Monday, July 11, 2016

The 2016 United Sidecar Association Rally in Hotchkiss, CO

I attended this year's USCA National Rally held in Hotchkiss, CO.  Quite the mellow but enjoyable event, with a varied and extensive showing of sidecar rigs of several makes and models.  Of course, Ural sidecar rigs made a respectable showing as well!

Most of the attendees camped in the Delta County Fairgrounds where water/coffee/tea and lemonade were provided 24x7 and we got fed Breakfast and Dinner on Saturday.  Good grub and there was even musical entertainment!

On Friday, went for a late lunch/ride with Dan Kearney and Randy Fritch (Colorado's premier URAL dealer) to a place near Crawford, Colorado.  Afterwards, we checked out a canyon road recommended to them by Dana Williams, the organizer of the rally for this year.

 Dan K. and Randy F.

 Dan's motorcycle and Randy's and my rig wait for us at the top
of the cliff's edge.

The gravel was quite large and loose along this road, made
for some interesting turns if one didn't slow down.

CCJon, from Riding the Horizon fame attended the rally and brought along his spiffy new KLR Sidecar Rig: The Grey Phantom:

CCJon's Grey Phantom

photo courtesy Jay B.

Jon graciously let me do a test ride of his rig, and it was great!  Good power, handled well, stopped well and I am sure it'll do his planned ride through South America with ease!  This KLR sidecar option may be something worth looking into, don't you think?

This morning we had the Top Dog Parade of Hack Dogs, riders and their dogs lined up for a quick parade and the winner was voted on by the rally attendees.  This year, the winner was Newt, Mr C.O.B.'s dog pictured below with Dave Hooker, aka Mr COB.

Newt and Dave Hooker aka Mr. COB

 Met Scott, a Denver area Uralista with a cool Retro sidecar rig
with a rather skinny monkey.

Since there's not many sidecar related things cooler than a dog in a sidecar, here's some of the other contestants from this morning:

 courtesy of  Tim Laughlin
courtesy of  Tim Laughlin

There was a "show and shine" competition, but I missed it as I was helping set up for the sidecar games portion of the rally.

The games ended up consisting of two events:  Sidecar Jousting and Blindfold Obstacle Course.

The jousting event involved negotiating gates formed by traffic cones, which forced the rigs to do slalom turns and then at last second line up for an attempt to spear through and collect three colored rings.  The course was on loose soil which made it that much more challenging.  We didn't do it as a timed event though, people get too "competitive".  The three teams that gathered all three rings were then lined up in front of the audience in the stands and clapping determined who won.

Tehya and Tim in "Dad Plaid"
courtesy of  Tim Laughlin

yep, that's a Burgman

courtesy of  Tim Laughlin

courtesy of  Scott Kirkwood

 courtesy of  Tim Laughlin

 courtesy of  Tim Laughlin

courtesy of  Tim Laughlin

 Liz and Dave Springer
courtesy of  Tim Laughlin

 Deana and Jay
courtesy of  Tim Laughlin (great angle shot Tim!)

 Tie-breaker runs involved spearing a plastic cup and keeping
it speared on the "lance" until the point was raised fully 90 degrees.
Here's Deana and Jay
courtesy of  Tim Laughlin

The second event involved blindfolding the sidecar rig driver, and the monkey passenger issued directions to negotiate a series of traffic cone gates and slalom course.  It was quite the interesting experience, driving Scarlett, my 2014 Patrol Sidecar rig without being able to see, while fellow Uralista Dan Kearney issued instructions from the sidecar.  Alas, we didn't make it into the finals.  In fact, when we swapped places and Dan did the driving, he had trouble hearing me and we ended up running over three of the cones!

BMW 1200C with sidecar in the Blindfold Obstacle Event

 Tim L. and his daughter Tehya

 Yours truly and Dan Kearney,
after our "amusing" performance
courtesy of  Tim Laughlin

Deana and Jay on the Blindfolded Obstacle course
courtesy of  Tim Laughlin

 Deana and Jay pose as the victors of the jousting competition
striking respective poses much to the delight of the audience.

 A cool trailer spotted at the rally, towed by a Goldwing Trike

Sunday morning saw the whole fairground abuzz with packing up activities by the rally attendees.  I grabbed some coffee and a donut and broke camp with minimal fuss.  Goodbyes and final chats were done all around, and then Dan Kearny and I headed out together to ride back towards Denver.

One small issue after a few miles though, the pusher wheel's brake pads grabbed the disc and caused me to lose power again.  I'd adjusted it out before but apparently there's more to the issue.  I pulled into a gas station's parking lot and removed the parking brake bracket and spring, completely disabling the parking brake....I was then able to push the rig back and forth, before, I couldn't.

Backed out the adjustment nut as much as I could and basically had very little pusher brake capability, but the front brake would do fine for the rest of the ride.

Near the summit of McClure Pass on CO 133.

Capable of 55 mph+ again, we rode towards Carbondale where we tanked up with fuel.  Dan K. then showed me the turn for another Cottonwood Pass, or County Road 113 which would take us up and down for several miles, most of it dirt, and only one wrong turn to the town of Gypsum, thereby bypassing the slog to Glenwood Springs and quite a bit of I-70 super slab.

The view we saw when we made the wrong turn, great mistake eh?

We got on US6 and rode parallel to the I-70 Super Slab from Gypsum to the town of EagleVail where we stopped for lunch.  

Lunch over with, we got on the I-70 slab and rode it to a traffic jam about 3 miles west of the Eisenhower Tunnel which crosses the Continental Divide.  We crept forward in the hot sun, along with a million cars it seemed until about a mile from the tunnel when Scarlett stalled and I pushed her to the side of the road since she was overheating.  Dan's motorcycle was overheating a bit too, in spite of being a water-cooled motorcycle so that should give you an idea of the conditions we were riding in.

