Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nebraska? to STURGIS

I woke up today to the sounds of what seemed like a hurricane.  My amazingly beautiful remote campsite in a quiet prairie field was starting to feel like something right out of the movie Twister.  It was an hour or two before sunrise but there was no way I was going to be able to fall back asleep.  Lightning was lighting up my desolate Nebraska grassy field so much that it was in brighter then the light of day and the winds were shaking the tent to the very limits of what it could handle.  I've seen too many news reports of tornados tearing through the midwest that I wasn't able to relax and fall back asleep.  I decided to take a look outside my tent.  What I saw could only be described as apocalyptic.  Far out on the horizon and barreling straight at me was a storm front that would make Poseidon tremor.  The night's sky was dark but there were enough lightning strikes to show me that within the hour I would either have to stay put in my tent and ride out a hellatious storm or get packed up and on the road.  I weighed my options and decided it was time to ride out.  I wasn't exactly in rush but to get moving but the though of doing some riding seemed far more entertaining then sitting in a tent watching the fields flood.  Even the cows seemed nervous about the impending weather.  I frantically packed up the bike and all my camping gear in the dark as quickly and methodically as I could.  I've got so much gear with me that If I don't pack it properly there is no way to get it all to fit.   It had rained gently a few times during the night so that all my gear was wet already so I just did what I could and made it all fit.  Not two minutes after it I was packed up and got the bike started did the sky tear open and the water started falling.  It rained so hard I almost needed a mask and snorkel just to get down the road.   I haven't been bothered much by the rain.  It has rained on me while riding every day so far except the day I rode the Dragon in Tennessee.  When you're properly dressed for rain it just turns into a minor inconvenience and not a show stopper.  

When I got going that morning I simply typed Sturgis into the GPS.  I have it set to avoid all major highways but not to avoid anything else.  45minutes into my drive the GPS was prompting me to make a left hand turn down a nice dirt and gravel road which would lead to a state road that I needed to get to.  Without a moment of hesitation I took the left and started down a beautifully smooth dirt road.  The rain had stopped and the sun was considering coming out for a shine so I didn't see any reason not to go down this road. I was cruising in 4th past abandoned farm houses, cows and wild horses.  It was amazingly fun.  Roads like this and sights like this have made this trip a unique experience that I wont forget for the rest of my life.  We don't have this type of scenery where I live and I felt like I was watching a National Geographic movie unfolding right before my eyes.  The road was a little soggy from the night's and mornings rain storms but it was manageable.  30 minutes into the road it started to get muddier and puddles were appearing out of no where.  I slowed down but still trucked happily along.  The bike and I were doing great in this stuff considering I dont have knobby tires on but I did have enough tread to stay moving in the deep mud sections.  She was eager for more so I pressed on.   I could tell that I was almost off this road and back on tarmac when I reached a hilltop.  I could see off in the horizon a few RV's cruising by so I pressed on down into the valley below.  The hilltop section of the dirt road was nice and mostly dry but the valley was the complete opposite.  I dont know if it had rained harder here or if the valley drained into this section of road but the mud was deeper, wetter, stickier and more slick at the same time.  The road conditions were quickly deteriorating but I didn't want to turn around and do the last 15miles of dirt road over again losing time.   I was almost where I needed to be when it got away from me.  The bike hit a rut and zigged when I wanted it to zag.  She's more than double my weight and I tried like hell to correct and power thru it but the bike wanted to take a little nap regardless of what I had in mind.  So down we went.  I knew that it was going to happen at some point during this trip but I didn't expect it to happen so soon.  It wasn't a real gentle fall but it was also wasn't terribly hard either, it happened quickly but slowly at the same time as well.  I was know laying on my side half underneath the bike in the grossest smelling cow pasture mud I've ever had the pleasure of playing in.  I wiggled out from under the bike and just had to laugh at myself because I instinctively looked around after I got up to see if anybody had seen what I had just done.  There was no body around but a couple of dozen cows which watched it all happen.  Hell, they actually stopped chewing and just stared with their mouths open.  I was hundreds of miles in the middle of no where and probably the only human for twenty and I was playing in the mud like a 8 year old kid. This is adventure.  I snapped a picture then set about picking the big girl up.  Not an easy task given the weight of her and the complete lack of traction under my feet.   I was grunting so loudly while lifting that I'm sure that I could have made the girls of professional tennis blush.  Off I went for the last few miles of muddy adventure riding.  The rest of the time I was a bit more careful not to be trying to steer in the ruts and I was also in 2nd gear twisting the grip and spinning that rear tire powering thru a little more aggressively.  The mud was a blast even though I dropped the bike.  I'm glad I took that little road.

I had a few more hours of riding ahead of me to get to the west side of S. Dakota where Sturgis is.  My goal was to head towards the Black Hills Mt. Rushmore area then cut north right into the party.   The black hills were gorgeous and the Harleys were roaring everywhere.   The geography completely changed for the 20th time in a week and the beauty of the Black Hills took me by complete surprise.  I had always heard that there was a great riding near Sturgis but this was amazing.  I wasn't in a rush at so I took in the sights and winded my way to Sturgis in the longest route I could possibly take.  The pictures don't do the place justice but they hardly ever do when you're snapping them from an iphone while cruising by at 45mph.

I cruised through down town Sturgis in a sea of black leather, cut off T-shirts and Harley chrome.  I was still covered in mud from this mornings adventures and the bike must have had 15lbs of mud caked into it's nooks and crannies.  Not only was I not on a Harley but I was dirtier then all the characters on the Mad Max movies combined.  Harley people LOVE their chrome and they love to spend countless hours cleaning and polishing their bikes and here I was on a foreign bike covered in sticky Nebraska mud sticking out like a thorn.  I got a kick out of watching people stop and point at me.  Harley guys would rarely take their bike down dirt roads and they certainly wouldn't take them down muddy roads. Some of these guys probably rarely take their bikes on actual roads at all.  They just trailer them around from show to show and park them where people can see how cleverly they're wore a matching T-shirt to match their custom paint jobs.    I call this peacocking ;)

I cut through town and headed to the Broken Spoke Saloon.  I was on my way to meet my buddy Mark and some of his coworkers on his rig.  Mark and I used to work on the same rig but he involuntarily chose to move on to pursue other opportunities.  I wont get into that story but it's a funny one.  Funny to me, I'm sure he doesn't find it funny at all.  Anyway, I rolled into camp and we set up shop.  He bought an RV/toyhauler on craigslist a few days before Sturgis and drove it all the way over from Maine.  It's not the prettiest setup on the lot but it will serve our purposes just fine.  The guys and I crushed a few beers and started to wander around the bars.  One beer led to one drink and one drink led to one shot and we were in full blown party mode.  It definitely got out of hand quick but that was our plan from the start, this was the biggest biker rally in the world after all.  My friend Adam, you'll remember him from the Key West shenanigans last week, knew one of the girls bar tending up here so I got in touch and made a new friend.  I spent a lot of the night enjoying her heavy handed pours of Makers and Cola while Mark was too bars over falling in love with a girl that had him captivated for hours.  Who am I to get in the way of love at first pour so we posted up there for the rest of the night.  The last bit of the night I remember was making eggs with the only kitchen utensil we could find and tucking myself into my tent for the night.

1 comment: