Monday, August 11, 2008

Sturgis 2008

So I’ll try to tell the story of Sturgis 2008 in one, but with the number of stories there are to tell, it just might have to be split up into separate stories. That is unless I leave the night life stories out which I probably should because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I mean Sturgis and that would even include some of those that happened during the day. It’s a whole other world not spending the week at the famed Buffalo Chip, the place that everyone who really wants to experience Sturgis should experience and that’d be a vacation with a little riding as well as sleep, this year it’s Hog Heaven which I’ll get to that story in a bit.

Day one was all about the ride out to Sturgis to join the group that sent me on my way a couple of years ago to Alaska. Yea, that year was the Buffalo Chip, but this year is about getting a little sleep. The ride out isn’t anything to write home about, just like the ride home, but I did have a tail wind leaving Minnesota which is always a nice thing. The only problem is as soon as you hit the flat plains of SD, it doesn’t make any difference which way your heading because the wind always seems to be a cross wind, that’s definitely the worst part of riding through South Dakota. Now the destination is always worth reaching on this trip that the t-shirt from Kutter’s Harley, remember Janesville WI, it’s more the destination than the journey in this case. I don’t know what it was about the ride out, but I definitely had something on my mind that it didn’t seem to disappear until I hit South Dakota and pumped it up to 88 mph instead of the 80 through Minnesota. Some of the pictures I did catch on the way through Minnesota were where I lived for the first 6 years of life, Granada, before my parents shipped us back to Wisconsin for a proper education and Fairmont where I was born. I did make it to Hog Heaven, this year’s campground and was about an hour behind the group even though I did leave 2 hours later than them…I figured my speed might’ve had something to do with that. Anyway, time to setup my tent for the week and thanks to Matt for hauling that and my sleeping bag out that I didn’t have as much to pack on the bike for this trip.

Ok, day one and that definitely means a nice relaxing night downtown Sturgis, remember we’re at Hog Heaven, which by the way is the campground I stayed at the first few years I came out to Sturgis 13 years ago, and the thing I liked about this campground was how close to downtown it was. I figured that allowed me a few beers on the bike and able to get it back to camp without being under the influence and your right, that’d be my interpretation of influence and not the cops version. For a nice relaxing first night in downtown Sturgis it turned out to be one hell of a party, which remember what happens in Sturgis stays in Sturgis that the only exciting thing other than the story is who we saw make a special appearance on stage at Broken Spoke, you got it, Ozzie Osborn. What a great addition to the great music we were already getting from one of the local hotties singing hard rock. A late night, but we don’t have to be up early for anything tomorrow.

Day two was all about the gravel, gravel roads and Matt was the one to set the trail since his son Joe and fiancée Christa were along for the ride. That meant a ride to Rochford which you can reach by blacktop, but from there, its dirt road to see the sites. The first stop, the caves which Matt knows about from his snowmobiling trips and I’m sure their easier to get at in the snow than the bikes because Matt and Joe were the only ones to attempt riding their bikes up that trail which is a hiking trail as you can see and not meant for motorized vehicles, I think they missed that sign. Anyway, on the way up, Joe dumped the bike, but that just adds to him making this newer Harley a Rat bike. You’d never be able to tell that it’s an 04 by the paint job and other things on it, but he’s doing a great job of turning it into a Rat bike and doesn’t plan on ever washing it that he might want to stay out of the rain so the dirt doesn’t get washed off. From the caves it was to Flag Mountain which again a logging trail, but in this case one that all of us do have to take the bikes on to get to the top. I did think I was going to dump it a few times when you try to negotiate the big rocks in the road and hit one the wrong way sending you in a direction you didn’t want to go and if you go over the edge, well let’s just say there’s no coming back. We weren’t sure what to make of the geological markers, but the view was something else and we could see for miles. We also weren’t able to make out what the buildings at the top use to be used for, but there was definitely some work to building them on top of this mountain. Ok, so day 2 ends with another trip to downtown and that story stays in Sturgis, but it was a different crowd in a different bar.

Day three was overcast that it was one of those days that instead of doing a lot of riding and getting caught in the rain; we did more shopping with little riding. Tom Dave and I headed to Rapid so Tom could see a friend of his and Dave and I would shop the Harley Davidson dealership to see what’s what. Of course we got spit on, rain on the way, but fortunately it wasn’t anything we needed the rain gear for so it turned out to be a great day for shopping. You might be asking what I bought at the Harley shop, that the only thing I was looking for was a replacement for a shift link, which I’m already on my third, but that one hasn’t lasted very long that for a bike being just over 2 years old, how could you possibly go thru so many shift links, well, maybe 59,000 miles might make a difference. The day did end up nicer later in the day than it started, but we did get most of our shopping outta the way because I did get my clown shirt, which I have one for every year except for 2000, that if you know of anyone who has one and wants to get rid or it, I know of someone interested. Yep, day three did end up in downtown Sturgis for more partying, but sorry, what happens in Sturgis stays in Sturgis that I can tell you it was a different bar and a different group tonight than last night.

Day four was back on the black top and a trip around the loop into Wyoming, just to say we crossed state lines. It did start with the group splitting up since Matt and Greg, who showed up last night after his Bear Tooth Pass trip, were up for an early morning ride. Well Greg was the early riser that the 6:00am ride already planned by Matt included only those up, which meant none of the rest of us. That left Mark, Tom, Dave and I to ride the rest of the day. Oh, did I forget to mention that Christa and Joe had already left early Day two? well, they had and before I forget, part of the reason for the loop and how this loop got started was after getting to camp, Matt found out the sewer tube for the RV was cracked that he needed a new one that although Day three was overcast and a day for shopping, Dave and I made a stop that would make a difference later in the week at an RV store just to buy a sewer tube. Well, Matt had already gotten one on day three that was a lot cheaper than the one Dave and I picked up that it was time to return it which meant a return trip to Rapid where I was hoping to see a little more of Shelley with the stop, more on that later since talk of her hasn’t shown up yet. Well, that’d be just like talk of Kat which was my Canadian name for Kathy who we met Day one…remember, what stays, stays, that need I say more?

Ok, back to the loop was the four of us returning the sewer tube, having a nice breakfast downtown Rapid and riding a loop through Keystone with me showing the guys the train road from Keystone to Hill City, Hill City down to Custer and into Wyoming past the Jewel Caves to Newcastle. Not all the train road which was only from Keystone to Hill City, but if you had a rally map you’d have an idea of the loop that I’m talking about. From Newcastle it was over to Cheyenne Crossing thru Spearfish Canyon into Savoy for a much needed nap from the heat. Well, Dave might have been the only one to catch a cat nap, but the rest of us did enjoy the comfort and relaxation from the heat. Oh, did I forget to mention that it was getting hot and humid today…that might mean their prediction for thunderstorms could come true and guess what? we got hit hard. I might’ve jumped ahead a little from the days ride, but I’m at Elk Creek Steakhouse and a storm that I’ve never seen in the Black Hills was going thru that although the pictures don’t do it justice, just imagine it raining and blowing hard enough that you can’t see the houses across the street, that’s what tonight’s storms were like and need I say more about what stays? I think not.

Day five and I decide to ride my own, maybe not by design, but for as much of North America that I’ve seen on my own, I love riding around the Black Hills by myself sometimes. Today is the traditional ‘No Panty Wednesday’ at Hulett that I think that might be the trip to make. Well, I did make the trip and although I was hoping to speed along the way since it’s easier to do as one than with a group, well, not as easy with the number of inexperienced riders around. It wasn’t too bad with a trip past the oldest store in Wyoming, Aladdin on the way to Hulett, but the number of people in the Hills as well as the fun that use to be had in Hulett is all but gone. I haven’t mentioned how bad the cop stops have been around Sturgis, but it’s ridiculous how they have taken all of the fun out of what use to be a fun event, as well as the Rally prices that everyone is complaining about, yep, me included. I remember when a beer use to be a buck (1$) around these parts, where they’re now charging five bills (5$)…ridiculous. So back to the loop, my loop for the day was Hulett, past Devils Tower, down thru Deadwood where I got to take route 385 south to Keystone and the Iron Mtn road which is a great road to ride. I was going to do Needles highway, but as long as it’s part of Custer State Park and I’m not going to see the rest of the loop, I’ll save that for the next person I get to introduce the fun of Sturgis bike week with…if you know what I mean. So I weaved in and out with a trip down Nemo road which I haven’t ridden yet this year…for those who know, I’ve been staying at Nemo for years that usually I’ll ride these roads on a regular basis, that where else am I gonna end up tonight but camp?

