Bart Bakker, the rally master of many a Minnesota 1000 and Butt Lite has a penchant for sending riders on long lonely 2 lane highways where you can see nothing but the horizon. I always know I’m doing well on one of his rallies if I’m on such a road, so I too have a fondness for them. US212 across the Cheyenne agency is the kind of road that Bart would love. It was however surprisingly cold! I actually saw snow at the side of the road in the shade.
About 40 miles from Devils Tower I turned off 212 and there stopped at the side of the road was Alex Ciurczak. I stopped to make sure all was well. He said that a little way down the road was a sign that said the road was under construction and there was dirt ahead. I exclaimed that I’d ridden through plenty of construction and wasn’t too worried. He said he’d been on a hellacious dirt road earlier in the day and wasn’t taking any chances. I knew the only other option to get to devils tower would take you at least 30 miles out of the way, so I was going to risk it. I took off and he followed me. Alex travels a little faster than I typically do, but I kept up the pace with him.
Shortly we were waiting for the pilot car at the construction site (please stay to the right of your motorcycle sir!). It was a little rough through the construction, but nothing too bad. While Alex is faster than I am, he’s more patient when passing cars, and we were promptly turning into the Devils Tower Access road with me in the lead. On the opposite side of the road, heading out of the park I think I spied Eric Jewel pulling over. We proceeded to the park gate to wait in line. Alex asked me if we really needed to go into the park. I replied that I’m kind of an idiot as I never remember to look at the next stop in the rally book. I just go to the waypoint blindly and then figure it out. 15 minutes and one slow mile later I was apologizing to Alex as all you needed was a picture of Devils Tower, which would have been easy to get from the highway, as Eric Jewel was doing. I got my picture quickly and was out of the park fast as there was not much traffic outbound.
DETO – Devils Tower National Monument
205 Miles Since Little Big Horn Arrived 13:35 Departed 13:54
I headed south and a little west out of Devils tower. It would have been fairly easy to go East and pick up South Dakota, but that was east of New Mexico, and I wanted to heed Tom Austin’s advice of 8 states north or west of New Mexico. Soon I was in need of gas and approaching the town of Lusk, WY. There was a detour in Lusk, that routed the road across a rail yard. I thought that was odd as rail yards are pretty damn unsafe for truck traffic. Looking down the detour I spied the original highway bridge that crossed the tracks. It was a tangled mass wreckage. It looked like a fairly new bridge, so it was kind of surprising.
I found a gas station, fueled up and went inside in search of ice cream and water. On the door was a sign proclaiming that there was still clothing available at the church for those that needed it. This was a little puzzling, but I figured that Lusk was just a town that wanted to help out those in need. The clerk was a young linebacker-sized guy, and I enquired what had happened to the bridge in town. He explained that there had been a flood in the area and that half the town had been washed away! That explained a lot.
They didn’t have any gallon water jugs, but they did have a working ice cream cooler! I bought a bag of ice and a nice Hagen-Daz almond ice cream bar and went outside to fill my water jugs. As I was enjoying my ice cream a woman pulled up on a large Harley Bagger. I moved my bike so she could fuel and we got to chatting. She was up from the Denver area and was riding over to the Sturgis area. My weather radar on the Garmin was showing rain where she came from, but she hadn’t encountered any. We chatted bikes as I finished my ice cream. I offered her the remains of my ice and she said her husband had a cooler. Looking around I didn’t see any other bikes, and she pointed to a pickup at the diesel pumps. I wandered over and handed him the remains of my ice. He had a confused look and I mentioned I was chatting to his wife. Not sure why he wasn’t riding, but it’s always good when spouses let the other enjoy life in their own way. This was my longest day of the rally so far, and it was good to stretch my legs for a bit and jaw with the locals, but it was time to be back on the road. I still had a lot of miles to go.
GAS – Lusk Wyoming
161 Miles since Devils Tower Arrived: 16:07 Departed 16:25
It wasn’t long before I was in the outskirts of Laramie, and I had good cell signal so I gave my wife a call to see how things were on the home front. We chatted for a good bit as I pulled up to Fort Laramie and did my paperwork for the bonus. My stops are always longer towards the end of a long day of riding. It was only 4 in the afternoon and I already had over 800 miles in for the day. I also could see that my weather luck was going to be severely tired in the next few hours. There were heavy storm cells in the fort collins and Denver areas, and I didn’t really have any choice but to head that way.
FOLA – Fort Laramie
58.6 Since Gas in Lusk Arrived:17:13 Departed: 17:22