Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snow Storm Commute

We in the Denver Metro Area woke to snow this morning. It had started lightly at around 10 PM last night and is expected to go through till tomorrow evening sometime. Estimates from the weather guessers are coming in from 6-14 inches by tomorrow afternoon.

Well, I finally got the snow I'd been wanting; just another case of beware of what you wish for!

Got all geared up and left the house around 7:20 AM with Miles, my youngest son in the sidecar so I could get him to school.

Off to school and work, not much snow on the ground yet!

After I dropped him off at the school, I slowly made my way out of the neighborhood and onto the main roads. They were wet and slushy mostly, with everyone staying in the channels created in the snow by the previous cars. I had to concentrate on keeping the wheels in these same channels for maximum traction. The snow was falling pretty heavily and the winds were making sure the snowflakes flew about.

All went well, the only point where I felt the pusher wheel slip was moving from a standing stop, there was lots of ice formed at the intersections. I was one of the slower vehicles on the road but not by much, everyone was being very careful due to conditions.

Got to work with no issues, except for the electric gloves I am currently reviewing having failed miserably at keeping my hands warm. I think one of the power cables is bad, must diagnose tonight if possible.

Here's Natasha after spending the day in the parking lot getting snowed on

Fulltime 2WD, backing out past the accumulated snow piled up by the snow plows, no problem!

I left work after spending only seven hours there, wanted to get home before dark and before the wet slushy roads turned icy. I must remember to carry an small ice scraper with me as the mirrors were frozen over and I could not monitor who was behind me.

Natasha was doing just fine on the way home except for the engine running a bit rough about halfway home, I think it was a combination of water condensation in the fuel system and the air filter being wet and probably frozen in spots.

Then, a momentary moment when about 1 mile from the house, the throttle got stuck in the wide open position. I am thinking it was ice forming on the throttle cables or the butterfly levers. Some quick wiggling of the cables and the throttle steadied down. Not a good thing, wide open throttle on snowy roads! Luckily, traffic was light and no one was behind me as I dealt with the issue.

Home safe

So, Natasha did pretty good for our first ride in real snowy conditions! I think I'll cover her air filter intakes somehow the next time I leave her all day in the driving snow. Perhaps instead of covering the sidecar, I cover the motorcycle huh?

Covering the motorcycle should remedy the air filter getting wet/frozen, the control cables getting wet/frozen and finally the mirrors staying dry.


Mike said...

Nice post and very nice pictures! It sounds like the tires fit nicely in the ruts the cars make as long as they're shallow. Is there a place you can park where the snow plows won't box you in? Good thing you have reverse. And do any other Ural riders experience the throttle sticking wide open in snowy conditions? That would be scary with Miles on board.

Rob said...

You are a tough guy riding in rough conditions, great stuff! I would love to ride my shadow to work everyday in Western, NY during the winter. Do they make training wheels for Honda's?

bobskoot said...


I am speechless . . . well actually one word came to mind --> "WOW" . Snow & Ice would stop me dead in my tracks. Glad Natasha was running in top form and I presume your battery was too. I think you're right about the Ural cover (tarp), it would solve all your problems

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Charlie6 said...

Mike, thanks, and there is covered parking as well...longer walk to the building I work at but it's a thought. Re throttle cable sticking, it's quite disconcerting, I'll admit. Had not read anywhere where another Ural owner mentions it though.

Rob, not sure about being tough, it's just something I wanted to do, you know?

bobskoot, yep both motorcycle and battery were fine. The gloves turned out ok, user error on my part. We'll see about the cover....thanks for reading this stuff.

dave said...

Great post.

Makes me wonder, what's SOP when you start sliding on 3 wheels? Do you turn into the skid like in a car?

Charlie6 said...


thanks and yes, same principle applies, turn into the skid.

Arizona Harley Dude said...

Miles must be the envy of the school.

Great write up and fantastic pictures. Have your new coworkers asked you about riding in the snow or questioned your sanity? Mine think I'm nuts because I rode on a 48 degree morning.

cpa3485 said...

I like how you try and "push the envelope" a bit. Looks like it was fun and hope you get the problems worked out okay. I am betting you will.
Those are great pictures!

Charlie6 said...

AZ Harley Dude, thanks and yes there was some conversation...most of the guys who made remarks are motorcycle riders as well so kudos were offered, my sanity questioned, Natasha praised and always the unsaid you can see in their eyes: "what are you, nuts?"....48 degrees, that'd be great right about now.

cpa3485, yep, that was fun dropping off Miles with the sidecar was so early though that it was only teachers who saw him go in....he had to be in earlier than the students for a student council meeting.

I really don't think the troubles are bad, so long as I cover the bike so things such as control cables and air filters don't develop a coating of ice! : )

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

I thought of you the instant I saw the snowfall story on the news? I fully expected this post to include a lesson on how to put chains on the sidecar tire.

I would have thrown in the towel on this one... Not for fear that the machine couldn't take it, but in acknowledging the fear that I'd be more likely to get hit by someone else.

Even if you covered the air filters during the day, ehat is to prevent them from just freezing up on the ride home?

To the guy from Arizona -- I regard 48 degrees as the perfect temperature to start out in, as long as it warms up to 58 later in the day.

It is 48ยบ here at the moment, and I am going to take the bike out for a run today.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Charlie6 said...

Thanks Jack for the question....the theory is that if I can prevent snow getting into the air filter housing (and it's really easy actually when you've got the winds we had yesterday), then it won't freeze and the engine heat during the actual ride would prevent any freezing....

I found some water droplets when I drained the right carb to check so water condensation is a problem as well. Ah the joys on winter riding....

Diamond Dave said...

Nucking futs!!!!

Canajun said...

Wow. I'm impressed!
Did you put special winter tires on or are you using standard grips for those conditions?
Great pictures btw.

Charlie6 said...


regular uralshina tires, am thinking perhaps put the knobby spare in place of the pusher for's about about a ten minute process I am told....or the new duro tire that I have to mount along with inner tube....but that's regular street tire.

irondad said...

All you need is a red hat and a bag full of presents! You could be a substitute St. Nick.

Been there with iced throttle cables. My butt was getting pretty light thinking I might have to jump off before I could knock the ice loose.

Diamond Dave said...

Charlie6 said...

Irondad, yeah, if it never happens again, it'll be too soon.

Diamond Dave, you welsh Git, thanks for the article link....pretty accurate actually, Urals are definitely something you grow to love....

bobskoot said...


I heard on the radio this morning that Denver had one of the largest snowfalls. Over a meter (3 ft to you US guys). It was a huge storm.

I'm waiting for your pictures. Did you have to dig a tunnel ?

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Charlie6 said...


we did get more snow than usual for this time of year, that's for sure. I didn't have to tunnel out because I spent yesterday evening after work clearing a path out of my cul-de-sac....managed to not only get my cage stuck trying to get to my house but damn near worked the tire loose from the right front wheel due to it being low on air apparently. My struggling in the 6+ inches of snow on the ground didn't help the tire either....

Steve Williams said...

Amazing ride. The sidecar rig has proved itself already with winter still to come.

I guess you'll have to start carrying a shovel with you. Tie it down onto the spare tire. Then you can tackle just about whatever comes along.

We are all waiting now for a story where you pull a Toyota Prius out of a snow drift...

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Charlie6 said...

Steve, thanks for your note and comments....that would be pretty funny, Natasha pulling a Prius out of a snow bank....not sure her 40 HP engine is up to that task!