August means the Black Hills and the rally held each year in Sturgis, South Dakota. But everything really starts in February with a stop at my favorite service station, the Champlin Sinclair. Owner Jim Merkl plans the ride to Sturgis. It’s easy. I get on the list, and he does the rest. This year the trip was to be short, only three days: a day to get out there, a day in the Hills and a day to get back home.
Twenty bikes, two cars and a trailer met at 7:00 a.m. for the 500 miles to Kadoka, South Dakota on the east edge of the Badlands. The plan was to stop from time to time for gas and to arrive at dark. The weather was sunny and warm with no hint of rain. We left Champlin and headed for Interstate 90 at the Minnesota-South Dakota boarder. Towns like Buffalo, Winthrop, Fairfax and Redwood Falls flew by, then we stopped in Marshall for lunch. It was time for a long break.
After lunch the day started to heat up, and most of us rode in T-shirts. We again traveled south through Pipestone to the freeway at State Highway 23. Once on I-90, Sioux Falls passed by, and the freeway became flat and straight.
[I-90 + flat and straight = speed]
We cooled off.
Mitchell was the first stop in South Dakota. The Corn Palace has been there for years. Each year it gets a face lift! We rode on to Chamberlain with its Missouri River overlook, Murdo, and Kadoka. We arrived at the Hotel in Kadoka around 9:00 p.m. mountain time.
The next day, we were on the road by 5:00 a.m. mountain time for the last 100 miles to the Hills and Sturgis. First, we stopped for breakfast at Wall Drug, then we rode to Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park on the windy roads up Iron Mountain. The hills are truly black with the sun against the pine. I love the curves and the tunnels through the rocks.
The next stop was Hill City, then Deadwood. The group split up at Deadwood. Some went to Sturgis, and the rest went into Spearfish Canyon. I headed to Sturgis. I spent the rest of the day in Sturgis watching people and bikes–naked people, dressed bikes, big people, little bikes. I spent hours just looking. There were cycle races just out of town and entertainment every night at the different campgrounds in the area. You can find whatever you want.
We went back to Kadoka that evening and left for the home the next morning in a thick fog. Once the fog lifted, the bikes’ speeds increased. We stayed on the I-90 to Worthington and then took 60 north all the way to Minneapolis.
The greatest things about the ride were the people in the group. Some were friends. Others I just met, and we became friends. The group was made up of all kinds: young and old, parents and their kids, first timers and old hands. The Black Hills Rally at Sturgis was for everyone.