Submitted by: Darrell
In June of 2002, on the way to an Eagles concert, after a 16 year wait, I was finally given kitchen clearance to buy a motorcycle. We stopped at the first dealership I could find and I bought one on the spot. I didn’t want her to change her mind. I bought a 2003 Honda VTX 1300C After a year and about 13000 miles later my wife Treca thought it would be cool if she had her own bike. She had to have a Harley of course. She bought a 2004 1200xl. She had never ridden a bike before so she went and took a two day bike riding course . After she completed the course it took her all of two days to crash and she crashed hard. She broke her wrist and got scrapped and bruised up all over. I just knew that the riding days was over for good. I asked her as she was laying in the emergency room what she wanted me to do with her bike. She said to fix it. She said she wanted it fixed by the time she was. I knew then that I had a true blue biker on my hands. Six months past and she was getting well enough to practice ride. We went to a vacant parking lot and she rode there for about a month before she got out on the road. It was on from there. If we had spare time we was on the road. Other than around home we had only ridden in the Hill Country, no more than two or three hundred miles. During this time I had bought me another bike. It was a 2002 Harley FLSTC. I couldn’t have her riding a Harley while I gimp around on a Honda. I write all of this to give a little history on how new Treca was at riding.
Sturgis 2006 was coming up quick and I had just about talked her into riding up there. She didn’t think she could make it all the way up there. I kept encouraging her so she finally agreed to go for it. We packed our bikes with all that we thought we would need and headed north out of Granbury, Tx. with some friends. The first day was great. A lot of sunshine and it didn’t get much over 100 degrees. We made it to Clayton New Mexico that afternoon. It was about a 510 mile day. I knew after that Treca would make it just fine on her sporty.
The next morning we rode over the Raton Pass. We were going to take it easy that day and just try to make Cheyenne, Wy. From Clayton to Raton was nice scenery, but the wind was gusting about 35-40 mph from the south which made a cross wind from hell for a biker. We finally got to I25 and headed north over the pass and were headed towards Denver. As we got closer to Denver we could see the dark clouds coming off of the Rockies towards the east. As luck would have it we run straight into a heavy rain on the south side of Denver and it didn’t let up till we were well north of Denver. A new experience for Treca. She rode right through it like a pro though. That afternoon we rolled into Cheyenne and found a campground to stay at for the night.
I don’t really understand this, but when I get two or three states away from home on a road trip there is a calm that comes over me. Nothing really is pressing, no stress and it’s just you and the road. That’s the way it was. It was the first time I had ridden that far from home and it was a great feeling. It’s the best therapy I can think of for being too busy and having a stressful life. I am a big believer in Harley Therapy.
The next morning we loaded everything up and took off to make Sturgis that day. We rode north on I25 and cut off north/east on 18/85 toward Lead, SD. We stopped in Lead to buy groceries and supplies. That was the last stop before we got to camp in the Black Hills. We were going to be camping in a little community called Nemo, SD at the south end of Vanocker Canyon Rd. It was about 15 or 20 miles from Sturgis. It turned out to be an awesome place to stay. It was quiet and clean. It is a horse farm that is turned into a campground for bike week. They had a bar and grill that was very convenient, as well as showers. So if you ever get up there for Bike Week look up Big Mamas in Nemo.
We stayed in the Black Hills for about 4 days hitting all the scenic rides and taking in all that southern South Dakota had to offer. We were having a blast. The weather was treating us good as well. It seemed like what ever canyon we were riding in, the storm would be in the next canyon over. One evening we were riding back to camp from Sturgis on Vanocker Canyon Rd. and we got into a little sleet, another new experience. The friends we made and the scenery we saw, not to mention the riding experience, is some of the things that will cause us to try to make it back every year. I think everyone should put the Sturgis Bike Week on your list of things to do before you die.
Treca and I and our friendly banker Craig, who was riding a Shovelhead, decided that we would head west for a while and see where we would end up. We packed up left Sturgis on Thursday of bike week around 6:00pm, after Treca and I got our tattoos. We hopped on I90 and made it to Gillette, Wy. right before dark. At this time we still just had a direction and not a destination. The next morning we talked about going to Custer State Park in Montana. We headed north on I90 and just north of Sheridan, Wy. we decided to cut back west and ride over the Big Horn Mountains. The scenery was breath taking. I was already planning the next trip up there in my mind. Not once had I heard any complaints out of my new long distance riding partner. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. After all she was riding a Sportster.
After we crossed the mountain range we stopped at a bar in this little town called Lovell, Wy. to have a cold beer and tie parts back on the Shovelhead that had fallen off, an occurrence that happened quiet often. Since we had gotten off course from Custer State Park, we thought we should pick another direction. Our friendly banker Craig said that he had never been to Canada and I said “me either...let’s go”. We decided to go through Glacier Nat. Park to get there.
