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Old 08-12-2013, 01:05 AM   #121
rebelpacket OP
four-stroke earth-saw
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Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Oddometer: 730
Day 13

Last night, we decided as a group that I would set off early while Wayne and Zina packed up and left an hour behind me. The rationale being the speed difference between the motorcycles and the Ural; they would catch up to me in no time at all.

Lola and I were up before the sun was over the horizon, and packing up camp. I declined the ritualistic coffee exchange in the morning, choosing instead to get a cup in Boulder, some 10-15 miles south of Pinedale after topping off the tanks and spare gas cans for the beginning of the 220 mile stretch.

The road started out innocently enough, before taking a left-turn into last century. Most of the road was at left-sloping angle, which causes me much concern (should the sidecar decide to flip over on top of me). Eroded, sandy, off-camber two track on three wheels is not a Ural's favorite place to be.

After 20-30 minutes of gingerly plodding along, dabbing my left foot down to keep the rig from tipping in spots, we came upon this steep, sandy hill. I stopped and dismounted to try and find a good line up it. You may have to squint to find the Ural in this photo.

The scale of steep does not show on this photo. Right in the middle was a slight dip, followed by a sharp rock shelf. A momentum-robbing obstacle, right before another steep, sandy climb. This was going to be interesting.

Thinking about riding something out of your comfort zone is always a bad idea. I walked down the hill, sat on the Ural and clicked the ignition on. "Here we go#" I said to Lola, with a hint of trepidation as I engaged 2WD. I got up to and past the rock shelf fairly easily, before I lost momentum and stopped just past it.

I tried several times to get the rig going again but all it did was burn up the clutch. The sour smell of overheated clutch material hung like a cloud around the Ural. I gave it some time to cool before attempting another go. The second attempt I kept off the bike, and ran beside it to get it going. Once I was at a full run, I whacked the throttle to the stop, and jumped on the left foot peg.

This rugged, worn-out hill was the most challenging obstacle I'd faced so far on my Ural, and one of the sections where a sidecar rig without 2-wheel-drive would have probably had to turn around, or be pulled/pushed up part of the hill.

Right after I summited the rough hill, I descended into the little town of Boulder. The red line is the path we took, and as you can see, a perfectly paved option exists on 191.
My advice: Unless you have something to prove to yourself, or your sidecar, bypass this section.

I topped up all tanks at the gas station in Boulder, and enjoyed my first cup of coffee for the day along with a damp, floppy pastry in a bag. While I did finish all the coffee, more of the pastry than I'd like to admit ended up in Lola's mouth. Bad human.

Rt 353 out of Boulder was much better way to watch the world wake up (as compared to sweating it on a hill somewhere). Sweeping bends under a pink freckled sky with some stunning backgrounds put on smiles and miles.

After 10 miles or so, Rt 353 turned into a wide, smooth dirt superhighway. The road gracefully wound through open ranges, backdropped by craggy mountains on the south-western side the Bridger National Forest.

We took Lander Cutoff on our way towards South Pass City. The road in many areas goes up and down over the foothills so sharply, it felt like the Ural was a boat I was riding over waves with. Beautiful scenery we had all to ourselves, save a few cows wandering about in the morning.

We had been riding in partly cloudy skies all morning, with an emphasis on partly. The sun was slowly starting to bake things a golden brown, and even at 8:30am I could foresee a hot, sweaty day. Then, just outside of South Pass City, a massive front lined the entire sky before us.

I rolled right through South Pass City. Normally I'd love to walk around and take in the sights, but the rows and rows of RV's and buses told me that it'd be a madhouse. The parking attendant stationed in the middle of the road gave me a weird look when I indicated I wanted to go straight through. Sorry guy, overpacked tourist ghost towns are not our thing.

I did check out the old Carissa Mill/Shaft House, mainly because there wasn't a line of people around it. They are refurbishing it, and reinstalling some original equipment to provide an interpretive site for people to visit. Sounds as good an excuse as any to return on these beautiful roads.

More empty, barren roads out of South Pass City under a cool, overcast sky. While I was quietly thanking every god I could remember from my high school textbooks, I was also putting in a request that it would not rain. While these roads would handle some rain without issue, the roads further on would simply become impassable.

Lola was feeling the good day as well. Rather than lie down and miss barking at a stubborn cow in the road, she stood up for the entire morning, nose in the air and on high alert for furry creatures.

