Heckuva Trip

Well, by God, I went to Sturgis.

Fantastic trip. Weather was horrible, but somehow I managed to miss it all. Worst thing that happened was that I left my T-Bag on the bike without the raincover on as the skies opened up. Then I forgot that happened, which means I didn’t discover the wet clothes until I was wanting to put them on.

After I rolled in on Thursday I was scheduled to meet up with some cousins on Friday. Didn’t think they would be in until the evening, but they got to town about 11:00 a.m. We were renting a house in Boulder Canyon for two nights (one of my cousins works at a church and the pastor’s parents have a home there). Found it without too much trouble, but the uphill gravel road was interesting. Never ridden on gravel before. Did okay until I got to the driveway. There was an erosion gully on the right side of the road at the end of their driveway and I got a little too close for comfort. Came to a halt and one of the guys came and pushed me into the driveway. Hey, at least I didn’t drop it!

After waiting for all the troops to show up (there was 9 of us total on 6 bikes), we headed down to Rapid City to visit the Harley-Davidson dealer. That was a real circus, but not to be missed. Like everyone else, I got my photo snapped there (http://www.partypics.com/ver2/ViewImage.aspx?OrderNo=26367192&Roll=00001&Frame=0484). Then we headed out towards Mt. Rushmore and then up through Hill City. Beautiful ride. I’d never seen the back side of Mt. Rushmore before. We could see the dark clouds ahead, but it was pretty pleasant where we were. It was probably hailing on Sturgis and doing some real damage right about then, but we got lucky and wound up behind the system.

We stopped for supper at the Double D in Deadwood and had some enchiladas for supper. We got lucky again because we found a table big enough, that wasn’t smoky (cousins have breathing problems), and that had good, cheap food. It was getting close to dark before we headed back to the house and fog was setting in. I’d never ridden in the dark or in fog, so for me the ride was in the dark, the fog, going uphill, on wet gravel. And you know what – I made it.

Saturday started out a little slow. We made breakfast at the house and then headed down to Main Street in Sturgis. Got there early enough so it wasn’t a total zoo yet. Before I even parked my bike one of the guys was busy checking out saddlebags for his Sporty. Got my attention since I could really use some myself. He found some he liked for about $80, a real steal. I may trade off the Sporty, so I held off. We spent the next few hours just walking Main Street. Never seen so many t-shirts. Had stopped for a drink and later returned for lunch at One-Eyed Jacks (it wasn’t that good). The group decided that it had enough of Sturgis and wanted to go for a ride. Since it was somewhere around 2:00 or 3:00, we settled on a trip through Spearfish Canyon. This time it was from the other direction for me. Just as gorgeous from that side and we stopped at the waterfall too. Once again, I got my photo taken (http://www.sturgis.com/bhriders/main.php?g2_itemId=62567). And once again we wound up in Deadwood for supper, this time at Pizza Hut.

Since the rest of the group was hitting the road early the next morning, we called it a night fairly early. Funny (sad?) how little partying was going on while at the Rally.

Sunday we packed up and departed the house by 8:00 a.m. Three bikes were headed to Colorado, two were returning to Minnesota, and I wasn’t in much of a hurry to go anywhere. There was more rain moving in so everyone was making plans to deal with that. (I did hear the group heading to Colorado hit heavy rain and hail shortly after getting out of town.) I headed into Sturgis because there was just so much that I didn’t get a chance to see.

Sturgis changes overnight between Saturday and Sunday. I knew that, but it’s still a bit of a surprise. Towers are down, cars on Main Street, banner replaced. I got there early enough that there were mostly cars and only a few bikes on the street. Parked nose in between the cars. As I was getting off the bike a gentleman stopped to ask about the bike and I learned he was from Oregon. And he learned that I had ridden to Sturgis by myself. Called me courageous. It was nice to have someone recognize that.

I wandered the streets for a bit and went back to a place I had stopped the day before. I had seen a “Lady Rider” patch that I fell in love with and wanted on a vest. So I picked up a vest and had that, and a few other patches, sewn on. Problem was my bag was plum full, so now I’m wearing vest and jacket. At least it wasn’t 90 degrees out.

Found a spot to have breakfast (Temporary Insanity). I was impressed that I could get a bagel and milk. Figured it would be biscuits and gravy everywhere. While I was there the skies opened up and I changed my plans from driving back to Lemmon that night to returning to Deadwood. It was nice to have the choice. Continued to walk around and stopped by the museum which was worth the price of admission. (It was also a good place to duck out of the rain.) Very interesting place for me. Took my time, but still didn’t see everything. For not being a big place, it sure has a lot to see. Got done there and checked the skies and radar again. Another system moving in from the west, so I decided to beat it back to Deadwood. Checked back into the hotel around 2:00 again and this time headed straight for the hot tub. After an hour of soaking, I got dressed and hopped the trolley into Deadwood. Wandered the streets there and picked up a few souvieners. Had some sushi for supper and returned to the Double D for a drink. It was pretty much me and the bartender, so we had a nice conversation. Knew it was going to be a long day the next day, so called it quits early. But still managed to spend another hour in the hot tub before turning in. And it wasn’t until I was looking to for something to sleep in that I discovered (remembered?) that T-Bags aren’t waterproof if you don’t put the raincover on. Everything in the bag was wet, so I hung it out to hopefully dry overnight.

The ride back home started at daybreak. Skipped breakfast and rolled out of the motel about 6:45 a.m. Stopped on the east side of Sturgis for gas and a Mountain Dew (breakfast of champions) before heading east out of town on Hwy 34. Once again it was a beautiful ride across western SD. Got to the gas station in Faith and they were all out of 91 octane gas, so I had to put 85 octane in the tank. Then headed up to Lemmon. Had spent maybe 70 miles dodging birds on the road into Faith, and now I was getting pelted by bees for the 70 miles into Lemmon. Leathers were a mess. Stopped for gas and lunch in Lemmon, even though it was only 10:30 in the morning. Ate at the Alaska Cafe, which I highly recommend. Alaska burger is a hambuger, with a slice of ham, and bacon, and cheese, and onion rings. Fabluously sloppy and good!

After that back onto familiar territory in North Dakota. Quick stop for gas in Flasher before heading into Mandan. Stopped by the H-D dealer there to pick up a quart of oil. Didn’t need it right then, but thought I might soon and it was a good chance to pick it up. More gas, then on to the Interstate. I was in a 65 mph groove that I just couldn’t shake, so I got to be slowpoke on the freeway. One last stop at Jamestown H-D dealer for water and a new 2010 model catalog, and gas too. Got home about 7:15 p.m., so with the time zone change that was 11-1/2 hours on the road. Mumbled some “I’m home, did ya miss me?” to the boys before I stumbled into bed. It’s good to know that I can make Sturgis in a day if I have to.

I wouldn’t have traded this trip for the world. My skills as a rider improved so much. My confidence too – riding and otherwise. Can’t wait to go back, both to Sturgis and to the Rally. Could be multiple trips there…

Odometer: 3151 miles (daily total 511, trip total 1334)


  1. MJ says:

    Very nicely written. I always enjoy reading your posts. The dark and fog and gravel you talk about reminded me of a similar circumstance a few years ago. Just add a deer, a crash, and a broken right hand, and you have my story.

    Keep up the interesting writing …


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