Submitted by: Darrell
The last two stories I have written have been about rides that my wife and I have made. In the Summer of 2007 some friends and I decided to have a “Just the Guys” trip. Really we didn’t decide that. My wife Treca couldn’t get off work to make Sturgis that year, otherwise it wouldn’t have been just the guys.
There was three of us that left out of Granbury, Tx. on the Friday morning a week before Sturgis Bike Week, Pops, Gus, and myself. Craig our friendly banker was going to catch up with us somewhere on the road. We left out around 9:00 am.
When you have a destination like the Black Hills of South Dakota the ride out of Texas seems a little boring. We rode pretty hard to Wichita Falls and stopped at the new Red River Harley Davidson. It is a huge dealership with a great service dept. The reason I know that, is I had pulled a rookie move and thought my rear tire would make it to Sturgis. I was wrong. I had no tread on it when we stopped at the dealership. After a few hours of waiting for my bike to be put on the rack, I told the guys to go ahead and leave and I would catch them where ever they stopped for the night. They left at 2:00 pm and I waited for a couple of hours stewing because I hadn’t taken care of the tire situation before we left. I got back on the road around 4:00 pm and made my Heritage sing all the way to Clayton, NM. I arrived right at dusk and found the motel my comrades were staying at. They had gone out and had Steak and beer while waiting on me. No worries though I got to eat a corn dog from a little drive-in next to the motel. I will never make that mistake again. If I even think I may need tires, I will get them before I leave on a long trip.
We left Clayton the next morning and headed west on Hwy 87 towards Raton. At Raton, NM. We caught I 25 and headed north over the pass and continued north towards Denver. I like taking that way verses Ok, Ks, Ne. The Rockies to the West and the plains to the East. It’s just nice riding, even if it is freeway.
As we got closer to Denver The clouds were getting darker and darker over the mountains. Just like you can expect Texas to be hot and dry in August, you can expect a thunder storm to come off of the Rockies somewhere around Denver while riding to Sturgis. It’s just gonna happen. It started raining and raining hard. We saw what we thought was a overpass to catch some relief, but when we got closer it turned out to be a railroad bridge. We decided to ride though the storm. We finally rode out of it about twenty miles up the road. We stopped at a couple of Harley dealerships through Colorado before making into Wyoming that afternoon. We made it to Wheatland, Wy. that evening. It wasn’t the most we could have ridden but it seemed like a good place to stop for the night.
That night we got a call from Craig and he was riding hard to catch up. He had left his Shovel at home and brought his 1998 Wide Glide, so the frequent stops to wire parts and pieces back on was slowed down dramatically.
The next morning around 8:30 he came riding up to the motel just proud of himself for catching us so quick. We told him that’s the way riding is when you ride a dependable bike.
We left Wheatland around 9:00 am and was going to make the campground in Nemo, S.D. that day. I have written about Nemo, SD before. It is a great place to stay for Sturgis Bike Week. We pulled into the campground that afternoon, met up with some friends and set up the tents and such. The rest of the evening was just relaxation time with good whiskey and beer.
The original plan was to stay in Nemo for three or four days, while riding the Black Hills. After that we had planned to ride west to Washington and down through California and finally hit Vegas before coming home It was going to be a beautiful ride through the mountains of the north/west. As luck would have it, forest fires had broke out in Montana and Idaho. The radio had reports that visibility was going to be poor at best. With no fires to the east we decided to head that way instead.
One of the guys we camped with had talked about the Blue ridge Parkway and how he and his lady had ridden the whole thing from top to bottom and then rode it back up. That was sounding like a pretty good ride. We thought we had enough time to ride about half of it. So we thought we would head out in that direction and catch the parkway somewhere in southern Virginia or northern N. Carolina and head south.
My good buddy Gus had never been to Canada so we thought it would be a fairly quick detour to ride through North Dakota to the Canadian border. We stopped, washed our clothes in Sturgis and took off on Thursday before Bike Week around 11:00 am.
