Worlds Largest Motorcycle Rally: Whether you hate it or love it, this post will attempt to describe what riding to and doing Sturgis is like. Two-up on a Sportster, one tent, no reservations, lots of pics. Enjoy.
Only one week before I go back to work after eight months off. Heidi and I can’t believe it, One Week! We need to do a long cruise, or should I say, I need to do a long cruise and I want Heidi along….. What? Am I nuts? Two-Up on a Sportster@ to Sturgis@? This should be a good test. If we can do this on a Sportster with full camping gear we should be able to go just about anywhere on a real ‘two-up’ motorcycle. Ha, ha, my reasoning to ride doesn’t even have to make much sense anymore….
The Sturgis motorcycle rally. Most will admit that it is a test, of survival! I say I like a challenge but I’m still questioning my sanity on this one.
The Sporty gets a new rear tire, new plugs, bearings greased and oil. We commit to safety. We are ready.
We take our time getting started the first day but we still made good progress. This will be Heidi’s longest motorcycle cruise ever. I hope to do things right. On a 95’ Harley Davidson Sportster that means frequent stops to just chill out and rest our butts. We find a nice spot in Watertown, MN. I lay out my leather jacket on the river bank under the shade where we rested. This is a good use for leathers. I’m always looking or the good places to chill while traveling; else all you experience are the gas stops.
If I want Heidi to enjoy Sturgis, in a tent at a campground with twenty thousand other bikers I thought we better do motels out and back. Good idea, right? Well around West-central Minnesota we were loosing sun and started looking for a Motel. Back and fourth between four places in Montevideo we found no vacancies. We lost at least an hour. We did some shopping before looking for the motel, mistake #1. We are looking at fifty or sixty miles to the next town of any size, Watertown, SD. We blast off confident Watertown will have a room. But No.., as we pull into town we pass a huge free outdoor concert / festival thing. Tons and tons of people and vehicles all surrounding a lake park just off the side of the highway. Not one motel room open in Watertown. I am striking out. With confidence I assure Heidi that we do have a tent and even though it’s dark I know of a spot to camp just up the road. That news seemed to make things worse.
The tent is up quick, Heidi and I settle back with some high level discussions about the camp site with twenty thousand other bikers. @& Heidi has heard some stories, like shootings and orgies, etc. My comebacks are of no comfort at all. I hope it doesn’t rain tonight…is there an airport near?...
We wake up to a good spot and great weather. Things are looking better today. Heidi gets into using the motorcycle as her vanity. I have the camp broken down and packed up quick. I need to get a motel tonight before we tool into Sturgis. Pierre, SD looked like our only hope. Heidi is into it more today and is wishing we could do more miles. I assured her we would be hosed if we rode past Pierre. No problem, as long as we get a room tonight with a pool and bar all will be good.
First thing we do in Pierre is look for the motel. $104 BestWestern. Not my style but I gladly paid, it had a bar. Of course while at the bar enjoying a cocktail we hear two different groups of bikers trying to one-up each other with their tales. Then another group of twelve bikers came in and tried to throw their group size around with the waitress, saying they should get a group discount for their rooms and the food. We heard this from the waitress, she couldn’t believe it saying if they can afford Sturgis that they should be able to afford it here. Now Heidi is even more looking forward to the camp site with twenty thousand Sturgis bikers, NOT!
All and all Pierre was good. We had a nice room and enjoyed the pool. We have only a short 180 mile ride to Sturgis. The skies were clear and the temperatures sizzling. It hit 105 yesterday and it seemed at least that hot today. We like the heat and we got it. It was a good ride into town on Hwy 34.
The check-in at the Buffalo Chip camp ground was smooth. Just pay the big bucks and put your tent anywhere you can find a spot.
We think the hundred plus temps yesterday and today cleared a lot of bikers out. By doing a little hill climbing we luck out with a nice camp spot. No shade but we are only spending a night or two here.
We have plans to meet some friends at the Full Throttle saloon which claims to be the biggest biker bar in the world. It’s only a mile from our camp site, perfect. A good way to do the Full Throttle is to enter at the entrance closest to Sturgis. Then when you see some cones and a guy with an orange flag pointing left, slowly drive to his right to the tunnel entrance of the bar infield area. Your other choice is to park your bike off into a sea of over ten thousand bikes and walk up to a mile to the bar. We luck out and park ten yards from where we will hang out and wait for our friends to show. Good live rock and roll is playing straight ahead of us.
We ended up spending most of day here and had a ball. I saw someone on a stage in a pink bikini pouring tall margaritas. I thought I should go and get one for Heidi. ….She says “yah right!”
