Motorcycle Road Trip from Beltsville MD to Sturgis SD

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From Iowa, into South Dakota

We headed west out of Des Moines, IA under dark and cloudy skys. We fueled up again at our new favorite gas station, “Kum and Go”.

The threat of rain hovered over us for a good portion of the highway to the far side of Iowa. As we got near the state line and the Missouri River, the clouds separated and the sun broke free to heat us and the day. As we turned north on I29 heading for South Dakota, the power of the river shown on either side of the highway. Sandbags piled as high as our motorcycles lined stretches of the highway on either side to try and keep the waters back. I had heard of the flooding in North Dakota, but hadn’t heard a thing about the flooding from the Missouri River. It was unsettling to see it up close.

Siuox City came and went as we blasted up the highway and before we knew it, South Dakota was under our wheels. Once we hit the SD state line, the speed limit increased to 75, so of course we rolled faster at about 80+ mph. We rolled onto I90 at Sioux Falls, SD and turned again for the West.

Barreling along at 80+mph took it’s toll on my fuel consumption. We had gotten gas at about 100 miles back and wasn’t expecting to need fuel for at least another 20 miles or so. Even so, the bike had other ideas as the engine began to die. It threw me for a few seconds as to what the issue might be and I quickly reached down and threw the switch for the reserve tank. That’s all it took and the motorcycle began to accelerate again and settle back into it’s steady rumble. Higher speeds and a fully loaded bike is not good for the mpg.

We saw our first live Bison at a little gas/convenience store along I90. The owner of the place had started with only 4 Bison about 40 years ago on their ranch. Now today they have over a 100 Bison roaming on their 160 acre ranch. They slaughter the older Bison at about the age of 7 or so since they get pretty mean in their old age. We had Bison burgers for dinner and it was pretty good eaten. I bought a small Bison head magnet for a souvenir and the old man behind the counter said that I had just saved $1996 since the real ones hanging on the wall sell for $2000 or more. What a bargain! We rolled out of the parking lot and continued our ride west, but now the sun was setting off in the distance. We were like the cowboys of the west riding off into the sunset.

Only a few hundred miles more till we roll into Rapid City and the Sturgis area. For today, we plan on taking a relaxing ride to the hotel in Custer, SD, which is about 60 miles south of the Sturgis area.

It should be another good day in the saddle.

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The Land of Lincoln …..

quickly fell behind us as we continued our pilgrimage to Sturgis, SD. We rolled out a little earlier than the day before and we had only planned to ride as far as Des Moines Iowa. The hope was the earlier starting time and the shorter distance would take a lesser toll on one of my fellow riders. Seems that the constant buzzing in his ears is not normal for him.

We rolled into Iowa without any issues. The landscape opened up and the corn fields continued to stretch out for miles on either side of the highway. The grain silos dotted the view as they seemed to rise up out of the fields like monoliths.

The weather held together for most of the day. Partly cloudy skys and warm weather added some additional color to my arms and face. The number of other bikers heading to Sturgis multiplied as the day rolled on and all of them offered tips on what to do and see while we are there.

Our diversion off the main highway to Riverside, IA was a bust. The proposed future birth place of Capt. James T Kirk really needs some work. The town has a monument to the occassion but it’s placed down a short alley and behind a dilapidated hair salon. If you blink, you miss it. As we did driving by twice. Only on the third attempt did Michael spot the monument out of the corner of his eye, behind the hair salon. Well, at least they have 217 years to get their shit together and make the town presentable. They should really get started now, since there is a lot of shit that needs to be done.

The rain pushed us off the road for a brief break under an overpass. It didn’t rain very long, but the water being sprayed back at us from the other cars and trucks would have been an issue. Especially since none of us wanted to wear the rain gear. The break only lasted about 25 minutes and then we were on the road again. But on the road out of Riverside, IA we encountered a much heavier downpour and there was no overpass in sight. We got drenched from the short duration of rain and put on our rain gear for the rest of the days ride.

There’s some guy in Iowa who owns a gas station/convenience store that really has a sense of humor. At one of our fuel stops for the day we pulled into a “KUM and GO” gas station to get gas. We wondered if this place use to be a brothel and was shut down by the police. Then he re-opened the place as a gas station and convenience store and didn’t want to pay to change the sign. If my camera wasn’t buried in my gear, I would have gotten a photo of the sign. But who knows, maybe there’s a chain of them along the way. At least we left the stop with only fuel in the tank and not something more sinister. It would be even funnier if this post goes viral! 🙂

We rode into Des Moines IA at about 7pm yesterday evening. A little cold and still wet from the rain. Steve set up our hotel stay for the night at the Marriott in downtown IA. WTF?!?! Some bikers we are. Here we are rolling into the hotel parking area and the bellhops are jumping up and down to help us with our bags. At least the hotel has a restaurant on site and BEER! Plus as an added bonus, there is a Starbucks in the lobby so I’m set for the morning.

Stardate: 08062011. Saturday morning and rain promises to be a nuisance again. We will be packing our bikes and continue our ride westward. South Dakota should be on the horizon this afternoon and under our tires by the evening. The stop for Saturday night will be some place west of Sioux Falls, SD. Probably closer to Chamberlain, SD.

Let the good times keep rolling!

Rolling across the MidWest

Our tires chewed up the ashpalt as we rolled across Ohio and Indiana. The gentle rolling hills gave way to flat open fields. Indiana corn fields stretched across as far as your eyes could see on both sides of the highway. I swear I could see the curvature of the earth far off in the distance.

