Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Search for Granville

Frank, as a wee boy, lived with his mother, Francis, and his father Andrew, in a community called Granville in the Yukon. He was four years old then; that was sixty-nine years ago.

Ural at Dawson City Starting Point
On Sunday, June 3rd, 2018, we prepared the Ural with three extra gas cans plus the reserve tank. We packed a lunch, water and sensible travel clothes. Our hearts were filled with a sense of adventure and discovery.

We advised the campsite managers of our destination and asked them to call the Royal Canadian Mounted Police if we weren’t back in Dawson City by 8:00 p.m. that evening. They agreed to do so and advised us that the roads were sometimes treacherous. Although they didn’t know if Granville even existed anymore, they said that the loop was one hundred and forty-eight kilometres. We advised them that our Ural was built for all kinds of terrain and its 2-wheel drive capacity could get us through conditions meant for the Russian built motorbike.

Upper Bonanza Creek Road
Our 2007 bike managed famously over the terrain including slick muddy downhill sections that forced Frank to hold the steering steady, slow the motor and glide like a sledge on a few occasions.

It was a relief to come upon hard packed sand only to be forced to plough through deep water holes. At one point, a fast-moving truck splashed us with a wave of muck, water, and gravel on the gold mining trail. We claimed the narrow road until we saw another vehicle approaching – bigger and faster than ours.

Ural-pleasing Terrain

Frank is a confident driver. He has to be given the restrictive movements of the sports-car-like muscle bike. We began our trek at Upper Bonanza Creek Road. Our confidence and excitement grew as the Ural managed the poor conditions of the road.

King Solomon Dome
We arrived at the peak of King Solomon Dome. There we stood in awe of the magnificent wonder of the Yukon territory. The Ridge Road Heritage Trail provides you with a panoramic view of the Yukon River and the terrain on either side. We enjoyed a light lunch.

View from King Solomon Dome

We boarded the bike and came to a switchback which directed us to Sulphur Creek Road. We'd been advised that this was the road to Granville. Further along, we stopped the bike at a Y intersection and talked about returning the way we came. It was starting to rain, it was getting late, the road was beginning to cause the bike to slip and slide and without knowing the true destination to Granville, we talked about giving up our search. 

As luck would have it, a woman and her sons drove up and asked if they could be of assistance. We asked about Granville and although they didn’t know anything about the long-gone community, they directed us to Dominion Gold Company two kilometres down the road.

Dominion Gold Company Sign

The workers at the mine site replied to Frank’s inquiry and said, “You’re here! This is Granville.” Frank had arrived home. The only building remaining, a skeleton of its original self, was a structure once occupied by the North West Mounted Police. 

Northwest Mounted Police Station at Granville, YK

Because of the late hour, we couldn’t explore much of the district and were advised to travel the Dominion Creek Road back to Dawson City. We motored past a large brown bear standing in the ditch at the side of the narrow road. We arrived at the half-way point back to town where stood a dilapidated roadhouse, recognized for providing supplies and rooms for the explorers. The famous Trans-Canada Trail cut into the wilderness; a footpath to discover Canada.

Roadhouse on Dominion Creek Road

Close to our campsite destination, we were pelted with hail and ducked in for shelter at a gas station. We placed a call to the campground caretakers at 7:50 p.m. announcing we were safe.

Frank the Ural Driver

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bikes with Sidecars Fellowship

Flag of Saskatchewan
On July 11, 2017, we arrive at the Walmart parking lot in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, in our motor home hauling our Ural bike. Our intention is to settle in for the night. We choose a site only 20 meters or so from another motor home with its owner’s Harley Davidson sitting beside it. We know we are in the right neighbourhood.

The following morning, the Harley’s owner asks what we have stored on our trailer behind our RV. Frank explains it is our Ural from Russia and waits for the man to respond. He is very excited to let us know that he also owns a bike with a sidecar attached – a Honda. He invites Frank to join him and his biker friends for a coffee at Timmy’s and away they drive in a Congo-like biker line.

The Ural Hauls Anything
Later, throughout the day, curious kids on their way to the ice-cream stand, and couples seeking a fun alternative to their car or truck, and those who had never seen a Ural bike ‘in person’, stop in our area and glance first at the Harley Davidson and give out an audible oh and then turn to the Ural and express a big oooh.

Frank entertains them with his extensive knowledge of the bike’s history and its capabilities. His captive audience is intrigued and full of questions. Our bike has a Ural Hoodie which Frank built and set up to protect me from rain and hot sun rays. Men and women are both impressed with it.

We use the Ural for many tasks including bringing the porta-pottie to the dump site at Canadian Tire.

