Sunday, January 27, 2013

Getting Unstuck

One of the things about riding a Ural Sidecar Rig is the increased possibilities in terms of being able to explore trails and paths that might be "difficult" on just two wheels.  Gravel? Mud? Snow? Ice? Boulders? Zombie Apocalypse?  These tend to be less concern-inducing when on a sidecar rig with its three wheels, well maybe not the Zombie Apocalypse, unless you've the machine gun mount for your sidecar and happen to own a machine gun.

Throw in the two wheel drive capability and reverse gear and there's not many terrain conditions where one hesitates to take one's Ural.

Having said all that, there's also the increased potential of finding yourself in a situation where you're stuck and attempts at "motoring" your way out of the situation will have failed.  Being stuck in deep mud or snow for instance; or your rig has slid into a ditch due to loss of traction due to ice.  You get the idea.

So there you are, all alone or perhaps only one more fellow Uralista with you.  The stuck rig is heavy, 770 pounds dry, not counting whatever gear you carry along.  Terrain constraints prevent using your fellow Uralista's rig to tow your stuck rig out of its predicament; so what do you do?

Well, today, we tried two different methods of basically pulling a Ural Sidecar Rig out of a small ditch.  Five rigs and their riders met up in Black Hawk, CO and we proceeded uphill from the town to a small area near some abandoned mines.

Tim L. volunteered his rig and he backed it slowly down into a small ditch, leaving the rig pointed slightly skyward at perhaps a 15 degree angle.  The ditch was deep enough in that we believed it would have problems driving itself out on its own if even possible without causing damage to the drive train.

Tim L's rig is positioned into a small ditch, as Dan K. looks on.

 Another view of "the ditch", steep enough for training purposes
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

 The Rock-n-Rescue Strap and Carabiner
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

The training area
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

First up was Darrell K's Maasdam Rope puller with 20 feet of 1/2 Inch Rope.  We used two 20 foot tow straps looped together to use a nearby tree's trunk as an anchor point.  Darrell's rope puller was secured to the tow strap via high tensile strength carabiner; with another short mountain rescue strap and carabiner attached to the front subframe mount on the rig.

Darrell's Maasdam Rope Puller made short work out of pulling Tim's rig out of the ditch:

Deana pulls Tim's rig from the ditch using the Maasdam Rope Puller
while Darrell keeps the front wheel pointed straight.

Deana does the "heavy work" as we take pictures....sounds fair.
photo courtesy of Tim L.

Everyone was quite impressed with the Maasdam Rope Puller, most of us now have plans to buy our own. Both Dan and I had previously bought cheap wire cable pullers which we both realized wouldn't be up to the job after seeing how Darrell's rope puller worked.  Darrell's model was the A20 with a 3/4 Ton pulling capacity.

Next up was Tim L's Z Pulley System, which fit inside a small carrying bag (not counting the special 19,000 LB tensile strength rope Tim had also brought along.  Google Z Pulley System for more info.  Suffice to say, that it was quite impressive though until you've trained and practiced with it, it's a bit more complicated to deploy than the Maasdam Rope Puller.  The Rope Puller however, takes up way more space!  This is usually not an issue with our sidecar rigs, but for two-wheeled riders.....

 A closeup of  the first of two special pulleys, anchored to a mountaineering
carabiner, itself anchored to a Rock-n-Rescue strap that is looped
to an anchor point.  In this case, the anchor point was my rig's subframe tubing.
Note: The carabiners being used were rated for mountain rescue work, rated for 24 KiloNewtons.

 The pulley is specially designed so you can install it onto the carabiner without
having to run the carabiner through its eyelets, quite handy.
Above: Using my rig as the anchor point.

 The leftmost portion of the rope leads to the rig, the dark blue Prusik rope functions
as an anchor, note the second pulley on its other end.
The light blue rope is made by Amsteel is rated for 19,000 Lbs Tensile strength.
Info link courtesy of Tim L.

 The pinkish prusik rope above functions as a brake.  So when you let up
on pulling tension it holds things in place and the rig doesn't backslide back into the ditch
while you reposition yourself for more pulling.

Hopefully a good view of the angles involved with the Z Pulley System.
At this point, Tim has the mechanical advantage of two pulleys and the rig
is being slowly pulled out of the ditch.

Poor traction conditions led me to help Tim pull on the rope and we succeeded in getting his rig out of the ditch.  Tim will be purchasing two more pulleys to further increase the pulling power of his Z Pulley System for when he's riding by himself.

Quite an instructive tech day we had ourselves today.  Tim L and Dan K were both founts of knowledge when it came to rescue techniques, calculating rope strengths and determining what is safe to use, under what scenarios and cautions to be observed.

Four of the five rigs, leaving the "training area"

We then put all the gear away, and we did some dirt riding in and around the hills of Central City.  Darrell had to go meet up with his wife Piper but the remaining four rigs and riders had ourselves some fun times on some narrow, snow-covered dirt trails.

Coming to a neighborhood near you, a pack of Uralisti.....

A brief break near the furthest point we reached on a 
snow-covered trail.

photo courtesy of Tim L.

Dan found and led our four rigs down this dirt road which was perhaps 80% snow-covered, with lots of negatively cambered portions, dips and ruts which gave us a small upper body workout as we swung our bodies to keep the rig centered in slippery conditions.  On the negatively cambered portions, you have to lean out over the tub to keep it from coming up on you; fun times.

 Dan in the lead, and yours truly behind him
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

Dan K
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

Tim L
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

We had to turn back finally, when Dan got a really steep uphill portion covered in snow where he had no traction.

Returning towards Central City and Black Hawk, we made our way to CO119 aka the Peak to Peak Highway where we stopped for gas.  Motoring on past Rollinsville, Tim L departed our company as we neared the Eldora Ski Resort and while he headed home to Longmont, the remaining three rigs headed towards the ski resort.

It was a well paved and steeply climbing road to the ski resort and soon enough we were posing our rigs at the bus stop area right next to the first chair lift station.  The parking enforcer was quite impressed with the rigs and didn't mind us temporarily blocking the bus parking spot.

Eldora Ski Resort

photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

Then, after properly parking our rigs, we went into the resort's cafe/diner building and rested for a bit with a drink.  It was nice chatting of many things, even though the live music band that was playing forced us to shout most of the conversation!  

We left after a bit and we motored down the mountain back to CO119, headed south now towards the Last Shot Restaurant near where Dan K lives.  Once we reached there, I noted it was past 3:00 PM and I decided to forego sharing a meal with Dan, Deana and Jay and said my goodbyes.

"Hanging a cheek" on the Peak to Peak Highway
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

They went in to eat and I motored southwards heading back to Central City, from there I got back on the Central City Parkway, retracing the route I'd take up from the Denver Metro Area.  Instead of using US40 though as I'd done in the morning, I stayed on I-70 and at the right exits, used C-470 to US285 back through the metro area and back home by 5:00 PM.

A good day's riding, good learning and training, good camaraderie....what more could one ask for?

Previous post: Fixing the Damage on Valencia's Tub


Anonymous said...

It was a good riding day Dom. Nice right-up.


Dan K.

Troubadour said...

Training exercises, what a great idea for a group event. I never knew of such a rope come along, I'll look it up, thanks. Of course I'll have to look up Urals for sale too. Great post!

BeemerGirl said...

What an excellent idea to have some recovery training! And great that you were able to work with two systems...good knowledge and practice. Thanks for sharing the information.

And those rigs look so cool hitting the gravel together!!

Keith - Circle Blue said...

Great post!

It was fun watching the video of Deana using the rope puller to extricate the other Ural. Good to practice.

The Z pull thing still kind of confuses me, but I'm easily confused.

Thanks for sharing this,

RichardM said...

Maybe it's time to put an electric winch on that can be moved to either the front or the back wherever it's needed. Was the first one like a rope come-along? One company used to market a capstan winch where you would use a rope. Very similar to the winches on sailboats.

redlegsrides said...


you'd have a blast on a Ural....


Beats trying to figure out if things work or not while stranded somewhere.... :)

Circle Blue: the Z-drag system looks complicated but once you get the principles down....still, I'd have to carry a guide with me.

RichardM: Rope Come-along is another name for the Maasdam Rope Puller, I'll be ordering one soon.

As to the winch, thought about it...but I think the maasdam rope puller I'm going to get will be enough.

Motorcycle Exhausts said...

It is good to see riders enjoying themselves...out on a ride.