Sturgis Trifecta and Close Encounters of the Third Kind

I have mixed feelings about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I decided to get there for the second half, since the first half is crazier than the second, even if more is happening. Sturgis Rally isn’t my goal though. As historic and significant it’s been for motorcycling.

Even if I plan to spend a couple hours there. The ride is what I’m after. The scenery, giving and receiving peace signs from tens of thousands along the road, and the ungawdly number of bikes in the area (500,000 latest estimate).

My plan was to complete the Sturgis Trifecta. What’s that? I dunno, just some shit I made up as an excuse to see three sights I’ve dreamed of for years. Sounds cool, and catchy.

Mount Rushmore is awesome. I got as close as the visitors center, but was able to see it from a mile away.

Crazy Horse Memorial was an incredible sight. Even if it’s not finished yet. It might never get finished. IMHO this is something Native Americans deserve. Wouldn’t it be great to see it I’m finished? Maybe not in our lifetime.

Devils Tower was my favorite. Even if it looks a lot bigger in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Not even sure if the top is flat.

Thanks to a buddy at work, I’m now a member of KOA, and am camping for the first time since I left the US Army. Unlike back then, I didn’t have to schlep 40 pounds of gear and pitch a tent in -20 degree weather.

On a side note I’m glad I picked this tent. Took 8 minutes to set up (timed it), and was easy to take down and pack. I watched other motorcyclists struggling with larger tents, even though they’re traveling alone.

This KOA is a mile or two from Devils Tower. And they have a nightly movie showing…

Route (excludes ride to first sight).

Soooo close…

Today was supposed to be a 550 mile day. I was supposed to get an early start, take calculated rest/water/food stops, and be at Sturgis before dark. Sounded like a reasonable plan, didn’t think there would be any issues.

Where did things go wrong? To rent a small piece of land to pitch a tent requires a reservation. That’s right. Not sure how our forefathers handled it, but fast forward to the 21st Century…

So nice spin Don, but why aren’t you in a tent right now? Well, since I was *going* to get to Sturgis after dark, I needed to call KOA *before* 1800MT. Myea. Nope. I’ll get it right tomorrow.

So what’s this 87 octane shit here in South Dakota? Is this the best gas they have here? I rode 10-15 miles looking for 93 octane gas. Nada. Zilch. WTF is going on here?! Are they out? Harleys need 93 octane.

Ok so at lunch I asked Google and it told me due to elevation, 87 is the same as 91. So if you are lucky to find 91, it’s the same as 93. Wait, I have 93 in my new 30 oz MSR fuel bottle…oh, that’s the same as 97 (um, I probably shouldn’t use it). With all that said, pinging doesn’t give a rat’s ass that you’re running 87. #pingPingPingPing

Water is a thing. So is hydration, as well as dehydration. Today I learned its better to have to pee all the time (from drinking too much water), than to not have to pee and end up dehydrated. I came close today, but I caught it early. Drank like a mule the rest of today’s trip.

So what did I see today? To be quite honest? A lot of long stretches with 80 mph speed limit.

During lunch I found a very old Ford that amazingly had no parking tickets.

I also saw what appeared to be a teepee. Although it must suck when it rains.

Today’s route was a little boring, and again it was 400+, forgot again to un-pause Relive a few times. 🙂

PS, so after posting this video, it looks like those long straight lines that don’t seem to follow a road are those times when I forgot to un-pause Relive. Lesson Learned.

Tuesday shmoozeday!

I got an early start today, but after 100 or so miles I had to stop at Harley-Davidson. The front brake reservoir seal was leaking. The mechanic told me it wasn’t a good idea to put a RAM Mount plate there. Who would’a thunk it. To be safe I asked them to replace the lid, seal, and bolts. Because I not only want to GET to Sturgis, but I also want to STOP there. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Back on the road, today I decided to pick it up a notch and do 80-85 on the flats, so I can have some time to enjoy the sights. Lots of beautiful farm land, rolling hills, and boy oh boy so many flags. Including this 80 foot flag at Camping World!

The folks there were happy to let me drive my Harley-Davidson onto their gravel lot to get a couple selfies. Man you’ve GOT to see this in person, please visit your local Camping World, its a sight to behold!

I spent most of the day on the highway, but then realized I made up enough time, so I started looking for side roads. That’s right Google Maps today I thumbed my nose at you!

I stopped by Bass Pro Shop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to get a fuel bottle. Since I ran out of gas on the first day. Long story, to calibrate the Dakota Digital speedo/tach, I need to empty the tank. Well, the only way that’s going to happen is if I run out of gas on the road. Which is fine now that I carry 30oz of gas in this bad boy.

