Alright, so I didn't get right to the ride report completion yesterday. I still needed time to rest and de-compress, in addition to needing to see to other things now that I'm back home. Well, now's as good a time as any to complete the report. I'm going to do this in a reflective way since I didn't really keep up with the report once I got the bike going again.
My daughter was absolutely miserable after 3 days in South Dakota. She really wanted to get back on the road but we were stuck. Given the situation with the bike and the fact that I was running out of time, we decided to just forget any chance of my daughter and I completing our adventure together. My wife, who already had a round trip airline ticket, had to buy herself another one way airline ticket, along with one for my daughter, so that they could fly home together. Last Wednesday, I pulled my bike back out of the shop in Spearfish and, after dropping my son off at work, I borrowed his car and started driving across South Dakota with my daughter. My wife rented a car in Wisconsin and started heading my way. We met in Sioux Falls, SD and my wife took my daughter from there. I drove the car back to Box Elder, where my son lives. I got back to his place around midnight.
In the morning, I was frustrated to find that one of his room mates had parked right in front of the garage, so I couldn't get the bike in there to work on it. I shouldn't complain, it's their place and I'm sure having me there was a burden. I was ready to get the heck out of that place, so I began to tear the bike apart on the side of the road, in front of their house. I found that it was easier to work in the natural light outside than in the garage anyway. Much easier to see things. And, South Dakota heat is nothing on Texas heat, so it was really nothing. I had the bike torn down to the clutch before my son was even up in the morning.
When my son got up, we drove into Rapid City so I could get a bolt extractor and drill. We went to an O'Reilly auto parts store and I asked for help with picking the correct bolt extractor. The guy who helped me out didn't really seem too convincing, but I deferred to his judgment. We asked about a place to rent an electric drill and they sent us to a tool rental place, but all they rented out was more heavy duty equipment. It was then that I remembered seeing an electric drill on a counter at my son's apartment.
My son had to go to town and take care of other things, so I spent several hours with him taking care of his business on his off day with my mind pre-occupied with getting the bike fixed. Finally, some time in the late afternoon, we got to his house and I tried the cordless drill I found at his house. No charge and none of his room mates knew where the charging station was for it. In frustration, I left the apartment to go back into Rapid City to a store to buy a drill. My son came along with me. It's about 15 miles from his house to the Harbor Freight and I was frustrated and he just wanted to ride along and keep me company. On our way out of Box Elder, he told me he wanted to check on something. I followed his instructions to a little mom and pop hardware store right there in Box Elder. I was able to buy a drill, but was especially frustrated because of all the time I had been wasting driving back and forth to the O'Reilly and Harbor Freight in Rapid City. We got back to his house and I started trying to extract the bolts. The bolt extractor the guy at O'Reilly had suggested was too small. I went back to the local place and finally got what I needed all along- a #4 bolt extractor.
I got back to the house to begin extracting the bolts. This was the method: I used the torch to get the bolt really hot, then used the drill to bore out a hole for the extractor. After drilling, I used the torch again on the bolt to get it nice and hot and soft for the extractor. I then tapped the extractor in with a mallet. That did the trick. The extractor was able to get purchase, break the loctite, and I was able to get the bolts out. Beyond that, I used the method shown by Albuquralque's video to change the clutch plates. It was dark outside by the time I was completing the re-assembly of the motorcycle.
In my haste to re-assemble the bike, I must have stripped out one of the rear brake caliper bolts and the rear brake bracket, I just didn't know it at the time. I got up on Friday morning and woke my son up to let him know I was heading to Spearfish to return the old clutch parts, for the sake of the warranty. He got up, got ready, and rode in the sidecar to Spearfish. We returned the clutch parts, then rode back to Box Elder. That was it for the fun of riding the Ural around with my son, one of the reasons I took the Ural and not a car. He had asked that I take the Ural so we could go riding together. Oh well, we rode from Box Elder to Spearfish and back. About a hundred miles.
After getting back to my son's house, he got ready for work and I packed out the rest of my stuff. We left his house at about the same time. My real goal was to get home, but part of me wanted to complete my original goal of riding to Wisconsin before heading home. I did the time calculations and realized that if I really pushed it, I could spend a couple days in Wisconsin and then book it for home. So, that's what I did.
I had already rode the 100 mile round trip to Spearfish before heading to Hartford, WI. But nothing was going to stop me from getting to Wisconsin that night. I headed east on the interstate, not what I originally had in mind, but time was of the essence. I rode the rest of the day and through the night all the way to Hartford, WI, stopping only for gas and the occasional cup of coffee to warm up. I arrived at 7:30 am Saturday morning. After a warm breakfast and a couple hours of visiting, I fell to sleep on an air mattress on the living room floor. I woke up again around 3:00 pm. It was nice to be all together. It was a real surprise for my wife. She thought I would head directly home to Texas once I got the bike fixed. When I made it to her parents house, I called her and asked how she was doing. She told me she missed me and I told her she should look out the front window and she said, "You didn't!". Of course I did.
That evening we were getting on the Ural to ride to some friends' house for dinner. I noticed that one of the bolt for the rear brake was gone. Also gone was one of the brake pads. I took off the other pad, which was dangling, along with the disk, and secured the caliper with the remaining bolt and a heavy duty zip tie. Those little circlips had fallen off way back a long time ago and I never had replace them. I just always used a bit of blue loctite on the bolts when changing the tire or brake pads. Then again, I inspect my bike daily when commuting and make sure things are tightened and dress right dress. I don't typically do 900+ marathon rides on my Ural. So now, I was going to be riding without the aid of a rear brake. Just the front brake and the sidecar brake. I wasn't about to be waiting for parts. I inspected the bracket which the brake bolts to and found the hole for the missing bolt was completely smooth. No threads at all. I guess in my haste to put the bike back together, I must have really aped down on that bolt and stripped it completely. I had no idea.
My wife and I rode to the friends' house on Saturday afternoon for dinner and visiting. A thunderstorm rolled in and sleep deprivation caught up with me. They kindly drove us back to the in-law's house that evening. The next morning, we borrowed my mother-in-law's car and went back to the friends' house to pick up my Ural. We ended up staying at their house most of the day. I rode the Ural back to Hartford and my wife drove her mom's car. The next morning, we took all my dirty laundry to a laundromat and w@$#ed it, then had lunch with my wife's grandmother. Her mother invited other family to the house that night as we were planning to all be leaving the next morning. I packed up the bike that night and went to bed, praying that all would go well on the trip home, that I'd have no more mishaps.
I got up at 4:00 am on Tuesday morning, got dressed, said goodbye to my wife and daughter, and was out the door and on the road by 4:30. I had a plan to meet up with an old Marine buddy in Saint Louis for lunch, so I needed to book it. I got on the road and pushed on to Saint Louis, arriving at my buddy's house at about 1:00 pm. I was considering making the day's ride a saddle sore 1000. I had been saving gas receipts and all. I knew I could do it. After all, I had ridden over 900 miles just a few days before. But, put together two old Marines who hadn't seen each other in about 18 years and..... Well, I stayed with him for about three hours. That really killed my riding time. That, along with the fact that I was riding into the heat and humidity of the south. And the UDF. My gas stops were really drawn out. Too many people with questions and comments about the bike. It was easy riding across SD. No one lives there so the gas stops were quick when no one's around to ask questions. It was the middle of the night before I made it to Minnesota and civilization, so no one at the gas stations to ask questions. So, 900 miles that day was easy. But it was not so easy riding home, into the heat, humidity, and questions at every stop.
Two old Marine buddies. One of these guys became a college professor and the other a pretty okay high school math teacher. Not bad for a couple dumb enlisted jarheads, right?
I finally hit a brick wall just on the west side of Little Rock, Arkansas, so I stopped at the first hotel I could find. I had done 700+ miles, so not at all bad.
I got up the next morning, hit a Waffle House for breakfast, then hit the road. Before long, I was back in Texas. But I still had to go from the northeast corner of Texas to south-central Texas. That's a lot of miles.
