Three More Sleeps

Black Hills South Dakota

It happens every year in the month leading up to Sturgis. I go back and forth about whether I’m going, the highs and low’s of planning and then it all comes together and a date gets penciled in. Or does it? This year it does.

I’m actually getting my gear together and making a list of those items I will forget. It never fails, you can put it all in a pile and you end up taking those things you really will never need and leave behind the necessities. Of course you can pick up anything you need along the way, but that isn’t the point. I have it sitting right there on the garage floor.

I’ve sent a few messages to people I know who will be there in hopes of meeting up for a beer. I know I want to head out to the Full Throttle to see the progress in person, and do a couple of rides in the area that I haven’t done in a few years. Man, I wish The Knuckle Saloon still had the amateur MMA fights like they used to. Oh well, I’m sure there will be plenty going on, it’s just a matter of wandering around.

So, the next decision is which direction to ride on the way up. I’ve taken about every road up and back, mixing up the scenery and giving those few crooks the opportunity to skim my card at the gas pump. Yes, this has happened. Like every trip I take, I always have a goal of meeting some locals in hopes they tell me their life story. It will happen, and I’ll be all ears. That’s okay and it never gets old listening to someone tell me a little about themselves or the community in which they live. Good stuff.

As I sit here typing this, I should be in the garage packing some stuff. I did get my cup holder mounted. I struggled with that. Not from mounting it, but rather if I need it. Really? A cup holder? Hey, it’s a long trip.

I guess Friday morning is only a couple of sleeps away, and there will be plenty of time to gather my crap and strap it down. I’m ready to go – at least in my head I am.

Sturgis or…Bust?

20150801_195018_resized20150803_103236_resized20150803_161311_resized

I was so looking forward to the 75th Annual Sturgis Rally and at one point I wasn’t sure if this year was going to happen – read: Clarityville. Like every year, this gives me a chance to get away and spend a week riding the highways and byways of Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota while finding interesting things along the way. As I’ve said before, Sturgis is a great place to turn around because it’s the ride I so look forward to, and although a good time is always had during the rally, weather can also play a big part in having a great trip versus a good trip. You see, there really isn’t such a thing as a bad trip to Sturgis. Well…

Planning this trip every year always starts about a week after I get back from the rally, and last year was no different. As winter rolls in you lose a little urgency and just like everything else, plans are put on the back-burner until the first break in the weather and then it all fires back up. Who’s going, who can’t go and all the other details and gossip that go along with planning for Sturgis seem to find their way into the conversation whenever there’s the false sense of Spring in air. We know the trip is happening but like a kid who can’t wait for the last day of school, it’s not getting here fast enough. I swear, we’re just like little kids sometimes.

I heard rumors and I’ve seen old grainy photos of what appears to be people going to Sturgis with dare I say, their motorcycle on a trailer. Heck, I didn’t know you could put a motorcycle on a trailer and why would you? It is a self-propelled machine capable or moving bodies and souls great distances with little more than the twist of the throttle. So this year it happened to me; in a borrowed trailer I hauled my touring bike to the rally. Gasp! A touring bike on a trailer. Where do you buy a t-shirt that says “I hauled mine?” Oh, the verbal beating I will take for this.

Gasp! A touring bike on a trailer. Where do you buy a t-shirt that says “I hauled mine to Sturgis 2015?” Oh, the verbal beating I will take for this.

Let me say this. After hitting rain across the Kansas/Nebraska border, hauling it didn’t seem so bad. After all, I’m delicate. I’ve ridden to the rally 8 years in a row with nothing to prove, and this “pulling a trailer” thing was a little foreign to me. Such things as wipers, a comfortable seat with armrests and climate control changed everything. If I didn’t know any better, I would have wondered why there were so many bikes on the road all heading in the same direction. But wait, I knew better. After a long day behind the wheel, camp was set up, the bike was unloaded and it was a quick ride into Sturgis for a bite to eat. Lot’s of people and somewhat tough to park, but not too bad. Saturday night was pretty uneventful and after all, I did have a long day driving. Can you tell I’m a little bitter about not riding this year? Yeah.

20150801_185731_HDR_resized20150803_100038_resized20150801_201115_resized

Sunday plans were to ride to Spearfish and head through the canyon to Lead and then south to Rapid City. Back up through Custer State Park into Keystone, Hill City and Deadwood, ending back up in Sturgis. A good days riding and I really hoped to get 250 miles on the bike before it got hot and crowded in the Black Hills. That was the plan… Hitting I-90 west to Spearfish my motorcycle coughed and hesitated. Hmmm. Surely a fluke, I thought to myself. Stopping in Lead about 60 miles later, the decision was made to go back to Sturgis, abandoning the plans due to heavy traffic and a bunch of folks out on the roads that probably shouldn’t have been there – at least on motorcycles. What’s a couple of close calls among friends?

After getting back into town and wandering around for a few hours it was time to head back to the campground for a siesta. Apparently pulling a trailer with your motorcycle in it can wear a fella out. Pulling up to a stop sign leading up to the main drag in and out of Sturgis, my bike died. I fired it up, got a block further and it died again. Rinse, lather, repeat for another couple of blocks and then it wouldn’t start. An innocent bystander watching the parade of bikes rolling into town from his front yard, asked if I needed a ride somewhere, and I gladly accepted. Pretty handy having a pickup and trailer just down the road in the campground isn’t it?

I know what you’re thinking. Am I glad I towed the bike to the rally? Yes, and of course no. The unpredictability of a breakdown is always there no matter where you ride. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have this happen to me on any other trip, and I guess I was probably due. The fact that I trailered this year is pure luck and as a biker, we usually have a plan B in the event of a breakdown. You do have a plan B don’t you?

So as much as I wanted to stay, it was a little difficult getting around in the pickup. With my frustration level peaking, it was only logical to leave the rally early. Two days early. Driving as far as North Platte Nebraska to spend the night, the rain convinced me that I would rather be in the cab of the truck than on a bike. What is it about rain and Nebraska? Or am I getting soft? I think I actually used the word “delicate” earlier. Wednesday, when I should have been planning on an evening at The Knuckle Saloon for the fights I was changing a blowout on the trailer which ruined the tire and wheel. A borrowed trailer at that. Thanks Russ!

20150805_121017_resized20150803_100005_resizedIMG_20150802_123243_resized

All said, it was a trip to be remembered. Pictures? I took 14. Miles ridden? 80. Rain? Yes. Will there be a next year? Probably.