qualifying for the Grand Tour the hard way

by

I am copying this from Word so I hope works the first time!!!!


Lapchik and I had this SS1000 routed in January and planned for the first weekend we could both getaway. We get off work at 10:30PM so starting at 9AM in Le Mars, IA was the plan and ending there24 hours later. Just a simple 1100 mile loop around the Interstates. Then Jack and Marlene announce the Grand Tour rules and thats where I got crazy. I started finding every town along the way that began with a U, S, or A. I found about 40 and showed Lapchik the route. He said Are you f***ing crazy??????? What do you want to do kill me? So I went back and thinned it down to 26 GTs in 5 states. Why 26? Because number 26 on the list was South Sioux City, NE which would give us another state and a 1 bust buffer on getting the 25 minimum to qualify for the Grand Tour in 24 hours!!!!! Now to answer Lapchiks first response yes I am crazy.

Now that everyone is caught up on my mental condition and powers to persuade a friend and fellow co-worker to participate in my madness this is how it went.
Every planned stop along the way was a GT pic including all gas stops. Except for the gas stop at Walcott, IA which is home to The Worlds Largest Truck Stop!!!!!!!!! This would later aid in Lapchiks downward spiral. So the route was planned. We only added 50 miles to the original route to pick up 26 GTs and it only took me a month of geeking out on S&T.
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I get up at 8am after listening to it rain all night and look at the radar. I call Lapchik and tell him if we wait till 9:30am we wont hit any rain till we head east on I-90 (Just as Farmer predicted). I put on my rain pants before I leave and check to make sure my SPOT tracker is working. So I get to the gas station and Lapchiks dad signs the witness form and we are ready for an epic adventure. We get on our bikes and get ready to gas up, get our receipt, and go. We get our receipts and see that they say 8:45am WTF? So put down the kickstand go inside and buy a couple candy bars to get a valid receipt. It also says 8:45am so the lady marks 9:49am on the back and signs it. Off to a good start. We head north on HWY 60 to Minnesota watching the sky darkening to the east. We get to the border and we are greeted with a 10 mile detour west around the road construction. I tell myself be calm its a minor delay we have plenty of time. We get on I-90 heading east and about 50 miles down the road we almost hit a deer laying dead in the middle of both lanes with just the head missing. That semi truck driver was a sniper!!!!! So we get to Sherburn, MN and stop to get gas. Lapchik is starving and goes in and raids the Kum N Go. I stand outside smoking looking east wondering how long before we get wet and how much colder it was going to get. It was 45 degrees in Le Mars when we left. I grab a quick snickers bar. Lapchik reminds me that his heated jacket and heated gloves are warm. My daughter stepped on my controller and broke my heated jacket. I had an insulated jacket liner and my First Gear coat. So we start getting our gear on to go find our first GT pic and the tornado sirens go off then it stops WTF? Screw it lets go find out GT pic and get the hell out of here. We cruise down main street and as we get downtown and find the Sherburn Theatre it starts raining. GT #1 down and were on the road again.
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Sherburn, MN

We fight wind and rain all the way to Austin, MN. We find the Austin High School and pull into the parking lot. I park in front of the sign and wonder while Lapchik is stopped at the other end as he points to the other sign on the building. We get our pics and hope we will ride out of the rain soon.
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Austin, MN

We head off to Stewartville and just before we get there it stops raining. We roll into town searching for a sign and see the Stewartville Ready Mix and a parking lot across the street. Lots of cool trucks out front and clouds behind that we will be riding into. As we take our pics I realize the parking lot is for the Stewartville bowling alley which is next door to The Stewartville American Legion and across the street from The Stewartville auto repair. Feeling good we press on!!!!
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Stewartville, MN

It started to rain again as we headed to St Charles, MN. We rode out of the rain and got to St Charles where it was dry but still cool. We drive into town and see the St Charles Police Dept. We park in the no parking area and are greeted by a few of the firemen on duty. They ask if we need to find a parking spot and we explain the whole GT/SS1000 thing to them and they become our friends. We thank them and head off to Utica which is 3 miles away. My Garmin tells us to come back the way we came and Lapchiks says head south from Utica to get back on I-90. Utica was the one GT I couldnt find much on in my month long crusade. Come to find out there were a few. This town was founded in 1858!!!!!
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Utica, MN

We decide to follow Lapchiks Garmin which takes us UNDER the interstate not back on it. He stops at the first gravel road and looks at me like the Ol Harley hasnt been down gravel before. Lets get it I tell him and off we go!!!!! The road was just wet enough there was no dust and Lapchik takes off showing me how his bike can fly down the road as I cruise at 45, we go two sections and turn right which brings us back to pavement and shortly thereafter we find I-90 and point the bikes toward Sparta, WI. The clouds cleared as we came down the river valley to the Mississippi and crossed the bridge into La Crosse, WI. It was still about 45 degrees but we were in front of the storm. As we pull into get gas in Sparta I spot the Sparta Cinema. Lapchik again rids the store of junk food and I get a corn dog which I held in my cold hands till I could feel no more warmth and kicked myself for not buying two. One for each hand . We warm up for a minute and cruise over and get our GT pic at the Cinema. I couldnt decide what movie best fit our trip at that point. It was looking like Titanic.
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Sparta, WI

As Lapchik would say cycles south!!! if you have never seen the movie Cycles South Netflix it and be ready for a 1960s motorcycles adventure/comedy from Colorado to South America. This was our best run of the trip with no GT pics between gas stops. We make it to Sun Prairie, WI and spot the Bank of Sun Prairie and a gas station across the street. Lapchik is freezing and my hands are a little cold. I was planning on getting a pair of gloves at the truck stop for riding thru the cool night. My thin cloth gloves are not wind proof so I buy a pair of deerskin gloves at this gas stop. They are a little tight but none the less better than what I had. I left a really nice pair of windproof gloves on the back seat of the bike at a bonus during the Bonzai rally last year. They didnt make it. We have 4 GT stops before the next gas stop. This is where the train wreck started to go out of control.
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Sun Prairie, WI
We drive a short stretch to Albion, WI and find the Baptist Church. Lapchik is stiff, cold, tired, and popping Aleve at every gas stop so we take a break for a little bit.
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Albion, WI
The sun is starting to go down and the temperature followed as we headed to South Beloit, IL. I had found a veteran park that I wanted to use but no sign and it was getting dark. I turn around to head back and look across the highway and see South Beloit Auto Parts. We take a break to warm up and figure out how to get a good picture in the low light. They had two signs so we got different shots to see which ones would turn out better (I took up to six pics at some places after this hoping you could read one of them). Cold and in the dark we start looking at our Garmin routes, we find that mine again says go back the way we came and Lapchiks says keep heading south. Well his took us on a gravel road adventure earlier so we decide to follow mine. Come to find out Lapchiks wanted to avoid the toll road we were about to enter and run parallel for free. The $1.90 was worth it to run divided highway instead of two lane in the dark.
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South Beloit, IL

I have decided by this point that the gloves were a good purchase and I feel like a million dollars. Lapchik however is starting to feel pain setting in. We ride on to the town of Steward and realize that finding signs in the dark can be hard. Lapchik spots the Steward Inn and turns around to go back at the same time I found a lit sign down the road. We go to the Steward Inn instead which is the local watering hole. I assume the whole town was there since there were 10 cars parked around the building. Just like the song says its a small town Saturday night. We again start taking photos with flashes going off like its a playboy centerfold shoot and a few of the locals come out to see if the mother ship was there to take them home or the cops were raiding the place. I explain to the drunken lady that seems to be the group leader the whole GT thing and shes says were crazy. She then tries to think of towns around the area that start with U, S, or A. I challenge anyone doing the Grand Tour to stop into a small town on a Saturday night, find the local bar, take a pic, and ask someone in the bar if there are any U, S, As around. Its like watching Cops without the cops. After I smoke a cigarette and the lady still couldnt think of any towns I explain we have a route. It was fun to watch her think so hard I thought she might explode. Enough fun there so we hit the road.
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Steward, IL

