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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GAS GUY, Mar 14, 2020.
Let's see, your southwest of the Corn Palace, west of the Missouri River not much out there other than corn, cows and wind...
... and heat! We (Turbo Jim and I) were running through 97° wind-blown heat all afternoon yesterday. We ran U.S. 18 across South Dakota, traversing the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian Reservations; the poorest places in America - but perhaps the sweetest and smoothest roads I've seen; go figure. We were stopped at a checkpoint in the Pine Ridge Reservation (by a couple of local Lakota men) and questioned about our health and/or any exposure to Covid. They told me they had 40-cases on their reservation so far. They allowed us to proceed, but said they probably wouldn't allow us to stop in town. I assured him we had plenty of fuel and intended on running straight through until we reached Hot Springs in the far western reaches of South Dakota. There was another checkpoint - manned by a few militant looking Lakota - as we exited, but they waived us through; they were probably called and told we were headed that way.
Needles Highway through the Black Hills - from this morning.
Had a beer in Deadwood, South Dakota - at the saloon where Wild Bill was gunned down in 1876.
And holed-up in another cool western town. Love the old motor lodges (with your bike parked just outside your door) especially when they have neon signs or neon accent lighting glowing in the night sky. The old key tag takes me back to life on the road in the 80's.
Looking forward to the trip pictures. Safe travels Jeff!
As I was passing through Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, towards this evening and in the middle of a big sweeping curve - the sun broke through the clouds and scattered a magnificent sunburst across the meadow.
Wait a minute. I thought Wild Bill was shot @ No. 10 Saloon? That's not #10.
At the beginning, I'd said "The Badlands or Bust." Saved it for last ... and almost had a bust. But we made it.
Earlier this afternoon while in the shower and reflecting on this last epic ride ... as various images and emotions filtered through my mind's eye, of not only the last week ... but also of the last two-decades on two wheels - a bunch of words and sentences surfaced in rapid succession. So I wrote them down.
Travel by Motorcycle is Enlightening
It's the mature hawk perched in the massive nest on top of a telephone pole, peering down at me ... or the doe nudging and encouraging her spotted fawn with wobbly legs ... forward ... in the grassy field, back towards the safety of the woodline. It's the brawny buffalo in the road, not taking his eyes off of me, as I creep past on my motorcycle, with my pulse quickened. It's the immense mountains, and deep canyons, the scraggly evergreens growing out of the rocky hillsides, the ever-changing skies and conditions, the pop-up storms, the miles of reflection and contemplation, the individuality of the people met, the quaint towns, the cadence of the big twin, the buttery-smooth feel of the ST, or the distinctive sound and characteristics of the boxer twin. The searing heat and frigid cold. The uniqueness of every setting sun ... or sunrise, the wonders of something or someplace new ... or a new place becoming so familiar that it's starting to take shape and become like a home away from home. It's overcoming vast distances and feeling limitless in your traveling potential, the satisfaction of successfully navigating your way around the country, and the independence and liberation felt when the whole country starts feeling familiar, it's the bond you feel with your motorcycle when you are essentially living on it, from morning to night, day after day. It's the comradery that is built when you spend a week on the road with another soul, or the things you find out about yourself ... when you go it alone. It's about missing your home, family, and pets, and the new-found gratitude that comes from temporarily loosing them, or realizing how much you take them for granted. It's about realizing how fortunate you are to be able to take off on an epic journey, it's about realizing that when you are home ... you want to be out on the road, and after a period of time on the road ... wanting to return home, it's about understanding the balance of life ... and death, it's about realizing that there is never any real closure in anything ... just cycles ... but we keep moving forward anyway ... doing our best to maintain or improve things with whatever resources we have available. It's about realizing that so many things are not really as they seem. It's about the transitions, contrasts, and new perspectives. The wonders and the opening of the mind. It's about the essence ... understanding it, finding it, and feeling it. It's about learning to see and feel all of these layers simultaneously. It's about the intimacy you share with the world. The reality, the truth, the highs and lows. It's all of these things, and more, that you would not have experienced ... in this capacity ... otherwise. Travel by motorcycle is enlightening.
Yes sir! Its what is over the edge of the horizon that is the draw! As some say, "I'm not lost, I've never been here before!"
Well put Jeff. And all true for most motorcycle riders.
