Ridelog: South Dakota 2019

Another year and another great August ride with the Mews Crew. This year's trip was back out to South Dakota. We had an absolutely great group riding this year agian and I once again have to say I was super impressed with everyone's riding. We had large group again and we were able to keep our pace on the highway and it worked great with everyone. Before we get deep into the trip though, let's first talk about thew new motorcycle I bought. 

First Things First: The New Motorcycle

That's right, I bought a new motorcycle. This has been something that has been on the edge of mind for most of the year. I have loved my R1200R, but I was finding that these longer rides were just starting to hurt my back and shoulders too much. This all came to a head this summer with my weekend rides and I finally decided it was time to check out a new bike. One of our riding buddies (Sam) mentioned to me that Motoworks Chicago was having a BMW demo day about two weeks prior to our trip. I decided to go and check out the dealership and I ended up test riding the 1250RT. A few days later I decided to go to another dealership and test rode the 1250RS and GS as well. You can read my full thoughts on those here. Long story short, that next weekend I went back to Motoworks and bought the RT. 

Highway Riding

So, enough of that talk. How did the bike handle on this long trip? In short it handled great. The long highway ride through Iowa and Nebraska for our first two days was the first test for my shoulders and back. After adjusting the seat height, which you can quickly do to two different settings on the RT, along with some other minor adjustments, I was sitting pretty good. The butt was still uncomfortable after 500 miles in a day, but my shoulders were not getting the numbing pain in between the blades, which was good news. 

I really have to say that the touring amenities ended up being really nice on the long, straight highway runs. I pulled up that windscreen and turned on SiriusXM and that long, endless westward run on Rt. 20 became manageable. 

The Twists

So, how did it handle once we got out west? Also, I was supremely impressed. The riding position is still very upright and once that bike is moving I was able to throw it down into curves without any issues. It felt just as nimble through the twists as my 1200R did. That big fairing up front still blocks a lot of wind, probably too much when I am doing the technical riding, but that is mostly OK. Geometry still is flexible and I have to say that I am very happy that I still have the telelever on this bike. That system is just so brilliant and I love how stable the bike is when braking. 

Let's also talk about that stability and the new ShiftCam system. I knew about how you could upshift without pulling the clutch in, but what surprised me the most was you could downshift and it would rev match the bike perfectly. This really became impressive in the twists when approaching corners and really becomes a safety feature. If you come into a corner too hot, you can downshift without pulling the clutch and getting the loss of engine control while approaching or even being in a corner. Very impressive. 

Day 1 & 2 - Iowa & Nebraska

Kicking off from Chicago, we left at around 9:00 am on August 17th. We stayed off the highway and on Route 20 for our way through Illinois and Iowa. The route was surprisingly pleasant. Now, don't get me wrong, it was straight and long as Illinois and Iowa are, but it was nice to not be on I-80 or I-90. 

As soon as soon as we got on the road though we ran into our first mechanical problem. One of our Harley riders immediately began having the "Harley Death Wobble" appearing on his bike as soon as we hit over 75 miles per hour. That limited our speed for most of the day. Lunch was an audible at a fast food restaurant off the highway since the place that was planned was closed. We continued on though before ending the evening in Sioux City. 

The first day was done and we had a nice dinner at a restaurant called 5 Brothers Bar and Grille. Dinner was a blast and we even got the restaurant to think that John was having a birthday.  

Day two had us on the road once again, and we kicked off at around 8:30 in the morning. It was cold out, but the dew point was very high so we found ourselves sweating while at the gas station filling up. There appeared to be rain around us, but we thankfully avoided all of it save for a few sprinkles. The temperature finally rose to about 85 degrees in the afternoon and it wasn't until the very end of the day that we finally hit some scenic roads in South Dakota. It was an incredibly long day though, clocking in a 504 miles. 

I have to say, the cabin Veaux booked for us was amazing. 

Day 3 - Badlands National Park

Day 3, we finally were going to enjoy some roads out west. As you can see from the highlight video above we had about a mile long dirt road from our cabin out to the main road. We got a bit of a late start to the day (Harley problems) and we immediately made our way out towards the Badlands. I have been there once before a few years ago and it was nice to head back. We ate lunch at the same restaurant in the park,  but I did not opt for the Sioux Taco this time. 

Day 4 - Devil's Tower National Monument

Hands down, one of my favorite days of the trip. We kicked off the morning by heading out to Devil's Tower. It was a nice ride out to that area and the landscape was mostly green plains. I was a bit surprised at Devil's Tower itself though. The monument consists of the tower and not much else. I thought there would perhaps be a scenic route directly around the tower  or something, sort of like the Garden of the Gods, but there unfortunately wasn't

After Devil's Tower we had lunch at "R" Deli and then had a little bit of fun with the local Sheriff. After lunch we ran into our first major technical problem when John's bike died on the side of the road. His stator wasn't charging the bike. Unfortunately we had to talk to a very nice lady to try and call for a tow truck. John was simply not having good luck though. The first three Harley dealerships he called were all apparel stores. The nearest real dealership was about 45 miles away in Rapid City. In the end the woman offered to take John and his Bike in her horse trailer all the way to Rapid City, an incredibly generous offer. 

The rest of the group continued on to see a waterfall before heading back to the lodge for dinner. We didn't see John until late that night when he rolled up on a new bike around 11:00 pm.

Day 5 - Deadwood & Stugis

Next day was a light day on the bike. We visited Deadwood in the morning to walk around the town and then later in the afternoon when to visit Sturgis. We did a quick photo at the infamous campgrounds and then the group split up, some going to the Harley Dealership, some to the Indian and I to the BMW. 

My visit was to deal with a problem on my front fairing, which seemed to be pulling off. Unfortunately, there wasn't much that could be done beyond putting some double sided tape on it (which didn't hold for more than a day), so I just had to wait until I got back to Chicago to properly fix it. 

Lunch was at the Loud American Roadhouse. 

Day 6 - South Dakota Fire Roads

Sigh...Day six. The group split up, some of the group heading north to check off Montana and North Dakota from their visit lists. The group I chose to go with decided to do another route, which involved approximately 15-20 miles of forest service fire roads. See, I have no problem riding on gravel roads fundamentally, but I had a bike that was about a week old and I was very paranoid about putting it down. As I mentioned to Brett when we stopped, it was an "interesting" ride. I wouldn't quite say I had fun though. 

Day 7 - Crazy Horse & Mt. Rushmore

Last day before we began our trip back home. Crazy Horse was our first stop in the morning. I have to say that I actually liked it quite a bit more than I was expecting. We then did our tours through the Needle's Highway in Custer State Park and the Iron Mountain Road. Fun roads, but they were filled with other cars and traffic was pretty heavy. 

Mt. Rushmore was also a bit of a let down. The main courtyard or walkway up to the amphitheater was completely closed, which unfortunately meant that the photo opportunities were rather limited.  

I did take a road out of Mt. Rushmore that went behind it and that turned out to be a very pleasant ride back to the lodge  

Day 8 & 9 - Back to Chicago

The journey on the way back to Chicago and we hit our first real bought of rain on our way through Iowa. It rained very hard for an afternoon. Final day got us back into Illinois and then we split off on I-88 before calling it quits. Overall, a really fund trip that we all had a blast on.