My First Ural

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by RetiredandRiding, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    This is going to turn into a Ride Report? Great! But where are you headed again?

    How is the rig handling? Happy with suspension and steering and setup?

    PS--I don't see any bike helmets on any of those kids which is exactly what you told me.
    #61
  2. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride

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    It is turning into a ride report, but just for another post or two. Original destination was my home in Dalat. The plan was to take two or three days for what, on straight-boring-highways is a one-day ride.

    Handling was great; suspension and steering were fine and comfortable. The best part is the Harley police seat--not once in almost 7 hours of seat time did my butt or back get sore.

    Bike helmets for bicycles are almost unheard of. You do see them worn motorbike helmets on about 3% of the riders.
    #62
  3. Jay Gates

    Jay Gates n00b

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    Hey I have a few questions for you! I bought cheap Honda Wins and rode from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi a few years ago...I love it you post really brings me back.
    What brings you to Vietnam? How long are you their for? Do you know Vietnamese?

    Also on another side note... why does no one there use Welding masks? Do they not burn their eyes or what!?
    #63
  4. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride

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    I moved to VN in Dec 2014 and plan to live here long-term. I am learning the language, but it is a tonal language, so very difficult.

    Safety is NOT a big concern here. Most people wear motorbike helmets ONLY so the police don't stop them; welding masks are extremely rare, though I cannot tell you why they don't wear them. If I had to guess it would be because they weren't taught to wear them and no one else wears them.
    #64
  5. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride

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    After a leisurely lunch, I headed north again (see posts #59 & 60 for the first parts).

    While waiting for my food (nothing I'd ever eaten before, but it was good) I posted an update with my location on the HCMC Motorbikes FB group. Members are mostly westerners and just about everyone has what, in VN, is considered a "big bike". One of the members responded almost immediately that the road I was on either ended at the river or might still have a bamboo bridge that would be hard if not impossible to cross on the Ural. It was only 18 km, so I figured I'd check it out. I was hoping he was wrong and both Google maps and Garmin knew better.
    Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 11.06.56 AM.png
    Yeah, right!

    After maybe 5 km, the pavement ended and I rode the rest of the way on hard-packed red dirt. The rest of the way ended here (see pin in image above):
    IMG_3814.JPG

    The river is just over the tops of the bright green patch in the middle and accessible just past the dead branch in front of the rig--if you have a machete.

    The "road" shown on the map above is to the right of the rig.

    "It's Vietnam."

    ^ My mantra since I arrived here.

    After taking a few photos, I turned around (LOVE the new reverse gear) and headed back down the way I came.

    About 3 or 4 km down, I again passed a large encampment of people who, I think, make a living logging the forest. An older woman wearing a motorbike helmet stood in the middle of the road waving at me with the Vietnamese version of "come here". Thinking she might need a ride to what passes for civilization, I stopped. She didn't need a ride, she wanted to invite me to join them for a meal. When I told her in my infant-quality Vietnamese that I had just eaten, she asked if I wanted something to drink. How could I say no?

    They'd obviously seen my ride past the first time and knew I'd be back eventually. A small crowd had gathered to look at the Westerner (they can't get very many out here) and look at my Ural (I may've been the first in a number of years). After answering a couple questions about it, we went into one of the tents where they offered me a chair and a bottle of lemon drink. As I enjoyed the drink, the woman asked me a LOT of questions, to most of which I replied, "I'm sorry, I don't understand." The only thing more lacking at that moment than my Vietnamese was her English. Since we're in Vietnam, I'm of course the one at fault.

    I did understand, "Where are you from?", "Where do you live?", "Where is your wife?", "How many children do you have?", and a few others. When I showed them a photo of my wife and child (wife's daughter calls me Daddy and I am), they were very impressed that I'd married a Vietnamese woman. They asked if I had an American wife and then why not--and roared in laughter at my answer, which was basically that Western women yell a LOT more than VN women. It wasn't exactly that and involved gestures and sound effects, but you get the idea.