The next day, our new biker friend brings his Honda with its sidecar and parks it beside his home away from home. The sidecar friends take excursions around the city for the next couple of days. We leave to enjoy the sites and sounds of another location here in Saskatchewan.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Famous and Infamous Larch Tree

Famous Alpine Larch
From a distance, in the Fall season, the Alpine Larch present a beautiful golden colour. The closer we get the more dynamic the wooly hair on its contorted branches become. The needles grow on all four sides of the branch and even though it's categorized as an evergreen, it doesn’t remain that way. I’ve learnt to love this tree. And, I’ve also discovered that it was used in a very notorious way.

We drive our Ural motorbike north on Granby Road this cool October morning. We leave the hub of the small town of Grand Forks behind us. The first thing we encountered is a herd of California Big Horn sheep. Their large eyes follow the slow pace of our vehicle and their demeanor seems nonchalant about our coming upon them. The large ram places himself between us and his harem. We motor past them.  

California Big Horn Sheep

The cloud-filled sky is our canopy for the next twenty-four kilometers. We come across a grove of Alpine Larch and park the bike on a dirt road. From there we walk a few hundred meters to get a close look at the pines. Here, Frank tells me a story of the Larch Tree having been grown in Germany in the shape of a swastika.

“Back before the Second World War, around 1938 or '39, some Larch trees were planted in a forest in Germany to celebrate Hitler’s birthday either by the Hitler Youth or by the forest warden. It covered at least thirty-six meters so it’s likely it was more than one person doing it. Anyway, you could only see it from the air and when some forestry people were working in the area they spotted the trees shaped like a swastika,” Frank says.

“What about now?” I say.

courtesy of
“Since about 1992, the forest Larch trees have been removed and solid evergreen trees have been planted,” Frank says. “And, in 1972, American soldiers found another grove of golden larches planted in the shape of swastika near a town called Hesse.”

I imagine a bloom of golden Alpine Larches planted against the stark green of their evergreen family members. It likely looked spectacular.

We motor on and stop at the fork in the road where Highway 3 heads north to the next small town of Greenwood. In a large flat field stands a herd of horses. They are a curious bunch and stroll casually to the fence line when they see us.

Curious herd of horses

Directly across from them is a linear patch of my new favourite tree.

Alpine Larch

Granby Road changes to North Fork Road and traces the Kettle River all the way back to Grand Forks. We make our way to our house and pet-sit location, step inside and welcome the warmth.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It Rides Like a Sports Car

Our Patrol
“You must enjoy the ride,” the man said.

“Oh, I do. It’s really comfortable,” I said.

“What’s it like?”

“It rides like a sports car.”

On most occasions when we are stopped with the Ural bike, my husband is approached and the conversation goes from how it was shipped in from Russia to a Canadian dealership and its capabilities in two-wheel drive. But on this chance meeting, the man seemed more interested in my version of the bike. I hopped out of the sidecar and let him look at the generous leg room. He commented on the blanket I had on its black leather seat. He agreed that it’s more comfortable for me because in the summer I tend to ride in shorts. He shouted for his wife to come out of the house to look at the bike. She advised him that they have two too many all-terrain vehicles.

“Ah,” Frank said. “This is different. The Ural is a street-legal all-terrain vehicle.”

The man laughed while his wife turned around and went into the house.

Our exploration that day took us first to McIvor Lake, a 9.9 kilometre drive from Campbell River. We tucked the bike into the shade beside a sweet Harley Davidson solo bike. We both admired its gleaming chrome. We walked a short way to view the magnificence of the lake and vowed to pack a lunch and our swim suits next trek.

From the coolness of the lake, we travelled on a long gravel road and turned right onto Miller Main. It was a great ride with trees as our canopy and the smell of pine needles wafting into my nostrils. There was a point where the trail was too narrow and so we turned back.

A few kilometres later we came upon the “Miller Creek Recreation Site” sign. We followed the path to the campsite. It’s a first-come-first-served operation. All the spots were filled and the activity at the lakefront was at full throttle. We spoke briefly to the Camp Host and learnt that it was his sixth year managing the place. We added ‘Camp Host’ to our bucket list.

Exploring on the Ural is a great way to see what you’ve got in your neighbourhood.

McIvor Lake

Miller Main

Miller Creek Recreation Site

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Eagle Point Squatters

Our Ural hauls us and our picnic lunch
On Saturday, May 31st, we set off on our Ural Patrol for destinations unknown. Our mission was to locate a free campsite on North Vancouver Island. We decided to head west from Campbell River on Highway 28 also known as the Gold River Highway. The roadway is very twisty and perfect for a solo bike; however, for the locked-in feel of the sidecar, my driver, Frank says it takes work to make all the turns. As the passenger, I enjoy the feel of movement along the road and look forward to discovering what’s next around every bend.

