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Topic: 4 guys and 12 tires have an off-road venture  (Read 2087 times)

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sagerat
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« on: April 29, 2007, 01:23:21 am »

OK, Ural Ballast Babe has the digital camera in Lost Wages so no pics.  Let's hope her Vegas pics are worth the loss of the camera for a ride.

We had four Ural sidecars:  my '04 Tourist, Bill's '05 Tourist, Joe's '00 Bavarian Classic, and John's '06 Gear-up.  The last one had full-on knobbies and of course has 2WD capabilities.  So we leave the rural community of Tumalo on a nice two-laner and ride some switchbacks as we cross the Deschutes River...where we almost had a pile-up when Bill realized he had missed our turn and jammed on the brakes.  As the turn was to the left and occurred at the top of a grade on a right-hander, when Bill jammed on the brakes it looked like NASCAR restart gone bad.  Thank god for following distance.    

We descended several switchbacks and found a nice pulloff and went for a stroll along a fishing trail that paralleled the river's west  bank.  We hike back to the bikes and continue our tour when five deer bound down the hillside on our left heading to the river and irrigated fields on our right.  More mass braking ensues.

Finally we get to Newcomb road and again head toward the east for this great viewpoint Bill and I found last week.  By now we're on dirt, but it's pretty hard-packed with not too many rocks poking out.  That was to change almost immediately.  At the overlook we decide a) ride back to pavement the way we came or b) follow this so-so dirt road to the N.  Hey, let's have an adventure.

Soon the "road" became a horror show.  Steep grades with horrible cambers.  Rocks poking out everywhere.  Deep sand in spots.  Urals are rigid mounted hacks, so when the right side of road is higher than the left, you feel like the chair is about to come over the top of you.  This is an unsettling feeling.

At one point we were pitching down a deep sandy road whose camber was reversed with a tight right hander at the bottom.  I'm sitting on the tub trying to keep the bike from running away while negotiating sand so soft and deep I have to keep blipping the throttle then backing off immediately as I don't want a lot of speed.

I know to steer with the throttle and things are going OK when I don't make it around two quick esses and there's a ponderosa tree somehow dancing in front of me.  I knew I couldn't get the bike to go right in time so I hit the gas, shoot over the lip of the road and go offroading around the tree to the left.

John is long gone on his Gear Up and I'm second in our "Rat Patrol."  I keep scanning the dirt for his tracks as there are several junctions.  After another long sandy descent, I hit hard pack and no tracks.  I wait at a T intersection for the back two to catch up (Bill's an old dirt bike rider from way back so he's sweep). John reappears first, yells "Road dead ends; I'll try this other fork!" and swoops off into juniper.

Several minutes later Joe arrives.  Keep in mind he's 70, has a bum shoulder, and has the most-street oriented of the four Urals and is riding on 18" wheels while we have 19".  Oh, and his back tire is semi-bald.  Bill arrives.  We realize we probably won't make it back up the sandy hills we've just descended.  20 minutes pass and no John.

We huddle up and decide to push onward rather than try and either backtrack or send a scout.  We were slightly worried John might be hurt or his bike dead and we didn't want to leave him to the coyotes if that were the case.  "Besides," Bill says, "the worst of the sand was near the rimrock and it's hard pack now."

Four switchbacks later the sand had returned.  I'm riding sweep now and watching Bill and Joe pick their way around the combo of descents, tight turns, exposed rocks, and intermittent sand sandwiched between hard pack.  Another huddle after we pass a two-wheel track that heads due W toward the pavement.  Decide to keep on pressing N where John had gone.

Finally, I come around a corner and Bill is atop a rise, off his bike and waving his arms.  I start to slow then realize he's waving to get the revs up as there's the mother of all sand gullies ahead.  I almost made it, but shot off to the left, landing in the puckerbrush where the rear tire begins to dig in.  I quickly pull in the clutch.  Joe made it fine, of course as he's also an old dirt biker.  So I put the Ural in reverse and slooooooowly back down the hill with Bill pushing the front tire.

My second run did not make anybody forget "Dust to Glory" but I made it.  About five minutes later we hit cinders (much horn honking and hoo-rahing) and five minutes after that pavement where John was waiting.

17.5 kms or about 10 miles in about 90 minutes to two hours.  When I got home I was exhausted.  Still, those Russian bikes are sturdy wonders.  John didn't even use the 2WD as his knobbies were great.  We had 60/40 street tires.  But what an absolute blast.  Pics next time, I swear.

« Last Edit: April 29, 2007, 02:56:15 pm by sagerat » Logged

The poster formerly known as VFRfan

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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2007, 11:10:14 am »

"the digital camera"

Dooood, 10.72 TVs per American household and you have "the digital camera". Where's your sense of gadgetry?  Smile

OK kidding. That sounds like it was quite a ride. I'd love to see one side of a Ural way up high like that.. Can you reenact with pictures when you get "the digital camera" back?  Razz
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sagerat
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2007, 02:59:16 pm »

 Lol

I don't know if I want to tempt fate again, but maybe if I buy a come-along to throw in the trunk just in case.  Yesterday's ride not only rekindled my lust for a starter dual-sport (KLR 250 anyone?), but I really love those Gear Ups.  They may very well be the perfect hack and now you can get them with the option of high exhausts for better ground clearance.
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Money can buy motorcycles, which means money can buy happiness
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