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Old 05-29-2010, 06:11 AM   #1
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16 Days, Michigan to West USA

Getting on the ol' trusty steed for a 16 day trip from Michigan out to Utah, through Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and other connecting states. My first ride report... enjoy.

This Ride Report is being written about 5 months after my first long ride.
The first few posts were updates from the road and I wish I would have been able to write a little bit more during the ride, but it's nice to be able to reflect on it as well - and it's providing me a little motivation to start planning the next one, and will hopefully help to forget about the upcoming winter and keep the fire burning.

So Many Ways in 16 Days Menu (work in progress for a little bit)

Day 1 - East Lansing, MI to Iron Mountain, MI
Day 2 - Iron Mountain, MI to Minneapolis(h), MN
Day 3 - Maple Grove, MN to Mitchell, SD
Day 4 - Mitchell, SD to Rapid City, SD

After more planning than we probably needed, we're finally taking off. Heading out on the road today from East Lansing, MI to Iron Mountain, MI. Have some 'before' pictures that I'll post up when I get the chance.

Ride on.
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Ride Report (still working on it): So many ways in 16 days

shoxroxice screwed with this post 11-06-2010 at 08:46 AM Reason: More accurate title
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Old 05-31-2010, 09:35 PM   #2
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Ride Update

Just a quick update, we made it from East Lansing, MI to Iron Mountain, MI on Saturday. Long ride for me, but all in all not too bad. I was beat after we got done riding but still had a good first day. Second day we rode from there to Minneapolis, MN. We're trying to crank out a decen amount of mileage so we have time to hang out at the sweeter shit. This morning we woke up and started cruising towards Sioux Falls, SD an made it into Mitchell, SD. Have some nice pictures that I'll start posting a soon as I can and some detailed daily reports.

Updating everyone from my phone before I call it a night here in SD but so far the ride has been a blast. I wasn't able to brig a computer with me so most of the pictures will have to wait. :/ I'll probably write most of it when I get back but will try to ge some pictures online before that.

:lights out:
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Old 06-07-2010, 08:27 AM   #3
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Wink Another quick update

Wow we've had some damn good riding. We went from iron Mountain, Mi to Maple Grove, MN. Then to Mitchell, SD to Rapid City, SD. Through the Black Hills and down to Cheyenne, WY. Survived the wind blast on I-80 to Rock Springs, WY. Then worked our way down through UT, into CO, back into UT towards Moab. Played in the Desert for a couple days in Moab, UT. Headed westward towards Durango, CO yesterday and Woke up this morning in Montrose, Colorado after riding the Million Dollar Hwy up through the San Juans. Amazing. Have some awesome pictures and video to go along with it all. Today, still alive and well and heading towards Denver, CO for a day or two in the mile-high before super-slabbing it back eastward.
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Old 06-15-2010, 12:48 PM   #4
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Made it home safe

Will be posting the RR and pics soon.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:16 AM   #5
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Day 1 - East Lansing, MI to Iron Mountain, MI

Woke up in the morning around 7AM and started to get everything together. I could still tell that my friend was having the jitters and wasn't quite ready to leave, I was excited to get the hell on the road. After double checking the bike, straps... "oh, snap. did I pack my toothbrush?" We reset the trips on the bikes and setup the tripod for a few obligatory 'setting off' pics and then We were finally heading out! After months of dreaming, thinking, contemplating, wondering, guessing, speculating... toss all that shit out the window and hit the pavement.

The Route:
Heading from home we made a run towards the highway, I-75 North. Hop on US-2 West along the northern coast of Lake Michigan and head on through to wherever we were going to stay in Iron Mountain.


