2011 STURGIS MOTORCYCLE RALLY

2011 Sturgis road trip crew

     Our journey will begin on Friday, August 5th as we leave from west central Ohio west to Sturgis, with our planned arrival in downtown Sturgis to be on Sunday, August 7th.  We will be traveling through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and South Dakota, with day trips to Wyoming and Montana while we are at the rally.  Our planned arrival date back to Ohio is August, 14th.

A little bit of history:

dads chopper 1960s My Dad was a biker, by anyone’s definition, co-founder and President of a motorcycle club in the 60’s – early 70’s, a custom chopper builder, and year round rider; being an Ohio resident, well…that is just crazy!

Despite Dad’s passion for his motorcycles, Sturgis was a rally he didn’t attend until the year 2000, one year after suffering and surviving a severe heart attack that jolted him into living his life to the fullest and NOT missing out on the biggest rally in the world. Dad fell in love with the Sturgis Rally. What Dad found in Sturgis was a community of bikers with one shared passion: motorcycles, the lifestyle, and open roads to ride for infinity. We all know there ARE attendees who only ride (or trailer) their bikes to big events for the side show and the ‘status’ they seek, but at Sturgis you also find real bikers with a real passion for the bikes, the lifestyle, and the ride. And that isn’t lost on anyone with a real passion for riding. I never asked Dad why he loved Sturgis so much, so I can only speak from what I feel. At Sturgis you don’t have to explain why you feel so passionate about riding. At Sturgis we are all equal, we don’t know what anyone does to earn their income, we don’t know where or how they live, we don’t care. We are there to feel and hear the rumble, to see the bikes, to live the lifestyle without judgment. To ride our bikes on beautiful, scenic, open roads; living our passion to the fullest. To bond with our steel machines that have labored to bring us on this long journey and have been our sturdy companion the whole time. Dad decided after his first trip to make the Sturgis Rally a mandatory trip every two years. It most likely would have been every year, but Mom insisted on a beach vacation in between Rally years.  In the ‘Road to Sturgis’ story, I elaborate on Dad and Mom’s traveling companions throughout the different trips.

My Dad and Mom have four children, three girls and one son.  We were all introduced to the back of a chopper at a very young age.  Three of us ride our own, but my sister and I will be passengers with our husbands on the trip to Sturgis.  My oldest sister also rode with Dad when she was a little girl, but confessed later as an adult, that it scared the crap out of her! So, needless to say, she doesn’t ride.

We lost Dad in 2008 to cancer.  We weren’t able to make the 2008 journey due to Dad’s illness; the 2011 trip to Sturgis will be the first trip to Sturgis without our Road Captain.

Our crew on this ride will be my sister Cindy and her husband, Ross. Ross and Cindy made the trip to Sturgis with Dad and Mom in 2004 and 2006. My husband Tom and I, we made the trip with Dad, Mom, Cindy, and Ross, in 2006. And our brother, Jason and his wife Eryn, they will be making their first trip to Sturgis.

Always thinking about the next trip to Sturgis, Dad planned to try a new route from Ohio to Iowa for our 2008 trip and to take a side trip into Montana. None of us dreamed that Dad would be too ill to make the 2008 trip.  We are going to follow the new route for our 2011 journey.  Our overnight stops for the three day trip to Sturgis will be the same stops we made with Dad and Mom the previous trip.  There will be a toast with Old No.7 in memory of Dad when we arrive in Sturgis, and I’m sure many times before we ever get to Sturgis.  We will be closely following Dad’s daily road trips, with the addition of Montana this year.  We will be enjoying every minute of our trip with Dad in our hearts!

Be sure to return to Ridersinfo.net and click on the Facebook link below to follow us on our trip to the 2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally!

cindyross badlands sturgis 2006ROSS AND CINDY (husband & wife)
Their Ride:
2003 Harley-Davidson Low Rider
Ross – Brother of Tom (yes, sisters married brothers)
Cindy – Sister of Pam and Jason

Badlands, SDTOM AND PAM (husband & wife)
Our Ride:
1995 Harley-Davidson Heritage
Softail Classic
Tom – Brother of Ross
Pam – Sister of Cindy and Jason

jason and eryn sturgis 2011JASON AND ERYN (husband & wife)
Their Ride:
2002 Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster
Jason – Brother of Pam and Cindy
Eryn – Our Awesome sister-in-law!
*Jason & Eryn have very young children at home.  Due to the additional travel time and the slight risk that comes with traveling by motorcycle, Eryn will be flying into Rapid City Regional Airport on Sunday afternoon and departing Friday morning.

DAY ONE – Our Trip Begins

Revised 8/25/11(to clarify route details on I80 & US 30)

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Jason, who lives about 60 miles east of the rest of us, arrives at approximately 7 pm. He stops by our house to put the finishing touches on his windshield that he recently chopped using the directions on How to Chop Your Windshield right here on RidersInfo.net. By 9:00 pm, he is at Cindy and Ross’, where he planned to stay the night. After Jason arrives, Ross and Cindy pack up the last remaining items and look over Jason’s pack. Ross, being the most disciplined, goes to bed at a reasonable hour while Cindy and Jason talk until midnight too excited for the trip to be able to go to bed early.

Friday, August 5th, 2011

We wake up to dense fog, we are hopeful we will not encounter deer enroute.

5:55 am – Tom and I get the house locked up, bike out of the garage, and anxiously wait for the rest of the group to arrive at our house for departure.  Cindy and Ross live on the opposite side of the country block from us, about a 3 minute ride.

6:00 am – Listen for the sounds of Harley’s coming down the road.  Cue the crickets. . .