A little-known benefit to riding with a dog in your sidecar, is their ability to spot deer and other large animals well before the rider. Lola's ears going up suddenly is red-flag to look out for herds of pronghorn's hauling applesauce across the trail, or stealthy cattle lying down in a ditch.

The bike is running better than I can describe in words. I again find myself feeling a mechanical euphoria perched atop the tractor seat with Lola at my side. I turn my head sideways into the wind to hear the rhythmic even tapping of the valves, and then tilt it back to hear the crisp staccato of the exhaust note. Sounds great, feels great, and is rolling through these roads with aplomb.

When 120 kms clicked over on the trip meter, I decided this would be a nice spot to fill up the tank with a jerry can. It was a moment of truth for my fuel consumption fears. If I was riding with an even throttle and the mix was right, one jerry can should fill the tank to the top after this mileage. I was elated to end up with a little left over and know that I had that in reserve, should things not go to plan.

Once we turned onto Crooks Gap road, I immediately missed the smooth, graded beauty of Rt 353 and Lander Cutoff. Large chunks of gravel adorned deep, wide washboards which seemed to span the entire road. The bone-rattling vibrations only seemed to diminish at 50 mph or higher. This meant any bend or twist in the road was handled while earthquake-sized forces tried to rip your hands from the handlebars.

And just as I was laying down verbal praise for the Ural, I noticed that my final drive breather/dipstick decided it was done with the GDR and wanted off. No one to blame but myself however, I'm the one that has been checking the oil level every morning.

I'm carrying 1 liter of 90wt gear oil with me, which is enough to refill the final drive several times. I cut up part of a shop rag, and rolled it into a temporary plug, securing it with some hockey tape (which really can fix anything). After refilling the final drive, and checking the level with the tommy bar, I stuffed/threaded the rag into the hole.

I started back the way I can, slowly in first gear, looking for the breather/dipstick on the road. Since the really bad washboard had only started 5-10 miles ago, I decided to backtrack to the turn to find it. 10 miles was all I really could spare in terms of gas consumption.

Not more than a couple slow miles back down the road, I ran into Wayne and Zina. Since Zina's bike is the most fuel efficient out of the three, she graciously volunteered to ride back a couple miles and see if she saw anything. Meanwhile Wayne broke out his toolkit to see if he had a bolt to fit.

This was the semi-permanent fix we came up with. Threaded a medium sized bolt into a length of fuel hose. Using more hockey tape, we carefully wrapped the widest portion of the bolt with a few revolutions to increase its diameter, and then screwed it into the hole. I smeared some RTV around the opening, and did a crap-job safety wiring it to the 2WD actuating arm.

Zina came back empty handed. After waiting a couple minutes for the RTV to set up, I set out ahead. Zina and Wayne left a gap, promising to keep an eye out for any Russian parts bouncing down the road. The overcast skies that had been instrumental in keeping the temperatures so agreeable, now were threatening us with pockets of heavy rain.

I rode cautiously at first, frequently checking the plug to ensure it hadn't worked itself out already. I slowly built up some speed, testing it over some bumps and washboards. I probably looked down at the final drive 35 times in the first 10 miles.

As the miles passed, I became more comfortable with the fix and finally understood that it would hold. The road had some sections of washboard, but a thin layer of silt and sand added some padding that made them quite enjoyable. As the tripmeter clicked over 240 kilometers, I stopped to fill up my tank with my last jerry can. I felt a slight twinge of panic as I secured the empty can back onto the sidecar. That was it.

Wayne and Zina rolled up, outfitted in full rain gear. I breathed a sigh of relief. With those humidity suits on, no matter how badly the skies billowed up we'd never get a drop.

True to form, the road curved away from the wall of storms, and into a nice partly sunny section of sky, while Zina and Wayne sweated it out in their rain suits. This portion of Wamsutter road is mostly clay base with a sandy layer on top. Not something you want to try if its pouring. While I did notice a few deep ruts from folks who tried the road when it was wet, it seems most people know better.

The road deteriorated into a sandy, cattle-eroded two-track with sage brush boldly encroaching the tracks. Despite how primitive it looks, it was a really good road. The thin layer of sand that covered the packed surface acted as an extra couple millimeters of suspension. Doesn't sound like much, but when you start with less than 4# of suspension travel, anything helps.

So far, this "big empty" day has been my favorite part of the trip. Being in remote, empty places always brings me to a calm and comfortable satisfaction with life. Looking out over the sagebrush textured land with no cars, telephone poles, houses or gas stations to sully it up, left me wishing for another day out in this land.

Yep, the temp plug is still there. Hockey tape and RTV sealant should be required items in every kit. Saved my bacon today.