North Dakota turned out to be one of the most boring states I have ever ridden in. The roads were straight as an arrow with nothing to see but sunflowers and wheat for as far as the eye could see. There was also nothing to break the wind. It was blowing about 35-40 mph from the north/west If you want to see that state, just ride about twenty miles in and you can say you have seen all there is to see in North Dakota. We rode Hwy 85 all the way to Williston the first day out of Sturgis. We stopped for the night there and crashed. The wind had been brutal that day and wore us all out. There was a strip club right next door to the motel and everyone was asleep by 9:00 pm. Shameful, I know.
That put us roughly sixty miles south of Canada. We thought we would get an early start the next day and make it out of this God forsaken state. We continued north on Hwy 85 then turned east on Hwy 5. We turned north on a little farm market road and hit the border at a little town called Portal, ND. Without passports we couldn’t cross into Canada so we headed south/east on Hwy 52 We went through a little town called Minot, ND where we stopped at a Harley shop. The owner of the store said his brother had a dealership in Lexington, Kentucky. So we thought we would ride though Lexington and say Howdy from Minot. We road most of the day and ended up in a town called Jamestown. I had kept my camera on stand by just in case I saw some water, a hill or just anything besides fields of wheat. I took one picture right before Jamestown of a stock tank. That was what I had to put in my scrap book from freaking North Dakota.
From Jamestown we rode east on I94 to Fargo, and crossed into Minnesota. The week before we had seen on the news that a major bridge in Minneapolis had collapsed. When we got to St Cloud we rode south on Hwy 22 and then Hwy 15 to New Ulm and bypassed all the mess from the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. I’m really glad we did. It was some great scenery and good riding. From New Ulm we headed east on Hwy 14 to Rochester, Mn. Since we left Jamestown it had been cool enough to leather up. It was trying to rain and just kind of drizzled all morning. On top of all that, it was feeling good.
At Rochester we got on I90 and rode east into Wisconsin. We stopped in Onalaska, Wi. and fueled up and decided we would try to ride as far as we could that day. We made it to Madison, Wi. and we was wore out, close to 700 miles for the day. We stopped at a hotel that was probably a little bit fancier that the Super 8 motels we had been staying in. But at that point we didn’t really care much. We just ordered pizzas and chilled that night. There was a washing machine and dryer in this hotel so I took advantage of it and washed some clothes. Being that close to Milwaukee, I wish we would have had time to check it out. Maybe next time. Most of us had to be back to work the next week.
We left Madison and headed south on I39 to Bloomington, Il. From there we cut back east on I74 to Indianapolis In. That is another place I would have loved to stay a while, maybe check out the Speedway. As we were coming into Indianapolis we encounter our first breakdown. Gus had just bought a new 2007 Soft tail Custom and had put more chrome and goodies on it than the law allows. It was a beautiful bike and the one that was down. There was a nut on the shifter linkage that had backed off and fell off somewhere on the freeway. No worries, we had our friendly banker Craig with us. He owns a Shovelhead so he knows how to make do with things you can find laying on the side of the road to fix a bike that’s down.. We found some washers a allen wrench. With that and some electrical tape that Pops had in a tool kit we rigged it up to make the rest fo the trip.
We got back on the road and headed south on I65 to a town just couple miles north of Louisville, Ky called Jeffersonville In. It was getting late in the evening and we thought we would stop for the night. The motel we stayed at was in the hood and the girl at the desk was a little Mexican girl that was tattooed up and about 8 months pregnant. We just knew that she was going to call her brothers and cousins to come and steal the bikes. We went to a restaurant that night and they sit us at a table right beside this screaming kid. It took all of about two minutes before Gus was about to blow a gasket. The waiter moved us to the bar. That was a great move. The entertainment picked up anyway. Our waitress turned out to be a bisexual and was full of stories about her and the female bartender and there pet Mexican as she called him. It was a lot of fun just to see how wild of stories we could get her to tell us. We stayed there and ate steak and drank beer for a while. We turned down an invite from the waitress to go skinny dipping in her pool and headed back to the motel. We thought we should get back to make sure our room hadn’t been broke into.
We left Jeffersonville about 8:00am the next morning and headed into Louisville, Ky. From there we headed east on I64 to Lexington, Ky. We stopped in, at the Man O War Harley shop, and said hello from Minot, ND. The owner of the shop ask us where we was headed . When we told him Blue Ridge Parkway, he told us of a more scenic route to take to get there than all freeway.
We headed east on I64 out of Lexington. It was going to be the last stretch of freeway we were going to be on for a long while. The trip was taking a turn to some beautiful scenery and great riding. We turned south on hwy 32 towards Morehead, Ky. From there we took 519 south through the Daniel Boone Nat. Forrest. It was an awesome day.
Earlier in the week we had stopped at a place in Wisconsin and bought some cheese and summer sausage.
It was getting to be lunch time so we found a nice shade tree on the side of the road and had the Wisconsin cheese and sausage. It was one of the best lunches on the trip. As far as I was concerned this was living. Riding through places I had never been and eating and drinking with the best of friends. It doesn’t get much better. We rode at a south/east direction through quiet a few small country roads . We ended up at Pikesville, Ky in the early afternoon. We stopped at a Harley dealership there and rested for a little while.
From there we hopped on Hwy 23 and headed south down through the west tip of Virginia into Kingsport, Tn. We stayed the night there and ate course after course of good southern food at a restaurant near the motel.
The next morning we got up and headed south on 23 towards Johnson City. Once we got there we turned east onto hwy. 321 through the Cherokee Nat. Forrest. This was some beautiful Tennessee landscape. We road 321 to 67north to Mountain City where we went back south on Hwy 421 to Boone, NC. That’s where we picked up the Blue Ridge Parkway. We headed south on the Parkway the rest of the day stopping at all the overlooks we had time for. There was one stop that stood out from the rest. As we were getting back on our bikes, about to leave a car pulled up and two young ladies got out, one wearing a leotard and a tutu. We had to put the kick stands down and investigate this more. The girl in the sexy get up wanted to have her picture taken with the mountains as a background. I had to make her happy and take a few pics. It was worth staying and making a new acquaintance. I’m sure she wasn’t expecting a bunch of perverted bikers taking her picture that day.
We continued south to Asheville, NC and found a motel to crash at for the night. The next morning we got back on the Parkway and enjoyed more of the Appellation mountains. We took the Parkway almost to the southern end. When we got to Hwy 19 we went east to a town called Maggie Valley. There was a Bike museum there called Wheels of Time. If you are ever in that area it is a must to stop by there with at least 4 or 5 hours to kill. There was more vintage motorcycles and cars than I have ever seen in one place and 90% of them ran. It was an awesome place to stop and spend the day.
From there we decided to hit the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap. We took 19 west to 28 north to 129 west. The Dragon is on 129. I have written about the Dragon before. This happened to be my first time ridding it. 318 curves in 11 mile is something you just have to experience. You can’t explain it. It was getting about time to start heading back home. After riding the Dragon we stayed on 129 west and rode all the way to 411 and went south 74 west into Cleveland. It was a peaceful ride that evening. It was calm and cool. Looking back on the two weeks events made me want to keep riding and not go home. That is my favorite time to ride. Watching the sun go down with the wind in your face, there’s nothing like it.
We left Cleveland the next morning and We all got the thought go home in our mind. We rode out of Tennessee into Georgia and then into Alabama on I59. The sun was starting to beat us down. We stopped at a little store to get a drink and cool off a little around 1:30pm. Gus looked like he was going to pass out. I went solo up the road about 20 mile to Forest, Ms. to find a motel to stop for the day. I found a place just on the east side of town and called the guys to come on. We checked in at about 2:30pm. We thought we would sleep till about midnight and hit the road around 1am to beat the heat. We left Forest ,Ms around 12:30am and had home in our sights. Our last night on the ride. We road into Granbury around 11am. I guess the only thing I can say negative about the trip is it wasn’t long enough. Other than that it was an awesome trip. I hope we can make the trip to the west one day. Until then I will ride when I can.