Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gunnison to Grand Junction

This morning is was rig maintenance time. Minor stuff: topping off fluids, adjusting cables, installing new spark plugs. Finally on the road by 10:30 am.

We stopped at a roadside pull-off, where we met a Park Ranger from Lithuanian named Vida. She suggested we visit the Black Canyon National Park. So we rode the eight miles up to the park to discover tere is a $115 entry fee. Hmmm, fifteen bucks to snap a photo of a dry ditch..... no thanks.

On the way down we spotted the remaining snow caps from last winter.

The rest of the ride was fighting a strong wind blowing across a dry landscape. Fnally reached Grand Junction for the night. Didn't ride many miles today as the temp was over 100 degrees. Tomorrow we cross into Utah and start riding earlier in the morning to avoid riding in the heat of the day.

Nite Da'mit


Missing photos from Old Fort

Bent's Fort




Sunset from the Skyline Drive, Canon City, CO.

David, Dave, Dom, Rudy and I at a Mexican restaurant.

Hopefully the photo posting issue has been fixed.

Nite all.


Locked Gates

Today Dom escorted us around southern Colorado. First we returned to the Skyline Drive in Canon City. The long is not long, but it is a teeth-grinder. It's a narrow one lane, one way road atop the spine of a narrow ridge with steep drop offs on either side. They say the local prison used convict labor to build the road. It's purpose? Maybe to keep the convicts busy???? Is a great view from the drive, but is short 1.5 miles long drive that goes nowhere. Glad they built it, great place to go watch the sunset above Canon City.


Scarlet and Da'mit on Skyline Drive. Just behind the two rigs is a steep hundred foot drop off.
Dom and Scarlet on Skyline Drive.
We tried to see the Royal Gorge bridge, but a forest fire last year wiped out all of the park buildings. Acess to the bridge is closed, so we hiked a mile or so in from the southern entrance to at least see the bridge. Which we did. As proof, we pose on a ridge overlooking the bridge and gorge.
Dom left us in Salida, CO to return home. Thank you Dom for meeting us and showing us some great sights.
Now to attack Monarch Pass. For a 40 horse power sidecar rig, climbing up and over Monarch Pass is not an easy task. This will be the highest point in our trip.
But we made it. Was a long slow climb for us.

When stopped for gas in Montrose, Da'mit spotted this chrome horse atop a boulder and thought it was cool. So we posed next to it.

Made it Gunnison for the night. Tomorrow morning we do some bike maintenance before starting out.

Nite Da'mit


Old Fort, New Friends in Colorado

After breakfast at Java Jackie's in Las Animas, CO. where we had sausage gravy on biscuits, then we rode to Bent's Fort, a historic landmark on the Santa Fe Trail. When the wagon caravan's left St. Louis, it was 800 miles of walking and riding the trail. When they reached Bent's Fort on the Arkansas river, which happened to the the border between Mexico and the US in the early 1800's, they were met with civilization, peaceful traders, Indians, soldiers and merchants. Bent's fort is well worth the side trip to visit.
The fort was designed for comfort and safety by the Bent brothers who came from Missouri as teenagers in the early 1800's.
This is a living museum with reenactments every year.
After touring the fort, we rode to Pueblo West, HyMark Motorsports for Dave's Ural rig. He replaced the carb jets in Las Animas, now it isn't running right. Donnie Bilbrey, the sales manager, helped to get us back on the road. While waiting for Dave, I found a new front tire there for Da'mit. Now to mount it.

Tires all around but Da'mit's missing the wheel.

Changed the tire in the outside parking area.
David Springer met us at MyMark and rode with us to Florence where we met up with Dom Chang. From the Riviera motel we rode the famous Skyline Drive in Canon City.

Sunset from the Skyline Drive. Looking forward to some beautiful photos from Colorado this week. David, Dom, Dave, Rudy and I on the Skyline.

Before riding the Skyline Drive, we ate Mexican food in Canon City. You will notice that 60% of Ural riders are hairless. All in all a great day, warm, dry, riding with Ural friends in spectacular Country. Erika, Beast and Da'mit are all running great, again.

Tomorrow we seek out other scenic Colorado roads with Dom. David had to return home.

