by Victor Wanchena
I’m finally free. I have thrown off the shackles that winter annually throws on me. The inevitable march of fall towards winter does not hold the sadness it once did. I am free to ride year round.
Having been a resident of Minnesota for most of my life I have grown accustome to the fall ritual of storing your motorcycle. At first, in the early days of my riding, it wasn’t that tough. I’d roll my bike in the corner of someone’s garage and pull the key. Hardly a thought was given to motorcycling until the weather warmed in the spring. As time went on I began to ride later into the fall and as early as possible in the spring. I usually could ride a solid 8 months out of the year. Better years gave me and extra week or two in the fall or spring But during that four-month hiatus I was shiftless, surly and always discontent to have to climb into a car. I was always thinking of the riding to come in the following year.
As my winter non-riding restlessness grew, I began to search for an alternative in the winter. As an urban dweller a snowmobile was out. I have known snowmobilers that commuted to work regularly on their sleds but they were all in remote rural areas. Our own Gary Charpentier had tried riding through the winter some time ago but his advice was be prepared to crash several times. He had stocked up on levers and turn signals and rode a bike he was okay throwing on its side a time or two. This didn’t sound like me. I have this thing about hurling my body onto the pavement at speed; I’m trying to cut down on it. This left me with two alternatives a trike or a sidecar. It was an easy decision. Having ridden trikes quite extensively during two winters while doing motorcycle escorts, I was left with a dislike for them. Sidecars on the other hand were a gas to ride. One friend astutely pointed out that they both have three wheels and asked what the difference was. The difference to me is like the difference between Democratic Republicans and Fascist Dictatorships, both are forms of government but one is very good while the other oh so very wrong.
So a sidecar is to be my winter salvation. After a good long time of searching and pondering I have purchased a Ural Tourist. Originally I really figured I would mainly ride it during the winter months and stick to two wheels in the warmer times. Oh, how I was wrong. The more I ride this Russian machine, the more I grow to love it. It’s not fast. It requires greater skill and concentration to ride. It needs plenty of routine maintenance. But, regardless, I love every hour on my Ural. It’s funny how being forced to slow down by the natural limits of a bike can actually liberate you to enjoying the scenery more. Poking around our backcountry roads or city parkways at a leisurely pace is much more fun than it was before. And the utility of all the carrying capacity is absolutely fantastic. I run most all of my errands with the hack. It is rare that I have to even get in my car let alone drive it. Sidecars are making a resurgence currently and I’m glad my refusal to let winter stop my riding has brought me into this area of motorcycling.
Ride fast, take chances.