Category Archives: Iron Butt

Early June in Sturgis, South Dakota

I had plans to go to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Early August this year with a few friends of mine. Back in December, I paid in full for a reservation where I was going to camp in a tent for 5 days at “Camp Rush No More” which is located just South of the Town of Sturgis. Then the Covid- 19 Pandemic hit with the fury of the titans of old. There were a ton of questions regarding if the Rally was even going to take place. I decided that it was not worth going given the large crowds associated with the event and decided to move my reservation to early June. My friends kept their original reservations which is great, I respect their decision and hope they have a great time. My 15-year-old son often rides with me, and we have done a few motorcycling camping trips in the past. Given his school ended early this year, he decided he wanted to head up to Sturgis for a few days’ worth of riding and camping along with me.

The good folks at Camp Rush No More let me transfer my payment for the Rally for a few Nights in one of their Cabins. Let me just say, that if you want a clean, fun, visually pleasing and inexpensive camping experience then check out this Camp and RV Park. Its strategically placed in some of the best riding the country has to offer. There is a reason why the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is one of the most popular motorcycling destinations and its all about the gorgeous routes that surround this small South Dakota Community. Normally we don’t do cabins, but we took our Royal Enfield Himalayan which is only 410 CCs, and we did not have room for the tent and additional camping equipment needed for the both of us. Before you judge, please remember that we were driving 8 hours to get to Sturgis from our home in Colorado. Try driving that distance two up on a small bike. Trust me, there was just no room for our tent, sleeping bags and pads on this trip. We also have a Yamaha SCR 950 which we could have brought, but we have less room on that bike for storage compared to the Royal Enfield, plus we wanted an off-road option that the Himalayan provides.

We started our adventure in early June and headed North towards South Dakota. I have traveled this route previously and knew that once we got into Wyoming from Colorado, there are vast tracks of land without civilization and services. In fact, a few years ago, I ran out of gas in the middle of no where on the same route. Normally I would be carrying an external fuel can but with a passenger and all our riding gear, the gas can was off the table. Our strategy was simple, in Wyoming and rural South Dakota, when we passed a gas station, we filled up. For all of you touring aficionados, this must seem rather tedious but honestly, it gave us a nice opportunity to hydrate along the route and rest our bodies from the frequent wind gusts that are a normal part of riding in the open rolling plains. The weather on our first day was perfect, partly cloudy and around 68 degrees. We missed rain along the entire route which we were thankful.

Once we arrived at the camp site, we were greeted by a Live Band that plays in the Camp’s open restaurant every Sunday which was awesome. We drank Cokes and dined on MRE’s while listening to live music. For my son, it was his first time listening to live music in this type of environment, it was a great experience. Last year, I found that having a few MRE’s is a mandatory part of my motorcycle pack list. The pre-packaged meals are water proof, critter proof (for the most part), have their own heaters, and are very good to eat. On every trip, we normally have at least one MRE Meal. It was funny watching everyone get a laugh at us preparing to feast upon our MRE Meal.

Our cabin was small but for the money, beyond value. It was so nice after about 8 hours of riding, to sleep in a real bed. It started to rain that evening, so we turned in early to prepare for our Monday riding adventure. Our second day we headed from the City of Sturgis to Custer State Park. As long as you stay of the Interstate Highway, its hard to find a road that is not gorgeous. My suggestion is just a pick up a free motorcycle tourism map which are spread throughout the area. The maps do a phenomenal job of pointing you to recommended routes that are a biker’s delight. We took the Needles Highway into Custer State Park which was filled with amazing views. There are a few one lane tunnels built through these gigantic rock formations which are stunning to ride through. What was so cool is the lack of traffic and tourist in the area. During the Motorcycle Cycle Rally this area can be inundated with both two wheel and automobile traffic, not so in Post Covid-19 early summer. Custer State Park is hands down the most picturesque State Park that I have visited. It seems to be more in line with a National Park, given its size and sublime landscape. The cost was 20 dollars to get into the park which is rather high, but that pass is also good for 6 days. If I could do it again, I would have planned my routes from Sturgis to make Custer State Park a multiple day visit. Don’t miss the Wild Life Loop, its filled with Bison and Donkeys. The views in this area were less about jagged peaks and more about open hilly landscape.

