Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Eight Years Later.....

It was during the Memorial Day Weekend, 2006, that yours truly first threw a leg over a motorcycle and started Day One of the Basic Rider Course.

Little did I know the adventures my two and then three-wheeled steeds would take me on, the joys, the frustrations, the pains, the fears, the discoveries, the lessons, and best of all, the friends I would end up meeting as I rode along.

I started motorcycling thinking that gasoline prices would soon reach $5/gallon and at the time, I was driving a '87 Mercedes Benz 560SL, which was a gas hog at 14 MPG.  I rationalized the decision as a way to save money....how little did I know as to how expensive motorcycling can be, especially when additional motorcycles come along and one's horizons expanded further and further.

My first motorcycle was a 2006 Honda Shadow Aero, which I named Gretl.  I outgrew Gretl on my first "long ride", which was barely 400 miles total.  400 miles, not that much of a distance these days, unless you're trying to do it astride a Ural and in one day!

I traded Gretl in for a 2004 BMW R1150RT in Sturgis, SD and became a BMW guy from that point on.  Maria was fast, big, enabled me to cruise effortlessly for hours and hours.  She was way bigger than Gretl and I did manage to drop her a time or three.  She and I went into spots where street motorcycles really shouldn't go and survived.  I went through my first real accident on Maria, as we found ice near the Continental Divide, in June, and I had a lowside fall.  My helmet and recently acquired Motoport riding gear saved my butt that day, and Maria would eventually be repaired.

Martha, my loving wife, then figured I needed a spare motorcycle as Maria would be in the dealer's shop for quite a while.  A bit of looking and Brigitta, a '87 BMW R80 Airhead beemer came home with me from an independent BMW mechanic I used to frequent back then.

Brigitta helped me "get back on the horse" so to speak after the accident.  Though I was cleared by the doctor to ride three days after the accident, it would be a week or two before I was again on two wheels and not skittish about it.

My explorations of the great state of Colorado and other places continued, with me taking either Brigitta or Maria as the occasion called for.

By 2010, the sidecaring bug entered my life in earnest and the forced non-riding days due to snow and ice would come to an end for me.  Along came my first Russian motorcycle, Natasha, a '96 Ural Sportsman which was delivered to me by the owner in exchange for Maria, the R1150RT motorcycle.  I traded because I'd found Brigitta, the smaller motorcycle more fun to ride and hoped at that time that Maria would go to someone who'd give her more riding time.

Natasha basically turned my motorcycling world upside down!  I had to learn new skills to drive her safely, became a mechanic due to her many issues due to the shoddy workmanship and metallurgy by which Russian motorcycles of her era were known.  Still, she was a great sidecar rig, allowing me to ride no matter the weather and soon I was a rider that actually hoped for snow in the weather forecast!

Brigitta and Natasha then became my exploration companions, allowing me greater options in terms of terrain that I could safely access and scenery previously denied me due to sketchy road conditions.  Still, her mechanical issues would find me one day putting Natasha up for sale, cheap.  I wish now I'd kept her and just fixed the final drive again (it turned out to be a minor issue) but that's water under the bridge.

Now came the era of V-Strom Sidecar rigs, the first one being a 2004 DL1000 named Vikki by her previous owner.  I bought and bolted on a Dauntless Sidecar Rig onto Vikki and I was once again a sidecarist.

My adventures continued on Vikki but ended near the end of a trip to Montana with the family to see the "Going to the Sun" highway and points in between.  As I neared home, the chain came off the rear sprocket, punctured the engine case and the insurance company "totaled" Vikki.

As I had the Dauntless Sidecar, I continued in the V-Strom as a tug pattern and soon bought a 2006 V-Strom DL1000 from a dealer in Loveland, CO.  Her name would be Yoshie and she became my sidecaring companion for many further adventures.

Yoshie served faithfully until one morning commute when this idiot cager crossed over three lanes of traffic and tried to occupy the same space that Yoshie and I were using.  Yoshie's ruggedness ensured that we rolled away from the accident while the idiot cager's car had to be towed!  Yoshie was much more damaged than initially thought though and even though repairs reached over $9000, she wasn't totaled by the insurance company.

During this rig-less time, Martha suggested that perhaps we should look at URALs again, but this time go with a new one with hopefully less mechanical issues.  Hence, Valencia came into my life, a 2011 URAL Patrol rig, bright orange in color with silver trim.  She was definitely an eye-catcher and the hope was I'd be more visible in traffic.

Though Yoshie was eventually repaired, Valencia became my main sidecar rig, surpassing both Yoshie and Brigitta in times ridden by me.  She took me to Alaska and back, albeit with several mechanical episodes.  I racked up over 48 thousand kilometers on Valencia but a second crankshaft failure had me taking her to Unique Rides at Fort Collins for repairs early this year.  She would eventually have her engine rebuilt by Sergey, the master mechanic at URAL HQ.

In the meantime though, Tammy of Unique Rides signaled they were open to me trading in Valencia and Yoshie for a new 2014 URAL Patrol with the new-fangled Electronic Fuel Injection and several other improvements!  Much debate and discussion later, we decided to do this and took receipt of the new rig in March of this year.  She is fire engine red with white trim and we named her Scarlett.

This Sunday, 25 May14, Memorial Day Weekend would find me once again on a motorcycle training class, being trained in the art of tight curves and circles by T3RG Motorcycle Schools.  These are the same folks who taught me in the BRC or Basic Rider Course eight years ago to the day.  Kind of fitting isn't it?

Eight years in a bit over 15 minutes

Such a large set of experiences and knowledge I've learned in the last eight years; I've become a real motorcycle rider and blogger, though I've lots left to learn about both subjects it seems.  I've loved my motorcycles of course and the riding joys they brought, but the best part of the last eight years is the friends I've made online and in person through motorcycling and the blogging of same.

Though I mainly I prefer solitary riding, the companionship of like-minded riders is an enjoyable experience from time to time.  I recognize how I've changed due to motorcycling and the desire to ride year round and in all conditions; the viewpoints of fellow bloggers and riders have contributed to my change and fortunate I am that I met them all.

Got these videos from Bob Ucman, the instructor for T3RG Motorcycle School's Civilian Top Gun Rider course of myself doing the snowman and iron cross exercises:



21 comments:

Canajun said...

A pretty impressive CV for someone who has been riding such a (relatively) short time. Well done, and many, many more happy miles ahead.

SonjaM said...

Dom, in fact I wasn't aware that you were a relatively "new" rider, I rather thought your were born to ride ;-)

I just followed your 15 min video in awe. What a fantastic collection of riding adventures.

Roland and I are wishing you many more miles and smiles.

Richard M said...

Your blog was the first one that I found (isn't Google wonderful), and I ended up reading it from post #1. And I gotta blame you for the revelation that sidecar rigs don't fall over in the snow.

That was a great video. A lot has happened in only eight years...

Charlie6 said...

Canajun, thanks very much

SonjaM, thanks for your kind words as well....

Charlie6 said...

Thanks RichardM, you've apparently a high tolerance for boring content.....

I forgot to mention in the post....almost 159,000 miles ridden and 1344 posts in the blog.

bob skoot said...

Dom:

That's a very nice set of photos from all over the Continent. I can only aspire to have been where you have been.

I think we all start by believing that Motorcycling will save money but in fact it is more expensive to maintain than a car and most (not like you) cannot ride in Winter, unless you live somewhere warmer like in CA or FL

It's true, I am also grateful for all of those whom I have met. It's one of the benefits of riding and having the internet.

You are such a skilled rider and mechanic. Hard to believe all of this happened in only 8 years. I hope you have many more years of doing what you love to do

Some of your photos bring back happy memories. Wish we could do it all over again

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

Chris Luhman said...

Congrats Dom. Hope you have another fun filled 8 years.

Keith - Circle Blue said...

Like Richard, yours was one of the very first blogs I starting reading. Been with you for much of the eight years.

I look forward to many more photos, stories, and adventures. Thanks for letting me keep you company over the years. May there be many more safe and wondrous times ahead.
~Keith

Steve Williams said...

Dom,

I join the others in saying congratulations on eight fine years of riding. And I think I can speak for a lot of others in saying how great it has been to vicariously experience your rides. Thank you.

Ride safe and have years and years of adventure ahead.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

mikeo said...

From basic maintenance on your R1150RT to numerous hacks, here's to another 8 years... Wonderful video history as well.

Mike O

cpa3485 said...

I also want to wish you the best for at least another 8 years of great riding, adventures and pictures. It has been my great pleasure to visit your blog and I have learned many things from you.

Charlie6 said...

Thanks Bob for the kind words and commentary!

Charlie6 said...

Thanks Chris, I hope my present Ural lasts that long!

Charlie6 said...

Ah, another guy with high tolerance of boring writing! Thank you Keith for sticking it out.....

Charlie6 said...

Thank you very much Steve, though you must shoulder most of the blame/inspiration for some of my more questionable riding.....you led the way Sir....

Charlie6 said...

Mike, it's been along way from when you taught me how to check valve clearances! Thank you ....

Charlie6 said...

Cpa3485, sometimes I think I exist only to show how not to do something! Thanks for the nice words and for reading this stuff....

Trobairitz said...

Wow, congrats on eight wonderful years of riding. Well, the good parts are wonderful, the crashes not so much.

Here is to more than 8 more!

Bob and Sharon said...

Great read, video was excellent. I thought about doing the same type of write up but was hesitant.

Biker.my said...

Great video. Alaska will definitely will be in 'must-visit' list.

KEN PHENIX said...

HEAR HEAR, MY FRIEND!