Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Ride from Fort Collins CO to Custer SD

As I mentioned earlier, this would be my first event and as such I wasn't sure how one of these events would unfold. With that I decided to get there early, leaving early and taking a direct route. I hopped onto the Interstate from Fort Collins CO to Orin WY.

The stretch of US-20 from Orin to Lusk WY would tickle my mind - I was on this road years ago as I was driving a car to California for my younger brother. Photos here. No spot was particularily striking and I didn't jump to attention saying "Hey, I remember that!!" Nonetheless it was neat being in this non-descript, remote part of the U.S. knowing that I'd been here before.

The trip was filled with threatening skies, some damp roadway, mountains in the distance, rolling hills, wide open valleys to stretch the eyes and remnants of history - markings of where the road "used to be".

It was also filled with a 1 hour addition to my trip. While I realize I'm in an area that doesn't have much for towns I remain optimistic that there will be a fuel station ahead, when I need one. Well, I don't think that case would happen this time.

Passing through Lusk WY, which had a nice fuel station right at the side of the road, my mind started to tickle me. You should stop - no, I'm only about 1/2 tank - no, you should stop - no, I'll go to the next station. Passing by that nice, easy to stop at station I left town. Soon I was in the routine of getting by the slow moving RV's, taking a quick photo or two, watching the rain approach me from behind, more photos, more moving. Fuel was notching lower on the mental list due to scenery and making way. It never fully left my mind and soon I would find myself checking the GPS for "where's the closest gas station" - 30 miles behind me or 58 miles ahead of me.

Fifty-Eight Miles!! No way - there must be something closer. I might be able to do that - if I was really lucky and went slowly (40 mph to conserve fuel). I figured the GPS couldn't be right - there was an intersection ahead where two larger roads would connect - there must be a fuel station there. Since I was at the point of last resort [I knew I'd have just enough to get back to Lusk] and not wanting to chance it I pulled over and decided to double-check with what the mapping software on the laptop would say. It confirmed what the GPS was saying - 58 miles ahead or 30 miles behind.

Well, I'll be backtracking. It'll add maybe an hour to the trip. Running out of fuel would likely add more than that to the trip. As the rain caught up to me I packed the laptop and turned back towards Lusk. The plus side - open road and nice scenery! About 15 miles out of Lusk the fuel light came on - I should be able to do a bit more than 20 miles 'on reserve'. I'll make it.

The fuel station filled the tank with liquid optimism and I headed out again. The backtrack miles went by readily enough and soon I'd be processing new-to-me landscape. Ahhhhhhh... I'll learn to listen to heed that voice in my head - someday.

Nearing the Black Hills I would find another bike ahead of me. "I wonder if this is another STn member?" kept rolling through my head. When he pulled into the same entrance as I - Yep - Bob from the Ken Caryl area of Denver.

It appeared that we were the first to arrive - no other bikes or people were around. Checked in and bags stowed we went to town for some lunch. Leaving lunch it was pouring rain - we were ready for it and headed out in the downpour. Standing around the resort (old cabins, tent spaces, a covered picnic area) we watched and greeted as others arrived. It seems we did well in not having terrible rain. Others were soaked and had stories of hail and high winds (blowing them around the road).

Keeping track of names is difficult for me and this group would double the issue - remembering their online or screen name as well as their real name. Few are like me (uncreative) and use their real name as the screen name. A relaxing evening - time for sleep.

Parting shot - clean bike.

Bison cut-out on the hill.

Somewhere north of Cheyenne

Threatening - but nothing out of them yet.

I pulled off of the Interstate (25) as the old roadway was still visible here. I've been noticing it in different places - some it's still paved, other spots resemble the ditches and flat roadway - except it's fully covered with grass. The road to the right is an old section.

Not much out here.

The old road, slowly being overtaken by grasses.

Hwy 20 heading East from Orin WY
Coal trains at work.

Same train as above - this is the end, pusher locomotive - a somewhat new development in trains. Instead of having all of the locomotives at the head of the train there may be a couple at the head end, one or two at the tail end, and maybe one in the middle. The locomotives at the middle and tail end are not manned - only the engineer and brakeman are in the head engines. All of the locomotives are linked electronically via radio frequency communications.

'had to turn back for this sign. Population 1

And there is Lost Springs - oddly larger than I'd think for a Pop 1 town.

Click for a larger size

North of Lusk WY - with a fuel tank getting empty. Note the old roadbed in the center of the photo - old US-18.

Still getting low on fuel...

Here we go. Do I _really_ need to turn back??? You can see the rain falling at the far right of the photo.

This is the scenery - see any fuel station ahead???

Remnant of the old US-18. See it hiding back there (next pic is closer).

An in-tact?, and likely 100% un-used, bridge over "Old Woman Creek"

We crossed into South Dakota and the road went to a nice, SMOOTH concrete thing. This is why it's smooth - they're grinding the surface flat. Four or Five of these grinders were at work. I wonder how bad the expansion joint 'bump-bump-bump' was before they were commissioned?

There's Bob. We're getting into pine trees and hills - the Black Hills are nearing.

Custer, S.D.

Presidents Cabins & Camp
Overall it's a reasonable place though the cabins are in need of some TLC.

Rain gone, a bit of a sunset.

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