Throughout the park are all these dirt roads that serve as a call to arms for an adventure bike rider. One such route was a dirt road that escorted us out of the State Park and into the Wind Cave National Park. This trail was desolate beyond measure and we traveled upon hard pack dirt for many miles. Once we left pavement, the only man-made item we saw was a sign that said, “Beware of Bison”. The pathway seemed to go as far as the eye could see. We wanted to explore this mystery trail for a longer duration, but storm clouds were rolling in and our gas reserves were low, so we made a strategic withdrawal and headed back towards civilization to find gas. We rode from 8am and did not arrive home till 8pm that evening.

The next day, we slept in till about 9:30am. Honestly after two days of hard riding we needed the additional rest. Our first stop was Deadwood, SD which was rather disappointing. The historic town just wreaked of a tourist trap but what made me aggravated was that there was no place to park one’s motorcycle for free. I don’t mind folks paying for premium parking, that is capitalism but there should be a place where someone can park for free. I guess walking the historic Main Street was cool, so it’s something I guess that everyone should do once.

From Deadwood we headed down the gorgeous Spear Fish Canyon to enjoy a curvaceous route and mountain views. We stopped at a trail head called the “The Devil’s Bathtub” and did a little hike. The walk along the river was perfect but the fact that our motorcycle would not start once we were ready to depart was disheartening. When traveling far from home on a motorcycle, you must expect some adversity along the way, there is risk with any such adventure. We were prepared for such hardship, but the broken-down bike was a definitive fun killer. We got the motorcycle started after checking the fluids, cables and usual suspects but the yellow engine light was burning hot yellow, shouting Danger, Danger. We nursed the motorcycle back into our camp site and after that I could not get the cycle back started. We were officially dead in the water in South Dakota.

Honestly, we were very lucky, the bike broke down on what was going to be our very last ride of our trip before we departed back home. If your motorcycle is going to break down, its best it happens at the end of one’s trip and not the beginning. Given I ride a Royal Enfield, we planned for such an occasion. My oldest son who is 17 got our pickup truck and took a road trip to rescue us. My thoughts were on the fact, that we were about 14 miles out in the back country only a day before; if the motorcycle broke down at that juncture, the situation could have been life threatening. We trailered the motorcycle back home feeling lucky for the opportunity to ride and thankful for family support to get us back home.


Ghosts of yesterday, Keep the Dreams of Tomorrow Alive in Jerome

Foundation- Glass Blowing

 

One gets the sense that the Ghosts of yesterday, Keep the Dreams of Tomorrow Alive in Jerome, Arizona. Sitting at 5000 feet, the small town is literally built into Cleopatra Hill and overlooks the Verde Valley in Northern, Arizona.

The town was once a thriving mining community which excavated gold, silver and copper from the bowels of the earth below it. The community grew quickly as many followed the money to the mountain town. As it goes with many boom towns, history dictates a quick rise and early fall to the community. In the early 1900s, Jerome was a thriving city made up of several churches, hotels, saloons, miscellaneous businesses and gambling halls. At its height, Jerome once supported a population of more than 14,000 residents. Mining operations began to decline in the area in the 1920s and by the 1950’s, no more than 100 individuals called Jerome home.

With conviction a town once dead can discover new life. The fires, sink holes and industrial economic upheaval could not ruin the Town of Jerome, and from the ashes rose an eclectic renaissance where the community now thrives. Tourism, artistic endeavors, and ghost hunting is now the basis of commerce in Jerome.

What is most interesting about Jerome, is that the City does not hide from its tumultuous decline. The remnants of brick buildings once burnt down now serve as landscape for recently completed artwork; their masonry shells protecting and showcasing individual skills of those who now reside in the area. If you’re in the vicinity, it worth visit. If the reported ghosts that haunt the town don’t get you, the winding mountain roads and scenery surely will.

 


Central City, Colorado- A Ride on my Yamaha SCR 950

Just posted a video on my recent ride to Central City, Colorado.  There is some good scenery, a brief history of the City and friendly banter.  If you have a chance to visit, you should!!!


My First Top Ten List and a Trip Down Boreas Pass


Adventure Riding Near Sylvan State Park in Colorado


Review of the “The Ride- London to Beijing”

THE-RIDE-L-to-B

Looking for a good motorcycle documentary then check out “The Ride- London to Beijing”. The series follows a novice group of riders who struggle to endure an epic motor bike journey from Western Europe to Northern China. The greenhorn riders are led by a Guinness World Record Endurance Rider, Kevin Sanders. The expedition is filled with adventure, challenges, and unforgettable landscape and is expertly edited and narrated. The 12-week story keeps one engaged throughout the series and leaves the viewer looking for more. The series could have used a bit more character development but that really is not the intended purpose of this kind of production. At the end of the day, the documentary gave insight into a challenging adventure and what it takes to accomplish such an exploit. I enjoyed this series a bit better than “The Long Way Round” because if feels more real and raw then the two-wheeled adventures of Ewan McGregor and his pal Charley Boorman.
The leader of this expedition, Kevin Sanders just seems to be the type of individual anyone would follow and has an ability to weight risk verses reward options that manage successes. It takes guts to lead a ramble of rookie riders through the terrain that was overcome by the group. I have been riding for 18 years and I would have been bloody petrified to take on some of the challenges that the riders accomplished.
They travel some hairy, muddy terrain on heavy expensive BMW Adventure Tour Motorcycles. One of these days, I would like to see a motorcycle documentary use a few inexpensive lighter weight duel sport cycles to achieve their objectives. I get that the BMW is a solid reliable tough bike to get the job done but is it more dependable then let’s say a Suzuki DR-Z 400? Even better, use a Royal Enfield Himalayan to do the job. One can buy 4 Himalayan’s at the price of a new BMW 1200 GS and they are easier to repair given their more simplistic technology. I am not saying the Royal Enfield is a better bike then the coveted BMW Adventure Tour King, but I do believe both can get you to the same places at much different price points. One may get you there much slower than the other, but it will arrive just the same.
At the end of the day, “The Ride- London to Beijing” is a fun watch which will help motivate you to start planning your next epic adventure. The series is not overly long which is great for those who have commitment issues. In fact, when it ended, I was left yearning for more.


Publication in Motorcycle Times Magazine

Just published my latest article in Motorcycle Times Magazine. I dwell upon my time spent in Paradise, California after the horrific fires that devastated that wonderous little town. The National Press may have lost a focus on what occurred but I think of that community every day. If you cant pick up a hard copy of the magazine, you can read if for free on line. Just click on the website below and go to the March/April 2019 Edition and look for my Column, Twotiretirade….

https://www.motorcycletimes.com/

 


Well My First Ride in the Dirt = My First Time Down on a Motorcycle

 


Barber Motorsports Park

Incredible Museums should be cherished and loved; Motorcycle Museums should be memorialized.  I would call  Barber Motorsports Museum a Two Wheeled Shrine of epic proportions.  Plan a trip there if feasible and make it a priority.


Love the Ride for the Pure Joy of Life and the Never Ending Dream

shark

I knew that it would be another tough day at the office filed with turbulence and strife.  My commute is about an hour and felt a profound satisfaction that my hectic work day would start and end on my motorcycle.  During my ride, I dwelled upon the end of winter and the beginning of a new season.

As the sun peaks over the horizon and shares its warm vibrant rays, I realize that winter has retreated north.  The scent of new life has permeated through the plains and mountains and one can almost smell the land coming alive from a winter’s desolate exile.  The rivers are more vibrant, fed by melting snow and the birds chatter among the trees in an epic devotional of the miracles of spring.   For motorcyclist living in a multifaceted climate, this time of year represents an open door to freedom which removes limitations to our ability to ride.   The warm air and gentle breeze call us from afar to find new paths to places rarely visited.

Motorcycling in spring is like waking up to find that one’s awe-inspiring fantasy has indeed become a reality.  Seize the moment and ride.  Find a new adventure, research the wonders of history in your backyard, visit a friend long-lost, and cherish the majestic environment that only spring can display.  We are our own leading restraint in finding happiness in this world; don’t let any obstacle get in your way.   Now is the time to leave the chaos of life behind and chase smiles and grins on black top covered dreams.

We live a life of risk and rewards.  Every day may be the last day but we are always planning for tomorrow.  It’s a life of balance and one must never lose touch with rationale thought but an occasional jaunt living on the edge builds character.  Find time to live and breathe the fresh air of an uncluttered mind.  Focus on the Ride and let the road be your long-lost muse.

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn” –  Hal Borland

happiness