The Right Road

I got up to leave Sturgis before breakfast, but …IMG_4719

It began to thunderstorm for an hour while all the bikers at the same hotel ate, drank coffee, and exchanged stories. All the bikes fired up and went in different directions. I was one of the first out, braving some of the rain for about 20 minutes.

Stopped by Sundance. The kid says “hi.”

Went to Devil’s Tower. Pictures absolutely cannot show you what this really is. You see it from the road 12 miles away, and you nod and think – “That is one big rock sticking up there.” At 5 miles away, you think “That is a huge rock!” Then you get to base of it and stand among granite boulders that are as large as a bus and you look up and you think, “That is … wow.”

My ride across the rolling hills was dry, and that was good.   I could see the horizon forming blue mountain peaks from 50 miles away. There are certain landscapes that capture people’s heart. I’ve heard Melville talk about the sea. I’ve heard people talk about the beauty in the desert. Individuals change their entire lives around specific landscapes that feed their soul. They become inspired with some divine spark that is connected with a certain landscape and it drives them to a place of perspective for their existence. For me, mountains, always.

I know mountains may not be your thing. But whatever makes your heart beat faster, I hope it lifts you like mountains move my spirit. The last two days have had their challenges, but when the kickstand goes down for the night, the images feeding my dreams are the limitless scale and imagination evident in such grand elemental statements. Somehow my smallness combines with a personal peace and significance.

I think I’m on the right road.

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Rush more?

Today was a riding day. Not a race-the-sun riding day, but a feel-that-belly-rush-like-a-kid riding day. Before everyone driving an RV got out on the roads, it was a blast! The road out of Sturgis south is amazing. Those yellow arrow signs that were laughable in Kansas, were serious today. This was some of the most challenging riding of my life. Not because of the technical turns, but because I had to discipline myself from looking at things other than the road. I mean could you think about turn angles, speed, and hitting a late corner apex when you are looking at this?

I think I’ve uncovered a running theme to this ride. I NEED MORE TIME! Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Deadwood, Crazy Horse Memorial, … Any single one of these places could have easily taken a day or more to experience. Then if you factor in the riding – Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road, Wildlife loop …I NEED MORE TIME! Riding across country means you are passing by things quickly. That sounds very easy on paper, but when you see all that cool stuff…man, I’d love to climb those rocks, and swim in that lake, and learn more history, and, and, and…I NEED MORE TIME!

That might be a mantra for life. But life keeps moving, and tomorrow so do I. I have to leave town before the circus get’s here.  Bye Sturgis, it was fun.  IMG_4715Really fun.

Sturgis! Wait, …what?

It was 6:30 before I hit the road, but I did manage to escape Nebraska!

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Each hour of riding brought an entirely new landscape. From corn, to sand hills, to rolling prairie, … and for a while I was thinking, “How will I know when I ride up on the badlands?” It turns out it wasn’t hard to identify them.

Outside of Badlands National Park is the town of Wall. Wall Drug started giving free ice water to tourists in 1931. Since 1931 there hasn’t been a single documented case of a tourist traveling through South Dakota without stopping at Wall Drug. It has the most intensely measured tourist-ational field on the planet, attracting people by sheer power of the billboard alone. The tourist-ational pull has been measured at 5 times the strength of “See Rock City” and 27 times the strength of “Stuckey’s.”  I too fell prey to the insidious tug on my tires, but I left quickly.

Fortunately, I had broken free of the Nebraska cornfields, so the force was still strong with me, besides, the 80 mph speed limit on the interstate beckoned. Way to go South Dakota!

Tonight I landed in Sturgis. The rally doesn’t start until August 8th, so I’m here just as vendors are beginning to set up. It’s a little bit creepy. Lots of empty storefronts, and “for rent” signs, tents awaiting their occupants, and gigantic bars that barely have enough people to turn the lights on and off. It’s kind of like I’m at the county fair when people are getting paid to set up the tilt-a-whirl. I’m watching what goes on behind the scenes before anyone throws up.

Tomorrow there will be no westward progress. Instead I’m going to explore the area a bit. On the menu is the Crazy Horse Memorial, Needles Highway, and Mount Rushmore.