The Great Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Road Trip 2009

Trip Start Jan 01, 2009
Trip End Dec 31, 2009

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Where I stayed
Broken Spoke Campground

Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Saturday, August 8, 2009

First off, let me say that Sturgis was frickin' EXCELLENT!!  I'm glad I went, even if it was only on 2 weeks notice!  I'm not gonna be trying to separate out everything that happened into each of the separate it's all gonna go right in here.


I traveled more than half way across the country and it ends up the people I set my tent up next to live about 3 miles from my house in NY...go figure.  They were cool though.  They had been traveling all over the country and were heading down to Tennessee on their way back home to NY.  I'll definitely be riding with them more often.

Also met a guy from Atlantic City, NJ.  Got to talking in the bar at the campground, then ended up he was camping just 30 feet away from me.  I'm pretty impressed with him, he rode all the way from NJ to Sturgis on a H-D Sportster...with no himself.  Then he left a few days before I did and was riding out to California before making his way across the southern US and back up to Atlantic City.  His name is Kacper (sounds like Casper) and he's in a few of the photos when we went on a ride.

Every morning I met a few new people at breakfast or along the road.  Generally I'd get to talking with people at breakfast and we'd stick together and go for a ride.  And to think I had been worried that I'd end up riding alone every day!


Some of the concerts we had were really good.  .38 Special was awesome.  They played for 3.5-4 hours.  And they put on a good show too!  Foghat has good music but they just kind of played their set.  No real show went into it. So that was disappointing.  Nashville Pussy was another really good show.  They were good enough to get the girls up on the bars dancing.

Later at night, after the various concerts, there would be all sorts of shenanigans.  There'd be mini-bike races through the bar and the parking lot out front.  Golf-cart wheelies.  Impromptu burn-outs.  It was almost like being back at the HOP in Rochester during college.  Usually this stuff didn't even start until 1am.  Then for some reason, I'd be up at the butt-crack of dawn because of the sun coming into the tent.


I rode more than 1300 miles over the 6 days I was staying at Sturgis. I went to a lot places in the area and I still barely scratched the surface. My favorite road was the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Highway.  On the little color-coded "Skills Rated Road Map" of the Black Hills, these were the two most difficult roads.  There's 270deg corners, 5mph-rated corners, blind one-lane tunnels, etc.  The roads are impassable by cargo truck, and even some passenger trucks.  Check out the pic of the "narrow tunnel" sign.  I was on a motorcycle and I thought it was a fairly tight space.  I'd have a hard time imagining taking my full-size truck through there. 

Another fun road was the Spearfish Canyon Highway.  Not nearly as curvy of a road, but the views were excellent.  And the views from the Badlands were out of this world...seriously...I was thinking to myself, "This must be what the moon would look like if it had blue skies."  I could have spent even longer riding around the Badlands, exploring other gravel roads to see where they lead.  But I only went down one of the gravel roads and it led me to the top of one of the Buttes.

One day I  road past Mount Rushmore (I had gotten good photos from the Iron Mtn Hwy w/o having to pay $6 to park), went into the Crazy Horse Memorial Park, and on the way back decided to take the Needles Highway across and it poured on me!  I'm talking rivers of water running down the road.  I was crawling around the curves because of the runoff washing across the road so it took twice as long to get back to camp.  And because my rain pants had a hole in them (burned them on the exhaust on the ride from NY to Sturgis), my leg was utterly soaked through by the time I got to camp.

Rode out to Devil's Tower one day and took the back roads through Wyoming to get there.  Mostly straight roads but some good curves towards the end.  And really good views of Devil's Tower in the distance.


Sturgis and most of the other towns in the area are a madcap jumble of people on motorcycles for the few days of the Rally.  Main streets are shut down and turned into Bikes only streets.  Wouldn't even be able to fit a car down the street because the bikes are parked on the sides of the street and down the middle.

Sturgis was the most outrageous (rightfully so) in terms of people you see, things you see happening, and food prices.  The first two things can't really be talked about in a public forum but food was $8 for a cheeseburger and some fries.  If you headed out of town, at the high school there was a pancake breakfast every morning (I ate there every morning except the morning I left).  It was great, biscuits and sausage gravy, eggs, sausage, pancakes, OJ, coffee....and it was all you could eat for $7.  And out at the campsite, a guy had set up a trailer and was serving his version of Philly Cheesesteaks, which were pretty darn good. His booth was called United Steaks of America.  They were worth the $7 or $8 they cost.  He shaved the beef fresh from the hock right before cooking it.  Sturgis also had a lot of different manufacturers who had brought out bikes for demo rides.  Victory, Yamaha, Boss Hoss, Indian, Kawasaki, Spyder....they all had free demo rides...and I couldn't ride a one because I didn't have my motorcycle license.  So next year, I need to go back out and make sure to take Jacqui so we can both try out all sorts of different motorcycles.

Rapid City was good to go to once or twice during the rally but there was too much to see to be there a lot.  Harley Davidson had set up at the Civic Center there and had all the new bikes out, you could demo ride any motorcycle out there if you had your license, permits not allowed :( ...  And they had a free bike wash.  You washed the bike yourself but they provided all the washing and detailing equipment and supplies and would help out if you needed it.

Stopped in at Hill City on the way back from Custer.  Not a bad town but no real draw to it.  Though they do have a Dairy Queen right next to the H-D store (not a dealership, no bikes sold there)

Deadwood looked pretty cool when I rode through downtown, but didn't feel the need to stop.  I'd like to visit again when there aren't so many people crowding the restaurants and the streets.

Hulett, Wyoming was fun to walk around.  And on Wednesday they had free BBQ.  The whole town only has ~450 people in it.  They all come together to put together a massive BBQ and set up souvenir stands and food and drink stands.  I'm not sure what, if anything, they do for the rest of the year.  We were going to stop and get the free BBQ, but the line was already literally a 1/4 mile long.  Do check out the free museum while you're there.  While I was in Hulett was when I first got to see the Boss Hoss with a 502ci V8 and 200 shot of nitrous.

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starlagurl on

This is crazy! Makes me want to go next year...hmmm.

big_red_truck on

I'm gonna try to
As long as I am in the country, I'll be out there...Aug 9-15th, 2010

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