Two-Wheel Tuesday: 5 Days, 8 States* & 1,970 miles

*Technically, seven states and one Canadian province.
Mrs. Tanshanomi and I just returned from riding the first Smackdab Solstice Ride. Since I’ve previously shared the premise of this dawn-to-dusk ride between Lebanon, KS and Rugby, ND with Hooniverse readers, I’ll simply refer you to the article I’ve linked. But participating in the 675-mile, one-day ride meant making a spectacular five-day, 1970-mile round trip from our home outside Kansas City. The adventure has given us some great memories and a great story to share.
Being at the starting point at dawn (5:30 AM) Saturday morning meant staying in nearby Smith Center, Kansas Friday night. Here our favoritest riding buddy Rusty Spokes (who accompanies us on a lot of our riding adventures) celebrates the glory of the Burger that is Jiffy, under a cloudless Kansas evening sky.
To my amazement, a total of fifteen people thought my crazy idea was worth doing (fourteen vehicles and one co-rider). As the sun was about to crest the eastern horizon on Saturday morning, everyone posed for this photo at the monument marking the geographical center of the 48 states.
We stopped at just about anywhere there was a sight to see…
…which led to a fairly leisurely pace. At this point we’re nearly halfway through the 16-hour window to complete the ride; a relaxed lunch followed by an extra 20-minute delay to resolve a slight equipment hiccup left the three of us well behind all the other Smackdabers and slightly behind the 42.2 MPH average speed required to finish the ride by dusk. It was time to get serious about making time.
Thanks to featureless roads with 70-MPH speed limits, we were well ahead of schedule again by the time we stopped to chill with the Chieftain in Carrington, ND. We rolled into Rugby at 8:45, about an hour prior to sundown.
Saturday evening at around 10 PM, just as the sun had slipped behind the horizon, we all met in Rugby to pose for another group photo and hand out finishers’ patches. Three riders are absent; one kept going to spend the night in Minot, two others arrived early, laid down for a nap, and slept straight through our closing ceremony! This photo was taken by the editor of the local paper that covered our event.
Sunday, a few of us headed north to the International Peace Garden, on the Canadian border. A quirky and eclectic but thoroughly interesting place, it has…
…a cactus conservatory, because when you think cactus you think Canada, and…
…the unexpectedly moving International Game Warden Museum and Memorial, a 9-11 memorial that contains girders from the World Trade Center, plus lots of cool border markers, such as the concrete Peace Monument in the background. Two of the tower legs are in the US, two are in Canada.
It also has lots of feel-good, international-y stuff like this.
As we left the Peace Garden, Mrs. T and I bid goodbye to Rusty, who was headed west, and set out for Fargo, North Dakota on our own.
The weather forecast for Sunday night called for large hail, so the hotel staff at the Holiday Inn Express in Fargo kindly allowed us to park our Spyders under the awning on either side of the front door before retiring for the night. Throughout the trip, the folks we met were great.
On Monday, we rode the charming and nearly traffic-free, two-lane “King of Trails” from Fargo to Sioux City.
The tiny town of Madison, Minnesota is not only located on the 45th Parallel, but…
…it’s the Lutefisk Capital of the USA! Party on, dudes!
We awoke Tuesday and hit I-29. We’d had enough backroads, and were just interested in making a beeline home. The weather in the Midwest in June is a crapshoot, but other than a brief sun-shower coming into Rugby and the storm that came through Fargo while we slept, we had fantastic weather for the nearly the whole trip. Well, that ended about 80 miles from home; the last stint of our trip was like riding in a washing machine.
Fortunately, we were able to strip off our soaked raingear in the comfort of our own garage and spend Tuesday night in our own bed, getting some much-deserved rest after nearly 700 miles on Saturday, and an average of 320 miles the other four days.
The Spyders and Rusty’s V-Strom ran faultlessly throughout the trip. But I’m now overdue for an oil change and new rear tire.
If anybody’s interested, plans for Smackdab #2 in June 2016 are already underway.

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  1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I suddenly realise just how overdue a road trip I am. Pick a random point in Europe and just drive. It’s been six years now. I’m underachieving.

  2. mdharrell Avatar

    It’s nearly time for me to start planning my next three-wheeled road trip, too.

      1. dead_elvis Avatar

        Given the Vermont plate, I’m assuming it arrived in a manner similar to mdharrel’s photo above.

        1. Tanshanomi Avatar

          Around these parts, a Vermont plate does not necessarily mean the vehicle has ever been anywhere around Vermont.

          1. dead_elvis Avatar

            Vermont native here. Yep, I’m aware of – and have taken advantage of while living elsewhere – noted lenient, non-resident ability to register a vehicle there without having to be physically present.
            The apparent need to wear olde-tyme flight goggles or perhaps a motorcycle helmet in that particular example makes me think the trailer-queen arrival method has a chance of being true. Or maybe like so many tough guys going to the Sturgis, this was offloaded a few blocks away from the destination, lending credence to the claim of “yeah, I rode/drove there”.

      2. mdharrell Avatar

        The side windows are easily removable for ventilation and the rear hatch is fairly straightforward, too, but the missing windshield makes me think we’re looking at a recently completed paint job.

  3. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    Dude, your trip took you right through my little town of Graceville, MN. You didn’t see a little red Renault with a silver hood driving around by chance?

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Nope, didn’t see you, sorry. Frankly, my only recollection of Graceville is “Hey, a lake.”

      1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

        Yeah, that sums up Graceville pretty nicely. LOL.

  4. ptschett Avatar

    I like the premise! But, I grew up 20 miles east of 281 in South Dakota, just south of the monotonous Lake Dakota plain that underlies the northern half of its SD mileage.
    I have to say that Fort Randall Dam is a lot prettier when you visited it at the summer solstice, compared to when I last visited it at the spring equinox 2014 when the ice was still struggling to come off of Lake Francis Case…

  5. GTXcellent Avatar

    Saddle sore? I’ve never taken an epic motorcycle trip, but I’ve done plenty of snowmobile rides of far less miles than you rode and that takes a TON out of you. I imagine a Spyder loping along the highway is much easier on the body than pounding through ditches and trails, but still – 700 miles! Good on ya – looks like you guys had a great time.

  6. nanoop Avatar

    “Lutefisk capital…. in the world” would be Bergen in norway, I guess? Surprising to see dried cod, boiled in lye, finding a city-wide following.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      Here in the US, many people are surprised to find that there are parts of the world that are *outside* the US…

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