Nite Da'mit

p.s. Am havng problems posting photos in the blog. Seems the blogging app no longer talks to the photo handling app. Hope to get fixed asap.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back on the Road

Receiving the UPS package with my new final drive was like Christmas. I ripped the box open, to see what I got. Spent four hours getting everything properly installed and squared away. Packed up the old final drive and took it to UPS. Then rode around town to make sure all was okay. Departed Newton at 4:30 am to catch up with the other guys. We agreed to meet in Kinsley, KS, the mid-way point between New York and San Francisco for photos.

Dave's phone is acting up so he did not get the text about where and when to meet at the midway sign. Seems like we have been on the road for weeks and weeks, but are only half way to our destination.

The sky was not promising this morning... Is that a tornado forming?

By mid-day the sky cleared as did my sinuses after riding miles and miles along cattle feed lots. Ah, the aroma of money....... On the hoof. Doing what cattle do when they're over fed.

Not sure if this panoramic photo of a feed lot will post well? Am trying a new setting on the camera.

Then we hit the winds. Four hours of fighting a strong cross wind, our gas mileage dropped from 30 to 23 mpg.

We read that the John Martin Reservoir State Park was nice for camping, so we went there to camp. What a disappointment. No trees, no swimming, wide open terrain, nothing to block the wind. Not even shelters over the picnic tables. Others must feel the same as there was no one anywhere in the park.

Decided to ride on to Las Animas, Co for the night. Tried our first Mexican restaurant of the trip. Disappointment. Boy, are we spoiled in Texas with great Mexican food and drink. The guys think I'm too critical but then I have experienced great food, drink and service on Texas.

Tomorrow we go to Pueblo West to visit the Ural dealer, HyMark. Then to meet up with several Colorado Ural riders for some sightseeing Friday and Saturday.

Da'mit is running great again. A thousand thanks to IMZ-Ural for replacing the final drive under warranty. Terry Crawford in Michigan and Ski in California got me squared away in finding and shipping me the new final drive. Ural headquarters has come through for me again. The dealers tell me Ural has the best warranty program of any manufacturer. I believe it.

Nite Da'mit


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stranded in Kansas

Have been stranded in Kansas for two days now. It all started after changing the oil in a Walmart parking lot Monday morning. Riding back to the motel to check out, Da'mit lost power to the rear wheel and a racheting sounds rang from the rear drive. I pushed the rig off the street to a safe spot. Removed the rear wheel to see that the drive splines on the final drive were worn off. The splines on the rear hub were worn off too. For those not familiar with the Ural, it has a drive shaft not a chain to drive the rear wheel. The rear wheel is mounted to the splined drive shaft off the final drive gear housing.

Decided to mount the spare tire on the worn drive shaft and try limping back to the motel. We made it by going 10 - 15 mph.

Now to locate a new final drive. They are rebuildable, but not something I want to attempt in a motel parking lot. On Monday's many motorcycle shops close so could only find a few open. First four open shops had no final drives on hand. Finally reached Terry Crawford in Michigan who said he didn't have one but would call some of the Ural dealers directly as he had their personal cell phone numbers. Numbers he was not allow to share with me.

An hour later Terry called back to say he located a new final drive at Triquest cycles in California and to call the owner first thing Tuesday morning, as they were closed on Mondays. Now that I had a line on a possible final drive, I told the other two guys to go ahead and I'll meet up with them later in the week, maybe.

In preperation for installing a new final drive, I borrowed some cinder blocks from the motel owner, jacked up Da'mit and removed the worn drive.

Da'mit awaits her new rear end. That wheel you see behind the exhaust pipe is the sidecar wheel. The rear wheel has been removed.

Rudy and Dave went on to Hutchinson but decided to return to Newton where I am, to see if a new final drive is really coming my way, soon.

Tuesday mornng I talk with Ski, the owner of Triquest Cycles. Yes, he has a final drive ready to ship. I mention that it might be covered under my warranty. He calls Ural headquarters in Redmond, WA to see what they say. Great news, the $990.00 final drive will be replaced under warranty. I have to pay for shipping. Ski agrees to grease the zerk fittings on the drive as I don't have a grease gun with me and will ship it out today. Should have by tomorrow PM, install and be back on the road Thursday AM. Great news.

