12 STATES, 7 DAYS, AND 4100 MILES OF EPICNESS
This was a ride for the ages and one we’ll never forget
This was a ride for the ages and one we’ll never forget. Late last year a few of us had discussed riding out to the HD Museum in Milwaukee, a place none of us had been. As we began our planning on the when, where, who, and what details, a few of us wanted to make a run at the 1000 miles in 24hrs. After locking in the dates and details, we started to work out this idea of 1000 miles in a day. The problem we were currently facing is that we’d planned this trip for early May. Being located out of Utah, we’d been experiencing some shitty spring weather. This was a bit of a concern, as we didn't have what we thought would be enough time to get conditioned and ready for a long haul like that. Especially where we were looking to pull down the 1000 miles on our very first day of the trip. We didn't want to ruin the 7 days based on the first.
After a few discussions between the group, the day for departure finally arrived. We decided that we’d run hard in search of the 1000, but that we’d stop if we got too tired to continue on. You can find this info in our Run For A 1000 in the Experience Page.
We left around 7am from Sandy, Utah taking I-15 to the I-215 interchange in Midvale then onto I-80 east for as far as we needed to lock in the 1000 miles. This was nice, because we didn't really need to worry about fuel, hydration, or making detours to get to our destination. Everything was straightforward, and the ability ran fast and hard on the highway.
On our trip we had 3 Streetglides, a Street Bob, and a Softtail Fatboy. We found that we could damn near stretch the Fatboy to 200 miles on a tank with Street Bob not much more and the Streetglides running right around 240 miles a tank. This made fueling just frequent enough to keep you loose, sharp, and from getting sore but not so often you felt like we were at a constant stop and go. We stopped in Evanston WY for a quick top off on fuel to get us to Laramie WY, and a coffee. It was still a little chilly the morning we took off, and we needed to sit in the sun for 10 minutes with a hot cup of “suck it the fuck up” coffee. After stopping in Laramie for fuel and waters, we made our way to Cheyenne WY.
I will say this about I80 through WY, It's amazing! The landscape, scenery, roads, and traffic are all conducive for those of us that ride. Long straights through the hills with occasional mountainous twists and turns. There's even a tunnel, not a big one, but a tunnel to rev through!
Once we made it to Cheyenne WY, we needed food and fuel. This is where we stretched the legs on the Fatboy, we thought he was going to run out of fuel and ran it right down to 0 range. We learned from this stunt and didn't have any other issues with worrying about running out of fuel the rest of the trip.
On any ride, I will always ask a local for the best recommendations for anything i'm looking for. In this case, I wanted a cool atmosphere and a damn beer. We were led to a spot called Sanford's Grub & Pub. Located in the historical part of town, it's an amazing place to grab a bite to eat and a something to drink. Its filled with all kinds of random shit, sure to please any kind of collector know to man. The service was excellent and the food just as good. We all recommend any of the burgers and to get the fries cajun style. After a few photo ops and watching folks stop and look at our bikes parked out front, we knew we needed to get back on the road. We were off to the next state, Nebraska.
Now I've never been to Nebraska, and I will say we did not venture from the highway, but I don't think i'll be returning anytime soon. Flat, flat, and more flat- you get the picture. I didn't see one thing that made me think hmmm, I need to check that out. However, the roadways and state police, both are awesome. We ran a steady 10mph over the limit (85-90) and didn't have a single issue. After riding for what seemed like forever in the flatland, off in the distance we could see a black ominous clouds rolling in our direction. We were close to needing a fuel stop so we pulled off to check our options.
While fueling up, the wind was so strong that all the sand and gravel off the roadway and parking lots was blasting us. I can put up with a lot of shit but my bike getting sand blasted isn't one of them! We sought out some shelter under the awning of the Comfort Inn in Gothenburg NB. Here we checked our weather apps and decided that we’d wait out what looked like the spawn of satan in the sky. Across the parking lot was the Nebraska Barn & Grill. We needed to kill some time and a beer was sounding pretty good by now. After waiting about an hour and a half we made our way back to our bikes in which it was still raining and now dark. We put on our rain gear and headed back out to see about getting that 1000 miles, which by now is looking pretty tough to do. Not only did we lose daylight going from MST to CST, it's about 10:30pm, dark, raining, and still need another 300 miles. Thankfully we had some good dudes that carry the same attitude the we don't stop when we’re tired, we stop when we’re done. We had to deal with lightning and rain for another hour before the roads would clear and be dry for us to put the hammer down. Once we got to Omaha NB we knew that we were getting close and I think we all get a little extra kick in the end to see it through.
