Gold Wing Ride 2011

For the 2011 summer season Holly and I were thinking of going east. It had been a beautiful summer so far and we were looking forward to the great weather on the ride. I was also looking forward to trying out my new 2010 Nebulous Black Gold Wing. Our last few rides on the ST1300A had been getting tougher to take for two-up riding and despite all the upgrades on the ST1300 it was still more a Sport bike than a two-up Touring bike. I wanted what the other bike didn’t offer, such as a real cruise control, upright seating for two, and built in stereo speakers that worked at highway speeds. Is that too much to ask?

Our original plans were made for a late June ride and took us through to South Carolina, but several fellow riders told us, warned us, that it was way too hot to ride the Dragon’s tail this time of year. So we decided to head for the mountains instead. The Glacier National Park sounded pretty cool. Since the timing was right we also decided to make our first stop at Sturgis for the 2011 motorcycle rally.

Day One. 370 kms – 4 hours 30 minutes

Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba – Grand Forks North Dakota

We could technically make it from home to Sturgis in one long day but we wanted to start easy and leave Monday to arrive Rapid City on Tuesday. But then Holly looked at the weather forecast for Saturday and decided that she didn’t want us to be sitting in a long border crossing in the rain so rescheduled our departure for Sunday. As the first segment was relatively short we didn’t leave until after lunch stopping in town to get our picture snapped by my Mom.

The ride to the border was horrid in that the “new” highway that Manitoba Highways Department put in last year had, over only one winter, developed bang bang bang speed bumps every 10 meters for about 30 kilometers from Ste Agathe to Morris. Then of course the main street through Morris is a complete embarrassment. I don’t know how anyone could live in that town and put up with the worst set of pot holes in Western Canada.

The Emerson to Pembina border crossing, however, was easy enough except the American custom agent gave me the third degree. Two rough looking characters wearing torn blue jeans, leather chaps and bandannas on a noisy burnt out Harley went though in blink of an eye but straight looking Holly and I on our shiny new Honda Gold Wing got 100 questions. I guess I was on their economic radar as I had been to Washington DC just two weeks before and for that reason he needed to know “who paid me.” “We can’t have those wetback Canadians coming over our border and stealing America jobs can we?” As if that is the worst of their problems.

The American side of the ride was uneventful and we arrived at the Grand Forks Holiday Inn Express.

Day Two 452 kms – 4 hours 20 minutes

Grand Forks ND – Aberdeen South Dakota

We slept in and took our time enroute through to South Dakota. We had thought of going all the way to Pierre but the forecast rain was hounding us so we stopped at Aberdeen South Dakota. Besides Pierre’s only decent hotel was surrounded by sandbags as the spring flood waters had still not fully receded by this time in August.

Day Three 577 kms – 5 hours 55 minutes

Aberdeen SD – Rapid City South Dakota

We have driven through the farm lands of South Dakota many times at this time of year and it was obvious the crops were later than usual. The previous year wheat was already going gold and the farmers were cutting the flax. This year it was all still green.

The heavy winter snows and spring rains had led to flooding and the damage was still evident. Highway 12 West of Highway 83 South was still closed because of washed out bridges.

Indian Country News

High water this spring has damaged bridges, washed out roads and flooded some homes on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border.

Ron His Horse Is Thunder, the tribal chairman, says at least two bridges have been damaged. One, near Wakpala, started leaning and was closed after it was damaged by floodwaters, he said.

His Horse Is Thunder said one-way traffic is all that is permitted on the other damaged bridge, which is on the main highway between Kenel, S.D., and Fort Yates, N.D

We drove through Pierre the capital of South Dakota and crossed the Missouri River which was still exceptionally high. I can’t imagine what it was like during the spring. The historic Lewis and Clark Trail follows the river banks here at least up to the dam for the Garrison River Project.

What most American’s forget is that Fort Pierre was once claimed for France by the La Verendrye survey party in 1743. Pierre La Verendrye and his sons were the first Europeans in North Dakota and the first to see the Rocky Mountains. One of his sons pushed far enough south to meet the Spanish and bring back two Spanish horses to North Dakota. These were the first since native New World horses were wiped out thousands of years before.

Lewis and Clark get most of the American glory because history is written for the victorious and in the end the French lost the Missouri River and the Dakotas to the Americans. Pierre also discovered the lake my home town of Lac du Bonnet in built on and named it after a cap. How inglorious.

We kept on Hwy 14 West till we met up with I90 West at Wall. No we didn’t stop at Wall Drugs despite the 100 or more signs inviting us to do so.

We did stop at Black Hills Harley-Davidson just off Exit 55 before getting to downtown Rapid City, however, just to get into the party mood. This was already day seven of the rally so the dealership was packed with bikes coming in to see all the suppliers of flash and noise.

Black Hills Harley-Davidson

Rapid City Downtown

Day Four 320 kms – 4 hours

Rapid City to Spearfish Canyon Ride

As we were pretty fresh Holly and I decided to spend the day riding through the beautiful Black Hills. We did a circle tour heading west of Rapid City to cut through the heart of the Black Hills with every turn being met by black towering rain clouds. We rode through several cold showers and didn’t stop to put on our rain gear but the Gold Wing kept us relatively warm and dry. Even with two GPS’s, however, I didn’t know where I was until we popped out north of Hill City. From where we rode north to Lead and Deadwood.

Just out of Lead was this picture perfect classic automobile rebuilding shop. I forgot to get the name but they had rebuilt these classic Texaco gas pumps along with the truck as a front to what must be a great shop.

We past through Lead and Deadwood and continued around the Spearfish Canyon ride stopping at Bridal Veil Falls to take a few pictures of riders taking pictures.

The highway might look crowded but the riders all work together to make it flow. The canyon ride flows like the river running through it.

We ended up in Deadwood for a Buffalo Burger lunch and enjoyed the show of “the good, the bad and the stupid.”

The Good,

the Bad Assed, and

the just plain Stupid.

After lunch we rode into Sturgis to see the real show.

Praise the lord.

Continued on next post…

About John S Goulet

Air Transport Pilot, consultant, writer, blogger and photographer with 40 years in Professional Aviation.
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