by Victor Wanchena
What a winter. As some of you might remember I had announced last fall that I was officially off the deep end and was intent upon riding my newly acquired Ural sidecar rig through the entire winter. This bold proclamation was met with blank stares from my non-riding friends and family. The riders in my circle of acquaintances nodded knowingly as a shiver of &endash;20F air drifted through their thoughts. Bold statements are very easy to make but require the obligatory follow through. I had said I was going to do it, easy enough, now I just had to actually do it.
The pledge I made was to use my rig as my everyday transportation through the winter. The challenge that lay in front of me was making my 50 mile-a-day commute regardless of weather. On top of that I promised myself that unless I absolutely needed the carrying capacity of a car, I would ride the Ural for all daily errands and maybe even the occasional cruise along the highways and byways to unwind.
As winters go it’s been a pretty easy one. Not much in the way of snow, but we did have some good cold snaps but they were punctuated by great warm spells. In reality I couldn’t have picked a better year to ride through the winter. In fact I must apologize to all the snowmobilers out there. There was obviously some reverse voodoo at work here. If I hadn’t bought a sidecar to ride through the snow we probably would have been blanketed with tens of feet of lovely white powder. Instead I found myself getting some sort of karmic payback, a bike and the desire but no snow to play in.
Winter is not completely over but we are in the home stretch and I am so thrilled with what has transpired that quitting is the furthest thing from my mind. As I look back at a winter defeated I can’t say how much I wish I had done this years ago. No dreading the long gloomy days of winter. The challenge that winter riding poses was a welcome change to the usual doldrums of winter for me. The people with odd looks on their faces, the countless thumbs-up, waves and high signs I received and the countless “Your crazy man!” comments made it very fun.
In reality the greatest challenge was not what I expected it to be. The cold was not a factor. I had a nice selection of high quality riding gear, which did make it possible to endure sub-zero rides, but physically the cold never really had a grip on me. The reverse was almost the case. After enough time in single digit temps a 20 something degree-day feels absolutely wonderful. Of all the adversity you face in the winter on a motorcycle the greatest was the abuse that the winter environment puts on your machine. The only time that I had to resort to 4 wheels was because of a minor mechanical problem that was amplified by the cold.
The cure for no motorcycling in the winter is simply to not stop riding. Winter poses challenges to riders not roadblocks.