Saturday, June 28, 2014

2012 Ural

This morning after stopping at College Coffeehouse to meet with the usual group, Bridget and I headed out to Two Rivers on Chena Hot Springs Rd to see Rick, the seller of the 2012 Ural Patrol. Last week after changing all the fluids, he started it up and rolled out of the garage. While warming up, he got a phone call and needed to run into town so he put it back into the garage. It was running rough and he just assumed that it's because the enricheners were still partially on.

After running his errands, he went back out to test drive the rig and it wouldn't start. After debugging the ignition system with Mickey in Anchorage as well as another mechanic that Mickey referred him to in Michigan, he ordered a complete set of ignition parts. Hall sensor, ignition module and coils and expects the package in either today or Monday. Everyones suspicion is that the hall sensor had failed. The rig is still covered by the extended warranty but the nearest dealer is in Anchorage but he didn't have the parts so they were shipped from Washington.

The rig is in really good condition as you can see in the photos. No weeping of oil from anywhere, all of the u-joints have zerk fittings with no play at all. No play in any of the wheel bearings or the steering head. It has this slick twin stick 2WD and reverse shifter setup on the right side of the tank as seen in the first picture. He also added a second cable on the trunk lid as he didn't like the way the trunk lid flexed when the rack was loaded.

There are two gas cans and an ammo can painted to match the rig. The ammo can was just added to be used as a "glove compartment" as it's not designed to hold much of a load. The rig was just driven from southern Missouri to Fairbanks in May without a single problem and occasionally used a couple of ounces of oil between oil changes. All maintenance has been done according to the owners manual and Rick has added to the stock toolkit quite a few tools to simplify maintenance.

The windshield, both the bike and sidecar, are in great condition with no scratches or yellowing. Not shown are the mud/wind deflectors which mount above the cylinders or the throttle lock (aka cruise control). The rear tire is new but all of the others will need to be replaced before winter. The only part that the original owner replaced was the rear brake light switch. It corroded probably due to riding in the winter.

The rig now has 18K km on it with 9k put on by the original owner and 9k by the current owner. The tachometer is a slick addition as is the light aircraft outside air temperature gauge mounted to the windscreen. Rick, the current owner, is an light aircraft mechanic and has 40+ years working on air-cooled engines. And this blue and white Patrol is his second Ural. I was a bit concerned when I discovered that the original owner was a sport bike rider (Stereotype!). He is also a moto-vlogger and his YouTube and SovietSteeds ID is krayziesensei. Below is his YouTube video showing off his new Ural.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

The First Day of Summer

This is our longest day of the year with sunrise at around 3am and sunset around 12:50am. I wasn't a very good "Alaskan" and didn't go to the Solstice Festival, run in the Midnight Sun Run or even attend the Midnight Sun baseball game. I've participated in the 10k run before and the starting cannon goes off at 10:00pm. I believe the baseball game starts at around 10:30pm and the street fair pretty much goes all night. I fell asleep around 9:30pm…

On Sunday, a small group of us rode once again to the Monderosa and I forgot, again, to photograph my jalapeño burger. So for not happening, it was very tasty. As far as I'm concerned, still one of the best hamburgers around. Quite an eclectic collection of bikes on this trip with my 1000cc '83 airhead the smallest, heaviest and most underpowered of the group. The 1900cc Yamaha being the newest and shiniest. A BMW R1200GS and 1400cc Suzuki cruiser rounding out our group. No issues at all going the speed limit. The bike cruised effortlessly up the hills this time. I think the new fuel filters may have resolved the loss of power problem I had on the last ride out to the Monderosa. Though no monkey on this trip.

Today was the first non-rainy day we've had since Tuesday with around 3" of rain in our area. Lots of mosquito breeding ponds now…


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top of the World

Based on the recommendation of several others, I went to the restaurant at the recently opened Top of the World hotel on my last morning in Barrow. I was told that the food was pretty good though a bit pricy and my first question was "good for Barrow or good". The response was decent for anywhere. On the outside it looked like a plain building with steel siding but the inside wasn't too bad. Others described it as very Marriot-like for lack of a better adjective. This is the main entry with the front desk just on the other side of the glass doors and the restaurant just beyond that.

This is the view from the restaurant and this was the side that I had seen when driving by. It still looked like construction was going on and I really couldn't tell that it was even open for business. During construction, I had always heard it referred to as the ASRC (Arctic Slope Regional Corp.) hotel and didn't realize that they are using the name of a hotel that suffered a lot of smoke damage last year when the adjoining restaurant caught fire. Breakfast was pretty good and the prices weren't that out of line for Barrow. $15 for breakfast and maybe double that for dinner. I'd go back.

This is the view from their lobby windows. Not too nice but then again it's still "mud season" around here and their parking lot still looks like a construction zone with stacks of materials, shipping containers and heavy machinery. But then again, that kind of describes many other locations in Barrow. This is looking towards the city center and the expanse of white is a frozen salt water body of water.

While waiting for a ride to the airport, I noticed this sign with whale bones and thought that this is one of the other places tour groups stop to take photos.

This is the ocean just beyond the sign. There is a lot of melt water on top of the ice. The weather was on the foggy side but it wasn't any problem for the Alaska Airlines crew. Someone at the tower had commented earlier that you can always tell if the flight crew was from the lower-48. They generally choose not to land in marginal flight conditions i.e. at or just above minimums.

