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Black Hills Badlands Medley—Day Thirteen, Afterword

The total miles ridden on this trip was 5,145 over eleven days. One of those days was at the Meetin’ in the Middle Rally, where I may only have put sixty-five miles on the odometer. That makes 5,145 miles over ten days for an average ride-day of 515 miles.

Now that I’m back, I can sit back and think clearly about the ride. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Would I do it the same way again if I had a choice? I doubt it. The ride all the way to Iowa was a work assignment, so I only took a few extra days for myself, because I kept telling myself, “You’re three-quarters of the way there.” I really needed to be there for the club, and my life being what it was, with multiple jobs and demands made from multiple people, and a family to care for, I have to be opportunistic to get any riding in just for myself. It wasn’t ideal, but I’d take it when I could. However, just because you are on the road and can put it out of your mind to a degree, the real world does march on.

I had left home having paid all the bills that would come due while I was gone, with a few days’ buffer and enough left over for the trip—the gas, the meals, and the lodging. But as the pile of receipts grew as I traveled and it approached an inch-thick stack, I started to worry if I had set aside enough to cover it. The further I rode, the more I worried about it, and I was constantly estimating in my helmet how much I’d spent. I knew I’d have to be very frugal, and I would eat just one good meal a day; sometimes that was all, but somedays I’d just have a beer and a snack at dinner to keep hunger at bay, so I could sleep.

I can travel cheaply, but that doesn’t make it fun. When I was very tired and could have used a bed, I camped instead. I was constantly hungry. And some of the stuff I would have liked to have done, like see the Crazy Horse sculpture up close, I hadn’t done because of the anticipated costs. Tent camping is not as inexpensive as it used to be, and twenty-five dollars a night was not atypical. On a couple occasions, I got a place for ten to fifteen dollars or even for free, but in most spots, even in the national forests, where there were no facilities other than a drop toilet and a table, it was twenty-five a night. I went days without showers, and all my clothes had been worn multiple days by the time I arrived at home.

Having more money means giving yourself a break every so often and makes for less worry as the costs mount up, especially when an emergency repair, like the tail rack repair on this trip, pops up. Money gives you more time, not having to worry how many more meals you can afford or places you can stop and see and days you can stay on the road. You can spend a day just relaxing in one spot, maybe doing your laundry and recharging your energy. And then, riding over 500 miles daily takes a toll on the rider. I’d rather have kept those miles down to 300, and the only way to do that is have more time. That time allows you to see more and stop when something interests you and lets you explore an area in more depth.

The next time I take off, I’ll leave with more money on-hand and more time available, if at all possible.

The Breakdown

Fuel was $283. Dining was $150. Lodging was $53 plus the rally hotel, which I had prepaid at $75. Odds and ends, like stickers and snacks, were about $15.

That all comes up to $576 or $52 per day. Additionally, the repair of the tail rack was another $75, making the total trip expenses $651.

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