Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Touring Series: Highway To Hell

A Guitar Ted Productions series
Thanks for joining me again on another adventure in "The Touring Series". This tour was dubbed the "Race Against Death Tour". This tour occurred in August of 1995. The three participants, Ryan, Troy, and your's truly, left from Cedar Falls, Iowa to try and get to Winter Park, Colorado in two weeks. Here I am reproducing the tale as it was posted on the blog in 2009. I also will add new remarks and memories where appropriate at the end of each post. 

 Once again, there were no cell phones, internet, social media platforms, or digital cameras in use by we tourers in 1995. I will post images where I can, but this tour wasn't well documented in images, so there probably will be very few sprinkled throughout. A modern image will be used only where it depicts things I want to clarify, like where we were in that part of the tour via a map image, or the like.

The "Touring Series" will appear every Sunday until it ends. Look for past entries by scrolling back to a previous Sunday's post, or type in "Touring Series" in the search box to find more. 
 We rejoin the touring trio as they head out of Nebraska and into their next state- South Dakota- on Day four from the start........

We went straight north into Spencer, and the after passing through that town we went directly west again for a spell. South Dakota was nearing, it was within reach. I think we all got a bit of a boost from that thought as the pace began to pick up a bit now. It was late afternoon, and we were rolling together at a really good rate.

Now the highway turned due north again, and we were going through a little town called Butte when just by an old closed up lumberyard, a dog came out and gave chase. It was mean and meant business. Ryan whipped out his pump, and Troy was yelling. I did what I normally do when dogs come out after me. I barked back! Well......that and I rode faster! We were a bit scared and shook up by that, but we were okay. We stopped up the road to regroup, then we forged ahead to the border.

Five more miles and we made it. We didn't stop though, and we didn't really mark the occasion. We forged ahead another mile to the meeting of Highways 12 and U.S.18. There was nothing special about this intersection. It was in the middle of nowhere really. But we needed to figure out a plan for crashing for the night. The maps came out, and our noses went into them! As we were pouring over our options, we saw a few motor bikers stop and don silly plastic helmets. It seemed that it was a way to skirt the helmet law and not wear a "real" helmet. I thought it was weird, but whatever. We were not wearing helmets, and I suppose the bikers were jealous of that, judging by the looks we got.

Troy had a plan. He wanted to see just how far we could push it. We were already at nearly a hundred miles of riding for the day, not including Jo's ride. Bonesteel looked appealing to me, but Troy thought it wasn't far enough out. He was thinking we could swing Burke if we tried real hard. That was about 20 more miles in, and the sun was westering fast. I was rather dubious of the plan, but once again, Ryan was game, so I fell in.

As we went by Bonesteel, I wistfully looked, wishing we would pull over, but Troy was up front and was hammering out an incessant pace, so I knew we were in for more miles before this day would end. The little spot in the road of St. Charles passed by, and then Herrick, just off the road to the south. Still we went on. I noticed lots of dump truck traffic and heavy equipment. I would soon find out why.

We hadn't passed Herrick by when we saw the construction signs. Road Closed. We rolled up where a construction worker told us that if we stayed to the right, we'd be okay. At first, it was. Then the hammers that bust up old pavement had crushed the surface of the road to bits, which made riding slow and difficult. Then we were obliged to walk around the very machine doing the crushing. It was loud and we were not wanted there, that was plain. We quickly moved around the machine, and the deafening din. We got on the left side of the road for a bit, and rode onward.

I still have the receipt from the campground in Burke.
Soon we had to jump back over. We saw the blacktop paving machine was busy laying down new blacktop. Dump trucks with full loads of the hot, sticky substance then came roaring by to meet us on their way to refill the paver. As each one went by, a hot shower of mini-meteorites came down upon us. Hot black top stings when it hits you, and sticks to frames and bags alike. This went on all the rest of the way into Burke. A fine welcome to South Dakota! I thought I was in Hell.

Once off the road, we quickly found a shelter in a park that allowed camping. There were showers- that was a welcome site! We each got cleaned up in succession so the bikes wouldn't be left alone. Then we were trying to figure out where to set up the tent. We had it erected under the shelter when Troy said, "Let's just leave it under here!" We all agreed to that, and started making dinner while the sun sank in the west.

Just about the time I got back from cleaning up, a local police officer pulled up. It was the Chief of Police of The City of Burke, South Dakota, no less. He tried sticking us with a $15.00 fee for camping. I politely explained that we were all in one tent, and that the sign, not more than three feet away, indicated that it was $5.00 per tent. Reluctantly, he agreed to the $5.00. I handed it to him, and he slipped it into his shirt pocket. As The Chief pulled away in his squad car, I told the other two, "Well, we just bought his beer for the night!" Troy and Ryan laughed, we crawled into our sleeping bags, and fell asleep without further adieu.

This was a tough stretch for me mentally. I was really ready to stop at Bonesteel and when Troy didn't even break his pace as we zoomed by my heart sank. It was stretching me and pushing my boundaries to keep pace both physically and mentally, but in the end, I was determined to make it to wherever we were going that night.

The black top being sprayed on us was probably the spur I needed to the loins to get to Burke. I was so pissed off! That stuff was the worst, and the hell of it all lasted after we stopped because it was stuck all over our gear and we had to meticulously pick it off piece by piece to clear it away. Everytime I see black top loaded in a dump truck I remember this day in the saddle.

In fact, the experiences of rolling into Burke, the dealing with the cop, and just being glad the day was over pretty much wiped out any remembrances of how awesome the entire day really was. We bagged 119 miles without adding in Jo's ride which propelled us much further along than I had anticipated after my debacle back in Iowa where I had heat exhaustion. We were now back on track, or so we figured, to make the tour work out.

Which reminds me, after this day I got my front panniers back from Ryan and Troy. Maybe they figured that we were on schedule again and that I was riding strongly enough that they no longer had to worry about me anymore.

Next: Day Five- Into The Wild West

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