Looking back, this was the single best day I've had in a very long time. The weather was better, I saw some great sights, I drove some amazing roads, and I met some really great people.
The day didn't start off so well. When I hit the road, the area was covered in fog so dense that I missed my exit to get onto the interstate. I only realized this fact when the mile markers seemed to be numbered wrong. I pulled over and got out my GPS receiver, which told me I was several miles north of the interstate. Thank you, Garmin!
After that dubious start, the weather was once again starting to get me down. I didn't think I was ready for another freezing overcast day. It was less than 30 minutes later when that all changed. The fog lifted, the skies cleared, and my mood improved dramatically. Although the eastern part of South Dakota is pretty flat, it is still beautiful country. Even though the temperature was still pretty chilly, I enjoyed the ride quite a bit.
About an hour away from Sioux Falls is the town of Mitchell. I had seen billboards for the Corn Palace and a doll museum which I thought my kids would enjoy, and I needed gas, so I decided to pull in. Just before the exit, however, I saw a billboard for a shop called Klock Werks. Anyone who has glanced at a motorcycle magazine lately has probably heard of Brian Klock. He makes custom parts for motorcycles, especially touring "baggers" like my own, and builds complete custom bikes. I suddenly wondered if I could find his shop and if it would be open today.
While there were no signs for Klock Werks, there were plenty for the Corn Palace, so I headed that way first. Apparently, some crazy folks back in the 1800's started decorating the outside of their building with corn; ears of corn, stalks, leaves, the works. Every year they change the design and every year the birds eat the building. Very odd. The latest building has a basketball arena inside (for reasons unknown to me) and the walls are decorated with murals made completely of ears of corn. The picture below shows this year's decorating still in progress. This place is hard to describe but should be seen at least once if you have the time. The pictures showing the changes each year are worth the time. The doll museum across the street looked like it was a nice place, except that it had gone out of business.
Luckily, the concession stand was open so I was able to luck up Klock Werks and find the address. One of the girls working there was able to tell me exactly how to find the place, so I set out hoping to at least see the shop where the World's Fastest Bagger was built.
When I rolled up outside, I knew I was in the right place because there was a custom bike built to look like a 1920's Harley Davidson with a sidecar. Better yet, the shop was open! I went in hoping to see a few bikes and just get a feel for the place. As soon as I was inside, two dogs came right up to greet me. Right behind them was Brian Klock himself. He had a pushbroom in hand and seemed to be busy, but he immediately came up and said hello. After I introduced myself and told him about my trip, he said "well, come with me," and started showing me around the shop. For the next hour, I got to see a dozen bikes that he was working on, to include the motorcycles on which his wife and his daughters set land speed records this past summer. We talked about teenaged daughters on motorcycles because my own 13-year-old now wants a bike of her own. We talked about his dogs. I got to meet his wife Laura who was just as friendly as Brian. I even tried to help chase down their dog when he bolted from their shop! In spite of their busy morning, the Klocks took time to make me feel welcome and to show me around. When I start customizing my Road King, I will definitely bring whatever business I can to these great folks. If you can't make it out here, check out http://www.kustombaggers.com/ to see what they are all about. The picture below is of Brian and Laura, with their Shelty and their Husky.
I will relate one story of the many Brian shared with me today. Apparently one of his neighbor's parents passed away recently. The neighbor's father had a 60 year old motorcycle that he had not ridden in 40 years or more stored in his barn. When the neighbor inherited the bike, he brought it to Klock Werks to see if they could clean it up and get it running. Brian strongly suggested against the "clean it up" part because of the much higher value of the bike in completely original condition. Every car or bike guy dreams of this - a completely original 60-year-old vehicle that has low miles on it and has been stored for years. All you bike guys eat your hearts out. (And yes, that is the World's Fastest Bagger in the background.)
As I was leaving, the Klocks suggested a ride for me to take later in the day as well as a couple of places to stop. I took their advice and my next stop was the Lewis and Clark rest stop just above the Missouri River. It has an interpretive center inside describing the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as showing that they had camped at that exact spot. It was a very cool and educational place with an amazing view that I would have missed if not for Laura Klock's suggestion to stop there. (Thanks, Laura!) This is a view of the river from the campsite on the bluffs above.
There is a lot more to the story of this day, but I need to get on with the NEXT day now. I will post the last half of the story of this day later this evening. As we say in the army - "more to follow."