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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Dachary, Jul 17, 2012.
That's really cool, I bet he's REALLY enjoying himself
With things dried we packed up and made the first decision of the day: where to have breakfast. Neither of us wanted McDonalds, and there was a Perkins just across the way. Dachary claims this is kind of like a Dennys which sounded much better than McDonalds to both of us, but at the same time we needed to make miles fast today so that wed have time to spend with Dacharys family tonight. So, McDonalds it was.
On the road Dachary (we switch off who drives which vehicle every day) discovered something Id discovered the previous day. The Ural had magically acquired some more horsepower. We didnt know from where, or why, but it had more get-up-and-go than it used to. She was so happy about it that, combined with an ear-worm of Michael Jacksons Wanna be Startin Somethin had here literally dancing on her seat.
Unfortunately, it was too good to be true. After one of our many gas-stops the extra power disappeared and took a little of the other power with it. At our lunch stop (another McDonalds
ugh) she purchased some octane booster to test the theory that maybe it was some poor gas from the last place. It wasnt
At some point the power came back, then left, then came back again, then left
Meanwhile my headset was following a similar pattern. I was thrilled that in the early day it worked perfectly, and then half-way through it shut itself off. Turn it on, it shuts off. After a few times of that it stayed on for hours to the dismay of both of us. But, then it started shutting off quite quickly.
At lunch we had a classic example of street-dog thinking vs city dog thinking.
Dachary decided to buy herself a pair of dorky sunglasses to compliment mine, and oblige the request from others for a picture of my new dorky haircut and cop-style clip-on shades. As you can tell from the sticker theyre polarized, as is the vizor on our helmets, which means they combine to look like a 2D movie viewed through 3D glasses. Each eye was seeing slightly different colors, and it made my brain not happy. But
at least the world wasnt as blindingly bright.
Whilst modeling our glasses, ben managed to catch a butterfly. Were still not sure how he managed that.
INSERT PICTURE OF BUTTERFLY
Just before reaching our destination, we spotted a large Harley sign. Harley riders use headsets all the time
We couldnt talk, but we had the same thought, and pulled in.
No headsets. Four hundred thousand pieces of clothing and chrome plated doo-dads though
At least they had a bathroom.
Back in the parking lot Dachary decided to consult the internet for any other nearby motorcycle dealers who might not be closed yet on a Saturday, or who might have some sliver of a chance of being open on Sunday, because gods forbid the sellers of luxury items should every try and be open when their customers have time to visit them
Anyway. Everyone was either closed or didnt have any in stock.
We took off, and Dachary noticed Id neglected to clip in Didos harness. Eep! The headsets happened to be on at that moment, so she told me and we pulled over, clipped `Dido in, while Dachary ran inside to pee at the gas station wed just pulled over at, called her Grandpa to let him know we were 40 minutes outside of town, and he said theyd meet us at the hotel.
Ten minutes after wed gotten stuff off the bike and we were surrounded by family. Dacharys Grandpa (who raised her), his girlfriend, her uncle, aunt, and her youngest sister all showed up. There was talk of the bikes, travel, drawing, and family.
Towards the end we mentioned the problems with the headsets and Dacharys uncle offered to take a look, having had a background in similar electronics, and had the wee little torx wrenches required to open the thing. He admitted that a bluetooth radio was somewhat dissimilar to what he was used to, but we figured its already broken, out of warranty, and we plan on getting a new one, so he cant hurt it worse.
End result, we think theres a decent chance its just the battery which he says he saw online for about $5. Buy a new battery, shove it in, and well either have a working spare or well be out $5. Worth a try. In the meantime, weve put it back together and will have to make-do until Tuesday, which is the earliest any motorcycle shop seems to be open and also the earliest we can get on shipped somewhere, although weve no clue where since the only person we have to ship something to is my little brother in Denver.
On his way out to poke at that we swung by the bike to check the final drive oil level, because we hadnt checked it since we left. Why does gear oil have to smell so nasty? Even though wed changed it just before leaving with a nice pink fluid it now looks just as dark and nasty as it smells, and the level had fallen to just below the lower line, but the gear box was also cool so, Im not sure. I gave it a wee bit more, knowing that it would just weep out the top if there was too much, but were going to have to change that soon
of course, its a Ural so youre going to have to change all the fluids soon, because the maintenance intervals are so close.
I also checked the spark plugs, which looked ok to me. Everyones alway told me you want a nice mocha coloring. Dachary says thats either changing, or its different on the Ural and you want closer to clean metal. I dont remember. Either way, I changed them out because the programmer in me demands the removal of variables when debugging a problem, and the web poster in me knows there will be a contingent of folks going Its the spark plugs! if I dont, and changing them will make you guys happy too. Plus if were wrong about it not being the spark plugs then weve just fixed the problem. I dont mind being proven wrong, especially when it fixes things.
Also, heres a picture (of poor quality, sorry) so that you guys can debate their color, because I know some of you are going to want to.
It was great to finally meet her family. Her grandpa told me to be sure and take care of her and keep her out of trouble. I kinda chuckled at that one, as theres little chance of that.
On that note dear friends, I bid you a fond goodnight. Its way too late to be typing this stuff and Dacharys sound asleep.
half an hour later and Im still trying to get the images uploaded. Maybe theyll be done in the morning.
Quick note re: the power issues... it was wonderful, fabulous when I started riding yesterday morning. I even managed to get up to 74 MPH on a relatively flat stretch! I was running along at 65-70 with what felt like power to spare, and actually passing people!
Then by around 11AM, we started losing oomph... I could only get up to 61-62MPH on flat stretches and it was driving me bonkers. It was down to 55MPH or so up hills again like it had been on Thursday. I had no idea what the variables could possibly be... the only thing we did between getting great performance and getting poor performance was I had flipped the fuel petcock from main to reserve, and then flipped it back and filled up with new gas. (Premium - it was 92 octane at that gas station.)
After I was having such bad performance, I started experimenting with flipping the petcock back and forth in case it was some debris caught in the petcock that was obstructing the fuel flow. It didn't help. At our lunch stop, I added some octane booster just to see. It didn't help. Toward 3PM or so I started getting the power back in little spurts... by the end of the day, I was running 72MPH again on flat stretches but it was pretty much full out.
Admittedly I've never tried diagnosing something like this before, but I checked the operation of the throttle body on the carbs while I was driving and they were definitely moving when I twisted the throttle. Something in my gut was telling me it was the air/fuel mixture... too much of one, not enough of the other. That's why I had Kay pull the spark plugs. I feel like those spark plugs are more fouled than they should be, which to me indicates that it's running rich... maybe we'll try putting in lower octane gas today and see what happens. (And yes, the air filter is fine - we swapped to a new K&N filter before we left Boston and we've only done around 1,000 miles on paved roads since then.)
So... I guess we'll see what happens today!
I think your plugs look fine. Desirable is a dry tan/beige color. I wouldn't call those "fouled" by any stretch.
Given your pre-departure carb problems and the intermittent nature of the symptoms you describe, my first suspicion would be a sticky carb float that isn't maintaining a consistent/proper fuel level.
My advice, however, is worth exactly what you're paying for it. ;-)
Check to make sure all the connections between your carburetors and the airbox are on tight. It could be intermittently causing you to run lean and sap your power.
If you find you have to disconnect anything, remember to build the pipes back from the carburetor to the airbox, they'll stay on better that way.
Day 4 - Anderson, IN to Keokuk, IA
Unsurprisingly, we got off to a late start. Kay was futzing with the Internet in the morning, and I was, too, and my grandpa showed up shortly before 8AM to see us off. We were still packing and I was still dealing with Internet stuff, so I sent Kay down to check on the "continental breakfast" while I wrapped up the tasks. His report was uninspiring, so I made an executive decision that we were having breakfast at Cracker Barrel with my grandpa. Done. We called my aunt, who was also scheduled to show up to see us off, and advised her of the change in plans. So we met up and headed to Cracker Barrel, where the dogs waited patiently in the sidecar while I had breakfast with my family.
It was nice to have another chance to chat with them. I really felt bad about only having an evening to spend with them while we were in town - last year I'd come to visit for a week and still felt that wasn't long enough because I hadn't seen them in 4 years at that point - so it was good to be able to have breakfast with some of my family, at least. Kay was extremely patient - the time passed quickly and before I knew it 10:30AM had rolled around and we were just leaving Cracker Barrel. But he said it was totally worth getting a late start to be able to spend a bit more time with him. I feel really fortunate to have someone as understanding as he is.
Hit the road around 10:45 after a quick gas-up and it was slab, slab, slab. Slab into Indianapolis and then back out again northwest. I was glad to be on the F650 - the Ural's performance quirks wouldn't be driving me up a tree trying to figure out the root - and I could just kick back and relax. The morning temps weren't too bad even though we'd gotten a late start, and we covered good miles.
Happily, somewhere around our second gas stop, we left the slab and found ourselves on state highways through Illinois. This was MUCH more pleasant. The speed varied from 30-55MPH, which was enough to keep you alert and to keep the bikes happy (particularly the Ural, which seems to care more about speed than the F650) and the scenery also just seemed a lot more pleasant. Even though we were driving through the same type of stuff. I guess it's just because a state highway feels a lot more intimate than the Interstate - everything is up close and personal instead of far off in the distance, removed by an exit. And we really prefer traveling at this speed, which is one of the reasons the Ural feels like a good fit for our preferred travel style.
Kay's note: I have a lot of trouble staying awake on the slab, but put me on a nice back road (or 90% of the roads outside of the USA) and I'm wide awake, and taking in everything. The Ural and I like the same kind of roads it seems.
At our second gas stop, where I spotted beer being sold by the can in a big ice chest in the middle of the gas station (what's that about drinking and driving, Illinois?) Kay and I each knocked back a sugary drink to give us a jolt of caffeine and a burst of energy before hitting the road again. Neither of us felt like eating, as we'd had a big breakfast, so we just pushed on. But it became apparent pretty quickly after we got back on the road that I'd need an unscheduled stop soon. And then it became very apparent that my intestines were very unhappy. I announced that we were pulling off at the next exit, and I practically ran into the bathroom when we hit the gas station. I didn't even bother to take off my helmet and gloves - it was an emergency.
Kay's note: While walking the dogs at this stop I discovered this cool rusting car.
My intestines were, indeed, very unhappy. They hadn't been this unhappy since the time in Argentina where we had to make an emergency stop on the side of the road to address my unhappy lower GI. When I finally freed myself from the clutches of the bathroom, I made a bee-line to the Immodium and popped two as soon as I got out to the bike. I announced that it was time to go, as I really wasn't feeling well and my strategy was just to power through.
Kay's Note:While Dachary was inside exploding I met a man, and later his wife, who came over and said "Got your best friend in there?" (People frequently don't notice Bandido for a bit) and started talking.He'd just driven from Deleware where he got a new Monte Carlo. Apparently he buys and restores them. It would have been just another random encounter, except for the comment about the dogs and how "they don't fight back. heh heh" which was a somewhat disturbing little insight into his world...
The next stretch is a bit of a blur. The riding was more pleasant, but my whole digestive system seemed unexplainably angry. I'd only drunk a Mountain Dew and some bottled water from my Camelbak at that last stop, and Kay had the same breakfast as me and he wasn't sick so it probably wasn't the food... I had no idea what I'd done that could have brought it on but it was misery. I really just wanted to be whiny and stop for the day but we had far too many miles to make up to give in like that.
By the time the Ural needed its next fill-up, I was feeling a little better. Had a minor revisitation from the unhappy intestines, so I popped another Immodium and bought a Gatorade and a cookie to try to keep me from getting dehydrated and to give me a shot of energy. At this point I had pretty much nothing in my system, food or water-wise, but the idea of eating anything just felt gross after my digestive system was so unhappy. That cookie was damn good, though. Casey's General Store: if you're all this tasty, I want to revisit your baked goods.
I was sitting with the dogs, drinking my Gatorade, while Kay was off taking pictures of a load of bricks (no, I don't understand why, either... apparently they were "artistic") when a woman came over and complimented the rig. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and then a guy came over to join her. He apparently recognized us - he'd followed our RR from Boston to Ushuaia and we'd met him last year at the BMW MOA rally! We re-introduced ourselves and I got to meet Terry and Connie. And they were on a BMW K-bike custom sidecar hack! Of course we had to compare hacks, and theirs seems very well built for comfort. I was really impressed. There were things about it that just wouldn't work with our travel style, but it was clearly a well thought-out rig and I was a bit envious after some of the power issues I'd been having with the Ural yesterday.[/ url]
Had a nice chat with them - it's always good to talk bikes with other motorcyclists and like-minded travelers - but they were going the opposite way as they were coming home from this year's MOA rally in Sedalia, MO. We were headed that way, where the heat was so intense that another canine in a sidecar hack was playing hopscotch to try to avoid burned paws on the hot asphalt - so it was time to part ways and hit the road again. But I hope we meet them again in our travels in the future!
Back on the road, where Kay commented that the air felt like a hot blast from a hair dryer. At least the landscape was more interesting, as we continued riding on county roads and backroads across Illinois. Eventually, we made it to our final gas stop of the day, just 6 miles from the "close" campground that I'd picked out. It was around 6:15-6:30, so we opted not to try for the "far" campground I'd found which was around 100 miles away. So it was just a short 6-mile jaunt to where we could set up camp nice and early, write up the day and maybe relax a bit.
I noticed a river on the map, and the state border seemed to be in the river... and then a thought occurred to me: "Is this the Mississippi? Are we crossing the Mississippi?" Well, you geographically-savvy people are probably thinking "Duh!" but it was the end of a long day and it totally didn't occur to me. But then there we were, crossing the Mississippi and heading into Iowa! It was wide and there was a very impressive dam on it... and my GPS seemed to indicate that we'd be camping along the Mississippi! Score! How cool is that?
Headed up to where the park was supposed to be located... and no park. We went down a gravel drive adjacent to the green space where the park was supposed to be. It was just a driveway for a couple of homes. We went back and turned into the next drive on the other side of the green space where our park was supposed to be located. It was a country club. ACK! Where's the campground? The next place was 100 miles away, and I was tired and hot and ready to be done - that ride just seemed too daunting. Especially with my stomach threatening to explode again. I said to Kay that we should just suck it up and grab one of the hotels in town, but he suggested that we ask the couple that was in the country club parking lot if they had any idea where the campground was located.