When we turned off to BLM 3203, the ruts on the road deepened, and the sagebrush grew cautiously in the middle of the road. The ruts are somewhat deep, and wider than the sidecar track. I had about 3-4 inches of movement in either direction on the road before the sidecar wheel would ride over the sagebrush in the middle or at the edge. Every time I goofed up or turned too far in one direction, Lola would get bounced into the air high enough for her ears to flap around.

Rolling over Windy Point the road crossed another magic budget line, and the road transformed back into a dirt superhighway. On the horizon, semi trucks lazily crossed our line of sight while we descended to meet I-80.

I went out in front of Zina and Wayne on the highway. With most of the traffic going 80+ mph, I was almost a rolling hazard while gritting my teeth, throttle to the stop at 60mph. I glanced down at the inline fuel-filter on the right hand cylinder, and noticed a bunch of air bubbles. I noted the tripmeter while I flipped to reserve. 360 km (223 miles), which works out to around 25 miles per gallon. Not much better than my Toyota truck at home, but way more fun.

Wayne ran out of gas completely though, and had to empty his Rotopax into the tank on the side of the busy construction zone. He went the same distance on 4.5 gallons of gas.

After topping up our tanks in Rawlins, we decided to split up. I'd go find an auto-parts store, and find a more permanent fix that could take me into Colorado, where I might be able to pick up a replacement dipstick/breather. Zina and Wayne went in search of a place for us to pitch our tents for the night.

I found a replacement drain-plug that was the right size and thread pitch at an O'rielly parts shop. While paying for it, I noticed that large drops of rain we're starting to fall. Through the window I could see Lola, still patiently waiting in the sidecar giving me the biggest sad-puppy eyes she's ever given. Despite my efforts to hasten the transaction for the part, the cashier seemed fixed on her own speed.

The overcast skies we had been frolicking in all day, finally opened up with a vengeance. Lola and I huddled under a paltry overhang outside the auto parts store, while gusting wind and torrential rain bore down on us.

Through the miracle of text-message, I connected with Wayne who was also waiting out the storm in a sheltered hut, that offered little shelter. With the wind and fierce rain, setting up a tent could only result in broken tent poles, and rain-fly's floating away in the storm. Hotel it was. The rain let up slightly, so Lola and I set out on a wet Ural to meet up with Wayne and Zina.

Before the winds had picked up and the storms blown, Wayne and Zina had found a campsite and paid for it. Once the storm came through and changed our minds about camping for the night, Zina went in to get a refund while Wayne huddled with Simon. The wind was strong enough to blow his laden DRZ over on its side. When I pulled up, Zina was still in debate with the camp manager, so I helped Wayne stand the DRZ back up.

Across the street, and our sweet, spoiled salvation lay in wait. We parked and quickly unloaded steeds and canines into the hotel room during a lull between storms. We could see the next row of clouds rolling in from the west, and all hoped to be inside when it came through. As we unloaded, other motorcycles of all makes and models started to roll into the parking lot as well.

Lola hopped on one of the beds, and fell asleep almost instantly. Imagine you are riding in the back of your buddies pickup truck down a bumpy dirt road, standing up on your hands and feet all day long. She's never complained though, and hasn't whined or whimpered once getting up into the sidecar so far.

Simon, the eldest of the canine units in our crew also found sleep quickly. Wayne and I (being the smallest of the group) took advantage of the coin-operated laundry to freshen up some of our pit-stained t-shirts. We offloaded photos and got caught up with the world.

A Charles Bronson "Deathwish" marathon was on, which perfectly complimented the chinese delivery we ordered for dinner. The storm(s) blew and pissed rain outside while we ate, eventually calming down into a peaceful night later on. The Big Empty was over, and while I was happy falling asleep in a soft, dry bed, I felt a longing for the isolation we had all day in the basin.

Days Mileage: 228 miles
Total Mileage: 2,298 miles
Buy it, use it, break it, fix it.
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:31 AM   #122
rebelpacket OP
four-stroke earth-saw
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Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Oddometer: 730
Originally Posted by FirstPath View Post
Enjoying the journey!. Tip: You may want to stick to riding and leave the dancing for the pros... just sayin'!!
As my uncle taught me, its all cool as long as you own it. So we might not be on Dancing With The Stars... its ok. They just don't understand our style...

Originally Posted by Chisenhallw View Post
Awesome RR. I wanna replicate this trip
I'm still working on organizing them properly, but I'll share my GPS tracks you can load and do it on your own sidecar! Its a great trip, and doable on a variety of setups.