6:10 am – Getting impatient, they are late!  I can’t help but wonder what Dad would be doing right now, his crew late for the start of our trip to Sturgis.  I smile with the thought, as I picture his reaction.  There was a reason I was in a mild panic when we were stuck at the red light causing us to be 4 minutes late (according to the road journal, I still believe it was 2 minutes) for the meet time in Dad’s driveway for the 2006 Sturgis trip.

6:15 am – Receive text from Jason. . .’I am fucking pumped!’, ok, then where the hell are you!!

Tom:  “Call him, see what they’re doing”
Pam:  “Are you sure we planned on 6?”
Tom:  “YES”
Pam:  “They must have overslept, but I doubt it, Ross gets up earlier than this for work”.
Tom:  “The sheep skin is wet now” . . .as the fog is settling on us standing in the drive waiting.  “Call them”
Pam:  “Jason’s phone is off, no answer from Cindy’s”
Listening HARD for bikes coming. . ..cue crickets. . .(no, seriously we live in the country and the crickets are REALLY loud).

6:20 am – We decide we could have been waiting in the house and not standing outside getting all dewy.

Pam:  “Are you SURE we discussed meeting at 6?”
Tom:  More irritated then the first time I asked. . . “YES!”
Pam:  “Well, at least the fog is getting better”

6:30 am – Still waiting in the drive, still listening to crickets. . ..

Pam:  “I hear them”
Tom wipes off glasses, starts to get on the bike.
No, not Harleys.

6:40 am – We hear Harleys, unmistakable this time.

The group drives up to the garage, pumped and ready to go.

Cindy:  smiling…“We’re late”
Pam:  “No kidding, we’re wet from the fog waiting on you, we have been out here for 45 minutes”
Cindy:  “We were supposed to be here at 6:30, why didn’t you call?”
Pam:  “I did, about 6:15”
Cindy:  “Haha, we were jammin’ to Tool and I was blow drying my hair”
Pam:  Having brief mental images of Tom and I standing in the fog, listening to crickets,  with flashing images of: Jason, Ross, & Cindy, partying it up, leisurely, jammin’ to Tool.

finally heading out sturgis 2011We decide as a group that we can’t believe we didn’t discuss the meet time. Finally time to hit the road!! Hell yea, let’s roll! The fog has lifted considerably. Safe ride to our breakfast stop, The Waffle House, north on I-75 about 30 miles away, en-route to Sturgis.

Our planned route to Sturgis, SD was different this year than the usual route. In the past we had to travel south to hit I70 to Indy where we picked up I74 to start heading north to I80.  Dad was playing around with starting the northern trek straight from home, as this seemed to make more sense.  As a group, we all agree it was a waste of miles and time to go 50+ miles SOUTH, when our destination was north from us.

For the 2011 Sturgis trip our route will be:  I75 north to Wapakoneta, there we get on St Rt 33 West to Fort Wayne, IN.  In Fort Wayne we take 33 to US Rt 30 West to Illinois where we would then get on I80 West to Iowa. In Iowa we would hit I29 North to I90, our final leg all the way to Sturgis!

This trip Cindy comes prepared with notepad and pen for the road journal she will be keeping.  Without the aid of the road journal Cindy had kept in 2006, many details would have been left out of the Road To Sturgis story already on Ridersinfo.net.  As memorable as motorcycle road trips are, they are also tiring, and a written account of our journeys are always useful for remembering “where were we then?”.  As we are eating breakfast Cindy makes an entry in her journal. After two or three words, Cindy’s pen stops working. So much for being prepared! A generous waitress saves the day and gives Cindy a pen.

We finish breakfast around 7:30 am and top off the tanks at the gas station next to the restaurant, with our next planned gas stop to be in Fort Wayne, IN.  We arrive at our gas stop in Fort Wayne, gas the bikes up, purchase some water and sit on the curb for a minute before getting back on. Someone notices a nail in Ross’s tire. Damn, where did that come from?  Not only did Ross go thru the T- CLOCS checklist, preparing his bike for a road trip but he also had a little work done at the Harley dealership near our home and had them check the bike over.  The nail could have come from anywhere.  The men discuss pulling the nail, Ross’s bike tire has a tube, it looked like it may have been a tack, therefore not penetrating the tube.  The nail comes out as well as the sounds of air rapidly spewing out of the tire.  Shit! Put it back in!  The nail is back in its original location.  It was definitely NOT a tack, it was a long ass nail.  Ross puts some air back into the tire, it is still losing air but not as rapidly as when the nail was first pulled. Brief discussions take place about using Slime or something similar to get it to the Harley shop, since Ross has a tube to contain the substance.  Ross opts to call HOG for a tow truck.

Ross has a HOG membership, which offers roadside assistance.  He called HOG and they told him they would get a tow truck there in 45 minutes to take the bike to Lucky HD in Fort Wayne.  Cindy calls Lucky HD to give them a heads up so they are prepared for our arrival, hoping that we can get right in and right out.  We are all disappointed, but relieved the problem will soon be fixed.

We all patiently wait about 45 minutes, no tow truck.  Ross calls HOG and is told they called Parkers Towing to get the bike and will call to find out what the delay is.  Ross is told that despite being told we were at the Marathon at the intersection of SR 30 and Townline Road, they couldn’t find us.  So we (the travelers) have to figure out how to get to the gas station we are at to tell the LOCAL tow company how to get there.

We wait. . .another 30 minutes go by. . .Ross calls HOG.  HOG tells Ross the tow company wants to talk to him directly.  This time they say the truck was broke down and they were on their way.  How could they have been lost 30 minutes ago if the truck was broke down?

We wait. . .another 30 minutes. . .Ross calls HOG.  HOG calls Parkers; HOG calls Ross. . .they are loading up the motorcycle rack. . .about 15-20 minutes and they will be there.