The rear wheel is removed and now to remove the old final drive which is that big grey bell housing. Because Da'mit has two wheel drive, there is a drive shaft coming from the transmissin to the final drive and another drive shaft going to the right to the sidecar wheel. That arm in the middle is to engage or disengage the two wheel drive.

Here I loosened and slid the rubber boot cover off the sidecar drive shaft, preparing to unbolt the housing.

Four bolts, the brake linkage and the final drive is removed. The trick is to properly align the drive shafts when reinstalling the new drive.

This is what worn splines look like. All the teeth are worn smooth down to points. This photo was taken after I wiped off the excess grease in order to show the splines.

This is what my motel room looks like with tires, old final drive, tools, nuts and bolts, waiting to install the new drive. Will ship the old drive home and rebuild it on the workbench when I return.

Now that we know a final drive is heading my way, we agree that Rudy and Dave should press on, slowly. I can catch up with them later in the week. Spoke with them tonight, thunderstorms are keeping them off the roads so we are not far apart.
Cannot say enough good things about Ural's customer support and the dealer network. So many people went out of their way to get me back on the road. Tonight I'll sleep well knowing the adventure continues, it is not ending in Kansas.
When traveling by motorcycle, I like to stay at small Mom & Pop motels, many run by a family named Patel. Here they have been very helpful, providing blocks and allowing me to work on Da'mit in front of my room. Not many large national chains would allow me to repair my sidecar rig on their parking lot and bring all of the spare parts and tires into the room.
Nite Da'mit


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday June 22nd, Show Me Kansas

US-50 is the Blue Star Memorial Highway dedicated to the United States Armed Forces. Riding today was great across southern Missouri, but by the afternoon, temps were in the mid 90's.

Da'mit was feeling frisky and playful today.

Stopped to photograph a 1936 John Deere Model "B" tractor. Only asking $2650.00. Would make a nice front lawn ornament on Empire Gold Drive......string Christmas lights on it in December, fire it up on the 4th of July..... Give neighbors rides at the block parties... Hmmmmmm?

When I turned around, Da'mit was gone. She wants to play hide-n-seek.

Found her hiding behind an International Harvester tractor. Told her if she didn't behave, I'd trade her in on a used US tractor. Goes just as fast as Da'mit, has same rough ride.

Maybe Da'mit is feeling pretty good today because she saw a sign about bulls. Da'mit doesn't like bulls. She was disappointed we had missed the event by a week, said she would have liked seeing the harvest of mountain oysters.

Crossed the Kansas border this afternoon. Farms are clean and neat. This is a typical Kansas mid-rise homestead.

Riding the Kansas plains, Da'mit had a panic attack when she saw this scouting part on a ridge line watching our approach. She relaxed when I told her they were looking for more bulls.

In Council Grove, we saw the famous Kansas statue, Madonna of the Praire. The Council Grove rail yards was where the Santa Fe trail ended, and where many settlers embarked on their trek west.

Forecast is for rain all night so we holed up in a small Mom&Pop motel in Newton, Ks instead of camping.

Nite, Da'mit


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Crossing Illinois into Missouri

Today we ride along old sections of route US-50. Some of the old bridges are still standing. but access is impossible

Da'mit still hasn't learned the difference between turn left and turn right. Here we are lost in southern Illinois.

Then she finds a playground for farmer's children. Who else would have a John Deere swing set.

We came across the intersection of US 50 going east-west and US51 going north - south. Is not the physical center of the country, but we are getting there.

Then we spotted this bit if philosophical wisdom.... or whatever. Must have meant a lot to the person who build and erected it. Is that a Jonathon Livingston Seagull quote?

We rode into Eureka, MO looking for Dave Clark's Forever Endevour Cycle shop. he is the Ural dealer here. Seems a couple of weeks ago he moved his store a few miles away to Pacific, MO for much larger space. Dave and his family welcomed us, fed us and listened to our stories.. great people. Dave is very knowledgable on setting up sidecar rigs. He correctly set up Damit in 20111 when she was first sold. Have not had to readjust the lean-out or toe -in in the 32,000 kms I have ridden her. Make sure you stop in to visit Dave and his family when in the area.