Success! They did, indeed, know of a campground. They gave Kay some directions, but then said that they'd be driving to the supermarket that was along the route so we could follow them that far and then navigate the rest of the way to the campground. We thought that was very generous, and Kay pulled over next to my bike while they finished loading their car. When they came around, the woman said that hubby wasn't feeling well, so she'd drop him off and show us how to find the campground, but that she thought there was also camping by the river, and would we rather do that? Well, heck yeah! We were all psyched to be camping by the Mississippi and bummed that we couldn't find the place - we'd jump on the idea of river camping! So she said to follow them while they dropped off hubby, and then she'd lead us to the river campground.
Apparently the plans changed along the way, because after a rather circuitous route, we found ourselves at the river! It was a municipal camping area. There were no amenities, but it was literally right along the river, and the woman painted a great picture of what it would be like to camp there, so we wanted to stay. We chatted for a bit and thanked them for their kindness - it reminded us of other places in the world where people went out of their way to be generous and helpful to travelers, but that has so rarely happened to us here in the US, so it was a really pleasant surprise to find that in Iowa along the Mississippi River!
After they headed out, we walked around for a bit pondering where to put the tent. I felt my energy flagging fast, and I told Kay that I was crashing and that we needed to get set up fast so I could eat the sandwich we'd bought and get some brain back.
(If you don't already know from our SA RR, if I don't get fed at least somewhat regularly, my brain just goes away. Imagine a diabetic on a sugar crash. I get kinda confused and easily distracted, and it takes me a long time to parse even simple things. I've talked to my doctor about it and been tested for diabetes repeatedly as it runs in my family, but apparently they can't find any reason for this... it usually doesn't matter but the end result is that I need to eat *something* at regular intervals or my brain vanishes.)
In spite of my best intentions of adventurous camping along the Mississippi river... I just couldn't find a good place to set up the tent. In one spot, there were a ton of spider webs and ants and a pile of what looked suspiciously like vomit. Pretty much everywhere else, there was a ton of poop. I suspect geese, although there weren't any there at the time. I'm not really that fastidious but I didn't want to get goose poop all over our tent footprint. And on, and on... the endless litany of "how about over here" quickly boiled down to one simple thing: my tummy was still unhappy. That's it. I needed a place to stay that had a bathroom. So we were going for a hotel.
Kay's note:While the area was a little questionable, and potentially noisy, we both liked the idea of camping along the banks of the Mississppi river, and before Dachary's intestines spoke up I grabbed a dog bag and cleaned a spot of all the poo. I've seen plenty of goose poo, and plenty of dog poo. Geese can not be blamed for this. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that the dog owners of Keokuk Indiana are thoughtless ass-holes. At least the ones who walk their dogs there.
Kay's note:The Johnson's however, were an example of what a difference a little bit of thoughtfulness can make. It's also an example of the kindness you seem to find everywhere outside of the United States. So, if you're in Keokuk IA looking for "Clothes for the Particular Man" check out Gary's shop. Sending you there is the least we can do in return.
The GPS had several, including a Super 8, which Kay called to verify that they'd take dogs. They would. We hit the button and got a route. Just a couple of miles away. Along the way, Kay kept calling out to me over the headset to be careful and pay attention. My brain had become so depleted at that point that I was like a small child getting distracted over every little shiny. "Ohh! Sonic! Ohh! Wendy's! Ohh! A Honda motorcycle dealer!" On and on. Kay kept trying to get me to focus on driving but I had so little brain that every thing my eye fell on became a big thing worthy of an exclamation.
At one point, a woman in a gold car pulled out from a left turn toward my lane, and I shouted because I thought she was going to cut me off or actually hit me, but it was clear to Kay that she had no intention of coming all the way over to our lane (it was a 5 lane road - 2 lanes in each direction and a turn lane in the middle - and she was going for one of the near lanes) but I was convinced that she almost hit us. I think that if we couldn't have seen the Super 8 in the distance by then, Kay probably would have told me to pull over and would have ferried me there instead of letting me drive the rest of the way.
We made it without incident, though, and Kay pulled in to get us a room. And then he instructed me to go there immediately and eat a cookie. I didn't want a cookie and wouldn't eat one. I really do get into a childlike state when I get that low on brain power - it's disturbing to think about in retrospect. Kay hustled me into the hotel room while he unpacked our luggage from the bikes and then went to go get us some real dinner at Sonic.
Kay's note: I didn't know what needed to be grabbed from the bikes, or where it lived since Dachary's been heading up the packing this trip, and when I asked her what bags I should get it was almost painful watching her brilliant mind slowly pick items off of a mental list. I immediately instructed her to eat some of the pre-made sandwich we'd bought since she wouldn't eat the cookie. I'm happy to report she'd done so by the time I got back, but it wasn't enough. The Sonic was...
By the time we got settled in, it was around 9:30. We'd left the gas station about 8 miles away at around 6:30 for a campground that was supposedly 6 miles away, just across the river. Just goes to show that the best laid plans, and all that.
Whilst Kay was doing the heavy lifting, I checked the weather for where we'd be traveling next and discovered that they were under an extreme heat warning. Ack! Temperatures in the 103-105 range, and they were advising people to limit outdoor activity and get into air conditioned environments. It had been hot enough today - we passed a sign that said it was 92 when we were heading to the hotel - and I didn't want to subject us or the dogs to that kind of heat. So I suggested that we get up really early and get on the road around sunup just to try to cover miles before it got too hot. Kay agreed, so we set the alarm for 5AM - I felt it should probably be 4:30 but couldn't bring myself to say it - and as it was already after 10, it was time to get to sleep ASAP. Updating the RR and blog would have to wait.
Kay's Note: She also instructed me to go do laundry, which I thought was somewhat insane at 10 PM when we were both wiped out, but it was not an evening where debating the validity of a course of action was even remotely a good decision. I went and did the laundry.
Quick note about the Kay's helmet headset, though: my uncle disassembled it while we were in Anderson, but found he didn't have the right battery to replace it. But he cleaned some connections while he was in there and said there were no signs of water damage. After reassembling and charging the headset, it appears to be working again! It was on for around 10 hours total today, I think, and it hadn't yet died when we stopped for the day. So I don't know what he did, but it worked! I'm thinking that if it keeps up this trend, we won't bother to replace it - we'll just keep an eye on it to see how it's doing.
Kay's note: For those wondering how the dogs fit / ride in the sidecar when they're actually moving I offer you this:
For those wondering how well they get along inside there, or in general, I offer you this:
Ben's head is rested across 'Dido's back in that one.
Day 5 - Keokuk, IA to Holton, KS
We adhered to our plan and got up at 5AM - Kay walked the dogs before it was even light outside, while I worked on packing stuff up. (Kay tends to wander around inefficiently when he's doing an open-ended thing like packing, so it just works out better if he has a series of tasks, like walking the dogs, taking some of the luggage out to the bike, etc. while I do things that require more fuzzy logic.) When Kay came back, he reported that it wasn't too bad outside. He was right! Even though the weather said it was already 80 degrees, we were pleased to find that it felt fairly mild.
The Ural still had about 3/4 of a tank so we packed up, checked tire pressures and hit the road without further adieu. I was pleased that we were rolling out right around sunrise, at about 6:10AM. We skipped the hotel breakfast and made good time on state highway type stuff. After about 45 mins or so, we hit the interstate, which unfortunately was the order of the day for the rest of the day's ride.