We wait. . .another 15 minutes, Cindy tells Ross to call!  Ross says, they said 15-20, I’ll call in a few minutes.  HOG tells Ross, if they don’t arrive in 10-15 minutes call back.  Tom says “why don’t you put air in it and ride it there?”  Ross says he doesn’t want to risk it, they said it would be 15 minutes.  We all bust into laughter, yea, just 15 more minutes. 15 minutes later. . .”they said they will be there in 15 minutes”. Jason paces in the parking lot overlooking the main road. Cindy is making journal entries, it appears that there are already a couple pages completed.  I state that I’m glad Jason is pacing and staring at the road on the other side of the parking lot, this will give us an additional 30 seconds or more of jubilation that they have arrived. Cindy studies the surrounding topography for a good hill to load the Harley from and eyes every pick-up truck entering the gas station for a potential ride to the Harley shop. Ross is not excited about that idea.

We discuss that Harley dealerships deliver new bikes all the time, they are equipped to haul bikes.  We decide that HOG should arrange with the nearest dealership to pick up stranded bikers.  Cindy finally calls Lucky’s and finds out they could have picked us up in about 30 minutes. Arrangements are made, then cancelled, when the
tow truck finally arrives.

“Just 15 more minutes” has become the catch-all phrase of the day.

Three hours after the first call (not the stop, we didn’t count the gas up and rest time) the tow truck arrives.  On the back of the flat bed truck is the motorcycle rack they had to load.  It was the size of a motorcycle jack! Really?  This was such an ordeal to load that they even used this as an excuse?

The dispatch told us they did not know how to get to the Harley shop and that we would need to figure that out. Seriously, do professional tow companies really not have GPS, know about Mapquest, Google Maps, anything? The drivers of the tow truck were rather surprised at this, as one of them knew exactly where it was.

Jason, Tom, and I get on the bikes and go ahead to the HD shop.  Cindy and Ross squeeze in with the TWO drivers that came to haul the bike, in the cab of the truck. We arrive at Lucky HD in about 15 minutes. Tom and Jason agree, Ross could have just aired it up and made it here.  Oh well, can’t get back those three hours now.

The three of us were loitering around the HD shop when the parts guy comes out with the new Harley-Davidson tire being offered for sale now. A pink side wall tire for the new bike they have with a pink paint scheme. FUNNY! He says he can tell Ross that they have a big discount on this tire. Tom says “tell him that’s the only one you have in stock that will fit his bike.”  Plan is in action, all we have to do is get Ross to go to parts when he gets there instead of service.

The bike and the riders arrive at Lucky’s. Service had been waiting (a long time) and had the lift ready for Ross’s bike.  We can’t convince Ross that he needs to go to the parts department, since they brought the bike directly to service.  The guy from parts comes back with the pink tire and tells Ross that is the only one they have. Ross is shocked, dismayed, hesitant. Cindy (unaware of the devious plot) says to Ross “dude, we have to get to Sturgis!”, more than willing to mount the pink tire to Ross’ bike. None of us could keep a straight face, so the gig was up. With bike on rack, we are making progress.

The sales staff tells us they are grilling out; for a donation we can have lunch while we wait. Great!  We go back to the grill/table area and the girls tell us it is for the workers. Awkward. But no problem, says one of them, we have leftovers. Great!  We grab a burger, some chips, and sit down on the curb to eat.

The service writer comes out to tell Ross, when he is done eating, the tech wants to see him. They found a problem with the bike and if he didn’t fix it, probably wouldn’t make it to Sturgis.  Ross approves the additional repair.  We all decide Dad was throwing nails to get us to a HD shop to see this problem, that could have prevented our arrival to Sturgis.  Tom adds “he was also saying, just air up the tire pussy and ride your bike there”.  Another good laugh for the group.

Two and a half hours later, the bike is ready!!  It is now approximately 3:30 in the afternoon and we are only 100 miles away from home.  At this pace we could have had breakfast, lunch, and a nap, at home before heading off to Sturgis.  The tech says he wishes he was going to Sturgis, we tell him it isn’t too late, after all, WE’RE still in Fort Wayne! We thank them for the great service, finding an issue that would have halted our trip, having the lift ready, the free lunch, and the can koozie’s they gave to all of us.  On our way!

   

We lost 5.5 hours of riding time, big setback.  We have nearly 400 miles to cover before nightfall.  Which means a long, hard, ride.  If you don’t ride a motorcycle you might not know the difference between a ride and a hard ride. A regular ride provides bathroom breaks, food breaks, occasional rest breaks.  A hard ride means full throttle and no stopping until your tank tells you too, then it is gas up and back on. And it is HARD!

We are making tracks on US Rt. 30. In Merrillville, IN things change dramatically!  Are you freakin kidding me?!? Stop and go, stop and go! We are in the burbs!  Miles and miles of strip malls and stop lights, on a Friday evening in rush hour traffic, awesome!

Jason is tail when he gets cut off by an elderly couple.  The car beeps his horn at Jason.  Jason, highly pissed at the driver in the car, can’t believe this guy has the nerve to beep at him!  Haha.  We come to the next stop light and the car was now beside us and rolls down his window, apparently with the intent to tell the biker off.  Jason hollers at him “why you blowing your horn up my ass? You cut ME off!”  The elderly man hollers something back, not legible, Jason gives a few revs of his Harley to let the guy know how he feels.  Very funny, especially since Jason is a pretty laid back, easy going, kind of guy and we are now punchy from disbelief of this day.

We pass up our opportunity to take I65 to I80, hoping that US Rt 30 with smooth out. We are now into at least 24 miles at 35 mph, stop and go traffic.  How long could this possibly last?  We assure each other “just another 15 minutes!” Eventually saying only the word “just” resulted in fits of laughter.

We are desperate to find I80 by this point and ask anyone and everyone, how long until I80?  At some point during all of this, one lady tells Cindy “oh, you don’t want to get on 80”.  Finally in Joliet we find our way to I80.  All very pleased that now we can start to get some miles behind us. US Rt 30 is now just a bad memory! Yes! 

Approximately 10 minutes into our interstate travel, I80 comes to a dead stop.  Wow, could this day get much worse??  Since we were on motorcycles, we could fit between the lanes of stopped traffic, Tom suggested we ride between the two lanes.  Ross responds, “you lead, I’ll follow”.  This is legal, after all, in some states, perhaps in Illinois.  We made a little ground this way, at least we were moving forward, and ended up riding the berm also. When we ran out of open berm we had to get back into the lanes of traffic, soon we would see the flashing sign that read ‘next 22 miles of travel estimated to be 70 minutes’  Screw that!  It is decided that we get off the next possible exit, which happens to be US 30!!  And still in Joliet.

While we slowly creep our way through Joliet on 30, with HOG road atlas in hand, Cindy searches for an alternative route. She finds US 52, it seems to run parallel with I80.  Sounds great, lets do it!  Only one obstacle in our way…the giant Harley-Davidson bar & shield logo on the map (indicating a HD shop) is blocking the route junction!!  We can’t find WHERE we need to be to get on US 52!  We continue westbound on 30, still stop and go, stop and go.

Ok, enough already, the sun is really getting low in the sky.  We decide to ask clerks at an auto parts store how much longer does this go on?  Ross, always reluctant to change planned routes, is convinced we need to stay the course saying, it’s probably almost over.  No way!  No more “15 more minutes”!   Cindy and I go into the store, we are told the stop and go continues for a long time.  We had already wasted at least 2 hours traveling on this road.  We ask them about US 52, they assure us that it is a good road with few stops and they give us directions.  With well over 200 miles yet to travel, we are very concerned about making our reservations at the campground in West Liberty, Iowa.

US 52 is a great road with little traffic, few stops, and scenic countryside scenery.  We continue on US 52 until we get to SR 71 which leads us to I80 in Ottawa.  While in Ottawa, we gas up the bikes and decide to eat at the restaurant attached to the gas station.  According to the Facebook post I posted when we sat down at the table, it is now 8:42 pm.  We all order the special of the day; all-you-can eat Walleye. While waiting on our food, Jason bangs the sugar container to loosen up the harden sugar. Do you think that would be as simple as it sounds? Haha, not with the day we were having.  The glass jar shattered, sending glass flying! Jason is a little taken back by the event, but even more so when the waitress tells him that isn’t the first time that has happened. Needless to say, we all share a good laugh.

We decide while eating dinner that the remaining 144 miles will be traveled 60 miles at a time.  Approximately at 11 pm the group decides we’ve had it.  Fatigue is setting in big time and that just isn’t safe. Jason is having problems seeing the road, which is down to one lane with a concrete wall as our barrier on the left. Upon further examination we discover Jason’s headlight is pointing to the moon!  His light isn’t an ‘easy’ adjust, something he will have to address in the morning.

We ask a clerk at a truck stop for a recommendation on where to camp for the night.  She gave us great directions to a primitive camp along the canal, which I now believe must have been the Hennepin Canal, on the locks.  She even kept us heading west so we wouldn’t have to back track! The place is so remote, it feels incredible when we find it. As we enter the area, we spot an opening in a woodland with a table and fire ring, pull in and set up our tents using our headlights to see. We had camp set up before midnight, and feel pretty good being only 60-70 miles short of our original destination, which we should have arrived at around 5:30 that night. Shortly after setting up camp, a canal official arrived, collects $8 for each tent, chats a bit, states he wishes he was going with us and bids us a safe trip. At long last, we all get a much deserved break from the road.  Before turning into our tents for the night we share a toast of Jack in Dad’s honor.

We wake and tear down camp at dawn. We decided to get some miles under our belts before eating, as this day would have an additional 60-70 miles added to our 500.

 

Our journey continues. . . Scroll down
for Day Two of our journey to the
2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Written by:
Pam (with road journal and contributions
from Cindy-Thanks Cindy!)
All Rights Reserved, Ridersinfo.net
August 2011
Day One


We stop for breakfast at a McDonald’s in Genesea, IL., and are back
on the road by 8:30 a.m..  The weather is perfect for riding, overcast but without threat of rain.  Our first gas stop for the day is near Williamsburg, Iowa. Coincidently, the gas station sat in front of the hotel we stayed at on the 2006 Sturgis trip, on our way home.  We nick-named that overnight stay the “roach hotel”. This hotel was so bad, none of us slept that night.  I made the mistake of touching the carpeted floor with my socks on and my feet stuck to the carpet!  There wasn’t a vacancy anywhere, this was a last resort and in the dark of night we didn’t really know how bad it was.  Dad was having bike problems that day so we were behind schedule and traveling at night.  Jason had heard stories of this hotel from all of us, so it was exciting that we were able to actually show him.  Jason takes a look. . .you stayed there?  Weeds were waist high all around the hotel, the balconies that hadn’t already fallen off were barely hanging on, the painted trim was peeling exposing more bare wood than paint.  Ha-ha.  It was bad in 2006 but not THAT bad.  We discovered that it was now abandoned.  Go figure.  It was probably condemned shortly after our stay in ’06!