We finally hit the 1000 miles in Neola IA and decided to make sure that we went a little further just to insure that no matter how you'd calculate it we’d done the 1000 miles. Pulling into a town called Shelby IA at 4am the next morning. Thank god for the Shelby Inn motel just off the highway. We had to awake the attendant to get a room, in which she was kind and very helpful but I would recommend staying here. I mean it was only $49 bucks for the night with what seemed like beds, i guess, and hot water. To be honest by this time I really didn't give a shit where we were i just wanted to lay down.
The next morning we woke up to the IA heat wave around 9am to get some breakfast, wash the bikes and head for Michigan. I have nothing to say about IA… My mother taught that if i didn't have anything nice to say i shouldn't say anything at all. IA sucked ass! It was hot, which was a welcome change from the cool weather we’d been riding through but It was so damn windy all damn day. It wasn't a headwind or a tailwind, those would have have been welcomed with open arms. It was a constant onslaught of crosswinds, forcing us to strain for every lane change. The passing of cars and semi’s seemed like huge pain in the ass and the riding was just hard and not fun. We stayed on I80 the whole way a we were looking to ride into Muskegon, a lake town on Lake Michigan that night. After riding into the late afternoon we found ourselves in Indiana dealing with roadwork and traffic. Needing a break we stopped to get some food at Buffalo Wild Wings in southern IL (this is what happens when you let the youngsters pick dinner). After having a bite to eat and realizing we weren't going to make as far as we’d thought, we packed up and headed to lake Michigan via I80 soon to merge onto I94 just outside of Lake Station IN.
About 9pm we entered MI and what a welcome site the green forest, lower temps, no wind, zero traffic, and no road construction was, and it dark outside! That's how nice it was compared to the hell we’d just ridden through. We decided that we’d had enough for the day and pulled off in Benton Harbor MI for the night.
After getting a good night's rest and a cup of coffee we loaded up in search of some good breakfast. Again, ask the locals, they’ll tell you where you should eat. In this case we were guided to Sophia’s Pancake House. This place was amazing and you should stop in and eat here. After breakfast we wanted wash off the bikes for the day's ride. Once the bikes were clean we took hwy 196 up to hwy 31 keeping us close to lake michigan and in and out of all the little towns that are fed by the lake and tourism. Some of these towns have that historical coastal feel to them making them very inviting and enjoyable to ride through. Once we reached Traverse City we fueled up and once again guided to check out JM Hamburgs for lunch by the fuel attendant. The burgers were amazing, my first batch of onion rings burnt a little and they refused to serve them to us only to get some of the best rings I've ever had. Ask for the garlic aioli mayo for your fries or rings. Oh and if you're a milkshake person, I'm not but we have an ice cream freak that rides with us and the hand stirred milkshake I'm told is bomb and one of the best milkshakes he's ever had, anywhere.
After lunch we continued up hwy 31 to Little Traverse City and to the M119. I will tell you that up until this point, yes I love riding my Harley and will ride anywhere but i had just ridden 2500 miles and hadn'tbeen super impressed or excited about anything I’d seen, till now. The M119 is one of the prettiest sections of road I’ve ever been on. This is where you’ll encounter the tunnel of trees. The forest literally sucks you in and it's amazing! Depending on direction of travel the Lake is just over our shoulder with amazing views in and out of the woods. It’s only a 30-45 min to ride so make sure you take your time and soak it all in. The wildlife in and around the area was moving all about while we were there. Things like deer, turkeys, and various birds all acting like you're just a part of what's supposed to be there. Because of this, I wouldn't recommend riding in the dark.
As we all took in how amazing it was here and discussed this section of the trip. It was at this moment we all knew all the unimpressive shit we’d just ridden through was all worth it. As daylight was starting to fade, we wanted to see the sunset as we rode across the Mackinac Suspension Bridge about 20 miles away from the M119.
The Mackinac Bridge taking you to/from the Upper Peninsula of MI was awesome. Then again, as I’ve said before, I love bridges. You're free to cross headed south to north with the toll gate on the north coming in or out of Saint Ignace. $4 dollars to cross and worth every penny. As you cross the bridge ride on the inside lanes, yes the metal grates and look down. You can see the water as you cross over the bridge.
From here we jumped on hwy 2 headed for Manistique MI. All of hwy 2 in my opinion is worth seeing as it feels like you're riding through the Tundra in Canada. About 45 min out of Manistique we were meet with rain again, and needed to pull off and gear up.
We pulled into the Comfort Inn & Suites and were greeted with coffee and hot chocolate. The hospitality of the folks in Michigan was incredible and I’m always thankful for that.
We unloaded our shit into the rooms cranked the heaters as we listened to the down pour that we’d missed by only about 15 min.