Ultra Classic: The Overweight Seducer
Someone asked me how I would compare my Ultra Classic to my GSA and ST.
First I would like to open by saying that I have an old school nostalgic side; I've an affinity for old stuff and old styling and even many old ways.
Last week while at a gas stop in Iowa, Turbo Jim struck up a conversation with a rider there on a Triumph Tiger 800 adventure bike. Jim mentioned to him, the assortment of bikes that I own and ride, to which the Tiger rider asked me, "Which is your favorite?"
"The GSA." Was my answer without much hesitation. To which he nodded ... as if he already knew.
The GSA is just so damn versatile. You can set it up to do anything; long-distance, off-road, touring, adventure. And the 9" of suspension travel make the worst roads tolerable, especially with quality suspension. I've been running Ohlins on the GSA.
And as far as knocking down big miles, the ST is better than the Ultra or the GSA ... in the spring and fall. The ST is too hot in the summer though. I used to ride it throughout the summer when it was all I had, but given the choice ... I'd rather not.
Actually, the Ultra probably comes in last behind any capable modern motorcycle in terms of overall performance and efficiency. But ... I like an underdog - especially a cool one. If someone doesn't really want one, I'd say don't bother. You won't be happy. The new (Gold) Wing is king. But the Ultra Classic will knock down as many miles as you are willing. The newest Milwaukee Eight versions are on yet another level ... I've test ridden them ... but that's another topic. We are discussing my "Project Rushmore" (2014-2016) model; the last of the Twin Cams.
If I didn't get an incredible deal on this almost new Ultra Classic, I wouldn't have bought it. These days, I buy almost everything used ... even most upgrades.
I'm also a sentimental guy, and have fond memories of the 40,000-miles that I'd accumulated on the 2003 Ultra that I bought new. My initial foray into long-distance riding and touring was on that Ultra, so an Ultra Classic will always be close to my heart. When I sold it, a part of me knew I'd get another one some day. In between, I tried a 2008 Road Glide. That was an impressive bike - except that I could never achieve satisfactory (smooth) airflow from the windshield and fairing; too much buffeting. After a year, almost 10,000-miles and one Iron Butt ride - I sold the Road Glide to a wealthy logger from Washington State; he flew in to Detroit Metro, I picked him up, and he rode it home. He told me he was going to make a radical custom out of it. Boy did he ever! He sent me pictures of it in a magazine a year or two later. You would never recognize it. Radical customs do nothing for me ... but to each his own.
Anyway, this 2016 Ultra Classic I have now is a great bike. Last fall I installed a Supertrap Supermeg 2-into-1 full exhaust system, high-flow air cleaner, and a tuner. Runs great and the exhaust is not much louder than stock; it's a rider. The hot catalytic converter (in the stock headpipe) near your right leg is also gone now.
The bike is buttery smooth as soon as you are above idle, runs down the expressway at 80-MPH all day long. Except for gas stops; which are often, as at that speed you only return about 35-MPG. Running a mix of 55-70 MPH though, I've seen 47-MPG. On the way home from South Dakota, we ran 900-miles on one of the days, and I felt fresh enough after getting off the big hog; could've kept riding.
A couple of gripes I've noticed are: the front brake rotors are pulsating during high-speed braking and while I love the built-in Infotainment system with GPS, the radio volume (even through my helmet headset) seems inadequate considering the premium cost of the motorcycle; my J&M units on the ST and GSA are worlds better as far as music quality, although not as neat and convenient. Plus the J&M units always end up with some electrical interference noise in the background.
The airflow over the windshield is much improved with the new batwing fairing featuring the cutout. The adjustable vents in the lower fairings work well and allow me to leave them on year-round. The cockpit does not feel cramped now, since they angled the dash forward more. My Mustang seat also sits you back an inch or two. The new one handed latches on the saddlebags are a nice and functional touch. These are all big improvements over my 2003. The 6-speed transmission is nice too, always wished I had that 6-speed on my 2003. The funny thing is though, in 6th gear and wide-open, my top speed is 90-MPH. That is probably a good thing ... for me. Tons of torque and runs strong right up to 90-MPH. Probably the gearing. It will probably go faster in 5th gear. I don't need to go over 90 on this bike, so it's fine. It's a low-end torque monster; always in the sweet spot for realistic riding.
