Saturday, November 19, 2011
Surrender to the URAL
Craig Kissell sent me an email this week: "I have a new URAL ready for you to try." His messages are always short and to the point. When I arrived at Kissell Motorsports this morning the URAL was glowing in the sunshine as Craig checked me out on the machine making sure I knew where the reverse lever was, the lever to engage 2WD (it has the option to have power to the sidecar wheel), chokes -- basically all the things a modern Vespa rider doesn't have to worry about.
I've been thinking about the URAL all week wondering how a brand new one would compare to the short ride I made on one last spring in Colorado courtesy of Redleg's Ride author Dom Chang. And it certainly had to be superior to the MP3 sidecar rig I rode last year.
The weather got cold this week and snow was in the air, all of which fueled plenty of adventurous fantasy of grinding through the elements in the URAL as the central Pennsylvania landscape transformed in my mind to central Siberia with me and the machine against the world. As I put the license plate on the rig I try not to drool on the fender.
The URAL engenders a strange form of riding excitement.
Task and chore and all things adult would force riding to a meandering trip home, just enough miles to adapt to the big difference between a scooter or motorcycle and a tug with a sidecar. Even with a brand new Brembo disc brake up front and two drum brakes on the back I didn't expect much in the way of stopping power.
I'm here to report that this URAL pleasantly surprised me in the braking department. While demonstrating nothing like the stopping power of a modern motorcycle it does stop when you ask it to. Just give yourself more distance to make it happen.
Under blue skies and warming air I wandered about testing the brakes and other important control characteristics of the rig before venturing off on a longer ride tomorrow morning. The URAL had me by this point, I'm lying in the road to make this picture, dreaming of conquering wind and rain, snow and ice, adversity and misfortune astride a URAL.
I can't figure it out yet but this odd rig triggers some instinctual drive to persevere and stubbornly resist failure. Weird. Must be me.
The URAL is kind of dazzling with its orange paint job. I received more looks and waves today than any machine I have ever ridden. One little girl in the back of a minivan seemed to lose her mind as she frantically tried to get everyone else to crane their necks to see the sight, seemingly something to her as miraculous as seeing Santa Claus.
On my way into Boalsburg I extended my hand to acknowledge an approaching, fully loaded, BMW R1200 GS only to see the return signal not the casual wave many riders engage but a full gusto laden thumbs up.
The URAL attracts attention.
The URAL is sitting in the driveway while I type this note. Junior is nosing around, angling to some tennis ball action but I'm thinking I need to go for another little ride as the sun goes down.
I need to surrender to the URAL.