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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Orangecicle, May 30, 2021.
Morning at the campground in the North Cave Hills:
There is a reason that you pick the camping site with the largest table. I forget why, but I know it’s important.
We headed out the gravel path towards the North Dakota border, passing a Catholic school along the way. I found the outhouses interesting. Just image, it’s 10 below, and you have to poop here. I think I’d just hold it.
And then, we were at the North Dakota Border.
We started south, skipping much of the other half of the route. The wind was blowing HARD from the east, which for a mid-westerner you know just ain’t right. We reached Buffalo, SD for the first gas stop since Belle Fourche. The attendant noted that the forecast called for one of those strong winds with a funny foreign name. I said, “Derecho?”. She confirmed that this is what the news was talking about.
Iowan’s know all about Derechos, which we saw in 2020. 175 mph straight-line winds can do a world of hurt. As we headed south, it got hotter, and hotter, and hotter. The winds blowing out of the south and east were horrible on the roads.
By the time we reached Belle Fourche, it was 104°F. Oddly, it didn’t feel like more than 105°. The ice I’d stuffed in doggy bags in my jacket at Buffalo had long since melted, and I had stopped sweating. It was hot. Just hot.
We considered options and thought about where we would be safe. The Travelodge in Spearfish was top of my list. We knew that place, so I eventually directed us there. If there is a Derecho or hail as predicted, then we are in a good place with an overhang and/or forayer in which to put the bikes. And no, I’m not asking — I’m just doing.
"Welcome to ND. Be legendary."
Well, our legends and maybe our shadows were the only things to cross the border. After the photo ops we melted our way back south, as OC said. I didnt give him the option of taking the gravel roads of the route at this point due to the combination of high winds and lots of loose gravel so far on our trip. My guess is that a lot of grading and gravel spreading takes place in the spring, and June is too early for the traffic to have compacted it or at least made two or three nice wide bare patches to aim for.
With a few miles on the new bike I am gaining some confidence on these sketchy surfaces but my recently broken and healed shoulder still tells me the 690 is not as planted as the 990 (true or not, that's what it says).
Regardless, I will never be happy leaning in to a 30-40 mph cross wind on gravel. I might have early-onset Oldtimer's Disease but soiling myself on purpose is not yet part of the deal.
When we got back to the Travelodge, we asked for the same room, which was available. We asked whether or not the two beers we left in the fridge were still there, but the manager said that she and her maintenance supervisor had already taken advantage of our leftovers. Then I asked whether this was the oddest thing she’d ever seen left in a room before, that started a long conversation about things that resemble human anatomy and bounce when dropped on the floor. Needless to say, beer was not the weirdest thing she’d seen in her Travelodge journey.
I have spent a LOT of time in Spearfish. 2 beers wasn't the strangest thing *I* ever found in a hotel room. *shudder*
Keep your heads down, gents. Looks like a bit of a blow out there.
Excellent ride & report Oc & Oz!
I was hoping you’d make it to Slim Buttes, east of Buffalo. My favorite place in that area.
High heat & wind can change the best laid plans.
Glad you’re enjoying the “backside” of South Dakota.
Ole BigDog has been enjoying your story. We didn't ride the Northern part of it last year. So nice to see it-----loved that Northern campspot. That heat would have done me in too. Hardest thing to deal with on long rides.
Below is a link to our story of riding if you haven't seen that. I don't post rides on ADV anymore---they are just on my website.
That night the stormfront blew through, mostly missing Spearfish but apparently giving rise to a tornado further north we later heard. Just a short period of high wind and a ton of lightning where we were, but glad we weren't in tents.
