Sturgis Motorcycle Trip

Sturgis Motorcycle Trip

Several months ago we booked a motorcycle tour to Sturgis, South Dakota. This is a 8 day tour with daily organized rides to the local attractions (insert Yawn). Im going cause it’s in Sturgis. When you think Sturgis, you think Bars, Bikes and Babes. If you ride a motorcycle, well this is the grandaddy of Motorcycle Rallies. It’s Laconia times 10.

As the trip got closer and I started reading about this whole touring thing (the farthest I have ever ridden on a motorcycle was 160 miles in 1 day). Now Im stating to think, how the hell am I going to carry all our gear on days when the weather changes (temps range from 50 to about 105 degrees in that area of the country). I ride a Fatboy with no saddlebags and no provisions for any luggage, so it’s off to the dealer for a 07 Harley Street Glide. And off we go to Sturgis to look at carved rocks, animals and ……. TO PARTY IN STURGIS!

Day 1 – Arrival in Rapid City, SD

We arrive in Rapid City and all our bikes are waiting for us in the parking lot (this is better then a limo picking you up). I will say It is fairly warm out (approx 101 degrees). We had a delay in our flight so our trip to Rushmore is postponed till another day. we get to the hotel, unpack and head down to the lobby to meet up with the group who will be doing the tour. the people doing the tour are all very friendly and everyone seemed to get along well (they even all wanted Pizza, cool… kinda people).

What did I learn today:

That 101 degrees is still hot, even without the humidity.

 Day 2 – The Badlands?

Today our trip is to the Badlands National Park. what the hell are the Badlands, Is it bad (ugly) or do you have to be bad to go there? All I care is that we will be riding 240 miles today (this will be my longest trip ever). Im also enjoying the comfortable ride of the new bike, but it’s so quiet that I have to look at the tach to see if it’s still running. Plus the new ride has a fairing which seems like waste on such a pretty bike, I should be eating bugs and looking cool (Im a Harley guy). Although this fairing thing has an advantage, it houses a Harmon Kardon Stereo system that sounds as clear as if you were sitting in your car. Okay, so maybe that’s why they put a fairing on this bike. Today’s ride started flat and we headed towards this thing they called the Badlands. As we are riding for about an hour I notice that there isn’t any Dunkin Donuts, Stores, Gas Stations or much of anything. i don’t even know if there was even a bend in the road. But that all started to change. Now the terrain is getting hilly and the ground has started to resemble something from another planet (Wow, it’s actually pretty cool). As we enter the Badlands I start to realize why it is named what it is. Without the road this land would have been un-passable and I can almost picture the Indians lurking out from the amazing rock formations waiting to pound on anyone who was trying to make there way West. After spending a few hours in the Badlands we regrouped and headed to Wall, SD. Home to the famous wall Drug Store. Then it was back to Rapid City. The only problem is that there is a nasty black cloud off to the East and we gotta go East. Ok, now Im understanding this whole saddlebag thing. this where we keep our rain gear incase it does rain. So we cruise back through the badlands and it looks like we might have driven around the storm. Until we get a few miles down the road and the temp goes from about 100 to 70 degrees and the wind starts howling. Let me rephrase that, the wind is so nasty that the 800 pound motorcycle is getting thrown around like a bicycle (we found out later that the winds were close to 80mph). I actually had to lean sideways to keep from getting knocked over. Now the rain, I mean hail has picked up and for a moment I thought we were in Kansas. Now Im glad the Street Glide comes with a fairing (It was shielding me from the abuse of the weather). We all pull over and take shelter in a ditch on the side of the road. About 10 minutes later the storm has blown by and we are off to this little town off of Rt.40. Population of about 50 and a jail on the outside of one of the buildings. Now it’s hot and the rain gear is coming back off. I LIKE THESE SADDLEBAGS.

What did I learn today:

That touring bikes are supposed to have saddlebags and a fairing.

Day 3 – Some cool Roads and then off to Sturgis!

Today we traveled some back roads and then off to Sturgis. This is the beauty of going on a trip with people who know which roads to take, where to park, etc. Main Street in Sturgis is where most of the action is and if you love to look at motorcycles, TOO BAD. There are way to many distractions going on all around you. They range from beautiful to “I think I just puked in my mouth”. We spent most of the day in Sturgis, got some great shots and then back to the hotel. Tonight’s plan is to hit this restaurant called the Fireside Grill on Rt.44. They say, “It’s easy to get to”. “Just go up the big hill and down the other side and you are there”. Sounds easy! Unless you miss the turn to Rt.44. So now we are on this road and we get split up because of the traffic lights in the city. A few miles up the road we see the other half of the group heading back to look for us. So I pull over to wait. Well some of my group kept going (not knowing that we stopped). So Sam blows up the road to catch them and we wait to take off until the other group turns around. We start rolling again and then part of my group is now heading back. Ok, this is turning into a cluster F@ck and we all continue on up this long and curvy hill. Then we head down the other side and then up the next hill and into a Forest? They didn’t say nothing about a second hill and it’s getting dark. This is were we whip out the map, Oh shit! we are way off course and it is getting dark. We gotta blow another U-turn and head back to the city. As we are turning, I see people getting off the bikes and running back. Sam just overshot the street and put the hog in a ditch. Nobody got hurt and a few minutes later we are back on the road. Now it is dark! One problem, the wildlife love to cross the road in the dark. It was amazing how many Dear we saw just off the road in a 10 mile stretch. Well we made it back and found the road to the restaurant (only 45 minutes late).

