LA-Barstow-Vegas 2016 – The Return

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We had made it to Vegas on Saturday evening, but our trials and tribulations weren’t actually over just yet. The Ural still had to come back home to Los Angeles…

Missed Day 2? Check the second part of our adventure into Vegas.

Spurgeon’s flight was Sunday evening, so we figured that we could get away with a small amount of sleeping in before heading back. It’s a little bit of a bummer – we just had our asses kicked around the desert for hundreds of miles and finally get a comfy bed in Vegas. I just wanted to sleep in and start day drinking while watching some football. Instead, we had to get everything packed up so we could be back on the road.

Photo by Nathan May

Nathan had been keeping track of the weather and he had some disappointing news for us. It was looking like we’d be dealing with some rain on the way back to Los Angeles – and because we didn’t have a lot of room with us, Spurgeon, Nathan and I only had our MX helmets and goggles with us.

can you get a picture of what the weather looked like on November 27th, 2016 near Vegas?

We had slightly lowered tire pressures on the Ural for the dirt ride, but seeing as today would just be on the highway, we stopped by a gas station to top off the fuel tank and the tires. As a Californian, I’m used to getting free air when I buy gas – it’s a state law. But that’s not the case in Nevada, so I was caught off guard when the gas station attendant made pay. I don’t keep coins around, so I had to break a $20 to get $1.25 worth of coins.

As Spurgeon was filling up the rear tire on the bike, he noticed that there was fluid all over the backside of it:

Turns out that the constant vibrations of off-road exploration had loosened EVERY SINGLE BOLT holding the cover for the final drive differential on. We tightened it up and then headed down the street to a parts store to get the necessary oil.

This whole process took longer than expected and it put us behind schedule. On other bikes, it wouldn’t be much of an issue – just speed a little bit and hope that Johnny Law doesn’t notice you. On the Ural, however, you’re stuck doing just about 60 miles per hour. “Making up time” is not a concept that Ural riders can understand.

So we hit the road, and were immediately passed by nearly every vehicle – like this Toyota Sienna:

Despite the futility of not being able to pass anyone, we chugged along as best we could:

On rare occasions, I even had the motivation to be a good monkey and not just sit lazily in the chair. Even in moderate right hand turns, the Ural’s stability is dramatically improved when the passenger gets his or her weight over the hack wheel. It makes the driver’s job a lot easier:

It took hours, but eventually we got through all the rain and finally got to remember what sunlight was like again:

Our progress was fairly consistent, but it wasn’t fast enough. As the sun began to set, we realized that the Ural wasn’t going to get back to Los Angeles in time for Spurgeon’s flight out of LAX. So, we had him hop into the support Jeep from EagleRider to ensure that he’d get back in time. I took over for solo duty with the Ural, while Nathan was still chugging along on the Honda. It was so cold that we couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of our current situation. Disposable hand warmers helped with our fingers, but it was generally a miserable experience. On a positive note, ditching Spurgeon meant the Ural was lighter, and I was able to go 10-15 miles per hour faster. This obviously helped us pick up the pace, though it just meant we suffered for slightly less time than we expected. By the time we got back home, Nathan and I both had colds that we needed a week to get over.

From a LA-Barstow-Vegas standpoint, that’s where the story ends. But we got to keep the Ural for a couple of weeks and have some fun with it. I think Spurgeon and I disagree a bit on our opinion of the Ural, but where we do agree is that the bike is a hell of a lot more fun on the street than it is in the dirt. Once you get comfortable with the different riding style of a sidecar, you can really have a blast with it:

A video posted by bikeurious (@bikeurious) on

So Nathan and I goofed around with the rig a bit more, and we filmed some silliness like this:

We delivered Christmas trees…

…enjoyed sunsets (aww, how romantic)…

…and attracted an incredible amount of attention with this bike. This attracts significantly more positive attention than any two wheeler I’ve ever ridden. Drivers next to you give you a thumbs up (and you actually notice because you can’t split lanes so you’re stuck in traffic with them) and friends will beg you for rides. When you’re riding a Ural around, people around you smile. Ural actually has a term for this – they call it the UDF, or Ural Delay Factor. In their words, “The Ural Delay Factor is the delay you’ll experience whenever you take your Ural out in public. Regardless of your intent, where you’re headed, or how much time you have, you’ll learn to add in 10-15 minutes minimum to cope with UDF.” They’re not lying.

I was pretty bummed when we had to return the Ural. But when we did, Nathan and I were able to snag a test ride with the new electric Alta Redshift SM – stay tuned for more with Alta…

So that’s how Spurgeon, Nathan, and I being stupid and taking a Ural across the desert for LA Barstow to Vegas. We’ll have a video coming soon that covers our antics, but for now – I hope you enjoyed the written tale.

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