For our ride, my fellow H.O.G. members and I had a route that followed Interstate 90 through South Dakota and Wyoming, into Billings, Montana, before turning east to follow Interstate 94 through North Dakota, and down Interstate 29 to our starting point. With posted speed limits of 75 or 80 mph through the majority of our trip, we were able to make good time, even with the limited range of my Sportster.
I'd read and re-read Chris Cope's Iron Butt Experience, which I took as a cautionary tale. Doing things you swore you'd never do is a big part of a lot of accident chains. I decided well ahead of time that if I caught myself breaking any of my personal rules, that was it, Safety Stand Down time. A patch and pin aren't worth the cost of a serious injury, much less your life.
Fortunately, it never came to that. The American west is beautiful, and mostly empty. There were no battles with traffic, and we were blessed with mostly good weather. We even had time to stop for a few pictures at state lines, and a short stop at Beartooth Harley-Davidson in Billings (because when you ride Harleys, you have to stop at one or more dealerships on any trip. It's a requirement!)
I'll never forget coming around a bend on I-90 in Wyoming and suddenly seeing the Grand Tetons spread out in front me, still covered in snow in June. I haven't seen mountains since leaving Seattle in September 2015, the single longest time in my life I've ever been without a view of a snowcapped peak.
My gear and motorcycle performed pretty much flawlessly. The Puig clip-on visor extension I added to my windscreen finally eliminated the head slap effect I'd "enjoyed" at high speeds all year, without that, I don't think I would have even attempted this ride. The hydration vest (a tip I got from a distance riding youtuber) helped keep me from risking dehydration, and slightly reduced the amount of time I needed to spend stopped.
Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! I've already promised Adventure Girl that I'll take her on a ride like this when she's old enough to ride her own ride. That's a few years in the future though, but I might end up doing another run in the meantime. The one thing I didn't like about the time crunch required was that I couldn't wander. I saw so many little random roadside things, scenic stops and detours, that I would have loved to take. But the relentless clock pares the journey down to its intrinsic necessities: fuel, food, find beauty where you can, remember the scenery in your mind, and resolve to return again with more time, if you can.
And sometimes, if your route is good, even fuel stops can be beautiful.