MAD Maps On the Road: Cycle World Part 2: Big Sky


When we left off with the Boulanger Boys, Gaz and Henri had slid safely into Sturgis to take in the sights and sounds of this Motorcycle Mecca before opening it up through Big Sky Country on a route constructed by another father and son motorcycle team, Shannon and Peyton.


How Shannon and Peyton came to play a role in this Cycle World adventure is an example of pure serendipity. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Let’s rewind for a minute so we can untangle this tale. Previously, in mid-July, Gaz and Henri sped into MAD Maps headquarters to brainstorm with our founder, Jenny Lefferts, and piece together a bucket list trip across the west. Hours later, Jenny was on a plane with her son to Billings, Montana where he will be attending college.

Because Jenny has never met a stranger in her life, it didn’t take long before she started making new friends and incorporating them into the MAD Maps family. Her first encounter was with “Mr. and Mrs. Grumpy” of the Beartooth HOG Chapter who volunteered to review our rides in Eastern Montana. Jenny then ran into another rider at Beartooth Harley-Davidson in Billings who was passing through and sporting his MAD Maps for the journey and couldn’t help from getting photo evidence.
From there, she met Donna Heikens and Rion Hartl from North Dakota who quickly agreed to scout and review rides in their backyard as we continue to review and improve our northern maps for 2019. Donna, a Bay Area transplant, moved to North Dakota years ago on a whim but was convinced to stay after meeting her motorcycle man, Rion. They have been happily laying down the miles together since.

After befriending the local riders and passerby’s, Jenny headed towards Red Lodge, Montana to hit the famous Beartooth Highway, a road she had been itching to tackle since the mid-90’s and was now going to experience with her son. It was at the top of breathtaking Beartooth Pass that a gawking mother and son stumbled into a leather-clad father and son enjoying the majestic views during a brief pit stop on their own bucket list motorcycle tour.

Jenny’s powers of persuasion and infectious excitement soon had the duo from Sundance, Wyoming eager to help MAD Maps fine-tune our Montana and Wyoming maps and the Boulanger journey from Sturgis down to the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway in Wendover, Utah. With Shannon and Peyton’s excellent modifications, Gaz and Henri now had a custom route developed by myriad local riding voices who have become treasured members in our MAD Maps extended family of fellow adventurers.

With their MAD Maps custom route ready at hand, Gaz and Henri were ready to make this adventure become a reality. The only thing left to do was put the rubber to the road.


Shortly after leaving Sturgis, Gaz and Henri dropped into historic Deadwood, South Dakota for a quick tour and a memento before climbing back on their hogs and heading into Montana.

What would a classic ride through the west be without convincing yourself that you need to pick up a pair of authentic cowboy boots in Billings, Montana, even if you will have to mail them home because there simply isn’t room on your two-wheeled horse? You don’t let small details like that slow you down when you are on a bucket list ride. You live in the moment and go with what feels right. And when the boots look this good, you know you don’t really have a choice in the matter.

With the travel treasure prerequisites out of the way, Gaz and Henri turned the nose of their hogs south for a gorgeous ride through Cody, Wyoming and the Grand Tetons, stopping to frame their beautiful Harley-Davidson bikes in the picturesque mountains.

The Boulangers kept up a lively pace as they stretched into Utah, knowing that they needed to slide through Salt Lake City, Utah to the Salt Flats in the far western part of the state in time to catch Bonneville Speed Week.

As is life, all good things must come to an end, and this story is no different. Gaz and Henri have accomplished the task of making it from Milwaukee to the Salt Flats. However, trips like this aren’t defined by the miles rode, the states passed, or the destination reached. Real road trips are about the people you meet and the memories you make. This is the true measure of success, and in that respect, Gaz and Henri are the ultimate winners as they accomplished their stated goal: to deepen a bond between a father and son and to pass along that lust for life that is so fantastically embodied in the liberating experience of seeing the world from that special vantage point perched on the back of your motorcycle. Congratulations, Gaz and Henri, and well done.



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