Showing posts with label Guest Blogger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest Blogger. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Guest Blogger: Darrell S. Rides part of the COBDR

Guest Blogger: Darrell S and his lovely wife Piper

Back in the first half of August, a fellow Uralista and friend of mine, Darrell S. and his lovely wife Piper rode their 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig along parts of the COBDR (Colorado Backroads Discovery Route).   Here is their report:

Buena Vista to Lake City.

Not a challenging section, but long: 212 Kms total.

Passes crossed (in order)
Cottonwood Pass
Cumberland Pass
Waunita Pass
Los Pinos Pass
Cathedral Pass
Slumgullion Pass

I stopped in Pitkin and put a gallon of gas in my tank because I wasn't sure exactly how long this section was.  I only put a gallon in because they didn't have 91 octane.  Turns out I didn't need it.  Could've made it on one tank of gas (or at least one tank along with the Kolpin reserve I had).

The most challenging section was a small section off of county road 14PP.  There were a couple of hills I wasn't prepared for and before I knew how steep they were, the rig didn't have enough umph or momentum to make it up.  I just turned around and tried each a second time and had no problem making it up them.  Not that they were extremely steep, but one didn't realize how they were until you were upon them......

Basically, a long hot day in the saddle.  Left Buena Vista at 9:30am, arrived Lake City at 4pm.

Lake City to Telluride

This is a very short section if you can take the main route laid out on the map.  64 miles total.  It goes over the following passes:

Cinnamon Pass
California Pass
Hurricane Pass
Corkscrew Pass
Red Mountain Pass
Ophir Pass

We left out of Lake City and had high hopes of being able to complete this section on a Ural.

We motored toward the top of Cinnamon Pass with no troubles......until we came to a switchback that had a large rock outcropping on the road just on the uphill side of the switchback.  I just couldn't get enough umph
around the switch back to make it up over the rock outcropping.

Piper got out of the sidecar and I tried one last time.  I made it 3/4 of the way onto the rock and my rear tire got caught in a shallow hole in the rock.  I was just about to use my winch to get over the remaining portion when a vehicle coming down the mountain stopped to help.  A man and his son helped lift up and push the rear of the bike as I tried my best to burn up the clutch.......but it worked!

I was up and over the rocks.  The rest of the ride to the top of Cinnamon Pass was uneventful.  We crested the top and it was a steep ride down the other side to Animas Forks.

Looking back towards Cinammon Pass from Animas Forks.

We rested a little in Animas Forks and then started the trail up to California Pass.

Animas Forks Gold Mine

The road up to California Pass

This is a very rocky/bumpy trail for the most part.  We had no trouble navigating the trail, but had to keep our speed up.  We hit one section were someone coming down didn't give us the right-of-way and I had to turn around and find a level spot to get going again.

I'm not exactly sure how far up we made it on this road, but I believe we were within 1/2 mile of the pass.  We hit a right turn switch back that I just couldn't make it past.  It was a very tight right turn and a very steep incline just after the switch back. The third time I tried I made it at least half way up the steep incline and realized I wasn't going to make it so I braked.

I didn't want to back down, so I slowly started turning the bike as I coasted backwards to have the sidecar wheel downhill.  I got to the point where I was completely sideways on this section and the whole bike just started sliding sideways down the steep part of the road.....Piper wasn't happy and was almost ready to jump out of the sidecar.  I finally righted the ship and got going downhill the right way.

A factor that I failed to realize about this pass was that it is the highest pass on the COBDR at 12930'.  The
altitude was also robbing the Ural of what little power it has.

We stopped to discuss the situation and not knowing what the other passes were like, we were too concerned that we might get in an area where we couldn't make it out of.  So the decision was made to turn around and take the road back down to Animas Forks and then the road down into Silverton.

Road from Animas Forks to Silverton

From Silverton, we took 550 up to the turnoff to Ophir Pass.

Ophir Pass looking west

Ophir Pass is very Uralable and we had no problems climbing up the pass.  Going down the other side is
another story.  For the first mile, it is very loose rock and a sheer drop off on the side.  Make sure you have good brakes and go very slow.  I mainly used by rear/sidecar brake because it left me the ability to steer with the front wheel.  If you lock up your front wheel in this section it could get hairy real quick.