Departure Check:
So I bought some Cortech soft bags to hold all my gear, and then was trying to figure out last minute where I was going to stow my tent and sleeping pad, so I grabbed my under armour bag and tossed them in. It didn't look pretty but it actually didn't work out too bad as a makeshift backrest. The Steed: A 2006 Ninja 650R - outfitted with Cortech soft saddlebags, a topbag, a tank bag, and of course that ugly last minute UA bag. Attached was a handlebar GPS mount and hard-wired power adapter I picked up on ebay for the Garmin Nuvi 200. Ratchet strapped all to hell, and... well, yep I guess that will work.


Zero'd her out:


Snapped a departing shot:


And off we went. My friend was riding a 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom, outfitted with some aftermarket leather saddlebags and a windshield he picked up from a local dealer. I added a zero gravity 'touring' windscreen to the 650R, but I really don't think it helped that much - more on that later.

We didn't stop much on the first day until we needed gas, I was just trying to throttle it as far from home as I could get. The first real picture I got was when we were starting to head over The Mac:


I've crossed the Mackinaw Bridge a few times in my lifelong existence in Michigan, but it was the first time on a bike - and it definitely felt like a milestone, and that the trip had finally begun.

Snapping a pic over The Mac:


Me riding the Mac:




Friend cruising ahead


View from St. Ignace:


A better shot of the Ninja


So we continued cruising US-2 along the northern coast of Lake Michigan and the speed limit kicked down from 70MPH to 55MPH and the 2.5 hours of head bobbling speed mellowed down to a nice relaxed pace of scoping the scenery. Stopped at a local diner for some local grub, but forgot to snap a pick because we were ready to get back in the saddle.



Finally got to Iron Mountain and found a campground up there, set up camp for the night and I was feeling all woozy from the nearly 7 hours of pavement pounding but we met up with some friends up there and headed to the local tavern for some grub.







All in all I'd say it was a good day of riding. Have never ridden that far or for that long, and I was sore and tired, but couldn't wait for the next day.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:37 AM   #6
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Old 11-05-2010, 03:53 PM   #7
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Day 2 - Iron Mountain, MI to Minneapolis(h), MN

Ahhhh, felt nice to sleep all night after that long ride. I didn't really think about it too much last night because I was just happy to get off the bike for a bit, and grab some cold drinks , but there were a couple things I noticed. The first, is that my tent was awesome to set up and I'm glad I brought it - even though it took up a little extra room. It's a Marmot Aspen 2-person tent that sets up in less than 5 minutes, has a full rain-fly and didn't get anything damp overnight. Another thing, I picked up a North Face sleeping bag rated to 20F and I was perfectly toasty as I dreamed about what the next day would bring me.

Rise and Shine


How's this for an ugly mug in the morning?


You might notice that there's a hand behind my head and a makeshift red sleeping bag sack filled with clothes trying to emulate a pillow, which worked for shit. I figured I wouldn't need a pillow - but it's one of the things I would definitely bring next time. Also, as I was packing everything back up it was just a little bit of a P.I.T.A. to ratchet strap everything back down, but hey - this is a Ninja 650R with soft luggage and it's what's going to get me through the rest of the way - the old saying, make the best with what ya' got comes to mind. Speaking of recalled lessons, a wise man once told me to keep a crushed pop can under the seat in case you need to slap the stand down in some loose earth... oh, that's already strapped underneath the seat with the saddlebags and rearbag already fastened down you might say?

Well, I guess you might have to go find a flat rock to prop your bike up for the night.



Alright, well enough with the lessons for the morning - let's get on with the show!

The Route:
Heading from Iron Mountain, MI to Maple Grove, MN - just outside of Minneapolis. We have a place to stay when we arrive at my friend's family's house. Read: No tent tonight. Allllriiiiiiight.