Back on the road for a long stretch, we are in need of a stop.  We stop at a rest area just east of Des Moines.  Jason is feeling the fatigue more so than the rest of us.  If you read ‘Meet the Crew’ then you know that none of us are on a touring bike.  And the ’95 Softail and ’02 883 Sportster are both pre-rubber mounted engine days. Pushing our limits the day prior due to the 5.5 hour delay, we were wearing quickly. To add insult to injury; Jason has ape hangers, maybe not the most comfortable way to ride nearly 1300 miles in two and a half days?  Wanting a break from the heavy traffic and an opportunity to enjoy some beautiful Iowa scenery, we are able to persuade Tom and Ross to ride Iowa St. Rt. 44, in lieu of I-80.  We take 141 N to 44 W just west of Des Moines.

This turns out to be an excellent decision. The Iowa countryside is beautiful.  Vast, perfectly manicured, cornfields rolling up and down the hillsides.  I am amazed that nearly every single country road that intersects and curves, you can see for miles ahead.  The rare sights of a vehicle traveling on the dirt roads, kicking up dust behind them, were engaging me into a trance.

We stop in a little town on SR 44 for a bathroom and lunch break.  As we look at the store fronts it becomes apparent that we may not find anything here.  Most of the stores are now empty or closed.  We find a museum of a general store.  Yes, read that again.  A MUSEUM of a GENERAL STORE. Cindy and Ross go inside to find that they have no public restroom, nor is there anywhere to get lunch in town.  Cindy suspects that the little old man overseeing the museum is the original owner of the former general store.  We joke that possibly the general store stopped getting business, judging by the rest of the empty store fronts in town, so he turned it and all the inventory, into a museum.  Very clever, we find this humorous, but it seems we are easily entertained on this trip. I find myself thinking about the town in the movie CARS.  This little town was probably a booming place before interstate 80 moved in.

The storekeeper directs us to Harlan, only 15 miles up the road.  There, he tells Cindy, is a Burger King with public restrooms.  At Burger King we get refreshed and eat lunch. It is around 2:30 p.m. now and the sun is out in full force.  Ross is sun baked and puts some sunscreen on.  Fortunately for the rest of us, he applies way too much.  His arms and face are WHITE caked with sunscreen, providing us not only a good laugh, but enough excess sunscreen for the group!

After lunch we continue on 44 W, bringing us to 30 W to 127 W through the Loess Hills.  We enjoy the gorgeous scenery as we make our way to I-29 N.  I am looking forward to hitting I-29.  On the ’06 trip this interstate was amazingly bare in comparison to I-75 and I-70 in Ohio. We hit I-29 and Jason takes the lead for awhile, we merge with other groups of motorcycles making the trek to Sturgis. This fuels our adrenaline.  The only downfall to the scenic SR 44 was the lack of other travelers on their bikes heading to Sturgis, which always adds excitement to the trip.  Although we are now in far west Iowa, we still have over 200 miles to travel until we get to our overnight stop in Mitchell, SD.

We see evidence of the recent Missouri River flooding in the fields; sandbags line the road in many areas. Construction and flooding has the interstate reduced to one-lane with two-way traffic for miles at a time.  I’m starting to feel really bad I told Jason the highways out west are nothing like the ones in Ohio.  Other than our peaceful retreat on SR 44, traffic has been surprisingly heavy the entire trip.

Tom has since taken the lead as we continue to put the miles behind us on I-29 N.  We see in the mirror Jason has his turn signal on as we are approaching a pull off area, time for a break. We pull into a ‘parking-only’ lot, no amenities, just trees, grass and asphalt.  Jason gets off his bike and heads for the nearest tree and collapses on the grass.  We all stretched out under the tree, in the shade, as we are all feeling the heat of the day and very tired.  Jason has a startling revelation that he shares. . .he says “I have no business being on a bike.” HE IS SERIOUS! “WHAT?!?! Are you crazy?” I ask.  “Where in the hell did THAT come from??”  In complete disbelief, I continue.. “Dude, seriously, you have been riding FOR YEARS!  You just RODE over 800 miles since yesterday afternoon!”  By this point he is curled up on the ground, as Cindy joked, in the fetal position.  It is obvious he is dehydrated and extremely fatigued, causing a delusional mental state.  We are in disbelief in what we are hearing.  I tell him he needs JACK and water!  We all need some Jack!  We get the flasks out and all take a swig.  There isn’t any source of water here, so we have to wait for that.

Someone jokingly says “Pam can ride your bike to Mitchell”.  Jason quickly says “hell no!  I’m not riding bitch!”  Of course that brings us all to a roar of laughter.  Then Jason adds “my patch is going to say ‘I rode Bitch to Sturgis’ no, it’s going to say, ‘I road mine, then gave it to a girl, then rode Bitch to Sturgis the rest of the way.’  A HUGE bout of laughter is just what we all needed to get the energy back. After lying around a little longer we got back on the bikes and shortly found a rest area with restrooms and vending machines. We each drank a bottle of water before getting back on the bikes.  And as I suspected, Jason was a new man and ready to ride!

We are thankful for the clouds that start to roll in, giving us a break from the heat. We are thundering down I-29, which becomes more desolate with few towns and gas opportunities.  We start to get nervous and are now desperately hoping for gas. Finally, we see the sign for a gas exit only one mile away.  Jason almost made it. His bike ran out, with his reserve lasting only a portion of what is normal for his bike.  Tom and I stayed back with Jason while Cindy and Ross rode up to the gas station.  This turns out to be the same gas station that Dad accidentally left Mom in 2006, funny story, which is in “The Road to Sturgis” on this site.  We have 100 miles ahead of us before we reach our campground at Lake Mitchell, SD.

