A man named Shawn, a dog named Wilma and a Russian motorcycle named Pyotr

Navigating a motorcycle through Canadian blizzards isn’t a problem for this man or his furry friend riding shotgun

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Shawn Dergousoff and his dog Wilma.

Dergousoff takes his redbone hound, Wilma, with him wherever he goes. — Photo courtesy Shawn Dergousoff

Shawn Dergousoff is a self-professed easy-going family guy. He enjoys spending time with his wife and kids and riding a Russian motorcycle alongside his dog, Wilma, in the sidecar through subzero temperatures. You know, typical dad stuff.   

Dergousoff rides a 2010 750-cc Ural Patrol named Pyotr (Russian for Peter) after his father who passed away in 2015. “It was the perfect bike to name after him,” Dergousoff said. “It’s worked hard, it’s got some quirks—it just kind of fit.”  

The Ural motorcycle is a rare breed in North America. For one thing, it’s Russian. Second, it’s design matches the motorcycles used for the army in 1930. “I was just looking for something a little different,” said Dergousoff. “It’s a fun bike. They’re adding a lot of new features but it’s still got that old charm to it.”

Dergousoff's red bone hound Wilma sits in the 2017 Ural Gearup in the woods

You might think having one unusual Ural would be enough to satisfy Dergousoff’s quirky cravings, but you’d be mistaken. He liked his 2010 model so much he purchased a 2017 as well. — Photo courtesy Shawn Dergousoff

Fun, but challenging

As if having a Second World War-era bike wasn’t disparate enough for Dergousoff, he undertook the challenge of riding with a sidecar. “It’s a totally different driving experience,” he said. “It doesn’t ride like a motorcycle. It doesn’t drive like a car. The sidecar is off-centre; it has that drag so when you hit the gas, you go right. When you let off the gas, you go left. Same with braking. It pulls you all over. You’re not going to be on the highway going 110 kilometres an hour. It’s not built to do that.”  

Driving during the winter—it was designed to do that—and that’s just what Dergousoff did this year. “It was awesome,” he said. “You slide around a little bit but I don’t think it was any worse than driving a car.”

Dergousoff's 2010 Ural Patrol  sits in the snow

The Ural is his primary mode of transportation to get to work and run errands around town. In December, he transported the family Christmas tree in the sidecar. — Photo courtesy Shawn Dergousoff

Man’s best friend

Then, there’s Wilma—Dergousoff’s redbone hound—a rescue from the SPCA in Trail, B.C. She’s been a part of the family for three years. When Dergousoff bought his Ural last year, Wilma had no problem planting herself within the confines of the sidecar. No Fred Flintstone inspired “WILLL-MAAAAAA!” call required.  

Adding to the adorable factor are the pink goggles Wilma wears. She kept poking her head out from behind the sidecar’s windshield so Dergousoff purchased goggles to keep her eyes from watering in the chilly temperatures. “Everybody thinks she’s a boy when they see her,” he said. “I got her pink glasses so it distinguishes the fact that she’s a girl.”  

Dergousoff is working on a trailer to transport Wilma for excursions when the sidecar is occupied by family members. “It’ll be some kind of military looking thing that she can sit in,” he said, “a little bubble back there to ride around with us.”  

Dergousoff's red bone hound Wilma sits in the 2017 Ural Gearup near a lake

The dynamic duo’s adventures on the Ural see them out in the bush or cruising downtown Cranbrook. Wherever they go, they each enjoy the journey. “She loves riding,” he said. “She’s attached to wanting to be with you wherever you go.” — Photo courtesy Shawn Dergousoff

Head turner

As you can imagine, riding a motorcycle in the dead of winter with a pink goggle-wearing dog draws a lot of attention. “You get all kinds of strange looks,” he said. “Eyebrow raises, thumbs up, head shakes—you get everything. They just can’t believe it. It’s one of those ‘what the heck?’ type of things.”  

The combination of a Canadian man, his friendly hound and a sidecar-mounted Second World War-style motorcycle navigating treacherous B.C. roads in winter is something to behold. Dergousoff may stick out like a man in a three-piece suit wearing flip-flops and a cowboy hat, but that’s how he rolls. He’s just a little different, like his dad, and the Russian Ural motorcycle which shares his namesake.  

ON OUR RAD RADAR

Rider: Shawn Dergousoff
Where: Cranbrook, B.C.
Occupation: Property assessor for B.C. Assessment
Travelling companion: Wilma, a redbone hound
Rides of choice: 2010 750-cc Ural Patrol and 2017 Ural Gear-up


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