The Writer’s first visit to the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

A quick snap from the back of the bike on our way out of town.
The Rider, Biker Chef, was on the lookout for vintage bikes, particularly the Panhead Harley Davidson.
All I could think of is that the seat comfort has improved.
You gotta really want to ride this one.

The coolest thing about going to Sturgis during the rally is seeing all those motorcycles in one place. It’s like the whole traveling population is riding and it’s strange to see automobiles. Of course, there’s a constant hum of motors with moments of revving the engine.

Growing up in the ’80’s I heard stories of the Sturgis Rally as this violent, rough place where rival motorcycle gang members went with a target for murder, rabid drug use, sexual depravity and danger. It was built up as an evil Hell pit that I should never enter.

Times have changed. I saw nothing that shocked me. Oh, there were women wearing only body paint on top, a few with fish netting under their chaps or eye-catching underpants. Most people looked like regular folks wearing leathers. They did normal touristy things, like stop and take photos of the gorgeous scenery, check out the winery, buy something from the vendors, and enjoy a beer & burger at their favorite watering hole. The bikers seemed to be happy to be out riding, hanging out with other bikers, and enjoying some vacation time.

Everyone likes telling their story of how many miles they rode, the weather & road conditions, and what happened along the way. Many bikers wear vests that boast where they’re from or what club they belong to. A guy from Jersey City sat down next to us at a gas stop in Spearfish, all pumped up from his ride, which was blazing hot most of the way, and when he hit some rain, he said, “I was glad. It was great.” We told him we’d been through Yellowstone, and his eyes lit up, “I want to do that, too.” His adrenaline was spiked from the ride and the excitement of the next challenge.

The most interesting ride I saw was a man on a trike with a wheelchair attached to the back. He had his feet strapped in. I wish I had gone over and talked to him. He was at that same gas station in Spearfish. I wondered if he was riding with someone or going it alone.

The Biker Chef treated me good this day. He bought me deerskin riding gloves, a t-shirt, and a new leather vest. We bought patches from this year’s rally and he said, “You earned your patch.”

The grand total miles from our 2012 Western Tour, my first big ride = 2450 miles in seven days!

Holy Smokes! I never would have thought I could do that, sitting in the same position, pressure on the same part of my sitz bone, all those miles, from rain and cold to the sand-grit winds over the plains of Wyoming and South Dakota, up and over the mountain passes and into the valleys.

This picture speaks volumes. I was at the end of stamina, so sore in the saddle I had tears in my eyes. I was way past hungry, and tired beyond anything, except for when my twins were newborns. And, I could still muster a smile as I worked the snarls out, and I don’t just mean from my hair. And, really, I hate to admit it, but I was glad we rode through the Spearfish Canyon as the sun was setting.
The Biker Chef said when you tour on the bike, you find yourself going beyond your comfort zone, past where you thought you could ever go, and realizing that the comfort zone you were in wasn’t all that comfortable.
The very last part of my dream on the final morning of our tour was riding down the mountain. It was a mountaintop experience for me. Riding through the west on a Harley motorcycle, an iron horse if you will, is a sensuous experience. All your senses experience the journey. The smells from pastureland to blooming plants. The air when it’s hot and baking you, to the cool reprieve from shade or a breeze. The whipping and jerking from the gritty hot wind on the plains, and feeling that you are truly in the moment.
Thank you, Biker Chef, for riding us safely through the elements, up and over the mountains, and into the land of adventure. May it be the first of many.
I’m home, safe and sound, and not done writing. I have more stories to share about the places we went and the people we met.
Be safe. Journey on, and Happy Trails!