Summit sign at Ophir Pass

Ophir Pass Western Road

Ophir Pass, waiting for traffic to clear the way

We made it down the west side of Ophir Pass and on into Telluride.  One note on Ophir Pass.  It can be done West to East, but going up the west side, once you break out of the trees and get to the all rock section you need to wait to make sure no other vehicles are coming down when you start your run across this section.

A Ural can make it up if it doesn't have to stop.  There aren't many areas for someone to pull off to the side to let you pass and if you stop then you are in trouble.  So as we were making it down, we made sure no one was coming up, because didn't want to have to try and get out of their way.

So the only passes we crossed today were Cinammon and Ophir.

We left Lake City at 9:00am and arrived in Telluride at 2:00pm.

Telluride to Dolores to Four Corners.

A very easy section of the COBDR with some of the best scenery.

Wilson Mesa Ranch Area

Road 618 Southwest of Telluride

Road 49G Overlook

Not a challenging section by any means.  Easily traversed dirt roads.  It did rain quite a bit the night before and there were sections of road 618 that were muddy and slick.  After making it through this part, we stopped on a section of 611 to take a break.

We could hear the faint sounds of motorcycles coming up the trail so we waited to see who it was.  They stopped to talk a little bit.  Two Canadians on BMW's just starting out on the COBDR.  We had a nice chat.  The one asked us about mud...he seem quite concerned about it.  They warned us about a mud hole just a little ways down the trail and we were both off in our different directions.

It didn't take long to figure out why the one Canadian was concerned about mud.  We must have found at least 5 locations where his bike fell over in minor muddy spots.  Not to let him outdo us, we came upon the mud hole they told us about and it didn't look too concerning.

I took a line and started into it.........the part that the sidecar tire went into was way deeper than I had anticipated and the sidecar tire went down into and it swung the whole bike around to where the front tire was in the same hole as the sidecar tire.

Well my testosterone got the better of me.  I put it in two-wheel drive and hit the gas.  The front wheel came up out of the pit, but now both drive wheels were stuck in it.  I couldn't go forward and I couldn't go backwards.

Piper tells me to stop and lets look at the situation.  I finally listened to her and got off the bike.  She took a pic and proclaimed "stuck Ural!".

It really wasn't that hard to get out.  I physically  lifted up the whole back of the bike and Piper pushed to where the back tire was out of the mud but the front tire was back into it.  I then went around the front and picked up the front end of the bike while Piper pushed backwards and we have the front tire out of the mud.  I then got back on the bike without Piper in the sidecar and drove right out of the hole.......

Back on the trail, there are a couple of interesting FS roads before you hit Dolores (FS C and FC 257).  Nothing too difficult but better than motoring along FS 527.

The ride from Dolores to Four Corners is all paved, hot, and long.  The actual Four Corners monument was

Four Corners

Anyhow, we accomplished it.  We completed the COBDR with only one minor diversion.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Guest Rider: Alaska by Ural - Part 4

Here's part 4 of John Sharp's continuing journey on his Ural GEAR-UP, he's survived Alaska....loved it and last was seen in California.

Click here for part 4:  LINK

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guest Rider: Alaska by URAL - Part 3

Here's part 3 of fellow Uralista John Sharp's ongoing bucket list ride to California by way of Alaska.

Click Here

Monday, August 27, 2012

Guest Rider: Alaska by Ural, John Sharp

Fellow Colorado Uralista, John Sharp, has graciously permitted me to post his emailed ride reports on his ongoing Alaskan adventure on

Please click the links below to get to the actual articles and slideshows.

John will eventually ride down to California for his High School class reunion and to continue promoting Cancer Awareness.  He's battling prostrate cancer and this ride is part of this "bucket list".

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Guest Blogger: Uraling to Moab, Part III, the return trip

Here's the final part of the three part story by fellow Uralista Jay Barry.  See the end of the posting for parts I and II.
Uraling to Moab Pt. 3
Jay Barry

Throughout the night the wind carried on, alternating between buffeting the tent and settling a layer of sand over us. By morning the inside of our tent was covered and we attempted to clean the sand out of our ears.

 We checked the river and saw it had continued to rise, floating down wood and debris from all points north.
A cold front had passed through, shifting the winds to the West and North and dropping the temperature considerably. I had to put the liners back in my riding gear and even pulled out my balaclava, but at least I’d have a tailwind.

Remembering the 12 hour ride out, Dezso and I (no guesses on how Dezso is pronounced this time. You should know by now.) got up at 7:30, loaded our bikes and set off during a lull in the wind. This time our route would take us through Castle Valley, over a dirt road through the mountains into Colorado, and dump us back on pavement in Gateway.

During this early morning leg, the sky was once again a deep blue and the air had that right amount of chill. No one was out at this time in the morning, so we had Highway 128 and Castle Valley to ourselves.

Castle Valley Overlook

We kept a lookout for dawdling cows and other animals that might use the road as a meeting place, but soon we were climbing out of the valley. The road turned to dirt and sage gave way to juniper and then to pine and aspen.

Since we had had “issues” before with road closures, we pulled over at an overlook to check the maps but they told us nothing of seasonal closures and we pressed on. The roads remained clear of snow all the way through. Yet we only had a vague notion of where we were and we passed no sign welcoming us to Colorado.

Alpine meadows gave way to red sandstone and junipers and then a 16% grade to ride down into a small canyon with a creek running alongside. Suddenly we were upon Colorado Highway 141.

Near Gateway, Colorado

After checking the gas prices at the resort in Gateway, We turned north hoping for something cheaper along the way. I expected something at the junction with US 50, but there wasn’t anything until we hit Delta where prices were about 80 cents cheaper.

We ate lunch in Delta and debated the rest of our route. Independence Pass was open, but the temperature was hovering around 24 degrees with rain. We had already gone over Monarch and looked for something different. We ended up heading East on Highway 92 which took us through Hotchkiss and dropped us west of Gunnison.

This road was made for two wheels as it wound its way around the northern edge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The curves twist and turn, rarely letting up until you reach US 50.

As I made these turns on the Ural I felt the bike slide a couple of times and when we reached Gunnison to fill up, I noticed I had worn my tire bald!  Fortunately the Ural carries a spare, and it was only a matter of changing out the bald tire for the spare. After an hour of field maintenance in a Safeway parking lot, we were back on the road.

As you can see, time for a new tire

We had received a little snow in Gunnison, and Monarch looked covered in clouds, so we opted for an alternate route via CO Highway 114. This is another excellent road for two wheels and to prove my point we passed many riders heading in the opposite direction. This route will take you south of Monarch and drop you off in Saguache. It did add a couple of hours to our journey, but overall I think it was worth it.

By now “get-home-itis” had set in and we were still about 4 hours (by Ural) from home. I had a grand plan of heading to Woodland Park, then taking Highway 67 for one last run in the woods over a dirt road, but mostly to get out of the wind. I figured a run on US 24 would give me a nice tailwind.

But by the time we turned onto US 24, the sun had settled in behind the mountains and the temperature had dropped. We road the last leg into Woodland Park cold but not frozen so when we gassed up and warmed up over some hot chocolate, we debated our final leg: Highway 67 or I-25?

Due to time and temperature, we opted for I-25. I hoped that due to the late time and the cool temperatures the Ural would perform nicely and I wasn’t mistaken. I was able to maintain an average of 65 mph on I-25 and we made it home safe.

I think if I were to do this trip again, I’d want to break it into two days of travel on the Ural instead of feeling the push to get there or get home in just one long day of riding. Otherwise, I’d just take the 650. Regardless, it’s nice to have these options.

The End

There you have it folks, Jay's long distance ride on his "quixotic" Ural Patrol along with friend Dezso on Jay's F650GS beemer.  A few minor issues along the way but nothing they could not handle.  I hope you enjoyed his report.

Jays trip report, Part I, Part II

Friday, June 03, 2011

Guest Blogger, Uraling to Moab, Part II

Here's part 2 of Jay B's recent journey to Moab, UT on his trusty Ural Patrol Sidecar rig.  Part one is here.

Uraling to Moab, Part II

We had found a campsite on the river along Highway 128 and quickly set up camp. The wind had never let up and it was a constant barrage shaking the tent followed by a settling of sand over our sleeping bodies.  In the morning, still woozy from the ride and rubbing the sand from our faces, we noticed the river had risen about a foot. It still had some distance to cover before we were concerned so we had a quick breakfast and planned a ride up Hurrah Pass.

