My Ural was finally due for its 10,000km maintenance this week, so I called up Kevin at Scrambler Cycle. He graciously agreed to do it on a Sunday, so I didn’t have to take any time off work! A look at the weather report the night before had me slightly worried. Originally, reports were that it’d be around 10F, but Saturday night it looked like –8F. In anticipation of the challenge, I didn’t sleep very well.
I had the Ural packed the night before with all of the consumables and some extras like the big car jump starter which could provide another power source for my heated gear should something go horribly wrong. It also has a light and a tire pump. Pretty handy.
I also packed this hunk of metal. It’s for a project Kevin and I are working on. More on that in a future post.
When I went to leave the house, I checked the thermometer for the PBC and found it was –14.1F! Wow. This was going to be a real challenge!
I like riding in winter for a number of reasons, but one of them is for the challenge. I can’t afford to ride to the arctic circle or other continents right now, so this is my way of having some adventure close to home.
I bundled up as best I could with my normal winter riding gear. I even put three heated foot packs on each foot. I expected to have problems with the feet, but felt reasonably comfortable with everything else. Two hours at –14F is a long time, and that’s before the wind-chill.
The ride started off without a hitch. I was grateful for the near empty roads, so I could enjoy the sunrise. I didn’t get my breath seal quite right or it was the moisture off my face, but the inside of my visor developed a beautiful sheet of ice.
An hour into the ride it covered my entire visor and I had to stop. My feet were also getting quite cold. I scraped the ice off the inside of my visor with my fingernail. It was thick! I re-arranged the guard for a tighter fit. My feet warmed up while I chatted with a guy in the gas station, and I was back on my way.
The cold did some strange things. First, the GoPro wouldn’t stay on for more than 45 minutes at a time. I’m impressed it even worked at all. With the wind-chill, it was something crazy like –60F sitting back there. The cold also held the smoke from nearby farm houses low to the ground in long thin strips.
My favorite scene from the ride was past a small farm. They had cows out feeding. It was so cold, steam was coming off their backs just from their body heat. The sunrise was brilliant in the background and the smoke from the farm house stretched out across the road. It was a great sight! The wood stove from the farm house smelled great too. It reminded me of campfires from past years.
I made it to Scrambler Cycle without further incident. My only complaint? A cold foot! Kevin was a bit amazed at how crazy I was to ride, and went right to work on the Ural. I teased him about getting frostbite from touching the bike.
He drained all the fluids
and tore apart the oil filter. No prize inside.
Before he took the valve covers off, he scraped some of the road gunk off to keep it out of the engine.
The oil was quite frozen, so we warmed it up on the heated floors.
Inside of the airbox had some oil and water which is pretty normal.
Kevin took it off and cleaned it up nicely.
New one on the left is a slightly different brand
I wanted them for spring/summer/fall to replace the Kendas. I had originally planned to just take them home, but the front Kenda K335 was cupping badly and making the ride very harsh.
Kevin changed it out for me.
We looked at the pusher (rear tire) and the sidecar tires and decided to rotate them.
This was the pusher below.
It’s pretty worn after just under 3000km. Maybe only 2-4mm left while the sidecar had nearly 10mm. I never measured them new, but I think they had around 12-14mm new.
Kevin finished the rest of the check list while I packed the tires on the rear rack. Two new Duros for the rear when the Kendas are done, and the badly cupped front tire. I’m still impressed with the traction of the K335s, but not the longevity. I’m on the fence if I will use them again next winter. I probably will.
The ride home was pretty uneventful. The bike was running great, and the ride was much smoother with the new front tire. There was a strong wind from the south that gave me a workout keeping the bike in a straight line. I was warm and toasty the whole ride home, even my feet.
I didn’t realize how cold it was until I removed one glove to open the door. Wow cold knob! Wow the outside of the other glove was really cold too!
My gear kept me warm, and Kevin did a great job on the Ural. 172 miles at an average of –3F and about five hours in the saddle.
A short video (3min) of the ride below: