Today was my first day not riding with a group of at least 5 or 6 bikes and was our longest day of the trip, a whopping 450 miles. Lorie (My HD Rep) and I decided to have a little friend time and go our own way. Originally we had planned on going back on the “Going to the Sun Road” through Glacier National Park (The same road I did yesterday) but after reviewing the maps we discovered it would be at least an 11 hour day. So, we opted to take a more scenic route to Billings than just staying on the freeway the whole time. We got up a little earlier and were loaded up and ready to go by 8. Which was easy for the two of us. A few others from the group were doing the same as us and taking their own routes rather than riding in a big group.
Lorie and I decided we would take 93 South, to the highway then get on to 12 East to Helena. I have never been to the capital and it looked like a pretty ride. We set our early and stopped for gas a few miles down the road so we would both have a full tank. We are both on blue street glides, so we make quite a pair! Highway 93 was beautiful, it winded around a lake and through some hills and forest. There is a lot of smoke in the air from the wildfires, so the sun was a bright pinkish orange color and was reflecting off the lake. We stopped at Grizzly Harley-Davidson in Missoula for a bathroom break and to stretch our legs.
It was a smaller store with friendly staff that all said hello and greeted you. I think my favorite part of the ride was the road leading into Helena, highway 12. It was a beautiful road in good condition with great curves and very little traffic.
We stopped in Helena and after finding the historic downtown area we found a little place called Taco Del Sol and had some Mexican food (for those that know me, it wasn’t the nasty greasy kind, it was fresh and healthy).
From here we got back onto 12 to continue our journey towards Billings. While on the road, I noticed the grey truck up the road start to brake for something. I figured it must be wildlife and as we got closer I could seem something big and fluffy rambling in front of the truck. It took me a minute to figure out what the hell it was, then it turned and stopped on the side of the road. It was a lama! It stared at me as I rode by and Lorie and I both threw our hands up and shrugged our shoulders! What are the odds of a random lama running down the road!
While we were riding on 12 we could see all these thunder storms around us. My GPS said to go down 89, so we made that turn. As we started down that road, we could see it was taking us towards a very dark grey cloud with lightning!
As we got closer, I pulled over so I could put my full face helmet back on and my rain gear. Lorie, was very quick getting her gear on and had to wait at least 5 minutes for me to put my half helmet and glasses away, get out my full face, get out my rain gear, then sit on the side of the road trying to put it on over my boots….fail!
Anyhow, by the time I got all the gear on the storm had move to our left quite a bit and we didn’t end up getting any rain hardly except for the water left on the road! We both ended up sweating in our rain gear until we found the next gas station, which was perfect timing. We were back on I 90. I knew the group had mostly taken I-90 the whole way, and behind where we got on was nothing but black clouds. So, they must have been stuck in that is what Lorie and I assumed. We made it the rest of the way to Beartooth Harley-Davidson without any rain. We arrived at 5:30 and the only other riders that made it there that early were Glen and Cherrie who had also rode on their own today. We were greeted by all the awesome staff at Beartooth and they were so accommodating. I asked if I could pay for a wash, and they told me to unload my bike and they would take care of it! Then I asked if I could get a couple of flat rate boxes to mail some stuff home, Guy helped me out and got two boxes of my cold weather gear shipped home for me! THEY ROCK! And last but not least, Collette, their marketing manager, put together an awesome party just for us!
They had the store open from 6pm to 9pm just for us and invited some of their local riders to join us. They had an awesome spread from “Famous Dave’s BBQ”, beer, water, soda etc. They even had staff working so we could shop, and a tech on hand to fix what needed to be fixed! He replaced Taren’s brake pads, which were gone basically and Sherry Newel’s headlight that had taken a rock and was all busted up! Collette, was running around like crazy, she was basically waiting on everyone, I have never met someone who worked so hard! I seriously cannot say enough to thank them, including their Dealer Principal Barry Usher. What a great team, if you are ever in the area they are the dealer to visit!
On a final note, pretty much everyone else in our crew were stuck in that severe storm Lorie and I saw when we got on I-90. I guess it was pretty bad and they had a lot of it which made for a slow day. Despite their late arrival, Collette and the team at Beartooth hung around and kept everything going until everyone was taken care of. Big thanks and shoutout to Beartooth H-D and their crew. Tomorrow we are riding to Sturgis, South Dakota!!!