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Thread: Planning for 2021 ride to Great Falls? (advice please)

  1. #1
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    Planning for 2021 ride to Great Falls? (advice please)

    I live outside DC. It's about 2000 miles to Great Falls. I would probably do it one way and ship the bike back because I may have a meeting for work on the following week. I have never done a tremendously long ride like that. I've never seen the middle of America. I'd like to "see" things along the way. I'm not intent on a lot of getting off and sightseeing....I'm more interested in not staring at the back of a semi for hours on end on open interstates.

    What route should I take? What else should I think about? I'd probably not want to camp (but could)...just don't want the hassle of the extra stuff.

    Just wanted to kick around some ideas and gather some tips and advice a year out.

    thanks

  2. #2
    Hangered... but aimed out flyhi2cfar's Avatar
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    Hi Steve; oh are you in for a good time!
    A little confusion may enter into your ideas and thoughts... because of the answers your likely to receive.
    Much of what you ask is totally dependent upon your likes & dislikes.
    Your curiosity of States, sights, National Parks and the like... determine where the headlight points next.
    Thats basically how we all tour at heart.
    Heck, some folks do it by the Diners, Dives & Drive-In's show locations.

    My recommendation; to keep it simple on your first significant trans-continental (nearly) ride...
    Take the National Road out to the Mississippi River, transition to the Lewis & Clark Trail to Great Falls. Simple, easy, plenty of history and things to see.

    All effective travel enjoyment takes more time than money.
    So if able, depart the National, ride Glacier NP, return to the L&C Trail for the route to the Pacific.
    Make it the ride of a lifetime; look forward to saying Hello to you at the Rally. I'm excited just thinking about what your going to experience.
    "travel'n" John... on a 2015 R1200GS / MOA# 102452
    "Keep a steady eye ahead, a firm grip on the throttle, be ready with brakes... every mile of the road, there are two miles of the ditch"
    (words of wisdom credited to fellow MOA rider Bill T.)

  3. #3
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    How much time can you take to get there? How many miles a day do you plan on?
    Greg Feeler
    Ambassador & amateur K-Bike collector, it seems
    1972 R75/5, 1990 K75, 1990 K1, 1992 K75S, 2003 K1200RS

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    Left Coast Rider
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    "Get your kicks, on Route ___ " (fill in number here)
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  5. #5
    Rally Rat
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    Quote Originally Posted by R65_Steve View Post
    I live outside DC. It's about 2000 miles to Great Falls. I would probably do it one way and ship the bike back because I may have a meeting for work on the following week. I have never done a tremendously long ride like that. I've never seen the middle of America. I'd like to "see" things along the way. I'm not intent on a lot of getting off and sightseeing....I'm more interested in not staring at the back of a semi for hours on end on open interstates.

    What route should I take? What else should I think about? I'd probably not want to camp (but could)...just don't want the hassle of the extra stuff.

    Just wanted to kick around some ideas and gather some tips and advice a year out.

    thanks
    What's the matter with the Great Falls, you have?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by GREGFEELER View Post
    How much time can you take to get there? How many miles a day do you plan on?
    Well, I have a job still. I figure maybe a week to get there. Does the week include the prior weekend? Maybe.
    I have never done anything like a 500 mile day. I don't see why I *couldn't* I just never have. Then again, many days in a row. I suspect I'd go through some of those flat hot states: MO, NE, SD. If I stayed off the I-state, how draining are the backroads? How remote? Sounds silly... I was to MT in 2018, the remoteness is something an East Coaster is not used to. In the flat hot states, I don't know what those are like at all.

  7. #7
    Hangered... but aimed out flyhi2cfar's Avatar
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    Great Falls is a "destination" Rally type location. For most of us it's "out there"; and you'll be able to sense that on arrival.
    Meaning also, when your traveling more than a couple days and thousands'ss of miles just to get there... try not to be late!

    The Sunday morning departure from the Rally comes pretty quick, leave some time for R & R.
    With your overall ride distance, planning for a Wednesday... late afternoon arrival, should allow you a measure of comfort.

    Count Wednesday as a travel day, work backwards from there. I feel you need a minimum of 5 days; 6 and 1/2 are better. (non-interstate mostly)
    Two time zone changes and late sunsets make for pretty easy 400-500mi days out of a motel; especially west of the big Miss-sip River...
    where the roads really open up.
    Last edited by flyhi2cfar; 07-09-2020 at 09:01 PM.
    "travel'n" John... on a 2015 R1200GS / MOA# 102452
    "Keep a steady eye ahead, a firm grip on the throttle, be ready with brakes... every mile of the road, there are two miles of the ditch"
    (words of wisdom credited to fellow MOA rider Bill T.)

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by R65_Steve View Post
    I suspect I'd go through some of those flat hot states: MO, NE, SD. If I stayed off the I-state, how draining are the backroads? How remote? Sounds silly... I was to MT in 2018, the remoteness is something an East Coaster is not used to. In the flat hot states, I don't know what those are like at all.
    The back roads through the Great Plains are a joy to ride. The scenery is better than that along the Interstates. Speed limits are 65 or 70 typically. Small towns are reasonably spaced along most highways. Not by eastern standards though where there is a StopNRob every few miles. Plan gas stops and gas early and often. Many small towns have lovely City Parks offering shade, restrooms, and occasional friendly locals wondering where you are from and heading. The kids playing in the park that come to oogle your motorcycle will make your day.

