In 2009, my riding buddy Brad and I left for Sturgis SD for the annual motorcycle rally  Here is my ride report from that trip:

Day 1 – Saturday Aug 1, Philly area to Portage IN, approx 730 miles.  Fairly heavy day of riding and not much time for stops. Here are a few pics …

My bike just starting out

Both bikes (and Brad) at a fuel stop on the PA Turnpike

Stopped at the Michigan border because we could

Day 2 – Sunday Aug 2, Portage IN to Canistota SD, approx 690 miles. (planned for 575 or so)

This morning we started off slow.  Slept in ’till 7 am, took our time getting ready, and wandered downstairs for the free continental breakfast at 8:30.  Unfortunately everyone else beat us to it.  There was one muffin, no bagels, only decaf coffee, and some semi ripe apples.  After deep thought, we opted for Denny’s next door.  After a leisurely cup of coffee or two and some food, we wandered back to the room.

We decided to check for a room near our destination, Sioux Falls SD before we left so we could find a reasonable rate and a non smoking room (Sat eve was a smoking room and neither of us smoke).  We found a room, booked on line, and were all set.  I noted it was 32 miles west of Sioux Falls, but what the heck, it was 32 miles less we have to travel the next day.

We were ready to hit the road promptly at 10:00 am.  As we were checking out, Brad asked “How far are we riding?”  I replied, about 575 miles.  Oh wait, we are stay 32 miles west of Sioux Falls.  And we didn’t quite make Chicago as planned, so tack on some more.  Oops, maybe I should not have booked that room!  Oh well, we are here to ride, so screw it lets ride!

We got on I90 and headed for Illinois.  It seems that they don’t want to tell you that you are in Illinois since there were no signs.  We were glad EZ Pass worked on the toll roads …  most of the time …  It seems they were not being read at what we thought was the Illinois border.  Traffic through Chicago was such a joy.  Once past Chicago everything opened up and we made good time.  Passing through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and into South Dakota.  We were treated to a light show by Mother Nature in the form of lightning the last 30 miles in Minn.

Once in South Dakota we noticed the lightning was all around us, so we decided to put on the rain gear just in case even though we only had 30 or so more miles to go.  We almost had it on before the rain came!  And it came down in buckets for about 5 minutes, then fizzled out.  I also noticed one of my aux lights was out, and the other was going off and on when I moved the handle bars.  Looks like I have some electrical work to do.

I counted down the last 10 miles to exit 368 on I 90.  Once off, we had 5 miles to go.  It seems they tucked this hotel in the middle of nowhere.

Can’t get the pics off my cell since there is no coverage, but here are a few I took with my camera.

A cool rock formation near Camp Douglas WI

Brad in front of the rocks

And some green dude at a gas station in Blue Earth MN (honest, that is the name of the town.

Day 3 – Monday Aug 3, Canistota to Wall SD, approx 450 miles. Trip total 1870.

Left bright and early this morning, around 8:30
Swung through the middle of town, not much there that we didn’t see in the dark.  Made good time to Wall where we were staying due to 75 mph speed limits.

Checked in and dropped our gear at the hotel, and then headed off to Rapid City to see the Motor Cos. displays and grab our HOG pins.  Some nice bikes, liked the new (?) Road Glide.  Got some patches and stopped by some of the vendors.  We were “seduced” by the rather attractive young ladies selling stuff to keep glasses and such from fogging up.  Had my attention until she “handed” me a container of the wax that she was selling.  That tactic is a turn off for me, so I politely set it down.  When she asked to clean my glasses, I declined, so she said we should go away and she was done with us.  Brad indicated he was interested in buying her goods put his money back in his pocket since she was done with us.  Oh well, more money for beer.

We headed off for Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse, places I had not seen for 30 or so years.  Mt. Rushmore was everything I rememberaed, amazing.  Next we headed for Crazy Horse.  We got there and there were a ton of bikes.  We parked and walked to a vantage point where we could see the monument.  WOW!  What a difference 30 years makes.  When I was last there you had to imagine what the monument was supposed to look like.  Now you can see Crazy Horses face plain as day, all 9 stories of it!