We arrive at camp just before dark and it FEELS GOOD! We get the tents set up and are ready to eat.  We have been looking forward to steak at the Brig all day.  This campground is where we camped at on the ‘06 Sturgis trip and we ate at the Brig.  We have memories of fresh fruit, vegetables, great steak, and cold beer. We arrive at the Brig and get seated.  Beers are ordered and the salad bar awaits us.  Jason is less than enthused about the restaurant.  When we arrive at the salad bar, he makes a noise of concern.  Jason was an executive chef and ran restaurant kitchens for years, so when I hear this, I say “don’t tell me; I’m starved, I WANT to eat.”  Jason walks away from the salad bar with an empty plate.  Shit. Oh well, I’m eating.  Jason asks if he can see the manager, then disappears.  He is in the kitchen with the manager; going Gorden Ramsey on his ass. Meanwhile the rest of us enjoyed our salad bar goodies.  We finished our meals, drank our beer and headed back to camp.

We are all feeling great about making up the lost miles, making our intended stop this time, and facing less than 300 miles the next day.  We will pick Eryn up at the airport around 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. the next day, we are all excited to finally have Eryn join the group.  We go to bed pretty early, ready for a great night’s sleep.  Hell no.  A group of very loud teenagers were camping only yards away and were up the entire night! To quote Cindy’s road journal; “they think everything they say is fascinating and funny. At one point, they decide to blow up a beer can in the fire. The little bastards are literally up all night long disrupting the whole camping area.”   

We have traveled 1000 miles, more than 560 that day, hard miles, and didn’t hardly sleep that night, but that didn’t dampen our spirits!  We were all pumped and ready to arrive at Sturgis later that day!

Scroll down for Day Three of our trip to Sturgis, and our arrival to Sturgis!

Written by:
Pam (with road journal and contributions from Cindy-Thanks Cindy!)
All Rights Reserved, Ridersinfo.net
September 2011
Day Two


Day 3 – Sunday, August 7, 2011
Our 2011 Trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Having camp packed up and ready to roll about 9 a.m., a McDonalds just blocks away from our camp at Lake Mitchell, provides our breakfast to start the day.  We are all very excited to finally reach our destination TODAY! Although we have had limited sleep for the last 2 nights of travel, and two very hard days of riding, we all feel great.
Our first stop today will be in Chamberlain at the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River crossing.  This stop is a must, with the gorgeous scenery that overlooks the river it provides you a snap shot of the upcoming terrain, which is an extreme contrast to the landscape we had been traveling through. This stop is only about 70 miles away from camp. Which means; we definitely will not be traveling 105 miles before stopping, yeah!!

Wow, didn’t see this coming, this was the longest 70 miles of travel in my life!  The backrest on Tom’s Mustang seat has all but STOPPED the blood flow in my legs.  I can’t imagine my legs could hurt any worse!  I am so desperate to get OFF THIS BIKE!  By the time we get to the Chamberlain rest area I am so pissed I could spit nails!  Tom takes it all in stride; oh, does my back rest hurt your legs? err. . .  Everybody gets off their bikes, so happy and excited; I shake off the extreme anger and walk, walk, walk, to shake off the extreme pain.

This rest area isn’t your typical rest area, it is a museum showcasing the history of South Dakota, and also has trails leading to the edge of the bluff.  The parking lot is packed with motorcycles, as many other travelers appreciate this stop as well.  Cindy and I make our way to the museum to use the ladies room.  As we walk to the building I notice a helmet sitting on a bike with an elaborate paint job.  Apparently the look on my face shows that I have left the area, Cindy questions my thoughts. I tell her “I was pondering the paint job on that helmet”, Cindy laughs at my choice of words, ‘ponder’.  She says “as we were rolling down the highway, I said to myself, “I’m running out of things to ponder.”  We laugh at our use of the word ‘ponder’ because it is highly likely that neither of us would typically use this word in our conversations and how easy it is to get excited when something grabs our attention and gives us something to think about.  While waiting for the air dryer to dry her hands, Cindy reads a poem somebody printed out and taped to the bathroom walls in an attempt to sell CD’s describing the natural history of South Dakota. The first line was, “As you stand here and ponder.” Cindy almost lost it and could barely wait for me to see it, so the minute I stepped out of the stall, Cindy points to the poem telling me to read it. Of course, the minute I read the first line and see the word ‘ponder’, we both nearly bend over in a fit of laughter that keeps us giggling all the way back to the bikes. I know, we are easily entertained.

We all take a walk to the trails to see the amazing view from atop the bluffs. In 2006 Tom and I were in disbelief at the stark contrast of scenery. I describe our views and thoughts in the Countdown to Sturgis,  2006 journey to Sturgis story But wait, the view is different this time. Across the river it isn’t a brown, arid, landscape. It still reveals little plant life, but it is GREEN. Okay, again, I tell Jason one thing, and he experiences something much different. At this point Jason probably wonders what trip we REALLY took in 2006. Because the way things are going, it couldn’t have been to Sturgis. I figure the green landscape MUST be from all the rain they have had this year. Or was 2006 a year of drought? Back on the bikes we will need to fuel up shortly after crossing the river.  At our feul stop Jason receives a text from Eryn, her flight leaving from Dayton is delayed because of thunderstorms in Chicago, a lay-over in her flight to Rapid City.  She is not sure if she will be arriving on time, late, or even Monday.

I am going to back up to July 25th, (10 days before departure) real quick. This is the day Eryn FINALLY purchased her plane tickets. After seriously stressing that Eryn wasn’t going to get a flight, Cindy and I were elated that the ticket was actually bought!! But…the time of arrival into Rapid City Regional Airport… 9:35 p.m.  NO!!!  That would mean that after 300 miles on the road that day, arriving in Sturgis at approximately 3:30 p.m., we would have to leave Sturgis at 8:30 p.m. and go BACK 40 miles to Rapid City to pick up Eryn.   This will also put a serious downer on the first night in Sturgis, basically loosing the first night in Sturgis to traveling.