Originally Posted by voyagerrider View Post
Thanks for taking us along on this ride. Your writing style is great and I love the pics. Having your 4-legged furry friends along also is plus. I love it.
I have subscribed and I am in for the whole ride. Keep it up!
Thanks for the kind words! I'm honored so many of you have subscribed to read about a trip thousands of others have already done. Its a real comfort having your furry buddy with you the whole time.

Originally Posted by Stijn_M View Post
Well written RR, its a joy to read.
The tubes you use, are these regulars? If so maybe you should try some thicker cross tubes.
Enjoy the road!
I was carrying MSR HD spare tubes. The stock Duro tubes are pretty thin in comparison. The MSR tubes are pretty heavy-duty, and I didn't have a failure with any of them on the trip. Only the stock Duro tubes.

Originally Posted by OKlr View Post
I will do about anything for a stranger, but i like my dog more than most people. I'm sorry, but if it means leaving my dog with some possibly drugged up hippies they can just walk.
Oh there is NO way I was leaving Lola with any of these folks. I could have given someone a ride on the sidecar fender though, and saved them some trouble. If I could do it over again, I would have. At the very least, I might have heard an interesting story.
Buy it, use it, break it, fix it.
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:58 AM   #123
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Joined: Nov 2010
Location: Melville, SK
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Awsome reporting..

Love the reports. Perfect blend of pics, comments and humour. I'm stuck offshore for most of the summer but I'm surfing the net looking for a Ural. Have loved them since I saw a few at the MOA rally in Sedalia last year and since I've had no adventure this year as of yet so I'm thinking a Ural for year round riding in balmy Saskatchewan.
You guys be safe and keep up the great report.
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:29 AM   #124
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Originally Posted by rebelpacket View Post
i'm still working on organizing them properly, but i'll share my gps tracks you can load and do it on your own sidecar! Its a great trip, and doable on a variety of setups.
2001 Kawasaki Concours 2001 Suzuki SV650
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:44 AM   #125
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Love the RR. I'm on this till the end. Keep going Champ
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:06 AM   #126
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Joined: Jul 2012
Location: Denver, CO
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My wife has been hesitant to be a pillion on the back of my 990 and we've also been wanting to get a dog. I've wanted a Ural for quite sometime for fun off-road, 2WD adventures in the mountains with the future dog, or with the wife....however, all three loaded down in a Ural...

I sent her some pics of you and your dog in the Ural and she is absolutely hooked on getting a Ural now, with a twist: she wants to ride the Ural with the dog and me on the KTM

A match made in heaven? We'll see next year (hopefully)

Whatever we do will be similar to your trip with 90% or more off road.

Anyway, so thanks for the inspiration, excellent RR and photos!
2013 KTM 990 Adventure Baja Edition
Originally Posted by Beefeater Steve
The KTM is the kind of bike you take behind the middle school and get pregnant. It's the kind of bike that, from the moment you light the fire, you know is downright nasty and makes you want to meet in the Burger King bathroom and lick its butthole.

JohnnyWaffles screwed with this post 08-12-2013 at 09:17 AM
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Old 08-12-2013, 04:16 PM   #127
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Location: Kingdom of Belgium
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This report is top material.
Wonderful pictures and the way the story is told, one is drawn right into the action.
Breathtaking, like the tale of climbing that sandy hill (Ruby Hill?)
Five stars, because that's max.

Is your total range, jerrycans included, 360km top?

On another note, how does that work out having a dog in a backpack?
I'm trying to imagine what it's like, but just can't. How to act in case of spills and all that?
There is so much good that comes with riding with a dog along.
Moriunt omnes pauci vivunt
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:35 PM   #128
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Location: Arlington, Tx
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I'm trying to picture myself going even 100 yards without my hyperactive Brittany leaping out of a sidecar........ Nope, not happening.
Tim in Arlington, Tx - '05 WeeStrom
"Preach the gospel and if necessary, use words." -- Francis of Assisi.
Proud member of 'Two-Wheeled Texans' and 'Ridge Riders'.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:56 PM   #129
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was it you I saw on 211 about to get on 67 sunday ? I was on the old tiger with another on a buell ..
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:45 PM   #130
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Location: Firmly planted in the Georgia red clay
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Loving the RR but your giving my girlz ideas!

I didn't know paws worked with tablets. My guess is she was reading to the other dog (not pictured) :) It does have me looking at a sidecar for my other bike. Hopefully by the time I get it, my akita will be calm enough to join us.

