Sunday 26th August 2001, Winner SD
The smell of fuel from Brigid’s bike was, by now, overpowering, and it had obviously been leaking slowly overnight. We removed the seat to find that a pool of petrol had accumulated in the well created by the plastic seal in the top of the tank. There was nothing for it, but to mop up the excess and hope that, by doing so, we would be able to see where it was coming from. While John emptied the room of luggage, Brigid managed to soak up the petrol with some paper hand towels from the Ladies’ loo. Once the remaining fuel had evaporated, she gave the jubilee clips a quarter turn, for good measure. Now all we could do was wait and see …
We left Kelly’s Inn, Saint Paul, at around 10am for the 300 mile drive. It was warm and the sky was clear, so we packed away the ponchos and rain gear. The Interstate runs directly in front of the hotel, so there should be no problem finding the exit for Rt. 5. John set off in front, only to realise almost immediately that he was on I-94, not I-35E as he had thought. Brigid thought that I-35E was only a short distance east on I-94, so she took over the lead … and we soon found ourselves heading north on I-35W!
Having successfully negotiated our way out of the Twin Cities, our attention was drawn to the leaden clouds approaching from the west. A few spots of rain began to fall. At the next set of lights, we agreed that the rain would quickly pass, and we would not get too wet.
In John’s case, this proved correct, as the fairing on the Triumph Trophy protected his legs, while the windshield was tall enough to protect his upper body from the worst of the weather. But Brigid’s BMW had no fairing, and the windshield served very little purpose at all. In addition, her new Joe Rocket jacket, could not be said to be ‘waterproof’ in any shape or form. At speed, the flaps covering the zips fly open letting in the wet, and even the lightest shower seemed to percolate through the fabric.
Our progress was good. We stopped for gas and a snack outside Sioux Falls at around 4pm. Slowly it dawned on us that we still had an awfully long way to go. There were still about 150 miles to Winner (so much for our scientific calculations)!
Route 44 runs through some of the flattest, most featureless, country we had yet encountered. Miles and miles would go by with no sign of a settlement. The small towns we did pass through showed no sign of having any motel accommodation. The sun was definitely setting by the time we reached Platte, but by this stage we decided to press on … and were rewarded by a spectacular sunset.
Winner was non-descript. We booked into the Buffalo Trail Motel and settled for a microwaved pizza for dinner in a smoky sports bar.