About Larry

I live in Bandon on the southern Oregon coast and I've been riding for a long, long time, years, decades. We won't go there kiddies but believe me, it's been awhile. During that time I've done most of my riding on the road with occasional off-road forays, most of which were intentional. Some weren't. Until just a couple of years ago I'd never ridden a hack - that's sidecar to those who aren't familiar with the lingo. I figure riding a hack up Alaska's infamous Haul road all the way to Deadhorse should top off my torture tank for quite awhile.

About Mac

Mac hails from Robins, Iowa and has been riding bikes longer than most people have been around. He managed to torture his old BMW past the 100,000 mile mark and presently rides a Yamaha FJR. His newest ride, a 2008 Ural Patrol is waiting on the dealer's highest shelf until the flood waters recede after which they'll assemble it and turn it over to him. The fact that he's heading to Alaska for his first journey on a new rig should tell you all you need to know about him...

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's here! - Email from Mac Friday 6/27/08


Here is the story of yesterday.

My buddy(Joe O'Connor) gave me a ride up to pick up my bike. Being a friend he stayed with me during the day and then followed me on the ride back home to make sure there was no trouble.

We arrived at the dealers at 3PM, which is the time the male partner of the dealership is there. He was quite surprised to see us as he thought we were coming up today. Needless to say the bike was not ready to pick up. I told him I was there to ride it home so if he would get it ready to go I would ride it home and we could finish up with the little goodie installations on Sat when I come back for the 500Km check. 

In the spirit of good dealership he told me to go have some coffee and come back later. Joe and I did as he asked and when we returned he was still working on it. He apparently made up his mind that he was going to to get it completely done.

To make a long story short he got everything done that I wanted except for the deep oil sump and extended oil pump. We will fix that Sat when I am up there for the 500Km check.

Now as the saying goes, here is the rest of the story. We finally got away from the dealership at 6:30 PM and arrived home at 11:30 PM. The back way I came home was 233Km and we made 4 stops so I not only learned a little bit about riding a hack I also checked out the lighting. All I got to say is I am very glad I read as much as I did on how to ride one, the first time I decelerated rapidly got my attention. Glad there was no one coming in the oncoming lane.

I finally got it thru my thick head that you need to slow down for a right corner and then slowly speed up thru the curve. On the left corner you need to slow down while taking the curve.

YES, all is well, but the banked curves to the left still get my attention, it feels like I am going to tip over to the left. Also the first couple of times I stopped I put my left foot down. I finally got used to that, now I can just see me riding my FJR and stop and fall over.

Now I got to get busy today, license, insurance, etc. Then tomorrow get up about 5 am and head north.

Man, I am having a lot of fun, who said retirement is boring.


P.S. I love my Ural


Monday, June 23, 2008

Dana's Bucket List

A couple of days ago - Saturday morning, June 22nd to be exact - I'd gone for a ride to Charleston with riding buddy Chuck Bruce. Nothing special, just one of those get-out-of-the-house things, the sun was shining and the chores could wait. We arrived back in Bandon a few hours later and while I stopped for gas Chuck headed over to the local grocery store. Chuck rides a really nice Yamaha Star and since he's pretty cool looking a lady approached him and asked if he knew anyone with a sidecar.

Chuck has one but it's at his other place in Medford, OR so he told her he knew someone local who has one. Turns out she has a sister who has always wanted a ride in one and its on her bucket list. I'm going to presume you readers know what a bucket list is...? No? Me neither, I guess I'll have to watch the movie. Anyway Chuck told her he'd give me a call and see if I'd give her sis a ride in the Sputnik. He did, I said sure, called her and set up a time & place for 10:00 am today. Should be a piece of cake I thought. Right, a piece of cake. That was last night and I entered their address into my Garmin GPS so it would be a no-brainer finding their place. 

Today dawned bright & early, no rain albeit on the cloudy side and I hit the road around 9:30 am. Everything was running smooth as can be until just south of Bandon when the fire went out. Kaput. Nada. The end.  Figuring I'd forgotten to turn the gas on I coasted over to the side of the road and checked. It was on and the odometer showed a measly 41 miles on the tank. Still not trusting things I turned the tank onto the reserve position, hit the go-button and after a sputter or two the thumper came back to life. A short stop at the local Chevron to top off the tank required a mere 1.4 gallons. Now what? What the heck, time was running short and I had to get going or I'd be late. Whatever caused the shut down  mysteriously went away for the rest of the day, and hopefully forever. Very weird.

With the morning catastrophic failure drill out of the way I was on the road again with 10 minutes to spare. I must subconsciously require a bit of drama in my life as I discovered I'd left the note containing the ladies address and telephone number at home. That wouldn't be a big deal as long as the GPS made good on it's promise and not let me get lost, eh? Right LL. Hoo boy. Hustling north on US 101 the Garmin suddenly informed me I should be heading south. Huh? OK, no argument from me, a sharp U-turn and around I went. Those of you familiar with Garmin's products know how pissy the GPS lady gets when you're "OFF ROUTE, RECALCULATING!" Seems there was more than one approach to the address I wanted and somehow mid-way the spy-in-the-sky had an attitude adjustment. Heading south I followed her new instructions exactly and soon arrived at the chosen destination. Only it wasn't the right place, much to my chagrin and the general amusement of the little old lady whose house I was at. Ha ha Garmin, what a joker you are. Ha ha. 

Back on 101 heading north again, this time flying by the seat of my pants I located the right road and cruised up it a mile or so, thinking anyone expecting an old guy on a hack would probably be outside waving their arms frantically. No one. Nada. Nyet. Back down I went. Back up I went. On the third pass Dana caught sight of me and did the arm waving thing and I arrived, only 15 minutes late. With introductions over and a nice bag of fresh-baked home made cookies stowed carefully in my tank bag we were ready to set off. 

Heading north we swung off 101 through Bullard's Beach State Park following the road west alongside the Coquille River out to the Bandon Lighthouse. There we stopped for photos and a look around, then rode south on 101 into Bandon's Old Town district and a stop at the Bandon Coffee Cafe. Dana's sister Dawn followed us in her car, taking photos of the sights and the two people in the sidecar, much to the curiosity of the tourists. After coffee it was time for a bit more riding, this time south on 101 for a few miles and then it was time to say goodbye to new found friends. Not a bad way to spend the morning.  

Sunday, June 22, 2008

So many tents, so little time... Mac's veritable quandry

As it happens it's June 22nd and we're still in the pre-launch period of our ride to Alaska. Delivery of Mac's new Ural Patrol remains on hold for a few more days till the flood waters of the mid-west go away. In the mean time he is weighing the advantages of one of his two tents over the other before deciding which to take. Some of his issues have to do with whether or not they'll stand up to high winds and are absolutely waterproof.

These are valid concerns for some folks, usually the ones who scale Mt Everest, etc. I am not of that ilk; it is my feeling that tents need only be impervious to darkness followed by daylight. For issues beyond that there lays a solution adequately provided for by an industry most commonly referred to as the "hospitality trade", i.e. Motel Six, etc. 

Moreover you will note in the accompanying photographs that the second of his tents is outfitted in what may only be described as lavender and white livery... This in itself might bring cause for traveling companions of a true manly man's nature to move closer to the fire. His other tent up for consideration is a more traditional shade of green, easily acceptable in any manly man's company yet unlikely to strike fear in the hearts of curious bears. It may be noted there exists little or no data as to bears color preferences and whether or not they share the same tastes in designer fabrics as do riders of Ural motorcycles. Perhaps "taste" becomes the relevant term here with bears providing the deciding factor? 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Larry's quest for the perfect helmet

Among the many things I've been looking for to outfit this trip is a new helmet. My old tried and true Shoei Syncrotec "flip-up" has become rather long in tooth so I've been searching for a replacement. 

The Shoei is going to be difficult to match; it's been one of the best selling flip-ups for years due to it's high quality. I have no real complaints about it other than it's a bit noisy and when it rains really hard water finds it's way through the vents. Not much but enough to annoy. 

Aside from those design issues it's showing quite a number of scars and dings from being dropped and hit with flying objects, all of which can weaken a helmet's structural integrity. Of course Shoei offers a replacement model, their new Multitec, toted by some as being the best flip-up available. This comes with a matching price so I decided to see what else might be out there.

Several weeks back I located an Airoh TR-1 on the Seattle Craig's List. This is an Italian helmet not available in the US and one I'd read several reviews on. It sounded pretty neat as it has a built-in sun screen that slides up into the top of the helmet, no need to keep swapping sunglasses on and off, just lower the screen. It also has a super wide eye port that expands your peripheral vision quite a bit, something that's really important when making lane changes. All of this is great stuff, plus, if you really want to be cool the front chin bar is removable and you have an open face jet-style helmet. That's the good part. 

On the negative side there are no controls for the front air vents, they're open all the time and that would be a very bad thing when the temperature drops or during heavy rain. After wearing it on rides of a couple hundred miles I decided this would be an OK helmet for summer but not what I'd take to Alaska. The hunt continues...

Next on my list was HJC's Sy-Max II, their latest release of a flip-up style helmet. The decision to try this one was made solely on reviews I'd read, all of which gave high marks to it. The price was half of the Shoei so I ordered one through New Enough, a Texas firm. I've done lots of business with them mainly because of their prompt service and their no questions asked return policy; they're very good people to deal with. The helmet arrived promptly and within ten minutes I knew this wasn't the one for me either. The fit along the lower side of my face was so tight there was no way I could accept it. To make matters worse the sun shield caused wavy distortion along the lower edge, a definite deal breaker. So, off it went, back to New Enough without ever having gone for a ride with it. Bummer...

At this point I've read so many helmet reviews my eyes are bugged out, it seems the only satisfactory replacement for my Syncrotec would be a new Multitec. Given what I've read about it I'm not sure if I'd gain that much so I'm thinking I may just keep my old one a while longer. Could it be I'm also having an attack of frugality?

BTW, the photo is my old bucket taken on my first trip to Alaska. I took the pic to show how many bugs could accumulate in 15 minutes... It gets pretty gnarly up there.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Planning 101 - Burlington, WA - KOA campground

Email from Mac Re. our first camp. This sounds good to me, can't wait!

Sun 6/15/08  1:12 PM


Fired up my camp stove for the first time today, just to make sure it works. Made a foam pocket to carry the propane cylinders in. Just as soon not have them rattling around. Might go BOOM.

Got a carry bag for the stove which fits great. Working on getting a couple of water proof containers that I can put on top of the ice in my cooler to hold any goodies that I don't want to get wet. The beer below I think will be ok, hey, it won't last long enough for the cans to get rusty.

I really need to get my hands on the bike because I need to get some measurements of the tub as I want to get a couple of water proof containers to carry clothes and cooking stuff. I'm talking about "BIG" containers that just barely fit in the tub. I plan on putting my cooler on the seat.

After the rain early this morning, this has turned out to be a beautiful day. The dealer is not open until Tuesday and I am really hoping that he will have it ready by Thursday, but that probably depends on how much work he has to do just to clean up his shop.

Dang, I am getting antsy,


P.S. I figure a good place for us to meet would be the KOA campground at Burlington. I plan on being there two nights. The first night I arrive and then have my bike worked on at the dealer, near by, the next day and then stay the second night. Then we can leave from there. Dang, if I only knew the dates. 

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Bikes - Mac's ride

Mac's ride is a 2008 Russian Ural Patrol. This model comes from the factory with a sidecar set up, ready to roll.

Bike specs - the factory stuff
  • 750 cc engine, horizontally opposed twin cylinders, originally a knock-off of a 30's era BMW airhead. Many new improvements have been made to the original 650 cc lump, ignition updated, fuel system, etc., but still very much like a vintage BMW in appearance. 
  • Current models feature disc brakes up front and drums on the rear.
  • The tranny is a 4-speed and gearing is configured to provide comfortable cruising speeds of around 55-60 mph, plenty for touring and exploring back roads over any type of terrain. 
  • The really good part is the selectable sidecar drive  - 2wd - and reverse too, both features ensure that Ural Patrol pilots can go nearly anywhere. 
  • It's not always easy to find accurate information on Urals but the most common guess on horsepower puts it somewhere in the mid-40s, adequate for tooling around but probably not the best choice for Interstate freeway travel. 
  • Fuel consumption runs around 32-35 mpg at normal cruising speeds. At least that's what I've been told... I think...
Farkles - Dealer installed 
  • 2 Powerlets, one for heated clothing and one for the GPS.
  • Clear windshield 
  • Leg Guards 
  • Army green fuel canister  
  • Camo tire cover

Farkles -  Mac installed 
  • Camo bike cover 
  • Repair Manual 
  • Heated gloves 

The Bikes - Larry's ride

Larry's ride is a 2000 Italian Aprilia Pegaso equipped with a 1995 Russian Sputnik sidecar

Hot dang!

Bike specs -the factory stuff
  • Powered by a 651 cc single cylinder water cooled Rotax engine made in Austria. It features 5 radial valves, double overhead cams, 2 Mikuni carbs, and dual exhaust, all of which produces a modest 53 horsepower and delivers 50+ mpg. The gearbox is a 5-speed and disc brakes are all around. With the addition of the sidecar and subsequent loads fuel economy drops to around 35 mpg. It's just a big ol' thumper... I love it
Bike Farkles 
  • Dauntless sub-frame - This is what the Sputnik hangs on
  • Heated grips & heated vest with digital controls - No sense in being cold. Not me anyway. Hey, we're going to Alaska, not Albuquerque 
  • Garmin 2610 GPS - Manly men don't ask for directions
  • Corbin seat - lowers my fandango a couple of inches closer to the ground
  • AirHawk inflatable seat pad - just in case the Cobin begins to freeze... also helps fend off monkey butt
  • Scottoiler automatic chain oiler system - Because I'm lazy and don't like to oil yucky chains
  • GenMar handle bar risers - no neck cricks for me by cricky
  • Talon Alarm system - it'll put yer ear out. It did mine. Huh?
  • Digital 5-function voltmeter thingy - this farkle actually has a black ice detector on it... no need to watch the road ever
  • The Hornet Electronic Deer Avoidance System - I'll buy damn near anything... how embarrassing  

Sidecar specs - the factory stuff
  • Steel tub with clamshell entry, tonneau cover, locking trunk not really big enough for a body but handy just the same, really goofy looking windscreen that blew off somewhere along I-5 on the way home from Dauntless Motors, big ol' skinny tire with cable operated drum brake just like on my high school '35 Ford, all built to the highest standards of Russian quality. Yessiree.. 

Sidecar Farkles - Beyond Nikita's wildest dreams
  • Replacement BMW wheel with disc brake
  • Adjustable Windscreen - home made as I'm a frugal person. Cheap too. 
  • Custom Tilting Luggage rack & Spare Tire Carrier 

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mac patiently awaiting the big ride...

So it snows occasionally in Robins, so what? Wot? Izzat a Mercur in my garage you ask? Who wants to know?

Larry patiently awaiting the big ride...

Today is Friday the 13th.... an auspicious occasion and one fitting to begin this blog.