Dave's Counter-Clockwise Tour 2003

Day Seventeen

by Dave Schultheis

Wednesday, August 13, 2003 - Luverne, Minnesota

I slept fine and awoke to a loud banging outside at 5:40 a.m. I wasn't sure what it was, but decided that as long as I was awake, I would get going and make some forward progress.

So I dressed, packed and loaded, and was outta there at 6:45 a.m., wearing my lucky green shirt, as it was a cool 59 degrees. I rode about a mile down U.S. 75 and back onto westbound Interstate 90, where I felt noticeable crosswinds.

At 7:06 a.m. Central Time I stopped at the South Dakota line for a picture, then saw the first S.D. exit, near mile 410, then continued west across the southern part of the state.

Close to an hour later, I took exit 332 and rode into Mitchell SD to see the Corn Palace, but did not go in. It looked impressive and would probably be a nice place to visit some day when I have more time.

On the way back to the highway, I stopped at a Subway Sandwich shop in Mitchell, and had them make a sandwich "to go" while I was checking the porcelain. They don't have sourdough, Italian bread is called "white," and they didn't have Swiss cheese. I guess I needed a reminder of the regional differences that make America a great country. Or something like that.

Outside, it was 76 degrees in the sunshine, as opposed to temps in the sixties while moving along. While I was putting things away, a young man walked by, noticed the Road King, and asked if I was returning from Sturgis. I replied, "no," and he responded with, "What's that, a Honda you got there?" I can't recall exactly what I said to him, but it was reasonably polite.

I continued west on I-90 and stopped for fuel at 9:30 a.m. in White Lake, exit 296, 72 degrees, then proceeded west again, with noticeable southerly crosswinds.

Near 11:00 a.m. Central Time, I stopped at a rest area, exit two-twenty-something, where it was 85 degrees and very windy. After a short rest, I continued past Murdo, mile 192, and into the Mountain Time zone at mile 190, where it was windy and 90 degrees at 10:35 a.m.

At 11:20 a.m. I took exit 150 in Kadoka SD, and intended to stop at a Texaco Station (per the sign on the highway), but it was closed, so instead I went to the Amoco Station across the street. It was a mighty warm 87 degrees, so I removed my lucky green shirt and stowed it.

Back on the highway, I continued west and then took exit 143 and turned north onto SD Highway 73, in the middle of nowhere. The highway people put up a big sign saying "Just a Reminder, Speed Limit 65 mph, Please Buckle Up." Then under that, another sign, "It's The Law."

So I stopped for a picture, then rode 15 miles to Phillip and another 25 miles to Billsberg, then hung a left and rode another 17 miles to the Cheyenne River and stopped for the coveted Ziebach County sign at 12:45 p.m. It was 102 degrees and 64.4 miles from fuel. There is some beautiful country out there, with very little traffic to spoil it.

While I was taking four pictures, two cars passed, and I half expected them to stop, but neither did.

I returned the same way I had come, on SD 73. I could have continued west on SD Highway 34, but I wanted to get into Wall and I needed to get into Rapid City, so I had to get back to Interstate 90.

The trip back was very windy, and I stopped south of Billsberg to remove some road hazards (tire alligators) from the roadway.

I got back onto westbound I-90 at 2:00 p.m. Mountain Time, then took exit 110 at 2:30 p.m. and stopped at an Amoco Station in Wall, where it was 100 degrees. I fueled, resupplied with Mountain Dew, then rode a few blocks to Wall Drug, which is a humongous collection of gift and trinket shops taking up a few city blocks. I'm not really the kind of tourist these folks are looking for ... I don't spend a lot of money. It was interesting, and now I've been there, but that was about it.

While parked, I talked to another rider who was at the mid-point of his 1000 mile Iron Butt ride for the day. I can't remember where he said he'd started, but it was farther than my 433 miles for the day (so far).

I continued west in warm temperatures (!) for another hour or so, then stopped at Black Hills Harley-Davidson in Rapid City SD at 4:04 p.m., where it was 100 degrees. They have a great big, beautiful building that sits atop a small hill, overlooking the western part of the city.

Before I even went inside the building, I talked to another customer who was just leaving; the Service Department had replaced his stator and regulator in a little less than two hours, and he was back on the road. That was a good sign.

I guess it would be appropriate to point out that the Black Hills Rally & Races (commonly called "Sturgis") had been officially over as of Sunday, and this was the following Wednesday. I had been seeing other riders heading eastbound on I-90 for the past couple days; many of them were returning from the area.

Rapid City is almost 30 miles east of Sturgis. Rapid City H-D and Sturgis H-D are under the same ownership, with service facilities in Rapid City only. The Sturgis store is mostly MotorClothes, commonly-referred to as a "tee-shirt shop."

Anyway, I went into the Service Department at Black Hills H-D, talked to Service Writer Will, and asked how he felt about an oil & filter change. In the spirit of the moment, he asked a guy who was walking by (who happened to be the Service Manager, Doug) how _he_ felt about an oil & filter change, and they both agreed they were in favor of them.

That settled, Will said they could take my bike in right away, so I asked if they would please add "check and adjust primary chain," and "check fluid levels." He said they would. He was impressed that I knew not only the mileage, but the VIN as well; but he did not know that I had been required to learn the VIN by Owner Number Two.

[V.I.N. is _v_ehicle _i_dentification _n_umber; the rest is an inside joke. Sorry.]

When I went out to the parking lot, one of the shop guys (Dave) came out to get the bike, and noticed right away that the clutch lever was a little hard to pull, so he said he would take care of that.