What did I learn today:

Not to ride in the Forest at night, that all the stores in Sturgis have the same T-Shirts and how many Hot Leather shops do you need in 1 town.

Day 4 – Off to Wyoming to see Devil’s Tower!

Today is going to be about a 270 mile day in the saddle. We are off to Wyoming to see Devil’s Tower. Im hoping to get to the top to see the space ship and hear that groovy tune that they played to the aliens.

On our way there we cruised through Spearfish Canyon, looked at waterfalls, did a little nature walk, took some pics.And then off to Devil’s tower. On our way There we took the Mass Pike (same road, it’s just in South dakota). Speed limit out here is 75mph (I can’t drive 55).

It was an impressive sight to approach Devil’s tower from the distance. It is kind of eery when you first see it. We got to the entrance, had lunch and then rode up to the base of the mountain. Kelly, Wayne and I climbed the rocks that line the base of the tower. Then it was back on the road. We took some some back roads through some little town called Hulett and then to the next town for fuel. At this point the group split up and we headed back to Sturgis to hit the bars.

What did I learn today:

I guess looking at rocks ain’t so bad.

Day 5 – Mt. Rushmore, Keystone, Deadwood and back to Sturgis (can’t get enough)

Today it’s off to Rushmore. we took another scenic route that was outstanding. Mt. Rushmore was an amazing site to see. We walked the trail that brought us onto the mountain, got some great shots and then it was off to Keystone. Keystone was a small town that is located near the entrance of Rushmore. From Keystone we rode to Deadwood. Deadwood is the resting place of Wild Bill Hickock. No more gun fights there, they just gamble now. Then it was off to Sturgis. This evening we partied hard and got back late.

What did I learn today:

Pasties are not a dessert………. and, They don’t just airbrush on metal anymore.

Day 6 – Iron Mountain Road and Custer State Park

I have been getting up early every morning for a quick 5 mile run, Except Today. I have a slight hangover and a big headache. So I skipped the run and limped my way to the bike for today’s adventure.

Within the first few miles I was feeling better and life is good. Then we got on the road called Iron Mountain Road. This road was sick! It had 2 or 3 corkscrew turns (you would go under this bridge made of timbers and 360 degrees later you are up a level of the mountain). We got to the top to take pics and then off to Custer State Park to find the Buffalo’s. Once inside the park we first encountered a gang of Donkey’s that had no problem interacting with the bikes. We stopped by a Prairie Dog field and then it was off to hunt for the Buffalo. They are not to hard to find because they leave a trail of Buffalo Patties in the road. As they become darker and steaming, you know they are close. As we round a bend in the road everyone pulls over. It was a herd of Buffalo on the side of the road. No need to go close, I will just zoom in on em. As we leave the park the rain starts to pick up and the temps start to drop (it was close to 50 and raining). Did I tell you how much I like these saddle bags. At this point we all headed home to change and head out for a bite to eat. Now this was going to be a early night. WAS, until someone said “let’s go to Sturgis”. Okay, IM in.

Sturgis was mild with most of the vendors already packing it in a deals on, you guessed it! MORE T-SHIRTS. We didn’t stay long. On the ride home I stayed in the back of the pack. With about 6 miles to the Hotel it starts to sprinkle. We blow by everyone and cruise in with John and Kathy (Im not in the mood to get wet and we are close enough for everyone to find their way home). So I thought. We get back and the other bikes start rolling in 1 by 1. “Where is Val and Mike?” We wait a few minutes, then John and I head back on the Highway to look for them. We get to where I saw them last and start to backtrack. We get off each exit along the way to check the gas stations. No sign of them with only 1 exit left. We get off the final exit and they are at the station with a flat. Of course this station has no air, John rides Mike’s bike to the next station (No Air). We finally find one with air and the tire must have had a large hole, because it was leaking out as we were filling it. John rode it to the hotel and so much for that early night. Oh, Did I mention that it rained the whole time we were looking for them!

What did I learn today:

Rain Sucks and stay in the back the whole ride!

Day 7 – Needles Highway and Crazy Horse Mountain (No, not back to Sturgis)

Today we rode the needles. This was an interesting stretch with hairpin turns and several tunnels carved out of rock. And someone even took the time to carve a chunk of manhood out of one of the mountains (It looked like the work of a lady). We had a blast, took some cool pics of people coming through one of the tunnels.

Then it was off to Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse Mountain is a sight to see. They are in the process of carving a mountain in the shape of his statue (I have posted pictures of this). We watched a movie that explained the history of this project which started back in the 40’s by 1 guy. It is a must see. Then it was back to Rapid City for Pizza and a party that Great Eastern had thrown. It was a nice ending to a perfect week. The Great Eastern Crew was fantastic.

What did I learn today:
A great location can make for a good experience, but having good people to share it with makes for a great experience.