After brief phone conversations with Cindy, I decided that I had to talk to Jason about changing this.  Perhaps they could get a different flight. Cindy had looked up flight schedules and seen that there was in fact a flight landing in Rapid City at 1:30 p.m.  I called Jason to plead our case.

Pam – Jason, you have to get this flight changed.  You DO NOT want to ride to Rapid City at night, after riding 300 miles that day, and 1300 miles in two and a half days.

Jason – Why not, its not that big of deal

Pam – Yes, it is a big deal.  For one…you are going to be BEAT.  1300 miles in two and a half days is hard.  The LAST thing you are going to want to do after we have finally got to Sturgis, is ride another two hours, AT NIGHT. Second…that will totally RUIN the first night there!  Kenny Wayne Shepard is playing at Full Throttle, right across the street from our campground. Works out perfect.  We will go downtown Sturgis after we get camp set up and hang out until it’s time for the concert at Full Throttle.

Jason – Yea, but I still don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

Pam – JASON, TRUST ME, you do not want to ride to Rapid City, AT NIGHT, on the first night of the rally.  It is packed with bikes all the way to Rapid City.  A LOT of alcohol consumption.  It isn’t safe.  (I didn’t tell him that the never ending sights & sounds of sirens would make my case)

Jason – What are they going to do?  Jump out of the bushes?

Pam – …banging my head on my kitchen table…Jason, Cindy said there is a flight arriving at 1:30 p.m.  That would be PERFECT.  We could get Eryn on our way and she can ride into Sturgis with us.  That would be awesome, AND we can ALL hang out in Sturgis and go to Full Throttle later that night.

Jason – OK, I will tell Eryn.

Two days later…Facebook post from Eryn – I now fly in at 1:15 on Sunday! I leave Dayton at 11:02 and get to Chicago at 11:12 🙂

Yes!  And if you are wondering, the day before, during Jason’s mental breakdown in Iowa, I reminded him how awful it would had been to have to ride to Rapid City at night to get Eryn and he completely agreed that would have been very bad. Ha-ha

Before the interruption I left off that Eryn sent a text to Jason that she has flight delays, but we do not know exact status of arrival yet.

Back on the bikes we hammer out many more miles, we have a little bit of cushion today and have been making good time. We are trying to make our arrival to the airport as close to 1:30 as possible.  We stop at a rest area for a little break and to look at the map again to see the best route to pick up Eryn en-route.  The following is an excerpt from Cindy’s road journal recording an intriguing conversation that takes place during this stop…’It seems Tom and Ross are feeling a little giddy as well. Ross and Tom start discussing the ability or inability to shit after so many miles on the road. Ross discusses his peanut butter type shit that the toilet wouldn’t flush. Strangely, Tom walks into the same stall later and discovers it! He announces had he known it was Ross’, he would have taken a picture of it. We’re all laughing to tears. Jason gets a text from Eryn: she’s in the air and should be there on time! Hurray!’ 

Back on I-90 Jason takes the lead for a while.  Getting very low on gas, and very nervous to trust his reserve, he gets off an exit advertising gas.  The exit is for a town called Okaton, about a mile off of interstate. Cindy describes this stop in the journal with such elegance that once again, I am going to directly quote the road journal… “The road toward the town is heavily rutted and the houses show years of hard times and struggle. As we crest the small hill toward the station, a vista of the plains opens up and draws us all to the edge of the road to take it in! Wow! What a beautiful State! An old red granary stands damaged and abandoned in the middle of the grassland and catches everyone’s imagination of a time long ago. In fact, the whole place looks like it was frozen in time.”  The gas station offers only very low octane gas.  The men decide that all have enough gas to travel further down interstate to hopefully find a higher octane fuel for the bikes.

We stop at 1880 Town, a small tourist attraction that sits along I-90. This former town of days past now offers a gas station, souvenir shops, and a 1950’s dining car that still serves visitors hot meals.  Just before the little town comes into view you are greeted with larger than life steel sculptures along the highway.  The most famous one being the dinosaur, however, it seems like there are fewer sculptures than were present in 2006.  We pull into 1880 Town to fuel up the bikes and grab some lunch.  We are now about 160 miles from Sturgis.  We are making great time today and actually have the luxury of sight seeing around the little town briefly.  It seems that our time of arrival to the airport will be almost perfect with the arrival of Eryn’s plane.  We are all excited about the way things are working out for us today!

Only 160 miles left!  That is an AWESOME feeling!!  After lunch and fill ups we get back on the road.  We run out another tank of gas; we have to start looking for gas at about 90 miles, as we discovered the day before, Jason runs out completely at 105 miles.  We find a small town right off the exit for our next fill up.  This little town is packed with bikers at every gas station. Jason receives a text from Eryn…bad news.  When she arrived in Chicago, she missed her connecting flight!  She wouldn’t be able to get out of Chicago until MORNING!!! Jason calls Eryn and tells her to “pull some Amazing Race shit!”  Eryn went to the counter and got on a flight that was boarding to Denver, CO.  She arrived in Denver and there got on a flight that was flying into Rapid City at 9:30 p.m.   We were relieved that she would not have to wait until morning, but completely bummed that we weren’t going to pick her up at 1:30 p.m. and have her ride into Sturgis with us, and then of course, there we were, back on July 25th, back to going to Rapid City at night, the first night, to pick her up.  By this time Jason totally got the “you will be BEAT” argument I made just 12 days prior. Back on the bikes, we are all bummed that we weren’t going to pick up Eryn.

The closer we got to Sturgis, the darker the skies became.  Somehow we had escaped rain on this trip so far.  No chance that luck would continue.  The skies were getting down right ugly.  Although we had a few phones on the trip with radar, we never looked.  What is the point?  Do you REALLY want to know what you are getting into?  There isn’t much you can do about it in the prairie.  Shelter?  Nearly non-existent.  The storms in South Dakota can get down right mean.  We experienced a Dakota style pop-up thunderstorm during our 2006 Sturgis trip, and it wasn’t pretty.  In 2009 the Sturgis rally was hammered by hail storms so bad it actually made the news.  Hoping for the best, we thunder on closing the distance between us and Sturgis.

About 20 miles from Rapid City it becomes apparent that we are not going to miss the storm we have been watching in the horizon for miles.  We pull over, along with dozens of other bikers, and get our rain gear on. Everyone in the group has Harley-Davidson rain gear that they had received as birthday or Christmas gifts months prior to this trip. Jason’s H-D rain gear was a great find at a garage sale for $20.  My Christmas gift was a Linby Linbar for my Sporty, so I had to resort to a freebie Marlboro rain suit that was about 20 years old, after all, it had to be better than my usual rain gear, my leathers.  The skies were scary black with drooping shades of gray.  It was obvious that this was a serious rain producer.  This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the worry of lightening and hail. Not to mention that I-90 is grooved.  I will be the first to say that I HATE the rain grooves on the interstate in South Dakota, and now in Iowa on I-29! We make our way to Rapid City, very heavy traffic, rain.  We were thankfully spared severe weather.  We pull off for a little breather and bathroom break, but picked the wrong exit, no bathroom. Further on down the road we find an exit that will provide us the bathroom we were looking for and the rain had finally stopped.  Walking into the convenience store/gas station we pass a very tall chick on a Road King, riding with fish net stockings and boy shorts.  Wow, that is one seriously ugly chick.  Wait, that wasn’t a chick, that was a DUDE!!

Back on the road, only 40 more miles.  Yes! Almost there! The rain starts again.  There is no welcoming committee on the overpasses this time, I guess the rain kept them home.  We go in and out of spits of rain. We finally reach our coveted destination…STURGIS! Hallelujah!!  We are all so grateful to finally have arrived!  Safe!! The rain has almost completely stopped, for now.  I am SOAKED, the Marlboro rain suit, SUCKED!!  We take back streets to avoid the huge amount of bike traffic to get to the campground as quick as possible.  Jason is now in Sturgis, and he is seeing neighborhoods and a few clusters of bikes here and there.  I think to myself, he HAS to be wondering…This is it?  This is the great, almighty, Sturgis?   When we get to camp I assure Jason that we took a detour and to trust me, what you’ve seen isn’t the “Sturgis” we endlessly talk about.  He said…’I was wondering what was so great about this, I was a little disappointed.’ Ha-ha.  We get camp set up and immediately head to downtown.  NOW, we get to Downtown Sturgis, where the streets are lined two deep down the middle and down each curb side with an endless display of steel and chrome!  NOW, Jason has a huge smile, this is AWESOME!

Oh what to do about getting Eryn. Jason didn’t need any convincing this time. There was NO WAY he was going to get on his bike and ride 40 miles to Rapid City then 40 miles back.  By this time is was raining again.  Not going to happen!  He sent Eryn a text that she would get as soon as she landed…’We are going to get you a cab to bring you to the campground.’  Eryn says NO, I will just stay at the airport until morning, then you can get me.  We all laugh, Eryn is pissed. She thinks we don’t want to get her.  We want to get her, but not in the rain at 8:00 at night!   Jason tells her no, you are not staying at the airport and I am not riding back to Rapid City in the rain, in the dark. Get in the cab!

Meanwhile, Cindy is chomping at the bit. She is getting very restless. Kenny Wayne Shepard is going to start playing at the Full Throttle, we can’t miss this!  We get word from Eryn, her cab arrives.  Cool, we will be waiting at the camp office for her, ready to go over to Full Throttle upon arrival.  Eryn calls Jason, the cab driver doesn’t know where Lamphere is. Really?  Again? Another professional driver, who’s responsibility is to take people places, DOESN’T HAVE A GPS!!  We tell her to tell him it is across the street from the Full Throttle Bar.  The cab driver makes it to Sturgis, but doesn’t know how to get around town, which is blocked off to motorcycles only.  He takes Eryn on a tour of Sturgis side streets, trying to find his way around.  Finally he makes it onto Hwy 34, the road our campground is located. He gives up, tells Eryn he can’t find it.  She tells him “just let me out here!”  Eryn calls Jason and tells him she got out of the cab, doesn’t know where in the hell she is.  Describes her surroundings…A gas station and the Full Throttle Saloon is across the street.  Well, we know exactly where she is. She is on the corner of our road, a long, busted up, partially paved road, from our campsite.  It’s still raining, she is standing in a parking lot, bag in hand, bikers everywhere, in Sturgis, lost.  This is pretty funny to all of us, but Cindy is still getting pretty anxious about missing any of the concert.  We can meet her there and go over to Full Throttle.  No.  She has a bag she has to bring to the tent.  Damn…ok, hurry up!  Jason and Eryn arrive back at the camp office and take the long walk to the tent.  We can hear Kenny Wayne Shepard playing.  Cindy’s mood is going south pretty damn quick.

Finally we are all together, wait on the bus that shuttles from the campground to Full Throttle, it is a REALLY long lane, the bus would be the fastest way.  Taking the bikes wasn’t an option, the line of bikes waiting to get in Full Throttle was at least half an hour long. We get to Full Throttle, weave our way through the people just in time for THE LAST SONG OF THE NIGHT!  Bummer.  Cindy? Pissed.  But she got over it quick.  We hung out at Full Throttle for awhile, then headed back to the campsite around midnight or so.

We were all very exhausted, but very pumped about our day ride to Needles Highway, the wildlife loop, Mount Rushmore, and Custer park in the morning.

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