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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by danisOTR, Jun 29, 2020.
Thanks for that feedback. I’ll be making reservations today for Wednesday.
You are very smart. I also count the pennies as I am past retirement age, but keep working as I like working.
Sorry no service at Center Lake in Custer. Couple of pictures to hold you over.
More pictures from today.
We made it to Spearfish,SD today. Here are some pictures from the last few days. Narrative to follow.
Great trip. Enjoy !
Don't miss Vanocker Canyon Road
Just did it with bigjohnsd
I am jealous... I hope to do a trip around the Rockies next year in the US and Canada. Did ten weeks in the dead of winter in 2011... It must be nice to travel without so much traffic...
The traffic has been very light. I imagine that the roads around Rushmore, Crazy Horse, etc are much more Crowded normally. We can ride our ride at our pace without getting stuck behind other vehicles. Also, most people are yielding to us and letting us pass.
Devils Tower thanks to bigjohnsd.
I really enjoyed meeting and riding with you both. I love showing my Black Hills to visitors and you saw the best of what there is to see.
7/18/2020 Saturday Spearfish, SD
(I've been trying to upload pictures from my MAC. They show up in my photos but not when I look for them to upload. I'll keep working at it.)
Now for the write up for the last several days. I believe I left off with our visit to the Badlands. As I stated words and the pictures cannot describe how amazing the scenery is. If you have not gone put it on your bucket list. By the time we left we had ridden through 4 times, once headed west and three times headed east.
We left Wall on the 11th. We took the Park road Route 240, again heading east to connect to Route 44 which we would follow to Rapid City. It was interesting seeing the other side of the Badland. There were vast and flat open grazing on either side of 44. We were able to maintain a pretty fast clip most of the way.
We ended up in Rapid City and we had to find the Cabelas as we needed fuel for our Jetboil. We accomplished that and decided to have a meal before heading down into Custer.
We were lucky enough to score a same day only reservation at Center Lake Campground. All the other campgrounds showed as full. For Center Lake it was same day reservations only and they opened up at 7:00 AM. I was up early to make sure we could get a site.
We left Rapid City and cruised down Route 79 to 36 to 16A and then South Playhouse Road. The last couple of sections were really nice MC roads.
We pitched camp and went in search of ice and wood. The Ranger told us the only places to go. The nearest was Legion Lake which, as the crow flies, is a few miles away. However crows did not lay out the roads in Yellowstone. It was 15 minutes of twisties to get there. No real store but they had ice and wood. Loaded them back up and headed back.
By the time I got back Patti had already laid out our routes for the next two days. Nice to not have to worry about routing.
We settled in for the evening and Patti built us a nice fire.
We had a mishmash of leftovers in the cooler, some nuts and hummus and a spicy trail mix. Patti was able to concoct a pretty good meal out of that weird combination of ingredients. It was pretty good but I had her take two pictures just in case. Early to bed for another big day of exploring.
On Monday the 13th we headed into the Park. There is a loop road named Wildlife. It is best to go early to catch the animals. We didn’t get going early enough but we did see wild donkeys, sheep and a small group of Buffalo. I was really looking forward to seeing the Buffalo.
We finished the loop and headed towards Rushmore. We headed up Iron Mountain Road. Again, difficult to describe but fantastic riding. On the way up we spotted one lone Bison grazing on the side of the road. Thanks to Covid the traffic was light and we were able to stop for a minute to take pictures.
I continued up Iron Mountain and stopped at a vista point that looked down on Mount Rushmore. An impressive sight even at a distance.
Take note BMW Riders. Check this sign out!
We cruised down to Rushmore. Again, traffic is probably a third of what it normally is this time of year. Also, many cars and RV’s would pull off when we approached.
We pulled into the lot and had no problem getting a spot in the first parking structure, which was probably half full. We plopped our gear on the bikes and walked up the stairs to the entrance to the monument.
The crowd was the heaviest we’d seen on our trip so far. But was likely not as crowded as normal. I’d say it was 50 50 for mask wearers versus non mask wearers.