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Old 08-13-2013, 06:55 AM   #131
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Location: The Western Frontier,w/of Nevada,but just barely.
Oddometer: 105
Man, your RR just keep getting better. When the wife and I rode our Urals on trips, the first thing I would do after stopping was to go over the rigs visually first and then troubleshoot for possible problems down the road. However, never had a problem...but then again I don't think we went down roads like you did. We rode our Urals over the Beartooth, so we know what you were saying about high elevations and carbs adjustments.
Lola is definitely a veteran hack rider. Gotta be proud of her.
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Old 08-13-2013, 11:32 AM   #132
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Really enjoying your report the pictures and writing is fantastic, awesome you guys have your dogs with you. Subscribed
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Old 08-14-2013, 03:35 AM   #133
rebelpacket OP
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Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Oddometer: 730
Day 14

Still programmed for sunrise, morning came early for me. Despite a soft bed with warm blankets, the urge to ride to new lands overwhelmed that of comfort and luxury. Not Lola though; She didn’t move from her spot on the bed until I started loading up the Ural.

I changed the final drive oil in the motel parking lot, capturing most of the dirty oil in a soda can. I wasn’t sure how much dust and dirt made its way in, and I didn’t want that dusty mess wearing the whirly-bits prematurely.

Walking around the parking lot in the morning, I came across this Twisted Throttle truck, on its way to the BMW rally in Oregon. My friend Jane works there, and I believe I will start petitioning her to have them make some accessories for the Ural.

Our bellies stuffed with motel waffles, and our hearts pumping a couple cups of mild dishwater-flavored coffee through our veins, we set out on Rt 71 towards Colorado.

Riding out of town, straight and fast between scenic cliffs and buffalo jumps. Things are remarkably green for this time of year, and the mottled ocean of sagebrush and grass transforms the normally harsh brown-n-crispy hashbrown themed landscape.

Despite 14 days of riding and staying in new places, Lola has not lost her zeal for a long day in the sidecar. I’m sure she wishes we had a few more naps during the day, or stopped to pee on more things. I told her I’d honor her requests when she starts paying for gas. She then gave me this face.

Route 71 continued onto Sage Creek Road, which was another wide dirt superhighway. It slowly snaked through creeks and hills toward the Medicine Bow National Forest.

Zina gave the enthusiastic sweep of the arm; a universally understood motorcyclist gesture. Beautiful, empty scenery and roads so smooth, you could play pool on them.

Wayne only put his hand up because he needed some armpit adjustments. I’m glad Zina was around for this smelly task.

The further south we rode, the size of the cliffs and buffalo jumps grew. The earth has a very red tinge to it here. Even though green shrubs and brush grow over just about every surface, the red background bleeds through.

Up and around a few more cliffs, and right into Medicine Bow. The change in scenery is so dramatic, you feel like you must have driven through a portal. Only a half-mile behind this photo, is the wide open land landscape we had been in for a day and a half.

Our path narrowed slightly as it started to wind sharply through the forest. Large piles of fallen trees and brush dotted some of the turnouts and lay-by’s. The NF crews must be busy burning up brush.

The road surface seemed to vary as we rode closer to Colorado. Big washboards and ruts would pop up in weird random sections of straight road. The Ural handled most of the heavy bumps with grace, while clicking along at an even forty mph.

Remember on a Ural, loud valves are happy valves. If your Ural starts to sound more like a sewing machine, and less like a dryer with a handful of fender washers clanging around in it; STOP. Something may be terribly wrong!

Rounding a bend into this walled tunnel, I immediately recognized this as the “Aspen Alley”. While its very picturesque, I found myself a little underwhelmed. I’m sure I’d be singing a different tune in the fall colors, but for this time of the year I was content to roll through.

Sage Creek Road dumped us out on RT-70. Smooth, cambered and paved, we rode along at a (relatively) spirited 55mph through the curves. Large clumps of aspen along the side of the road provided vivid contrast against the lush green forest floor.

Leaving the national forest land, clear-cut meadows and farmland greeted us, revealing the contour of the land we were now in. The extreme differences in the terrain a mere 40 miles north is absolutely astonishing to me.

Leaving RT-70 for Snake River Road, put us back on a well-loved, hard-pack dirt road. Ignore the “Road Closed 16 Miles Ahead” sign; We believed this is left-over from a large faux-ranch construction, and is now only there to deter folks. There is no winter maintenance, but its in great shape.

