Riding in to Medora

Riding in to Medora

Summer in North Dakota means at least one ride to the old west town of Medora. It’s an unparalleled ride in North Dakota, and on August 4, I headed out there to see how successful tourism officials were with their first promoted biker gathering in town.

Hangin' out in Medora

While the event itself was nothing to speak of, the ride, the town and the scenery are always top drawer.  In fact, an ebook to be published next spring of Great North Dakota rides will highlight Medora as one of the great rides in the state. (kickstands up)

Riding in to TRNP

Shooting bikes in Medora on this day was one of my favorite shoots of the summer.  I positioned myself where ever I thought I’d catch a motorcycle riding in or out of town. I didn’t get there until mid-to late afternoon, so I only had an hour or so to shoot. BIG MISTAKE.  There is no hurry-up in Medora.

A Medora Street Musician

Don’t make the same mistake. Take your time, enjoy the Theodore Roosevelt National park, ice cream on main street, or even the local variety of a street musician. 

The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and the remnants of the Medora Packing plant tell a story around which you can wrap your mind and imagination, harkening back to a romantic period of Americana.

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Father’sDay Hill climb

A dusty race up the hill

A traditional event — competition much like the Wing Rodeo I wrote about last week — only different.

Dakota Riders

The annual Father’s Day Hill climb by the Dakota Riders at Valley City pits local riders against each other and nature — in this case, a hill.  The goal for the smaller bikes is to see how far up the hill they can get.  The larger more powerful bikes challenge each other to get to the hill the fastest.  In all cases, it’s man and machine against nature — this hill.

It’s a subculture of note, these North Dakotans who gather at the base of the hill to socialize and to watch the events.  They share a commonality of a love of motorcycles and the motorcycle lifestyle.  But that’s about where it ends because they come in all sizes and shapes.

Magi

Cheetah Chopper

Still, a warm Sunday afternoon, good people good entertainment and good competition make the Fathers Day Hill Climb one of my annual events.  I used to shoot the competition and that only.

Now I see there’s a whole lot more to the event, and that’s the people, and in some cases the motorcycles.  It’s not a drunk fest like some motorcycle events, it’s much more family oriented so there are plenty of good photo ops.

Sometimes I think as a photographer I forget to look at the whole picture. I get so focused I miss the best stories to be told by photo — the people and the crowds.

You can check out more images of the Hill Climb in the photo garage at www.kickstandsupnd.com

Have you been there to the Hill climb?

 

 

 

August 14

 

Captains Cabin's ride for CF

 

Every summer, Ron and Marge at the Captains Cabin in Washburn sponsor a ride to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis.  I’ve been otherwise occupied each weekend they hold the ride, but this year, I was free and caught the event.

Ron in the CF tent after the ride

It was a questionable ride from the beginning as rain was moving through the area. So the ride started about a half hour late and dodged rain most of the day.  It was cold and windy but in the end a good hardy crew raised several hundred dollars to fight Cystic Fibrosis.  That’s a good thing for me personally since I’ve had 4 cousins die from the illness.  Thanks to Ron and Marge for their support.

(I’ve got a file on my other computer of more pics and will post them here when I consolidate files.)

August 7

Motorcycle at Lost Bridge

There. See it? Coming up to that first curve at the bottom of the hill. It’s a motorcycle traveling one the most scenic route in North Dakota, Highway 22 from near New Town down to Killdeer, North Dakota.

This is the most scenic route in the state because it follows the cuts, buttes and bluffs of the Badlands along the western edge of North Dakota.  Those people who drive through Fargo and Grand Forks and call North Dakota a flat feature-less landscape are not seeing the whole picture.  This route, with its curves and hills is a grand sightseeing ride especially at the end of the day like this.

And while it is great to ride through, it’s even better if a person has a chance to stop and hike a bit at the Little Missouri State Park.  That’s the Little Missouri River down there where you see the bridge. It meanders from the southern part of the state north to near here where it empties in to the Missouri River.

Have you had a chance to explore the Badlands?  I mean, on foot.  First ride or drive through it, then get out and hike a bit.  Have you done that yet?

July 28

Susan and Norm Westbrook

Here is a father/daughter team that has the priorities right. (The father is the one with the hair on his lip, the daughter has the hair on her head.)

Norman and Susan Westbrook have thrown themselves in to being patriots. They stand with the Patriot Guard Riders every chance they get. In this case, it was the welcome home of soldiers from Kosovo.  Imagine the closeness of this team focused on a good cause such as service to country and patriotism.  They both ride their own bikes and fly their 3×5 flags from their bikes in escorts and parades where the PGR is invited.  Susan is going to be a very well-grounded and confident woman. She is already, though she’s only in high school.

Norm and Susan visit with Vernon

The PGR rally gives people such as Norm and Susan a chance to meet with other like-minded people such as Vernon Bjerke a Marine who is from the eastern part of the state. He stands with patriots every chance he gets.  These are not noisy outspoken in-your-face people. Their quiet upright strength is the kind of position that we could all emulate.

July 24

Good riding across ND

Hold on to your hat, helmet or headrag. This blog is visual trip across western North Dakota.

If you are a motorcyclist who is used to riding through and in lots of traffic, you would love North Dakota’s motorcycling, especially west river North Dakota. 

I followed I-94 across the state for a photographic entry in to my other blog 2wheels2lanes1camera.    It was a great day to show what North Dakota looks like this time of year, a perfect entry for North Dakota 365.

From the outskirts of Mandan where “west river” begins, motorcycles are numerous.  Near the city, sport bikes or “crotch rockets” are plentiful, speeding down the smooth concrete ribbon of Interstate 94.