I got to the hotel early today, so I can rest up for tomorrow’s 550 mile leg into Sturgis! Lucky me, there’s a Veteran parking spot, and yes of course I showed them my DD-214 and Florida Drivers License that also shows I’m a Veteran (it also shows I’m an organ donor, aren’t all motorcyclists?!).

I keep forgetting to un-pause the Relive app. Today it shows 365.9 but I know it was 400 or more:

TN > KY > MO > IL > MO (465 miles)

Third day, and I haven’t camped yet. I’m a little disappointed. But then, didn’t count on it raining for the first two days. Well, on this third day, I had no pansy ass excuses. Clear sky, dry roads, finally!

Started out having breakfast at Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Manchester. Wow. There’s a mouth full. Someone fire their marketing departement. Good thing their breakfast was awesome. Awesome, insofar as it reminded me of my days in the US Army (ala Anton Ego having a flashback in Ratatouille).

Funny how today shaped up. At one of the gas stops I saw a bunch of 101st Airborne Division troops. I thought, wow, Fort Campbell was probably close by. I took off and a few minutes later I saw signs to Fort Campbell!

I rode up to the visitor center and took a quick little video, and just as I was finishing, a snot nosed 2nd Lieutenant asked me if I had permission to be there. He was there with his wife and child, so my response was snarky but not too harsh: “Your mom gave me permission.”

His wife took the kid and briskly walked away. The dickhead stood there in disbelief. Then he told me he was calling the police. My response: “Do I look like I give a fuck?” Boy that military breakfast had me feeling my oats! I was ready to high-tail it out of there once I got my selfie!

When the Military Police Officer showed up I showed him the respect he deserves, and asked him if he served. When he told me retired, and was volunteering at the base. I thanked him for his service and whipped out my DD-214 to show him I’m a Veteran. The Military Police Officer told me he joined the year I got out, he thanked me for my service as well.

I could tell the snot nosed 2nd Lieutenant didn’t like it one bit, standing there with his arms crossed. I asked the Military Police Officer if I should leave, and he said no. As it turns out the 2nd Lieutenant was a dickhead that nobody liked.

The Military Police Officer was so cool, he asked me I’d like him to take a picture of me with the bike by the sign. I asked if he was going to let me ride my Harley onto the tiny walkway. He said “Of course, I won’t arrest you.” So I did, he took the picture, and I left without going to jail. I flipped the snot nosed 2nd Lieutenant the bird on my way out.

DISCLAIMER: Of course I’m paraphrasing all the above…that means I can make shit up and not give a fuck because nobody will ever know. Hey, its a fucking blog. 😛

Here’s today’s route:

Georgia and Tennessee (385 miles)

Drizzle today but roads were safe and drivers were polite. Starting to hit some hills. You know you’re hitting decent hills when truckers are told to shift down for next 5 miles.

Had a minor mechanical glitch. My front tank bolt nut popped off. A trip to a nearby Ace Hardware and 50 cents later I’m back on the road. the Route video shows where I turned back to get the nut.

So today I realized that I bought the Biltwell EXFIL-80 for the tool holder, but I didn’t think to put the tools in it. DUH! #done

Some nice roads, even with the drizzle. 🙂 I took this video before I decided to cut today a bit short. Now that Alaska is off the list I have a bit of a cushion.

Route:

The sun really does come out tomorrow (220 miles)

Looks like the rain stopped. Forecast is for rain at 1000ET. If I head out now I’ll beat the rain.

New Orleans is out since it would be a pretty miserable place in pouring rain. Maybe I’ll go through it on the way back.

Quick check of the bike (air, gas, tires, etc.) and off I go! I’m trying a new app (Relive) recommended by a biker buddy, will post the route if it works for me on this first go.

Here’s today’s track, consider it a dry run.

Packing is the hardest part…

Last October I had to pack for a 6 day CA>FL relocation. I had to bring 2 sets of clothing for the road trip, and 5 sets of work clothing for work. I didn’t think too much about how I packed, so I wasn’t able to get to my rain pants during the trip. #ouch

Now I’m packing 5 sets of clothing for a 3 week road trip vacation. This time I’m a little smarter. All socks/briefs/t-shirts are wicking (no cotton!), and I’ve got my rain suit packed in an easy to get to location, and a 3 weather upper for the Northern states where it might get cool/cold.

I don’t plan to ride at night, because unlike in October when I just needed to get there quickly, this time I’m in it for the scenery, enjoy nature, and have fun. This time I called Geico to make sure they were aware of the trip (amazingly no rate increase, just a “wow enjoy!”).

Its almost 1am and I’m updating my blog, shouldn’t I be sleeping? Shouldn’t I pack those last few things, so I’ll only need to shower, get dressed, and hit the road? Myea, I probably should.

My guess is it’ll rain tomorrow, since it rained all day today, and its gonna rain for the next few days…so I need to get moving early tomorrow to get to the Mid West sooner than later. 🙂