    If staying in motels we like the MomNPops. Look for flowers on the grounds. Well kept grounds signal well kept rooms. If camping look for City parks, State parks, and local non-chain campgrounds. Along the Interstate many "campgrounds" are gravel lots for RVs next to the highway. You can do lots better along the byways and small towns.

    For food look for the pickup trucks in the parking lots of local restaurants. Where the local farmers eat is where you want to be.

    You need to think in terms of breaking your trip into chunks. I can't be muck help DC to Indiana or Kentucky. The US and State highways across Illinois are OK - stay well south of Chicago. There are many great roads across Misssouri. 160and 60 to the south are great twisty but slower roads. US 36 and 136 across the north of the state are quicker but straighter. 36 across Kansas and 2 through the Nebraska sandhills are good roads. Further north 200 and US 2 across North Dakota and Montana are fun to ride.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
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  9. #9
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    I'll echo much of what Paul said. Some of my most pleasant rides were on the old US or state highways through middle America. The towns are widely spaced and most have delightful little parks with shade trees, covered picnic tables, clean restrooms (sometimes with showers) and very friendly locals. I typically take 24/224 from Ohio to near Nebraska, then 20 across northern Nebraska before angling up to either Badlands or the Black Hills. Between there and the rally be sure to check out the Bighorn Range. 14, ALT14 and 16 are fantastic roads and all will lead you to Chief Joseph and Beartooth Pass.

    Whichever route you take, don't just hop on the bike and take off. Work at building up your mileage before you leave. You'll have good days and bad, days that seem perfect for putting miles behind you and days so hot and humid you feel ready to turn around after a hundred miles. In the process you'll figure out that 500 miles might be fine on a perfect day, but throw rain or wind or brutal heat into the mix, well - you get the idea. There have been days I was so miserable by noon that I checked into an air conditioned hotel after just 300 miles and was back on the road at 4am to cover some ground before the conditions went south. And there have been days so perfect I covered 800+ miles and felt totally refreshed

    Yes, you want to get there before the rally is over...but you also want to have fun.

    Pete
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  10. #10
    slave to gravity skibum69's Avatar
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    Think about your mileage, long distance riders will say do one, two, three long days to start then make your days shorter on the road. I'm considering going too and I've got a little more at 3331 miles one way according to Google maps. For me I will sit down with a big map and doodle around with what looks an interesting route that for me will be pretty direct and I will probably do some slab on interstates just to save a little time. I too have little interest in stopping and sightseeing much, I tend to just roll out the miles as that's how I like to run. Possibly I will add in some stops to see friends along the way.

    That being said when I went to Tennessee last summer my trip started out with 4 x 600 mile days in a row on my R65 LS that I'd never ridden more than 3 hours in one go. That was fun. If I go to MT next year I'll work on my travel days being a bit more sensible.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by R65_Steve View Post
    I suspect I'd go through some of those flat hot states: MO, NE, SD. If I stayed off the I-state, how draining are the backroads? How remote?
    I've ridden through MN, SD and Montana and I have to say that you'll meet some really friendly people in the small towns you'll go through. I didn't miss the chain restaurants or hotels at all. Paul was right about the MomandPop motels - cared for hanging baskets and flowers = cared for rooms.
    The pie at the Ranch House Cafe in Dupree, SD just off Hwy 212 is highly recommended! Be prepared to stop at various small historic sites or for the odd herd of bison. For an eastcoaster, it'll be a revelation.

  12. #12
    Registered User bluehole's Avatar
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    That being said when I went to Tennessee last summer my trip started out with 4 x 600 mile days in a row on my R65 LS that I'd never ridden more than 3 hours in one go
    I have seen The I-40 Flash in action. Don't let him fool you. He finished each day in 8 hours or less.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibum69 View Post
    Think about your mileage, long distance riders will say do one, two, three long days to start then make your days shorter on the road. I'm considering going too and I've got a little more at 3331 miles one way according to Google maps. For me I will sit down with a big map and doodle around with what looks an interesting route that for me will be pretty direct and I will probably do some slab on interstates just to save a little time. I too have little interest in stopping and sightseeing much, I tend to just roll out the miles as that's how I like to run. Possibly I will add in some stops to see friends along the way.
    .


    Yeah this is just a "think piece" at this point. There's a couple of things I'd really like to see....Mt Rushmore before they blow it up, LOL. That Beartooth pass looks interesting.

    I did a "big ride" last summer through WV. I had a ball. I've been to KY for only a few hours, so I'll likely blast through WV again and meander in KY a bit. Would like to skip St Louis if I can. After that it's a mystery until SD. And do I make a plan? Or some of it, just go for it?


    In 2018 my family went to Yellowstone and Glacier. For this East Coast boy, it's almost hard to imagine leaving Yellowstone and then hours and HOURS of windshield time before the next town of note. We did stop at a gas station and bought coffee. It was $1. I thought it was an error. I could have spent my extra money on a $400 Yeti-clone cooler, or an engagement ring or ammo. All in the same store.

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    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Go through Broken Bow and Alliance Ne. on your way to the Black Hills.
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    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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