Further west, it’s motorcycle touring terrain.  Packed motorcycles head west across the state, enjoying the lack of threatening drivers in their cars and trucks — free to twist the throttle and cruise.  People whom I’ve talked to from other parts of the nation such as southern California where it’s thought that motorcycling is a popular pastime are impressed with the number of motorcycles in North Dakota.  They are surprised to see scenes like this where bikes fill the parking lot of a local pizza joint/beer joint called the Evil Olive. (More about that in a soon to come blog entry.)

Dickinson's Evil Olive

I’m certain you’ll find more pickup trucks with one passenger headed down the highway than any other form of transportation, but it sure seems to me that it makes more sense to take advantage of North Dakota’s wide open spaces to conserve gasoline, leave a smaller carbon footprint and enjoy the ride on two wheels at 45 mpg than to hurl your pickup down the road on four wheels at 12 mpg.

So, if you’re headed across North Dakota, don’t be surprised if you see more motorcycles than you expect. North Dakota is a motorcycle haven of wide open vastness.  What would it take to get you to ride across the state with me?

July 17

I can only imagine what motorcycle travel was like 40 years ago, heading north along the Missouri River.

I was riding my 1978 HD superglide with that vibratory shovelhead engine, heading north up River Road, or State Hwy 1804.  Years ago, this was a good road by travel standards. A few miles to the east was federal highway 83, a more straight shot from Bismarck to Minot.

On this night, I had left a weekend-long party north of Bismarck.  It was dusk and I wasn’t real comfortable with the ability to see deer crossing the road as they do at this time of day.  My headlight on that old bike isn’t very powerful.

Still it represents some of the best riding a person could have enjoyed in the 1970’s.  It was a warm night, so I didn’t need to wear my leather jacket.  That’s it bungeed to my handlebars on the bottom of the image.  In the 70’s few bikes had windshields and a rolled up sleeping bag or jacket did a noticeable (though not “good”) job of breaking the wind and deflecting bugs up over the head of the rider.  That’s still the way I ride.

July 13

Headed west on Old 10 in Mandan

I love the traffic in Bismarck and Mandan. It is easy and peaceful, perhaps sometimes too easy and too peaceful. Some times people drive like they have no place to go.

Other times, you’ll get passed by an ’07 Road King on Memorial Highway in Mandan.  It used to be Highway 10, and before that The Old Red Highway or Old Red Trail.  After Interstate 94 came through North Dakota, the old 2-lane scenic route through the state was abandoned. 

Before you get to Mandan (provided you are headed East to West) you ride down Bismarck’s Main Street that was once a bustling traffic zone on Highway 10, or the Red Trail, or even before that some unmanned mud road in Edwinton which proceeded Bismarck.

There is almost nothing left of the old muddy road, or Highway 10 but just the four lanes of Bismarck’s Main Street.  It looks pretty much like every small town “Main Street” with pre-planned landscaping and building structure. You’ll see the same kind of look in Fargo, or Dickinson.

On the former “western edge” of Bismarck is Washington and Main. It once was a tricky dog leg through a railroad underpass, but modern design dropped the historic romance in favor of a more efficient design.

The intersection replacing the Hwy 10 dog leg under the RR tracks

In this photo, the right street in the intersection is “Front” which becomes Old Highway 10 or Memorial Highway.  It leads down the strip in Mandan as the firs photo shows.

Once you get to Mandan Old 10 becomes Main Street for that city. There you will find riders cruising “Main” on their bikes or their hot rods.  Further west and your out of the city, headed to the Scenic Highway of Old 10 across North Dakota.

On this summer evening, I drove from one city to the next and spotted cruisers on two wheels, all good to photograph.

June 28

Goldwing and gold wheat

Summer riding season is in full swing — a little later than usual.  The nearby grain field is turning gold as this Honda Gold Wing rolls by.  It’s been a cool wet spring, good for growing not good for going.

Even so, bikes are taking advantage of the weather.  Highway 83 which runs past Wilton gets a good amount of traffic. It’s a good road connecting Bismarck to Minot and points in between.  A late evening ride, this time of year, could be as late at 9:30 or 10:00 thanks to the tilt of the Earth on the axis toward the sun, and North Dakota’s relative position on the globe and on the time zone line.  That means even though the season is short, the days are long, and bikers take advantage of it.

It’s just about every day that I’m out for my 1-a-day pics that I see bikes on Hwy 83, but this time, the light, the fields and the evening proved to be a better than average day for photographing motorcycles.

June 21

It’s taken a lot of mistakes in order to learn how to get from this:

The bare essentials

to this:

loaded and ready to roll

When I took my first motorcycle road trip of 5 weeks, back in 1971, I had only a sleeping bag rolled up on a luggage rack behind my seat.  Times have changed. A sleeping bag in a tree row isn’t what it used to be.  Now, I go prepared, tent, cooking gear and of course tools.

tools for the highway

My first road trip had no saddlebags, and only a crescent wrench and screwdriver. Now, I carry an entire socket and wrench set plus an assortment of other tools, including a quart of oil and a siphon hose.

I got out of motorcycling during those kid years, but  once they were edging out of elementary school, I got back in to it.  I quickly learned a plastic grocery bag strung between the handlebars won’t even make it downtown.  Then, I learned that bungee cords holding a bag to the passenger seat worked a whole lot better if I installed a sissy bar to stop the bag from sliding off.

Any good road trip now, starts here…saddlebags, pack, and of course my cameras ready to record the trip.