I never saw so many bikers drinking tall fruity looking drinks. The crowds would cycle through in waves. Many would just give her money and didn’t even want a drink, just a photo. We are all a little disturbed indeed.
We enjoyed just hanging out around the Full Throttle. The infield area had a lot of cool places to chill and things to see.
Someone next to us said this guy is one of the famous bike building brothers, I forgot the name but he had huge arms.
Full Throttle infield.
Of course the burnout pit would periodically attract an influx of people. Someone said the pit workers had to wear a handkerchief over their faces. I’m sure that really helps a lot.
We walked around to the outside of the main area and found more stuff to see. A lot of bike builders were here showing off their latest stuff. Also a freak show, some bungee thing and tons of venders selling anything biker. We like to look at the bikes and state our opinion.
Now that’s a good looking cavebike.
This builder gave us a personal tour of his bike. Notice the still in the middle, bottle spokes, opener…..
Some real low riders. It’s got to raise up or something before you take off?? I don’t think it had a kick stand.
We were watching big dark clouds roll in off to the south and it started to cool down. Time to blow out of here.
The only way to exit is to go through the huge parking lot. We pass the line of people waiting to see the band that was playing here that night. People drive here from all around by car as well as bike. We couldn’t believe how many cars were pouring in and were already in the parking lot. It looked like half the state.
The exit was a little slow but we had fun chatting with other bikers.
Only a mile up the road is the camp spot. The main stage area at the Buffalo Chip camp ground has all our supply needs, 24 hour general store, fast food and of course lots of other stuff. All we needed was ice but we timed it just right to see three guys jump in. It was all synced to a live band. The landings were super impressive. The jumpers were from some branch of the military.
Back at the tent the weather was prefect for sitting outside to listen to the live music. We were just getting set up when some low flying military jet throws on his afterburners right over our heads. We had no idea it was coming, I thought we were about to die, it was so loud. Most impressive was how fast that plane was gone from sight.
Now, cocktails on ice, live rock and roll, a great evening. We were both woken only once that night by some moron over revving his engine for what seemed like hours to Heidi, but only minutes for me. Lucky for me I was toast that night. It was a big day.
Excellent, we had lots of fun yesterday and last night. The temperature in the morning was ideal. We decide to break camp early and enjoy a full day walking around Sturgis.
On the way out of the Chip we pass large numbers of RVers. A lot of the campers were really set up for watching the bike parade go by. It looked like a lot of fun. --
“Sturgis hot tub”
If you are going to do the Sturgis rally ya got to drive it down Main street. The ‘bike only’ traffic flows better here then around some outside routes and its fun to watch the show.
The #1 Sturgis Logo for 05’
We tool down main and park in front of the Oasis bar and go in for a drink. This is a good place to take a couple of deep breaths and prepare to walk around. This is about the center of all the downtown attractions.
I’ve been dreaming about corndogs. The guy asks me if I want a big one. Heidi immediately fires back “He already has one!” The guy looks at me and says “What a woman” I say “I know!” ha, ha. Advrider salute.
A lot of bikes to check out.
Just married. A camera was following the couple as they got on the bike. Everyone claps and cheers. Main Street Sturgis is all about the fun.
The amount of merchandise is overwhelming. We each only wanted a couple of T-shirts and soon found you can look all day and not see everything. Leather is everywhere and these prices seemed pretty good.
View from a lunch table on Main.
We walked around Sturgis until our feet were sore. There were a lot of things to see but by 3:00 PM the streets were starting to overflow. Time to blow out of town and chalk this down as a Sturgis win, short and sweet.
A mile past the Buffalo Chip the traffic dropped to almost zero. Time to prepare for the ride. I was a smart man and reserved a room two days ago back at Pierre, only 170 miles. That’s a nice evening ride away. The pool is calling us….
We seem to have the system down pretty good. We put on over 500 miles the second to last day and weren’t even trying. The BAR enterprises custom King/Queen seat I had made was the coolest seat I saw the whole rally but it is not a touring seat. I’m not sure if the little rectangle of sponge rubber I cut for Heidi helped but we tried it on the long haul days. Now I need to select a better two-up adventure bike for the next trip. We know now we can do it.
Shooting for Minneapolis for our last night on the road. The cheap motels near the Mall of America were all full or wanted over eighty dollars for a rat infested room. We know this because we stayed there once before. No thanks, we shoot for Hudson, WI. Nice place with breakfast, 24 hour pool, $68.
Wolf Point, our neighborhood bar, we are home. That was a fun little ride and Heidi and I really learned to click as motorcycle riding partners. Well worth the effort.
We hope you enjoyed the ride.
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