Snake River Road threads along the CO/WY border for while, before dropping south, deep into the Routt National Forest. Bright green fields of grass sprinkled on in open meadows, with happy cows turning fields into poop, milk, and cheeseburgers. Some of the high-plateaus looked as if someone sliced the tops off with a sword. A unique blend of both the rocky mountains, and the buffalo jump cliffs we’d been riding through all morning.

“The weather is cool, the sun is shining, and the roads are not re-arranging my insides. Lets go man!”. Ok dog. Dust-goggles on, speed set to Ural.

Absolutely amazing roads through the Routt National Forest. The kind of roads that you lose your sense of time and mileage while navigating. Banked and twisting through a forest that grows directly up on the edge on all sides. Visibility through many of the corners is not great, so watch your speed, lest you become a hood ornament.

We burst out of the gravel and the national forest at Placer, where CO-129 begins into Steamboat. Shortly after we stopped, a large group of Harley Davidson riders gingerly worked to turn their big and shiny chrome-laden rigs around, right at the point where the gravel started. One of them took a photo of Lola and I in the sidecar, but otherwise didn’t want to talk to us. Maybe it was my scarf?

We followed a long, long line of traffic down the paved CO-129 into Steamboat Springs. Preoccupied with cell phones, finding their favorite songs on the radio, or trying to eat lunch, drivers kept varying their speeds wildly, from 30-50mph. On a Ural in hill country, momentum is everything. I muttered foul language while repeatedly downshifting to regain speed.

This Taco Cabo off US-40 was one of the first places we saw as we rolled into Steamboat Springs. Shaded outdoor seating, and tacos; perfect for a lunch break after a great morning on the trail.

We all ordered different burritos, and each one was exceptionally good. The dogs sprawled out comfortably underneath us to catch any errant scraps that fell to the floor. Over mouthfuls of beans, chicken and cheese, we concluded to be at the halfway point (mileage-wise) on our trip. No better meal to celebrate a trip halfway to mexico, than with burritos.

After our meals, the owner (Kent) came out to chat with us about our rigs, dogs and our trip. He shared some of his story with us too, which I found particularly inspiring. He started working in housing development, making a very good living doing it, until the housing market went downhill. After losing his wife, most of his business and possessions, he started over completely on a new path. Let me tell you, for a guy that built houses most of his life, he makes one of the best burritos I’ve ever had.

He also puts together some pretty unique combinations. He brought out some of the filling used in his “421″ burrito for us to try. Macaroni & Cheese, fresh chorizo, pistachios, cilantro and spices. It sounds weird, but it tastes absolutely decadent. Conveniently situated next to a medical marijuana dispensary, one can roll up a doobie while they make your order (if desired). Guns, weed and burritos; Let freedom ring Colorado!

Kent is a great guy with a great business, and big dreams. If you like mexican food and are passing through, stop in. His Taco Cabo is a very dog and human friendly place, and worth checking out on your way through.

We motored out of Steamboat Springs on US-40, before splitting off on CO-14. Large, angry clouds started to billow into formidable dark isolated pockets as we continued south. With the afternoon storms that are frequent in Colorado, we hoped to stay at or below tree line to mitigate the possibility of getting struck by lightening.

I noticed Wayne and Zina increased their gap a little bit too, trying to distance themselves from the rolling lump of ferrous mass that is the Ural. Russians don’t believe in plastic.

The pavement ended at a small, narrow forest road with turn-outs. Large potholes and rutted sections meant low speeds and erratic maneuvers on the Ural, trying to save my posterior (and Lola’s joints) from the big bumps.

Fattening back up again, the dirt smoothed out on CO-18, as we paralleled the shoreline with Stagecoach Reservoir. Lola and I tried to race a boat around these curves, and lost. We got the final laugh though, as he ran out of water and had to turn around while we motored along with a smile and a wave. Wheels: 1, Propellers: 0.

Sagebrush Trail Road does not live up to its namesake. Smooth and hard-packed, it doesn’t offer up any problems wet or dry, and seems absent of the hazards that usually demark a “trail”. Spoiled after so many dirt superhighways today, I even found myself critiquing the road over some little bumps which I wouldn’t have even noticed in my shell-shocked daze two days ago.

Lots of ranching along to road opens things up quite nicely, providing good line of sight through the sweeping corners, as well as the forest beyond. Occasionally we’d ride through damp sections of road, the air heavy with the moisture of a recent shower. It would seem our good fortune in weather may finally run out today.

Despite the constant threat of thunderstorms, partings in the sky and tree line offered up some truly majestic views of the terrain around us.

