Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2004 Motorcycle Adventure: Day 7

Photos - September 3 2004

Day 7 I awake in the Lariat Motel in Hardin Montana. None of the motels in this town looked promising, but this looked about right considering the competition. Lady was friendly enough, told me to stay off of 212 into South Dakota as it has a lot of rough construction. Place was made out of cinder block that I do believe amplified the outside noise, but it was clean enoughand all.

This is the second morning I wake up to rain, but it quickly becomes the day-long light drizzle cast down by menacingly overcast skies for as far as the eye can see (a long way out here), reinforced by a strong chill in the air. The sort of weather that mocks you and your foolish idea of riding 2000 miles from your nice warm bed at home. A delay for breakfast and some chit-chat with my disbelieving motel neighbors does nothing improve the situation. Besides, I'm riding east, "Thank you sir may I have another" directly along with the rain. On goes the Widder vest, jacket liner, and thicker socks. I stick with I90 for a ways and then take US14 at about Sheridan WY which makes a long 100mile-ish loop before reconnecting with the interstate. The first stretch of I90 wasn't too horrible, but I slowly get colder and curse myself several times for my poor choice in rain gloves. I pull off under an over pass to get out of the rain and to warm up for a few minutes, having already pulled off once before to plug in my electric vest. Not too far now and I'm on lonely US14. Really cold now, but the slower speeds are helping out. I stop in Clearmont WY for gas and to warm up, and to put on an extra layer (jacket, liner, plugged-in vest and two shirts now). Inside the gas station is sooooo warm. I never want to leave. The only folks you'll see around here are locals, and I talk to quite a few. Some of them laughing at me, some attempting insults along the lines of "uncomfortable crotch rocket", others quite interesting. Spoke with a local chap who rides himself, dirt now, but rode cross country on an F2 once. Good fellow, recommends the bar in Spotted Horse for a good burger.

My spirits are dropping and for the first time I have thoughts wishing I wasn't riding, that I was somewhere nice and warm, like home, but just then sky clears a little, the rain drops off, and temperatures stabilize to something more hospitable to a moto-traveler. After a short while I unplug the vest but leave the layers. Decide to skip Devils Tower so I'll have time to wander the Black Hills a bit. By the time I get to the Black Hills the weather is actually quite pleasant and life is good, but a little altitude in the hills brings back a chill and some brief sprinkles. Spearfish Canyon is fun but the 35mph speed limit is not! They need to take a lesson from Montana, which thinks that a 70mph limit on Beartooth sounds just about right. Good riding around here, lots of Harley/weekend outlaw types leftover from Sturgis though I guess. I'm getting worn out from passing so many people, mainly motorcyclists, when a two-up GL1800 comes up from behind at a good clip. I let him pass then spend the next half hour or so giving chase.It was a spirited fun pace, not balls to the wall, but enough to get in trouble with Johnny Law if he found out. Great fun and I didn't feel so conspicuous for being the only person passing everyone in sight.

I pay my $5 to go thorough Custer State Park and the Needles Highway. Definitely worth the $5. Lots more wildlife, some deer, lots more bison, and some wild Burro. Iron Mountain Road I believe it was called, leading north from the park to Mount Rushmore and Keystone was pretty interesting, more 1-lane tunnels carved into rock, some good views of Mount Rushmore, and the carousel things you've probably seen before.

This is also where I *almost* dropped the GPZ at 0mph, it's favorite crashing speed. Foot slipped on a slight incline while taking a picture and the bike quickly starts listing to the left, its massive weight being brought to bear but I somehow save it one handed and don't even drop the camera! It was really close. I almost had a matching set of left-and-right scratched fairings.

Anywho, I pull into the interesting town of Keystone, SD for the night, and see a GL1800 being hauled around in the back of a pickup truck. Hrmm.

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