Northern Ride Day 4

August 11th – 06:00-19:03 – Rochester MN to Rapid City SD – 568 Miles

I was up at 4:30, showered and packed and out the door at 6am.

One of the things I do when I get up is to check the lights on the bike. I found the left turn signal was out and that the right turn signal cover was melted. It was quite warm going through the outskirts of Chicago but I didn’t think it was that hot.

At a break I briefly chatted with a couple on a BMW. He was from Chicago and she was from Minnesota. I noticed a piece of metal sticking out of side of the bike. I asked about it and she said they were foot rests. When they got up to speed he kicked them out and rested his feet. I thought that was cool.

As I headed through Sioux Falls I spied J&L Harley and pulled in to get a replacement bulb and cover. I have a replacement bulb in my gear but it was already packed when I checked the bike. The service guy didn’t believe the melted cover. It was bubbled in texture with bits of black, seeming carbon bits on the outside. I couldn’t think of anything I leaned on and had checked it yesterday morning before leaving the campground (it was covered there).

When I put the cover on that bulb went out so I had to get another bulb. The service guy asked about rear signals. Since my local dealer said that front ones would work on the rear, I said that I had plenty. He said that the ones in front were double poled but the rear signals were singal poled. The brake lights and front signals were interchangable though. Based on that I picked up a couple of rear bulbs but I’ll have to check it out later.

While the ride was fairly uneventful it was soothing. I could feel myself settling down to riding at 80 MPH along with everyone else. Coming out of my lunch break stop I was passed by a sedan with two nuns. As I got up to speed I passed them. A few minutes later they passed me at about 90 MPH. 🙂

The wind started blowing from the south pretty hard and steady. I pulled into a rest stop and a couple of bikers were asking about it. I said that it had started about 30 minutes before I stopped. He said it was blowing like this all the way to Rapid City which was quite a ways away.

I’ve been waving at other bikers and am finding that a majority of them don’t wave back. After being at Daytona I can kinda understand. I saw one guy with a big hand mounted on his tank.

The bugs had been hitting me for a while, a welcome change from the rain farther east. A couple of the critters were fairly large and many of them left a sticky mess behind. One that squarely hit my right hand, coated my right grip with a sticky piney smell. I couldn’t think of a largish bug that lived on pine sap so I figured it was a bee. Several of the larger bugs stuck around (sorry) throughout the entire trip. There was a fairly large one stuck on the cable mount on my handlebars.

As I approached the Badlands National Park I pulled off at a rest stop to take a few pictures. Basically I was looking at the plains. Lots of flat. Imagine folks hiking or riding out here when there was not much but buffalo (days of buffalo) and seeing nothing for miles but the peaks in the distance (the black hills).

I chatted with a family briefly. He commented on the heat and I made some funny about air conditioning.

Next I headed over to Badlands. I’m not sure what to say about that. I had the same thoughts about the folks on the plains but that they were walking towards the mountains they could see and this massive “badlands” opened up before them. I stopped at the first photo op and walked around a little.

I couldn’t help but wonder at the awe the first visitors had upon seeing this vast gash in the landscape opened up as they approached it.

I took a few pictures and road around the tour road until I got to the interstate and Wall SD. Man, what a change. From the pristine beauty of the Badlands to the awful tourist trap called Wall Drug. I cruised through town, stopped at a Dairy Queen for dinner and continued on to Rapid City.

I stopped for gas and picked up a Sturgis t-shirt. I stopped at Black Hills Harley but it was after 6 and they had closed. After a brief ride through town, I found that the cheap motels were asking $60 for the night; the price of the nice place on the interstate.

I headed down 90 and pulled off at the Tilford exit. I was going to head back to town and get a room anyway but saw Rt 79 and headed to Rapid City via the back way. As I came into town I pulled in to the second motel and got a room for two nights for $38 per night.

I unpacked my gear and called Rita. I was interested in riding around The Black Hills and had picked up one of the tourist maps of the area. She checked one of the web sites and found a list of the better rides. I noted them on the map. We picked the stop at Mt Rushmore and the run down 16A to Custer State Park. From there down to Wind Cave and then Hot Springs for the Mammoth Site. From there a ride west to 89 north and then up through Custer and Hill City and back to Rapid City.

On the way out I was going to stop at Deadwood and then to Sturgis.

Once they were mapped out, I hit the hay.

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