OK, I couldn't post anything during the trip, so I'm sitting here at 1am writing it up (I just got back about an hour ago).
Googlemaps told me that the trip from Plano, TX to Alpine, TX was supposed to be about 521 miles and take about 7 hours and 53 min. I also have my old faithful Garmin GPS that, for the most part, doesn't let me down. I decide we'll use the Garmin since it's never let me down. So I pack up all my stuff into the car (with the wife and my 6 year old) and leave at around 1230pm. As I'm driving the car, I notice that the steering wheel wobbles when the car hits 65. This is something I thought my wife had fixed (her car). Guess again, it wasn't fixed. So since I don't like the prospect of driving faster than 65 and have my teeth rattled out, I set the cruise control to like 64 mph. No problem, wobble solved. Except that for the entire drive down there, the speed limit is between 70 and 80. So we're putting along at 64 in an 80 and we are not making good time. I also notice that my Garmin seems to be taking me everywhere but where I remember seeing on the map. Since dumb dumb didn't bring the map (or any map), we stick to the Garmin. Everyone likes pics, here's a pic of a mural in the men's room of a rest stop we stopped at. Cell phone pic (as are all of them - no camera).
I won't bore you with the in between details, but the trip that was supposed to take 7 hours and 53 minutes ended up taking us over TEN HOURS. The last 100 miles of the trip there was absolutely NOTHING but desert. No gas stations, no convenience stores, etc. I'm not sure where the people in the one town we saw get their food or gas, but oh well. We got to the hotel in Alpine at close to 11pm and check in. I'm excited about tomorrow, so I lay out my new gear. It's not Aerostich, it's budget gear for the budget minded (more on that later). Pic of my bare bones budget gear.
Right outside of our room, there was an old VW Beetle - I have a soft spot for Volkswagens.
I basically don't sleep that night and am grateful when my 6 year wakes up early - I have my excuse to wake up the wife, turn on the TV, etc. We're not meeting my Ural guy until 9'ish and it's 7am. Proceed to have the illustrious free continental breakfast that hotels love to offer. I realize that I had forgotten my spare gas can, so we hit a NAPA to grab one and head over to the meeting spot. At around 915, the owner shows up and I get to see the bike in person.
We get it started up and I take it out for a spin. Did I mention that I have never driven a sidecar rig before? Now I get it and I understand why people say all the things they do about how to drive them. I went off road a few times (not on purpose) and eventually get it back to the owner so that we can get the title signed, etc. In the back of my mind I'm thinking "I have to drive this thing back 500 miles now and I couldn't even get it to stay in a straight line on the road". Feeling nervous, I hand over payment, grab all the paperwork, and thank the seller. My wife looks at me and says "You going to be able to do this?" "Sure, no problem". By time I had it gassed up and a few more test runs done, I head out of Alpine on my new to me Ural. Now, the weather forecast had originally said it was supposed to be near 70 today (Saturday). Somewhere in that forecast was lost the fact that there was a huge severe wind advisory for the general area. I now also get what Uralistas say about Urals and the wind. Over the next 500 or so odd miles, I was relentlessly battered on the road. Worse than that, the supposed 70 degree weather? Uh uh, it was in the 40's and that was without the wind chill. Did I mention that I had budget gear on? Yeah, I froze my ass off the entire trip. What took 10 hours the day before ended up taking me a hair over 14. Mainly because of the constant "warm myself up" and "try to make my body not feel in pain" breaks. Did I forget to mention that I haven't ridden a bike in like 5 or so years. Yep, add that to my list for the day. Back and shoulder pain, bottom end pain (love the tractor seat), cramped legs, cramped hands that haven't twisted a throttle or gripped a set of handlebars in 5 years, constant shakes from the cold - I was miserable.
Now, here are the good things that I learned and experienced from the trip.
1) A Ural will absolutely handle the freeway - at 50-60mph.
2) My Ural did not miss a single beat during the entire 500 or so mile trip
3) My Ural was very accepting and forgiving of my fumblings
4) UDF? Yep, I get that now too.
5) Started up every time after I stopped (many) on the first try.
6) Power - somewhat limited on the freeway, but that thing pulls like no tomorrow driving on side streets.
1) The shifter is a joke, but once I figured out I could shift up and down with the same end of the level, we got along fine.
2) The grab rail for the passenger is a pain in the ass - literally. I feel bruised from that thing poking into me for 14 hours.
3) Tractor seat - while I think it will be fine around town, no way am I ever doing a trip on it again.
So after a 14 hour crash course of piloting a Ural (Iron Butters eat your hearts out), I delivered it home safe and sound. It's not kicked my Corolla out of the garage, but oh well. Definitely a lot more to learn, but I think I did pretty good by the end. Slow speed right turns are kicking my butt, definitely need to work on that.