Patti was hungry and sustenance was necessary before viewing could take place. We forked over $21 for a burger, hotdog and two soft drinks. It was worth it so that we could get out among the masses.
We walked out to the viewing area. We did the obligatory oohs and ahs took some pictures and called it good.
We made it back to the bikes, geared up and headed to the exit. A nice surprise was that there was “free air” just before the exit. I took advantage and filled the RT’s front tire as the bike had been difficult to push through the curves all morning.
We headed the opposite way leaving the monument. We needed some provisions and headed into Hill City where we fueled and found a grocery store. We grabbed what we needed and headed back to camp going over part of the Needles Highway.
That evening we had another fire. We had bought a steak and we were going to try our portable grill. It packs down into a tube around 12 inches long. We’ve been carrying it around for a couple of years but we had not used it yet.
Patti made another great fire and got us a good bed of coals to cook the steak. I put together the grill which is a neat piece of kit.
Tuesday July 14th we planned on visiting Crazy Horse. To get there we took the Needles Highway all the way through to 385. Another incredible, indescribable road. There are several hairpin turns and a one-car-at-a-time tunnel. Patti had talked about coming back later in the day two-up. I said let’s pull into a parking lot and just do the last couple of miles back which was the best part.
We did that and Patti photo and filmed on her phone as we weaved through the curves and snuck through the tunnel. Another road that has to be ridden to be appreciated.
We rolled down 385 until we got to Crazy Horse. What a site even from the entrance road. It is massive and makes Mount Rushmore look like a model.
We toured the museum and watched the film about the artist who designed it and who’s family is continuing the work. Look it up. It is a fascinating read. This will be an awesome tribute to the Native Americans when complete. It is actually already an awesome tribute.
After we left Crazy Horse we headed down into Custer to get some more provisions. We grabbed some groceries, ice and wood and headed back to camp.
Another fire was built and tended to by Patti and we snacked on cheese, crackers and did. Another fantastic day.
Wednesday July 15th we decamped and headed to Spearfish. We took 16A, 15 and then 385 as we worked out way north. We stopped in Deadwood to have a look around and have lunch. Cool little tourist trap. Been there now, no need to go back.
After lunch and an escape from a jewelry store we were back on out bikes heading up 85 on our way to Spearfish.
Bigjohnsd had recommended the Spearfish City Campground. A great recommendation. We rolled into the campground just after one. The hostess told us check-in was not until 2 but they were running ahead and we only had to wait another 10 minutes. I asked about “our spot and if it had shade. She replied we were welcome to pick our own spot. We road through the campground and found a spectacular spot right by the Spearfish Stream. There was nice shade and grass to put the tent down on. I went back to the check in spot and was told we were good to go.
We pitched the tent and set up our Kermits and then went off to Walmart for supplies. We had bought a tarp when we were in Wall. The site we were on in Spearfish didn’t have trees to set up the tarp so I wanted to get polls.
At Walmart I found extendable painter poles. They extend to 8’. We finished our shopping and headed back to camp. I strapped the polls to the legs of the picnic bench and staked out the other end of the tarp. That gave us a cover over the picnic table and kept our “kitchen” under cover. $15 each so cheaper and more versatile than true camping tarp polls.
After we got settled I reached out to bigjohnsd and let him know we were settled. He volunteered to come to the campground to talk about things to do and places to go.
Bigjohnsd pulled into our camp on his 1200GSA. We introduced ourselves face-to-face for the first time. We chatted and “John” started to write down rides to take while in the area. BUT then he offered to be a personal ride leader for us. SCORE!
We chatted for a while longer and made arrangements to meet at a nearby coffee shop, Common Grounds the next morning.
Thursday July 16th. We met up with John at Common Grounds at 8. We ordered breakfast and grabbed coffee and went outside to eat. BTW if you are going through Spearfish Common Grounds is THE PLACE to go for coffee and breakfast. They serve lunch also and I’m sure the food is equally as good.
