More dog acclimatization through camping
Our local BMW club (the Yankee Beemers) has a handful of campouts every summer, and the first one we were able to attend was at the Pemi River Campground up in Thornton NH. Normally, it’s a two hour drive, but the Ural hadn’t been broken in enough to handle highway speeds, so Dachary had to take slow, back-roads all the way up there, and with a break along the way it took her nearly five hours. I would have loved to have joined her on the way up, but I had that dastardly “work” thing, and my team at work was in the middle of a stressy push for a big release.
Of course, with it being so important for me to be at work, I managed to accomplish hardly anything that day, which left me stressed and annoyed with myself giving up the ride north with her and accomplishing nothing in return. When I did finally leave I spent the first half of the ride in a miserable mood that left me unable to enjoy being out on the bike.
Sometimes you have to just let go of the bullshit, and ride. About half-way there I started thinking about the fact that I was on my way to see Dachary and spend the weekend camping with her, which helped me to start smiling again.
There was only one downside. I was heading for a big storm, with 60mph winds a huge downpours. It was 114 miles to the campground, and 107 miles towards that goal the sky ahead looked like impending doom. If this was a movie the rain would start, visibility would be non-existent, and the driver would see the ghost of a dead female relative standing in the middle of the road, yank the steering-wheel to avoid them and drive over a cliff. They’d wake up hours later, half-way down a ravine with their car totaled, a concussion, and a bad scalp would.
Me? I figured it would be a good time to pull over, and put on the Frogg Toggs. I figured I had the option of getting soaked, or putting on rain-gear for only seven miles. It was easy enough to throw on the Frogg Toggs.
Fortunately, I’d misjudged how far away the storm was. I would have sworn it was raining just past the first hill, but no, it turns out the edge of the storm was roughly seven miles away. It started sprinkling as I was pulling into the campground, and the hard stuff held up just long enough for me to get the inflatable mats, and other useful camping bits off of my bike.
Dachary, having left much earlier in the day, had already set up the tent (our first time using the new one) and weathered one or two earlier cells, but had done so with nothing soft to sit on, other than the dog cushions.
The night, was… not so great for Ben as he’s terrified of thunder, so we spent the duration of the storm holding him close and trying to keep him calm. Bandido, having lived on the streets, didn’t care at all and slept right through it.
The tent held up really well, and it feels like a luxurious palace. We’re a little concerned about the extra height having trouble in high winds, but you can’t get a well ventilated four person tent that isn’t rather tall. I have to say though, being able to stand up when putting on your pants is going to take some getting used to.
Saturday morning we went out to breakfast at Polly’s Pancake Palace, which was good (great actually) until we saw some woman attempting to get close and pet the dogs… A word of advice folks, don’t try and pet dogs you don’t know, especially when they’re protecting a vehicle. This should be common sense, but apparently it isn’t… Anyway, I went out to talk with her, drama ensued, and Dachary and I spent the next few hours rather upset, I more-so because I had to deal with her directly.
The day moved on, and in an attempt to find a tiny tent-sized dustpan and brush to battle the unexpected onslaught of dirt on the tent floor from dog paws, we found an outside table at a restaurant by the local Eastern Mountain Sports.
After an overpriced but tasty lunch we acquired a ginormous dustpan and brush, found gas, and went for a ride on the Kaccamagas Highway, a road so pretty it has a fan site. A somewhat sad thought since the world has so many roads that are bewilderingly beautiful, but never get mentioned anywhere.
Back at the campground we enjoyed a tasty steak dinner with the YB folks: good conversations, and a generally good ending to the day.
The next morning, we turned down an interesting sounding little adventure up a hill with a fellow rider because we just weren’t sure about taking the Ural off-road, or even on smooth dirt roads, this early in its break-in. Also, we weren’t sure how happy the guy would be going at the somewhat limited pace we must restrict it to. Next time…
Before setting off one of the older YB guys (mid sixties I’d guess) got his big street bike hung up on a root, and went down at 0 Mph, slamming his head hard into the edge of a wheel rim that had been embedded into the ground for use as a fire pit. If not for his helmet there would have been blood everywhere, calls to 911 and some very, very concerned people. There’s a reason we’re ATGATT.
While riding up in NH on Saturday and Sunday, I was sadly reminded of how much I dislike NH’s Harley riders. Almost all of them are simply too cool to wave back to us non-Harley riders with our full gear and helmets, and their excessively loud pipes just piss everyone off. There is literally no way those guys can ride their bikes with any regularity and not be suffering from permanent hearing loss. The fact that it was the start of Laconia Bike week didn’t help, as they all seemed determined to live up to the stereotype in front of their peers.
On the way home, we unintentionally drove past the Laconia Harley dealership (which, by the way, isn’t in Laconia) and there were so many of them flocking there that traffic was backed up, and they’d had to hire a police officer to stand in the middle of the road directing traffic in and out of their parking lot. Nearby we saw something cool though, valet motorcycle parking. I didn’t know such a thing existed, and I’m not entirely sure why it was needed, but it is kinda cool.
Almost immediately upon crossing back into Massachusetts the Harley riders began waving again; not a word of exaggeration.
This was our first weekend of several successive days of riding the Ural a fair amount. We did probably 350-400 miles over the weekend – which is in the order of what we’d do in a day on the Americas trip – but the Ural is still breaking in and we’re still getting used to it.
NH was an interesting place to ride the beast. The part of Massachusetts where we live is so *flat* – I hadn’t had a lot of chances to ride the Ural up and down curvy hills. It was good practice. We’re still fairly new to riding a sidecar rig so I definitely took it easy – driving at or below the speed limit most of the time as I get a feel for going around curves up and downhill and figuring out the appropriate gearing. It’s definitely a lot more physical work than riding our two-wheelers. Fortunately, I’ve been doing some strength training at the gym to prepare for long Ural rides, so I felt a little sore at the end of each day but a good night’s sleep cured it and I was feeling fine by the next morning.
We also got LOTS of UDF. It’s a good thing we like to chat with folks or I probably would have been feeling a little impatient by the end of the weekend. But it really does take longer to go anywhere on the Ural because people will stop and talk to you and hold you up.
All this being said – I’m really enjoying the rig so far. It’s different than our two-wheelers but still a lot of fun. One of the guys at Pemi took it for a lap around the campground – he has his own sidecar rig so he knows how to handle them and he’s the only person who we’d have let drive it – and he said it feels very different than his sidecar rig (it’s a hack with a bike that has much better pulling capability, torque/power, etc.) He described it as “romantic” – and I think that’s a perfect description. Driving the Ural makes you feel like you’re in a different era and mindset – a place where you can take your time and enjoy the ride and the world around you. In this respect, I really dig it!