Ran a tank (about 80 miles or so), gassed up without taking a break, and ran another tank before breakfast. By 8:45ish, we'd covered around 150 miles and the weather was starting to get hot. Gassed up again, and Kay wanted McDonalds for breakfast so we sat at an outdoor table with the dogs. I was displeased that there wasn't any shade - I was already starting to feel overheated - but Kay seemed oblivious so I didn't try to get us to move.
Breakfast for us, breakfast for the dogs (they each got an Egg McMuffin, because they'd eaten all their kibble last night like crazy hungry beasts, and we hadn't dug more out of the trunk yet), bathroom for us, bathroom for the dogs and then packing everything up... took longer than I'd hoped. And Kay suggested that we run to the Wal-Mart just down the road to buy an oil pan for this evening, since today's going to be the day we need to do the 5,000km service on the Ural. I sent him in to fetch it while I waited with the dogs, shielding them from the direct sun so they could relax in a shady sidecar. Of course that took longer than expected, too, so by the time we got back on the road, we'd been stopped for an hour and a half and it was HOT.
Ran another tank, and when we stopped for gas, we decided to play it by ear. We added fresh cold water to our Camelbaks, rolled out the Frogg Toggs Cooling Towel for the dogs, and soaked them down with some of the cold water to help them cool off. And then we had them drink some of the water, too. And we drank some. So much cold watery goodness. We felt sufficiently refreshed to run another tank and see how we were doing at that point. This was around 11:30-11:45, and the temps were probably in the mid-90s.
Kay's Note: I ran in, bought 5 liters of water, ran out, and did my best to immitate those efficient Nascar crews. Unroll the Frogg Togg thing! Water the dogs! Pour remaining water over dogs! Attack dogs with chilly bottled water! Rub water into fur! Open Camelback! Squeeeeeeze! More water! Open Camelback! Squeeeze! More water! Squeeze! Go Go Go!
By the time we'd run another 40 miles down the road, we were getting pooped. Kay said over the headsets that he was having trouble staying awake in the heat on this boring road, and I wasn't much better. And it was officially hot with a capital H-O-T! (I know - I declared it at 12:03 PM. Right before I declared that people in Missouri were worse than average at merging. Really? Merge does NOT mean come to a complete stop and/or force someone into the next lane! Speed up or slow down appropriately to fit into a slot in traffic! Geez, how hard is it, people?)
I peeked in at the dogs and Ben was panting - the first time I've seen him panting whilst the sidecar was moving on this trip - so I decided it was time to call it a day. I checked the GPS for lodging and saw a few no-name local hotels in the next town about 20 miles away. Or there was a Super 8 about 25 miles south. We'd stayed at Super 8 already with the dogs on this trip, and Kay had postulated that perhaps the whole chain was dog-friendly, so I decided it was better to go with a semi-known quantity and adjusted our route on the fly to the Super 8.
Along the way, I hit reserve - at about 120KM, which is much earlier than I've ever hit it on the Ural - and I was concerned that at that rate, I might not have enough gas to make it all the way to Holton. We carry a RotoPax with a gallon of gas in it, so I knew I could add that to the tank if we needed it, but I didn't want to stop in the middle of the direct sun and expose the dogs to that kinda heat while I topped up to get us into town. So when we saw a gas station on the left side of the divided highway, I pulled in.
Unfortunately, it wasn't operational. I don't know if it was still under construction or out of business - it looked fairly new but it wasn't clear what the status was. We started to pull out again, but I expressed my concern about the gas to Kay who suggested that we pull into the shade at the gas station to top up the tank and that way we wouldn't have to worry about it.
So we did that (with a quick detour for Kay to go pee) only to discover that we couldn't get the darn RotoPax nozzle to pour properly. It's one of those ridiculous government-compliant things that you have to turn and push down on or some such garbage, and I'm better with this kinda thing but I wasn't able to get it to work. Kay, who had successfully used the RotoPax last time (back in Boston when we ran out of gas around town) also wasn't able to get it working. In the end, we took the nozzle off and aimed as best we could at the gas tank, and got about half of it in there. The rest spilled all over the Ural and on the ground below. But we were too hot to care - we just wanted to get to Holton and get the dogs into the air conditioned hotel. While Kay was splashing the dogs with some more water to cool them down again, and refreshing their cooling towel, I took the opportunity to check the temp - officially 100.
Kay's Note: I had to pee SOOO Bad. I pulled over by a tree, hobbled slowly under the shade, and peeed, while Dachary got off the bike, removed the rotopack, connected the funnel, tried to get it working, failed, tried to pour it, spilled some... and pee was still coming out. Eventually I hopped back on the bike, and came over to help. I wish I'd thought to take some pictures but I was so concerned about the dogs in the heat that I just wanted to get everything moving as quickly as possible.
On the last 15-mile leg to the hotel, it was clear the Ural wasn't happy. 4th gear had long since given up the ghost - way too much up-and-down today and 4th gear was no longer able to get me to 60MPH, and frequently fell to 50-52 MPH when going uphill, so I was cruising along in 3rd gear. By the time we got into town, even in 3rd gear, the Ural didn't want to go much more than 50 - everything was just too hot. I prayed that we wouldn't have a soft seize (or a full-out seize) before we got to the hotel, because we had to get the dogs out of the heat.
Made it to Super 8 with much crossing of fingers and careful effort not to idle at stoplights, and discovered that they don't take dogs! Ack! This 25 mile detour in this heat was for naught! There was only one other hotel in town, which meant I'd probably have had better luck with the no-name places on our direct path instead of detouring another 25 miles south. Crossed our fingers even more and went across the street to the Red Roof Inn, where we happily discovered that they'd take dogs. JOY!
Dogs and essential luggage went into the room, and I took the Ural down the street to Burger King to score us some lunch. I was too hot to be really hungry, but I didn't want a repeat of yesterday so I knew we had to eat. After far too much time, I got back to the room with the food and was able to finally relax in the air conditioning. Not a moment too soon - I was dizzy and a bit confused and I think I was in the early stages of heat exhaustion.
As I write this, it's around 4 o clock and we're waiting until much later to do the 5,000km service on the Ural. It's far too hot out there to even consider doing something like that now. I'll probably wait until 7 or 8 and try to find some shade around here as the sun sets where we can do the service.
In addition to the normal 5,000km service items, I'm also gonna check the valves again. I don't know what else could have caused it to lose so much oomph but its performance today made me more certain than ever that something isn't right. I'll probably also change the air filter again - as I was riding today, I noticed a fine sheen of dust coating my Camelbak bite valve. Made me at least consider the possibility that even though we've been riding pavement, there might be some fine particulates on the air filter causing some issues. It's probably a vain hope, but I'm not really sure where else to go, diagnostically speaking. The performance is just so inconsistent, I feel like there's some sort of issue with air or fuel flow.
Plan for tomorrow is more of the same. Get up even earlier than we did today, get on the road at first light, and make miles before it gets too hot to ride. But I think we'll try to find a place to stop before it gets as hot as it did today - we felt rather critical about getting the dogs out of the heat ASAP by the time we stopped because I think we'd waited too long.
So much for my carefully-planned campground route.
