The plan for today, Wednesday June 8th, is to travel two hours north to the BMW dealer in Sturgis, SD, and install a new mirror. Then proceed westward on a route and hopefully reach Broadus, MT. Here’s how it went…
Today is cold, about 54 – 58 degrees and overcast. I dress warmer than usual but it still isn’t enough. I stop to put on my armored pants for warmth. I stop again in Rapid City for my first cup of Starbucks coffee in a month just so I can wrap my hands around a hot paper cup. I put on a warmer shirt. It helps, but I will remain chilly for the rest of the day. However, I can’t complain about the cold weather after complaining so much about the heat since leaving Virginia.
The new mirror shroud is ready when I arrive. I’m pretty relieved. This is the main broken part of my four-part mirror assembly. They let me use a guest table upstairs to transfer the other three old parts onto the new one. Good news is I brought the BMW service manual. Bad news is that mirror re-assembly is not covered. Good news is that I find a web page using my iPhone that describes it. Bad news is that it requires a special pry bar tool. Good news is that I’m at a BMW dealer with a full shop. Bad news is they don’t lend tools. Good news is that a gruff old parts guy says “hand me that!” and proceeds to pop out the mirror himself. Cool. I can re-assemble everything and mount it on the bike. It works fine but it’s not perfect – there was hidden minor damage to two parts, so I will replace them when I get home.
This BMW dealer has the fabulous new K1600 on his showroom floor! This is the replacement for my K1200, and comes with all sorts of incredible technology. It has a six-cylinder engine with 165hp, an electronic cockpit control system, and a gyroscopically-stabilized headlight that stays level and looks into a turn. Fantastic. I don’t dare take it for a test drive, even though they offered. I really want one but I just don’t see motorcycling as a long-term hobby above all the other fun things I would rather do. I’m actually thinking about selling my beloved K1200 after I get home. (Want to buy? Send me a message!)
“Sturgis” is synonymous with “Harley-Davidson” and their huge annual rally. What’s it like with a BMW bike here? I asked the dealership staff about it. This dealer carries Yamaha, Harley-Davidson and BMW motorcycles. He said the H-D marketing is awesome. But its sales are carried by styling and brand loyalty. If a Harley rider takes a test drive on a BMW, they usually switch brands!
I ride through town and park my Starship Enterprise in the big H-D parking lot. I go inside the store wearing my Spaceman Sam outfit (BMW-issue body armor made of ballistic nylon with Kevlar inserts) just to piss them off. Every other customer is wearing black leather, tattoos and a do-rag. Nobody makes eye contact. Their parts department guy is helpful and friendly, and happily sells me a kickstand plate bearing the H-D brand name. I don’t tell him how much I like the symbolism of parking my high-tech bike on their logo and grinding it into the dirt. I guess it’s true that it’s a Harley town for two weeks of the year and just another agricultural backwater the rest of the time.
I ride westward again on I-90 and Hwy 212 from South Dakota, across a thin corner of Wyoming and on into Montana. Life is great! Riding is easy, she hums along happily at 75 mph just keeping up with traffic. This is wide green grassland with occasional cattle. The overcast skies somehow make the grass brilliantly eye-searing vibrantly green. Beautiful.
As I near a small town, I’m catching up to a truck hauling a 4-horse trailer. Something looks strange… As I get closer, I see that all four horses have their heads out the windows, bobbing their heads and opening their mouth wide to catch the wind. It looks like some of them let their big horsey lips flap in the breeze. They look as happy as a puppy dog with his head out the window.
I reached Broadus Montana at 5pm, about as expected. I’m cold and hungry and the bike is thirsty. I see two young bikers at the Conoco station. We talk, and I find they’re travelling the country on the cheap, starting in Waterloo Iowa and riding to Bozeman to stay with a friend. They’re on day three of a ten-day trip. Their rule is to “never pay for a place to sleep” so they pick secluded spots away from main roads to pitch their tents. Wow, I thought I was being daring by “camping” at KOA most nights. Peter is just out of college, and Derek just finished teaching his first year of high-school algebra and geometry. Nice guys and I buy them dinner at Cashman’s Cafe.
The clerk at Conoco recommended a motel for me. She said they’re all old but very clean around here. I check in, unload the bike, and walk around town for photos. I update my blog, and write these words, and these, and these, and these, and these…