Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Da'mit goes to market

Time has come to put Da'mit on the market.  We have had a great run together, Da'mit and I. Great adventures, new vistas, wonderful people met, interesting stories and distant lands visited.

The history we made together was unforgettable. And now....

... and now it's time for someone else to ride the horizon with Da'mit.

Have posted her for sale on Houston Craigslist. The price is negotiable.  As I slowly remove the many custom add-ons and extras, the price will be adjusted accordingly. To get the most bang for your buck, let's talk before I remove too many extras. 

Here is the link:    http://houston.craigslist.org/mcy/4585774119.html

In case you are wondering, there is another sidecar rig waiting in the wings for my attention and long distance riding. Ride the Horizon II..........?

Some have asked if I will ever go back to riding two wheel motorcycles again. Cause for a pause... as two wheels can do things that sidecars can't and visaversa. Just as mules are better at somethings than horses. It all depends on what the job is you want done. Select the right tool for the job and everything goes easier. Right now, the job I want to accomplish requires a sidecar rig. 

Sidecar rigs are more complicated and more demanding to ride than motorcycles. Motorcycles are relatively easy to ride - it's a motorized bicycle. Once up to speed, just lean to change your direction. The motorcycle rider and the motorcycle are linked, united against the road. The trick is to keep the motorcycle upright as road conditions and traffic can put you down fast. Real fast. 

Sidecars with its three wheels is more connected to the road than to the rider. Every road bump and dip causes the rig to jump or drop, which is felt by the rider. To turn requires a constant effort in pushing and pulling on the handlebars to make the rig go around a bend. Plus the rider must shift his weight to one side or the other in order to keep all three wheel in contact with the pavement. Particularly on right hand turns. Right hand turns taken too hot creates a situation known as "Flying the Chair".  The sidecar can and will come up in the air making for a very unstable rig. For some - panic time. The experienced sidecar riders practice flying the chair regularly on a closed course or parking lot. Then if and when it happens on the road, they don't panic and overreact causing and even worse situation.

The constant pushing and pulling, plus having to moving your weight from one side to the others, then  add in the constant jarring from the road surface makes for a tiring experience when riding all day. It is more physically demanding to ride long distances in a day on a sidecar than on a motorcycle, or even in a car. Maybe that's why sidecar riders are too tired at the end of the day to party or have fun. 

Many motorcycle safety instructors rank riding by the level of rider involvement require to safely handle the machine. Small lightweight motorcycles are the easiest, then heavy cruisers or big adventure bikes, followed by Trikes and finally sidecar rigs. 

Like any skill, it is a simple matter of learning the skills necessary to correctly operate the machine and then practice until those skills become second nature. Up until two years ago, I had never ridden a sidecar rig. Now I feel confident to ride anywhere. Of course Da'mit had a lot to do with helping me reach that skill level. She will help the next owner to learn too.

Nite Da'mit...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Back on the road home

Was a cool 48 degrees under low hanging clouds when I left Angel Fire on Friday, July 18th. Decided to ride across part of Oklahoma on the way home. That will make 32 states Da'mit and I have visited in the last 15 months. Hmmmmm.... one more trip and we could visit the rest.......

Does that makes us a "Ramblin' man"? I can hear the slow lonely harmonica tune now....
Took a short cut across the panhandle of Oklahoma, not much to see out here, long flat roads divide the fields into a giant chess board. More unpaved than paved, but google maps says this is the way to go.

Not everybody makes it home going this way. The wagon trains left oxen carcasses on the road side, the dust bowl left rusting steel wrecks, will the future leave stainless polished fuselages to waste away? The land doesn't change much nor the people passing through. Only what they cast off.

We got as far as Childress, TX before tiredness and nightfall caught up with us. Still 645 miles from home.

After checking the oils and tires, we hit the road early AM Saturday, heading south toward Abilene. Not sure how far we can ride today, but the weather is a cool for a mid-July in Texas. Nice, very nice, so just gas and ride all day.

Only in Texas can you find multiple images of the Alamo. This is the main entrance to the rodeo arena on the Cirlcle T ranch.

Ten miles north of Caldwell, only 90 miles from home, something happened on Da'mit that has never happened in over 40,000 kms of riding remote arctic tundra or lonely desert crossings.....

Can you tell what is going on?

Our FIRST flat tire. Have been using Ride-On in Da'mit's tube tires to balance them and prevent flats. I swear by this product. Some people use Dynabeads to balance their tires, but Dynabeads won't prevent a flat tire. Ride-On does. On the other hand, even Ride-On is no cure for a tire worn down to the bare threads.