Kay's Note: I thought that yesterday afternoon was like riding into a hair-dryer. I was wrong. It was like riding into a poorly functioning hair-dryer on low. Whenever I opened my visor to scratch an itch this afternoon I was hit with a blast of hot hot air. It was horrible. I didn't know it could be that much worse with the visor open.
My headset has survived a second day without cutting out. Maybe it was bad connectors. Maybe the circuit board and the battery just needed some time apart. I don't know, but fingers crossing that it stays working. the sound quality has been somewhat crappy since around the same time Dachary got her G9 (lots of distortion) so I do want to get a new G9 anyway, but with these unplanned hotel stays it's nice to not have to spend that extra money right now. Keep your fingers crossed folks
Ahem. This suggestion was spot on, as it happens. We're doing our 5,000km service this evening and when we went to disconnect our airbox to check/change the air filter, we saw that even though the carb hose clamps were still in place, the hoses had popped off the carbs. We're still doing the full service but I wouldn't be surprised if that doesn't fix things right there.
(And yes, now I feel suitably chastened that this wasn't the first thing I checked. Just goes to show - a perfunctory visual inspection doesn't cut it!)
Interesting traveling with dogs.
Well that probably explains the poor fuel economy, too.
The connection between the rubber elbow and the carb can be a huge pain in the ass, but once its attached without pushing on the carb it usually stays in position. Keep an eye on them when you fill up for the next few days to make sure they're still attached and watch your boots when getting on/off.
You'll find the compression clamps don't need to be super tight to keep the elbow on (too tight may actually force the elbow off the flange).
Some members of sovietsteeds have taken to attaching a short length of muffler tubing to the carb flanges to increase the surface area the elbow has to available to attach to. It's probably a good "peace of mind" mod to perform at some point.
I'm enjoying following along. I completely understand the issues of riding in the heat, I live in the Southeast where it's hot much of the year. I highly recommend buying a couple of cooling vests. They do help a lot. If you pass by a Cycle Gear, they sell them for $35.
Yesterday involved entirely too much hair-dryer action. Today we would get up even earlier to avoid it. So, we got up at 4:45 which is actually 3:45 in our home time-zone, which we left less than a week ago. As I write this its 6:20 PM and Dachary and I just forced ourselves up from a nap, because sleep is an evil thing that must be avoided at all costs
. or something. Im not sure. I think I hear its siren call still.
Day 5 - Chapter The Second
After we posted the Day 5 report we went out and finished Day 5, which involved the 5,000km service on the bike. Oil looked good, hardly any schwarf in it (yay) transmission oil looked good, and had
less schwarf than the last time (almost yay). It had started out as a Pepto-Bismol pink and had ended up a dirty sock pink. I demanded that the final drive fluid be changed because after checking its level earlier I knew that it no longer resembled Pepto-Bismol in any way, shape, or form. It was just disgusting and nasty and filled with schwarf, although, in its defense it was less than last time.
Dachary and Ben got things started, Dido guarded the tools, and somehow I ended up covered in fluids and grime. I always seem to be the one who ends up covered in fluids even though Dachary is the gear-head.
Theres always oil in the air-box. It seems to just be what Urals do. Or, at least what our Ural does.
This, of course took way too long. It was 103° when we started with a mild-hair-dryer of a breeze. It was fully dark by the time we finished. Fortunately there was an auto parts store still open at whatever late hour it was, and I carried the container over to them for disposal of its fluids. The container itself magically disappeared sometime thereafter. Its my story and Im sticking with it.
Day 6: for real this time.
Like yesterday, I walked the beasts while Dachary addressed the assorted little bags and things wed left scattered about the room. From the hill of desiccated grass behind the hotel (all the grass is desiccated out here) I could see the nearby bank sign reading, 5:15 AM and then 88° F. The air felt slightly muggy.
The dogs climbed into the sidecar while we finished packing it, and after a quick stop at the gas station we were on the road again. Wed decided to try and take back roads today, rather than the interstate and a couple hundred yards after the gas station she said I was looking for 24 but I dont see it. Lets take this left. (onto 16). It was going west. Who was I to argue.
With the sun just peaking past the horizon we whooped as we crested the rolling hills. The air felt cool
er than yesterday, and the sun wasnt trying to blind us with her bazillion watt bulbs yet. After a certain crossroads Dachary felt the GPS was being led towards its own siren call of Interstateness, and called a halt. A map needed to be consulted. The GPS was instructed to stick-it, and we turned the other way.
In Randolph, KS we found a gas station, come convenience store, come hardware store, come local farmers hang-out, with some shade, and a bench. at 7:30 in the morning shade was already a significant criteria. We talked to some interesting folks, ate some bleh pre-made food followed up with two delicious home-made danish-like things and hit the road after first forgetting to check the oil level.
Dacharys Note: When I was coming out of the gas station after a quick bathroom break, one of the guys at the table asked me: Why are you guys wearing those jackets on a day like today? I explained that its to keep our skin on in case the bikes go down. But theyre not supposed to go down! The only thing I could think of to answer was that we do a lot of off-road riding, and they have a mind of their own sometimes. Later I thought of a bunch of other things I could have said. Other cars arent supposed to cut you off or hit you, either. Or the one that Kay came up with: Would you wear a hard hat to a construction site? But why - theyre not supposed to drop things on your head?
Anywho - one guy asked if they werent hot and I answered that they had good ventilation, and when we saw the only other motorcyclists we saw ALL DAY LONG later in the afternoon and they were only wearing a t-shirt, we were both like I wouldnt want to be them! We feel like the gear keeps the sun off our skin and helps us stay a little cooler in this extreme heat
there are so many misconceptions about wearing good gear and I wish we could somehow explain all of this to people who just dont get it. End Dacharys Note
I was having trouble staying awake again, even though we were on a more interesting back road. The heat? The fact Id just eaten? I dunno. At the next gas stop Dachary made sure I drank some Mountain Dew. Then we took off after first forgetting to check the oil level
Dachary remembered less than a mile down the road, and we decided to pull into an ex-gas station that was in the midst of being transformed into a mexican restaurant, across the street from another mexican restaurant in a town with probably less than 1,000 people. I dont foresee a great future. I parked in the shade of the ex-gas pump overhang thing, and quickly checked the levels, trying to get the dogs back on the road ASAP because the sun had caught up with us, and everyone was hot. The level was perfect. I dont know how we managed to guess it so well.
Ride, gas, ride, gas, ride, gas, ride
Dachary needed a pee break. We pulled into a Caseys General Store, which is quickly becoming our favorite gas / convenience store chain in the midwest. This is due to the fact that theyve got clean non-stinky bathrooms, tasty cookies when we want them, and in this case A SHADE TREE!! We were thrilled. What was supposed to be a quick pee break turned into a break where the dogs got out, we got fresh cold water, and shared a diet coke. All because of a shade tree.
While there a couple guys came by and checked out the Ural. One of them owned a BMW R1100, talked slowly, and had zero emotional response. I am convinced he was a robot. They have stuck him in this small town because people expect robots in big cities but no-one expects a robot in the middle of nowhere Kansas.
At some point in the day Dachary spotted a sign as we entered some town proclaiming it to be the home of The Worlds Largest Ball of Twine. Dachary laughed. As soon as she told me what she was laughing about I demanded we find it and stop. I explained that Id been wanting to see this for years. It is one of the great American
insanities. Such a ridiculous thing to create.
