A Gal's Eye View of Sturgis
...including getting married
Words: Maggie Drysdale, latterly Hitch
Pics: Ian Mutch except the wedding one
Now if you are thinking of going to Sturgis - let me tell you it ain't cheap. Flights alone are costly to get to Rapid City.
We flew into Rapid City and hired a Harley there (you have to be on a Harley for Sturgis, anything else just won't do). It's $100 per day to hire so we only got one bike between two of us from Pig Performance at Rapid City through Cycle lease and Bill (Porky) was great.
We had pre-booked Glencoe Camp Resort on early bird special prices ($300 per person). Catered Camping is fantastic, big tent for the two of us, towels, soap and shower gel every morning with coffee, beer and ice runs laid on during the day. It adds up to another $400 per person for the whole two weeks but it is worth every penny and saved us hauling tent gear with us. Sleeping bags, comfy mattresses, coolers and chairs all included as well. However, the best thing about Catered Camping is the camaraderie with the other campers- there was about 30 of us in a lovely shaded, bike only part of the camp and we all got on great despite our international and varied background.
I suppose when everyone is a biker and looking to have fun, you all come from the same starting point. It was mostly couples and not too raucous (if you want a really mad time - go to Buffalo Chip campground as most of the big parties were there along with all the top bands). However 'Titty Ally' on the Glencoe site is fun, a 3 mile road with thousands of campers either side giving beads, drink and anything else at times away to gals who showed their tits. It took us 3 hours one night to get down but we sure collected a lot of beads!
Went into Sturgis - about 2 miles from site - and had lovely food at Side Hicks Saloon. Realised later that this was going to be the only day for good food as all the cafes, bars and restaurants shut down their normal menus and put on 'Rally food' as mass catering dictated. Rally food consisted of meat, potatoes and bread in various forms, a lot of starch and you end up craving vegetables after a few days. Went to Broken Spoke Saloon and was pretty impressed as the Worlds largest Bike Bar stood up to reputation with bikes hung from all the walls, good bands, and excellent people.
Wednesday saw us travel to Deadwood, Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane's graves and an incredible place to visit. You just feel the old west oozing out of all the old buildings.
Rode to Mount Rushmore and were pretty impressed. Every turn in the road gives another picture postcard view, bikes everywhere, hardly any cars. We did about 200 miles round trip, mountains, forests, the gentle curving roads. We were riding with just bandanas and T-shirts - everyone ditches their lids and protective gear, it did feel funny, but I felt safe with my fella's riding and the wide roads.
Thursday was another great day out, Deadwood again, then onto Hill City and Crazy Horse monument. Then on to Custer State National Park and the Needles Highway, the roads are incredible and the scenery breathtaking with wild buffalo and deer crossing over in front of you. (There were three deaths this year at Sturgis from biking accidents and one was a guy killed outright by a deer running straight into him, but considering there were over half a million bikers in the area for the two weeks, this was less than I thought it would be).
We went to Knuckle Saloon and One Eyed Jacks that night, each bar must have had over 500 people in with over a thousand back on site and we were not cramped!
Friday saw us on a Boss Hoss free ride out. The power of those machines and the route to Bear Butte Park was another incredible feeling. Sturgis was starting to get busy now. We signed up to 'Da Bus' which was $50 each for a week's pass to anywhere, site or town within 50 miles. Good value for money and allowed us to party more. The traffic jams were starting, bikes were overheating and the road became too busy around Sturgis to really enjoy. The 100 degree weather broke with a thunderstorm with electrical lightening and was beautiful through beer goggles.
Saturday 5th August is the official start of Sturgis Bike Week and going down Main Street is bedlam. Most of the shops empty their stock and rent the site out for two weeks to Motorbike paraphernalia bods. The best deals are at the end of Sturgis when T shirts that were selling for $10 each come down to 3 for $10.
Another good thing about Sturgis is the signs everywhere telling you not to bring kids as it is an adult entertainment venue. I wish other rallies followed this guide!
Did Thunder Road and got plastered on all the free wine given whilst looking at the show bikes from the various biker build offs. Lots more people back on site, bands playing on every site and bar, including some big names.
Sunday morning was hard with my worst hangover yet, but a good breakfast of Chilli and Beer at Broken Spoke Saloon soon sorted that. Funny how only a few days ago we were in awe of the place and now we started treating it as our local.
About half a dozen of us went for a ride down Spearfish Canyon. It took over an hour to get through Sturgis on the way back to site, traffic is just crazy for a town who's normal population is 6,479 and experiences over half a million bikes trying to get in and around it during rally week.
Monday morning saw me and my man travel to the Court House to find out that it was really legal for us to get married at Sturgis and so we booked a preacher for 5pm Tuesday to come to site!
Monday night saw a joint Hen and Stag night at the Knuckle Saloon, pretty mad. I forget how many people I got kissed by.
The crew from Catered Camping organised a wedding cake, champagne, candles, guests etc. Even if I had spent a year organising this wedding, I could not have done it any better. Incredible service, incredible people. Riding through site with me standing on the back of the bike in my white jeans and veil with a thousand people cheering, clapping and taking our photo's. Ted Nugent and Godsmack played on site that night and we all partied the night away.
Wednesday saw a 250 mile round trip through Hulett and past Devil's Tower to Sundance. Riding through towns with populations of 50 - 100 and all we could see behind us and in front were bikes.
Went to Buffalo chip campground and saw ZZ Top, brilliant! They allow the bikes in the audience and everyone revs their bikes to show appreciation of the bands, must have burnt myself several times on hot exhausts I couldn't see in the dark audience!. Experienced Jaegger Bombs - Jaeggermeister and Red Bull in special glasses that allowed the two drinks to stay apart until you knocked it back. Designed to give you a small electrical shock, bloody good drink though! Had several of these and realised why people stay at this site, excellent place to party, but the toilets and showers were pretty mingy and I am glad we stayed at Glencoe where everything was cleaned twice a day.
Friday saw us with a good omelette breakfast back at Side Hicks Saloon then went to County Line. A great Marguerita mixing van using a huge Harley engine to run the cocktail mixing! Catered Camping put on a free BBQ for us all, fantastic food and all 30 of us had a great night. It finished with us newlyweds trying to take a shower at midnight on the QT but all of them running in with a video cam to capture us, never laughed so much, couldn't even sleep for laughing still.
Saturday saw both of us go for our obligatory tattoos, something you have to do at Sturgis and the guys are good. I had a little blue bird put on my shoulder to balance out my little blue rose on the other shoulder whilst my new hubby had more work done to his forearm.
Sturgis is the Granddaddy of all Biker Rallies; I am glad we went and would love to go again, if you can - go.