If the most interesting man in the world lived in West Des Moines, his name would be Lang Wightman. Wightman has driven a 1929 Model A across, Asia, Europe and South America, ridden a mountain bike through Africa, Switzerland and Australia and enjoys exploring Iowa’s gravel roads by any means available.
Lately that’s been on a Russian-made Ural Sidecar motorcycle.
“I subscribe to Outpost Magazine, which is for people who like to explore different parts of the world in their vehicles,” says Wightman. “I saw an ad for this motorcycle, and just knew I had to have one.”
Wightman had never ridden a motorcycle.
“I had to visit a dealer in Massachusetts in order to see one,” he says. “I could only ride around the parking lot in first gear because I didn’t have a motorcycle license. I registered for a class at Des Moines Area Community College right after that.”
Wightman’s motorcycle is a WWII replica Russian motorcycle, complete with two-wheel drive and a sidecar. In the Soviet Union, the motorcycle was more of a utility vehicle than the pleasure-ride it’s known for in the U.S. The Ural is built in that tradition. Simple, strong and utilitarian, it was that old-school look that appealed to Wightman.
“I love taking it out on the rural gravel roads west of Des Moines, especially the B-level roads,” he says. “With the two-wheel-drive, I can get through the mud pretty well. It’s not fast, but it sure is fun to drive.”
Though familiar with the rural roads within 25 or 30 miles of his home, the Ural allows him to explore beyond those boundaries.
“I took a friend, Ken, out for a ride,” says Wightman. “We got hopelessly lost. We had to pull up a map on iPhone. Turns out we were just south of Adel.”
The next time you think you’re watching a newsreel from WWII, don’t worry. It’s just Wightman headed our for another long gravel ride.
Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”