    I asked if I could take a group photo and everyone except these three demurred--or maybe I asked something else?
    IMG_3816.JPG

    When the "conversation" started to lag, I told them that I had to go because I still had a long way to travel before I could sleep. They graciously understood and we all walked back to my bike for the requisite photos.
    IMG_3822.JPG
    The woman in the red sweater is the one who flagged me down. I'm pretty sure she's the matriarch of the group.​

    As I was gearing up, the woman in red and the woman in purple each jumped on a motorbike behind a man and motioned me to follow them. They wanted to be sure I made it back to civilization, I guess. A few kilometers south of the place where I'd eaten lunch I accelerated past them with a hearty wave from all parties.

    What a great experience! Things like this are part of what keeps me riding--and I'm not normally a sociable person.

    Since they only let us use 4 photos per post, I'll wrap up this one and continue with the final chapter of the ride report tomorrow.
    #65
    davide, brstar, cateyetech and 5 others like this.
  6. TurTal

    TurTal Been here awhile

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    Awesome !

    Looks like you're living the dream

    Stay safe



    .
    #66
  7. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride

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    Uhhh... yeah, I was.

    Heading back out of the park, I decided that rather than back-track a hour or so to allow heading north again, I would save DT14 for another day. I'd been gone for a week, mostly in Saigon, and I wanted to get home before Sunday night.

    That meant taking a right and riding east with the Dong Nai River before cutting a bit south to a town called Doc Mo where I would find a Nga Nghi (small VN hotel) to crash for the night. Saturday morning I'd head north toward home (Dalat) while still staying off the main road (QL20) as much as possible.

    When I stopped for gas just outside the park, I toyed with the idea of calling it a day there--there was a Nga Nghi across the street--but decided to push on.

    The road to Doc Mo was nice and peaceful with little traffic and enough curves to get my butt out of the seat fairly regularly.
    Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 6.38.24 PM.png

    Once I got to town I started looking for signs, promising that I'd stop at the first one I saw. As I approached the highway, I remember thinking, "I need to stop soon."

    This is Vietnam. Many people who come here for a short visit (< 3 months) will tell you that there are no rules for driving/riding. There ARE rules, most of which are the same as they are everywhere else. What's different is that few people follow them; instead, they favor of the unwritten rules that take a foreigner a long time to figure out and to watch out for while riding.

    There are very few "STOP" signs in Vietnam; as I write this I can't remember a specific one. Most intersections are unmarked and uncontrolled, follow the flow of traffic, and take your best chance. I'm so used to it now, I rarely think about it.

    I'm not 100% sure what happened next; what follows is my best guess based on what I remember and the final position of the vehicles.

    I looked left and, seeing no one coming in the scooter/motorcycle lane, I edged forward to about halfway in the lane and stopped. A truck was coming, but I was well out of his path of travel. I then looked right and saw that I'd have to wait for a couple vehicles before getting an opening.

    As I started to turn back to look left again, two kids on a scooter at full speed swerved out from behind the truck coming from the left. Either the truck had hidden me or they thought they could squeeze through. I never saw them coming.

    The scooter hit my front fork hard enough to knock me off the bike and into the street. ATGATT saved me from serious injury, but I did tear my favorite pants (insert numerous profanities here).

    The two kids were both wearing helmets and were ambulatory. Other than a bit of minor road rash, they seemed okay.

    The bikes did not fare so well. Most of the front and right-side plastics on the scooter were shattered and wires were hanging out.

    Before I go on, it might help to know that if a foreigner is involved in an accident, the police ALWAYS count it as the foreigner's fault. Add to that the fact that I do not have legal papers for the Ural--none of the Ural owners in Vietnam, foreigner or otherwise, have them. What I do have is a receipt from the seller and what passes for insurance, but without papers, the police can confiscate your bike on the spot, even without an accident. Add to this that a crowd was gathering and I wanted to get out of there as soon as I could.

