2003 Ride Home!

Riding a Harley across the United States with your brother and sister (in law) … priceless!

This ride was such a great time it makes me want to do more rides with family and friends. The ride started in California – central coast area – and took about 3 weeks so we could enjoy the places we rode to each day and not have to push the ride to get across the states. We averages about 330 miles a day some shorter and some longer and we had an extra day in Jackson Hole, 2 days in Sturgis and 5 days in Milwaukee. The ride ended in Lockport, New York and we had a few days there to visit the family and friends.

My brother Ron and his wife Sandy shipped their Harley to San Francisco and then flew out a few days later. They arrived and went to Forward Air to pick up the bike and get it out of the crate and ready to ride. They had a couple days in California before Maggie and I were ready to make the trip. He had a chance to see a few of the local roads on the central coast including Monterey and some of the Big Sur coast line. Once we made it to Lockport Maggie and I packed up our bike and shipped it back to San Francisco. This trip was a one way trip east together.

The first day was across the central valley of California and over the Sierra Mountains on highway 4 – to highway 89 to Lake Tahoe and then highway 50 to Nevada ending up in Reno. The mountain passes were beautiful and the roads were in great condition. Ron had noticed his back brakes seemed a bit soft so he had the local dealership bleed the brakes before starting our second day on the road.

Day two was across Nevada on highway 80 stopping at places for gas food and just to take in the high desert views. We came into Wendover figuring we could get a place to stay and have some time to put our feet up and enjoy the evening. We weren’t aware that it was Bonneville Speed Week and almost every place was booked up. We did manage to get a couple rooms and noticed all the cars looked like they had snow on them. This of course was the sand/salt from the salt flats just outside of town.

The next morning, on day three, we rode into Utah and around Salt Lake then cutting north on highway 15 toward Brigham City where we got on highway 89. We rode up into Idaho by Bear Lake then through Montpelier and into Wyoming to Jackson. We had a few mile of road construction in Wyoming but the views were great and the stops along the way were fun. We think this section was where Ron picked up a stone in the drive belt. The next morning, day four, as we were leaving Ron’s drive belt broke. This was not expected but we had an extra day floating to decide when we wanted to spend it. Looks like it will be in Jackson Wyoming! The town was so nice and we were able to walk around and see street shows reenacting old western life. The evening was spent at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar where we met a large group of Harley riders from Denmark. Great people and we had memorable times together.

Ron’s bike was towed to a local motorcycle shop where they had a new drive belt shipped in overnight. The shop worked on his bike to get it ready to install the new belt as soon as it arrived. They were able to get him back on the road by noon the next day. We also ran into the Denmark Harley Club while waiting for his bike. They were touring around the USA and had 2 trucks with them, one to carry their luggage and the other was made up as a shop to maintain their bikes. They were camping so the truck had all the tents and gear.

On day five we left from the shop and road north on 26 heading out to Grand Tetons. The clouds started to come in and we felt a few drops so decided to put on the rain gear before we got wet. As it goes, the rain always stops when you put on the gear. We continued to ride north into Yellowstone passing West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake and stopped at the visitor’s center where old faithful is. We missed the eruption and decided not to wait and continue around the park stopping at places that interested us. We saw our first buffalo and yes they are large animals, also saw elks bugling and sparring. That evening we stayed in Gardiner Montana just outside the northwest corner of the park.

Day six was our longest distance day which was about 420 miles. We left Gardiner and road back into Yellowstone and then east to go over Bear Tooth Pass at 10,947 feet. It was exciting to have a heard of bison cross the highway in front of us. Once we stopped we were looking at ways we could turn and ride if the bison decided they didn’t like our pipes. They passed over the road and we continued up to the pass. It was really cold up there so we took a few pictures and road down to Red Lodge Montana. Stopped there for lunch and gas and then got to highway 90 east. We stopped at gas stations to cool off along the way as the temps were very high that day. We got to Spearfish South Dakota and checked in to our hotel, cleaned up and then road in to Sturgis for some night life with the rest of the pack riders going to Milwaukee. This is where we met up with the northern route of the Ride Home. We spent an extra day in Sturgis and the Black Hills riding around and visiting at the Broken Spoke Saloon.

On day eight we road east through the prairies, again stopping when we wanted and visiting dealerships. We bumped into many riders from all over North America. Such a great country filled with good bikers. We crossed the Missouri River and that day ended in Sioux Falls at another dealership party. Lots of corn fields in this part of the ride.

We started our ninth day riding with more bikes on the road. You get the feeling that everyone is riding with you. We stayed in Wynona Minnesota and we had Ron do a walk in to the ER and have his leg looked at. He needed some antibiotics and better circulation to his leg.

After getting things loaded up on the tenth day we were back on the road riding to Milwaukee with the millions of bikes meeting in Madison and riding into Milwaukee – all day long! The highway was filled as far as you can see in front and behind with Harleys. Wow! Locals were lined up on the over passes and along the sides where they can get a look at the parade of bikes. They were giving us their warm welcome waves and excited to hear the rumble of all those Harleys.

Then next five days were spent enjoying the 100th anniversary of Harley Davidson and the 20th HOG anniversary. Many bands played and demo rides and it seemed like the whole town was having bike events. We met up with members of the Niagara Falls HOG and I was trying to meet some of Santa Cruz HOG members that made it to the 100th. Many bands played and the big birthday party had Tim McGraw, Kid Rock and the Doobie Brothers but when Elton John came on for the finale many of the bikers left.  Elton John even admitted he never wrote a biker song. He is a good artist but for the HD 100th you would have expected a different headliner. Dan Aykroyd served as emcee of the event.

On Monday September 1st we started out of Milwaukee and heading for New York. That day was our rain day. We started down the 94 when the first drops showed up on the windscreen. Like many other riders, we pulled over under an overpass to put on the rain gear in hopes that it would stop the rain. This time it didn’t work as it just kept raining all day. By the time we got to Ohio we did a stop to dump the water out of our boots. When we were ready to continue to our trek to Toledo my bike had so much water that it didn’t start. So glad to call Harley and get a tow to the dealership and the hotel we stayed at was right next door.

The next morning I was going to have the dealership look at the problem but the bike started up and was running fine. So it was back on the road heading to Lockport New York to finish the ride at Ron and Sandy’s home. We had a few stops along the way but were happy to end the day in their back yard.

What a great ride that was!

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