MY FIRST TRIP TO STURGIS (year 2000)
Day one (Friday) - 731 miles
Left Crandon, Wisconsin at 6:00 a.m. on 1987 Harley Davidson FLTC. No chase truck, no other riders. It was cold. Headed southwest across Wisconsin. A bird hit my fist at about fifty miles per hour on highway 40 south of Bloomer. I think it was a grouse. It sounded like a bag of small sticks breaking. I thought it was my fingers at first, but I was OK. I was glad I had my gloves on.
Heading onto Interstate 90 after gas stop at Blue Earth, the tach and oil gauges dropped to zero and I got worried but then they returned to normal and never did it again. Cranked thru boring corn country in Minnesota along I-90. Getting 36 miles per gallon at 80 miles per hour. Speed limit is 75. Passing lots of Winnebagos and trailers. Saw more broken bike haulers than broken bikes.
The day was so nice I yelled woo-hoo at some eastbound bikers at South Dakota border but they didn't hear me. There were bikes everywhere now.
Pulled in to Chamberlain, S.D. at 8:15 p.m. and got a site at American Creek right on the Missouri River. Got 41 miles per gallon on this stretch. Parked the bike, setup the tent, and walked into town. Partied all night at the Silver Dollar tap with some riders from Janesville. Drank way too much and had some trouble finding my campsite in the warm rain. Glad I walked.
Day two (Saturday) - 355 miles
Forgot to close the tent fly last night and woke up soaked with my head outside the tent, sun just peeking over the horizon. It was so early I was the first one to the showers - enjoyed a hot one in peace. Packed the bike and rode out in fog. Stopped at Wall Drug and at Ellsworth air force base. There is a hill on the north side of I-90 near Sturgis that looks like an iguana with a row of pine trees for spikes along its spine. Sturgis looked so crowded I went on to Spearfish. Then I went sight-seeing on the route 14A canyon road. There were weird echoes in the canyon and I thought I heard my tires talking. It turned out to be a 2-way radio in the group ahead of me. Slept under a willow tree for about an hour. The canyon roared with the sound of Harleys. Wheeled back to Sturgis to check out the main drag for a while. Got a campsite at Elk Creek camp a few miles east of Sturgis, on the south side of I-90. Met a couple from Mosinee who noticed my Wisconsin plates. They turned out to be the kind of people you feel like you have been friends with for a long time. They are pretty mellow - they've been here sixteen times. They said the trick is to pace yourself. We partied, had a good time with a lot of laughs, and enjoyed watching the procession of bikes roaring down I-90. Got about 44 miles per gallon today.
Day three (Sunday) - 248 miles
Went through Deadwood and Lead, then to see Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse is awesome, made the whole day worthwhile in my opinion. The 15 minute movie is really cool. Took a ride to Newcastle, Wyoming and bought some purple kool-aid from some real entrepreneur-type kids. They said that they made $48 on sandwiches last year but the convenience store on the corner made them move up the street. Went through Four Corners and Buckhorn then back to Sturgis to checkout the main drag. Back to camp, partied with my neighbors from Tennessee. Their son's name is Dana and his girlfriend's name is Dana, too. Then had a couple beers with the people from Wisconsin that I met yesterday, and went to sleep in my tent to the roar of bikes down below on I-90.
Day four (Monday) - 418 miles
This day started out mild and ended up wild. Starting to head home. The sun is already hot this morning. I drove through the Badlands for a while from Interior exit then doubled back north to I-90. I'd like to see the badlands at night. Too bad you have to pay to use the road. I took a detour to avoid a major traffic jam that hadn't moved since I passed it south bound. They were paying the toll. Screw that. I took a detour that ended up on road construction. The flag woman on road crew made me read a sheet saying they weren't responsible for anything that happened to my vehicle. It wasn't that bad. I've been on worse roads.
Starting to cool very suddenly, with rain in the distance. Wind is picking up. Then all hell started breaking loose. The rain came down like a cow pissing on a flat rock. I stopped at an underpass. Cars were stopping there too. The radio was telling them to get off the road. Took off again after a few minutes. I thought I could make it to Sioux Falls if I took my time. Two semi trucks were in the ditch. One looked pretty bad for the driver, the other was just blown off the road by wind and rain. Lightening hit the road a few hundred yards ahead of me and the crack of thunder was so loud my head hit the fuel tank. It was the loudest sound I ever heard. Then hail rained down in a little burst. I was going about 40 miles per hour. I pulled over at the next stop and met some bikers I was to see again throughout the day. That was it for me for about 20 minutes.
I drank coffee and talked to the other riders. Most had hotels reserved nearby. Some of us were just going to try to go as far as we could. I got back on I-90 and crawled through the storm. There weren't many cars on the road, but a few trucks were still running. I had to stop several times to clean my goggles and windshield. Ended up in Sioux Falls at 10:00 pm. The first motel I stopped at was full, so I called around and found a room on the other side of town. Drove through floorboard deep water with another rider pulling a trailer behind a black Harley FLHS. The trailer floated in the deeper water. I took a shower, called home, and crashed in a real bed. It was around midnight.
Day five (Tuesday) - 392 miles
Wake up to the sun at Days Inn motel in Sioux Falls. Grab coffee, OJ, and a donut and drive to the gas station. When I'm filling up I see my styrofoam cup still sitting on the passenger floorboard. I'm amazed that it stayed there. It was overcast and cool - a perfect day to ride. Drained the first tank of gas at 80 mph. Swinging out to pass a loaded dump truck when the Buick ahead of me swung back into the fast lane abruptly. I did the same, just in time to miss a pile of broken lumber that had been blocked by the truck. I had to crack the throttle to get ahead because he was going to hit the lumber with me right next to his wheel.
The truck's front tires shot the wood into pieces about ten feet behind me. I pulled up next to the Buick and gave a big smile and wave of thanks to the old farm woman crunched down in the driver's seat. If she wasn't such a good driver, she would have hit the wood and sent the mess right into me. Right then, she was beautiful to me. I kept on running hard on my last gallon of gas so that I wouldn't dwell on how close that had been. Stopped at Mankato for lunch and to unwind. Getting about 36 miles per gallon. Do another fast tank of gas to LaCrosse and take I-90 over the Mississippi. It is beautiful here. Get back in Eau Claire in the early afternoon.
Pulled back into town kind of sad that the whole thing was over for me, but glad to see my family again.
born on a mountain
raised in a cave
ride & fuck
is all i crave