Tag Archives: motorcycles

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

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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.

 


Saguaro National Park and the Darkness of Night

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I lived in a Portion of the Arabian Desert for about a year and vividly remember the sound of everlasting sand particles whipping against our frail canvas tent during storms which would appear at a moment’s notice. Once during a rare cold winter rain squall the tent flooded with a foot of water. We grabbed whatever we could and took shelter upon our cots which barely kept us out of the invading flood. The dry arid landscape surely presents many hardships and hidden dangers but during evenings in the desert, I found solace in the stillness of the nocturnal sky.  In those chaotic days long past, the desert night sky provided a sense of peace in a place void of tranquility. There is beauty to be found is these vastly empty places.
I recently found myself in Saguaro National Park before sunrise on a frigid early morning walk. The park is located just outside of Tucson, AZ. I saw more than a few coyotes on my pre-dawn sojourn which was a bit intimidating. Saguaro is a different environment then the Arabian Desert but both places speak the same language, albeit with a different dialect. The sounds of the desert before sunrise eco the voices of life purged through the rugged reality of nature. If these creatures can survive the harsh struggles of the desert, then they deserve to be heard.
Leave all behind and walk the desert trails before dawn in Saguaro National Park, there is no telling what one will hear.

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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


Top Ten Reasons Why Old Fat Guys Can Learn How to Dual Sport

Top Ten Reasons Why Old Fat Guys Can Learn How to Dual Sport

10. We Know our Way Around a Carburetor
9. We Wreak of Old Man Smell which is Guaranteed to Keep Away the Flies
8. Were Old and Fat but were not Dead

7. We Party Like Rock Stars Every Night till 6:38 pm

6. Old is the New Twenty

5. Were as old as the Rocks we Ride On

4. Our Wives have been Sick of us for Decades and would rather have us Riding Dirt than be at Home Playing Chess with our Pet Hamster

3. Were Old Enough to Still Know how to Use a Compass and Map

2. Our Colostomy Bag Easily Substitutes for a Hydro Pac during Long Rides in the Bush

1. Viagra in the Gas Tank gives the, motorcycle Engine 12 more Horsepower to get Up Any Hill

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Independence Day

 

This time a year I dwell upon those American Colonials who took up arms against the British Empire which represented the greatest military of that age. What courage, what valor, what vicious tenacity it took our forbear’s to wage a war against such overwhelming odds. Our Colonial ancestors stood against tyranny but by doing so they put their very lives upon a gauntlet of death for an idea of Freedom. It was this Idea of Freedom that was eventually summarized into our Declaration of Independence which still stands as a testimony of what those brave souls fought for so many years ago.
Our Country is not perfect but Freedom still reigns true in the United States and I am so very Thankful for all those that have stood for and continue to defend the ideals of our Declaration of Independence.


Reflections of Memorial Day

Just wanted to share a few thoughts I had as I Ponder this Memorial Day:

Many soldiers did not come back from wars ugly embrace, many who did are still drowning under the weight of its cruel grip. They breath pain and exhale guilt. Their smiles are gone and only exist in the sorrow of Yesterday. Many vetrans believe, it would have been better to die in a place where honor and duty paved a road to heights above the mountain plattue, into the puffy cloud filled sky.

22 Veterans a day lose their lives because the of the burden of memories gone by is just to heavy to carry on. Some gave some, some gave all but many still continue to fight, just trying to find a way home..

We can do better, we must do better. Every day is should be Memorial Day.


Review of the “The Ride- London to Beijing”

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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.


The Dreary Decline of Winter and the Optimistic Yearnings of Spring

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A blizzard roars outside causing the house to creek with fear, the wind is relentless. My hope is that our pipes will not freeze this cold squally evening. With no electricity, I am on battery power and hope to put thoughts on paper before my laptop fades away. Just a few days ago the roads cleared enough to take my cycle for much-needed maintenance ride. It was a cold day, but that short trip on two wheels brought needed joy in the form of adrenaline to my mind and body. Winter never dies, it just fades away in Colorado. It’s mid-March, I thought the worst was behind us, but Old Man Winter is not done tormenting my soul. Motorcyclist are not bound by the rules of society or cultural norms, but a polar vortex will surely stop us in our tracks.
My hope was that the riding season was upon us, but I know now that my dream was just a fleeting glimpse of reality. Hope can be a wild beast to ride, but it’s a ride worth living. Hope drives us to find a better tomorrow and uplifts our spirits during time of need. Hope is one of the greatest motivational forces and is an immensely powerful force of good which can dictate positive action.
Another survival tactic that one can rely on is to dive into the situation fully immersed without dwelling upon the situation and its many negative characteristics. The Phrase “Embrace the Suck” epitomizes this theory of living. When you are in a situation where life is just bleak and miserable, and one does not have any control of external influences than sometimes the best track is to dive into the misery and let it become you. It’s about not wishing for a change in the environment but finding the good within it. If you are willing to open your eyes, most situations have something that one can be thankful for. “Embrace the Suck” goes deeper then that; one must be willing to fully commit to the situation they are in and put forth all effort to enjoy it without a logical approach of reasoning. It’s a mindset, a way to propel yourself forward by throwing yourself into the ugly reality and enjoying it.

Keep the rubber side down, the sun shall shine again as the new dawn approaches.