The Adventure Begins!
We left our house in San Antonio at about 8 am. We did our best to get out earlier because it has been ruthlessly hot in this part of the country and we wanted to enjoy a few cooler moments on the road, but we've never been a couple that sticks to a schedule.
The first hour of riding was great. Not much traffic. Small country roads.
All of a sudden, as I'm pulling up a small hill, the bike dies. I pull off to the side of the road and get off to take a look at things. Nothing seems out of the ordinary and it starts up beautifully, so we take off once again. Then, five minutes later, it dies again and I'm barely able to muscle it off the road. We spend the next 4 hours sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere while I try to do everything in my mechanical know-how. I pull the plugs, find that one is black, and begin focusing my energy on the left side. I check the valves. I pull the carb and do a bit of cleaning. I pull the airbox. I do absolutely everything I can think of but the bike refuses to run.
Finally, after hours in the sun with no water or food, Kristen convinces me to call for help. I am defeated.
Finally, we swallow our pride and call some friends to come pick us up with a trailer and as were sitting in the tiny bit of shade that we find under a small tree, a man stops and gets out of his car. Much to my chagrin, it is a good friend of my dad. He talks with us for a few minutes, hears that were okay and that we have a ride lined up, and leaves us with a chuckle.
"All the way to Canada, huh?", he says before taking off.
Minutes later, our phones are choked with the calls of friends and family asking what has happened. Awesome.
After several more hours of waiting (thankfully a kind woman stopped and gave us water, grapes and cherries), we're picked up and driven back home. After talking to Ken Storm (our faithful dealer), we decide to drive 5 hours to Dallas to stay with a friend and take our bike into Stormseller Motorcycles. Not a great first day. 60 miles by bike. 400 miles by car.
After a 5 hour drive and a quick overnight at a good buddy's house, we head straight over to Ken's in the morning. Like a boss, he clears his schedule to help us get back on the road.
It turns out that in our first 60 miles, we experienced significant engine failure. Looking on the bright side, we were very fortunate to run into such a serious problem now as opposed to later when we would have been much farther away from a dealer. After hours of going through the bike to look for simple explanations, Ken finds that the left head has no compression. Something is wrong internally. After poking around the warehouse in the shop (check out the '55 Ural below!) we head back to our buddy's house to wait for a phone call while Ken continues to dig.
A few hours later, we get the news. A valve guide has failed causing a multitude of problems. The left head will need to be completely replaced and he doesn't have the parts in stock. We head back to San Antonio wondering how we're going to get all the way to Tuktoyaktuk in a month and a half if our bike is sitting in a shop.
A few days later, Ken calls us up and says Ural has intervened. They heard about our trip and our struggles and have found a way to get Ken everything we need. The bike will be ready in 12 hours!!!
When we roll up to the shop hours later, Elga is waiting for us patiently out front. Ken excitedly tells us how Ural orchestrated the rescue and how the bike is running beautifully. I immediately pull out my wallet to pay for the extensive repairs, but Ken waves me off. Ural has decided to take care of us. No payment is necessary. All the labor, all the parts, everything has been covered. We both almost cry (well, maybe just a little). If we weren't completely sold on the Ural brand before, we are now.
Pictured below is the culprit of this whole mess:
As we're packing our stuff on the bike, Ken suggests we take a quick loop around town to make sure everything is running well. I jump on and race down the road. After barely a mile, the bike spits and sputters and dies once again. I instantly panic, thinking the worst, and call Ken. He comes to meet me, looks over the bike for a few moments and smiles. "Did you check the gas?"
Of course there is no gas. I'm a dunce.
Finally, after several days of frustration, our trip truly begins. We immediately ride into DFW traffic and spend the next 2 hours fighting through cars in 105 degree heat. You know what - it's bliss! We're on the road!