Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota

Who Knew North Dakota Could Be Scenic?

Who Knew North Dakota Could Be Scenic?

I've noticed a new trend. For the 3rd year in a row I've ridden less than a full tank of gas worth of miles prior to leaving on my motorcycle trip. Since I've become a full time bicycle commuter I just don't have as many opportunities to ride the motorcycle. If I'm driving somewhere instead of taking a bicycle, it's usually because I'm hauling someone or something that would have precluded me from using the motorcycle anyway.

Nevertheless, I felt compelled to take a motorcycle trip this year if for no other reason than tradition. My sometimes travel partner Jon informed me about six months prior that he would be unable to go along on a trip again this year. However at this point in time he is planning on going next year. So that left me with another solo journey.

As usual, I toyed around with a few different destination ideas. I kind of wanted to visit somewhere new, but at the same time I didn't feel like stringing together consecutive 600 mile days, or being gone for more than four days. That restrictive criteria really limited the options available to me. Unfortunately, due to some things going on at home a longer trip really wasn't a good option this year.

When studying the map I noticed Teddy Roosevelt National Park out on the west side of North Dakota. I had never been there before, although my parents had visited several decades earlier. Obviously, Teddy Roosevelt liked it enough to spend a fair amount of time there. I decided, "what the heck" and declared that my destination for this year. However, there probably wasn't enough interesting riding in North Dakota to make an entire trip just in that state alone. So I decided after visiting the park I could drop down south to the Black Hills and spend some time there as well. This would give me a long, boring day to get there, a dull stretch on day two and a long boring day home. But at least I would have a day and a half of interesting riding.

In looking at the calendar, my wife and I negotiated a time that would work for both of us. We decided the second full week in August would be a good choice. My son's golf tryouts would be done by that point, but school would not yet have started. My wife would have a friend visiting from out of town that week, so she would have some company and I would just be in the way if I were at home anyway. So the date was set.

Going into the summer I had some concerns with my bike. Last fall I had been riding one cold morning when I noticed the clutch slipping a little bit. This concerned me, as I didn't want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere without a working clutch. I decided the first thing to try was to adjust the play in the clutch lever. After adjusting I didn't notice any slippage on my test ride, even when I was giving the bike full throttle in 5th gear. I decided that it was good enough for me to make the trip, but I was going to keep a close eye on it. In any event, even if everything is OK on the trip this told me I'm probably due for a new clutch in the next few years.

The week leading up to leaving was rather busy. The day before I left my son wanted to play a round of golf in preparation for his tournament the next day. We walked 18 holes on a very hilly course in 90 degree temps. I was wiped out tired when we finished. Then we went out for dinner with my wife's friend. By the time we got home it was nearly 9 PM.

I was so tired that I was struggling to get everything packed that night. Eventually I did, although it involved numerous instances of walking into a room and completely forgetting what I was looking for, then leaving and going back to my list. I probably had to make two or three attempts on each item before I finally got it in my bag. It had been a long, long time since I had been that physically exhausted. Once my bag was packed, I showered and shaved so I wouldn't have to do it in the morning and it was around midnight when I finally crawled in bed. Far later than I had planned or hoped.

So here we go! Continue on to day one...

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This page last updated on 08/29/2018