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Old 07-04-2013, 10:10 PM   #1
alekkas OP
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Location: Far West Chicago Burbs
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Altitude Adjustment

I have a cool wife, and we love each other. Three great sons (19, 17, and 13). A job for which I have passion. We live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. And, I was a grouch. Grumpy and surly. Headed for a trip out West for altitude and, with blessings from home, headed out for a riding trip that was sorely needed.

Sure, there were a few places I wanted to see, but mostly, destinations were roads to ride. Squiggly lines to ride fast. Nothing cruising about it - a sport touring ride. No gps. A few printed out google maps in the tank bag map holder and a State Farm atlas in the left case.

Day 1:
Left Chicago’s far west burbs / rural at sunrise. Flat, fertile fields of IL.



Really wanting to get to some of this in Washington and many great roads in between.



And get a pic like this in Wyoming




Over the Mississippi and traversing Iowa and Nebraska on state roads. Decent speeds, little traffic but nasty wind. The kind that snaps the bike and your neck every gust. Most of the day it was a battle and the mpg showed the bike was fighting it too.
Of course some beautiful Midwest scenery along the way.



Finally, the day started cooling and the wind lessened entering the sand hills area of Nebraska. Been many years since I was here and really forgot how open, vast, and sparsely populated the area is. The speed limit was high, so flying through these curves was a blast and stress free with wide open sight lines for big critters.



Got to Merrimen, NE – where the plan was to tent camp – by six, had dinner at the local café, and should have set up camp. Wife got me a bottle of Jack for the trip, so I went into the local bar for a few diet cokes to have at the tent.



Love it when I get out west and see the cowboy look for real. Friday night, place filled with maybe 20 people (128 total for the town). Dressed well in rancher’s cowboy gear. Wranglers, checkered shirts, hats. Awesome. Grandpa shooting pool with his granddaughters. Taking a pic would have been disrespectful, but I wish I had one. Perfect time to go to the campground, have a few drinks, and get some sleep. .

But got antsy. Although planned on Wounded Knee in the early morning, I figured, go for it and get there for sunset.

Does this count as an assassination attempt?



The dirt road to wounded knee was a short run – probably just a few hundred yards, but was all rutted and soft sand. Yikes. No fun to be on loose pack with a connie. Pretty cool there was a Native American ceremony going on a few hundred yards away at the cultural center. Didn’t go – would be intruding. So just sat at the memorial with the sun setting and listened. Really wanted to be here right now. It happened.

Wounded knee



So I figure no problem. Pine Ridge looks like a big town. Only 20 or so miles in the dark. No problem finding a camp ground or hotel there. The Dakota reservation police (that’s what their SUV said – anglo pair btw) told me there is nothing like that in Pine Ridge or anywhere on the “res.” Go up to the casino. Ok. An hour later – too much for a room. Go to Hot Springs.

Around 11pm in Hot Springs on a Friday in July – let me tell you – there are NO rooms. Anywhere. Hmmm. By midnight, I’m setting up a tent in the dark at a KOA after leaving $30 in an after hours envelope. After vowing in 1990 that I would never go to a KOA again. Ever.

Had a few Jack and cokes by flash light and slept like a log til 4:30 am. Bleh. Got packed up showered up before they even opened up the office. Didn’t need to make that $30 contribution!

Left for Custer State Park at day break and my closest encounter with a bison ever – still makes the hair on my neck stand up.
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Why do I keep thinking I'm gonna wind up in a love / hate relationship with a Guzzi?

alekkas screwed with this post 07-09-2013 at 01:25 PM
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Old 07-05-2013, 10:03 AM   #2
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Custer State Park just after sunrise is a great place teeming with wild life. Golden light perfectly showing the reddish brown color of elk against fields of green. Just awesome.



Then began the buffalo encounters. First was one on each side of the road, maybe 10 feet from the edge cool and just loving it. Got past them and shot this pic looking backwards.




Those who have ridden here know the road gets very narrow with rocky mountains on each side. No shoulder, nowhere to go. Well there is a bison walking the left edge of the road. So slow down, stay to the right, no sudden noises or movements, and as I go by at 10 or 15 feet from him, of course I look at him and he actually starts to charge a few steps after me. Hmmm.

Better stay real slow. At the corkscrew (pig tail?) section, you ride over a bridge, the road takes a 270 degree turn and you go back under the bridge to the road you just crossed. Over the top I see this guy down below just waiting.




After being excited, getting off the bike, getting a few pics into the glare of the morning sun, I realize what now? That’s where I have to go! No choice. It felt like forever going down that 270 degree turn. Knowing what stood in front. Remembering the one that ran a few strides. He may have been on his side of the double yellow – but just barely. Hairs up on the back of my neck, he stops and stares as I come his way. Almost there, he kind of swings his head to his right, I’m on the white line (edge of road) on my right. As I pass, that eye is full on looking at me – almost at my eye level on the bike, and we pass and each go our way. I could have touched him with a golf club. Looking back, he kept walking up the road into that turn. Crazy.

More than any speed limit sign, cop, or radar gun, the rest of the ride through Needles Highway thoughts of bison in the road kept me going slow around every blind turn. Intimidating beasts to be sure.






Shot some two lane and slab up to the Big Horn mountains. This is where you climb a ton of altitude in a short space. From hot 90’s to cool 70’s in a few miles. Little traffic, great roads, great speeds, and lots of fun.




At the far end of the big Horns is the Medicine Wheel, something I really wanted to see. A mile or so of gravel and some intense over looks. Parked the bike at the ranger station lot and walked to the edge to take some pics. Walking back, I saw this. Too cool.








The story of the Big Horn Medicine Wheel is interesting to me. Check it out on line if you would like. All I know is you park and walk at least a mile to get there. Two big dips in the path so it literally is up hill, both ways, twice. At 10K altitude. Man, I’m out of shape! The wheel is very cool and protected by a fence that apparently can be opened with permit. When I finally got there, a Native American family was tying a prayer offering to the rope. So, I kinda went to the other side. After they left, I was able to walk the perimeter. Pretty awesome. A ranger is sitting up there reading a book, and I’m wondering if he’s there all day, and if the mission is to “protect” the wheel. Just quietly reading and certainly not bothering people. The view from here is magnificent on all sides. Tranquil. After a while, a group speaking German loudly shows up and it’s time to leave.







Got down off of those mountains and rode to Cody to camp at the state park in the valley. Wound up having a great evening of Jack and cokes with two recently retired couples traveling together from Saskatchewan. About 500 miles way, the guys ride down together once or twice a year. When the wives come with, they trailer the bikes down on the back of the rv and drive down in comfort for a few days of riding around. Great folks and great evening.

As the new day broke for day three, I left camp heading for Chief Joseph and Beartooth. Hmmmm, yummy.





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Some ride reports:
http://leroylanes.blogspot.com/

Why do I keep thinking I'm gonna wind up in a love / hate relationship with a Guzzi?

alekkas screwed with this post 07-05-2013 at 10:22 AM
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Old 07-05-2013, 10:17 AM   #3
vintagerider
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Great trip and pics. How was Beartooth hwy this year?
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Old 07-06-2013, 01:04 PM   #4
alekkas OP
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Bear Tooth was great. One small area closed to one lane.



Day three was another early wake up. The sun was rising just as the camping gear got packed onto the connie. Quick ride through Cody with the streets still empty and off to Chief Joseph. If this was indicative of the road to follow, I was in love. It was, and I am.




Honestly don’t remember seeing another car. Passed two riders on BMW 800s. That’s it. Really a perfect combination of sweepers and hairpins. Just great riding and awesome views.




So few pics. Stopping just didn’t really seem like an option with the throttle being so much fun.




At the end of Joseph comes Bear Tooth. Is it ok to have a favorite road ever right after a favorite road ever? A few cars on Bear Tooth, but easy enough to move around them, take a pic of the waterfall, and just keep going. For those who asked, the road is in great shape. One small area is down to one lane for a bridge repair. No problems and little to no traffic early.




Hustling through the hairpins, I went into a turn a little too hot. Momentarily locked up the rear and realized it was time to slow down a bit. Stopped at the next pull out and saw this. Love the layers of road below and the crazy blue lakes.




A lot more pics, but I’ll just leave it at that. Awesome being on top of the world and just
Listening to wind and feeling that cool, snow melt air. Great time to rest and reflect.

As Bear Tooth dumped into Red Lodge, found some back roads to ride before slabbing it. No problems here.




Well the heat began. Riding up to Missoula was in the 90’s, speeds were high on the slab, and it really wasn’t much fun at all. Just making miles. These temps were predicted, but man. Many stops, much water, slow progress. I bailed on ATGATT. Took of my riding jacket, stuffed it in the top box , and rode with a light long sleeve shirt to keep the sun off. Really need a light mesh jacket.

At one stop, I saw oil on my back rim. Final drive leak, oil leak, shock? No way to tell right now – bike was running fine, keep going.

At Missoula, went to Lolo (from A River Runs Through It) but that town didn’t look to badass like it was made out in the movie. Called my wife and changed some plans. I was going to camp along rt 12 and hang with a sportridng.net inmate, but instead asked her to book a room in Lewiston. Too hot to camp.

With a load off my mind, hit rt 12 across MT and ID with a clear head, a fast bike running great despite the leak, and I discovered it is a sweeper factory. Many, many sweepers. Saw this sign. Believe it.



A lot of rt 12 looks like this.



After many miles of smiles, curves, little traffic, passing zones, and fun, Lewiston showed up around sunset. A room, some food, cold diet cokes (sorry, no Jack – too wiped out), and AC set on its coldest setting. Ahhh.

Went back out to check on the oil leak. Plenty of oil in crank and final drive, so at least I was not tearing up a major component. Ahhh.

Time to sleep in the cool, wake up early, and check out Rattle Snake pass.
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Some ride reports:
http://leroylanes.blogspot.com/

Why do I keep thinking I'm gonna wind up in a love / hate relationship with a Guzzi?

alekkas screwed with this post 07-06-2013 at 06:08 PM
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:17 AM   #5
alekkas OP
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Morning in Washington....

Though there will be a price to pay on the way home, changing time zones is making it easier to wake up early each day. So is waking up to a great road each morning. Today it’s Rattle Snake Pass in Washington dropping into rt 3 in Oregon. Still morning cool riding the Snake River valley. Long winding road.




Then it tightens up a bit. Don’t believe that speed limit sign …




And, just some awesome views and roads. Only came across a few ranch trucks the whole way. Thanks to some sporttouring.net riders for the tip on this road. Just incredible.




Coming out into Oregon, the views opened up to a lot of this and a long winding two lane to get to the slab.




From there it was slab and miles getting back East. Hot slab and hot miles. The Idaho desert can get pretty darn hot. Very hot. Well my shins were burning and stops were coming down to every 50 miles or so. The beads actually did keep the seat from getting too warm. Go figure, they worked. At one stop, I went into the AC and an older Harley couple on two bikes were doing some serious traveling by the amount of gear showing and trailer. The wife was laying down on the bench seat. Overheated. They punted their reservations for further down the road and just got a room there. She was done. I don’t blame her.

Forecasts were for 110, thankfully, it was only 109. Called my wife to get me a room in Ogden, UT. Still a long way to go, but at least I knew AC was in my future. Finally started cooling around the UT border and I made it to an 8PM dinner, cold drinks, and AC!

Talked for about an hour with a great couple from Pennsylvania on a Gold Wing. They had come up from the canyons. Great couple in the middle of a three week trip. Mostly camping, but they opted for some AC today too. Good for them on a great trip from what they had already seen and where they were headed.

Went to sleep relieved in the AC and thoughts of riding my favorite place on earth tomorrow.

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Old 07-08-2013, 02:10 PM   #6
n16ht5
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pretty nice shots for a slab ride
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:02 PM   #7
alekkas OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n16ht5 View Post
pretty nice shots for a slab ride
Hey now, I probably rode 2 miles of dirt / gravel out of 4,200.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:51 PM   #8
alekkas OP
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Well, the West is beautiful, but eventually, had to start heading East.

It was great waking up from some AC and refreshed. Today was a high mile day, but at least, my favorite place on earth was in the route. Luckily, temperatures also cooled as camping out was in the cards for this evening.

Bypassed Salt Lake and saw some of those great red rocked mountains of Utah.




Then, a bunch of slab to get to where I wanted to be. The West is big and miles needed to be made.




I am a geek. It’s what I am. No matter how many times I have seen it, the Oregon Trail always gets me. Made a detour to see it and just hung there a while. All these years gone by and ruts cut by countless wagon wheels still remain. Can’t help it; it blows me away.




Saw plenty of wild horses this trip. This was the best pic I got. Another thing that still surprises me is the number of wild horses in the US. There were more in the herd?, but most ran. These two faced me up trying to decide. I imagine one is the dominant stallion.




Love Saratoga Wyoming, ambassador to the Snowies. Enjoyed riding around town. The hobo hot springs in good stead, downtown with most store fronts open, the café with folks talking about what is happening in town and the nation’s troubles. Stopped in for some AC, a light lunch, and much of eavesdropping. Love this town. Truly western.

“Had to lay ‘er down!” That’s what I heard in my helmet. Riding some great twisties to Medicine Bow, I saw a moose! Hit the brakes hard and pulled over. Last second I see a six inch drop off from the pavement to the one foot wide gravel edge. All downhill from there! “Had to lay ‘er down.” Can’t believe I said that. Thankfully, I hung with it. Held her up. The moose decided to leave, and I wound up with a pic of the prong horn near by. At least the bike didn’t get scarred up.




In scouting camping areas for the ride, noticed many Medicine Bow campsites closed for tree removal. Seems many of the trees here are dying due to beetle infestation. Seeing it first hand kind of breaks my heart a bit. I love this place, and it kills me to see the devastation. Near each closed camp ground are piles of dead trees collected. Can you see all the dead trees there?




The mountains still withstand. From an overlook, my favorite place on earth. Have been to the peak and walked the spine many times. Love this place.




And, another beaded seat cover pic just for grins.




On to Barber Lake Road. The sign said narrow, steep road. You betcha. Several miles of cool. Obviously slow speeds, and just awesome. No picture can show it, but it’s a lot like this.




I love this place, and could have spent another week here. Instead, it was time to keep heading East. Western Nebraska looking like the true ranch country that it is.




So, I could say I rode to North Platte and set up tent at the nearby state park. I could say just a few diet cokes and Jack and in bed. I could say that. But that would be at least a little dishonest. The ride was not over. The great pics were not in the past. Oh no, there was one last great pic to get at the Flying J. Yes, that’s right. One last great pic of the day. And, here it is – taken while the subject was in motion...




Yes, you are all jealous of my Boyz II men encounter I am sure. In the tent at a decent hour, and many miles of Midwest waiting for the morning.

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Why do I keep thinking I'm gonna wind up in a love / hate relationship with a Guzzi?

alekkas screwed with this post 07-10-2013 at 07:34 PM
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Old 07-09-2013, 09:31 PM   #9
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Excellent ride report! Great pic's and great places. Looks like the weather was with you except for the hot. Thanks.
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Old 07-10-2013, 05:41 AM   #10
Oldone
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Great photos!

I like that part of the country and tell myself that's another place that I just gotta go! Thanks for the RR.....

Gary "Oldone"

Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Ride
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Old 07-11-2013, 08:08 PM   #11
alekkas OP
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North Platte, NE wake up and off towards home. 700 miles to go. Pockets of heavy traffic, other times not so much, and a whole lot of this to look at.




Thankfully, Iowa has some great shaded rest areas. A few of these …




And next thing you know, going back over this big old river.




Just on the Illinois side at exit 10 on I88 is Hillsdale. The gas station there simply has THE best gas station pizza ever. Trust me on this. Stopped on the way out early in the morning for a couple of breakfast slices. Stopped back on the way home for chicken bbq slices. Seats inside, but love the outside gazebo.




So I found myself about an hour and a half from home sitting at the same picnic table where the trip started. Long shadows both times, just different ends of the day.

At my son’s baseball game last night I had someone ask me, “didn’t you stop anywhere for a few days?” It was hard to explain – so I didn’t. Other than a hand full of places, almost every destination was a road to ride. Just about 4,200 miles in 6 days. On rt 12, I had to pass quite a few cars. I remember thinking some guy is probably wondering where I’m in a hurry to get to? To get to? Nowhere. I’m riding like this because I am here!

And that was the plan. Other than the bison slowing me down, and getting out over my skis a bit at Bear Tooth, the goal was to ride these roads at the front edge of my ability. Ride my own ride on some awesome roads. Despite the oil still leaking, the bike responded with enough motor to enjoy the heck out of it and enough handling and brakes to get me home.

As I geared back up for that last hour and a half ride home, I was ready to get back to the family, show them a few pics, and finish off that bottle of Jack with my wife.

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Some ride reports:
http://leroylanes.blogspot.com/

Why do I keep thinking I'm gonna wind up in a love / hate relationship with a Guzzi?

alekkas screwed with this post 07-11-2013 at 08:49 PM
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