Early morning maintenance and checks

We inspected out bikes, noticing the chain on the F 650 GS had loosened. We tightened it up and rode into Moab for gas and chain lube (I had forgotten to pack it). The town was crammed with tourists who came for the adventure or the arts and music festival. Having had enough of the crowds, we took off down Kane Creek Blvd which lead us out of town following the Colorado River. Here you could smell the coolness of the river, watch rafters bounce over white water, and settle into the scenery.

The canyon walls of Kane Creek Road

The pavement ended, and soon we were riding beneath towering red sandstone walls. Once we were within the canyon, the noise dissipated, tension eased, and we focused on our ride. Kane Creek Road turned down a side canyon and we parted ways with the Colorado River. The canyon widened and opened into a valley dotted with sage, campers, and their recreational vehicles.

The road deteriorated and we slowed to negotiate bumps, dips, rocks and sand pits. Although the Ural has two-wheel drive, I feel the only time I really use it is after I get stuck, and this road wasn’t even close to that in terms of sandy spots

A Quixotic Ural in its element
The road curved to the right and began climbing through sandstone formations, turning from a gravel surface to one of bedrock and dirt. More than once I saw Dezso (Still pronounced: Day-zure) put a foot out to steady himself. But I wasn’t worried since he grew up on a dirt bike.

More than once I worried about the technical skills required of riding with a sidecar along uneven surfaces. I had to keep in mind that the sidecar can flip over, I constantly had to shift my weight as I went over berms, rock steps, and right hand turns.

We stopped a few times for photo opportunities and to give our rattled bodies a chance to recover from the shaking bikes. Below us we could see more campsites along the road as well as dirt bikes and ATVs racing up and down the road. Above was only more mountain roads to climb and a startling deep blue sky.

On the way to Hurrah Pass

Dezso said there was only a little bit left until we hit Hurrah Pass and could look to the other side where the Colorado River flowed. We jumped back on our bikes and rode another mile to the pass.
Although still breezy up here, the wind was cool as we stopped for photos. Coming up from the other side was a pickup so we pulled our bikes out of the way and waited.

Dezso looks over the overlook

A company truck that ran mountain bike expeditions pulled up, waiting for his customers to pedal up this last stretch of road. We talked a little of the road below (he claimed the Ural wouldn’t make it due to width restrictions) and he offered us a club soda as we watched the bikers push up the road. My helmet is off to those guys for being able to climb mountains on bikes! I know I couldn’t do it.

a nice, steep drop

When they reached the summit, they took photos of the Ural (this happens so often that I am only now remembering to mention it), asking about how old it is (it’s a 2007) leaving me to explain a little of the history.
Since we were returning to Moab, we wanted to be ahead of the bikers and not have them worry about us coming up behind them so we thanked them for our soda, put our helmets back on, and rode back down the mountain.

Hurrah Pass and the Colorado River

Although we just focused on hiking, camping, and riding our motorcycles, there is a ton of stuff to do in Moab. You can skydive, raft, mountain climb—you name it, it’s probably available for rent or purchase. You can rent Honda and KTM dirt bikes, have custom tours of every level of difficulty, and so long as you have the money, enjoy any type of luxury.

Admittedly our dining experience was limited to Mexican food as one of our group has a penchant for cheese and hot sauce. I do recommend La Hacienda for their food, margaritas, and above all, service. Of all the places we visited, these guys were the most accommodating!

Moab has all your lodging needs from B&Bs, to mom and pop and chain hotels. If you want to camp, I recommend looking along Highway 128, but remember the further out you go, the quieter your campsite can be. All of these campgrounds are along the river, so you should just have the sound of water flowing and the pop of your campfire. There is no running water, so make sure you bring your own!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Guest Blogger: Uraling to Moab

Here's the first of three posts by guest blogger and fellow Uralista Jay B.   He recently rode to and from Moab, Utah on his trusty Ural Patrol sidecar rig and lived to tell the tale, here is his tale:

Uraling to Moab, Part I

I had seen enough of Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor going the long way anywhere, drooled over the photos Hubert posts on his The Timeless Ride blog and have read enough ride reports to feel that my time was long overdue. So when a friend and his fiancée suggested a camping trip to Moab in order to find wedding locations for their upcoming marriage, I countered that the boys would ride the back roads while the ladies traveled by car (loaded with supplies) along I-70.