More wildflowers in bloom up here, which neatly adorn the forested meadows. The ruby-green color you see everywhere is a great sign for Colorado. Early this year things were looking very grim, and close to confirming the prophecy old-timers in crusty bars would share with you over a Budweiser. “Yeep, god is punishin’ us wicked! Dees whole state is going up in flames!” (And it almost did).

While temps were very steamy in Steamboat Springs, up here in the mountains its wonderful. Since Lola’s mouth-radiator isn’t wide open, I know she agrees with me. Unlike our gold-coast comrades, Lola and I are built for cold weather. I’m sure Lola still wonders why I thought riding to a hot-spot like Mexico was a good plan.

Right at the intersection with Rt-134, we met up with these members doing a portion of the COBDR. Just past the intersection at 134, there was a large creek crossing (the biggest and deepest of the trip). While I don’t remember either of their names, I do remember their sage advice.

“Take the bypass” the KTM-saddled rider said matter-of-factly. “Don’t even bother trying to go through there, we just fooled around in that area for a couple hours before we got out”. The rider on the DRZ silently nodded his head in somber agreement with the struggle they had just endured.

The Yellow arrows represent the original route through the water crossing. The red is the pavement alternative we took. There wasn’t any argument in our camp for taking the bypass. Discretion is the better part of valor, and past a certain age I do believe common sense outweighs bravado.

A good thing we decided to take the pavement around the crossing. A storm pocket washed right over us (and the creek crossing we would have gone through), soaking Lola and I throughly. Its amazing how no matter what motorcycle you ride, any rainfall always collects at your crotch. Just as all rivers flow to the ocean, all rain flows to a motorcyclists crotch.

After a couple turn-arounds, we finally found CO-11 off Rt-134. It should be noted that my 2011 Garmin Topo maps are way off for the entrance to this road. The road finally connects back up with the GPS properly after a couple miles, you just have to trust that it will happen.

Further up, the road dried up for a spell, though the fast-moving skies only promised more rain. Speeds on some of these sharp bends are pretty low, as mistake would send you over the edge to the valley floor some 500-600 feet below.

Deeper into the forest, the road quality quickly declines. Damp earth and loose surfaces made for some pant-crapping slides on the steep downhills. Too much front-brake while going downhill on the Ural causes the whole rig to slide suddenly and sharply to the left.

Things started to get much more interesting here. Several mucky and loose uphill sections revitalized my faith in the Duro 307′s, propelling us up sharp grades in 1WD without much slippage. Many of these turns and descents are at first gear speeds, especially when wet. Standing water and slick swarths of wet clay are always lurking around bends and shadows, ready to dispatch Ural, rider, and dog alike down the mountainside.

Despite threatening skies, the colors in this patch of wildflowers are vivid even in this grey light. They seem to spring from almost every available surface in clumps. In an afternoon dominated by green grass and dark skies, these dramatic changes in color are worth a stop and a good long look.

The sporadic rain showers and storms racing across the skies only made this view of Sheephorn Mountain more dramatic. The road quality and width increased as we left Routt national forest, and entered BLM managed land.

The Denver Rio-Grande Western railway scribbles along the Colorado River here. The length of some of these trains, and the power required to get them over some of these passes makes me wish I paid more attention in physics.

Rather than ride into Kremmling to find a campsite, we headed to a BLM site right along the Colorado River at Gore Canyon. Lots of float/rafting traffic at the boat put-in, but little in the way of campers. We got a spot at the end of a cul-de-sac, which prevented any large R.V. tour-buses from setting up shop next to us.

Our dogs invariably will attract other dogs into our camp, which is great since we love dogs. This nice guy is Marley, and he was very interested in the Chili I was cooking for dinner. Simon did his best to give Marley some sexual-healing, but he found Marley too tall.

I finally convinced Zina and Wayne to take the Ural for a spin. After a quick rundown on where things were, how to shift, and not to end up sideways in a ditch, they were off!

Smiles all around. It seems to be the prevailing facial expression of choice for those riding a Ural. Wayne commented how much harder it was to steer than he expected. Simon seemed pretty excited about forward progression without his normal backpack prison.

I asked Zina if she wanted me to “fly the chair” with her in it. Once I explained how I’d ride around in a circle with the sidecar in the air like some weird carnival amusement, the answer was a resounding: “YES!”. For those of you attention-to-detail folks, those are OSHA approved flip-flops.