We reached Jefferson City for the night. No rain on us today. Hot but a good ride. US50 crossing Southern Missouri, Illinois and Indiana is loaded with easy curves, hills and dips, a fun Ural day.

Nite Damit.


Indiana Limestone Company

Awoke around five thirty am, park is quiet, two whitetail deer run off as I walk too the latrine. Back on our rigs we go looking for breakfast in Bedford, IN. At the iHop, we ask the waitress about the famous stone quarry that yielded the limestone blocks used to build the Empire State Building. Neither her or her co-worker knew anything about quarry's around Bedford. An elderly gentleman spoke up, and told us how to find the old quarry.

"Go a couple of miles north, turn right at the BP gas station, go to the end where the big stones block your way, turn left and ride into the old cemetary. Ride to the back side, park your bikes, jump the fence and the abandoned quarry is there. It's filled with water now."

He was spot on. Found it. Notice how smooth the walls of tthe quarry are? Look like the sides of a finished building. How do they do that? Not rough or any drill marks on the walls. Further away we could see an active quarry with workmen. No way to get over there, so we turned back.

Riding back to Bedford, we see the main office for Indiana Limestone Company. Rudy and I turn in as Dave rides ahead. Pulling into the parking area, thre are canopies and tables set up. Must be having some special event today. probably too busy to talk to us. I just want to know how they get smooth rocks out of the quarry.

After explaining to the hostess our ride and why we stopped in, she introduces us to the President / CEO of Indiana Limestone Company, Duffe Elkins. He explains that they are having a customer appreciation day today. When I asked if they do this every year, He answered this is the first time they have ever done it! Thinking we should leave, Duffe asks us if we would like to go on one of the VIP tours of their quarries and stone cutting operations. How could we say no?

He personally takes us to the registration area where we sign liability releases and watch a safety video. Supplied with a hard hat, safety googles and ear plugs, we leave the headquarters for a two hour tour of their operatiions.

Limestone quarrying first started around Bedford in the early 1800's. Indiana limestone is famous for its durability and color, making it ideal for monuments and buildings, such as the Empire State Building, Washington Monument, the Pentagon, etc, etc. Thirty-four different state capitals have used the Indiana limestone.
The quarry manager says they expect to get a 15% yield out of each quarry. That is a lot of lesser grade rock to sell or get rid of for every good stone they produce.
The white box on rails is the cutting machine with an 18 foot bar and diamond tipped blade. By rolling on rails, it keeps the cut straight. The black things are winter blankets used to keep freezing water out of the saw cuts that would crack the rock. After the long cuts and the cross cuts are done, air bags are inserted into the cut to break off each section for inspection and then transport to the cutting room. In the cutting shed, blocks are sliced according to customer's orders.

This machine cuts the huge rocks into slabs. Back at the headquarters, we inspect a hand carved limestone replica of A.J. Foyt's 1970 Indy 500 race car. Duffe introduces us to the Hedge Fund manager who has recently purchased the company. He says with the new influx of capital, they are launching new products for new markets. We are invited to mingle, eat, drink and listen to the live band. By now Rudy and I are feeling guilty that Dave has missed out on all of this red carpet attention.

A local newspaper photographer asked Rudy and I to pose out rigs by the Indy statue.

Not knowing what was taking so long, Dave finds a military museum in Vincennes, IN to explore. Dave is a retired Air Force officer, with a hobby of building authentic military models of planes, tanks, trains, etc. He can spend hours in a military museum studying the finer detals of the equipment.

Catching up with Dave, we all take some photos in the museum. Here Da'mit is with a half track.

We see one Amish buggy out and about today. Barely had time to grab the photo.

In Vincennes we also visit the Clark Memorial ( of Lewis and Clark fame).

After riding in three different rain storms today, Rudy discovers his rain gear leaks, his waterproof bag leaks and the "BEAST" doesn't like running in the rain. It starts coughing.

We end the day at Super 8 in Olney, Il. Learned a lot about how limestone goes from beimg in the ground to beautiful national mounuments, like what we saw in DC a few days earlier

Nite Da'mit.