We drove curvaceously for 40.9 kilometres past Elk Falls Provincial Park to a hidden obscure gravel road approximately 1 km past the Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre. We entered cautiously because of its limited markings. My son had explained to us that it would be tricky to find because you’d be travelling fast on the main highway and there are no indicators that you’ve reached the nearly invisible side road.

The gravel road was a great find for the Ural. Our Patrol loves the bumping and grinding of the logging roads on Vancouver Island. We travelled a very short distance and came upon a sign that read ‘Please Slow Down’. The narrow path opened up to a breath-taking view of Upper Campbell Lake. We parked our bike in the gravel pit and walked around to explore the terrain.

Upper Campbell Lake
“Great looking bike,” said a stranger.

“Oh, thanks,” said Frank.

From there the conversation included a question and answer session about the Ural’s origin, its year, the quality of the ride and its practical use as well as it ‘fun’ factor. We learnt both their names and I spoke with Judy about the wonderful benefits of being a sidecar passenger versus a person along for the ride on her husband’s Harley. She agreed that having a full view of all things coming toward you without cranking your neck from one side to the other is a big deal.

Bill welcomed us to Eagle Point and together, he and his wife stepped away to have their lunch. We unpacked our picnic bucket and sat facing the wind-swept lake munching on sandwiches and sipping tea. 

Afterward, we walked around the public property and said hello to some friendly folks along the way. We learnt that the campers, most of whom have large motor homes, arrive at this location in March each year to re-claim their campsite.

“We call ourselves squatters,” Bill said.

“Yah, squatters is a good name, but it’s first come first camp around here,” said Judy.

How squatters claim Eagle Point
The campsite claimers tend to the area by bringing in and maintaining outhouses, setting up a children’s play area, building ramps and docks for their boats and swimming. Many of the homesteaders set up flower pots and painted driftwood to help identify their claim. We heard the distinct sound of generators rumbling in the background hidden in the forest.

Later, we jumped back on our stead and headed down the highway. That free site was great looking but it was filled to capacity. The only available spot was on the gravel pit and we decided that although the Ural loves to play around in that stuff our motor home may not.

There are many places to explore with our Ural in this forest-filled area and lots of open logging roads to explore. As a sidecar passenger, I love the ride.

Hidden messages

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Introducing Lisa

Hello Everyone,

Meet Lisa, a new contributor to my Ural Buddies blog. Please feel free to leave a comment about her article.

Ural Motorcycle

Lisa's Ural Patrol
Brief Introduction:
Ural motorcycles are manufactured for those people calculated for those who are searching for a reliable partner for hard journeys. Ural Products first came to U.S in 1993. The Ural sidecar is a classic motorcycle that seems like it came immediately after the World War 2. However, despite its old origins, the Ural is a modern motorcycle built for the modern roads. It is now increasing day by day. The History of Ural motorcycles has a bit of a parallel with Royal Enfield. Soviet Union started producing motorcycles based on the BMW R71 after a secret deal part of the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement prior to World War II. Russian manufacturer of sidecar motorcycles posted a record year for sales beat the previous record set in 2006.  Two successive years of growth in 2010 and 2011 set the company on track to see 30+% growths in 2012.  Beating the record set previous to the global financial crisis was an incredible way to end an impactful year.
Today the main products are the heavy duty Ural sidecar motorcycles designed for rough Russian roads. There are many places in Russia where poor roads, or an altogether lack of roads, make horses and URAL motorcycles necessary to transport gear.
People loved the idea for making a replacement of a classic BMW, sidecar included, for less than might pay you to add a sidecar to a Harley or BMW. 

Beaming with pride
My Experience:
I share my experience with you I need bag for my Ural motorcycle so, I visited many stores but it was not of my type and I did not like any of them. Then my friend referred me to visit  and I purchased Luggage bag. It was one of great bag which I purchased from there and still I am using it.
When I start the trip the differences was How to handle and control of two wheels in case of three wheels. Well it is lengthy conversation by itself. There are more often than day and night in terms of handling it. Because first time I rode an Ural motorcycles with 3 tires and have to face difficulties while ridding. When I turn the Ural motorbike it seems like I am driving a car. But after my first travel I was comfortable to ride a motorbike easily. I will recommend and suggest all people to do training before you go for a ride. Because In my case I didn’t take training and start to ride at the spot. For new ones I will say you will be happier at 60 to 65mph for hours on end but no faster while ridding. Reason is that it can be danger for you. At the end I would like to say you that it is much interesting for travelling and you should take care of your motorbike.
So, it can serve you for many years.