live in Sunnyside, and I have seen you go through the neighborhood."  More UDF, it just never ends.

After all my acting, writing, computer stuff, and all the things I have done in my life, it looks like the most visible thing is riding a Ural Sportsman.  Doing movies and TV never got me this kind of attention. 

5/10/98 Day 16 Sunday, Mother's Day  Today dawned with a temperature of 30 F. with absolutely no wind.  I was hoping that the temps would rise but the winds would not.  It is now 11:30 a.m. and the winds are hitting about 20 mph which isn't too bad, so far.  And the temperature has warmed to 65 F.  I just went out and did a checkover of the bike.  Fluids seem to be ok, and all bolts seem tight and where they belong.  I am going to hit the tourist routes today.  A trip down Minnesota Point, which is the world's longest fresh water sand bar.  It is 11.5 miles of sandy beaches, wonderful houses and the most incredible views.  Then I am going to head out on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  I would like to make it as far North as Palisade Head, which is about 50 miles North of Duluth.  The South shore of Lake Superior is all sandy beaches and the North Shore is in complete contrast.  It is rocks, cliffs, forests and rock beaches.  Palisade Head is where the closing scenes to the McCully Culkin movie "The Bad Seed" was filmed.  It is shear cliff that stretches for quite some ways alone the shore which probably averages about 150 feed and absolutely straight down.  The surrounding lands rises to about 500 feet above the lake.  The cliffs are a favorite of rock climbers and on nice days there will be many of them climbing there.  I also may hit Split Rock Lighthouse which is on the top of another high cliff overlooking the lake.  It is a state park with a wonderful visitor's center.  I will post more later today when I return.

10:30 p.m.  I never made it to Palisade head but I did get as far as Two Harbors Minnesota.  The UDF was in full on mode.  I stopped at a friends and showed the bike off to her son and his buddies then went to the end of Park Point where I parked the bike and went to a building.  When I came out there was an elderly gentleman and his wife standing by the bike.  Of course they had a bunch of questions.  After about 15 minutes they were about to leave when a car pulled up and the driver sat there just staring at the bike, eventually he got out and there went another 15 minutes.   Finally I said that I had to get going and I headed out.  Ran into a friend of mine about two miles up the road and naturally had to stop and gab for a while longer.   By the time I left him I had burned about two hours driving 12 miles on the Point.

About five miles before Two Harbors there is a wonderful general store called, "Emily's Inn, General Store and Deli".  They have about the biggest, best sandwiches you can imagine.  It is a very quaint, wonderful little restaurant with only about six tables stuffed in the back of the general store.  Today they had an egg/bacon/ham/potato Torte on special.  It was about four inches tall by five by four inches and it came with a large blueberry muffin.  All was hot, all was fresh and it was fantastic.  While I was sitting there eating a man came in the door and looked around.  His eyes lighted on me and he zoomed in, "Is that your bike out there?"  "Ayup", I said.  He went into his story about the motorcycle shop he used to own in Duluth and he had all the usual questions about the Ural.  Then the waiter came up and had to ask the same questions over again.   When I finally got out to the bike to leave two ladies who had been eating in the restaurant came out to look at the bike.  The first said, "We just had to come out to see the bike that everyone is talking about."  Like I said, the Ural Delay Factor was in full swing.

When I got to Two Harbors I spent some time photographing the bike in front of a tug boat and oar docks, with a lighthouse as a backdrop and with a 1,000' oar boat in the background.  I think I captured some great shots but I won't know until I get them developed.  Had a pleasant ride home and then this evening I started looking for an excuse to go back out.  Finally decided that I couldn't live without a Dairy Queen ice cream cone and bopped off to Cloquet.  It is silly making up reasons to go someplace but I just can no longer help myself.  I now have 1,220 km on the odometer and it looks like I am going to hit 1,500 by the weekend when I take it in for the next service.

The biggest accomplishment of the day was that I was able to start the bike on two kicks twice today.

5/11/98 Monday Day 17  It was 30 F. when I left for work again this morning .  At least the weather is consistant.  Cold ride in and it really didn't warm up much.  The high near the lake was 45 F.  At lunch I stopped at Petrovic Jewelers to pick up a pocket watch that they were holding for my small collection.  Peter Petrovic is one of the few people that I have encountered that knew what a Ural was.  Said he had even checked out the Ural America web site.  We spent the obligatory time walking around the bike and chatting.  Peter is the local authority on fine clocks and he apparently appreciates the finest machinery...  <grin>  On the way home from work I took the very long way stopping at the video store, K-mart and a couple of other places turning the half hour trip into 1.5 hours.

5/12/98 Tuesday Day 18  Rain....  We have had very little rain this year.  Much less than normal and the woods and grass are quite dry.  There are burning bans that don't allow any open flames so a little bit of rain is greatly needed.  But the bike stayed in the garage today and I drove the truck.  I had a young computer wiz flying in from Milwaukee to install some software and I thought he might be a bit too much surprised if I showe up with the hack to pick him up.  And the rain made leaving the bike at home bearable.  But tomorrow the day is supposed to be in the upper 60s F. so it should be a nice day for riding...

5/13/98 Wednesday Day 19   Rode the bike to work this morning and it was 46 degrees F. when I left home.  Felt great after all those mornings of 30 F.  It is pretty bad when 46 feels warm.  At lunch time I sat in the park to eat my lunch then went for a little ride around town.   Stopped at the Great Harvest Bread Company store and picked up a couple of loaves of the best bread on Earth.  Well, at least the best that I have ever tried.   Their potato/chive is fantastic.