We get on the road and have about a 50 mile stretch to Spring Valley, IL. As we get to the I-80 interchange my Garmin says keep going and as we pass over I-80 Lapchik pulls up waving his hands. I assume his Garmin told him to turn or he cant feel his hand anymore. Either way my Garmin says turn at the next exit. We stop at the end of the off ramp and Lapchik explains the Garmin difference and that his hand is only frozen. We cruise thru La Salle into Peru and drive down Main Street where its the old style parking down the middle of the street. Cool old buildings and lots of people having a good time. It was a nice break from the dark interstate. As we head thru the winding corners out of town we were reminded of some of the dangers this time of night. The police had a guy pulled over with a cooler sitting behind his car and he looked like he could barely stand. We get to Spring Valley, IL and find the ice cream shop open and get a pic. I told Lapchik I would buy him an ice cream cone and then he told me if I did where he was going to put it!!!! I opted to save my money. We stop into a gas station with the old dial pumps. I go to fill up and a guy comes out and pumps it for me. Once the guy feels Lapchiks tank we ask if we can hang out and take a break. Not a problem he says. Lapchik starts taking video for his website and tells me one bank said 45 degrees and he saw another that said 52 degrees but he was throwing the bullshit flag on the one that said 52. We hangout for a while and I explain that we need to get going if we are going to spend time at the truck stop. 4 GTs to get between here and there.
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Spring Valley, IL

We ride on thru the cold and dark to Seatonville, IL where I spot the Fire District. Once again as we pull in Lapchik spots the City Hall Building across the parking lot and gets his pic there. We take another break and pop more Aleve.
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Seatonville, IL

Still cold and dark on two lane roads thru deer country we arrive at Sheffield, IL and start driving down dark streets trying to find a sign. We find the Community Center and get a pic. As we leave I see the fire dept. across the street. No lights on it and very hard to see. No break we just keep on going.
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Sheffield, IL

We get to Annawan, IL and find the fire district. Once again lighting and flashes made it hard to get a good pic. We take several and head on to Atkinson to get a pic of the fire District there also. I explain to Lapchik we should keep moving and get back on the interstate. Once we get to Walcott, IA and the truck stop we can get a warm meal and a needed break. I tell Lapchik to take I-280 around the Quad Cities since it is shorter and I know the road (I grew up 30 miles from here). We get on I-280 and drive thru one lane road construction. We slow down to 45 mph and watch this drunk driver in front of us till we cross the bridge into Iowa. You can catch a glimpse of it on Lapchiks time lapse video. Yeah that was a bad call. The good thing is we made it to The Worlds Largest Truck Stop!!!!!!!

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Walcott. IA

We pull into the truck stop at 1am with rock star parking in front of the famous sign. Some old buddies and I used to come here after drinking all night and get a good breakfast. I take Lapchik to the showroom to see the 3 yes thats 3 Semis (one has an 80ft trailer) Fully decked out in chrome and LED lights. Surrounding the trucks is enough chrome to make most Harley riders drool. Im not impressed so we go to the restaurant to get breakfast. We both get The Big Rig breakfast. It consist of 3 eggs, bacon (4 giant strips) or smoked sausage, hash browns, and to top it off an entire side plate of biscuits and gravy. Lapchik orders the smoked sausage and I go with the bacon bacon bacon. . Lapchik is feeling pain by now and my jokes arent getting the same cheerful response anymore so I shut up and eat my breakfast. We get to the end of the main plate and Lapchik says I think I should have gotten the bacon. Im full and start to eat the biscuits and gravy merely for warmth only to realize the gravy is some runny, nasty ass, tasting crap so I dont eat it. Speaking of crap we get ready to leave and Lapchiks smoked sausage sends him running for the restroom. 20 minutes later he emerges and says that smoked sausage is going to kill me the rest of the trip. And he was right. We go out to the parking lot to gear up and guess what? Of course it started raining and the temperature was dropping. One quick GT pic in Stockton 5 miles down the and back on I-80 for 90 miles to Altoona. Lapchik informs me in Stockton he will need a break between there and Altoona. I tell him there is a rest area about 40 miles away and off we go.
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Stockton, IA