We spent the following morning making an early run to Devils Tower for photo and alien-viewing ops. The temperature drop of 50+ degrees overnight actually froze my hands in summer gloves. We struggled on, feeling like farmers (its too hot, it's too cold, it's too dry, I hope it doesn't rain etc)
The admission price was steep but being up close and personal to the Tower is well worth it in my opinion. You can walk right around and certain angles to the light show it's form better than others. I'm sure OC has some stunning photos to post brewing in his hard drive by now. Here's an Android photo as we rode away, showing that some whispy clouds add some depth to the scene:
With sudden pressing family demands at home on my part we beat a fairly fast retreat to Nebraska via the more interesting western route of 385, vowing to complete the rest of the Dakal trails another day.
The stretched tendons, aching muscles and pinched nerves (like an occasional knife between the shoulder blades) made us both feel we had survived a challenge rather than enjoyed some pretty scenery...all praise to Blaster Bill and others who have assembled these tracks over the years.
My feelings are that we struck the area at the right time, though hit with unseasonably hot weather (locals were calling it a hundred year heatwave) but not too abnormal for July and August.
I believe Bill told me once he has ridden parts of the Dakal during every month of the year, but I think the true reliable riding season is pretty short, due to early and late winter storms and slow snow melt in the gorges and gullies.
Also, about 90% of the Dakal is rideable by almost any motorcycle when it's dry, and there are bypass tracks for some difficult sections. But I am definitely a smaller bike convert. Leave the liter-plus machines at home unless you are in good shape, skilled, have knobbies and don't mind a few dents and scrapes, especially if you are carrying full camping gear loads as we were some of the time.
Stay tuned for more photos as we get a chance to get them processed.
As Oz noted, we headed back a couple days early, partly because of brewing personal issues at home and partly because we are exhausted. The riding in South Dakota was great, and I'm already thinking about a timeline for a return.
I started the process of post-processing of images. Frankly, it's really slow because I'm still pretty exhausted. I think it was just the drain put on us by the incredible heat we encountered. Regardless, I've started, and I'll try to post up a few pictures as time permits.
I've taken many star pictures over the years, but most of my work has been based around multiple exposure work. You can capture pretty good stars with modern digital cameras this way, but that approach has its limits. A few months ago I bought a star tracker, which is a device that you align with the North Star and then use to compensate for the Earth's rotation. It's a tricky thing to use, and even more tricky when you are trying to use it while traveling by bike. But, if you get the thing set up properly, the results can be stunning. The picture below is two exposures. The first is an exposure for the Milky Way. I believe it was ISO400, f/4.0, for 4 minutes using a 14mm lens. After that exposure, the tracker was turned off, and then Oz and I took a second exposure while using a flashlight to paint light on the truck. The two images are then blended together in Photoshop. Other than the blending of the two exposures, there are very few "computer" adjustments applied to the image.
The North Cave Hills:
South of Midland. This shot involved three exposures -- one of the Milky Way, one of the bikes with light painting from a flashlight, and one of the tent with a light on inside. The colors in the Milky Way are not fake -- that's what it looks like when you give the camera time to capture the faint light that's there:
WOW amazing pics. I had done 2/3rd of this route with Sleddog. You were able to capture amazing landscapes and old buildings/machines pics. It makes me want to go back to catch the last 1/3rd, which is the area around the Black Hills. I will have to stay with ADV rider/owner, Michelle, from the Chalet Motel in Custer. Too bad - what can be a wonderful spring time of year (June) would turn out to have historic heat just for your ride! Looking forward to seeing more of our pics.
Orange: "I wonder if it's domesticated or wild variety?"
Oz: "Only grass fed for me. It's all about the flavor."
Oz checking out the Sturgis-inspired pro-Trump shirts. Oddly, no purchases were made.
Oz rock shopping.
Proof that some people will buy anything I guess:
Well, if your nether regions are getting particularly cold I guess...I know bison stand around in waist-deep snow in 40 below...
But if you were worried about your nether regions getting cold, would you be buying the Bison ball bag that's had a Brazilian??? I think no.
Some call it art. Personally, I have a sinking suspicion that this is a subtle commentary on the legalization of grass: