Sheldon's 1998 Ural Sportsman - Week 5

Click for larger image5/23/98 Saturday Day 29...  Rode the Ural into town today.  I give tours of Old Duluth in Character as 1860s newspaperman Dr. Thomas Preston Foster.  They are in a complete 1850s period costume with frock coat and top hat.  Check out for more information on the tours and information about Duluth.  The bike drew the usual amount of attention in downtown that it draws everywhere it goes.  Click on the picture at right for a larger image of me on the bike, in front of the old Duluth City Hall and Jail.

I now have 1700 km on the bike.  Took it out a couple more times tonight.   For several miles I paced a train downhill all the while whistling the tune to the television show "Hogan's Heroes".  Seems I remember many hacks being used in that show and for some reason the train reminded me of it.  I pretended that I was racing the train but I knew that was only in my imagination because the train was winning.   Another thing discovered tonight was that two cases of Diet Coke work wonderfully as ballast in the hack.  I picked up groceries on the bike.  Three bags and two cases of soda and it all fit internally in the hack.  I could have fit much more if I had to.

I also discovered tonight that the left rear turn signal isn't working.  I will have to check it out tomorrow.

taillight_ural1.jpg (7683 bytes)5/24/98 Sunday Day 30...   Checked the turn signal this morning and the element was burned out.  Today I took my friend Daryl for a ride to her sister's cabin and we stopped at the local NAPA Auto Parts store where we did a little matching of bulbs only to find out that it appears to be the same as the trusty, old standard, Bulb 1156.  That is the same bulb that was used on most of the cars built in the 50s and 60s.  Put the bulb in, screwed down the taillight and took off.  Along the way we stopped at a rest area where they were giving away free coffee and juice.  That is where I noticed that the taillight lens was missing.  It appears that I didn't tighten it down enough.  Darn...  It does look like it might be a standard replacement part that can be found at any auto parts store but we shall see.  I e-mailed Son #1 a photo of it and he will stop at the store tomorrow and see if they have any.  Picture on right is the front one which is identical to the missing lens.

We had a great ride, and a wonderful time lounging at the lake and being fed grilled steak.  Makes one glad to be an omnivore...  Another 100+ km today for a grand total of 1800 km...

5/25/98 Monday ( Memorial Day Holiday ) Day 31...   Woke this morning and checked out the lamp.  It appears that the hot contact does not make good contact and the contact pad needs to be bent to make it work.  I bent it but apparently not enough.  All day it would go out occasionally.  I will try to fix it tomorrow night.

This morning I went "profiling".  Took a tour of the tourist areas, Canal Park, Entertainment and Convention Center, and Park Point.  Tourist all over the place and many of them seemed to have a problem with their hands.  They just kind of reached in the air and wiggled them from side to side when I went by.  Silly tourists...  Only had two UDF incidents but that is only because I made two stops.   And of course there were the three carloads of Oriental folks who seemed to be following me.  When I stopped in a small turn around to pop a diet coke they pulled through and a lady in one of the cars rolled down the window, put a thumb in the air and said, "Nice bike", then they drove away.

On my way back to my house about 1:00 p.m., as I pulled into my road, there was a Harley coming the other way.  Turned out that a friend of mine, who I like to call "the Harley Biker Chick" or "the Bug Hugger", had stopped by the house.  She is some kind of bug biologist and tree hugger, so because I work in the Forest Products industry we do a bit of gentle ribbing.  So she forced me, (yeah right) to go for another ride.  Went through the University of Minnesota Experimental Forest, some wonderful country roads in Carlton county, and Jay Cooke State park.   Coming the direction we were going Jay Cooke was an eight mile stretch, up hill most of the way, with the longest straight about a half block.  All wonderful, scenic, twisties.  I did a bunch of hanging my rear off to balance the hack around the curves and had a blast doing it.  Never went faster than 35 mph but that is plenty on this road.  She left me as we rolled into Esko and I went home and put the bike away for the night.

ag_whack.gif (10115 bytes)I pulled the bike back out at 7:00 p.m. looking for an excuse to go for another ride...   Strange how that works...  I finally decided that I could not live without a Dairy Queen ice cream cone.  I rode as far as the feed mill on the highway.   From the hill there I could see that it was raining in Cloquet, where the Dairy Queen is.  I parked on the shoulder while I watched the clouds to see which way they were going.  As I sat there a County Sheriff drove by going the other way.  He looked, I waved, he waved...  A minute later he had turned around and he pulled behind me with all his lights going.  And me with no taillight lens.  I was thinking about how many years I could get for being taillight lensless...  Maybe they would beat me with a hose, or lock me in solitary confinement.  Maybe I would get parole after a few years of good behavior.

He got out of his car with his hand on his gun.  Oh my...  He said, "Do you need assistance?"

I said, "Only if you can help me decide if I need Dairy Queen enough to brave that," and I pointed at the rain clouds up ahead.  That must have been the right thing to say because he cracked a smile, and then the UDF ( Ural Delay Factor ) kicked in big time.  He said, "I've seen you chugging all over, what kind of bike is that?".  We even talked about my missing taillight lens and he didn't put me in handcuffs.  A half hour later he drove away with the smile still on his face and I turned around and went the other direction to Bridgeman's Ice Cream Parlor.  The ice cream was of course just an excuse to ride but it still tasted very good.  Pecan Praline is one of my favorite.  While sitting outside of the restaurant, on the bike, eating my cone a 53 Chevy Pick up pulled in.  It was the guy who followed me in Barnum a couple of weeks ago.  He told me that he wished he would have thought of me for the Memorial Day parade.  He would have loved to have had me in it.  I would have loved to be in it.  Oh well another opportunity missed.  And more UDF.   Of course each person going into or out of the restaurant had to ask about the bike also.  And of course I had to tell them all about it.

I wonder what it will be like a year from now, after I have talked to every human being, and a few skunks, within 500 miles?

I now have 1950 km (about 1200 miles) on the bike.  Fast approaching the crucial 2500 km end of the break in period.

5/26/98 Tuesday Day 32...  An uneventful day in the life of the Ural.  I had to take Daughter-in-Law #1, granddaughter Amanda, and Grandson Nicholas to the doctor's office today so I had to drive the truck to work.   Kept saying to myself, "It's too nice to be in a cage."  When I got home I started to look for some dinner to cook and decided that it might be a nice night to eat out.  Yeah right, just another way to self-justify my need to ride.   Tripped into Cloquet and Gordy's Hi-Hat drive in.  It is the local place for hot rods, customs and bikes to hang out.  And a lot of local folks there for the wonderful food.  Had a huge burger even though I seldom eat red meat.  And it was fantastic.  Home is to the North-East but I again found myself heading South-West to get there.  Something about that just isn't right but it seems that the long way home is always the most enjoyable.

Broke the 2000 km (1240 miles) barrier tonight.  Next stop 2500 km and the ability to let her rip at full power.

5/27/98 Wednesday Day 33...  It was 33 degrees F. when I left for work this morning but it is expected to hit around 80 today.   What a wonderful day it would be if I weren't sick as a dog.  I have been battling a sore throat for a couple of weeks but today it turned into a nasty cough, with sore muscles, tiredness and the works.  Dare I say "flu"?  Got to work at 6:30 a.m. and left at 8:30, for a short day.  The ride home was wonderful.   It had already warmed to 65 F.  I am going to take a nap then make some calls to see if I can find a tail light lens.

I am also sitting here contemplating organizing a rally for next year.  I may start an organization called the "Russian Motorcycle Association of North America".  I will probably set up a web site soon and start organizing the first rally for July of 1999 here in Duluth.  Duluth is a wonderful tourist paradise in the summer.  The weather is almost always between 70 F. and 80 F., just enough rain to keep things green and spectacular scenery.  The area is all hills, lakes and forests with curvy roads throughout.  The entire North Shore of Lake Superior is what is known by geologists as the Lauretian Mountain Chain.  It supposedly is the oldest mountain range on Earth.  The mountains are well worn now and about 1300 feet above the lake level at their maximum but I am told they were at one time higher than the Himalayas.  Lake Superior is 385 miles from end to end and the Duluth harbor was at one time one of the busiest ports in the world.  More tonnage moved out of here in the 30s-60s than out of New York Harbor.  It is still a working seaport so there is much to see.  There are a multiplicity of museums, restaurants and attractions and the prices are small town prices.  Duluth/Superior has a population of nearly 150,000 so it is by no means a small town yet it acts like one. Crime is so minimal as to be almost non-existent, the education system is one of the best in the nation and it is a good of a place to visit as it is to live.  Any make of motorcycle will be welcome at the rally but there will of course be a special emphasis on bikes of Russian origin.   For a more information about Duluth check out my Duluth History site.

5/28/98 Thursday Day 34...  This morning I took the truck to work.  I am still feeling quite badly so I did something very out of character.  I haven't been to a doctor in quite a while so I called my doctor.   I was told that he retired two years ago.  I guess it has been longer than I thought since I had been in.  Turns out it was almost four years since my last visit.   That coupled with the fact that my dentist recently died makes me think that I might be getting old, nah...  I did manage to stumble into the walk in center at the hospital and they diagnosed me as having bronchitis.  They gave me a prescription for the appropriate drugs and I was on my way.  Spent most of the day laying on the couch watching movies and napping.  The only place I rode today was to the video store to rent about a half dozen movies for the next couple of days.

The new organization is only a day old and we have already changed the name and the mission.  It is now known as the "North American Russian Motorcycle Association" and it already has a web site starting up. 

The trusty Ural now has 2,200 Km on it.  Nearing the magical 2,500 Km checkup when I can start cranking it up...

5/29/98  Friday Day 35...    Stayed home from work again today and slept most of the day away.   Couldn't do much riding but I did a lot of thinking about bikes.   Ended up going for a short ride in the evening just because I could not make it through a day without riding.  Stopped and chatted with our local constable.  He has a 76 Harley that he is thinking about putting a hack on.  I hope he does...  Doing a little checkover of the bike I discovered that one of the nuts holding the transmission to the engine case was missing.  Son #1 stopped by with a new nut and a tube of Loctite Red.  I guess it would be a very good idea to use it every where that I can.  It also appears that the directional light is not making good contact.  I tried bending the contact but it did not seem to work.  The bulb may be just enough shorter than the original to be a little too short.  I may have to solder a blob of lead to the contact.  A little experimenting and I should have it working right.

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

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Last modified: March 22, 2011

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