Spent some time walking through the visitor center, and headed back to our hotel.  Hard ride since the scenery is amazing and its hard in some spots to focus on the road.  Here are some more pics …

110 octane fuel at a gas station near Portage WI from day 2.  No, we didn’t spend the $6 a gallon to try it.

Motel in Canistota where we stayed (Best Western).  Nice people, restored our faith in small motels.

Down town Canistota

And another

View in eastern SD

View in western SD near Wall

Mt. Rushmore

Crazy Horse.  To put into scale, his head is 9 stories tall!

And just a few other bikes at Crazy Horse

One with a heavy duty rack.  Of course, when Brad said “Look at that rack”, I was not looking for a bike.

Day 4 – Tuesday Aug 4, Wall SD to Lusk WY, approx 280 miles. Trip total 2150.

Short distance today, but a long busy day.

Left around 8:30 this morning. Decided to head back to Mt. Rushmore before we went into Sturgis. We noticed a spot along the road where we could get pics of the bikes with Mt Rushmore in the background.  Made the ride there with no issues.  Stopped at a cool wooden bridge on the way back, and then headed into Sturgis around 11:00.

Wow, what a trip.  I was not sure what to expect.  In some ways it was not so bad, but at the same time you could not move without tripping over a bike or rider.  Bikes were parked everywhere once off the main road into town.  We found a place to park without too much trouble and walked around town.  Found some vendors selling some cool stuff.  T shirts all over the place, but they were junk.  I could see through the black shirt I picked up.  Not worth the $12 …. Go buy a shirt from a gas station.  It was great people and bike watching.  Had we had the time it would have been cool spending time in the bars or seeing some of the bike building, but the schedule for this trip is too tight.  Guess I have to come back

After a few hours walking around, we got back on the bikes.  Traffic was heavier than when we got in town.  We got back on I 90 and headed west and then North to Belle Fourche SD which is the center of the Continental US (well, not quite since the real center is about 20 miles away, but it is the monument)  They were trying to raise money to build a park so they were letting bikers park ON THE MONUMENT and have their picture taken for $10.  Seemed like a good idea at the time, but my kickstand spring got caught on the ramp and was pulled off the bike.  No worries, a few pennies later we had it back on and were back on the road.

Stayed on back roads for the rest of the day, ending up on US 85 for a while.  Saw some great sights on the ride, but were tired from spending so much time in the sun.  We stopped in Lusk WY since it was the first place with a hotel after we decided to stop.  Pulled into the Best Western and they had one room left … with 4 queen sized beds for $225+ for the night.  Rather than try to find two other people to split the room, we opted for the no name place down the road.  Not a bad place, but the girl behind the desk was not the brightest girl in town (At least I hope not!)

Enjoy the pics for the day.

Some scenery west of Wall

Same spot with the bikes

Mt Rushmore

Others were stopping for pics also

Cool wooden bridge on the way to Mt Rushmore


More Sturgis

All kinds of bikes, from this cool old sporty

To this police bike

To this ?

Center of the continental US

What it looks like without me in the middle

Small town of Aladdin WY we passed through on WY 24, population 15!  Well, with all the bikes in town at the general store it is more like 200

One room school house we came across on the way down US 85

The inside

A long past “resident”

Some scenery on the way down US 85

Further down 85, note the dark sky, fortunately that was where we were.

Day 5 – Wednesday Aug 5, Lusk WY to York NE, approx 540 miles. Trip total 2690.

Left the hotel around 8:30, but had to get breakfast since all the motel had was garbage.  As we were eating breakfast, a couple pulled up on their softtails.  Cleanest looking bikes we ever saw.  When the guy opened his saddlebag, it looked like he had a full detailing kit in there.  Never saw so many plastic bottles.  Their chaps looked like they were pressed!  Not one wrinkle, mark, scuff, bug, or anything.  To top it off, the girl was sitting on a towel.  It was all I could do to keep Brad from stealing it.  Not sure why I stopped him.