I checked Sprint PCS but found that they didn't have coverage in Rapid City, so I went inside the shop, looked for Fat Boy logo tee-shirts (none), but got a pair of black H-D jeans ($34) and a Harley Hawai'ian shirt (on sale, $30). I chuckled at the receipt. It abbreviated "Motor Company jeans" to "MCJEAN," and wondered if Ronald McDonald was somehow involved. Since there were no sesame seeds on my buns, I guessed "not."

In very good time, the Service Department had finished the bike and brought it around. They had replaced the oil and filter (black), checked the fluid level and chain adjustment (looked good), and lubricated the clutch cable. The total was $51.02, so I paid the bill and started to get outta there before they decided to raise the price.

But first, Dave (the shop guy, unknown title) was nice enough to give me some routing assistance. He suggested that I take U.S. Highway 212 out of South Dakota, across the corner of Wyoming and then through part of Montana, to avoid going many miles out of my way on the Interstate, which dips down as it goes across Wyoming. This was _great advice_, except that he didn't know about the ... wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So I left Rapid City at 5:12 p.m. and rode down the highway about 25 miles to exit 32. I wound through town and found the Sturgis Harley-Davidson tee-shirt and MotorClothes store at 5:43 p.m., where I took an ABCs picture of the bike and magazine. It was 100 degrees outside.

In the parking lot I met a couple from Italy, and we became instant friends when I told them I'd visited Italy may years before, so he took my picture standing next to the Road King in front of the dealership.

Then, while I was putting my camera away, I met a couple from Germany, and we became instant friends when I told them my last name.

Inside the store, which seemed like it might have been a grocery store in a prior life, I enjoyed the air conditioning but couldn't find a Fat Boy logo tee-shirt or anything else that I couldn't live without, so I departed, then rode down Main Street and found the Broken Spoke Saloon. I took a couple pictures outside, including the "Biker Patrol car," a black and white 1954 Ford sedan that they use to take drunk bikers back to their motel or campground (per the sign on the door of the bar).

Inside the Broken Spoke, I asked about buying a tee-shirt, but they were out, and since I don't drink while riding, I couldn't spend my money.

While leaving town I rode slowly past the vacant lots where all the vendor booths go, and imagined the crowd during rally week, and was glad I was there three days later. I also saw a big sign at an oil-change place that said they were authorized to do Harley-Davidson oil changes. I've since heard that they have places like that in southern California, but I've never seen one in my part of the state.

Anyway, I rode through Sturgis to exit 30 and got back onto westbound Interstate 90, took exit 23 and rode west on SD Highway 34 toward Belle Fourche SD, then north on U.S. Highway 85 for a very short distance, then turned west on U.S. 212 (stopped for a picture), rode fourteen miles to the Wyoming line (picture), 7:10 p.m., then another 20 miles to the Montana line (picture), 7:30 p.m., where it was windy and 94 degrees.

I continued a very short distance into the small town of Alzada MT and found a Sinclair Station which only had 87 octane gasoline, so I continued west toward Broadus (57 more miles!), and because of the hilly terrain, got to enjoy two sunsets, the second at 8 p.m., then some road construction, then an area where the speed limit was lowered incrementally from 70 to 55 to 45 to 35 and then ... we were diverted off the highway onto dirt and gravel (!) for a short distance.

Back on the pavement, I had to watch carefully for ruminants, and sure enough there was a deer, there was another deer, there was an antelope, there was another deer, and there was another deer.

I passed through Hammond, then saw another deer, then another, then got into and through Boyes MT, and then had to pass through two more construction areas and then all traffic was diverted onto a dirt road for eleven miles!

Picture it - it's dark, I'm more than a thousand miles from home, I've been riding for over 14 hours, I've avoided several deer and now I'm riding on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere with cars and trucks going by in the other direction, a few inches away. There are no reflectors, no lane markers, and no street lights. I began to think I had time-traveled back to the late 1800s.

On the other hand, the temperature was dipping down to about 90 degrees, so that was nice.

At 9:00 p.m. I found a Conoco Station in beautiful downtown Broadus MT, where it was 87 degrees and the bugs were all over the place. I refueled and the woman clerk told me it was 103 more miles to Interstate 90. Oh, my!

There didn't appear to be any place to stay in Broadus, so I plunged ahead, through the darkness, watching for deer. I'm sure that the scenery would have been wonderful, had I been able to see anything.

At one point, I stopped (somewhere) to check the load (I thought something had shifted), and suffice to say, the extreme bottom part of the left side "engine guard" worked perfectly! I got upright again and proceeded cautiously through the darkness for another many miles.

At 10:25 p.m., 82 degrees, I pulled into the community of Ashland MT and noticed that the light was on at the Western 8 Motel. The owner was just about to close the office, but was glad to rent me room 108 for the night. There was no way to secure the bike, but I could park right outside the door, the exterior building lights were on, and the owner said they have heavy Sheriff patrols of the area.

The clerk locked the office, got into his car and drove home. Meanwhile, I walked across the parking lot to the convenience store for some fluids, but the store owner and his son were just leaving, locked the door and refused to let me buy anything. Across the highway, the gas station was closed, and their vending machines didn't have anything that was caffeine-free. Fortunately, I still had some drinking water.

In the room, I hung up my clothes and turned on the television. No CNN, only a few channels worked, and Sprint PCS did not work in Ashland.

I took a shower, checked the maps and caught up with my notes, and went to bed around 11:00 p.m.

Miles for the day = 683. Third highest mileage day for me. Miles for the trip = 5325.

Tomorrow: many more miles of Montana, do all cities in MT start with "B?" and can I make it to Washington State on Friday afternoon?

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Created on February 13, 2004. Updated on February 27, 2004.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA