Day 13 - July 15th Saturday
Distance travelled for the day - 808 km
Total distance for trip - 7864 km
Route - Sturgis, SD - Sioux Falls, SD
After a solid night's sleep I went down for my free Holiday Inn Express breakfast. You get what you pay for... it was underwhelming. My limbs felt like lead after the extra long ride in the heat the day before but I rallied and decided to check out the town of Sturgis (pop. 6832).
There's not much to the town and I would guess the local businesses make half of their annual income during the famous Sturgis motorcycle rally, if not more. There are some motorcycle shops in town which came in very handy.
Over the course of the last few days my front brakes were becoming less and less responsive. They still worked but not as well as they should and when I coasted 3 feet into an intersection I knew I had to do something.
I rode to local a motorcycle shop and inquired at the service desk. The young man behind the desk reported that they were fully booked and wouldn't be able to help. He suggested I try a shop a few towns over.
As I was walking to the door a man came out from behind the counter and asked what the problem was. I replied that I thought I needed some brake fluid. He looked at my bike, in the parking lot, and came back 2 minutes later with some tools and a bottle of brake fluid. When he opened the brake fluid reservoir on the handlebars it was practically empty. He filled the reservoir and started pumping the brake handle. Nothing happened. Then he got more tools and bled the brake line below on the wheel and some fluid came out. A few minutes later the brakes had not yet come back.
"It won't get any better but it won't get any worse," he said, "I think there's a Triumph dealership in Sioux Falls." Then he said, "Let me try one more trick," and disappeared back into the shop. He came out with another tool and another mechanic. They looked at the bike together, pumped the brake and it started coming back without any additional intervention. "There must have been some air caught in the line." The other mechanic agreed that the brakes would fully return with some use and the vibration of riding on the highway. He was right, I had full brakes again a few miles down the road.
The man that helped me turned out to be the owner of the shop. When I asked what I owed him, he waved me off. "Stay safe," he said, "and enjoy your trip."
A big thank you to the staff and owner of Sturgis Motorsports!!!
South Dakota is where the tales of the old west began. I didn't realize there was so much history and folklore from South Dakota. Just down the road from Sturgis is the infamous town of Deadwood. It looks the same today as in the 1870's with it's well preserved Gold Rush era architecture. I wish I had stayed the night in Deadwood instead of Sturgis. I could have had a drink at a real Saloon in a lawless town!
After Deadwood I followed the winding road south to Mount Rushmore! It also turns out there was a Corvette rally to Mt Rushmore that day. I saw more Corvettes in one day than I've ever seen in my life! Americans love rallies.
Similar to most famous sites, Mount Rushmore turned out to be smaller than I had imagined yet still impressive. It was another day of 100 degree weather and it was hot walking around in my leather suit at the monument. I got my photos and hit the road.
The next scenic site along the way was the Badlands of South Dakota. I stopped in Rapid City for some gas and water and asked the gas attendant for directions. She suggested I get off the Interstate and take Hwy 44 which sounded good. Little did I know this would lead to a major detour.
I rode down the highway into the Badlands National Park or so I thought. I stopped somewhere in the middle at a local gas station and restaurant/shop called "Cowboy Corners". It was rustic with old style gas pumps that used a dial to indicate the volume and price. The inside was decorated with cowboy artifacts and there was even a cowboy movie on the TV. There were old wooden tables arranged on one side of the room and a convenience store with shelves and refrigerators on the other.
It reminded me of the 1987 film, Baghdad Cafe, and the famous soundtrack, "I'm Calling You."
A young woman, Rochelle, sat behind the counter and tallied up my bill. She was quite friendly and asked where I was coming from. We talked about my adventure. Then, the owner, Pam, came in red-faced and sweaty from working outside followed by her daughter Tara. An older fella sat at a table looking out the window, he had a long grey beard and was wearing a trucker ball cap. He asked if my bike was a Triumph and complimented me on it.
I asked what folks around there did for a living. Pam replied that they were mostly ranchers. Rochelle said she lived in town and I asked, "Where's the town?" She gestured to the right and said "those group of houses over there." Pam said, "We also have a grocery store and 4 churches." The town is called Interior.
I asked about the Badlands and was informed that I had only ridden through a small part of it which wasn't even the official park. Rochelle got out a paper map and showed me where I was and the way to the park. I had a choice of seeing a small part of the official park which was a small detour or seeing the whole park and adding 3 hours to my trip for the day. I figured while I was there I should see the whole thing.
When I packed up my things to go the older fella, Tom, said, "You must cool down fast or you like punishment." He was referring to the heat and my black suit in the hot sun. I just smiled and said "It is pretty hot."
I thanked them again for their help and headed north to enter the Badlands National Park (the real one). It had spectacular views and a lot of other vehicles with people stopping to take photos. It was worth the detour.
Back on the highway Google maps told me I had another 4.5 hours to travel to Sioux Falls and it was already 6 pm. I considered stopping at a town along the way but I decided to press on. When I got to Sioux Falls it was dark and I looked for a hotel on my phone. It showed vacancy at a hotel near the airport but when I got there they were completely sold out.
I tried the next hotel down the road and got the last room. I also started to notice a pattern. The rooms I was getting were 'Accessible' rooms (this was my 3rd one on the trip). The hotels need to keep these rooms available until a certain time of day when they can release them. This was why I was able to get the last room at these hotels by just showing up. It was a crummy hotel and a crummy room located beside the pool that smelled of chlorine and was right next to the water pump but it was a place to rest for the night.
It had been another amazing day.
Route for the day