The biggest challenge, to my mind, is the suspension. Especially for those of us who live in an area with appalling road surfaces. The Harley and it's 3" of archaic (twin shocks) suspension travel does not handle frost heaves and sharp ledges (high-speed compression events) well. They beat you up. And Michigan roads are full of them. I've removed the stock air suspension and installed a set of JRI hydraulic shocks (that I had on my old Road King, but turned out to be too stiff for that bike). The JRI shocks are much better than the stockers on this heavy Ultra, but I'd still like better. I'd like a shock with a high-speed compression adjustment, so I can try to tune out those spine-jarring speed bumps in Michigan. While in South Dakota ... the suspension was a non-issue. The roads are fabulous out there! Enough about the state of our roads ... my blood starts to boil!
Slowly, I'm getting the South Dakota ride report together. It was my first big ride on the Ultra. "The Badlands or Bust." Or "Project Rushmore to Mount Rushmore." We had multiple 600-mile days and one 900-mile day. The total trip miles were 3,150 over 7-days and 9-states. As far as pictures ... I cycled the shutter 1,000 times! Out of those ... I'll probably keep or use 50-100 of them. And maybe only 10-20 pictures will be exceptional. It will be a while before the report is ready. I've rattled off 4,000 words of notes into my Scrivener program (pertaining to that ride) so far. Plus, I'm still trying to keep the years rides in chronological order: I have to finish posting the 3-day ST ride up to the Huron National Forest and Lake Huron, a 3-day GSA ride on a couple of portions of the Trans-Ohio Trail, and then a subsequent 4-day ride on the GSA up to the Huron National Forest and Lake Huron.
- Taking in all of the magnificence along the Needles Highway!
Here is a really bizarre photograph; those special ones that come about by happenstance. We were in Deadwood, South Dakota. The front window display at Sick Boy Motorcycles caught my eye. As I was mentally dissecting all of items, Turbo Jim had walked in and appeared in front of me on the other side of the glass. It was perfect! So I fumbled for my camera and snapped off this shot. There is so much going on: the storefront, some of the items inside, Turbo Jim, me taking the picture, and even the stores behind me on Main Street.
Alpena, Michigan - (2 May 2020) The Great Lake Huron:
Scoping out the Alpena (Lafarge) Cement Plant from a small roadside park, with a beach, called Mich-e-ke-wis Park.
Due to the Corona Virus Pandemic, we had to purchase an Italian Grinder from the parking lot of Mancino's and take it over to the park.
I've been wanting to size up that cement plant anyway, as my grandfather painted a watercolor of it back in 1941. Being that I was a cement finisher before I was a mechanic, that painting has been in my possession for a quarter-of-a-century. It was one of a few of his many paintings that I had to have. When cement would go on strike in the early 90's, I'd have to heft 94-pound bags of Lafarge cement and dump them into the mixer - sometimes all day. That watercolor had deep meaning for me. But that is another story, for another time.
I'm trying to find the spot that my grandfather would have set up his easel and went to work. Years ago, I thought this was the spot. Foolishly so, being so often mentally preoccupied and making quick assumptions ... I was on the wrong side. This is viewing it from the south. After more careful scrutiny, I'm confident he painted it from the north side ... looking south. Part of the reason for the deception, is that the lake is not in the picture. Next time up, I will reconnoiter the north side, find the spot he most likely occupied during the work - and elaborate more on the story.
After eating, I took a little walk along a cement path that followed a piece of land, protruding out into the lake further. As always, I was looking for better perspectives to capture. The fast changing sky cooperated. You never know what you might be presented with, when exploring along the Great Lakes. Every hour can bring with it immense change in sky, lighting, clouds, and mood. The cement plant can still be seen on the horizon.
Along this path, there was a beautifully illustrated and informative placard of a nearby shipwreck. These Great Lakes are littered with them. This bay in Lake Huron is called Thunder Bay, not to be confused with Thunder Bay in Canada on Lake Superior.
Then we moved north a few miles to Bay View Park so we could access the breakwall. From this vantage, we were able to get a glimpse of the small red Alpena Light and also the cement plant. As we were leaving here - the sun broke out.
Turbo Jim wanted to show me where this Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center and museum was located. They were closed due to the Corona Virus Pandemic. Perhaps in the future, I'll be able to visit and learn some more Great Lakes history.