Sunday, May 26, 2013

First Trip with the Sidecar

On Friday afternoon, I headed south for Talkeetna, AK, a small touristy town north of Anchorage. The intent was to meet some other sidecarists in Alaska. Two answered the email counting myself sent out last winter plus Dom. This is at a turnout south of Cantwell where I stopped to remove my fleece liner. It was starting to get warm in spite of the snow.

I stopped at the South McKinley Viewpoint at the southern end of the Denali State Park to see if there was a clear view of the mountain. It was a little cloudy but the top was peaking out. By this time it was feeling pretty warm out. And there were a lot of people milling around whining about the horrible view, the weather, the bathrooms. You name it, they were complaining about it. I didn't think it was that bad.

After arriving in Talkeetna, I wandered around town checking out the three campgrounds and the rest of the group ended up being at the first one. I saw a sign saying "No Overnight Parking" so I assumed I was in the wrong place. But Dom had spotted me turning around and called while I was at the third campground. This photo was taken on Saturday morning since the light was coming from a better angle than it was the previous evening. This was taken from the beach near the campground.

Here is our campground with the four rigs, all very different. The pile of leaves were being collected by a local character who had an opinion on just about everything. For more information on the participants, please see Dom's post and Bob and Sharon's post on the meetup.

We had breakfast at the Roadhouse Cafe where I had to try the poutine since it was listed on the menu. If you like poutine, then you wouldn't care for this version. Their version was simply pan fried potatoes covered with white gravy and cheese. I wouldn't recommend it. After breakfast, Dom packed up and headed for the ferry to take him away from Alaska and all of the Ural's "issues" back to the relative security of the lower 48. Plus, as he discovered, part of the fun is being in Alaska when the tourists aren't here.

Bob, Sharon and I then wandered through beautiful downtown Talkeetna and explored every single shop in town looking at all of the Alaska trinkets with about 10% actually made in Alaska. Much of it was overpriced but some was very beautiful and original. I ended up getting some local non-bee honey (never heard of this before) and a hand carved birch rice paddle. We had a light lunch at the Wildflower Cafe (excellent food!) before heading back to camp so Bob and Sharon could finish packing up before heading home to Wasilla.

The Alaska Railroad came through town several times per day many times to pick up or drop off tourists continuing their "cruise ship factory tours" of Alaska. BTW, to anyone wanting to visit Alaska, I would not recommend a "tour" unless you want to be herded around like cattle. Saturday evening was spent with Dan and his 12 year old daughter Sophi and one of his friends from the Yamaha Star riding group.

I left Talkeetna around noon trying to time it to avoid a huge biker ride from Mary Cary's McKinley View Lodge to the Veterans Memorial about twelve miles north. When I passed the lodge, there were several hundred bikes in the parking lot. They were getting ready to leave but were a few hours after their planned 11:30 departure. Everyone out riding today seemed happy to be on two wheels again and I got waves from just about all of the bikes including bicycles, cruisers and most of the sport bikes. Even quite a few trucks and cages as well.

This is the same turnout as the in the first photo but the other direction. It was warm and I was starting to get pretty sore. Driving the sidecar takes a fair amount of physical effort and Dom was right, 300 miles with the sidecar feels like 500 without.

This is the turnout just a little ways from Fairbanks where I've taken other pictures. It was pretty warm at this point and I had just about every vent on my jacket open but was still pretty warm. I think it was over 80°F and if you look closely, you can see that the trees are starting to bud. The drab grey is finally turning green.

This turned out to be a pretty slow trip as I had to keep my speed under 60mph due to the fairing vibration. I think it's the sidecar wheel as I can see the sidecar fender moving up and down at the same frequency as the fairing vibration. Something else to figure out before the next trip.

14 comments:

Martha said...

Photo #8 is great! Looks like you enjoyed a wonderful time.

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

Richard,
Glad that you were able to finally get out for some real riding and a real trip.....I might know the feeling.

Keep us posted on the vibration resolution.

Unknown said...

Richard:

+1 for more riding effort. When we met Dom in 2011 in Montana he was in the lead and he had to always be moving back and forth on all the curves to keep the sidecar from "flying". We didn't know how hard it was to ride a Hack, until then . . .

Imagine how much larger your muscles will get, just by riding.

Looked like a great weekend to be out and enjoying the nicer weather

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

The area south of Cantwell is one of my favorite locations. It feels remote and you are surrounded by mountains. The traffic is usually pretty light except you really need to watch for caribou near the road.

RichardM said...

I think I'll be trying to figure out the vibration before going on another trip. I would find my speed creeping up all the time before I notice the shaking.

RichardM said...

Moving around on the bike for the corners is still in the "fun" category but the steering effort is high and it doesn't get any lighter at higher speeds, you just move the bars less on the highway.

It was a great trip and weekend and the weather was beautiful the whole time. Today, in Fairbanks, the temperature is forecast to get into the mid-80s.

SonjaM said...

Glad, that your rig got a tryout. I am sure that you have found little bits and pieces you want to improve or re-farkle. And a weekend with friends and likeminded people... what's not to love.

Mid 80s, is something that has yet to happen in the part of Germany we are currently residing. It's offing cold out here, today it was warm with a maximum of 60F.

RichardM said...

No real surprises though I think that I'll be getting a good upper body workout when driving the rig. Unfortunately, it's the middle that really needs the workout IMHO. It really feels hot out now and all of the trees turned green over the weekend.

redlegsrides said...

Good report Richard, though it was mainly ignition issues that I really had trouble with on the trip....my fault for going aftermarket on that if that turns out to be the issue.

Trobairitz said...

I love the blue sky and snowy mountains. Makes for lovely pictures.

It sounds like overall you had a good venture out of town with the sidecar. And a good upper body workout.

RichardM said...

I don't know, replacing the head seems fairly major to me but yes, I agree that the Ural has been a very reliable rig with great support.

RichardM said...

It turned out to be a beautiful day and a wonderful trip. I was originally thinking of coming back through another route but that would've added 400 miles to the trip. But I was a little worried that the vibration may damage the fairing mounts.

Ibuprofen is your friend...

VStar Lady said...

Richard, glad you had a great first real adventure out with the sidecar, but it's sounding like it takes a lot of upper body strength. (I may have to strike sidecar off my list of may do in the granny future things {just as I had to cross off ATV rider} ... guess that means I'll be back to the training wheels idea, or maybe there'll be a spyder in my future. Do you think they are old age friendly? One must plan ahead you know.)

RichardM said...

I'm told that with properly designed steering mods or a leading link front suspension, like the Ural has, results in very light steering. The downside is that it can no longer be ridden solo, i.e. without the sidecar. I opted to not do the steering mods as I need the exercise.