GDR – Introduction

There is a lot to be said about the bond between humans and animals.  Many of us have had to board our pets, or send them away with friends of family while we go on our motorcycle trips.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve always felt a bit guilty about this.  My buddy has to go sit in a box all day, while I get to roll around smelling the world?

When I bought my first Ural in October of 2011, I had no idea if either of our dogs (Rory and Lola) would even get in the sidecar, let alone ride for any distance with me.  Imagine my surprise, when the day I brought the outfit home, my dog jumped right in and sat right down in the sidecar.  The thought that I could now share one of my favorite activities (motorcycling) with man’s best friend was revolutionary.  I felt like the first person to put jelly on peanut butter, or boil bratwurst in beer.

Enter the “Great Divide Ride”.  Every year hundreds of motorcyclists, bikers (some unicyclists) and hikers take to the roads and trails, crossing from Banff to Mexico.  Fast motorcyclists can do the motorized version in 7-8 days.  The best bicyclists have done it in 15 days, while hikers toil on the actual trail for months.

Doing it on my GS would be easy.  Sure, there might be a few troubling sections requiring some lifting, and general fogging up of the face shield.  But what about a Ural?  Could a sidecar motorcycle built in the same factory that churned out hundreds of thousands of them for the “Great Patriotic War” make it the length of the United States?  And, could it do it carrying an 11-year old dog?

In human years, my dog is just about the same age as some of the machines and individuals that are responsible for building my Ural.  It seemed a fitting match. Given my dog’s propensity to jump into the sidecar whenever she hears me priming the engine with the kick-starter, I figured we’d at least make it halfway before she’d had enough.

The main characters in this story:



Alex; A 30 year old UNIX programmer currently residing in Colorado Springs.  Favorite things are pie, coffee, dogs, motorcycles and fresh pancakes (in any order).  He is renowned for his ability to sleep anywhere, anytime, for any reason.








Lola; A 11 year old Rottweiler mix, originally imported from the east coast.  Favorite things are kibbles, treats, sidecar and truck rides, and but scratches.  She’s known for her ability to poop anywhere, anytime (sometimes on command).

And since one person and a dog can’t push/pull the Ural out of the woods alone, we decided to entrap some good friends from the West Coast along for the ride:





Zina; A well-known writer and motorcyclist from “The Whale’s Vagina” (aka San Diego).  Some of her favorite things are coffee, KFC and mountain bikes.  Is currently “Queen of the mountain” on several Strada tracks around Escondido. Her favorite saying is “Who’s making coffee?”





Wayne; veteran of ironman triathlons, desert racing, and KTM ownership, Wayne is the “Old Sage Master” in our group.  Also from The Whale’s Vagina and a machinist by trade, he is well known for his ability to talk to anyone, anywhere, for any reason.  He is also trying out for the “JetBoil” US open team this year.

Simon; A 13 year old Jack Russell Terrier, also a veteran of the western portion of the TAT (in a backpack).  Favorite things are treats, treats, treats, and large male dogs.  Known for his ability to voice his disapproval in any situation to all humans and canines regardless of size or temperament.  Also is capable of humping dogs more than three times his size. He’s a veritable force of nature.

The Plan: Meet up at the Rooseville border station with Canada.  Ride the divide all the way to Mexico.  Party like rockstars.


  1. Richard Godfrtery

    July 29, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Wonderful documentation! Loved the photos, and ‘quirky’ comments…especially regarding the pup’s gastronomic prowess…! What a HOOT! hope the trip is/was a success…looking forward to updates.

  2. Richard Godfrey

    July 29, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    OOPS…..last name is Godfrey!

  3. Philip Castillo

    July 30, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Found your blog from an AdvMoto on FB. Love the idea of taking the dog along. I 2 young pups and feel just like you do about leaving them behind. Thanks for sharing this trip. I look forward to the enjoying the rest of the trip.

  4. Thanks guys! I hope I can keep it interesting for you all. Lots of content to go through!

    Philip, start ’em young! I was surprised how easily my dogs took to the sidecar fun. Once they realize that they just get to sit with their nose in the breeze the whole time, they get pretty excited about rides!

  5. Please contact me via e-mail. I want to go with you next trip. P.S. I have a Boston Terrier

  6. Mark, you have a Ural for your Boston Terrier? I’m thinking my next trip may be some portions of the Pony Express trail. You located in the west?

  7. Alex, Thanx for reply. Yes, I have a brand new Ural Gear Up and in serious need of a ride. I live Near Niagara Falls, but want to travel with you and Lola on an Awsome trip like I’ve been reading about. Pony Express Trail sounds perfect. Tell Zina I make great coffee, and carry tons of doggy biscutts. BTW I also own a 40 acre camp near Cuba, NY that would make a wonderfull extended rest area if you’re ever this way. Not far from Allegany National Forest in Pennsylvana. Vermont, New Hampshire, Ontario and Quebec are very realistic from here

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