I Rode Mine to Sturgis – 2010

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      It wasn’t until about 3 weeks before Bike Week when I realized I’d be going on yet another adventure to Sturgis.  At the time, I had negative vacation days (used more than I'd been allotted) and was planning to work the remainder of the year sans vacation to break even.

      Since May, however, I had grown more and more discontent with the direction my career was taking me.  My work life had become consumed with repetitive, unchallenging and unfulfilling tasks and any attempt I made to demonstrate initiative was met with deafening incredulity.  So on one beautiful July morning, I walked into my manager’s office and did the unthinkable.  I turned in my wings of senior consultancy and a near 6-figure salary that had taken 5 long years to obtain.

      As I left his office I was hit with a revelation; I was now about to have more time than I could shake a stick at!  Sure I would eventually have to find another job but thanks to a private equity buy-out that went through 3 days before my final day, my company shares quadrupled in value, providing me with a few more months of wiggle room to figure out what to do next with my life.  Not only that but I had recently taken up wedding DJing on the side with High Fidelity Entertainment, which, by itself, was paying for more than just the bills.

      I spent that afternoon basking in a feeling of accomplishment.  I knew, unequivocally, that I had made the right decision.  Knowing, with certainty, that this chapter was coming to an end brought on an immeasurable sense of relief.

      Later that evening while eating a celebratory egg salad sandwich, I realized that the 2010 Sturgis trip was now a given.  A quick call to my parents was received with some initial skepticism regarding my new status as an unemployed member of society but all was forgotten when the word "Sturgis" was mentioned.

      The next few weeks seemed to drag on forever.  Funny how time slows down as you approach a vacation (then zooms by when you're on it).  The last few days before my departure were spent tying up loose ends at work, DJing an awesome wedding at the Zoo Conservatory for a great couple, and preparing for the trip. 

      Once the dust settled on the morning of Sunday, August 8, 2010, I crammed everything I would need for my new adventure in a water proof kayak bag, bungeed it down to the passenger seat, and by 11:00am, when the powers that be decided it was a good time for it to start to rain, I started up the Repsol, kicked it into first, and then waved goodbye to the ghosts of times past.  My new adventure and countless other cliches lay ahead…

      Packed Up & Ready to Hit the Road

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        Day 1 – Calgary, AB to Billings, MT (878 kms)

        …but my new adventure would have to be put on hiatus for a few minutes to give my ride a soundtrack.  It was with sudden horror that I realized I had left the ear buds for my mp3 player at my old office.  Since it was Sunday and I no longer had a key card that would let me in, I was out of luck.  I would have to resort to ear plugs.

        Now there are generally two types of ear plugs; the cylindrical nerf-looking ear plugs and the ones that look like tampon applicators.  For me, the tampon applicators don’t work at all.  In fact, they amplify the wind noise and make things worse, much worse.  Unfortunately, this was something I had to learn over the first few hundred kilometers of the trip.  The fact that it took me this long to admit auditory defeat is a true testament to my stubborn nature.  To make a long story short, I just couldn’t get a good seal from those suckers. 

        I gave up on the applicators once I reached Lethbridge and it was there that I loaded up on nerf-plugs.  The improvement was palpable; I could finally hear myself think!  This, however, can sometimes be just as bad (ex. contemplating how long of a Subway Party Sub would be required to feed the all the hungry people in the world for a day – so you take 1 billion hungry people in the world and multiply that number by 12 inches/person, which equals about 190,000 miles of sub, or a sub that circles the globe 7.5 times).

        I carry this reference card every time I head out on a riding trip

        Okay, enough about ear plugs.  The Canadian portion of the trip was a wet one.  I had the proper rain gear… well, everything except for the waterproof foot attire.  By the time I hit the outskirts of Nanton, I was starting to feel the effects of trench foot through my shoes.  My ad-hoc solution…

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      • Pull over at a gas station in Nanton
      • Ask attendant where the garbage bags are
      • Beg attendant for a few plastic bags once I find out they don’t sell garbage bags
      • Thank attendant for providing me with 2 garbage bags
      • Remove shoes
      • Insert feet in garbage bags
      • Put shoes back on
      • Secure bags with duct tape so they don’t get caught in chain/wind
      • Look ridiculous and do a victory dance
      • Ignore strange looks from others
      • ‘).’‘

        This actually worked surprisingly well.  So much so that the garbage bags have become permanent additions to my rain gear.

        By the time I hit the border, it had stopped raining and cleared up.  To my surprise, a strange weather phenomenon was at work.  To the North of the border, the sky was littered with dark grey clouds.  To the South, it was sunny with very few scattered clouds.  I was glad to be heading South.

