Hayward, WI to Vegas Baby A Ride Report ------------------------------------------ Forward: Heidi and I called a happy hour meeting for brain storming and trip planning. A bus to Lyles Liquor Lounge, Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, the strongest two for one happy hour in town. Heavy into discussions, we talked about our next big adventure and what motorcycle to ride. New bikes are just too expensive for us and our sponsorship effort fell through. To make our next adventure happen soon it became obvious that we need to outfit one of our present set of wheels for two-up adventure travel ..OK, somewhere in there when we were talking about schedule and destinations came out a need for a shake-out ride to Vegas. Sounds good, we do a pinky pact. Now its set in stone, here we go. The Bike: For a fraction of the cost of a new bike we can outfit one of our current bikes for 2-up adventure travel. ? XL1200 ? I guess so Bike Stuff List: 4.2 gal tank, 2-up touring seat (Saddlemen Adventurer). Super heavy duty, extra long rear shocks and front springs (Progressive suspension 440s). Huge aluminum panniers (Happy trails 42L * 2). Custom bracket to mount panniers. Relocate blinkers and license plate. New tires. We have about 6 weeks to get the stuff and get the bike ready. I have a ball ordering everything over the internet. The stuff starts coming in . My buddy Rich is eager to paint the tank. What a friend, he does an excellent job and only charges me for the materials. Adding new bars: Tires are in, shocks, springs, blinker relocate kit. My buddy Tom came up to help me install all the new stuff. Tom has worked in mechanical engineering for years and also has a Sportster he works on. Tom is also getting ready to ride from Creel, Mexico to the sea of Cortez and back on his KTM, how cool. The fish house seconds as a bike mod. shop. We had to use a ball peen hammer to form the belt guard because of the much thicker springs. Tom did something similar to his bike. It was nice to know it can be done, I didnt think it could. The blinkers moved back allows room to mount those huge aluminum bags. How to mount the bags? My neighbor Jeff has an idea for custom brackets, we draw up a sketch. I take the drawing to Ornamental Iron in Shakopee, MN. A week later I pick up the two custom brackets. I told the welder that I dont care how they look, I just need them super strong. The brackets looked beautiful. I like it! The Ride: Im off just before noon. I see in the radar thin fingers of intense storms marching just west of Minneapolis and bigger cells located around east central South Dakota, just where Im heading. The cells are not big, not big enough to alter direction. I hit just sprinkles through most of Minnesota. Around west central Minnesota I planned on turning south but I could see a huge weather cell in that direction. Straight west is South Dakota and I could see just a small storm cell ahead. West I go. The rain was hard and the winds strong but it lasted for less then ten miles. The rain suit came off less then an hour later. I wanted to make some big miles the first day. Just short of seven hundred will put me in the South Dakota Bad lands, a great place to wake up and start a days ride. The more I ride the more I like VFF (Very Few Freeways). State and county roads are just more interesting even in SD but I knew the last hundred miles or so is going to be in the dark, for that I jump on interstate I90 west. Im hammering along doing 75, 80 but not much faster. Those new panniers I have act as big wing flaps causing a strong vortex air wave to form behind me. The bike really wants to start rocking at high speeds. 75 to 78 MPH is my new safe top speed, a little more in a tail wind, a little less in a head wind. Bummer, I like 85 to 90 but this is probably good for me. Ok Im flying along then go over a bridge with one lane closed for construction. At the end of the bridge was a big lip but not super big. Something felt a little weird then I hear a skitching sound behind me. It was getting dark but I still caught a glimpse of something on the road behind me. I didnt figure it out until I stopped and looked down at the bike, No right saddle bag! F------. My father being a WW2 front line soldier and long time backpacker of the Appalachian trail and others always taught me to carry survival gear. 50 feet of nylon rope gets me back on the road with the pannier. Lucky for me I only have about 40 miles before the Bad Lands exit with numerous camp grounds in the area. I take the first camp spot just off I90. The place had a pool and cold beer. Yes, I will figure this out. Hang on! Much more to come ..