2007-10-13~14 Sidecar S/TEP Training Class Ride Report

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2007-10-13~14 Sidecar S/TEP Training Class Ride Report

Postby Tawmass » Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:38 am

My buddy, Vernon Wade, has been bugging Danno and I to attend his official sidecar training class for a few years now, but it consists of two full days and quite honestly, my dance ticket always seems to be overflowing. To take up a full weekend on something is a big deal. Well, this year there was more prodding and ‘dangling of the carrot’ in front of us to grease the skids. One was that my little Bro, Rick “Dick” had surprised me a year ago and purchased a shiny, new Ural Tourist sidecar rig. Of course, Vern has been showing up and helping out with Danno and my dualsport events for a number of years, so we’ve become accustomed and enamored with the tripod vehicles, plus the great folks from Ural in Washington let us use one of their demo Gear Up rigs this year for the week of Black Dog setup – and we had an absolute blast!

Okay, so we’re officially signed up and good to go. We skipped the beginner section, because it covered many basics of shifting, braking, etc. of which we think we’ve got down pretty good. The advanced section started at 1pm on Saturday (a segue to the beginner section) and lasted until 6:30pm consisting of in-class lecturing and discussion. The Sunday piece of the class started at the crack of 8am on Sunday and finished sometime in the afternoon, depending on the pace of the class.

Little Bro showed up from SoCal on Friday and we got caught up on things. On Saturday morn we set out my gear, my spare gear for him and loaded up the car. With MP3 player well stocked up and mochas in hand, we pointed the auto East towards Hood River with Floyd blaring out ‘Comfortably Numb’.

We made it out there about an hour early, so I gave Dickie the nickel tour of Hood River to kill some time on a beautiful, sunny day. Once we arrived, there was a nice gentleman with a new Electra Glide complete with sidecar.
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Victor had just purchased the beast and drove it up almost non stop from Chico, CA. Nice! I knew Vern knew his stuff and is a total ‘hack junky, but I didn’t know his wake was cast so wide! Some time after 1pm we corralled ourselves into the classroom and started hitting the books. Both Monica and Vern were in great, informative form as we whisked our way through the required reading and Q&A’s. I’d only recently met Monica at my Black Dog Dualsport earlier this year and it was really great to work with her too – plus she is VERY knowledgeable and patient with the riders.
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At the end of the day, we had to take a written exam and I was stoked that I aced it – woohoo! Plus I actually learned something – pretty good for an old dawg! We all exited the building and Dick, Danno and I started to make our way back to Portland. We met my girlfriend for dinner at the Wichita Pub and proceeded to eat dinner and commence to playing pool. We got out of there a short while later – at 1:45am – doh!

Needless to say, 6:30am came quite early to another awesome day and we threw all our gear into my car, grabbed a required mocha and hit the road. We arrived just a few minutes late, just as Vern was calling my cell wondering where the Hell we were, about 30 seconds prior to arriving at the grassy field for the actual driving lessons.
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After a discussion on proper driving technique by Monica (as show by Vernon), we all started taking turns riding the predefined course.
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I must admit that I thought the driving class would be a yawner, but between Vernon’s collection of KLRs and Suzuki Bandits, they both had completely different riding traits, so the variety was there, plus, as a regular two-wheel rider, forget about counter steering!

As we all took our turns around the course, we focused on things like panic stops and how the effects of ‘yaw’ play in. What that does is, if you just lock the brakes, the weight of the car will spin your rig to the left like this:
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We also learned a technique of dragging the front brake when going through a turn, therefore allowing the back end to come around quicker.
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We were then schooled on how to properly look further down your route, instead of right in front of your front wheel. Here Vern is yelling to Danno, “Look at me! Look at me!” so riders will look further ahead (I love this shot).
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Other things that M & V taught us were ‘balance points’, which is the location where the rig will pivot if allowed. Here Vern demonstrates the side of most concern (making my Bro a bit nervous – you can see him sucking up the seat vinyl!):
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Then we were taught the fine are of “flying the car”, which is what everyone was waiting for! Everyone eventually got the knack of it, but my Bro looked like a natural. There was a couple of close calls by some though...
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We then were taught how to react in a tight intersection behind an imaginary school bus, of which Dickie plowed right into the back of – doh! It also gave a few others fits too, plus notice the shot of Monica demonstrating. If you look closely, the pic was shot about a millisecond after her front end bottomed over a berm – kinda wild!
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Then we all had to do our riding tests. It was time to put up or shut up. Plus, everyone was watching while it was just YOU alone on the course. You got docked points if you knocked over cones, plus you had to be timed through some sections, so no lolly gagging! Notice Danno even got a little excited in one turn!
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Then when the tests were finished, the scores were all added up… "Let's see, carry the one, add the two..."
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After the official cards were passed out, we all celebrated with the obligatory group-grope shot!
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Okay, I’ll be honest – I wasn’t expecting much before the class, but this was a veritable kick in the pants! I HIGHLY suggest anyone even remotely considering a sidecar to take this class, as it’s fun and educational! Mad props to both Monica and Vernon for taking the time to get us trained! Get more info on the class and more sidecar info than you can shake a handlebar at on Vernon's website:
http://adventuresidecar.com/index.html

On the way back home, we were pooped from all the late-night indulging plus the fun class, as Danno illustrates. (Why is it he always has his eyes closed when I take his photo?) :wink:
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FYI, you can view my complete set of photos at this link:
http://tawmn.smugmug.com/gallery/3650106
-Tom
Last edited by Tawmass on Wed Oct 24, 2007 12:16 pm, edited 7 times in total.
You don't stop riding because you grow old, you grow old because you stop riding.
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Postby Tawmass » Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:52 am

And here's the link to the helmet-cam video Vernon had me take while in the class:

http://www.blackdogdualsport.com/forum/ ... .php?t=474

-Tom
You don't stop riding because you grow old, you grow old because you stop riding.

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