Sunday, February 13, 2011

Uralisti at the Elephant Ride 2011

As Winter continues to grip the country, three Ural Sidecar Rigs and their Uralisti riders and monkeys rode early this morning to Grant, Colorado.  Grant is the starting point for the annual "Elephant Ride".   An informal event whereby motorcycle riders of all sorts and makes attempt to make it to the summit of Guanella Pass.

The southern end of the road which leads to Guanella Pass is at at Grant, hence it's use as the starting point.

The Uralisti comprised myself, John and Cookie and Steffen and his son Nick.  Steffen, with his low-slung Retro model with one-wheel drive would almost put Natasha and I to shame, more on that later.

We were joined on the ride to to Grant by Murph of  He was riding his 2004 1150GS as US285, which takes one to Grant, was clear of snow and ice.  He would leave his GS at Grant and would ride as monkey on my rig.  I am glad he came along.

We all arrived shortly before 9:00AM and wandered about the parking area a bit.  There was a pretty good turnout of expected dirt bikes and dualsport motorcycles along with our Urals.  The most unusual vehicle I saw all day was this trike:

Someone had scrawled "Dung Beetle" on the dirty exterior of this trike.

Murph was not the only rider to bring his GS to this event, though we only saw one GS try and make it up to the pass.  The rider of that GS had placed chains with tiedown straps of some kind.  He would actually get pretty good traction on the road up, he in fact went about a mile further than we did.

Look familiar?

The riders prepare to depart

Finally, we set off after most of the lighter dualsports and dirt bikes had scrambled first.  The first 3-4 miles were nothing but packed dirt or pavement, with barely any snow on it.  I was almost ready to apologize to Murph who was riding in the sidecar for the lack of snow.

However, we soon found enough snow to make even the hardiest of riders take pause.  It was OK so long as one could maintain momentum and not stop in the soft stuff but there were bikes and riders stuck here and there and one could not go around them most of the time!

Everybody, when stopped, would gather about the stuck motorcycle of the moment and help extricate said vehicle, sending the rider on his way to the next spot of deeply rutted soft snow which was quite deep in places!

Slowly but surely, with much assistance given and rendered between us Uralisti and fellow riders on their smaller motorcycles, we gained altitude as the road climbed up the mountain.  We "achieved our level of victory", as one passing rider put it, at around 9994 ft in altitude.

my reception committee at our high water mark
photo courtesy of Cookie and John

I'd gotten well and truly stuck about 150 ft short of where Steffen's Retro and John's GearUp had made it to, luckily, folks got me going and with determination and somewhat in control as I opened up the throttle, made it a few feet past the single-wheel drive Retro!  Honor was preserved!

John and Cookie, gave it more than the "old college try" several times at one particularly wide and deeply rutted portion of snow-covered road and they eventually agreed on the "level of victory" already achieved.

Cookie and Spat on try number 3
photo courtesy of Cookie and John

We got our rigs turned around and started making our way slowly back down the mountain road.  I was following Steffen's rig and it only got stuck twice on the way down.  I managed to not get stuck at all though almost ran down a spectator who decided the middle of the road in front of a careening rig is the best place to take pictures.  She was looking away from us and there was no stopping, so Murph bellowed out "Move!" and she moved.

We got back down to the mountain valley and stopped for these pictures:

 Natasha and I, on one of our good days together.

Studly soon to be world traveler: Murph

We all gathered back at the parking lot in Grant to exchange stories with each other and other riders.  A fun time was had by all.  So, three Ural Rigs went up, three came down and no one hurt.....a good Elephant Ride.  My thanks to Murph for letting me use some of his pictures from his posting for today's ride:  LINK

Murph, ready to ride back to Denver
photo courtesy of Cookie and John

Steffen and his son Nick ready to roll

A longtime regular at these events: Happy

Here's Cookie pretending she still likes John


Chris Luhman said...

Looks like another fun time!! Were you using a knobby or still the duros?

-Chris @ - year round riding in Minnesota

Charlie6 said...

Chris, had the Russian knobby on the pusher and the kenda 335 on the sidecar....they did pretty good but again, the low pipes on these rigs were the main issue.

Chris Luhman said...

I am enjoying the Duro on the front. I can stop faster :) Still have the K335s on the pusher/car, and thinking of taking them off. They wear out so fast.

You can get high pipes from raceway!

Make yours look more like Hubert's ;)

Gary France said...

Err, what language are you and Chris using in your comments??? It must be some sort of Ural-speak. Maybe a throw back to Russian code messaging?

What a great post. It is odd because I am in southern Spain at the moment in 70F heat and I have just watched Chris’ videos about riding on ice and I have just enjoyed your videos and pictures about the Elephant ride in snow. I say odd, because you are riding in those bad conditions and I am not (I don’t have a bike here) in the great weather here. Good for you for getting out on a road like that in those snow conditions. I am especially pleased to see Natasha is re-born. Note to self – I must get a bike for Spain.......

Chris Luhman said...

Super secret Ural-speak indeed! LOL Gary. I'm sure you can get a cool Spanish custom of some sort.

Circle Blue said...

This does look like great fun. I am glad you were able to run in this years event. I was looking forward to participating vicariously and then all the stuff with Natasha happened. Thanks for the post.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

What a pisser of a ride and an adventure! The resurrection of the Ural was a nice surprise too. You and Chris Luhman have made winter as much a part of the riding season as any weekend in July.

Great videos and great pictrures. I like the line, "The level of victory aklready achieved."

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Lloyd said...

Now, aren't you glad you didn't shoot the old horse? Natasha may have all the faults of a Ural but she also has all the fun and adventure.

Lloyd, Salt Lake City, Retro

Jed Henry said...

I am going to try the ride this year on R1200Gs, I am having clearance issues with the chains i have tried making thus far with the swingarm. any suggestions?
Deadly Jeadly

Jed Henry said...

I am going to try the ride this year on R1200Gs, I am having clearance issues with the chains i have tried making thus far with the swingarm. any suggestions?
Deadly Jeadly

Charlie6 said...

belated replies (apologies) to both Jack Riepe and Lloyd of UT...thank you for your comments.

Jed, your question/comment bring me back to this old post. Riding a R1200GS in the conditions I've seen over the past few Elephant Rides would be challenging, and by challenging I mean very difficult and definitely not something I myself would try, even with chains. Ice is usually not the issue, its deep slick snow. The guys on small dirt bikes with big knobbies and chains struggle a lot, getting a R1200GS up to the gate would be heroic but I would recommend something smaller. Or, a URAL of course.

I am unfamiliar with the GS's clearance re the swingarm and chains...there's minimal clearance on the ural and I had to slightly bend the chains I bought for it from oldtimergarage in Germany.