Threading the Needle, Take Two

Yesterday I did Needles Highway (SD-87) from North to South. I went to sleep frustrated because I took my GoPro HERO 7 Black with me but I wasn’t prepared for this last minute route.

So after a good night’s sleep, I decided to thread that needle again. This time I went from South to North, since I wanted to swing through Sturgis Harley-Davidson. Since my right highway peg disappeared, pretty sure someone swiped it. So things sort of fell into place.

This time I took some time to prepare. Now that the RAM Offset Reservoir Cover Ball Base is gone (see a previous post where it caused leaks), and I never bought the RAM Ball Adapter for GoPro Base (didn’t seem secure enough), I had to come up with a way to mount the GoPro.

I had to swap my iPhone for the GoPro, since both use RAM Mounts stuff. I had to move the GoPro Rail Base that I used to mount the iPhone (to the bottom of the ape hanger) to near the top of the ape hanger. I used my favorite RAM Composite Double Socket Swivel & Ratchet Arm, to position the GoPro.

I took a few minutes to level the GoPro, and to tweak the settings to get a decent 1080p by 60fps by 16:9 video resolution, enable SuperView, and enable HyperSmooth. I am powering the GoPro off of a Goal Zero Venture 70 Recharger (buddy recommended) using a X~PWR-H5 48″ All-Weather External Power Kit to make the kit weather proof.

The five videos total around 8gb, but for this blog I trimmed it down to three clips, one clip per tunnel.

Iron Creek Tunnel:

Needle’s Eye Tunnel:

Hood Tunnel:

To give you an idea how incredibly narrow these tunnels are, take a look at this video that showcases the talent of these bus drivers.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bBcsQcOyuIo

Today’s route:

Threading the needle

I was going to go to Sturgis today but figured I’d just be watching a bunch of bikers drinking. Myea. Nope. Didn’t come here for that.

Went to grab a bite and got pinged by someone following my blog. He recommended Needles Highway, or SD-87. Wow am I glad I checked it out.

Didn’t get much of a chance to take pictures of the three *really* tight tunnels we had to go through. One was barely 8 feet wide, and two of three were single lane. All three were awesome. Here is Wikipedia shot:

On the first tunnel a mountain goat held up traffic. The nerve of the bastard, drinking water flowing across the road. The most exciting part of that was watching it jump 10′ or more up the rocks after he interrupted us.

A small group asked me if I knew how far the nearest gas station was. He was out of gas. I let him have the 30oz out of my fuel bottle since I had over 1/2 tank left, plenty to get through the ride.

After the climbing and threading the needle, stayed on 87 towards Hot Springs. I planned on camping but today ran late so cheap hope it is!

In the last few miles I ran into two Bison (figuratively speaking), ran over a chipmunk (like literally…*crunch*), and nearly hit a deer (scared it off with my pipes!).

My favorite part of Needles Highway were all the rocks. These things stood up as if something nasty happened millions of years ago. I hope when the next nasty event happens, it ends human life on earth quickly.


The route included what I think might be the first 240 degree turn I ever saw.

Todays route:

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: