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Old 05-17-2006, 09:46 PM   #1
manfromthestix OP
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Damn, the Dakotas are FLAT! and WINDY! But there's great riding on the way!

My son is a college student in the University of North Dakota's Aviation program. In the 2.5 years he's lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota I have not been out to see him. Yeah, I know, Bad Dad. He's been home a number of times and he's repeatedly said, "Dad, it's really flat and boring out here! Save your trip for my graduation!". Anyway, I got to feeling kinda guilty and frisky at the same time after the long Winter, so decided to ride out from Lander, Wyoming and see him. He's got my K-75 at school with him (an early graduation gift ), so the plan was to ride together to Ontario or circumnavigate Lake Superior or something once I got there. We rode to the Canadian Rockies last Summer and it was the most fun we'd ever had together and were looking forward to another Riding Adventure.

Some pre-ride maintenance and service was necessary, so I got my assistant lined out and got to work:

Just like me, the RT looks better with her clothes on!

Alternator belt checked fine, PITA brake bleed done fairly recently, tranny, rear drive and engine oil changed, tires better than 50%, no big surprises anywhere. Changed the fuel filter, another PITA exercise but I think it was time, the new one sure flows better than the old one and I dumped some ugly crap out of the bottom of the tank.

Adjusted the valves and cleaned the K&N filter, did a throttle body sync, double-checked all the lights and other stuff and put her clothes back on. She's all dialed in, tuned up, packed like a moving van and ready to leave home!

Through the tunnels in Wind River Canyon and on through Thermopolis, Wyoming, destination Ten Sleep and Powder River Pass over the Big Horn Mountains:

Thermopolis is is billed as "The World's Largest Hot Spring". I don't know if it's true, but the travertine terraces above the Big Horn/Wind River are pretty and the hot pools are great for a soak!

Wyoming highway patrolman with a Bad Actor just outside Ten Sleep. This asphalt just begs to be ridden fast, it's wide open, brand new with high-speed sweepers. Bad timing for this guy, ooops, but better him than me!

Entering Ten Sleep, a neat and pretty little town with five bars, one gas station and an espresso shop, everything you need:

Ten Sleep Canyon at elevation ~4300' on the way to Powder River Pass at 9,666 feet, then drop to Buffalo at ~4650 feet, all in 65 miles:

Still skiable at Meadowlark:

Cloud Peak on the Buffalo side of the Pass. This is 65 miles of some of the finest high-speed sweepers I know of, an outstanding ride with fantastic pavement, great scenery and very little traffic.

No photos of Buffalo, WY sorry. I was running a little late so took I-90 at warp 8.5 to Gillette and on toward Devil's Tower. This is the WyoDak coal mine and powerplant (I'm pretty sure) just east of Gillette. The Powder River Basin is home to a number of the largest coal mines on Earth and they produce a phenomenal amount of coal. In some places the seams are over 100 feet thick with only 50 to 100 feet of overburden.

I think each car holds 100 tons of coal and each train consists of 110 cars and is over one mile long. The trains never stop moving as they're loaded, they run under the loadout silos at 4 mph if I remember correctly, and load 24/7/365. That's a lot of coal.

My destination is in sight! Good thing, it's getting late and I'm tired.

The KOA wanted $28 a night for a tent space, screw that! So I pitched camp in the unimproved campground at the Tower for $12, spent the night next to a group of rock climbers that I know from Lander (it's a small world ) and across from a HUGE group of Boy Scouts. Had to take camp photos the next morning because it was totally dark by the time I got everything set up.

If you've never ridden the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota you're missing some of the best rides around. That's a small part of why Sturgis is so popular (more on that later).

It's late and I'm going to bed now, more tomorrow!

"If it doesn't blow smoke and make noise, it isn't a sport!" - radio ad for shop in Bozeman, MT

manfromthestix screwed with this post 05-17-2006 at 10:07 PM
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Old 05-17-2006, 11:12 PM   #2
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Old 05-18-2006, 12:13 AM   #3
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Old 05-18-2006, 01:12 AM   #4
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I'm jealous! What a great place to ride, great pics!
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Old 05-18-2006, 05:03 AM   #5
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BTDT, good report. You know we're practically neighbors in the western sense, a mere 4-500 miles apart.
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Old 05-18-2006, 05:23 AM   #6
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Looks good!
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Old 05-18-2006, 06:59 AM   #7
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Day Two, Joy-Riding the Black Hills

I'm back, a quick post before I head out for the work day.

Hi Heath, enjoyed your latest KLR post! Good onya for the grades! Hope the snow melts soon!

This is a teeny bit of Spearfish Canyon, about 35 miles of outstanding twistiness between Spearfish and Deadwood/Lead South Dakota. There was almost no traffic, lots of sand in some corners, but I was still able to do most of it at 2X the posted limit. Spearfish Creek:

Obviously a nasty corner..... the back side of the sign says "Why Die?" and some have little motorcycle cutouts attached, more of the Sturgis Legacy I'm guessing. Apparently the SoDak Highway Department errects one of these at the site of each fatality... sobering, they're everywhere!

The "Open Cut" at Deadwood, Homestake Mining Company. It's defunct now (can you tell I'm a geologist?? , all my photos have ROX in them!).

Custer State Park is gorgeous, skinny little roads with narrow little tunnels working it's way through "The Needles", another great rock climbing area:

The "Eye of the Needle", very cool rock.

I like tunnels, and this route is chucky full of them. Just don't bring yer motorhome! The camera wasn't able to handle the brightness difference, but you can see Mount Rushmore framed from this series of tunnels (by design of the builder):

This one is extra cool, a tunnel exits onto a bridge and curls around under itself:

The Boys. I didn't bother to park at the visitor center for $12 so I snuck a few photos without paying extra for the better view:

From here it was back through Deadwood to the Motel 6 in Belle Fourche, SoDak. I wanted a shower and good night's rest because Day 3 was 620 miles of South and North Dakota......

More later, gotta go earn some bacon to pay for my habits!

"If it doesn't blow smoke and make noise, it isn't a sport!" - radio ad for shop in Bozeman, MT
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Old 05-18-2006, 07:41 AM   #8
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Beautiful. Please don't stop.
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Old 05-18-2006, 07:52 AM   #9
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Very nice! Great pics, good roads . . . looks like a fun trip. I'll be headed out that direction in a few weeks, so this is good motivation to get everything ready. Keep it coming!
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Old 05-18-2006, 09:07 PM   #10
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And off we go across the Dakotas!

Originally Posted by Hannda
Beautiful. Please don't stop.
As you wish!

OK, so I got to spend two days riding in the twisties of the Big Horn Mountains and the Black Hills. Time to head across the Dakotas for Grand Forks and my son. Heading North out of Belle Fourche, SD with a belly full of good strong java. Damn, it's STRAIGHT and FLAT and WINDY!

Well heck, the filtered java wants out and the effects are starting to wear off and it's still straight and flat and windy:

Finally, a landmark! Dakotans are not intimidated by distance and a big sky.

Teddy Roosevelt has long been a hero of mine for many reasons (#1 reason, thanks for all the National Parks, Teddy!), and it was part of the plan to ride through his former ranch. It was HUGE in his time but has shrunk down to the North and South Units of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Cool country, and even a few twists in the road!

This is the Little Missouri River in the TRNP (I think there's camping at the end of the road, but the Ranger Station was locked up so I couldn't explore the literature in any detail):

The colors were kinda washed out in this country, still pretty early with few leaves on the trees but it was still very pretty.

I rode and rode and when the low fuel light came on I realized I hadn't passed a gas station for a long time... I finally found gas at tiny little Watford City, put 7.2 gallons in the RT (it holds 7.5 I think ). Caution, gas is not readily available for long distances on Highway 85.

I stopped in Minot for Starbucks coffee and went looking for a tall mirror for the left side of the RT. When I looked in the fairing-mounted mirrors all I could see was my duffle bag, so I got a cool one off a Honda Ruckus for $20! It fit right on without any mods at all (I tried the mirrors off my GS but I would have had to drill out the RT's mirror hole and didn't want to do that, and GS mirrors are like $65 each).

I didn't take any more photos until I was well East of Minot, NoDak on Highway 2, a very nice divided four-lane with very low traffic. Zoom! This is a "prairie pothole" lake, one of zillions left behind by receding glaciers (the big shield ones that formed the Great Lakes) if I remember my geomorphology correctly. It was very pretty and there were gozillions of water birds everywhere, they were kind of a road hazard in places.

This was kinda neat:

Finally rolled into Grand Forks after 620 miles at about 10:00 PM, bug blasted and tired but happy to be there and see my son! I'll post some more tomorrow, it's been a long day.

"If it doesn't blow smoke and make noise, it isn't a sport!" - radio ad for shop in Bozeman, MT
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Old 05-18-2006, 09:34 PM   #11
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You aint kidding about the straight and flat in the Dakotas. Geez. But what's a guy from Wyoming doing complaining about wind?
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Old 05-18-2006, 10:03 PM   #12
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WoooHoooo!!!!!! All looks familiar to me!!! Good report so far!!!
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Old 05-19-2006, 05:14 AM   #13
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Sound like a great Dad to me - my Pops would not even sit on my bike let alone give me one. Your the man. I would love to spend time with my old man like that.
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Old 05-19-2006, 06:13 AM   #14
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Great pics! I love that pig-tail bridge. Y'know, my parents both hail from Yankton, South Dakota, and I spent many a fall day hunting pheasants there. I've ventured as far west as Mitchell. But I've never explored the western part of the state. One day...
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Old 05-19-2006, 06:34 AM   #15
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"Damn, the Dakotas are FLAT! and WINDY!" Well I coulda told you that!

Nice job on the RR Doug. Wish I'd have known you were coming through, woulda took the day off and showed you the sights for a few miles.

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