Tonight, I can write about what happened for the night, but I’m staying with the group to pack for tomorrow’s departure even though there’s more to the story…which is a whole other story we won’t bother getting into.

Day Six and the alarms are already going off at 5:00am even though I’ve been awake for a while wondering what time it is only to find out my phone’s battery is dead. Well, I have an appointment to take someone for a ride this morning that I don’t need to get out of bed so early, other than to pack what Matt is carrying back for me, which is the tent and sleeping bag that any extra sleep that I was hoping for isn’t going to happen. Ok, to share a little story with you, remember day three that was overcast and a day to shop, well when Dave and I stopped at Midwest RV to pickup a sewer hose, someone started smarting off to the receptionist about going for a ride that to my surprise she somehow got my number and called me the day before saying she wanted me to come and pick her up for a ride before work. Sure there’s more to the story, but that stays where? you got it - Sturgis. Well, you might be able to figure out I missed the entire ride back to Minnesota with those riding their own, but the best part of the early morning ride was trying to get lost.

Ok, so I’m hitting the pavement hard since it’s later than everyone else that has already left for home, but I have some things to remember the ride by. I don’t know what it is, but the ride home always feels easier than the ride to the initial destination, that this time the journey is the thing to talk about and not the destination since the destination is home to reality. Sure, there were the normal gas stops and the cross winds through the plains of South Dakota, but would you guess that I’d run out of gas having taken this route for 13 years and knowing where the gas is? sure there is. I was 3 miles from Mitchell before the bike died and so just like last year, I was able to get to Sturgis without running out of gas, but the ride home, no such luck. The biggest difference, last year I had someone to take back into the bushes while waiting for gas, whereas this year I was on my own that I better start hoofing it to somewhere close to get gas. You can make your own story out of that piece of information, but ‘Sugar Mama’ knows what I’m talking about. The thing I did find out, you have to start walking otherwise everyone thinks you’re just pulled over to make some adjustments to continue riding. I was fortunate to have Kyle who was hauling air conditioning equipment stop to help me out and although he had straps and we might have been able to strap the bike into the back, the easiest was a ride to a gas station and a ride back, which I appreciate him taking me both ways. We stopped at the nearest Cenex station, 3 miles up the road, yep, that close from running out of gas, that even though I’m a Cenex credit card carrier, no gas cans just to borrow, that I have to buy a gas can to get gas. Well, Janice the manager at Cenex suggested I buy a liter of water to dump out and fill with gas that it was a lot cheaper than getting the gas can, that was until Kyle said it’s against regulations that if caught with gas in something other than a gas can it could be quite a hefty fine that I’m gonna spend the $5 for a gas can to carry around with me even though the $1.50 water bottle was a good idea. I bet I don’t run outta gas any more from this point home, right? well…

So I did ask Janice what the return policy was, but her comparison to a used gas can was, ‘if you buy a donut and eat it, you can’t return it’ that because I used the gas can I couldn’t return it. Well, I think there’s quite a difference in comparison since in my situation I have a piece of plastic to return which can only carry gas and in the other, there’s nothing, but someone’s crap to deal with. The great news Janice did share with me was by using my Cenex credit card; I’d save 3 cents per gallon. Yea, that doesn’t cover the cost of the gas can, but I did save something on this trip.

Ok, I’m home and have all of these things that have to get taken care of before my next, trip. Yep, home for one night just to pack up and take off tomorrow for God’s country, Wisconsin that it’s an appropriate end to the Sturgis story to see what other stories I can scare up. And for those who want the, “what happens in….stays in…” version, that’ll be my choice whether to share or not.

Sturgis 2008 Pics