Once we hit the road, we continued down US 85 and enjoyed more great sights.  Lots of open grassland all through the rest of WY. Got on RT 26 and headed east into Nebraska.  More open grassland in western NE.  Passed through one small town after another.  Decided to dip down into Colorado since it was close, and then got on US 30 also known as the Lincoln Highway.  Passed an old Union Pacific train station in Julesburg CO which looked really cool.  Got on I 76 and then I 80 to make up some time, but got tired of being beat up at 75-80 mph so we decided to get off the highway and ride on US 30 again.  Saw several old towns with crumbling buildings, grain elevator after grain elevator, and an old bridge off to the side that was painted by the local scouts a few years ago.  Even saw a crop duster flying over the local fields.  Central and eastern NE was corn as far as one could see.  We were next to a railroad and saw 100+ car trains every 10 – 20 minutes.  Most had three engines with the third in the back and one had the third engine in the middle of the train, first time I ever saw that configuration.

Overall, a great day of riding with all sorts of new sights.  Made up most of the miles we lost yesterday.  Pics to follow, Internet connection is really slow…

Stopped for a few pics of our “girly” bikes in the town of Gurly NE

Scenery in mid Nebraska

Saw lots of grain elevators.

And lots of cows. Contrary to what SOME people think, they don’t bring them into the barn at night.

Train in NE Colorado

Old train station in Julesburg CO

Another shot of the Union Pacific logo for the train buffs

Brad riding on the Lincoln Highway

Lincoln Highway bridge

And another of the bridge

Day 6 – Thursday Aug 6, York NE to St Louis MO, approx 485 miles. Trip total 3175

Started off really slow today.  Went down for breakfast around 9:00. (Anyone else noticing a pattern here?.)  Since the hotel had an Applebees in the lobby, there was no free breakfast, so Applebees it was.  The staff outnumbered the customers about 3 to 1, and the service was as one would expect it … slow.  We ordered breakfast and for my choice of toast I was asked if I wanted white or wheat.  I asked if they had rye (was hoping) and her response was …

wait for it

“Our wheat toast is pretty toast”

Now how does one respond to that?  Of course all I could say was “wheat please”  What I got was what we call in Philly marbled rye.

After that, we did a quick internet search for a room near St Louis and we were on the road promptly by 11:00.

We took I 80 for a while and then got onto US 34 at Lincoln NE since I 80 turned northeast to Omaha and we were going to be headed south.  Nice ride with more fields on either side.  Passed through the small town of Union NE, not much happening there. We went to US 75 and turned south.  Still more fields.  Moved over to I 29 to head south to I 70.  Had our first traffic jam when we got on I 70 and made us wish we were back in the middle of nowhere.  Also we were getting tired of the highway after riding the back roads, but needed to make up time.  After getting on I 70 near Kansas City we stopped at a dealer in Blue Springs MO.  Needed to pick up a quart of oil and an exhaust bracket for my rear pipe since it had cracked and I was getting tired of listening to it rattle.  Pretty much uneventful after that.

Not many pics for the day since we were traveling fast, but here they are.

My breakfast including my “Pretty Toast”

Downtown Lincoln NE

Small town of Union NE on US 34

Hotel in Union NE, wonder if they have any rooms?

Typical corn fields, this was on US 75

Small gas station on US 75.  They had a note posted over the register that some guy was 6 mos. behind on his payments and listed the names of his businesses.  Interesting debt collection method.

Fuel stop on I 29.  Looks like these cars saw better days.