John laid out our options for rides for the day. We decided on a ~200 mile loop running south and east from Spearfish.
We all had Scala products and after some trial and error we were able to get all the units synched. Then we were off to the bikes.
We left Spearfish and headed down Spearfish Canyon. Another road that needs to be ridden, predicated on the fact that there are no Sunday drivers out. John led us on a spirited romp down the canyon. I am sure he’d say we were poking along compared to his usual pace.
We headed into Lead but before we got there John took us up to an active gold mine. BIG HOLE. Then he took us to the town where there is a mining museum. We toured the museum and were amazed at the way they started by digging tunnels. Then they went to strip mining. We watched films about the whole process of processing the gold. From watching the film it’s no wonder how expensive gold is.
John then took us down to Rochford which was an in and out then to Nemo Road which was also an in and out. From there we backtracked to Deadwood and headed up to Sturgis. We got the obligatory picture and then John took us out to Buffalo Chip.
Buffalo Chip is a campground outside of Sturgis that ends up “housing” tens of thousands of motorcyclist during the Sturgis Rally. It is massive. John explained that normally the rally sees almost ½ million people. People in town rent out spots on their lawn. It is the economic driver of that town and every town within 50 miles. Crazy! I’m not sorry to say that we are glad that we won’t be around for that.
From Sturgis we headed to the Harley Dealership in Rapid City. I neglected to bring a tire pump and was not able to source one. The Harley Store had something that would do so we did a quick stop. They were gearing up for the Rally and had all sorts of tents set up outside for inventory and farkle buying.
Time for lunch and John took us to Juniors Rhodehouse BBQ. We feasted on brisket and pulled pork while we decided our return route. John had a couple of suggestions. We opted to retracing some of our route.
We zoomed back to Spearfish and completed a ~250 mile day. Awesome to have a personal tour guide who knows the best roads to ride!
Patti and I sat by the stream spent from an exhilarating day of riding. Early in the evening I heard my name being called. We were facing towards the stream with our backs to the road. It was John and his wife Jean who had come by to drop of a package that I had shipped to his house. How’s that for kindness!
Friday July 17th. We had made arrangements to meet John at Common Grounds before we set out on another morning of riding. Todays goal was Devils Tower. But not straight there. John had another incredible route planned out for us.
At 7:30 we were side stands up heading west. John took us on Route 34 into Wyoming and then on 24 through Aladdin and Hulett. He took us up on a bluff where a golf community had been built and where the county airport was. It had a commanding view of Devils Tower and the surrounding area.
Back down on the main road we found ourselves at Devils Tower in short order. We all had Lifetime National Park Passes (a good thing about being a senior) and made our way through the toll booth and up the hill towards The Tower.
Impressive from a distance awe inspiring up close. We grabbed a parking spot where all three of the bikes would fit. We doffed our riding gear and made our way up the the pathway to the monolith. As with everything else we are seeing words and picture don’t do the actual experience justice. We walked up to and then a third of the way around the edifice. Here is a link for more details. https://www.nps.gov/deto/index.htm
From Devils Tower we headed towards Sundance on Route. On route to there John took us up Warren Peak which is at almost 6700 feet of elevation. Again commanding views of everything that surrounds it.
We dropped back down into Sundance and got on Route 585 towards Four Corners where we got on Route 85 and headed into Cheyenne Crossing then back onto Spearfish Canyon Route 14A. This was the Sunday Drivers day on Saturday. John was able to make it past a few slow moving cars but with the curves and the aggressiveness of the truck ahead of us we stayed back. Eventually a couple of cars pulled off and we were behind the worst offender who had been holding everyone up. We got up close and I turned on my LED’s. Within seconds the guy was yielding to us and we were off again.
John had pulled off a couple of miles ahead and we were quickly reunited. We made it back to Spearfish and broke off. I went back to camp to pick up dirty clothes and headed up to Johns’ so we could start working on my bike. For those of you not up to date, John had offered up the use of his well equipped garage so I could change the oil and filter in both bikes and to swap the tires on the RT. John had graciously let me drop ship the necessary article to his house.
John had been tracking the shipment from Beemer Boneyard. We set off from his house looking for the UPS truck. John had been watching the GPS location of the truck and he quickly hunted him down.
We relieved the UPS Driver of the box and headed back to Johns to begin work. Note that John not only offered the use of his garage and tools but he also worked alongside me, or was it me working alongside him?
We got the RT up on the lift and remove the bottom fairing and I got busy changing the oil. As I was doing that John was loosening the brake calipers and setting up the tire changer.
Oil complete we tackled the front brakes. Fortunately John was there to noodle how to get the pads off. I’ve done rears before but I am not sure I remember ever having done fronts before. Either way with John leading the process we got the pads done.
Onto the tires which were put out in the sun to soften. Adjustments were made to the tire changer and the old carcass came off and the new rubber was mounted. Next to balancing. With Johns patience that was done. Rinse and repeat for the rear.
Bike put all back together I headed back to camp to swap out for the 1150R. I was back quickly and made quick work of the oil and filter. WORK DONE.
We cannot thank bigjohnsd enough. His kindness, generosity and his willingness to share his time to show us around has been the highlight of our trip to date. Those of you who know him would agree. Those of you who find yourself around Spearfish and are posting will likely hear from him.
THANK YOU JOHN.
Saturday July 18th.
Today was a down day. We went to the post office to ship some (not enough) things home. Got some food. Washed the bikes, they were gross. I caught up on bookkeeping, long overdue. Now I am finishing catching up with this RR.
Tomorrow we head west. We are going to stay in a hotel for the first time in two weeks in Greybull. We are doing this to make some miles and get closer to Yellowstone. We plan to be in Yellowstone starting Tuesday. The Park Campgrounds are full so we will have to chance finding a spot.
I’ll try to do a better job keeping up with posting. But 3+ days without web access really puts a crimp in keeping up.
It was great sharing my Black Hills with a couple of experienced riders. Glad to be able to assist you on your great adventure. I can't wait to see the pictures in the above report once you get to good WiFi.
You got the FULL BigJohn treatment. 6 years ago, he gave a very similar tour to me and a buddy. Earlier this month, he again showed my daughter and I around the Black Hills.
I am really enjoying your report. Appreciate all it takes to keep up with it! Carry on.
Here are our "Spot Tracks" from 7-5
looking forward to following along
Sunday July 19 2020
We left Spearfish and headed West on Highway 90. We woke up to rain and had to pack wet which sucks. The weather was coming out f the west and it looked like if we made some miles we could get on the other side of it. We did stop In Sundance for Patti to put her triple digits on. This guaranteed no more rain and it worked.
We cruised into Gillette where we got onto Route 16 towards Buffalo. This was another recommendation from Bigjohnsd. Note this stretch of road is almost 100 miles and has no fuel stops that I could see. Make sure to fill up if you don't have the range left in your tank.
In Buffalo we stopped for fuel and a snack. We continues west on 16 from Buffalo. Here the scenery only improved as we were gaining elevation at a quick pace. The air cooled off and the vista through the passes continued to impress. I think that this particular stretch of road is my favorite to date and that is saying a lot considering everything we've ridden through.
All the scenery on this trip has been firsts for us and this was no different. Here are some pictures from the cockpit as we rode.
We had made reservations at the Wheels Inn Motel in Greybull, WY. This would be our first night in a hotel after two weeks of camping. We chose the location as it is only a couple of hours from Yellowstone and anything closer gets increasingly expensive. It is an old style motel with doors going to the parking lot. The room was fresh and very clean. It is owned and run by a couple. There is also a food truck in the parking lot named "Nan". It serves very interesting fair. Kind of fusion food blending all sorts of ethnic food. Very good almost worth the trip. So if you are heading through Greybull on Route 16 check it out.
Today we are heading into Yellowstone. Hopefully we'll be able to get a camp site. We will probably have no Wi-Fi so updates may be spotty.