The decision to leave Sturgis and skip some live Sweet home Alabama was not easy but there is a lot of the country I haven’t yet seen, so I pushed on.
There would be ~400 miles between my start and destination – Red Lodge. I had planned on taking 90 most of the way but am open to calling an audible based on time and progress. I’d rather not get stuck up in the mountains after sundown as cliffs without guardrails suck without light.
As I left the parking lot of the Rapid City hotel, some of the people I had met the first day led the way. BJ, his father and wife were headed west as well going to Devil’s tower – a WY landmark.
After 60 miles and upon entering WY, we along with everybody else in 2 wheels pulled into a service station. During the stop I spoke with BJ for a bit, learned he was from Northern KY and was invited to ride with them to the Tower. It turned out to be a 90 mile detour so I declined but we exchanged numbers in case he makes it to new England or i get lost in Kentucky. During the quick stop I asked another rider to take my picture taken in front of the “welcome to Wyoming” sign. After the picture we talked a while an I notice his accent. Apparently he and his friend were all from the Natick, MA area. scary small world.
I pushed on through the prairies of WY as the sun geared up to 90+ again. No problem, if nothing else, I’m used to ridiculous heat by now.
After 145 miles I stopped to fill up. During the stop a woman riding her Road King Police dragged her husband over to talk shop about the parts on my bike. she wasn’t more than 5″3 and 120LBS so I give her a lot of respect for handling an 800 LB bike. No sooner did we wrap our our conversation that an older rider came in on a full dresser. He cut the bars too quickly and ended up dropping the bike in front of 20 fellow riders. Without skipping a beat, there were half a dozen of us pulling the bike up as well as the rider who somehow landed five feet from his cycle. Dropping a bike in front of people can not only lead to an injury but is the most embarrassing thing a biker can do. It was pretty amazing that so many people immediately we’re of similar mind and helped this stranger. Some people are good.
Back on the road and doing well on time. I’ll get off of 90 and take 14 through Big Horn Mountain. I’ve heard great things about this ride and now will experience it for myself.
The roads were amazing. The turns sharp an scenery beautiful.
Half way through I stopped at the Bear Lodge – a small inn with a restaurant providing a decent bite to eat and chance for the bike to cool down. The waitresses were incredibly friendly offering scenic suggestions down the road. One waitress was from Palm springs and the other likely never left the 5 mile area in her life.
Out In the parking lot I met another rider originally from the area but now lives in San Fran. He is back visiting family and has a rental for the week. He commented on the road ahead of me saying that it’s treacherous and not in great shape. The former was accurate but being from new England the latter was just not true. The road was slightly lumpy but not a pot hole in site!!
The temperature at the 9400 ft road summit was 40 so I pulled over to bring out my leather. At that “scenic view spot” I met two riders on road glides. We talked for a bit as one had a similar breather in his road glide as I have on my road king. His bike was leaking oil likely due to some of the other work done on the bike.
The three of us talked about Sturgis as well as the next parts of our respective rides. They (Jamie and Bert) had some great ideas and were actually headed to Red Lodge too. We exchanged numbers and planned to grab a beer later.
I ascended the mountain solo and had the ride of a lifetime! The only white knuckle moment was at a 15 degree decline where I saw skid marks in the pavement and then all the way to the top of the jersey barrier placed to block cars from falling 5k feet to the canyon floor. The skid marks went to the top and I’m convinced the car went over the concrete. I dropped a gear and heeded the warnings.
Back to the desert – 100 degrees ad my nose is now in Michael Jackson territory.
8 miles from Red Lodge I passed a town called Bear Creek where a bar is the only real building in the town. It looks like a gunfight could take place at high noon on any given day. I later learned that on weekends they conduct pig races we’re locals can wager on the fastest swine. I don’t have a reservation so don’t want to chance getting turned down at the door. Also, I had bacon in a sandwich earlier today and fear dirty looks from a skilled MMA version of porky.
When I arrived at my home for the night, I received a text from Bert. There were no rooms at Red Lodge so they went to a town called Cody. They’re coming by Red Lodge tomorrow and we’ll ride through Yellowstone together. Power in numbers against the grizzlies is probably a good idea.
The town of Red Lodge is a quaint town filled with bars, small restaurants and shops. It reminds me of Bar Harbor, Maine but surrounded by mountains.
After riding up the main drag and stopping for a few to talk with a crew from Alberta I went back to check into the humble establishment that is home for the night. Moments later a pair of Utah born bikes each carrying passengers pulled in. This foursome would be staying two doors down.
We talked about bikes, routes and the day’s events before they (mike, chad, Chrissy and tracy) asked me to join them for dinner. I declined but told them I’d likely see them in town. An hour later I did end up at their bar. They were already deep into dinner so it’s a good thing they went ahead. At the end of their dinner mike Asked me to joking them for a cigar back at the ranch. This worked out and the five of us all shared stories from the road for a few hours.
I’ve notice that once people learn I’m riding solo, most people are over the top friendly and always try to include me in their activities. This is a very positive learning as I didn’t know what to expect before setting out on this journey but happy that friendliness is a reality around here.
Now, time to rest up and ride through Beartooth Pass and Yellowstone tomorrow!