Since I am filled with utter jealousy of all those riders attending the 2013 Sturgis, SD bike rally, I have decided to document the experiences I had last year. I would like to note that this was quite an adventurous trip that has left me with many fond memories. This posting is to document my fun times!
Early in 2012, my best friend Russell and I had decided to book tickets to the Buffalo Chip. If you know anything about camping in Sturgis for the bike rally, then you know that the most notorious place to camp is at the Buffalo Chip. With our entrance fee paid we were guaranteed a spot to set up shop for the week and were allowed admission to their nightly concert lineup.
As the rally drew ever closer our preparations needed to get more solidified. In the last month leading up to Sturgis, Russell and I were going through a period where we really weren’t getting along. This happens from time to time with best friends, but it works its way out when the time is right. So therefore, I was on my own when it came to organizing the trip and getting myself out there. I was to start this trip solo, Jake style – which was nice for a change!
Quickly, I had made the decision to trailer my bike NASTY out to Sturgis. I figured it wouldn’t be much fun riding on a sport bike for 11 hours straight and i am so glad that i did. This allowed me to pack a couple of coolers full of food and drinks to last me the week which probably saved me a few bucks! Thankfully my awesome brother-in-law Joel borrowed me a screened-in canopy, a tent and an air mattress. With enough clothes packed I hit the road that Saturday night at about 5PM and expected to arrive at the Chip at 6AM the next morning. The trip out there was beautiful (I love driving at night when I am able to see the stars!), besides the crazy construction and a couple of off-road detours, I made it.
I was exhausted and passed out at the entrance of the Chip until they opened the gates at like 7:30AM. Super stoked, I was about to enjoy a ‘stress-free week’ full of riding, concerts and tipping a few back! Next step, selecting my campsite. I chose a spot far off to the side and unknown to me at the moment, it was pretty far from the shower area or the pond where most folks would go and cool off during the afternoon. Next time around I will position myself a bit closer to the action. I finally got my digs set up. You always forget something, and this was no exception. I was to be without pillows and blankets for the week, oh well. You couldn’t put me in a bad mood if you tried.
Once I was settled, I began trying to hit Russell up to see if he made it. We ended up reconnecting later that day and squashed any ill feelings we had towards each other. It was to be a balanced trip of time kicking it together and also having some time to independently roam on my own. Russ was staying at the Chip with his cousin Alyssa and her husband which worked out very conveniently for him. He had connected with them before leaving the cities and was able to get them to haul most of his things up in their trailer. He decided to iron-seat all the way to Sturgis, both brave and crazy, but obviously that didn’t leave him much space to bring his gear so it was good to leverage his cousin.
On Russell’s way up, something happened with the bearings in his front tire that caused the bike’s front end to shake significantly. Thankfully he quickly ordered the needed parts and was able to get his bike to his uncle’s home (not far from Sturgis). He got it fixed and was finally ride ready after a couple missed riding days. In the meantime we stayed at the Chip. It was really hot and dusty in the Chip grounds and so we went down to the ‘pond’ and took center stage on the rope swing. We eventually became more brave with our acrobatics, probably due to the liquid encouragement from each time we finished a beer.
Pond lounging by day quickly turned into drunken concerts at the band stands after dusk. The first couple of nights were bad lol, but then I found my balance and limited myself to a more healthy level of drinking. You know what they say, ‘work hard – party hard’! Russell was more of a night walker when he was out there and wouldn’t pass out until the sun was peaking over the horizon, which meant he wasn’t going to be moving until at least noon. I was cool with that because I would get up early enough to hit the showers and to jump on a bike to enjoy some significant riding.
The next couple of days I wanted to make sure I got some serious riding in and was able to see the glory of the Black Hills. It had been since I was a young child since I was in South Dakota sight-seeing. That morning I jumped on NASTY and took her out and topped the tank off and we had a busy agenda for the day; 1) see Mount Rushmore; 2) See Devil’s Peak; and finally make it out to see Crazy Horse. Mount Rushmore is quite an impressive sight and I remember viewing it many years ago. I stopped several times upon approaching, but eventually went in and got some really cool pictures. Here is a collage of what I experienced.
Devils Peak was next on my bucketlist for the day. It was a straight shot out into Wyoming to get a look at this natural rock formation. Here again is another collage of what I saw!
Last but not least was my trip out to Crazy Horse, and I knew that this was going to be really cool as I was able to learn more about the Native people and their culture. The afternoon that I went they actually had a blast scheduled to clear away rock. One blast at a time and this monument comes more to life. Check this out!
After I had done my sightseeing at Crazy Horse, I waited for Russell to rendezvous with me. So I sat back and enjoyed a cigar till he arrived. Happy to see my friend we hungout for a second and then headed off to ride Needles Highway. This next adventure was really the icing on the cake for this crazy awesome day. There is nothing that can describe riding on such a windy road through the jagged hills of this region. It literally left me breathless and I will be back once again on two wheels just to relive this experience.
When we got out there we didn’t really know what to expect but it was seriously like preserved / untouched land that God made for every biker’s enjoyment. Needles Highway was very curvy and narrow and required you to really pay attention as you ride, meanwhile, of course, you are looking all around trying to take in the beautiful surroundings. The area is an enormous nature preserve that rests on a national park. We even ran into some native wildlife when we were out there. Here is a few pictures of our ride out there.
Just a few more for your enjoyment!
After this we ended up stopping in a local town on our way back to the Buffalo Chip, it had begun down pouring, so it only made sense to stop grab a bite to eat and wait it out. Eventually we made it back to the chip. The next several days were now going to be spent in downtown Sturgis and at the Chip enjoying more of the lineup.
When it comes to the Sturgis Bike Rally, there really is no mistaking it. During one of my remaining afternoons I decided to head to the main drag and see what there was to offer as well as to check out some souvenirs for my family. When you get down there you are immediately hit with the excitement that comes with thousands of motorcycles and the hustle and bustle of a town that hasn’t seen this much action since the previous year’s rally. There were so many bikes it left my mouth hanging open. I spent plenty of time looking at the many different makes and models as well as paying particular attention to the custom bikes that were out there. Here is a couple of pics to give you an idea of the Sturgis experience!
After I picked up a few t-shirts for my girls and a couple of shot glasses, I made my way back to the Chip and Russ and I made dinner. During one of our evenings out there, Russell and I met a very cool couple (Kevin and Shelley); they ended up being some of the most down to earth folks that I have ever met. They rode all the way from New York on their new Harley, super jealous! They camped out and had dinner and drinks with Russell and myself for a few nights, that is a couple that is living life the right way, loving each other. I still do my best to stay in touch and look forward to another Sturgis and seeing them.
On one of our last nights in SD, Russell and I had made it a point to go do a bit of cliff jumping / diving in a lake that he had been to with some of his family on a previous trip. Well just our fortune, his bike broke down at a place that we stopped to get gas. Life happens, but that did not stop us from completing this leg of our trip. It must have looked hilarious, and I think that there might be a video floating around of Russell getting on the back of my bike. Eventually we got there and it was a pretty amazing sight to see. When on a daily basis I am surrounded by concrete building and the hustle and bustle of downtown Minneapolis, it is nice to get away from it all and drink in nature. I did just that. Here is a cool shot of me at the lake.
Next Russell and I did some jumping from about twenty feet above the water, trust me that was plenty of a rush! We jumped several time and then we climbed out of the brisk water and made our way back out of the woods. We then road (together – awkward) to his Uncle Ross’s place where we were to enjoy a home cooked meal. They were gracious hosts and allowed us to shower up and even stay the night. But before the night was over, we all had decided to make our way out to Sturgis and head to the Full Throttle Saloon and enjoy a few rounds and really catch up. These are really great people and I am glad that we were able to spend some time with them.
The next morning Ross helped us out by taking his truck out to pick up Russell’s bike. We then took it back to our camp site. Together we decided it would be best for us to get his bike to the trailer I rented and we would load both bikes up side by side. They fit perfectly and when we were all packed and ready to hit the road we said our goodbyes to the place and took all these memories with us! I absolutely had a blast and got reconnected with my bro; God is good! Amen!