Mounted the well worn spare tire with hopes and prayers that it will get us home. Arrived back home in Cypress after several detours for road construction. Beautiful loving wife and hyper-dog were both glad to see us.

The C2C US ride with Rudy and Dave was an pleasant experience in planning and traveling with strangers. We met on the internet, planned our trip and met for the first time face to face in Virginia six weeks ago. Now we have a shared experience and memories of a great ride across America on Russian sidecar rigs, meeting many other Ural riders and dealers along the way.

All in all, it was a safe long ride, no injuries, no accidents, no trip ending mechanical problems. Hundreds of photos were taken to be shared and countless stories will be told of our adventures, sights seen and the people we met. Most of all we thank all of the generous people we met along the way who opened their homes to us, offered assistance, advice and local information. It has reaffirmed in our minds the strength, greatness and generosity of the American people. It is the people of America, not Washington, that makes our country strong.

Nite Da''mit


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Angel Fire chores

Something was different this morning, air was cooler... little more humid... the landscape changed! Today we have snow where yesterday there was none. The view of Mt. Wheeler, the tallest mountain in New Mexico, changed. It recieved a frosting of snow last night.

Looking up the Moreno Valley over Angel Fire toward Mt. Wheeler.
Have been looking for a TV stand that compliments the other furniture in the condo. Finally found one down in Taos, but how to get it back up to Angel Fire. Taos is at 6200' altitude, Angel Fire is at 8200'. The road between the two is only 25 miiles with 110 curves. Da'mit to the rescue.

Can't do this with a Trike or a motorcycle. Gotta love the versatility of a Ural sidecar rig.

The rains in Texas this week are causing a change in my schedule to return home to Cypress. Is hard to leave the cool 48 degree mornings for 90 plus sweltering heat of Houston.

Nite Da'mit


Monday, July 14, 2014

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Dave and I rode, played, explored got wet in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico for a couple of days. Took Dave to see the Earthship Biotecture development on the high plains west of Taos. Here individuals are building homes partially buried in the ground using recycled materials, solar heating and wind powered water pumps. There were mounds of used glass jars and bottles being sorted by size and color for future construction.

Further west we spotted an out of place animal... a Yak. Maybe a test project to see if they can survive the harsh winter conditions and hot summers on the high plains.
Dave wanted to explore so we tried a forest road, for a mile or so. We both had street tires on the rigs, going was not smooth. I was slipping and slidding so much Da'mit slide completely around in the mud until I was facing the way we came in. I took this as a sign from the riding gods that we should go back and not proceed further. I knew this was a deadend road and conditions after a rain would not be [leasant.


Come on down Dave, the water fine.. and the ruts not TOO deep.
Of course we had to visit the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial near Angel Fire. This memorial was built with private money by Dr. and Mrs. Westphal for their son where he and 18 others were killed in an ambush in Viet Nam. Today, this is the only State Park dedicated to Viet Nam Veterans in the US. It never closes and no entrance fee is charged.
The wind wishpered through the aspen trees while we were there, as if a thousand voices of fallen soldiers were trying to tell their stories to aanyone who wuld listen. The memorial is a a must see for anyone who lived through the Viet nam era.
In the morning we removed the gas tank from Erika, Dave rig. He noticed a small gas leak near the rear mount. All of the vibrations from riding rough roads might have caused it.
After a rough sanding and filing, he applied JB weld to seal in and around the leak. Now we wait for the weld to set up before remounting the tank. In the morning we'll check it by adding gas to the tank. If the patch works, Dave plans on leaving for Virginia. I'll stay in Angel Fire for a few more days. There are numerous chores that need to be done in the condo.
Nite Da'mit.









Leaving Durango

Durango's morning air was crystal clear, the temperature 58 degrees. A Harley rider at the motel suggested a nearby bakery for sweet rolls. Said it was across the street, one block down on the corner. Walking a block, all I see is a tattoo palor sign, no bakery. Must be the next house, but he said it was on the corner. As I get closer I can see a smaller sign under the tattoo sign advertising bakery.... Hmmmmmmmm. Sweet sticky cinnamon bun with your dragon tattoo? Or a donut tattoo with your maple Long John? No thanks. one coffee, black, please.

The ride out of Durango was magnificent. Beautiful mountain scenery, cool air, the rain washed the air clean last night. Even the horses were in a good mood as they galloped from one side of their pasture to the other.

As we rode through Bayfield, CO, there was a farmers market setting up, so we stopped to hopefully get some fresh fruit. There I met Michael Mayer. You have to admire someone who is not looking for a government hand-out, but applying his god-given talents and hard work is trying to make a go in the world. Michael is designing, building and selling propeller driven wind chimes. He has never studied engineering nor mechanical design, yet his application of complex mechanical principles is undeniable. He has only been doing this for less than a year but has several designs for sale and well as other designs he is working on.

He said when the wind is blowing, they make a rythmic sound. I reccommend anyone interested in unique handmade wind chimes to contact Michael at www.klinkets.com, or info@klinkets.net. He does all the designing, wood work, assembly and sales, himself. Said he is considering offering kits of his chimes to reduce the size of the shipping box.

Colorado offers unique opportunities to invest in fresh air housing. An owner was offering his property for sale. Da'mit asked if the sign was holding up the house or visa versa? Didn't call the number, so don't know the asking price, sorry.

Finally we cross into New Mexico. Dave was happy as this is his first visit to the land of enchantment.

The steep mountain climbs, the rains, the Native American culture and Taos are yet to come. The adventures in New Mexico are another chapter, so.....

Nite Da'mit.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Moab, Tagging Arizona, then Colorado

After a restless night at Robbers Roost Motel in Green River, Dave and I headed south to Moab and the Arches National Park. Actually this is a nice place to stay, motorcycle friendly, wifi, clean rooms. Four HD riders pulled in after we did. Everybody got along great. We said goodby to Rudy here. He is heading east back to Virginia on US50 rather than going south to Taos, NM with Dave and I. Traveling in a group has different dynamics than traveling solo, but that is another story. All in all we got along fine for three strangers to meet for the first time at the start of the ride in Virginia.
Heading south on Rt 191 we spotted this hot air balloon near Moab.

We caught the sun coming up in Arches National Park.


Balanced rock
Delicate Arch in the Arches National Park.
I left Dave to explore more in the park as I headed south to tag Arizona with Da'mit. With AZ the bag, am only missing New England and the upper midwest to complete all 49 states on Da'mit. That will be a goal to accomplish on the next ride. With only 39,000 kms on her, Da'mit is running strong.
Ever wonder what the people inside are thinking everytime a strong wind or thunder and lightening hits the area????
South of Montezuma Creek, on the reservation, we crossed a barren desert enroute to Arizona. Burros and horses wandered on the roadway singing "Don't fence me in!" No shade in sight for them either. Da'mit thnks those little critters might want to play, but when I stop they just look dumb at us. No hablan "Mule"?
Passing thru Red Mesa I reached Arizona then turned northeast for Cortez and Durango to meet with Dave.
Nite Da'mit




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Recrossing Utah

After a night in Ely, Nv, we rode east toward Utah. In eastern Utah, spotted what must be a lake, or salt flat, or a salt lake.... Had to get a photo.
Started riding in 58 degree weather, nice! then it got hot, dry, then wet when the rains found us, then dry and hot again.
Made it as far as a Green River, UT for the night. Tomorrow we head down toward Moab.
An overlook in central Utah, rain in the south, heading our way. Utah has a beauty that you don't hear so much about. But the multi-colored bluffs, mountains, mesas and vistas are dramatic, even breathtaking at times.
Da'mit is running strong and long legged. She sure loves it on the road. Will need an oil change before we get home in Texas.
Nite, Da'mit


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Leaving California

Rudy had burnt a hole in his right piston so Dennis trailered the rig to TriQuest in Santa Clara for Ski to repair/rebuild. Ski came in on his day off to do the work. They were back in Lodi at the ranch before midnight. The next morning Rudy had to do a few maintenance itms on the Beast so we could get be back on the road before noon. We agreed to meet Dave in Jackson, CA for lunch and start our return ride east. California is a beautiful state but the state road system is the worse I have ever seen. They should fire the highway planning department and hire a whle new crew. The poor citizens of California pay some of the highest gasoline taxes and have a terrible highway system to show for it.

Dennis accepted our invitation to ride to Angel Fire, NM with us. But before we cross the Sierra Nevada mountains, it was hot and his vision was blurring. He decide that he better stay in California so we said our goodbyes and continued on Rt 88 east. What a fantastic road over the mountains. Much better then US 50. Many scenic overlooks and vistas. More open views than from US 50. We finally arrived in Fallon, NV and stayed at the Naval Air Station there. Dave is retired military so he could get us in for the night.


In Austin, NV a wealthy mine investor, railroadman built a castle for his family as a summer retreat on a hill overlooking the valley. Once completed, it was used one summer then sat empty ever after. The Stokes Castle was built in 1897.

Next morning we rode across northern Nevada. The riding gods were smiling most of the day. Rain showers were moving through the area so temperatures were low for this time of the year: high of 82 and a low of 62 today.

Rudy spotted another Shoe Tree, we had not heard about.

By the afternoon the rains found us, so we donned rain gear and rode on to Ely, NV for the night. Normally in the summer the rain gear makes you sweat so much that by the end of the day it looks like you rode in the rain with no gear. Today was different, the cooler temps made wearing the rain gear comfortable.

Rains on the left, on the right and straight ahead.

Nite Da'mit


Monday, July 7, 2014

Golden Gate Bridge and Ski

It was cool and damp when Dennis, Rudy and I left Bodega Bay to ride south. After saying goodby and thanking Becky and Leland for their great hospitality, we rode Highway 1 along the coast to San Francisco. We wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge before proceeding on down to Santa Clara to visit Ski at Triquest Motocycles. Ski is the guru of Urals on the West Coast.

Stopping at the north end of the bridge, fog would open up then close rapidly, only allowing photos if you were fast enough. Were not happy with the phottos we were getting

Decided to try the south end of the bridge.

The tops are still fog covered, but the bridge is recognizable.
In Santa Clara, Ski was waiting for us even though it was a Sunday. After visiting and talking Urals for an hour or so, Ski checked the compression on Da'mit. Both cylinders were 150 pounds dry. That is very good. A compression test will tell you if the engine has worn out cylinders, pistons too loose, broken or cracked piston rings, etc. You want both cylinders to read over 125 pounds and both read the same number.
Rudy's left cylinder tested 100 dry and 150 wet. So he has some looseness in the left cylinder, but should make it home okay. The right cylinder was a little weak, but no sign of a failure. We were concerned because Rudy's left cylinder is blowing blue smoke or an oil film.
Rudy, Slki and I in front of TriQuest.
Since we were going to meet Dave in a day or two near Lodi, Dennis invited us to their ranch home in Lodi. We rode the California expressways most of the way. Was very, very glad most of the traffic was going in the opposite direction, back to the big cities as it was crawling along, congested and hot. Just shy of fifteen miles from the ranch, Rudy pulled off the expressway claiming he had a loss of power. Engine ran, but no power. Of course we were separated from Rudy as he was riding in the back when he pulled off. Several miles later we noticed he was no longer behind us. But using text messaging and cell phones, we found him.
Dennis said he would ride on to the ranch, get his van and trailer so we could carry the Beast to the ranch. There we would try to figure out what happened. I stayed with Rudy until Dennis returned. It was dark when we finally arrived at the ranch.
The Beast being trailered, Chuck the gnome chuckling.
Next morning,, we determined the right cylinder has no compression. A holed piston maybe? Dennis and Rudy are taking the Beast back across the state to Ski to see how fast he can fix it and have us back on the road. Meanwhile Dave in Sacramento and I in Lodi, sit tight. Timee to catch up on the blogs and wait for word on the Beast. Hopefully we will hear what might have caused the problem.
Now that I have internet service at the ranch, have posted four days of news with photos.
Stay tuned, Da'mit. The adventure continues......


Russian Fort Ross and Pacific sunset

Today Dennis took us for a ride up Highway 1, the famous California coastal highway, to Fort Ross where he had worked as a Park Ranger in the early 1970's. Before California was a state, it was divided north and south between the Russians and the Mexicans, with the Russian River being the dividing line/border. Fort Ross was a Russian built fort and settlement on the central coast. Since I had visited Sitka, the old Russian capital in Alaska,was surprised to learn that the Alaska natives heped the Russians settle as far south as central California. They were pursuing the seal fur trade along the Californian coast. As the seal population slowly dissipated, they turned to farming and timber. Eventually they sold the fort to John Sutter in 1841. John Sutter from the Sutter Mill gold find fame. Later Sutter sold the fort and surrounding farm land to George Call from Ohio.

Russian rigs visit the Russian fort.
The original fort chapel. All of the roof are tongue and groove siding laid length wise allowing rain water to roll down and off. No shingles or small overlapping boards. Redwood and cedar timber was plentiful and cheap. Both woods are insect and water resistant.
Dennis told us the original Route 1 went right through the middle of the fort when he worked there. Since then Route 1 has been rerouted and several building inside the fort restored after a fire.
A replica of the original windmill was recently constructed at the fort.
Returning to the house on the bay, it was foggy and damp. Slowly the fog lifted and we were treated to a spectacular sunset. Here we watch as the sun disappears.
... and gone for the day.
This is my favorite shot of the day.
Nite Da'mit