Swing rail bridge on Missouri River between St Joseph MO and Kansas

Day 7 – Friday Aug 7, St Louis MO to Cincinatti OH, approx 405 miles. Trip total 3580

Started off a little quicker today, got out by 10:00. Thanks to a friend warning us about construction on I 70 we decided to throw out the plan and plotted an alternate route.  Decided to take RT 50 rather than I 70 to I 64.  Picked our way around ST Louis and stopped for gas in Illinois.  Turns out, we picked a gas station on RT 66, how fitting.  After that, we found our way to RT 50 and began our ride east.  Much slower than we expected due to traffic.  I guess we were not in the middle of nowhere anymore.

RT 50 was cool.  Really enjoyed the small towns.  The terrain in Illinois was mostly farm land again.  Once in Indiana, it alternated between hills, trees, and somewhat windy roads and open farmland.

After a few hours on 50 we finally gave up near the Indiana Ohio border and decided to get back on the interstate.  By this time it was too late and we were tired from riding most of the day.  Ended up on the east side of Cincinnati.

Not many pictures, but here are the few I took with my cell while we were moving.

RT 66 sign just over the Illinois border.

Scenery in Illinois, typical farmland

And more farmland

Bedford Illinois

Day 8 – Saturday Aug 8, last day, Cincinatti OH to home, approx 580 miles. Trip total 4161

This moring I was in my hotel, thinking how nice it will be to get home and sleep in my own bed with my lovely wife, loving dog, and wonderful daughters who have cleaned the house while I was gone.  As I was thinking this, I heard this strange tapping sound.  It got louder, and louder, and louder.

And then I opened my eyes with a start.  The sound was Brad typing away on his laptop.  I realized I was 10 hrs from being home to two screaming teenagers, a dog that doesn’t listen, and a wife who … well she let me go on this trip so she is still a wonderful wife.

We got moving a little earlier this morning and noticed that mother nature had taken pity on our poor filthy bikes and given them a bath.  We showered, packed up, ate breakfast, and were out on the road in record time – by 9:30 am EDT.

The ride started of uneventful.  We were in for 550+ miles of interstate highway, opting for I 75 & I 70 to get home soon rather than the relaxing pace of the US highway system.

On the way, we passed what looked like a Bradley fighting vehicle on a flatbed truck.  Winding our way through the PA turnpike we passed a small windmill farm I had not noticed before.  So far, so good.  A few rain drops here and there, but for the most part a comfortable ride.

I was still wondering about that annoying rattle I had heard from my exhaust the entire trip.  We were convinced it was the heat shields, most likely that extra one the dealer installed as a recall because some fool burnt his leg.  It has always been a pain and the first thing I was going to do was pull the heat shields, polish them up, and put them back on so they don’t rattle.  I had hoped replacing the broken bracket on the rear pipe would somehow fix the rattle, but no luck.  Oh well, that had to be done anyway, why not in the parking lot of a store.

We stopped for gas just before the PA Turnpike.  Cars all over the place, it was a wonder we got to the pumps.  We gassed up, got one the road, and as I was accelerating I heard a strange noise.  In my mirror I saw this black thing flying through the air.  I wonder what that was?  Perhaps my bag of beef jerky.  I noticed Brad pulling up beside me and signaling me over.  I obliged and he commented he now know what my rattle was.  It must have been my baffle … the one that just flew out my rear pipe and bounced off his foot peg.

We walked back to get it and discussed whether it will be useable or not.  I thought I saw it up against the median strip and thought out loud I must be in luck, it did not get run over.  Well, Brad spotted it first, and before he could run out into the middle of I 70 and pick it up we watched it get run over, yet again.  It was no longer round, it was a rectangle!  We picked it up and put it in my saddle bag.  Don’t want to be fined for littering!

The rest of the trip was uneventful, with the exception of the deafening noise coming from my bike.

All in all, we had a great trip.  We added 4000 + miles to our bikes, traveled through about 13 states, made some minor road repairs, and overall had a great time.  Saw just enough of Sturgis to want to go back.

Here are the few pics I took on the road.

Bradley on a flatbed

Brad leading the way on I 70 in OH

What I thought was my baffle, turns out it was just the insides of my exhaust

Wndmills in PA off the Turnpike

And lastly, Brad in my mirror