Perhaps 10 minutes later, Scarlett had cooled down enough and we joined the slow moving mass of vehicles inching our way to the tunnel.  We made it there with no further issue and we then rode mostly "downhill" from the Divide, with a couple of additional slow downs, to the Georgetown exit where I got more fuel.

We stayed on frontage roads from Georgetown, avoiding the I-70 slab all the way to Idaho Springs where I parted ways from Dan K who would be taking the Virginia Canyon Road from Idaho Springs towards Blackhawk where he lives in the mountains.

I got back on I-70 and traffic cooperated all the way back to the Denver Metro area where temperatures reached over 99 degrees Fahrenheit at this point!  It was a long hot slog at 55 mph along C-470 and the E-470 toll road but Scarlett and I made it back home by 4:30PM with no further issues and no heat stroke on my part.

I called the Ural Dealer, Randy, and we made plans for him to consult with URAL either tomorrow or Tuesday and coordinate a time when I can take the rig up to him to perhaps replace the pusher brake caliper or the brake master cylinder or both, hopefully under warranty.

I also need to replace the front wheel bearings it seems but that task I can do myself I think in the next day or so.

Scarlett went over 38K kilometers during this rally's riding.  About 500 miles of riding total.

Note: I hope to add more photos from other Uralisti as they find time to process what they shot....will advise via a comment.

Here's a great video from CCJon, his blog is here:  LINK


RichardM said...

I was wondering how the rally went. For some reason I thought that it was last week. It looked to be a lot of fun and games.

On the rear brake, We moved the lever on the caliper for the parking brake on a 2015 rig due to it dragging. I haven't heard back on whether that fixed the problem. He was having to run full throttle to keep up with me on the highway. That's the opposite of how it was last year. Is this the same problem you had back in 2014 when the rear disc was heating up while riding?

redlegsrides said...

It does cause one to think doesn't it RichardM? The sporadic dragging of the pusher brake causing perceived performance issues when at highway speeds. In my case, it was only really evidenced when at third and fourth gears, usually on an incline.

Artie & Leinen's Grand Adventure said...

Hi! That rally looks like a lot of fun! Richard and I plan on traveling in a 5th wheel next summer. We will put next year's rally on our itinerary. Sorry to say we won't be traveling with the Ural. I am interested in the dog and jousting and blind fold events. Is it allowed to have helmets with radios in that even?

redlegsrides said...

Hi Bridget, the next USCA National Rally will be in Corning NY next year I believe. As to helmets and radios, why not?

We'd originally required helmets for the jousting event when testing had shown that if the monkey was close enough, part of the pvc stand would impact the helmet, but there was some "disagreement" by some and we threw that bit out.

Learning to Golf said...

Rally looked like a good time. That KLR rig looks like the bike is leaning in toward the sled/car. Is that because of the weight he is carrying?

Anonymous said...

Looks like fun! I filled up in Falcon, CO this morning and saw a guy from Illinois trailering a nice Shadow with a side car rig. Wonder if he was up there at the meet as well? Beautiful mountain views on that one image you posted!

redlegsrides said...

I think, AZ HD, that it's the angle I shot the rig that makes it look that way. I rode it and her steering felt neutral .

redlegsrides said...

Thanks motoventures , the rig you saw most likely was at the rally.

VStar Lady said...

Looks like you had fun. Are you planning on attending next years rally in Corning ... relatively speaking, that's in my neighborhood.

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

There were numerous comments about your rally at our rally this past weekend. Since they couldn't report on the event I'm pleased that you could. Thanks, looks like a lot of fun with a real variety of rigs.

Maybe I'll be joining you soon?!?

redlegsrides said...

Added more pics from fellow Uralisti....come have another look.

redlegsrides said...

VStar Lady, I doubt I'll go to the NY rally next year, that's a long way at URAL speed. You'll just have to go and report on it for us! :)

Coop, you're quite welcome.

SonjaM said...

Dom, this is hilarious. You guys look like modern gladiators. Great pics from the event. And a Burgy with a sidecar... that's a fist. I gotta show Roland...

redlegsrides said...

SonjaM, Danke! I thought of Roland as well when I first saw the Burgman with the sidecar. As to modern gladiators, most of the rigs weren't moving that fast in order to spear the rings....but we didn't want to make it a timed event as the Uralisti tend to get a bit "aggressive" in order to get the best time.

CCjon said...

Thanks for posting the photos. The rally was great fun in spite of the heat.

Concerning the KLR rig, when you think I only have about $11,000 in a brand new adventure rig with Kawasaki quality, availability of parts worldwide, ease of gear changes and simple to service..... we'll see if it's the answer for third world exploring.

redlegsrides said...

You're welcome CCJon and thanks for letting me link to your video. I really liked the feel of you rig, there's a good chance I'll be asking you for your expertise/experience re such a rig in my future.

redlegsrides said...

Added video from CCJon that he shot of the Rally activities and rigs....

don said...

Hi Dom!
It was nice to finally meet you. It was my first rally and thought it was real nice, made a bunch of friends, saw several interesting rigs and overall had a great weekend. The heat was horrible! On the way back we opted to go through the shady dirt roads of CO133 and CO12 to Crested Butte and then CottonWood Pass to Buena Vista, and finally HW285 through Bailey to Denver. It was a good ride but from Bailey onwards we found the same traffic you did, total ride time was almost 8 hours. Looking forward to more rides and more of your posts!

redlegsrides said...

Paco, good to meet you as well!

You sure took the long way back home but am sure it was more scenic!