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Thread: Riding from Pennsylvania to the Rally

  1. #1

    Riding from Pennsylvania to the Rally

    I've never been out west on my m/c. Never had time to get there and get back in the time I had available. Retired now and considering attending the Montana Rally (assuming I can find a babysitter for my dog).

    I hate fighting semi's and heavy traffic on freeways, but it's a long way to Montana so I know I need to spend some time on them. I'm a senior rider (fondly recall the time years ago when 12-14 hours in the saddle was normal and exciting), so I can't safely do the really long days anymore. I would welcome general suggestions for optimal routes from PA to Great Falls that include a mix of speed and scenery. I'm sure there are many riders out there who have experience and suggestions that would be helpful.

    I plan to camp and use hotels during the trip, but I don't want to reserve places (I know, I've heard the advice before). This way I can stop if I need to or continue if I feel good. I've ridden so little during the past year due to all the rally cancelations that I'm not sure what my endurance will be on a long trip like this.

    Any suggestions and recommendations will be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Registered User lkraus's Avatar
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    I'd suggest spending a few evenings with Google Maps. Let Maps pick the fast route, and then start dragging it around, using the satellite and street view to see what the roads and scenery will actually look like. I would probably stick to the interstate until west of Chicago and then use the federal and state highways. East of Chicago, the population density and traffic are just too much for me. Once you are further west, the two lane highways are often just as fast as the interstates and the scenery is much better. Passing through the smaller towns does not slow you much and is much more interesting than zooming past another exit ramp. If you can manage it, try taking a few day-long loops from home to get some idea of how many miles or hours of riding you can manage comfortably.
    Last edited by lkraus; 04-12-2021 at 03:13 PM.
    Larry
    2006 R1200RT

  3. #3
    Registered User AKsuited's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ITZNUTHIN View Post
    I hate fighting semi's and heavy traffic on freeways, but it's a long way to Montana so I know I need to spend some time on them.
    I like to avoid the Chicago area. It is confusing, too: approaching Chicago from the east, you are on I-80 and I-90 combined. If you want to stay on I-80, you need to exit. Try setting a trip to Joliet, IL on Google Maps and see what I mean. The area presents a white-knuckle mix of heavy truck traffic and locals hot-rodding and slaloming through traffic. Not good.

    I have the Garmin/BMW Nav V system on my bike with a SENA Bluetooth to receive navigation voice commands. This definitely helps in that it provides navigation help before decision points and helps to avoid getting lost. I also use Google Maps to print my own maps that I can set at the top of my tank bag. When using my Nav V, I will search out a destination each day and use it as a waypoint, like a restaurant in a place I intend to ride through. There are fancier ways to do this, but I try to keep things as simple as possible.

    In the past I have detoured around that Chicago area to the south. There are also a couple of ferries that cross Lake Michigan. I am considering that option this time around. Google Maps also show construction zones which you might want to evaluate for any route you take.

    Good luck.

    Harry
    My fleet: 2015 R1200GS, 2017 Toyota Prius Prime (plug-in hybrid)

  4. #4
    '14 R1200 GS Adv bigjohnsd's Avatar
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    The SS Badger - the last Coal Fired Commercial Vessel in the United States - runs from Ludington MI to Manitowoc WI twice a day in the summer. It is a great experience and not all that expensive. I've done it twice, once overnight from Ludington to Manitowoc - I reserved a cabin.

    Lots of great two-lane roads across the USA. Check out US 10/12/212 starting in Wisconsin heading West. No reason to ride the slab!
    At Belle Fourche SD drop down to SD 34 and ride it West to WY 24, go to Devil's Tower,
    From Devil's Tower head West on US 14 towards Gillette WY, then take US 14/16 to Buffalo WY, US 16 will take you across the Bighorn Mountains on the Cloud
    Peak Skyway, then down through the Ten Sleep Canyon. Head North out of Ten Sleep along the Nowood River to Manderson WY then up to Greybull. Take US 14 East out of Greybull up the Shell Canyon to Burgess Junction. At Burgess Junction turn West again on US 14A and on to Lovell WY. From Lovell head West to Cody, then North and ride the Chief Joseph Parkway up to US 212 then head East on 212 to Red Lodge. Spend the night at the Alpine Inn before an easy ride to Great Falls.
    The only dumb question is the unasked question!

    Team Pterodactyl - When we ride, we ride!

  5. #5
    If it were me, I would either take the Badger across Lake Michigan, or go through the lower peninsula, across the Mackinac Bridge and the UP. Once you in Wisconsin you can pick up Highway 2 across Minnesota and North Dakota.

    Just one idea.

  6. #6
    Registered User darrell's Avatar
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    Hwy 200 from Floodwood, MN to Great Falls, MT

    After crossing Lake Michigan as suggested stop at Aerostich in Duluth, MN. West of there a short distance you can catch Hwy 200 just north of Floodwood, MN and take that all the way to Great Falls. Make reservations if you want to stop and see the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site in Cooperstown, ND. A wonderful 1 - 2 hour tour. After that you will cross the large area where oil fracking is happening in Western North Dakota before entering Montana. Several small towns with Mom and Pop places to stay or campgrounds in small towns along the way.
    Darrell

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by darrell View Post
    Make reservations if you want to stop and see the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site in Cooperstown, ND. A wonderful 1 - 2 hour tour.
    When we lived north of Cooperstown in the 1970s that control center was about 4 miles from our house. And our immediate next-door neighbor, right over the fence, was a Minuteman II in a silo.
    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
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  8. #8
    Not the fastest way, but I suggest heading up through Michigan, across the Mackinaw Bridge, west through Michigan's Upper Peninsula and then west on US2 or Hwy 200. I94 across North Dakota, is also good.

    Getting an early start each day is the best way to avoid heat & traffic... you can watch the sunrise in your mirrors.

    Turn in early and do it again the next day.

  9. #9
    Registered User darrell's Avatar
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    Missile Silo Location

    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    When we lived north of Cooperstown in the 1970s that control center was about 4 miles from our house. And our immediate next-door neighbor, right over the fence, was a Minuteman II in a silo.
    I can picture right where your house was if you lived next to the silo which now has a plaque at its location where it was on the edge of town.
    Darrell

  10. #10
    Registered User jandhumphreyme's Avatar
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    I sometimes pickup US30 in Ohio and stay on it until Kansas City, then jump up on US20 and make my way north west from there.
    So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
    And we never even know we have the key

  11. #11
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    Riding from PA too

    1 or 2 night Stops with friends/relatives near : Lock Haven, Cinn., Detroit, North Chicago and Milwaukee on the way out and near Sioux Falls on the way back.

    I will ferry from Muskegon to Milwaukee and come back south of Chicago.


    Wife will come in and out of Bozeman for a couple weeks in MT and ID, our 40th anniv. and the rally.

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