    Walking over to the owner of the bike, I pointed to his bike and asked, "Mot trieu, khong?" I was asking him if he would take one million Vietnam dong (~US$45), which is a significant amount to most Vietnamese. If the police showed up I'd have to pay them a LOT more to let me keep my bike. When the owner nodded his head yes, I said, "Va em di" which means "and you go." He nodded again, I handed him the money, and he and his friend jumped on the bike and took off. If the police did show up (they didn't), it would be a lot easier and less expensive for me to keep my rig. There is, best I can figure out, no penalty in VN for leaving the scene of the accident if no one is seriously hurt or dead. Most people want nothing to do with the police and avoid them at all costs.

    Now that the other guy was gone, I could look at my bike.
    IMG_3837.JPG

    IMG_3861.JPG

    NOT good. The scooter hit with enough force to slam the right fork into the gas tank making quite a dent. The shock on the sidecar is also leaking and will need to be replaced.

    Fortunately, two very nice young men (not the two that hit me), one of whom speaks excellent English, stopped to help me. They blocked traffic while I turned around and – the wheel and front forks, as you can see in the picture, are in pretty bad shape so I was only able to turn extreme right or a little bit right. I could not go straight, much less think about turning left.

    It took about 20 minutes to push the rig ~200 meters to a nearby mechanic. He worked on it for about 3 hours and couldn't get it to where it was even close to rideable, so I left it at his shop for the night and called a friend in Saigon who sent a truck to pick it up the next (Saturday) morning and take it back to Saigon.
    IMG_3855.JPG

    The young men helped me find a place to stay that night; carried me to dinner on their scooter; and ferried my luggage to the hotel and back to the shop in the morning. They refused to let me pay for their help and I even had to discuss with them why I should buy dinner! Great kids!!!

    At least I got to ride the bike all day before getting T-boned... and, very fortunately they could've hit me 1/2 meter further back and destroyed my leg. I'm not very happy but I am very lucky.

    The bike is at the shop in Saigon where everyone takes their Urals and I'm waiting for the bad news. I'm guessing it's going to be a couple weeks before I see it again, maybe longer depending on parts availability.
    #67
  8. FR700

    FR700 Heckler ™©®

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    Incoming!!!
    #68
  9. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    :becca
    #69
  10. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    :yikes
    #70
  11. Maccaoz

    Maccaoz Been here awhile

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    RetiredandRiding That's some story mate,just when all is looking good you get cleaned up by the local lads,That's typical of Vietnam.
    I have just had the map out trying to find where your accident happened but Doc Mo I can't find , must be a small town ?
    Was the river crossing where you turned back between 768 & 763 ? That sounds suspiciously like the spot where we crossed on our little 125cc Honda underbone in 2015. If it is it was a fun crossing with a ride down a steep muddy bank,getting the bike on to a punt that was pulled across the river by a bloke hauling on a rope, then a steep muddy bank up and out of the river crossing where I lost traction and slid back towards the river ( saved by the wife pushing) We were coming from the north and heading for hwy 20 and Dalat.
    No way would my Ural have got through there,bloody exiting enough on the 125 with single wheel track between huge washouts on the riverbank, and it's a main crossing for the local people .Tough country !
    Strange that there is the remains of a bride about 100 m upstream , just a feeling but maybe it was blown to stop the infiltration from the north and now it's pay back time.The locals told the wife the powers that be refuse to do any sort of permanent crossing,not even a suspension bridge for bikes.
    We are returning to VN on 6th Sep ,renting a Honda 150 Winner in Saigon and "if possible" heading up 14 c on our way to check out more of the north .
    More than likely we will be in Dalat about the 5th October on our way back home ,it would be great to meet up and have a yarn about Urals & touring Vietnam . I'm sure my wife would love to have a chat to yours while we do the bloke thing .
    I hope all goes well with the repairs on the Ural , Cheers, Macca
    #71
  12. FR700

    FR700 Heckler ™©®

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    #72
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  13. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride

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    The river is here: https://www.google.com/maps/@11.2994624,107.0125877,11z

    The crossing you describe sounds like the one that was apparently there at that time according to some guys I know in Saigon. Maybe it's still there in the dry season (winter), I don't know.