Upon waking and having coffee, we noticed it was still raining and had cooled off considerably. At this point we weren’t in any hurry as we’d made up all the time we’d lost on day two. So I asked the hotel manager where the best place for breakfast was? We were guided to a small cafe in the center of the small town call Cedar Street Cafe. Now i'm a breakfast whore and snob, so I’m always looking for the best breakfast I've ever had. Cedar Street Cafe is now my solid #2 of all time best places to eat breakfast. Everything is made from scratch with amazing combination of breakfast items. The syrups, jams, and sauces are to die for! Make sure you come hungry and try a little of everything especially the handmade vanilla bean sauce on the french toast or cinnamon roll. Holy shit, you’ll thank me later!
After Breakfast we got back on Hwy 2 headed west in the rain working our way to Green Bay via the M35 that also runs along the lake. Once we got to WI the rain gave way to clouds and dry roads and we hauled ass to Green Bay stopping only for fuel knowing we were headed to the Harley Museum that afternoon. The M35 turns into hwy 41 and we split off the the 41 for hwy 43 that ran us straight into Milwaukee. From the upper peninsula to the HD Museum was only about 4.5hrs and that's in the cold and rain.
Around 2pm we rolled into Milwaukee to the museum. First item was lunch at the Motor Bar & Restaurant. I had a couple coffee stouts and the the waitress recommended the buffalo chicken and Wisconsin mac & cheese. GET IT, it was bomb. After lunch we ventured over to the museum for the tour. After spending 4-5hrs looking at everything, we walked out to the seasons first bike night. By the time we’d finished the museum tour there was close to 500 bikes and live music playing. What a cool experience for us traveling from Utah to end up there on the perfect day. After hanging out and having a few drinks we decided we’d better check into the hotel as we knew we had to get an early start due to the weather that was really fucking up our route.
Never, I repeat, NEVER pre plan where you are staying until you get there. Up till now we’ve been staying in newer Comfort Inn & Suites when the day's ride was over. They are clean, the beds are awesome, the staff at every single one we’ve stayed at has been awesome, and they’re everywhere. If you're gifted with words as I am you can get your rooms for around $59 a night. Split a double queen room with a buddy and it's super cheap. We’re talking $30 bucks a night, 7 nights for only $210 dollars and you leave feeling great. However, upon meeting a local at the bike night, he suggested the Iron Horse Hotel. Its within eye shot from the museum and they tailor to bikers. The room was $200 a night but the hotel and room was well worth it. With a bar and billiards as you walk in the main lobby, it's a great place to make conversation. The room and decor are top notch and everything was super clean. They also have a bike wash and covered parking dedicated for motorcycles.
I loved Milwaukee and can't wait to get back there soon.
Upon waking up we noticed the weather from the west we’d been keeping an eye on was coming in hotter than predicted and we needed to get the fuck out of Milwaukee asap. After a couple calls and texts to the other guys, we were all on the road in 15 min barreling down the highway headed back north, way the hell off our original route though Sioux Falls SD. We’re back tracking through Green Bay over to Minneapolis, now enroute to Fargo ND. This 2nd spawn of satan was really jacking everything up. We were sick of being cold and wet and I refused to put that damn rain gear on again. We were okay being cold just don't want to be wet. Hustling down the highway to Green Bay we took 29 to Chippewa Falls then jumped on hwy 94 to the twin cities area. We knew once we got on the other side of Minneapolis we’d miss the storm and have clear riding for what looked like the rest of the trip.
Keep in mind that at this point we were staring down the barrel of 3500 miles and hadn't seen the sun in almost 3 days now. As we hauled ass through the Twin Cities on our way to Fargo ND, we were surprised at how quick we were able to get from Minneapolis to Fargo. After a fuel/coffee stop in Fargo we decided to make a run for Bismarck ND as we still had a little daylight. Bismarck turned out to be a little far. Now being dark out and unaware of what may jump out in the road, around 11pm we pulled off in Jamestown ND to stay for the night.
Again, waking up having some coffee and looking at the weather, finally not needing to rush out of town to skirt some storm, we washed the bikes and hit up the trusty Perkins Diner for some breakfast. Not on my breakfast list but you can't really screw up eggs and bacon. After fueling up and getting back on hwy 94 I was shocked at how amazing ND was. The landscape was incredible and the further west we got the better it was. We stopped and took in some of the sights at painted canyon in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Don't stop at the overlook point where everyone else is. Keep going about another mile west on 94, there are some pull offs where you can get some epic photos of you and your ride without all the people.
From here the next stop was on the border of ND and MT for fuel and to dick around for a moment. The Flying J in Beach ND has some pretty damn good people watching. We jumped back on 94 and within 20 min we were now in one of my favorite states ever, Montana. I don't care where you're at in MT, everything is enjoyable from the seat of your freedom machine. I couldn't believe it when we had our first full couple of hours in the sun in MT of all places. We stopped in Miles City for fuel, water, and coffee. We then headed for Billings MT knowing that’d be our stop dinner and fuel before pushing on to Bozeman MT for the night. In between Miles City and Billings we had a brief 20ish mile run of 100 mph to miss a random down pour out of nowhere. Those are always fun! We pulled into Billings MT around 6:30pm.
As we were fueling up I asked some of the guys what they’d like to eat and steak it was. I didn't ask a local this time and relied on siri to give us our recommendation and she didn't disappoint. Jakes Restaurant & Saloon was just what we needed after a few days of cold hard riding.
The folks at Jake's were awesome and accommodating considering this is an upper scale restaurant with linen tablecloths and I'm sure we smelt terrible and looked like bikers. They sat us in the Saloon and took good care of us. By the time we were done eating it was dark and starting to cool down. Now cooling down in MT means getting fucking cold out. We knew that to make it home to UT the next day at a decent time, we really needed to make it Bozeman for the night. We jumped on hwy 94 with all its deer signs, kicked on the brights and ran both lanes lighting up everything around us. It was one of those moments I can't explain but gave me goosebumps. It was badass to run right next to your brothers in the dark lighting up the night and hear the v twins and exhaust work in unison.
After about an hour of riding it was just plain fucking cold. I had on every pair of thermals I packed, a base layer, a tee shirt, a long sleeve, a flannel, and my jacket on and was still starting to shiver while rolling down the road. After seeing about a dozen deer off the side of the roads I made the call to get off in Livingston MT. Luckily the first place I noticed was the trusty Comfort Inn & Suites. As we all shuffled inside to get warm, the gal at the front desk said “I’m sorry all the rooms are booked”. “You probably won't find anything close and your best bet is in Billings”. Yes, Billings where we just fucking came from and froze our ass’ off. I kindly asked “why are all the rooms taken”? “Oh Tim McGraw & Faith Hill are having a concert tonight in Bozeman” she says. FUCK MY LIFE right now… Remember not long ago I said something about NEVER pre booking anything? I was starting to reconsider my thoughts on this, however what was done is done and we needed a place to stay. Just then some folks walked into the foyer and I quickly said “hey, we'll cover your nights stay if we can crash on your floor”? Yeah, I didn't get the response i was looking for as they quickly hurried off to their rooms. So after staring at each other for a moment i pulled out my phone and started calling every place listed in town. On my 2nd call to the Yellowstone Pioneer Lodge, the guy said “yeah I have some available”. I quickly responded “ we’ll be there in 5 min”. I didn't ask nor did I care how much it was going to be! We pulled in and got our rooms for $129 a night and the attendant politely let us know we could park our bikes in the HEATED INDOOR PARKING! HAHAHAHA. I've always said I was the luckiest bastard I know. Here we are with awesome rooms and heated parking for the ladies. Karma is a good thing to have on your side, so if you haven't done something nice for someone lately, DO IT NOW. You never know when it will come back 10 fold for your ass.
This time when we woke up we knew it was the last day of the trip so we were all a bit somber. I looked out the window and it had snowed overnight. I thought to myself, I'm glad we didn't keep riding into Bozeman last night. We got the ladies packed up and took advantage of the breakfast that was part of stay at the hotel. For being a free breakfast it wasn't all bad. Waffle maker, coffee, assorted pastries, toast, bacon, and eggs, this place was awesome and being in the pinch we were in the night before, it was a blessing. After breakfast we washed up the bikes and headed into Bozeman via the 94.
Bozeman is an amazing little town with its flair of mining meets western and an odd small yet big city feel. Its set in the mountains and for sure a town you’ll want visit sometime. We rode through town and took the 191 towards west yellowstone. The 191 is on my list of I don't care where you live, you must ride this road. It follows the Gallatin River almost the entire length. There is so much scenery in this hour section of road that will knock you damn socks off. This last time through we had Big Horn Sheep of the side of the road just chilling as we past. The 191 will also runs you through a small section of Yellowstone National Park.