GPS was saying 351 miles of awesomeness ahead:


So shortly after leaving Iron Mountain, MI on US-2 W heading towards US-8 W we hit the border of Wisconsin. And one of the the obligatory state sign pictures... we did 11 states... all starts with Wisconsin:


So we cruised part of the morning away through Wisconsin and I was pleasantly surprised with what it had to offer. Granted I've never been more than a couple hundred miles away from home, this was still pretty awesome riding. Nice north-mid-western scenery with a few mild twisties here and there. I started getting the sense this was, what it was all about. Just laying the throttle on and miles flying through the odometer. I was starting to realize not to worry so much about where I was going and that I needed to get somewhere, as I normally would on my everyday ride, but just to enjoy the next mile ahead. We kept cruising on 8 W, when after a gas stop we realized that the Leinenkugels brewery was in Chippewa Falls, WI and sort of on the way towards Minneapolis... and being that we couldn't pass up a brewery of this stature, we headed that-a-way. We slammed a left on US-51 South towards Wasau and found a nice little restaurant to grub down at as it hit mid-day.

The Pine Ridge Family Restaurant, a nice little establishment with a 'breakfast all day' approach - we were sold. As we were parking next to a few other two-wheeled steeds, a couple on a bike was coming out from the Pine Ridge and said the specials were awesome and to definitely check them out when we got in:


One look at the specials and the pulled pork sandwich was calling my name:


As I've read through other ride reports I've noticed how my fellow ADV inmates usually chow down at the local establishments and fore go the chain nonsense as much as possible. We were committed to sampling the local fare wherever we went and it proved to paid dividends. Awesome home-style food, and reasonable prices seems to be the norm when that route is taken. In the haste of cramming some food down and getting out of the full-gear induced heat we hadn't quite gotten used to yet, my friend DW forgot to turn his key off when we hopped off the bikes, left the key on. Battery was just a giant lead box. So, a little trick for any of you newb's like myself who have been spoiled enough to always have fuel injected everything and a sensor paired to everything. Put her in 2nd, get er' rollin, drop your weight onto the rear wheel and release the clutch... and hope she'll fire up.



And vrooooom.... back up and running.


Motoring on through to Wasau and Hopping on 29 W towards Chipewa Falls, there were some pretty sweet roads. As I mentioned before, I was rather impressed with the day's trek so far - and this is day 2 - we were coming through this section of road that was like a giant valley with road connecting it. It seemed to be a nice downhill for about a few mile stretch and then straight back up - you could see for a few miles with no traffic behind or in front of us, and we're on street bikes = pin it. RPM's just slamming down this stretch of road and the needle being burried in a blur of head-bobbleness... it was a hell of a lot of fun. See back home, it's hard for a mile stretch of road to have that good of visibility on both sides because it's so flat, chances are a LEO will be hanging out next to one of the overpasses within a few hundred feet and it's not worth it. Out here, it was all throttle. I realized half way across the little valley I must have forgot to turn my GPS back on after lunch as I wondered what my GPS speed would read... and missed this, MFer. Well, as I let the throttle up on the upside and the GPS fired up to record the tail end of it.

We headed east on 29 at Wausau and it started to get a little flat compared to the past stretch... and we saw this sign for 'Geographical Marker.' Neither of us really knew what that meant, as we'd never seen it before - so we decided to investigate, thinking it would be something pretty awesome. I couldn't think of anything in Wisconsin I knew of that would be a 'must-see', any more awesome than the Leine Lodge... but we headed that way regardless. A few miles off the highway later and we run across this:




If you couldn't tell what it was it was the 'Exact center of the Northern Half of the Western Hemisphere.' I mean, I guess that's cool - but probably not worth the extra 20 minutes off the highway to check it out. Sorry. We slammed it back to the highway and made it to Leinenkugels brewery. :heavenly angels in chorus: ... then :vinyl record scratch to a halt:

Wouldn't ya know it, just after they closed. Fock. It was still pretty awesome to check out even if we couldn't 'weez the juice' with our heads right under the tap.