These last three pictures were taken out at NARL across the street from the Umiaq Barrow Operations Building.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Clear and Sunny

Barrow is finally are having some nice, sunny weather though it is still only 30°F and windy. But the days are definitely long. Actually, endless as we are in the sun-never-sets time of year. This is the view looking southwest with the suburbs of Barrow on the horizon. The vertical poles are what's left of the snow fence that keeps snow from drifting up against the building. All week there was a group working to dismantle the fence hauling off the old wooden beams and metal slats.

This afternoon, I saw some tourists walking almost aimlessly around the NARL campus carrying a lot of really nice camera gear. I stopped and talked to them a bit and they were here on a tour that started on a cruise, continued by train, then they flew to Barrow. They commented that there wasn't much to take pictures of around Barrow and their favorite part of the trip was the train ride through the Denali Park area. Here it is muddy, dusty and junk is lying around everywhere. Much nicer in the Winter when the snow covers everything up...

Added Sunday,June 16 - Here are a couple of photos of what may be monuments like David referred to in his comment.

This appears in most articles about Barrow and is near what used to be Browers Cafe (now closed). It is across the street from th new, fancy Top of the World hotel that was built over the last year. Apparently, very fancy for Barrow with rooms in the $280/night range. I haven't stopped by there yet as, to me, it looked like it was still under construction.

This was taken quite a few years ago when we were travelling around on four wheelers (ATVs) looking at instrumentation towers. And yes, the time depicted is accurate. The land in the photo is about as far north as you can get so it must be the point. So you can't really drive there like you can to Key West. There are a couple of tours that take people all the way to the point using H1 Hummers or 4WD Ford vans with soft, wide tires to travel on the coarse sand. 

Friday, June 13, 2014


Definition of ENABLER
:  one that enables another to achieve an end; especially :  one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior (as substance abuse) by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior
Is Bridget an "enabler"? You know the term that Dom, and Martha herself, uses when referring to her support of his sidecar addiction.
And I think that addiction may be the correct term rather than "self-destructive behavior" in this Merriam-Webster definition. This evening, Bridget sent me a text message containing a photo of this note from someone in Fairbanks who has a Ural for sale. She ran into him (not literally) at a gas station while he was driving his other Ural. While they were talking about visiting Mickey, the Anchorage Ural dealer, he mentioned that he had another Ural that he was going to be selling.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Did He Ride Today?

Following Keith's lead in the title, did I ride to work today? No, unless you want to count riding on an Alaska Airlines 737. I am in Barrow for the next week or so providing IT support to visiting researchers, getting a couple more wireless clients installed and some other tasks to minimize support needs. I was hoping my other base station radio had come in so I would be able to expand coverage but it hasn't shipped yet.

As you may notice in this screenshot of the app, it is still kind of "wintery" here in Barrow. Very light snowfall has been coming down for most of the day but not enough to actually accumulate. But you can definitely feel the wind.

Steve's Unsatisfactory Ride post had got me thinking more about my ho-hum rides around town. I did get the rig out on the road running several errands over the weekend but did not take any purely "recreational" ride. The addition of the sidecar has changed the motorcycle from recreation to "functional transportation". I rarely ever think twice about driving the rig as it has become the vehicle used to go just about anywhere no matter what the weather or conditions. These days, the time between walking into the garage and leaving the driveway is rarely much more than a minute or so. Not much different than driving the car.

It doesn't take long before I recognize that the difference comes when I can feel myself smiling while headed down the road. No music or other distractions needed just the pleasant mechanical clatter coming from the engine. Driving the rig takes more concentration and physical effort than driving a car but that just adds to the fun. It doesn't matter if I'm headed to Anchorage or to the grocery store. The addition of easy to don riding gear has made weather almost irrelevant as far as enjoying the ride and just about everyone waves at you when you're on a sidecar rig. Not just the other motorcyclists but everyone from tourists riding the train to cabbies. Riding is still a whole lot more fun than driving.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Road Trip to Anchorage

Wednesday morning was clear and sunny and there was a great view of Mt. McKinley, aka Denali, from the Parks Highway monument. The mountain was out for most of the day though afternoon clouds covered parts of the peak later in the day. We were heading down to Anchorage for a couple of days as I am attending the ARIN Road show. ARIN is the American Registry of Internet Numbers, the same group that you would request IP (Internet Protocol) addresses and ASN (autonomous system number) for you business or ISP. I'm not really sure what to expect from this meeting but it was hard to pass up the opportunity. BTW, we are driving the Prius and not on the sidecar. Way better gas mileage…

After checking in the hotel, we had some free time and headed down to see Mickey, the owner of Mickey's Muffler aka Slick Mick Manufacturing aka Classic Motorcycles & Urals of Alaska. He mentioned that he only had two 2014 models left in his annual allocation. This grey Gear-Up is one of them and the other still in the crate is identical. He had just recently returned from his training session on the new model and had a lot of positive comments about the EFI system though he still feels much more comfortable with carbs. He had asked where I had seen the 2014 model Ural before and as soon as I mentioned Colorado, he said "Redlegs?" with a smile. So, Dom, you are warmly remembered.

Bridget was wondering about the ride so she went on a ride with Mickey on his demo reg. She said that mine felt like riding on a jackhammer by comparison. He didn't have the windshield on so she thought that it was a bit breezy.

No deposit down, no purchase but maybe next year.