A few miles out of West Yellowstone you can take hwy 287 past Hebgen Lake. If you’ve never take this route, you need to. It does make a loop where you can re-enter West Yellowstone or head south as we did to Island Park ID. Once you pass Hebgen Lake the next lake you’ll see is what they call Quake Lake. This was once a mining community with a river running from Hebgen Lake through it. After an Earthquake hit an entire mountain side came down blocking the river and forcing the whole town underwater. It's a unique place that you should stop and check out the history and story of. From the 287 you jump on the MT87 that will turn into the 20 as you go through northern ID and Island Park ID. Island Park has that cool hidden mountain resort feel to it. Tall pine trees line the road ways and has a clean fresh mountain smell. There are plenty of places for fuel and some good eats along this stretch.
Once you leave Ashton ID you're pretty much out of what I’d call god’s country and back in the city. 20 will take you right toI-15 then onto really any major highway you'll need to get you to wherever you call home. We stayed on I-15 all the way back into Salt Lake City where most of the crew lives and I onto Lehi.
That's how we were able to pull down 12 states, over 4100 miles, in just 7 days. Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. You’re never prepared for what a big ride might and will do for you mentally. Just when I think what the hell am I doing here, I’ll see or experience something that will be with me for the rest of my life. No one ever said it’d be easy, only that it'd be worth it!
Comfort Inn & Suites
Benton Harbor MI, Manistique MI, Jamestown ND
Its cheap to stay, all offer free continental breakfast, easy check in and out, clean rooms, with great beds.
Iron Horse Hotel
Bespoke Hotel with bikers in mind. Cool atmosphere, close to the HD Museum, bike wash, bike parking, great rooms, good bar in hotel with billiards for drinks.
Yellowstone Pioneer Lodge
Good rooms, pretty cheap, close to yellowstone park entrance, heated indoor parking, good staff, decent free breakfast, helped us out in a jam.
Relocation Pub & Eatery
Great place for Friday Fish Fry. Fish & Chips were great and everyone loved their burgers and fries. Staff was amazing. A great place to mingle with the locals as we did and not far from the Harley Davidson Dealer.
Sanford's Grub & Pub:
Perfect place to see all kinds of random shit and get a great sandwich. My Chicken Club was epic and all the burgers were fantastic as well. Ask for the cajun fries. Great selection drinks. Located in the historic part of town.
Sophia's Pancake House:
Benton Harbor MI
Pancakes, waffles, and stuffed french toast were great. The hospitality was amazing and the food was quick, great, and affordable.
Cedar Street Cafe:
One of those places that tourist don't go to, so when you walk in all the locals look at you like who the hell are you? You chat with them and they are genuinely good folks. Servers were amazing and the food was to die for! Omelets, french toast, cinnamon rolls, coffee, everything was amazing! This is a must stop and make sure you get some of the peach jam as well as the vanilla bean sauce.
Traverse City MI
Great place for you 50’s style dinner. Onion rings were on point as were all of our burgers. I'm told by a member in our group the hand stirred milkshake may be the best he's ever had...
Motor Bar & Restaurant:
I mean its at the HD Museum, you have to eat here… They know that too. A bit pricey but the food was great. Staff was excellent. The hot pretzels are perfect. Get the buffalo chicken mac & cheese. The coffee stout beer was awesome and the peach cobbler finished it off nicely! Everyone had great things to say about the food.
Nebraska Barn & Grill:
Down home cooking with huge mugs of whatever your drinking! The Nachos, fried mac & cheese, pork legs were all amazing. Staff was great and able to joke around and have a great time while waiting out a storm.
Jake’s Restaurant & Saloon:
Upscale steakhouse that will take you in and feed you even if you stink from the days ride and look like a biker. My filet was cooked to perfection, the french onion soup was excellent and the crab dip starter is a must get!
Little Traverse City MI
The tunnel of trees and lake views made the whole trip worth it.
From Saint IgnaceMIto Escanaba MI
A must for any rider. Such a huge collection of bikes, technology, memorabilia, and shit I've never seen or heard of before. Its free if you're a HOG member. Gives you a reason to ride to there and check it out.
North Dakota into Montana
This highway was a gem that none of us were expecting. At least in ND anyway. Great stretch of road, no issues with state police and speeding, painted canyon views, the yellowstone river, and so much more. You dont have to avoid ND, its awesome!
Mackinaw City MI
If you love bridges you'll love this one. A solid 5 min of riding on the suspension bridge, look down through the inside metal grate lanes to see the water, time it to see the sunrise or sunset on the water.
Bozeman MT, Big Sky MT, West Yellowstone MT
One of those roads to everyone needs to ride and experience. It a life changer and gods country for sure. Follow the Gallatin River for some of the best scenic views anywhere.
Running Bear Pancake House
West Yellowstone MT
By far the best breakfast in town and some of the best Pancakes I’ve ever had.
West Yellowstone MT
For some unique history and how the lake came to be and the unfortunate few that are still under the water today.