It warmed up to 79 F. by 3:30 pm and luckily I had to make a trip across the High Bridge to Superior Wisconsin to pick up some computer parts.  When I left there I decided to just head towards the St. Louis River on the Wisconsin side and then only take roads that went South or towards the river.  I figured that eventually they would take me to the Arrowhead Bridge which is an old wooden bridge that crossed the river about 15 miles upstream.  I didn't count on all the dead ends.  Seems that the wealthier people in Superior have discovered the bluffs over the river and are building these wonderful homes overlooking it.  The roads all look like thourofares but they in fact are dead ends with roundabouts at the ends.  The 15 miles must have taken at least 25 miles by the time I was done.  And the most interesting part was I hit upon a road that started off paved, then turned to dirt, then turned to crushed granite.   It went through an area that was all together wild, with no houses or signs of life.  Just forests and fields and granite chunk road.  The granite was mostly about two inch pieces but some of them were closer to four inches.  It was very rough and at places the granite was very deep and fluid.  As I was running the road I kept thinking, "I wonder if they have roads this bad in Siberia."   I thought the road would never end and after about five miles at 3 mph I finally came out on a paved highway.  I was afraid one of those sharp granite chunks would pierce a tire but that Russian rubber held up just fine.

When I got home I put the bike up for the night but that lasted until just after dinner when I dragged it out and did another 50 miles.  I now have 1400 km on it.

5/14/98 Thursday Day 20  Today it was supposed to rain so I took the truck to work.  Big mistake.  It turned out to be the warmest day of the year so far.  Hit 82 degrees at my house.  When I got home I dragged the bike out and went visiting my old friends Tony and Irene Tallarico.   We used to ride in a club together some years ago.  It was kind of funny, a couple of old timers standing around chatting about a bike that you can ride without putting your feet down.  He really found it interesting and thought he might even be interested in adding one to his collection of Harleys.  I'd love to see Tony on one of these things.

I took Friday off but I probably won't get much riding in as it is the local, annual rummage (jumble) sale.  The entire neighborhood puts all their junk outside and people come and pay money to haul it away.  Then they keep it until next year when it becomes their junk and they can sell it at their sales.  At least that is how I think it works.  I have never participated but I have so much computer junk laying around that I thought I may be able to turn it into things for the bike.  I now have 1450 km on the bike and only need 50 more to reach the magical 1,500 for the next service.  I am going to deliver it to Marlow at Northern Sports on Saturday afternoon and leave it for a few days so he can service it, add a couple more things and put in the electric start.   I called him tonight and he told me that Ural America had shipped the starter today and it should be there by Monday.  I sure hope so...

5/15/98 Friday Day 21 end of week Three  --   Had the rummage (Jumble) sale today.  I will never do that again.  Had to burn a day of vacation to stand in the sun at 85 degrees F. and bake.  I had mostly old computers and things for sale but hardly was worth my while.  I found out that rummage sale people don't like to pay for things.  I would much rather have been riding.  I played around a bit with the Ural in that I parked it on the lawn with my 67 Chevy "small window" pickup, and put a sign on it explaining what it was and where it came from.  I also put a price tag on it of $10,500 USD.  Hey, with all my options the thing must be worth that, right?  I also threw some of the Ural America flyers on it for people to grab.  They went in the first fifteen minutes.   I probably could have given a hundred of them away.  One person was so impressed that he said he will be taking a ride to Garrison Minnesota to visit Northern Sports.  My friend Tony stopped by and took the Ural out for a test drive.  I think he fell in love with it.  He showed up on his Harley 95th Anniversary Ultra Special, of which he has two, but it just kind of looks like a million other bikes on the road.  Parked near the Ural it did not stand out at all.  I think the poor boy needs a Ural!

This evening we have storms and tornado warnings so I am staying close to my desk at home.  Son #1 is coming by at 10:00 in the morning to help me load the bike in the truck for the trip to Northern Sports for its 1500 km checkup and to get the starter installed.  I am going to leave it there for a few days so they will have plenty of time to install it and fix a few minor things.  One is that I cannot adjust the headlight because the windshield mounting bracket is at the end of its adjustmant and pressed hard against the headlight.  Tonight as I was backing the bike into the garage Son #1 said, "what happened to your tailight?"  I looked and the taillight on the motorcycle was not working.  The turn signal and brake likght work.   I also have noticed grease coming our from the center of the rear hub that will have to be checked.  That and the oil that is leaking out the rear seal on the transmission will have to be checked.  My starter and the spare tire cover should be in on Monday and I am hoping to have the bike back on Wednesday.  Marlow is going to deliver it the 110 miles to my home.  Only problem is that I may have to leave Wednesday morning for Green Bay Wisconsin.  I would have liked to have the bike back before I went down there but I will just be happy to get it back.  I am sure that I will miss it.

Had another big milestone today.  After the bike had sat for several hours I went out and pumped it twice with the key off, then it kicked over on the first kick when I turned the switch on.  Either I am getting the combination down or I was just lucky.   I'm not sure which...

Tomorrow starts Week Four!

Week: Intro, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

You can e-mail Sheldon at

Check out the "European Motorcycle Universe" at

And Sheldon's Deco Diary at:

Copyright 1989-2010, Sheldon T. Aubut, all rights reserved
Last modified: March 22, 2011

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