I was thrilled. I was so glad we got to see it, but it was so hot we had to pull in, set up the camera, run up, pose, repeat, get and hop back on the bikes as fast as we could to get airflow back on the dogs. I barely had a moment to touch its twiney goodness and walk quickly around it
Theres hardly anything growing out here.
Ive got too many ride gasses in here
maybe. There was a lot of riding and a lot of gassing up. Eventually we found ourselves behind a Prius, surrounded by corn, and moving nowhere thanks to a scary-thin woman with a cigarette and a very large stop sign on a pole.
We waited. My bladder pulsed. We waited. I eyed the telephone pole. We waited. I eyed it harder. I tried to focus on keeping myself between the sun and Ben. My bladder pulsed. I would have totally gone and peed on that telephone pole with the lady standing right there but I was convinced that the moment I got off the Ural Murphys Law would kick in and Id be stuck peeing on a telephone pole for the next two minutes (it was a lot of pee) while the line of unhappy drivers behind us got even more unhappy. I should have taken a picture. I would have taken a picture, but I was all focused on the telephone pole, the sign, and keeping shade on the dog.
After fifteen minutes a Pilot Car showed up, the sign woman switched with another woman, and we were off, at a very sedate pace, past a road crew laying a very nice looking bit of new asphalt. They were probably insane for laying asphalt in that heat, but they were still doing a good job.
Six miles later we reached Colby, my bladder still pulsing, and went with yesterdays plan. Get a hotel before everyone fell over dead from the heat. Hotel acquired, we went to the room, to find the cleaners hadnt finished our room yet. Theyd open the doors of all the rooms along this stretch of the wall for some reason. Dachary was all Go tell the manager and get a different room. which I was about to do until the cleaners popped out of the next two rooms and in that very happy to please you head-bobbing Indian way. 10 minutes the man said, with a thickly accented grin. ok I said, only to look over and see Dachary glaring at me.
I took the dogs for a quick walk while we waited, and Dachary started grabbing stuff off of the bikes and piling it in front of the room. She didnt talk to me for the next five minutes, which I think was one-part glare residue, and one part sheer exhaustion. Soon though, we were in air-conditioned goodness, and my bladder was finally allowed its release.
When the topic of food came up, as it is wont to do after hundreds of miles spent in 3 digit temperatures, Dachary practically cried when I listed off the places I had seen within walking distance of the hotel: Subway, Arbys
I would have continued the list of similar venues but for the cry of No more sandwiches!!! She had previously made it clear she wanted a large chunk of meat. I would have been happy to oblige her, but had no clue what was available in town. Fortunately, the Quality Inn had provided a large folder listing things like that, including a listing for an Authentic Mexican restaurant that lived within this very hotel, and displayed pictures of things you would never find in Mexico, one of which was Steak A La Mexicana. She ignored the obvious and focused on the large chunk of meat that it promised.
I was sent to retrieve meat.
Meat was retrieved, along with other protein sources and general insults to the fine cuisine found on roadsides throughout Mexico. The crap they serve in restaurants in Mexico isnt insulting, but it isnt particularly good either
When I returned, Dachary was in the shower, and upon emerging mentioned that she has discovered a heat rash on her lower right leg. This compliments the sun burn on my neck and ears quite well. The last few days Ive been somewhat religious about wearing my Buff and tucking it up under my helmet to keep the sun off of my neck.
After our 3:30 lunch / dinner
thing I declared that a nap was required. Dachary disagreed: responsibilities, posts to write, Ural dealers to contact, headsets to acquire (Ill get to that). Damn these nap thwarting things! I looked up. I called.
Dachary had written both posts yesterday because it took almost that long for me to select, edit, and upload the images. She felt Id gotten the easy job. Today I would write and she would do all the imagey goodness. Im almost done with this and theyre still uploading.
However, as she climbed onto the bed beside me to start the image work, while I started the writing the horizontality of the bed captured her. She was convinced. A nap would be had!
The alarm was set. The dogs were loaded onto the bed. The sleep was upon us. Then the Ural dealer returned my call. Argh! I never really made it back to sleep before the alarm went off.
As for the headset. Dacharys Uncle does seem to have fixed its dying problem, but Dachary and I are both getting frustrated at the fact that I can only hear 80% of her words when at speed. It doesnt sound terrible, but you try understanding a conversation when 20% of every sentence is missing. It gets very annoying very fast. Some sentences are never fully comprehended.
I know its gotten worse since the trip. I think the degradation has coincided with Dachary getting the upgraded headset. We used to always have some trouble at speed, but these days she claims to be able to hear me perfectly. Tomorrow we shall switch helmets to confirm that its not just old age catching up with me. For reasons we dont understand we both wear the same size helmet, gloves, and shoes. It has its advantages. Assuming she has as hard of a time hearing me tomorrow morning as I do hearing her normally, a new headset shall be in the purchasing, if for no other reason than to stop filling her rides with frustration. Im not quite as frustrated, but thats because what Im trying to communicate is always understood. Unfair, but true.
Dacharys Note: When we went to walk the dogs before our nap, it was friggin hot outside. Kay ranted about it feeling like we were walking into a furnace, and he kept going on about the insanity of the heat, and how he didnt understand how anyone could grow anything out here and how he kept expecting to see cactus farms
I kinda agree because the heat is extreme, but I think Im getting used to it. Today didnt seem as bad as yesterday to me (although I was still feeling like falling asleep by the time we got to the hotel at the end of our day
the heat just takes it out of you.)
Dacharys Note:When we disconnected the airbox last night to check/change the oil filter, we discovered that the air hoses from the airbox to the carb werent fully seated. At the bottom of the hose, theyd slipped off the carb, leaving a tiny gap - even though the clamps were still intact and from the top it looked like they were fully sealed. We fixed this when we reassembled the airbox/carb, hoping it would boost our performance today. (We also found quite a bit of oil in the airbox while we were in there, but I have no idea where it came from because our levels have been good.)
Today, I wanted to drive the Ural even though it was Kays turn to see if there was a boost in its performance compared to yesterday. It might have been ever-so-slightly better
I managed to pull 65MPH again a few times - but it was still being inconsistent. I just crunched the numbers on mileage for the past few days - Ive recorded every tank of fuel since we got the Ural - and yesterday all of our mileage was below 20 MPG. (For comparison, though, weve only been getting around 21 MPG on the trip before this
yesterday was 18.5 to 19.5 MPG so it was only a slight fuel economy loss. Today we were back up to 21 for one tank, then down to under 20 again for the next two tanks (19.8 and 17.46, which is officially our worst mileage ever) and then up to 25.86 MPG
but all of this was at roughly the same speed range and conditions. The Ural definitely has me scratching my head.
On a related note, when we disassembled the petcock we found a disturbing pile of metal shavings around the bottom of the straws. The filters on the straws seem to be doing their thing and keeping the debris out of the fuel line. For the non-Uraling readers, this is not unexpected.
We've actually owned a couple cooling vests. The last time we tried them they did us no good at all, but I think that's because it was so humid out that it couldn't evaporate, so it just prevented air from getting to our skin. The vest got all hot and moist and "nasty". Dachary felt as if she was "...going to start loosing skin from swamp rot". Dachary has since thrown hers out. We could have brought some but we've got so much crap I'm not sure where we would have put them.
