Wind and Fire Motorcycle Club National Rally
Dallas Rides to Hill City South Dakota
Friday, August 4th, we met in Decatur at the IHOP, our usual stop to fuel up for a ride west. Jim “Bebo” & Judy Pharr, Gary & Mindy Lovell, and Reid Russell from Dallas Chapter #8, Bruce & Erlene Reibly from Irving Chapter #58 and Steve Keller from Carrollton Fire Department, a friend of Jim & Judy’s. Gary’s brother Don Lovell and nephew Phil joined us for the start of the ride, but had a different route they wanted to go, via Montana, so they left us in Clayton.
Everyone got their food, except Judy. The waitress explained that the register had eaten her ticket and asked wasn’t it the “senior” breakfast she wanted?! As we all choked on our coffee, Judy (the youngest and prettiest in the bunch) sweetly smiled and reordered her omelet. You know how firemen are, though, rag em till they drag. For the rest of the trip they had to find “senior” specials for Judy everywhere.
We made it through the panhandle, bout 550 miles, into Clayton NM, and were ready for some grub and a bed. We noticed the train tracks but didn’t think much about it. After some good food at the Rabbit Ear, we went back for a little beer and hot tubing. That’s when we got the full effect of being by the train tracks. It was a long night. By the way, there’s something about Bebo and trains. It seems he can’t find a campsite or a motel that’s not near a train track. Must have a little hobo blood.
Saturday we headed across Raton Pass and stopped in Trinidad, CO, for gas and drinks. Reid knows the area pretty well and we always want to stay longer to see this pretty, old town. But we still had to make Colorado Springs and Cheyenne that day. Luckily we had good weather and a clear road for the ride. When we got into Colorado Springs, we put in some circle miles trying to remember the street the Fireman’s Memorial was on. Finally, the gals made the guys stop for directions and found we were close, just turned on wrong street.
The Fireman’s Memorial is a beautiful site. The center “Rescue Statue“, the “Wall of the Fallen“, the “Boots and Helmet”, the “Tired Hero Statue” and the Flags flying at half mast are all inspiring and touching. The surrounding park and flowers provide a quiet place to contemplate the sacrifice and glory of these brave fire fighters. We took lots of photos, proud to be among the finest.
Of course, we had to go downtown to Jack Quinn’s for an Irish lunch and a beer.
This is the place to be on Saturday night after the “Ride to Remember”, full of bagpipers and rowdy firemen. It was pretty quiet while we were there midday. Then it started to rain. We decided we had best go on to Cheyenne, so pulled on our rain gear and headed out. Have you noticed that putting on your rain gear makes the rain pretty much stop? Rain gear can get pretty hot, but we drove through Denver before we decided it wasn’t gonna rain anymore and stripped off the gear.
It was a short ride into Cheyenne and sure enough Bebo had found us a nice place to stay, across the street from a train station. We looked for some good ol’ watering holes in Cheyenne and managed to visit four of them: The Crown Bar, The Blue Bar, The Outlaw Saloon (good boot-scooting place) and finally the Eagle’s Nest (our favorite). We met lots of bikers and also some cowboys from the “Cheyenne Frontier Days” celebration. It was a late night.
Sunday we got up early for the ride into Hill City. Right on the South Dakota line we pulled over and a couple from Germany stopped to take our picture for us. Then we headed into Custer, past a lot of forest burns but still beautiful country. The ride into Hill City was cool, and motorcycles ruled the road. The town had blocked the main street from auto traffic, just bikes allowed, and it was full to the curbs. As we rode out to Sheridan Lake to see the campsite for Bruce and Ear line, we lost Steve and Reid, who were camping at Mt Rushmore KOA. So Gary & Mindy and Jim & Judy rode on back to Hill City and the cabins at Newton Fork Ranch. We met later for cold beer at the Mangy Moose.
Monday we had breakfast at the Senior Citizens Biker Breakfast, (in honor of Judy), always a good deal. Gary’s speedometer was broken so he and Mindy went into Rapid City HD for a replacement part, along with Jim, Judy and Steve. Reid, Bruce and Ear line went to the HOG expo to get their pins. Everyplace was packed with motorcycles! Then we all parted ways with some heading to Sturgis and some heading back to Hill City. Gary and Bruce went to the Board of Directors meeting that afternoon and were proud to be nominated for the Board… and elected! Way to go Texas.
Tuesday Gary and Mindy decided to ride Needles Hwy early so left the cabin at 6:30 AM and saw the sunrise through the tunnels going to Mt Rushmore. We stopped by Sylvan Lake and drove the pigtails on Iron Mountain Road. Then we met the gang at the Alpine Inn in downtown Hill City for the National Rally Ride. We saw lots of old friends and made some new ones.
John Denning of California, in particular, we were proud to see at the rally. Seems he had spent the last couple of days in the hospital, and had persuaded the doc to let him out that morning. He was determined to ride the ride to the National Rally luncheon. And he did ride… through the rain and winding roads into Keystone and then into Rockerville! He’s only 79 years young, after all.
The Keystone Fire Dept opened their doors (and bathrooms) once again for our group of over 100 motorcycles. We had guys and gals riding from all over the US, led by Jerry Eibert, CFO and John Robbins, International President, and New York Myke, an Honorary Member. It was pretty cool.
Lunch at the Gaslight Restaurant in Rockerville was good, and the beer cold. We enjoyed Bellwood’s electric cherries and we checked out the other chapter’s. Ray Johnson from Florida and his daughter Julie joined our table. JR gave a nice welcoming speech and also mentioned that Chapter #8’s own Reid Russell and Gary Lovell had made all four rallies this year. Looks like it is a Texas tradition now. We had a good time listening to the speech making and story telling, before we all went our own ways.
John Denning, who got the oldest rider award, was not really feeling up to spending the night on the wet ground at Chipper Loop on Sheridan Lake so he decided to spend the night at Gary & Mindy’s cabin. JR and JD gathered up his gear while Gary ran over to Custer to get some prescriptions filled. We all met over at the cabin for some homemade soup and JD got a good night’s sleep before heading back on the long trip to California. Did we mention JD is 79?
Wednesday, Jim and Judy headed to Rochford and parts unknown, JR and JD headed west and Gary & Mindy headed down Mystic Canyon. We asked the Bellwood folks to Newton Fork for a cookout that evening and we had twenty riders plus some neighbors from York PA, who joined us for burgers, dogs and hot Rotel cheese dip. Reid’s son Chris and friend Steve came by and Gary’s brother and nephew. Everyone got their fill and we enjoyed a little rain/hail from the pavilion, too. Bellwood invited everyone to their cookout next year.
Thursday, Reid and Steve headed home. Gary, Mindy, Jim & Judy decided to make the Spearfish Canyon run and the Stockade in Deadwood. We stopped by Roughlock Falls and Jim wondered what else was down that white rock road, so we toured up to Iron Creek Lake and checked it out. Then Judy wondered what was down the rest of the road so we set out for Concrete Lookout. We never found that particular place, but two hours later we had crossed into Wyoming and sited a neat eagle’s nest. Sometimes it’s fun getting lost.
We made it to Deadwood, finally, and saw Yancy de Veer performing at the Stockade. We drove by Pectola Lake and the new camp site for Bellwood Chapter and board meeting next year. Tired, we made it back to the cabins, where Judy cooked spaghetti and we enjoyed a last night visiting before Jim and Judy started back to Bristol.
Gary wanted to stay one more day and ride out to see Rick Fairless on Thunder Road so we got off early to go to Sturgis. Rick was glad to see us and wanted some pictures for his website. He mentioned how proud he was to be an Honorary Member and said he would like to make the National Rally Ride sometime. We’ll remind him next year.
If the ride to Hill City was great… the ride home was another adventure. Jim and Judy rode home slowly… he couldn’t get his bike over 60 miles per hour. Gary’s nephew had a problem with his fuel line. Then there’s Gary’s flat tire.
Gary & Mindy left early Saturday morning and were determined to get through Kansas and Oklahoma before stopping for the night. Around 7:3O PM, eight miles out of Liberal, KS, just across the OK border, Gary felt the back tire going flat. He had the cruise control set on 70 or so and it took him a minute to get stopped. Mindy flagged down a car and Gary rode back to Liberal. Hwy 83 can seem pretty lonely, when you’re waiting for help. Close to 8:30, Mindy was sure glad to see Gary stick his head out of a truck and say “how ya doing?”
Some great guys from the Sheriff’s department had come to the rescue and literally picked up the bike and put it in the back of the truck. Larry “Tank” Martin and Clark Rodney delivered bike and riders to the Harley Davidson in Liberal. “Busch“, the owner , opened the shop to keep the bike overnight until he could replace the tire the next day… Sunday. Can’t say too many good things about folks who will spend their Saturday night taking care of strangers. Tank even took Gary & Mindy to the Liberal Inn for the night, a great stopover on the way to or from Hill City. The Branding Iron Restaurant had good food too.
Turns out Tank is a Harley rider and a member of Hell’s Lovers MC. They even have a clubhouse in Dallas on 2nd Ave. Gary will be buying a beer there soon.
Everyone made it home safe and all in all it was a great ride! What else could you ask for?