Lola was very unhappy about the Ural in motion without her, and made sure to run around after us voicing her disapproval. Zina raised her hand in a triumphant fist while firming holding the built-in “oh-jesus” handle the Russians were kind enough to include. Yee-haw!

After dinner I walked over to the dumpster to dispose of our camp trash, and (finally) throw away my Duro 308 road tire. Just as I was about to throw the tire in, I noticed the trash scurry around. Quietly and calmly, a momma raccoon slipped out of the dumpster through a pried-open hole in the grating. Little buddy raccoon had some problems letting go of the grate on the dumpster, and needed some coaxing from his nervous mother to finally let go.

I don’t blame them for their hasty retreat, large white men with wheels have generally not dpme exceptionally good things in this part of the country.

As the last rays of sunlight disappeared over the banks of the canyon, Wayne and I talked long into the night trying to solve the worlds problems. Words and thoughts flew fast in the growing dark while we changed and evaluated ideas. By the time we came to a mutual understanding, it was close to 11:00pm at night.

In small pockets many miles away, it must have been thundering and storming fiercely. In the quiet of the night, we could hear the volume of the Colorado river fluctuate from the rain run off from faraway storms. Dull, distant flashes of light behind the peaks around us were the only indication of the storms happening further east. A silent fireworks show in the middle of the night, and a swelling river the only measure of its intensity.

Days Mileage: 204 miles
Total Mileage: 2,502 miles
Buy it, use it, break it, fix it.
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Old 08-14-2013, 03:50 AM   #134
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Originally Posted by pboulianne09 View Post
I've had no adventure this year as of yet so I'm thinking a Ural for year round riding in balmy Saskatchewan.
You guys be safe and keep up the great report.
I think a Ural would do really nice in Saskatchewan. Throw some heated grips and a vest on there, and you'll have a really nice winter moto!

Originally Posted by JohnnyWaffles View Post
I sent her some pics of you and your dog in the Ural and she is absolutely hooked on getting a Ural now, with a twist: she wants to ride the Ural with the dog and me on the KTM
It makes me so happy to hear that my trip might inspire you (or others) to take their pets with them on trips. I will say that riding a Ural off road for great distances is tiring, and beats you up a lot more than a normal motorcycle. Keep that in mind when gauging mileage on a trip. :)

Originally Posted by Rango View Post
Breathtaking, like the tale of climbing that sandy hill (Ruby Hill?)
Five stars, because that's max.
Is your total range, jerrycans included, 360km top?
Thank you for the compliments! Five stars, wow!

The range until reserve (about 0.8 gallons) with all three jerrycans is around 360km. At lower elevations, the mileage goes up more than you might expect. Most everything on this trip is 6,000+ feet above sea level.

Originally Posted by tshelfer View Post
I'm trying to picture myself going even 100 yards without my hyperactive Brittany leaping out of a sidecar........ Nope, not happening.
You never know! We thought our coonhound (rory) would do the same thing, but she stays. After she figured out that sidecar rides mean going to cool places, the dogs drag race into the garage when I put on my moto jacket. Your dog may just surprise you yet.

Originally Posted by theWolfTamer View Post

I didn't know paws worked with tablets. My guess is she was reading to the other dog (not pictured) :) It does have me looking at a sidecar for my other bike. Hopefully by the time I get it, my akita will be calm enough to join us.
Haha! Lola has never been smart enough to use the tablet. You might just have a good geek-in-training on your hands there. Forget the sidecar bit, get that dog a programming book. Can you say gold-mine? :)

Originally Posted by Mastercylinder View Post
When the wife and I rode our Urals on trips, the first thing I would do after stopping was to go over the rigs visually first and then troubleshoot for possible problems down the road.

Lola is definitely a veteran hack rider. Gotta be proud of her.
Mastercylinder, I think what you described is the key to successful Ural ownership. Attention to detail. It sounds like you and your wife have the exact same procedures you run through on your trips. Rough roads can cause other things to wear, but they are all easy enough to catch with a brief inspection.

Very proud of Lola-bears. She's exceeded every meager expectation I set for her, hundreds of times over. Even though I know the years to come will be hard for her and I, I hope we can continue to ride together.

Originally Posted by linksIT View Post
Really enjoying your report the pictures and writing is fantastic, awesome you guys have your dogs with you. Subscribed
Thanks links!
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:32 AM   #135
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Another excellent write-up! Reading your ride report is a great way to relax after a long, slow night shift. Kinda like an awesome bedtime story.

Travel safely, and keep writing and posting the great pics!

Thank you!
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