    Re your trip back to VN, PM me if you want suggestions on what and from whom to rent. I don't know a Honda 150 Winner... do you mean a Honda 125 Win? Most of the Wins are backpacker PsOS and I wouldn't get on one for 10 km, much less more.

    Too bad you won't be here on 14 October. It's the opening party for a local craft brewer--Langbiang Mountain Brewery.

    Let me know when you're close or if you need any assistance/information.

    See you in 5 weeks...

    Yes, it's a very tough country and some of the toughest people I've ever met.
    #73
  14. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride

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    #74
  15. Maccaoz

    Maccaoz Been here awhile

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    My bad on the crossing ,ours was on 753 not 763.
    We are renting a Honda Winner from Tigit Motorcycles in Saigon.Winner could be a bad name after the Win reputation tho I had a real one when living in Vung Tau 18 years ago,brilliant little bike ,The Winner was released in 2015 150cc 6 speed manual gearbox to sell against the Suzuki Raider etc.
    I will let you know when we get close to Dalat
    Thanks for the offer of help and advice.
    Cheers, Macca
    #75
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  16. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride

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    Just heard that the rig (with new front forks and sidecar shock) will be ready early next week.

    If my shoulder's fully recovered from the crash by then, I'm looking at this route:

    https://goo.gl/maps/Ca9d3FpntGS2

    Best information I have so far is that all of the roads actually connect, unlike last time :lol3

    If the shoulder's not fully recovered, I'll ship it home by truck.
    #76
  17. Maccaoz

    Maccaoz Been here awhile

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    I tried to contact you through this forum mate but for some reason I was blocked from posting so no luck on a visit.
    We went from Buon Ma Thout to Dalat on 27.Some shocking rough areas on that road really tested out the suspension on the Winner.Pissing down rain and we missed the new road up the mountain to Dalat,ended up on the old road that's now used by trucks and as you would know it's compleatly buggered.Not fun at all.
    We had a great ride ,made it as far as SaPa before lack of time had us returning south.Duong Ho Chi Minh with detours to check out other roads up and down the mountains was great both ways. 5,000km up on the Winner with only a new rear tyre( heaps of punctures) and sore bums from the rubbish seat,
    We had a woooops north of Prao,raining and something slippery on the road,no warning just a front wash out and down with a local bloke and pillion crashing in the same spot as I was getting the Winner off the road.Over 50,000km in Vietnam and first accident of any sort..
    Sorry we missed you it would have been great to catch up .
    Cheers, Macca
    #77
  18. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride

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    It sounds like a great trip, though I think there might be one-too-many 0's in your total distance :lol3

    I'm sorry to have missed you, too. I should've given you my phone number... was wondering whether something had shifted--glad to hear you had an adventure.

    Yeah, the roads can really suck here, but they're usually passable--as you found out--if you take your time.

    5,000 km is one hell of a trip and you made the most of it. Well done! :clap
    #78
  19. Maccaoz

    Maccaoz Been here awhile

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    Thanks mate,it was a hell of a trip.Too far in not enough time on a seat that's not made for touring .The Winner was a nippy little thing with a 80 crusing speed,if a straight bit of road could be found.
    The 50,000km is only a guess,27,000km in our previous 3 trips ( 2x3 months + 1 for 6 weeks) all on a 125 Honda Future we set up for touring with good shocks, 20mm spacers on fork springs,pannier & rear racks.A great little bike,slow but dead reliable ,even when flogged to the limit on the big mountains up north.
    Daelim City,Suzuki Viva,SUN chopper thing,China Wave all owned a well used when based in Vung Tau 1997 - 2001 so the 50,000 would be a very conservative estimate.
    Next trip we will fly into Hanoi and do more of the far north from there.
    Sorry we missed out on a meet up ,there could have been some quality time decussing the joys of Ural ownership .
    #79
  20. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride

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    Sorry, didn't realize it was a cumulative estimate. Let me know when "next time" is. The far north is the only part of the country yet to experience me. :rofl
    #80