As some of you already know, I belong to a Russian collective. I ride a sidecar motorcycle, made in Russia. It’s called a Ural. It’s not fast. It’s not high tech. Gezum crow, it doesn’t even have a gas gauge. But boy, oh boy, comrade, is it fun to ride, and fix and ride some more.
On Saturday, I rode in the annual Ural National Rally. It’s a rolling scavenger hunt. You ride your own route, take in some sights, eat some lunch, earn points for taking pictures of things and for every kilometer you ride. You get triple points if you ride on dirt.
You have from sunup to sundown to get as many points as possible. Last year, I came in 13th. This year, I hope to break the top ten. I got a lot of scavenger hunt points, but I didn’t ride all that far. I’d been up very late, covering a story, the night before and I didn’t ride at dawn, like I’d planned. Instead, I left the house around 10 a.m. and I rode right up until sunset at 7:09 p.m.
I was also slowed down by having my muffler ripped off in the woods not once, but twice. Luckily, there were plenty of large sticks around coax it back onto the header pipe. I’d ducked onto some ATV trails in Hollis, thinking it would be a good way to pick up a bunch of triple off-road points. I only did about 19 kilometers, though. The trails alternated between terrible and impassable. I met with dead-end washouts four different times. A fifth time, the trail just got too rocky. I though I might loose a filling in my mouth, it was so rough. I ended up going back out of the woods the way I came in.
I did meet a group of ATV riders who helped me earn some points. Folks who ride Ural motorcycles often experience what we call UDF. That’s the Ural Delay Factor. No mater where you go, people want to know more about your bike. One of the scavenger hunt items was to get a picture of group UDF. That’s UDF with more than five people. Lucky for me, they were interested and they didn’t mind having their picture taken.
Another item was to take your bike’s picture at a historic site. I chose the Buxton powder house. It was built as a place to store the town’s gun powder in 1812. That’s the year we had a war with the British and the town fathers thought it was a good idea to be prepared in case those red coats showed their faces in Buxton.
Speaking of being prepared. Back in 1980-something, I organized a small restoration of some of the brick work on the powder house as my Eagle Scout project. I’m glad to say that it looks like it’s holding up quite well.
The food items were fun. You had to take pictures of your breakfast and lunch and you had to make two additional, special stops. One for pie and one for a regional delicacy. I chose to stop for a whoopie pie, of course. The regional delicacy was a can of Moxie. Hey, you can’t get that stuff just anywhere. Just a word of caution: Moxie is good. Whoopie pies are better. But under no circumstances should you drink a Moxie while eating a whoopie pie. Trust me on this one.
A 50-year-old bridge was worth 50 points and a covered bridge was worth 25 more. I rode to my favorite covered bridge that connects Parsonsfield and Porter. You can’t ride on it, but I did run up and down the length just for fun.
My dog, Hook, is not incredibly fond of riding in the sidecar, but he agreed to come with me and my wife as we made our way to the Old Port for an ice cream when I made it back to town. The wife was good for 50 points, but the dog was worth 75.
Then I was out of time. I had a black raspberry cone and added up my score. The total was 1,643. I hope it’s enough to break the top ten. I’ll know where I finished after Sept. 14. All the scores will all be in by then.