I'm not sure what we should get rid of, but something's got to go before the next trip. I know some people love those vests. I believe in the possibility of them, but I've not seen them work personally. As noted though, that's mostly our fault.
Thanks for taking us along...
Hang in there folks... it's 65 degrees and raining lightly here in Colorado. Forecasted highs in Grand Lake through the weekend are in the mid-seventies
You're almost there!
Quick update: we made it to Colorado! Yay! The Ural is still doing its normal quirky performance thing, but today for the first time Kay got to see firsthand (as he was driving) the "inconsistencies" I've been referencing. We've been maxed out today at around 58-60 MPH, which is worse than usual, when all of a sudden on an uphill stretch the Ural started speeding up and actually got up to about 70 MPH for about half a mile! But then it went back to normal, with a top speed of around 60 - but now that Kay has experienced it firsthand, too, he agrees that something is going on with the bike. If only we could figure out what!
The day started with a bit of extra sleep and some decent complimentary hotel breakfast of eggs, sausage, biscuits, and gravy. When I went out to walk the dogs it was eighty-something, but there was a cool moisture in the air. It was nice, almost refreshing.
We got on the road at 8:30, somewhat later than usual, but we needed the sleep, and the food. It was 11:30 at our second gas stop, but it had a Wendys and I invoked the rule about having to stop and eat if it was even remotely close to meal-time. Unlike Latin America it wasnt an issue of there not being food at meal-time, it was an issue of eating gas-station food at meal time if we skipped this.
I went in to order for us, and just as I was approaching the counter everything seemed to break down. A senior citizen at the drive through didnt get his dollar off and demanded it, which involved taking over the one terminal, canceling out a past order, crediting it, creating a new one, telling the kitchen not to make one. Then a man came back with an order that was wrong, and when asked which sandwich was wrong didnt know, so the manager proceeded to open one of the sandwiches, stick her finger in it to peel it open and see, decide it was the one that was right, grab the other one, throw it out, tell the kitchen to make a new one of the right thing, bring that back, drop it off start to turn around only to hear the man say I dont want that one., pointing to the one shed peeled open Its had your fingers all over it. As she wasnt a cook, and had been handling money, I cant really blame the guy.
While these things were all going awry Dachary was outside with the dogs wondering what had happened. She contemplated the possibility that the restaurant had been held hostage, until a woman walked out. She also considered that I may have keeled over with a heart attack. But, eventually I returned with food in hand.
On the road again we saw the most literal implementation of scattered showers you could imagine. There were three clouds with maybe one acre areas of rain falling down, but the really cool part was that the rain fell straight down about a thousand feet (Im guessing here. Its so hard to judge scale with clouds) and then turned at an abrupt 45° angle. Weve got some pictures of that effect, but they really dont do it justice.
This one is just some of the other showers.
At some point along the way the Ural decided that 55 was just too fast. 50 was the speed it would go, as we past a constant stream of Speed Limit 75 signs. Ahh, you say. Your carbs are running too rich for 4,000 feet. But no, weve got the right jets in. And, after an hour of fifty, I magically got 65
for about 3 minutes. Then back to 50. Everything was passing me.
Eventually we crossed into Colorado, and it kind-of rocked, because the whole way weve been telling people that were headed to Colorado and now, here we are.
Dachary was thrilled when we finally saw the Rockies. But this was almost immediately after I fell asleep for a moment while riding so I wasnt able to fully share in the moment and totally forgot to take a picture. The Ural seemed to get excited about the Rockies too and decided to give us 65, and more, until we exited the freeway and came up to the land of stop lights.
A few stoplights in and Dacharys noticed a Starbucks next to a gas station. She was craving, and I wasnt complaining. We stopped, and took the opportunity to call Unique Rides (the Ural dealer here in CO). Randy wasnt able to get us in to look at the bike (booked solid) but took a good amount of time to go over a long mental checklist of the things it could be and the things to check. Sadly, wed checked them all. He also suggested that the stock jets were what was appropriate for this altitude, but suggested that maybe the original dealer had drilled the stock jets out to make it run better at sea-level.
The one thing Randy suggested that we hadnt tried yet was to run it in prime for at least a minute when it was showing poor performance. Dachary had tried that before, but hadnt left it in that position long enough. He suggested that it would take about a minute before you would start to notice an effect, if any.
Ural of New England didnt sound like a tweaking kind-of place, but then again, it really didnt feel like it was running lean back home. So, we called up Dmitry to see if he had any ideas too, and to check on the jets. Turns out they do adjust the jets. The basic tale, as we understand it (not coming from Dmitry) is that dealers arent allowed to change the jets from what it was rated for with whoever tests emissions for a vehicle when it comes onto the market. They can tweak the jet itself, but not replace it, a loophole that works well for people at different altitudes than the thing was set up for at the factory. Plus, we think IMZ-Ural intentionally runs them lean to make them test better on emissions.
Anyway, Dmitry had a couple good ideas too. He suggested that the gas cap might be sealing incorrectly and creating something of a vacuum which results in gas starvation. He thought there also might be an issue with some piece of grit in the carb, but he seemed less confident in that suggestion. He agreed that the gas mileage weve been getting was poor and thinks that it might be a symptom of whatevers going on. His actionable suggestions were to unscrew the gas-cap enough to break the seal when we get below half a tank and see if it has an effect. Also, to pull over when its running poorly again and listen to the idle. We should report back if it is rough or not. Im pretty sure its not since we have pulled over for gas when it was running badly and I dont remember any rough idling, but I wasnt specifically listening for it either.
He suggested that if the gas cap was the issue wed likely hear a whooshing intake of air when we opened the cap. We hadnt been hearing that either, but we also wear ear-plugs under our helmet and hadnt specifically been listening for it. Sadly, at the next fill-up I didnt think to take off the helmet and ear-plugs first, so I cant say if its sucking in air upon opening or not, but it was also running better at that point too so
Well have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.
Major props to both of these guys for taking the time to brainstorm the problem with us.
As for Denver
I really dont like it, or Aurora. The place has no personality. It feels like a bunch of streets with a haphazard assortment random crap on them. We made our way to Performance Cycle of Denver, who Id called yesterday to see if they had a Cardo Scala Rider G9.
Just to confirm that it wasnt early-onset-oldness wed switched helmets when we started out in the morning. I was quite relieved / satisfied to hear a somewhat constast stream of What? Yeah, I didnt get that. Huh? Say that again? and Yeah, I cant understand you. coming from Dachary. At the same time, it kinda sucked. We switched back at the next stop. Here cheek pads are a bit wider after 30,000+ miles in that helmet and the little bit of extra room was kind-of wigging me out. Plus, she wanted her good headset back.
Performance cycle is huge, and has almost nothing we want. It was kind-of weird to walk into a motorcycle store and really not care about anything they had. When we walked into Revzillas showroom I was all ooh and ahh and thats nice. and I wouldnt mind having that. Not that I needed any of it, but still.
One quick purchase later and we were back on the bikes and heading to the hotel in the heart of Denver. Why, you ask, are we staying at a hotel in downtown Denver? Why would we even go to downtown Denver? Because my little brother lives just down the road and I havent seen him in about 15 years. So, were going to get together with him and his wife (who I only just found out about).
The hotel is the worst of the trip, but the dinner with my brother was great. It was really good to reconnect with him.
Id insert a picture here but there were only three taken after dinner, each is screwed up in one way or another and we were interrupted from taking more by a pan-handler who didnt understand the concept of no and decided to tell us a story about a monkey (with its balls in the sand) a lion who kicked its ass, an elephant who kicked its ass, and some complicated series of events involving the monkey pulling its balls from the sand, fighting the half-dead lion who picked a fight with it, and
things I didnt really understand.
This was probably the fifth person begging money in the past seven minutes and maybe the tenth of the night. There was, of course another one, on the way back to the hotel, but it was only a half-assed walk-by begging from a guy who looked like he really didnt need to be bumming money off of people. My first thought was that we must be the only white people around, but that thought was immediately followed by the fact that we were in denver, and while there were a lot of non-white folk there were at least as many white folk running around. A quick glance down the street confirmed this.
Anyway it was good to see my brother, but its late now, and were damn tired, and seriously lacking in the sleep department. Goodnight Folks.
The view from our hotel room:
The view from our hotel room when you look down:
Denver at night:
Thanks for the new report. I really enjoyed reading your South American ride, your posting style really captures a lot of the feelings, both up and down that goes with a long ride. Plus taking the pups . Looking forward to more.
Just a note that we're not dead yet. We've been hanging withe the F650.com folks w/ essentially no net. Plenty of pics to upload when we have some. Colorado is beautiful.
It was a nice day, and we were excited to finally get to our destination: the F650.com 2012 High Country Summit at Lake Granby, Colorado. At the last minute, wed remembered that two of the people we met on our Americas trip, Eric and Sabrina, lived somewhere in Colorado. A little poking on the internet led us to Erics website, so Kay emailed and texted him
and Lo! and Behold! They lived in Denver! Woot! So they were able to meet up for last-minute breakfast, which was awesome. We caught up a bit on how our respective trips had gone, talked travel and motorcycling, and had an all around good time catching up with them. It was so fortuitous that we were able to meet up with them!
After breakfast, we headed up to Unique Rides in Fort Collins to pick up some new head gaskets for the Ural. We wanted to check the valves, but werent able to get the cylinder heads open without sticking something in there to pry them off
and we were afraid of screwing up the gaskets so we gave up until we could find replacement gaskets. It also gave us a chance to meet Randy, who had been so helpful in trying to troubleshoot our performance problems over the phone, and potentially talk a little shop. Unfortunately, somewhere in there I was trying to meet up with one of the Ural owners from Denver and we completely missed the connection. That was a bummer.
On the way up to Unique Rides, I wanted to try what Dmitry had suggested about the vented gas cap potentially being a problem, so I tossed my tank bag into the nose of the sidecar with the dogs. And Lo! and Behold! The Ural ran like a dream all the way from downtown Denver up to Fort Collins! It seemed like our problem might actually be the vented gas cap. No missing power suddenly appearing and just as suddenly disappearing - she just ran like a top. It was fantastic. If the Ural always ran like that, it would be a joy to ride.
Got up to Unique Rides and chatted with Randy for a bit. When we shared the idea of the vented gas cap, and our experience driving up with it slightly open, he said he should have thought of that. Hes had scooters in his shop that have had problems with the vented gas caps, and as soon as the gas caps were replaced, problem solved! It was looking more and more like this would be a simple fix and we were thrilled.
Gassed up and got back on the road a little after noon, and took the advice of another Colorado Ural owner about heading up to Estes Park and across Trail Ridge Road. The ride up to Estes Park was really pretty. We were finally getting into the impressive mountains that had been lurking just outside the city, and the pace was nice and easy - just like I like it. It was a bit of work manhandling the Ural through the twisty bits, and I slowed way down to the lower posted speed limit for the narrow, tight turns (unlike when Im on the F650, when I take turns with confidence and may
find a slight discrepancy between my speedo and the posted speed limit. Ahem.) The Ural requires a lot more body english, but I was still in a relatively contained area so the thought of running into a canyon wall or running off a slight embankment didnt really bother me.
Estes Park is a big tourist town. Were not big on touristy places, but they do have a lot of amenities. We gassed up there, because the next stretch was going to be through Rocky Mountain National Park with no gas. With the Urals gas mileage being so poor, we werent sure wed make it to the next gas unless we topped up - opportunistic gas stops are the order of the day. While we were in town, we grabbed some lunch at KFC, including some chicken fingers for the dogs (which they LOVED, FYI) and had a lot of UDF because all of the tourists were just tickled pink by our dog-mobile. It took a while to get going again.
When we did, though, every moment of this trip was worth it. Because Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park is. Fucking. Gorgeous.
We lost count of the dramatic views and the beautiful mountain vistas. It was simply gorgeous. Words cant do it justice, so here are some pictures:
If youve never been, do it. You wont regret it.
The highest point on the road is around 12,200 feet. We were still running our regular jets on the Ural, which weve discovered have been
modified - so our 122 is probably more like a 125 or 130, and we were running a 42 in the pilot. By the time we got up to 12,200, I could feel it in the Ural. (I could feel it in Estes Park, really
it was starting to be a bit unhappy when idling at that altitude.)
When we reached what I am convinced is the highest stoplight in the world, we had to stop:
And the Ural really didnt want to get started again. I turned it off rather than leaving it idling, and when I started it up and gave it some throttle to go, it sputtered and died. I started it again, gave it a lot more gas and really wound it up before I let off the clutch, and we slowly, painfully started pulling forward. After that initial inertia was overcome and we started pulling up the incline again, we had enough power to get over the top, but this was the only time the Ural had come close to showing real displeasure at the altitude. Both Kay and I were impressed at how well the Ural handled it in spite of not changing out the jets.
After a couple of absolutely beautiful hours, we made it to Grand Lake, and then Lake Granby! And there was our destination for this trip - Cutthroat Bay Campground for the High Country Summit. Several of the crew were already there, having been out playing in the mountains ahead of time. We found out later that if one of the guys hadnt showed up early in the day (the campground wasnt officially ours until 2PM) that we would have been locked out, in spite of having reservations and everything. Luckily, this rather brilliant individual finagled a way for us to get inside, so we were able to drive right in, find a spot and set up camp.
Had a pleasant evening meeting new friends, revisiting guys wed met last year at the BMW MOA Rally, and finally putting faces to names for some of the folks on the forum. It was really good to be there with everyone and hang out with the guys. This is a great crew. We had an excellent chicken dinner that a couple of the guys went and picked up and brought back to the campground, and then hung out around the campfire, where we received a visit from a local deputy because our flames were too high, to which one of the guys responded: How else are you supposed to sacrifice the virgins? or something along those lines. The deputy had a pleasant chat, and we all had a nice visit around the campfire, including a motorcycling rite of passage only extended to a select few. We were honored to be included.
The dogs were torn on this whole group camping thing. After warnings all around not to pet the dogs - especially the black one our canines settled into an uneasy truce. Although Ben still got all barky when people got too close. I tried to keep a close eye on him to keep him from getting overly riled up, but one of the guys was a dog person and his own dog had been ill recently, so he patiently fed my skittish dog a steady stream of treats until he was able to come over and pet him without being barked away. But one of the other guys came too close while we were sitting by the campfire and Ben surprised him with a very vigorous bark. Weve really gotta work with these guys more to get them to be friendlier to strangers if were gonna take them on moto trips frequently, because people get a kick out of them and many people want to greet them.