Off we went to the north. I have to say they don’t call Montana the big sky state for nothing. Even the freeway riding was great. That night we stayed in Billings, Mt. The next morning we took off for Glacier. We headed west on I90 west to 93 north. We had run into road construction on 93 for what seemed like 500 miles. I’m sure it more like 50. Just when we got out of the construction the clouds started forming over the mountains. We thought it was time to stop for the day anyway. The next couple of towns we stopped at had no vacancies due to a big car show in the area. A little farther north the bottom dropped out. The bad thing about it was it wasn’t rain, it was hail. We were lucky enough to find a feed mill with cover so we could escape the quarter sized hail. When it stopped hailing we rode a little farther north and found a motel in a town called Lakeside. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was there. We found a place to eat that night on the lake. There happened to be a wedding in the area that night and they had a fireworks show from a barge on the lake, right in front of the restaurant. It was something to see and hear. The fireworks were echoing off of all the mountains. It was an awesome night in Lakeside, Mt.
We had ridden close to 2500 miles so far and still not a peep from my hard core Sportster riding wife. I couldn’t believe it.
The next morning we got up to a chilly 38 degrees. That was something different for this Texas boy. We leathered up and headed toward Glacier Nat. Park. Glacier is without a doubt, the most awesome place I have ever been. If you haven’t ever rode up that far I highly recommend it. It was like looking at a post card on every turn and switch back after switch back. It was an awesome place and an awesome ride. We rode most of that day in the park. We came out on the east side in a little town called St. Mary. We stopped at an old time ice cream shop there and had some ice cream. Then we rode north to the Canadian border.
I had never been out of the country so this was an experience. All three of us were detained and questioned for about a half hour about our purpose for visiting Canada. They did background checks and everything. I don’t think they believed that Craig was a banker. He just didn’t have that banker look. I suppose you can’t be too careful with American bikers. We were a scary looking bunch after 3000 miles. We finally made it though customs and rode on north about 35 miles to a little town call Cardston, Canada. We stopped at a Dairy Queen and drank a Dr. Pepper. Over the Canadian Dr. Pepper we decided that Yellowstone Nat. Park should be our next destination. We hopped on the bikes and headed back south to Great Falls, Montana for the night.
The next morning we left Great Falls and headed south though the plains of Montana. Most of it was Indian land. The scenery kind of died off a little but it was still better than a good day at work. Later that day we entered the north entrance of Yellowstone Nat. Park. I think at one time it may have been very beautiful. The forest fires from earlier years have taken its toll on the park. The springs and geysers were cool to see as well as all the wildlife though.
We rode though fairly quick and exited the park at West Yellowstone, Mt. That night at the motel Treca said she was ready to start heading home. I had told her when we left Sturgis that whenever she was ready to quit just say so. As far as I was concerned she had earned her wings. Not many people would ride a Sportster that far much less ride that far without complaining. The next day we headed back in the park to see Old Faithful erupt. We went to the lodge and ate lunch and waited for the big geyser to show off. After that we left out of Yellowstone and entered the Grand Teton Park. The only thing that Treca complained about was the lack of restrooms through the southern end of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Once we left the Tetons we fueled up and rode to the armpit of Wyoming, a town called Rock Springs. It was the only place since we left that I felt like we would be jacked. We finally found a motel and caught a few zzzzzs.
The next morning we hit I80 and opened the Vtwins up. We wanted to make Texas that day. We stopped to fuel up in Cheyenne, Wy and I noticed that the Sportster had almost no tread on the rear tire. I told Treca that we should trade bikes till we got to the next dealership and get her a rear tire. About 50 miles of the Sportster was all it took to realize just how much I loved my Heritage. It took her about that long to realize that she wanted a Heritage instead of her Sporty. We stopped in Castle Rock, Co. And got a tire for her bike. That killed about two hours, so Texas was out of the question unless we rode into the night. We left Castle rock and said we would ride till we got tired. We made it back to Clayton, NM that evening right at dusk. That motel was a welcome sight. That is the most miles we had ridden in one day. The odometer read almost 680 miles.
The next morning we woke up and said we were going to make it home before 6:00pm to attend a school function for our daughter. We rode about a hundred miles and it got so hot that we had to pull over every 30 miles or so to soak our shirts and helmet liners. This leg of the trip was miserable. Every town we went through I would look at the temp and it just kept getting hotter and hotter. The last time I looked it was 109 deg. It took about 2 or 3 days to recover from the heat.
It may seem a little strange for me to be writing about a ride in 2006, but it was Treca and my first long trip. We had ridden a little over 5000 miles in just two weeks. I was very happy that I had a new riding partner that could hang through the toughest of conditions. We had ridden through 100+ deg. weather, hard Colorado rain, South Dakota Sleet, Montana hail and Temps in the 30s, and back to temps over 109 deg. We have made several trips since then and hope to make many more. I hope this will inspire those who don’t ride to go out and buy a bike and ride it. I also hope this will inspire those who do own bikes to take longer trips. There is nothing better than seeing the country with the wind in your face. Don’t leave your bike gathering dust in the garage just to say you have one. Get out and ride often and far!
I also hope this shows that women can and should ride. Just because you have never ridden doesn’t mean that you can’t learn. It has brought Treca and I closer and have more things to talk about. All in all, it has been awesome to have a wife that I can share my passion of riding with.
Hope to see you on the road soon