We get to the rest area and Lapchik takes a power nap while I run laps around the rest area reading the historical markers. At least it wasnt raining at the rest area!!! We get going toward Altoona and yep it starts raining again. I was switching lanes and when I crossed the dotted line the bike fishtailed and I about pissed my pants. If I wasnt paying attention before I sure as hell was now. Lapchik was leading and when the rain let up a little he started creeping away from me so I figured he was playing a little in the corners to help keep himself alert and get to Altoona a little quicker. Yep I was right!!!! We get to Altoona and this is where the train wreck came to a screeching halt. Lapchiks body was beaten. His mind was 100% and his body was at about 10%. When I plan routes I always have an escape route or backup plan. We only had to get to Missouri Valley for 1000 miles and we were only around 150 miles to go in just under 5 hours if we didnt get anymore GT pics. Lapchik informs me he was going inside the gas station to sit and get warmed up for a long time. Im feeling great and want to keep going and get the last 11 GT pics and home under 24 hours. Lapchik just wants to rest and drive straight home. He tells me to go ahead and take off and he will catch up with me since Im making 11 stops. I ask him 3 times if he is okay and he tells me with a look like hes going to kick my ass fucking go!!!! and so I leave Lapchik at the Altoona Caseys. Before everyone goes ape shit on me for leaving Lapchik let me explain things. First we work together every day, ride together, and know how each other is really feeling no matter what words come out of our mouths. He is a friend and safety is #1. If he was tired and not just sore I would not have left him. Besides I have only sent him to the emergency room one time but that was not motorcycle related. Second the sun was going to come up in about an hour and a half and he would feel ten times better then. I knew he wasnt leaving for 45 minutes to an hour at best. I head into Altoona to find a GT pic. Its 4:45am Sunday morning and I pull into the Altoona Dental Clinic and get my pic. As I turn around to pack up and go bright ass headlights pull up and block me in. I shield the bright light from my eyes to see its the boys in blue. I wave and walk up to the passenger side as he rolls down the window. He was very polite and asked me if I was having bike problems? I chuckled and explained the GT thing as I pointed at my flag. He asked me where I was from and asked what time I left to get there? He seemed pretty cool so I didnt have the heart to lie to the man and explained the IBA thing to him and how I was combining the two. His eyes pop out of his head and gives me the usual response are you crazy? then asked me if I thought it was safe to ride that long and if was legal? Sumbitch I should have lied and said I left this morning and came the short way. I explain this has been planned and we ride long miles for fun. He doesnt say it but he gives me the are you crazy? look. I show him my spot tracker, Garmin, Helmet, armored riding jacket and explain that safety is my first priority. He wishes me good luck and tells me to be safe. Im off to Stuart!!!!!
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Altoona, IA

I head back the way I came to make sure Lapchik was okay. I do a slow roll by the gas station and see Lapchik digging thru his saddlebag as he waves and I honk. I decide were good since Lapchiks pistol was in that saddlebag and I didnt want him to shoot me for asking him if he was alright again. I arrive on the edge of Stuart and lift my visor. I suddenly feel this stinging on my face and think holy crap its sleeting what a wonderful morning this is going to be. I see the Stewart Sale Company and pull into the gravel parking lot. I pull all the way up to the grass to get my pic. I have a smoke and wonder why Lapchik was getting warm drinking hot cocoa and I was riding thru sleet? I go to leave and realize the gravel is soft and a little downhill. I didnt think much of it until I went to back up and struggled. I looked forward and thought maybe drive out thru the grass. It looked very uneven and it was wet. I give her all I got and back we go. It took me three times pulling as hard as I could to get the bike turned around. Okay maybe Im getting a little tired now. Thru the sleet I go to Adair.
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Stuart, IA

Adair is my gas stop on my trips back home to Muscatine. If I fuel up here and have a smoke I can make it in 5 hours (without Jean). Anyway I pull into town and right next to the Caseys I get gas at is the Adair Community Centre. This town has a smiley face water tower that we used for a bonus on the Buffalo Run last year.
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Adair, IA

Next stop was Anita and it turned out to be another fun try to get the flash to take a good pic.
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Anita, IA

The darkness begins to lift as I pull in to get gas. As I am pumping my gas the pump doesnt shut off and dumps fuel all over my tank. I get off the bike and get wet paper towels to wipe everything down including my rain pants. I get cleaned up and go to get my gas receipt and the machine says see cashier. So inside I go to get a receipt again. Not a quick gas stop. I finally get going into town to find me a pic. Collecting GT pics I have found lots of fire depts. along the way.
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Avoca, IA

21 GTs down and 5 to go and I still have 2:45 on the clock and 140 miles to go. No more gas stops and Im into the home stretch!!!! I get onto I-680 and decide I will stop at my favorite rest area with the observation tower. It was also a bonus in the Buffalo Run last year. As I take the corner on the off ramp I freak out when I hear this loud ass exhaust sound beside me and look over to see that it is Lapchik on his moped!! Lapchik your alive!!!!!!!! We pull in and park and Im all smiles ear to ear knowing he was alright and was going to make the time crunch. We were 5 miles from Missouri Valley and had 2 hours to get there. As long as our bikes didnt break down we were going to make it!!!!! As I was pulling into park I thought maybe I could talk Lapchik into getting the last 5 GT pics. Before I ask I needed to pee so I go to open the door to the restroom and its locked. I tell Lapchik its locked and turn to go around the building and find a bush. As I turn Lapchik says its locked????? I reply again yup thinking maybe he lost his hearing from the 1000 miles of wind. Lapchik screams IF I HAD TOLIET IN MY HAND RIGHT NOW I WOULD SHIT ON THIS SIDEWALK!!!!! I explain Missouri Valley is 5 miles and the next rest area is only 10 miles up I-29. Before I finished explaining he had his gear on and heading out. And thats when I knew Lapchik was going to make. He was on a mission now. LOL I take care of business and have a smoke and decide to get going on my pics.
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Rest Area

As I get on I-29 I hammer the throttle and scream up to 80mph in excitement that were going to make it after all the crap we went thru!!!! As I look up the road in front of me I see what I think is a red Harley Electra Glide. Hmmm I know someone that has a bike like that so I hold 80mph and slowly cruise up on them and sure as shit its Breeze and Vanessa heading to the Off Road Poker Run!!! I pull out into the other lane and pull up beside them and wave. You should have seen the look on their faces when they recognized the bike. They smiled and waved and then I tucked in behind them and rode. I look at the clock and see that they are probably pressed for time to get to South Shore. After about 30 miles I turn off at the Sloan exit and we part our ways. Pretty cool way to end this ride!!! I find the museum in Sloan and then head up HWY 75 to Salix.
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Sloan, IA

Just another quick stop in Salix at you guessed it the fire dept.!!!!!
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Salix, IA

Back on HWY 75 I head north to Sergeant Bluff and decide along the way I will not hop the bridge over to South Sioux City due to time running out. I didnt want to have to check out in Sioux City I wanted to finish in Merrill. So I pull into the Sergeant Bluff Community Center and get my pic. I also took a pic of the flags. The wind was like this most of the trip with the added rain and sleet. I hour left with 1 GT pic to go and 25 miles. I have a quick smoke and off to Sioux City to find a sign.
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Sergeant Bluff, IA

I know as I head into Sioux City I will come back and get a better pic of something cool but for now any sign will do. People always joke about Sioux City being Sewer City, so what is the first sign that I find along the way. The shit plant!!!!! I grab a quick pic and off to Caseys to get my gas receipt and checkout. A quick cruise thru Sioux City and Im on my way home. I arrive in Merrill at 23:47 with 1114.5 miles.

As I wrote this report I thought about a lot of things:
We made the trip in one piece (it is two days later and Lapchiks arms are sore but still attached)
We qualified for the IBA SS1000 certificate
We got to experience some bad weather conditions
We met some nice people along the way
Lapchik will be bitching for years.lol but he made it!!!!!
The high temp was 46 degrees and the low was 35?
The wind never stopped
I got to listen to a lot of music on my MP3 player
I got to have an unforgettable ride experience with a good friend

The best thing by far on this trip for me was getting the minimum 25 GT pics in 24 hours to qualify for the contest. We got to see a lot of towns you would normally blow by on the super slab. I tried to keep the stops to small towns. The smaller towns have way more character than the big city neon lights. I did research a lot of the stops but only as back up. The plan was to roll into town and find a cool sign not just small town city hall. Its only April so I cant wait to see how many cool little towns I make it to this year. Jack and Marlene hit a home run with the theme this year!!!!
Cant wait to get more GT pics but at a slower pace





Posted on Apr 25, 2012, 11:43 AM
from IP address 96.31.9.242


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