We took my Ural Patrol and F 650 GS, loaded ourselves down with overnight gear (in case something unexpected happened) and prepped the bikes for a long ride which included an oil and air filter change for the Ural.

Immediately after hitting the road I noticed a distinct lack of power on the Ural and had to pull over. We had oiled the air filter too much and there wasn’t enough air getting into the carburetors. Fortunately I had another air filter at the house, so we returned to the house and changed filters.

My Patrol ran great at highway speeds for the short jaunt along C-470. We exited on US 285 South and rode through the mountains, stopping in Fairplay for lunch. By now the wind had picked up and we were fighting a massive headwind which slowed me down to 45 mph. Trucks and RVs were passing me! A quick check of the weather verified it wouldn’t let up.

We turned South on US 24 in Buena Vista, all the time fighting the winds that had Dezso (Pronounced: Day-zure) leaning the 650 GS into the wind just to ride in a straight line and me, a little more stable with the sidecar, slowing down even more, much to the dismay of the line of cars behind me. More than once I had to pull over to let others pass.

We filled up in Salida, and still with the relentless winds, we crawled up Monarch Pass at a steady 35 mph. Once we reached the top, it was a little easier to coast most of the way down, using the throttle as needed. Although coasting helped, 40 miles outside of Gunnison the engine chugged and I had to switch to the reserve tank.

As we gassed up we spoke with another rider coming from Montrose. He warned us about gusting winds around Blue Mesa Reservoir, but that it would let up after that. We had about another ten miles of buffeting before ducking into the mountains near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and finally settling into a pleasant ride where I could travel between 55 and 65 mph! 

It was about 4pm when we rode into Montrose to gas up yet again. We wanted to have enough fuel to make it into Utah as we were losing daylight and still wanted to ride CO Highway 90 over the Uncompahgre as it cut time and distance off of our trip.

Highway 90 is a bit misleading since it is seasonal dirt road across the Uncompahgre plateau. As we rode out of town we saw a sign that said the road was closed, but we didn’t really think it’d apply to us. We rode into the hills, past houses, then campsites and finally nothing but pine trees and snow drifts. Water from melting snow crossed the road occasionally leaving a few muddy patches. A few patches of snow still littered the path.

When we finally reached the end of the cleared road, where the snow still covered any forward progress, a bulldozer blocked our turn. The 650 GS could squeeze by, but we weren’t sure about the Patrol.

End of the road?  Not quite.

I squeezed pass first, scraping through a snow bank that fell onto the bike causing a steam bath that erupted all around me. The back wheel spun and I lost forward progress until I slipped the Patrol into 2-wheel drive and motored on through. 

Dezso followed as I cleared the remaining snow from my bike and we set off down the closed road.
As we continued it became quite clear as to why the road was closed. Deep ruts in the mud and dirt, snow and snow melt made the going slow.  Twice Dezso dropped the 650 GS due to the magnitude of the ruts.

Now you may remember my arduously slow journey on the paved highways and mountain passes? The stuff we were crossing now was where the Ural shines and is in its element. Snow, mud, dirt, rocks—it doesn’t matter to the Ural as it will putter along quite pleasantly. 

Many times I had to stop and wait for Dezso, and once, in a particularly deep and muddy rut, he buried the 650 up to the axle, effectively knocking off the chain (The Ural has a final drive and my uneducated guess says it’s a lot better than a chain).

A minor setback

We pushed the 650 GS out of the mud (next time I'll pack a tow rope), set the bike on its center stand and fixed the chain. By now it was close to 7:30 and we were getting concerned about spending the night on the mountain.  We worried if we were on the right track or not, and what our ladies were doing right then in the comfort of their car with music and conversation abounding. 

Soon we passed houses again and finally hit pavement. One more stop for gas in Naturita as they were closing (we lucked out there), and we rode the final leg in total darkness, getting to the restaurant 15 minutes before they closed. After 12 hours on the road, that Margarita couldn’t have tasted any better!

The guys pose for their heroic achievement shot

The reality of 12 hours on the Ural

Stay tuned for more adventures of Jay and his Ural Patrol!