Luckily the nectar of the gods is bottled for all to enjoy. We decided to skip any further 'Geographical Markers' as they might be a bad omen and cause us to lose further possibility of tasting freshly brewed delights. So we motored on, crossing into Minnesota as the clouds began to build


We made it into Minneapolis headed towards Maple Grove, MN, and the rain started pouring down... so we pulled off at a gas station, only 10 minutes away from our final destination for the night. I have the Joe Rocket Alter Ego pants and the Atomic 4.0 Jacket - both have zip on vent openings and a zip in waterproof liner - which I started to assemble. A couple riding two-up on a silver Ninja 650R pulled into the gas station to get out of the elements for a few. We chatted with them for a bit and then decided to make a run for it to DW's family's house. We made it with some daylight to spare.



As I mentioned above, I caught the tail end of that little drag strip north of Wausau:


Not too shabby for a full day in the saddle, the first day completely away from home, and the first rain encounter. DW's cousins took us over to Dave & Busters to quench the thirst of the day. That place is like a giant Chucky Cheese for adults... I would definitely go check it out if you run across one. Just seeing the business thriving somewhere was a nice relief from the everyday drab back home. For those of you who've been under a rock, or stuck under your bike wrenching, for the past couple years... Michigan isn't exactly the thriving powerhouse of a state that it once was. Seeing Minneapolis doing well was a welcome sight. Well, we stayed out to BS with DW's family for a while and then hit the hay.Bring on tomorrow!
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Ride Report (still working on it): So many ways in 16 days

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Old 11-06-2010, 07:22 AM   #8
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Day 3 - Maple Grove, MN to Mitchell, SD

Ahhhh, it felt nice to sleep on a couch with a pillow. And it's nice to have some home-cooked breakfast before setting sail in the morning. We sat and talked with DW's uncle for a while - a fellow ADV'er - about what we would encounter over the next couple days, and he rode with us to the highway on his Wee 1k, nice bikes... definitely more suited for touring than the 650R

The Route:


We set out with full bellies and decided we were going to churn some miles to try to make it past Sioux Falls to put ourselves in better position to make it to Rapid City the following day. I really didn't snap any pictures until we stopped to gas up. We headed out of Minneapolis on 169 South and then hit 60 W. I was far less impressed with SW Minnesota as it seemed to go from the hilly mid-west to the edge of the great plains. We were still enjoying the ride, but ready for some varied terrain and we still had a long way to go. Even though the roads were flattening out, a day with the wind blowing on the bike is still better than any day in the office. I snapped a pic of the pit-stop on the way:

You people in the plains sure have dirty minds, who names their gas stations Kum & Go?


After gassing up we found this place called The Bullpen Sports Bar & Grill, and pretty much anything with Sports Bar & Grill is good in my book, so we stopped in for some lunch:



And the steak sandwich was on my radar:


A better look at that steak:


After some lunch we churned out some more miles and hit the border of South Dakota:


We kept on cruising past Sioux Falls and picked Mitchell as our destination for the night. A pulled into town, found a campground and RV park that looked moderately full but still had plenty of room. It was called Rondee's campground, right off I-90 and had a hot-tub and indoor water slide... sold. The staff was pretty nice and facilities acceptable. We went to grab some dinner in 'downtown' Mitchell and ended up getting a bite to eat right next to the Corn Palace - which we had seen signs for, for about the past 100 miles... not much goin' on out here I suppose ;-)

We grabbed dinner at The Scoreboard. Mitchell had sort of a western feel to it, kind of a cool little place for the middle of nowhere.


Right next to the Corn Palace:


Apparently in Mitchell, SD you can ride 4-wheelers down the street. These folks took about 5 passes down the 'strip.'


We went back to camp and went to check out the indoor water slide:


Then headed back to camp to crank it down for the night. The campsite was right off the highway, but not too noisy though and well blocked from the wind. These little flies were everywhere though and we tossed a couple back and were checking out the 'night shot' on the camera:



Oh... almost forgot, GPS total mileage for the day was reading about 263 - one of the shorter days we've had, because we took our time leaving Minneapolis.


