Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Rides of the Year?

Today through Thursday are closure days for the university. Only two of them are actual paid holidays and the others are annual leave so I have a little bit of free time. There was water in the right carb again this morning. After emptying it out, I took another ride. I was thinking of making some sushi rolls but lacked a couple of ingredients. I had heard of another asian grocery store and thought I'd see what they carried. Sounds like a good excuse for a ride. It turned out that 90% of their goods were snack food, noodles and sauces. I was looking for kanpyō (dried gourd) and frozen unagi (roasted eel) and they had neither.

This may have been the coldest temperatures I've ridden in so far this year. The heated gear was turned on high and I could feel cold spots on my neck and between the gloves and my jacket sleeves. After about an hour and a half of running around (not including stops), my feet were starting to get cold and the battery voltage was steadily dropping. I don't think that the stock 280 watt alternator is able to keep the battery charged when the heated gear is on high, multiple restarts and not much cruising down the highway. Normally, after arriving at my destination, the voltage is around 12.7v but at my last stop it was only 12.2v and the engine cranked slowly. The stock battery would have given out at the first stop. After coming home, I put on the smart charger and not simply the tender.

I kept looking for places to park the rig and get some pictures but not many places. Most of the roads don't have plowed shoulders and too much traffic to just stop on the road. In addition to no reverse, I also don't have a parking brake. During the summer, I would use a short bungee cord wrapped around the front brake lever but in these temperatures, rubber loses its flexibility so bungee cords don't really work. This is just a short way from home and the sun looks like it's about to set but in reality, it's just after solar noon, i.e. the sun at the highest point in its path. At this time of year, it only gets about 3° above the horizon so it's not like there is a "high noon".

Yesterday morning, I had gone for another ride as I hadn't been out for several days and was starting to feel a little antsy. It was only 9 am so still well before sunrise. Since I was initially only planning on riding as short distance, I didn't bother to put on the overpants on top of the Carhartt jeans. My legs were starting to get a little chilled after about half an hour of riding. By the time I got home, I could tell that there was water in one of the carbs again. I think it's time to completely drain the tank and run it through a water trap.

Just for comparison, this was the temperature at 4:45am last Friday morning and I think that was the coldest temperature that we've seen so far this year. It would have to be a really good reason to leave the house. Most of last week was really cold but I believe that the cold has moved on to somewhere else (e.g. ND, MN, WI) as it has been generally warming up.

We are still loving the temperature inversion as it has rarely been below 0°F at the house for several days. I'm thinking that I may still be able to get at least one more ride in this year;

I wish you all a healthy and happy 2014!


Unknown said...


would a Grip-Lock work ?

or use a cam lock through the wheel onto the frame

still to cold for us softies down here on the Coast.

Happy New year to you too

Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

Just a short nylon strap would work but not as convenient as a parking brake. I've been looking at putting in a hydralic brake lock on the rear hydraulic system. But would need to completely redo the rear brake lines.

redlegsrides said...

Hard core rider! You have my admiration. Let's just make sure you don't end up a frozen core rider! :)

That recurring water issue is interesting....I wonder if keeping the fuel tank topped off would help? Luckily, on airheads, its easy to take the bowls off to drain the water. On the URAL, they're secured by four screws, but do sport a drain plug.....assuming you've the right allen wrench of course.

Martha said...

Even tho I see the temps on that Golden Heart cam every day, I look at your photo of the -47 and I just want to burst out in tears. Our tiny cold weather (by comparison) of - 20 has just knocked me for a loop today. Out in it first thing this AM and all the way to night.

And here you are playing in it. I have to give credit to your wonderful family because they certainly must be wonderful to be happy and content with their lives in Fairbanks.

Best of everything in the coming year, Richard-The Lionheart.

RichardM said...

I was thinking about using the Carhartt coveralls tomorrow when running into town. It is one piece and insulated. I've worn it at similar temperatures on snow machine trips and stayed warm.

I don't care to venture too far from town at these temperatures while debugging problems. I think I'll filter all the gas in the tank and see what I find at the bottom of the tank.

RichardM said...

Anything that cold is cold. And once it gets to -30°F, it doesn't matter anymore, it's cold. Note that I didn't go anywhere last Friday when it was -47°F.

I used to go skiing at -20°F but not this year. I've been on snow machine trips at -45°F when I was much younger but no interest in doing that now. It's too easy for something to go wrong.

RichardM said...

I just checked out the Grip-Lock and it's a bit more than I need and the key is on the wrong side (inside the hand muffs).

SonjaM said...

No whining from me with our temps still being around zero C. You are one brave rider! I am not sure that I would even dare to leave the house with the cold you get there.
Stay warm, and keep on riding for us!

Wishing you and your loved ones the best for 2014!

Trobairitz said...

I really like the colors in those first two shots. So peaceful and serene.

Damn, you are a diehard when it comes to riding in the cold. Good thing you are hearty. I am a weather weenie as I get older.

Happy New Year to you and Bridget.

VStar Lady said...

Good luck with the last ride of the year, but you are right, it's too easy for things to go wrong at those temps, good idea not to go far. All the best to you and your family in 2014 - enjoy the short holiday. Try to stay warm.

Unknown said...


between you and Dom riding all the time in the snow I nearly caught myself day dreaming of riding my Ural . . . (then I snapped out of it)

have a Happy New Year (Bridget too)

Riding the Wet Coast

Lucky said...

Brr! That is a chilly ride!

Have a great new year, Richard!

Conchscooter said...

I am trying to imagine a climate where bungees "don't really work." Hmm, do you suppose they will work tonight when we are supposed to hit 68 (with strong winds mind you)?

redlegsrides said...

Good plan Richard, definitely drain the tank to ensure no water accumulation there for whatever reason. Did you get a Mrfunnel?

Happy New Year to you and yours!

RichardM said...

You sort of get used to the cold and schools will still do outdoor recess at -25°F (with no wind). Without wind or humidity it doesn't feel as cold as the temperature suggests.

RichardM said...

"High noon" light is pretty nice. It actually seems really bright while riding around.

"Diehard"? Is that another word for stubborn?

RichardM said...

I opted to not try for another ride as it was -20°F this morning (in town). I had some errands but really needed to be back home this afternoon.

RichardM said...

Just think, with a Ural, you can get rid of the commuter car and if you get the new EFI model I'm sure that you may want to drive it instead of the 'vette. ;-)

RichardM said...

It's a dry cold. (How many times have you heard that?)

RichardM said...

I don't know. You may want to pack straps instead of bungies. Especially with the nasty wind and frigid KW temperatures. A lot of tourists seem to rely on bungee cords and I've collected stuff that has fallen off over the years.

David Masse said...

Richard, all my best to you and your family for 2014. I used to think that I was a tough rider, getting into single digits on the Celsius scale. And then I started reading your blog. I'm a marshmallow.

RichardM said...

The third wheel makes a world of a difference. Before, riding when below or near freezing was unusual.

I despise traffic and am amazed with those that have to deal with it...