Weather was great for our first full day of riding. Mid 80’s and partly cloudy skies kept us in and out of the sun. Even though I did apply a good coat of sunscreen, my arms are a deep color red and my nose is lightly pink. I will lather up again in the stuff to help keep most of the sun from permeatting my skin. At least the helmet is keeping my head from baking.

Arriving into Indiana was almost like coming home. Of course it’s my home state since I was born in Indianapolis many years ago. Marion County, Turkey Run State Park and many other names came rushing back from the deepest part of my memory. Plus as I was rolling along on I70 near the heart of the city, I thought of my Grandpa (Call me Jake!) and my Uncle Jimmy. I would have been great to have been able to stop and have a beer with them, but these days it can only be a thought and a toast to my fond memories of both of them.

As we neared the Indiana / Illinois State line, I found myself at the limit of my fuel tank. It caused a brief panic, but I reached down and found my fuel tank switch and turned it over to my reserve tank. The engine was sputtering, but it quickly settled back into it’s normal engine whine and growl from the exhaust. Then just as we rolled to a stop at the Illinois State line, my odometer rolled over to 19000 miles.

Champaign/Urbana IL was a welcome relief to my back and butt and our day of riding came to an end, 453 miles from Washington PA. Today (Friday) we will be continueing our westward travel, with a final stop in Des Moines Iowa. But we have at least one stop along the way in Riverside Iowa. For all you Trekkie Fans, Riverside IA is the future birth place of Capt. James T Kirk. Hopefully we won’t encounter any unruly fans of Kirk and get stunned, “Set your phasers to stun!”.

Iowa awaits, and it’s time to saddle up again.

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On the Road

Rain and road dirt pelted my bike as we rode out on I70 heading west. My once clean bike is now a mess of dried dirt/ water on my engine and exhaust. It’s a mess that will need a serious bikini bike wash!

Riding across the mountains of WV was nothing out of the ordinary, at least till the clouds started rolling in. I could see the fog in the valleys as we rolled across the highway. Occasionally the low clouds were pressing against the edges of the roadway, but it wasn’t till we rode across the crest of hill that I began to become nervous. As the road way dropped down to the next valley, it disappeared. In just a few moments, I watched Michael and steve disappear before me. Even the flashing tail lights of Steve’s motorcycle were swallowed by the heavy fog. I have plenty of experience of riding in the rain, just as our name implies. But the thickness of this fog was something out of a Stephen King book. The only thing that was missing was the giant tentacle sweeping across the highway to pluck Steve and Michael from there bikes. Many things ran amuck in my mind as I slowed my speed even further. One of the most rememberable was “oh shit!”, followed by a few other choice words. I actually think that I said many of them out loud.

In a few minutes, the lights of my companions bikes appeared ahead and slowly they themselves appeared as the fog dissipated. The “monster fog” reached out to grab us a few more times, but we kept going on.

Washington, PA was our first over night stop. Unfortunately we saw more of it than we wanted as we spent an hour driving in circles looking for the hotel. My head hit the pillow pretty hard last night and sleep came pretty easily.

Today we will be chewing up the highway as we head west. PA, WV will fall from view pretty quickly, but Ohio and Indiana await our tire tracks.

Westward we go.

TODAY!

The day we leave is the day that it rains.  At least it’s only a 60% chance of rain, but it’s rain none the less.  We certainly live up to our name.

The ride into work this morning on the bike, fully loaded and ready to head to Sturgis this afternoon, was actually pretty fun.  I wish I didn’t have to wear the rain gear, but better safe than sorry.  The rain was only sprinkling when I left my house this morning and there was only a little bit of heavier rain a few miles down the road.  But after that, I only encountered damp roads from previous rain showers all the way into work.  Of course if I hadn’t been wearing the rain gear, I would have gotten soaked for sure.

As I said, the ride in this morning was fun.  I was listening to my iPod all the way in and I heard some great tunes that I hadn’t listened to in a while.  One of the songs that came up on the random play was “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar and that was followed up by “Travelin’ Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Does my iPod know me or what!

Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite traveling songs are and maybe I’ll add them to my collection if I don’t have them already.

My friend Alex is letting me borrow his Sirius Radio for the trip so I’ll have other music and entertainment on the road.  Plus I can keep up to date with Howard Stern, if he ever gets back from vacation (again).  Thanks Alex!

Well, only 5 more hours till we hit the road.  This time I’ll be heading west on I70, unlike coming east to come into work.

Hey Michael Koren!  Are we there yet?!?!?!?!?!?!

2 Days and a little more than 5 hours….

till we hit the road west.  The preparations are almost complete and now and I can start second (and third) guessing about what I did or did not pack.  Yes, I am already packed.

Michael Koren (fellow Soggy Bottom Rider) and I will be shipping some of our clothes to the hotel.  There’s just no way that we can fit everything on the back of the motorcycle.

Michael has also set up a blog for our adventure to Sturgis, SD.  You can follow his blog at http://apps.sportraits-photography.com/blog/.  In fact, you can probably open his blog and mine on the same screen and watch the argument unfold just as if you were there!  🙂  Just Kidding.  Michael and I get along pretty well and we’ve ridden many miles together on our motorcycles and I’m looking forward to sharing this adventure with him.

Steve Shapiro is the final member of our Soggy Bottom Riders that will be heading to Sturgis with us.  Even though he hasn’t set up a blog for the Sturgis ride/event,  I will ask him to post a message or two on my blog as this little adventure unfolds.

Damn, did I remember to pack ….. (let the second guessing begin!).