I think we were the only two sober dudes in western South Dakota last night, and I’m pretty glad for that. We awake to a spectacularly blue sky and have a long freeway day ahead of us. A couple of slab warriors we are today. But, first the ride into Sturgis to try and find a tshirt. We stopped by one stand, and all they had were shirts from Sturgis past – 2001 rally shirts, 2004 Sturgis, etc. What? Yea, fuck this. Let’s go. I don’t need a five year-old Sturgis t. Probably don’t need a five day-old Sturgis t. We’re off.
We’re on the freeway for half a mile, and we hit the wind. And I mean, we hit the fucking wind. Keep in mind that I-90 across southern South Dakota is quite possibly the straightest line in the world – scientists actually calibrate their lasers using this road. So, when there’s a cross wind, there is absolutely NO escape. A tree or two would have helped, but no such luck. This wind is unimpeded for a hundred miles and unleashes most of its fury right across I-90.
It was brutal. And since it came out of the south, it was also HOT. The huge American flags lining the interstate looked like painted boards as the steady 40+ mph wind kept them at full erection. Yup, big flag boners.
Because of the riding position of the GS, Brad and I were basically sails. And our helmets with the visors were more like parachutes. Our bikes actually rode at an angle to the earth as we were beaten like rag dolls. And passing the roving behemoth motorhomes and semis was a constant challenge as you had to deal with their wind wake and absurd driving techniques.
Imagine strapping yourself to the roof of your car at 80 mph while two people on either side of you bash your head with a wet, heavy, down-filled pillows relentlessly for 8 hours. That’s what today was like as my eyes rattled around in my head. Typically we’d do 100-150 miles (or more on the freeway) at a shot, but today was about 50-75, and that was a lot. We earned every mile today my friends, for the winds were angry.
The only way I could get relief was to lean WAY over to the left and actually put my left elbow on my knee and ride one-handed. This put my upper body in a protected position, but it also brought about two other issues. First, now that I had ZERO airflow hitting my jacket’s vents, I’m basically sitting there in the baking sun with essentially a winter coat and pants on. Keeping cool in all this gear is all about airflow. Now I’m like a baked potato wrapped in aluminum foil. We’re talking Satan hot here. Mmm, not so fresh. While it was nice not have my brain bouncing around in my melon, I couldn’t stay in this position for long without evaporative cooling (more on that in a moment). Stick a fork in me. I’m done.
The second issue was that I was now outside my windshield and unprotected from bugs. When you ride, you’re constantly getting hit, and it’s usually not a big deal. There are constant small splatters on your glasses and helmet. In Alaska, I was hit by a couple in my chest, and I thought I’d been shot. Seriously. But today, my bug experience was, well, more savory. I actually saw this lazy bug coming my way from a long way off, but there was nowhere to go. It came in on a curving path and splattered my entire left lens. It must have just gorged itself on a rival’s larvae because I had never seen so much goo from one bug. I mean, it was everywhere covering everything. Ah, crap. So, I reach up and try to wipe it off my lens, but that just smeared it around and maybe even rubbed it in a bit more. So, I lick my finger… And IMMEDIATELY regret it. I’d just used the same finger to wipe my lens! I had no idea what to do with myself at this point. I just sort of sat there, one-eyed, half gagging, half giggling, mostly just stunned. I have to admit I was a touch grossed out. I think I still have some in my teeth. I’ve warned you about the massive dangers we face every day, but I consistently find that the greatest danger I face every day is, well, me.
The flavor you ask? Hmm. Tangy. Earthy. Nutty even. Typically I prefer an oakier finish, but the buttery texture accompanied by overtones of pepper and cinnamon more than made up for it. (Yea wine snobs, I just made bug guts sound like you and your wine BS. Suck it.)
Shortly after, we stopped at a little piece of Americana. My rattled eyes were now seeing everything in triplicate, and we needed a restful bit to eat after I scoured my lenses in the sink. As we came to a stop in the parking lot, I looked over at Brad, and he looked like he’d just come out of the dryer on the “seriously fuck up these clothes” setting. And I felt like I’d just lost a left-handed face-slapping competition with Martina Navratilova. If I could actually see straight, I might have laughed at us. We decided to eat before gassing up at this great little diner made out of a string of old railcars. Of course, the food is obviously all beige, but the ladies working the slop line were super friendly.
After some fabulous road fare, we head over to the well-appointed gas station to stock up. At this point, I realize that I’m going to be riding in my sideways position a lot this afternoon. If I’m going to survive all the heat in that position, I’m going to have to employ evaporative cooling. To do this, all you have to do is soak your shirt in water and put it on under your jacket. Works INCREDIBLY well – pulls the heat right out of you even in limited airflow situations. I’ve actually gotten the chills at 85 degrees before. And it sounds easy, right? Well, not always. Not today.
So I’m in the bathroom with 7 or 8 other guys in varying stages of taking care of business when I rip off my shirt and throw it into the sink. I can see a couple of the guys get thrown off a bit by my display, but most keep doing whatever it was they were doing. When the shirt is nice and soaked, I start to try to put it on. But, the synthetic material is all stretchy and keeps catching on my fingers and elbows and everything and I have a hard time even finding the holes. I finally find the neck and go for it. I’m now grunting and bending at the waste, and I look like I’m fighting off an invisible man who’e trying to dress me – and I’m mostly winning. Now most of the guys have stopped moving and are mostly just looking at their feet. They’d like to help, but there’s just really no way for them to broach that topic. We’re all helpless now.
The invisible man finally wins (sort of), and I look up into the mirror to see one sleeve hanging off one hand, the other half way up my elbow, the neck all twisted with one shoulder sticking out, and my wild hair and popping eyes. A quick nod in the mirror like that’s exactly how I wanted it to turn out, and I throw on a swagger as I stroll out of the bathroom past several men still looking at their feet like they’re searching for the answer in their shoelaces. As the bathroom door closes behind me, I’m pretty sure I make out, “Wow, I’m really glad that’s over.” This of course sends my swagger into full over-drive as I make my way through the gas station dripping all over the floor. “Yea bitches. That’s right. I just got back from Alaska on my motorcycle and I’m a little bit fucking crazed right now! You do NOT EVEN want to look at me!” So wish I’d said that. Instead I got outta there as fast as I could trying not to slip on the soaking floor. Whew. Bears don’t cause danger on motorcycle trips. I do.
Other than the wind, my bug guts licking, and my putting on a show in the men’s room, it was a pretty uneventful day. EXCEPT FOR THE GREATEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME ON A MOTORCYCLE…
So, I’m minding my business getting the MMA beatdown from the wind when a white SUV pulls up next to me and seems to slow down a bit. I look over to find a cute redhead turned towards me, so I give her my best “oh yea, I’m cool, check me out, can you tell I’m on my way back from Alaska?” look. Apparently it worked. I thought she was just going to wave or hold up a sign or something. Nooo… She had much grander plans. God bless her. Before I could really even register what was happening, her hands came up to the v-neck of her blouse, and with a flourish she pulled her entire shirt down to her waste and gave her small, perky boobs a shake and a shimmy while I cruised along at 80 mph with neither eye on the road! I mean, there we were. Me turned to the left, and her with her perfect little boobies flopping away right next to me. It was spectacular!
I was a bit stunned, but I managed a full smile and huge thumbs-up as they pulled away laughing and having just as much fun as I just did. That gave me just the pickup I needed to continue on to our next stop – Fairmont, MN. I couldn’t wait to tell Brad. What a country.
Fairmont was not much of anything, but it was a nice way to spend our last night. We didn’t need anything extravagant, and the restaurant at the Holiday Inn across the street from our Super 8 lodgings was perfect. Plus, I was still reliving the full-frontal flashy I’d gotten on the freeway. But, the realization that we’d be home the next day was starting to sink in, and I think both of us were struggling with that a little bit. I mean, we were both ready to get home, but at the same time finding it difficult to deal with the end of this trip. So, we dealt with that by drinking too much wine. But, it was perfect sitting on a curb drinking the bottle I’d carried through three states and two countries. And we made another new friend, Jimmy who plays for Superfly Redneck out of Chicago. If you’re looking for a great, rocking band for your next party, hit Jimmy up. Great night.
Today, we made it to “X.” And Google Maps won’t let me post any more locations! We’ve hit the end of the road… Tomorrow, Milwaukee bound. Will our explorers make it? Stay tuned…