We were pretty excited for the upcoming day. We've had some good riding so far, weather has been pleasant and all in all a great start to the trip. We knew the day we just had probably wasn't going to be the most exciting part of the trip, but we also knew that the best was just ahead.
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Old 11-06-2010, 07:54 AM   #9
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Enjoying this, looking forward to more!
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Old 11-06-2010, 08:15 AM   #10
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Day 4 - Mitchell, SD to Rapid City, SD

Woke up this morning, and knew it was ready to hit the road and head towards Rapid City. We knew we were going to have to crunch out a ton of miles between here and there, so we got our gear packed up - the tent was a breeze to setup again, and I still wish I would have brought a pillow. Either way, I was ready to ride...

The route:


We planned on super slabbing it across South Dakota

Just as we were starting off we noticed the clouds were moving in quick, and what looked like a gray wall of storm front was hovering over us within a few minutes. We pulled out from the campground and headed to the nearby gas station, and before you knew it... a mean downpour, one I wouldn't really want to ride through... and a good thing we didn't, because all sorts of 18-wheelers started pulling in and the clerk at the gas station mentioned some reports of golf ball and even some tennis ball size hail a few miles up the road. Imagine getting wacked by a bunch of tennis balls driving 75 MPH on the interstate with 30 MPH crosswinds, that would definitely suck! I always thought it might be fun to be on American Gladiators and dodge the tennis ball cannon in Assault... but dodging Mother Nature's fury of frozen tennis balls doesn't sound like something I'm willing to give a go. So... we walked next door to Marlin's for a bite to eat hoping the storm would pass over quickly.





Well, turns out there was a flash flood warning and we were going to be cooped up for a while:



Marlin's had a great selection for breakfast and I liked how they served water in these wide-mouth Mason Jars


After we finished breakfast we took a peak outside and it was only getting worse... so we were chatting with pretty cool older guy piloting a Goldwing (I think he said all the way from Georgia) and he said he was staying put for a while.



Well, we killed some time playing Big Buck Hunter (a favorite back home)


And soon enough we took another look outside and the storm turned into a light drizzle so I zipped in the water-proof liners and fired the Ninja up and we got back on the road.

Holy fockin wind! Not only are you in the wide open plains and the speed limit on I-90 is 75 mph, but semi's are passing you going 80 mph and there's nothing but wide-open grassland to look at. Every few hundred feet we saw signs for the infamous Wall Drug - and that lasted for about an hour or so.

All that can be seen for miles, we are definitely in the Great Plains:




As we started to get closer the western portion of South Dakota, the terrain started dipping down and up a little bit more and we saw what looked like the first sign of civilization for a while in Kadoka, SD



We were nearing closer to Badlands and when we pulled up we could see the rock formations starting in the distance. We were pretty stoked to start seeing some of what we came for and it's a huge change from the monotonous green grass you've seen for the previous couple hours.









As we cruised through Badlands, we started to realize just how massive this place is - it seems like it drops miles into the earth


You better be Bear Grylls if you fall down into that stuff.


Some of the craziness of it is how you can see all of these layers that have become visible over time... this stuff's been here a lot longer than we have:


Compared to home, this place is like the moon, and I kept the helmet on as it made me feel even more like an astronaut:


We continued through badlands and when we were pulling out of the badlands loop, we ended up shooting out right near Wall Drug:



DW saying, WTF is this place:


After wandering around the abyss of Wall Drug, we ended up cruising into Rapid City and finding the Country Inn & Suites - another place with a water slide. We were sold.



We grabbed some grub in town and called it a day , that wind really kicked the crap out of us... but it was a hell of a lot of fun riding at a 45-degree angle down I-90. You at least have to do it once. Tomorrow lies ahead, and some even better riding and tougher decisions to make. Stay tuned!
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Old 11-06-2010, 08:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feline
Enjoying this, looking forward to more!
Thanks Feline... I have 12 more days to write about and put up pictures. Taking a break for a couple hours to watch some football.
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