        As some of you may recall from my trip report from two years ago, I had a little incident at the border involving a Cuban cigar, nausea, and a lengthy interrogation.  In order to streamline the process this year, I made sure not to make the same mistake.  The first question that the customs agent asked, of course, was, “Are you carrying any cigars?”.  Reflecting on the lapse in judgement of years past, I truthfully responded with a, “No”.  And just like that, I was back in the good old U.S. of A.

        The ride down to Great Falls along I-15 was uneventful as always.  I kept an eye out for those elusive missile silos I keep hearing about from locals.  As my luck would have it, I came up empty handed yet again, with nothing to show except for this missile silo map that I found via Google…

        How can I miss all of these?

        One thing I did notice, however, in this vast expanse of boringness was that my motorcycle’s fuel efficiency had inherited super powers.  I typically hit reserve between 180kms and 190kms.  Well, I hit 230kms on this stretch and my reserve light still hadn’t gone on.  Was my reserve light burnt out?  The next stop for gas in Great Falls revealed that it hadn’t.  Awesome!

        I stopped for a butt-break and beer-and-burger dinner at Jaker’s in Great Falls.  I unexpectedly dropped in during their Happy Hour and was told that a second beer was waiting for me as I finished the first.  Apparently, Jaker’s Happy Hour is two-for-one beers and they don’t tell you this until it’s time for your second.  After my meal and a short but pleasant conversation with a few other bikers that were riding to Sturgis the following day, I was off again.

        A few dozen kilometers East of Great Falls saw my knee make full contact with an enormous thumb-sized insect.  The aftermath left a mark the size of a golf ball on both my knee and the bike.  Seeing roadkill on the side of the highway immediately after this incident got me thinking about my susceptibility to a similar fate.  As motorcyclists, we pretty much roll the dice every time we jump on our bikes.  There’s only so much we can do to control our riding environment.  The rest… well that’s a mixture of luck and how the guy upstairs is feeling at the time.  Knowing that a Reymer transport truck wasn’t waiting for me in Harlowtown this year, I recalled the advice given to me 2 years ago regarding the abundance of deer in the area and adjusted accordingly.

        Poor little guy – a reminder to ride safe and watch out for wildlife

        I eventually stopped in at Eddie’s Corner for a fill-up.  It was time to clean the bugs off my visor so I used the station’s windshield cleaner fluid.  What followed, after putting my helmet back on, can only be described as the most disgusting smell ever.  Not only would I have to deal with the smell of patchouli oil (note: patchouli oil + massage = you stink like patchouli oil for a week), but now also the smell of rotten eggs/fish/bugs with hint a sewage.  Dry heaving ensued.

        Eddie’s Corner – don’t wash your visor with the windshield washer fluid here

        Off South now again and in what seemed to be the Mother-of-All-Storms.  It was 7:30pm at the time I took the following picture but it looked and felt as though it was about 10:00pm.

        Looking down South towards Judith’s Gap

        Logic dictated that I head West a few kilometers to Lewistown and call it a night with the intent of waiting out the storm.  Logic and sense of adventure, however, typically don’t go hand-in-hand and the latter got the best of me.  As long as I didn’t see lightning, I figured I’d be okay.  Luckily, there wasn’t lightning but boy did it ever pour!  It was like the 50-year storm spread along a 10-kilometer stretch of highway.  Now 10 kilometers doesn’t seem like very much but when you throw in a 30-minute detour to take you around a 2-kilometer stretch of construction, a 40 minute ride in that weather feels like an eternity.

        As fate would have it, I arrived in Billings dry and in one piece at about 9:30pm.  I tested my phone to see if US roaming worked but it didn’t (fuck you Wind Mobile) and then proceeded to watch some TV.  Too tired and sore to go out and take in the Billings night life, I called it an early night and that was that.

        My slovenly pad for the evening
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        Day 2 – Calgary, AB to Billings, MT (491 kms)

        I wasn’t too excited to wake up the next morning with the early stage symptoms of a cold.  I figured a good breakfast would help and as I jumped out of bed, I let out a potential Guinness contender in the low frequency/high amplitude category.  I’m sure that any tuba player from the Philharmonic orchestra would have been impressed with the tonal accuracy.  This unexpected surprise, however, unleashed the following sequence of events…

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      • Someone, definitely a male, from the adjacent room clearly yelled out, “SICK!”
      • I then laughed hysterically for what must have been almost 5 minutes
      • The door to the adjacent room then slammed shut with what sounded like said male above mumbling, “…fucking disgusting…” as he walked heavy-footed down the hall towards the elevator
      • ‘).’‘

        Needless to say, someone wasn’t impressed with my new found display of musical prowess.  Everyone’s a judge.  Can’t wait to see him at breakfast!