Throughout the day, as I had to use it, I began to feel more fade from the sidecar brake. Maybe it was in my head, but I was sensing that the front brake was also fading. I was finding it harder and harder to find neutral whenever I'd come to stops. Shifting was just getting more difficult. Also of concern was the shape of my pusher tire. Whenever I started this Quixotic journey, I planned on having a couple new tires shipped to the in-laws' house once I got there. Just for peace of mind. In the past, I knew I could get 7000 km from a pusher, and this one had gone on in Fort Collins, CO. But, on this trip, the bike was really loaded down more than usual, and I was making so many miles on a warm tire, rather than in 50 mile increments I usually do when commuting. So the tire was really going away, fast. After the first gas stop in Texas, I went on conservation mode. I was riding slowly, in order to hopefully not use the tire so much, and to save on gas. I had spent so much money on tools, unexpected hotel stops, unexpected car rentals, unexpected eating out for two weeks because it's all I could do at my son's house. I couldn't afford another night in a hotel. I had enough for the gas to get home, but if my tire started showing threads, I was done for. Bad planning on my part. So, when I got to my last gas stop, only fifty miles from home, and realized I still had enough rubber on the tire to ride normally, it was a load off my mind. I knew I was going to make it home, even if the bike suddenly just fell apart. I was within a distance that roadside assistance would at least get me home, if not under the bike's own power. I finally rolled in at 10:04 pm on Wednesday night, on a wing and a prayer.
So, the Sidecar Summer Adventure is over. It turned out to be a mis-adventure, but one which I'm sure I'll some day look back on fondly. It was nice to visit my son, and have plenty of time for it, even under those circumstances. I was forced out of my comfort zone to fix the bike, but was able to do it. I learned a lot in that regard. And gained massive amounts of confidence in my ability to work myself out of a bad situation. I learned about my own endurance and the endurance of the bike, for what it's worth. The tires don't hold up nearly as well to extended abuse as they do to daily commuting. The bike doesn't really hold up well to back to back 500+ mile days either. Too much to go wrong. I know I over packed. I had visions of camping out every night, but that didn't happen with my daughter getting sick a couple days in and wasn't really a realistic expectation to follow up 500+ miles in the saddle with setting up a campsite. Save camping for 250 mile days. Any more than that, and you probably need a hotel anyway.
How do I feel about my Ural now? I don't know. Ask me again in about a month. For now, I don't even want to look at it. Just had a bit too much of it in the last week. I won't be riding it until I change all the tires and brake pads, along with getting a new rear brake bracket, bolts, and circlips. The bike needs another thorough tear down and going-over. I really don't feel like doing that again any time soon. I'm going to be hosting a Ural tech day at my home some time in late September, so maybe I'll wait until then. Who knows? I think for the next couple months, I've got two Triumphs who have been neglected and left alone, who will be more than happy for a little of my attention. One I've had since 2002, the other since 2007, and neither has ever left me stranded or stuck somewhere. And yes, I've done long trips on both of them. My daughter also is not "feeling it" after this vacation and says she'll never ride the Ural beyond the limits of getting back home within a day, so..... Looks like all my grand adventures for the foreseeable future are going to be strictly solo rides, so I'll probably not ever take the Ural out for that kind of adventure again. Finally, my wife did not like how we got separated for so long like we did. So, the plan is to sell the house we live in, down-size, and buy some sort of RV. Staying in a motorhome or camper will be much more comfortable than staying on a couch or air mattress. Besides, why do I need a four bedroom house when two of my kids are grown up and out? We can downsize to a two bedroom and use the RV as a place for guests to stay when they visit. Having a trailer or motorhome will get us out more on more adventures. We'll just start trailering the Ural to places far from home. It's still a great bike, once at your destination, just not the best way to get there..... or back home.
Thanks for all the support and advice from those of you who have been following along. Special thanks to UralCT for help in setting the bike up and for the spare gas tank. I only had to use it about three times, but that's three times I'd have been screwed without it. Special thanks to Albuquralque for sharing your expertise and helping me get back on the road. Special thanks to Manscout for all the offers of assistance. I almost took you up on an offer of help but kept plugging away at it because I didn't want to be a bother. I really hoped things would have worked out better that I'd have had the time to meet you and go out for a ride in the Black Hills or something. Who knows what the future holds? Maybe some day.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed reading of my travails in comfort. Maybe you learned something from this so you won't have the same sort of experience. Any Uralist riding in the area around San Antonio or Austin who finds himself in any sort of trouble, let me know and I will do whatever I can to help you out. This community was there for me when I needed it and I would like to return the favor.
In the end, it doesn't even matter
Hmmm.... I wonder who in the world has tracked the most miles with the Scenic app?