I have a problem with stopping for the night. Whether it's too early for me to stop, I'm not tired, or I just feel that I need to cover more ground - I don't usually stop where I plan, I keep riding. It's not always the smart desicion, but it's one I make time and time again when I'm on a cross-country trip. Who's to stop me, I usually travel alone.
So, after getting a head start on Tuesday night and riding from Stevens Point, WI to Albert Lea, MN, I got a late start on Wednesday. I woke up at 8 am and checked the weather to the west...rain from the southern part of Minnesota to the southern part of Iowa. So, I went back to sleep figuring that it would pass by the time I woke up again later in the morning. It didn't. Instead of waiting it out even more, I packed the bike and got on the road around 11 am, heading West on I-90.
55 degrees and overcast when I finally got going and it didn't take long for the rain to start falling. About 100 miles east of Sioux Falls I hit a thunderstorm. It was one of those rides where you see a storm off in the distance and the highway looks as if it's gonna miss it. Then the highway turns towards the storm and you get an "oh fuck" type of feeling, only to have the highway turn away again. This can go on, over and over again until you either hit the storm or luckily skirt past it, but it's happened to me more times than I can remember. This time, I was fortunate enough to hit the edge of the storm, only getting the light stuff dropped on me.
Further down the highway, once I was in South Dakota, the clouds opened up to blue skies and the sidewinds started pounding me. Heavy sidewinds in South Dakota, no way? Seems as though more often than not, I'm riding sideways through the state due to frequent winds hitting me from the south or north. Whatever, I'll take wind over rain/hail any day.
To make matters worse, my kickstand has a tendency of not wanting to come down from time to time. I got to Mitchell, SD and started cranking on it to drop it, and nothing. So, I had to back my bike up at an angle to a wall/pole and rest my back tire onto whatever was available at each stop, holding my bike up as a result. Damn kickstand, I've taken it apart, checked it, lubed it, you name it, nothing has worked. It works when it wants to, but on occasion, likes to give me hell.
I hit Murdo, South Dakota and headed South on highway 83, through the Rosebud Indian Reservation, towards North Platte, Nebraska. Hot as hell, roughly 95 degrees rolling through this stretch, but I didn't seem to notice it - a temp sign had to remind me of how hot it actually was. Drafting cars to keep my gas mileage up and watching the sun as it sunk lower and lower in the sky.
I hit North Platte at dusk. Being on the far edge of the time zone, it was 9:30 pm once the sun had set, but I wasn't tired or ready to quit. 600 miles into my day, I slammed a 5-hour energy drink and got right back on the road. Here's where things started getting a little faded. My head wasn't feeling too normal by this point. I think the wind, heat, and length of time on the road(almost 12 hours at this point) started getting to my head. Dizzy and dry-eyed, feeling like a tweaker who hadn't slept in days, I kept going. I could smell Colorado by now, so I wasn't about to quit after all of this time.
The white lines were messing with my head and traffic was scarce, both of which weren't helping me stay focused. I got behind a couple different tractor trailer trucks to block the wind, bugs, and possible deer, but they never seem to like when I do that. If any of you reading this drive a semi, realize that I can maneuver and stop a lot quicker than you can, everything's gonna be fine if I'm two car lengths off your ass. Stretches between gas stops got shorter, and the length of my stops got longer. Later into the night, truck stops seemed to get weirder and the people hanging out at them creepier. Didn't bother me, I just felt like I was in the twilight zone.
Finally pulled into the Denver area around 2 am, hitting warm and really cold spots of air along the back-coutry roads north of the city. Felt like certain areas were gonna dump snow on me, but I just sped up, faster and faster to get home.
In all, 855 miles by the end of the day - a new record for me on a single days' ride. A chaffed ass, a sore back, cramped hands, burnt skin, and a smile on my face. It comes with the territory and is what motorcycling is all about. It's not a glamorous lifestyle, but damn if it isn't the greatest style to live.
My bed never felt so good...
-pictures along highway 83(between Murdo, SD and North Platte, NE)
3 weeks ago