        Breakfast in Billings this year was done in moderation (having learned my lesson from 2 years ago).  I stuck to a glass of orange juice, a waffle, a bit of fruit and some eggs.  This exercise in self-restraint made a stop at the Mother-of-All-Dumps gas station (a memorable event, again from 2 years ago) unnecessary (other than to fill up on gas and awesomeness).

        The ride to Broadus was pretty uneventful, other than a flashback to 2 years ago when I accidentally filled up my gas tank with diesel in Lame Deer.  That was a mistake that I vowed never to do again.

        Not making the same mistake again

        I arrived in Broadus and ran into a fellow Albertan while filling up.  His name was Bert and he was riding down from Northern Alberta.  Bert wasn’t exactly the luckiest of riders.  He had taken a lesser known route down South and paid the price.  What price?  Well, he had hit a total of 8 birds (speed was likely the culprit) and took a deer leg to the chest.  What?  Yeah, that was my exact reaction.  The deer leg was the result of a transport truck hitting and dismembering a deer.  One of poor guy’s legs was knocked over the truck then straight into Bert’s chest.  Fortunately, the impact wasn’t strong enough to knock him off his bike.

        The remains of a bird that met its unlucky end

        Here’s an interesting thought experiment:  What goes through someone’s mind when they see a dismembered deer leg flying towards them?  And to make matters worse, he was riding on a rear tire that was showing steel belt.  We tried calling around town to find a replacement but Broadus is a pretty small place.  He would had to ride another 100 kilometers or so to find one.  He took off shortly before I did but we crossed paths again about 15 minutes later when I passed him… he must have been going about 60 kilometers/hour.  It felt like I had just passed a scooter.  I hope he made it to wherever he was going with his rear tire intact.

        Shortly after crossing the Wyoming border, I was greeted by the first accident of the trip.  There were already a few ambulances at the scene when I passed by.  I hope everyone ended up okay.

        It wasn’t much further until I hit Belle Fourche.  It was here that I decided to switch to guns (a stupid term I coined for going from helmet to bandana and riding glasses).  Unfortunately, I didn’t have proper riding glasses, which prevented me from going faster than about 70km/hour.  Every time I tried, my eyelids would start flapping in the wind like a dogs tongue in the back of a speeding pickup truck.  To make matters worse, I eventually lost my sunglasses to a blast of turbulence caused by a transport truck heading the opposite direction.  I pulled over and had no choice but to put my helmet back on for the rest of the ride in.

        I rolled into Lamphere Ranch and noticed that it was much more busy than it had been 2 years ago.  After paying, I did a quick round of the campsite, hoping to spot my parents.  After two failed attempts, I gave up and gave in to the call of cold booze.  I bought a 6-pack of Cheladas (Bud Light & Clamato in a can – and why dont’ we have this up here?) then spent the following 45 minutes drinking on a comfy swinging bench under the blazing South Dakota sun.

        I was about 4 or 5 drinks in when my parents rolled in with my uncle.  They told me where they setup shop and left me to find my way there.  Before I could leave, I crossed paths with a fellow Canadian from Nanaimo named Wayne who was looking to buy some tent pegs.  I figured my parents to have extra pegs so I offered to lend them out to him.  He came by, setup shop along side us and within 10 minutes of meeting the rest of the gang, he became part of our crew for the week.

        *** finally, heavy duty camera fun picture time! ***

        Packed campground

        Having packed light, I had to make a quick return trip to the main office to buy some supplies; a sleeping back, foam, pillow, or towel.  Total cost… about $26.  God bless America!

        One thing my parents absolutely dominate at is cooking while camping.  They make the most simple, yet delicious meals.  For dinner, they made this sausage/potato/bean dish that was full of awesomeness.

        My uncle and dad at work with Wayne watching in bewilderment

        One word – delicious

        After the sun had set, we decided that since campfires are prohibited, we’d leave the campground and hit up the world-renown Full Throttle Saloon across the street.  Things got a little hazy after several + drinks but from what I remember, here were the highlights:


          ‘, ”, ‘

        • Missing Billy Ray Cyrus – he was actually playing on the main stage that night and we were too busy drinking and catching up to notice
        • Playing wingman to Wayne’s impressive pickup abilities that he unleashed on a few shooter girls and female bar staff
        • My mom kicking grown men’s asses at some punching bag game that measures your punch strength
        • Me possibly having been one of those grown men
        • ‘).'”).”\n


        Full Throttle Saloon Talent
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          Great write up.  Looking forward to reading about your next trip  🙂

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            I’ve got about 5 more days worth of write-ups left for this trip.  I just need to make the time, heh heh.

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