Black Hills Motorcycle Ride - June, 2007

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Introduction note (by Joe): Immediately following the Motorcycle Racing School the six of us plus two more began a much anticipated ride up to and through the Black Hills of South Dakota. The idea was to find a large amount of twisty roads that we could practice our cornering skills that we had been taught at the track school. The six of us from track school: Joe, Brad, Kirk, Randy, Brian & Gary were joined by my long-time riding buddy Jackie Bassham and by the only woman of the group, Gwen Plumert.

Wednesday - June 27: We met for breakfast in Park City and began our longest day of riding, about 450 miles to Laramie, Wyoming going over three passes. We started the morning over Wolf Creek Pass (9485') on Hwy 35 in Utah. We then stopped for lunch in Craig, CO before crossing Battle Pass (9955') on Hwy 70 in Wyoming and finishing with Snowy Range Pass (10,847') on Hwy 130 before ending up in Laramie. Gary lives here in Laramie and was going only this far with us, so we met his family and said our goodbyes.

Click on thumbprint photos to see them enlarged.

Map of route.

Lunch in Craig, CO.

(Brad, Brian, Gwen, Jackie, Gary, Kirk & Randy)

Saying goodbye to Gary.

(Gary's boys, Gary, Brian, Joe, Gwen, Kirk, Jackie, Brad & Randy)

Thursday - June 28: We left Laramie this morning and crossed Morton Pass (7301') on Hwy 34 as we headed to South Dakota. We all had a chance to refuel at Orin, but Brad, Kirk & I figured we had enough gas to make it to the next fuel stop. Brad figured wrong and ran out of fuel about 15 miles short of Newcastle, WY. He begrudgingly let me push him with my right foor on his rear passenger peg. Jackie raced ahead to bring a can of gas back not knowing that I would try to push him all the way. We surely would have made it if a Wyoming State Trooper hadn't pulled us over because Brad's bike didn't have it's headlight on. The trooper didn't object to me pushing Brad, but he asked that we stay on the shoulder of the road. The shoulder had rumble strips and reflector posts that tightened our operating space, but we were still able to make about 45 mph before Jackie showed up with a can of gas less than three miles from town. These harmless mishaps just add to the adventure.

We enjoyed lunch in Newcastle and reached Deadwood, South Dakota mid-afternoon after a light 300-mile day. We had two cool suites at Deadwood Dick's Hotel where we had planned to spend the next two nights. Deadwood is an old west gold-mining town turned into a new gambling attraction with authentic western flare. We celebrated Kirk's 40th birthday and made an evening of eating, drinking and gambling.

Joe & his FJR1300 in motion.
Joe pushing Brad to refuel.
Bikes parked at Deadwood Dick's.

Friday - June 29: We all were eagerly ready to roll this morning and explore the famed twisty roads of The Black Hills. We decided to ride some miles before breakfast. We had a leisurely 45-mile ride to Hill City for breakfast and to discuss the rides of the day. Brad picked up the tab since he had ended the previous night on a winning streak at the Blackjack tables. We all agreed that we wanted to briefly see some of the attractions and stay together doing so. After breakfast we did a drive-by of Mount Rushmore and then opened the bikes up on a twisty road out to Hermosa. We came back west through Custer State Park and took the very slow meander up The Needles Highway. This is a scenic 15 mph road that had us stop several times. We took a late morning break at Sylvan Lake and put our afternoon plans together. We decided to take some twisty roads north and stop for a late lunch in Sturgis.

Leaving The Needles Highway we took a brief detour to drive by the Crazy Horse Monument. We then found ourselves again driving through Hill City on our way north. Just outside of Hill City our trip came to a tragic end when three of us were involved in a freak accident resulting in the immediate death of our dear friend Brad Munroe. I don't think this is the appropriate forum to go into detail about this accident. Needless to say our lives will be forever changed by this tragedy.

Mt. Rushmore with Kirk, Brad, Gwen & Jackie.
Kirk coming through a tunnel on Needles Hwy.
Brad on Needles Hwy.
Jackie along Needles Hwy.
Jackie, Kirk & Brad on Needles Hwy.
Kirk at Sylvan Lake.
Our last picture of Brad...

Our original ride plan would have taken us back into Wyoming by Devil's Tower and over the Bighorn Mountains to Thermopolis for the night Saturday. Then on to our respective homes Sunday. I hope to someday retrace this ride and finish it as planned--if only to celebrate the fullness to which Brad lived.


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