I rode 5,315 miles over 11 days in August, joining more than half a million other motorcyclists and trailerists for the 2006 Black Hills Trailer Classic, an event still appreciated and referred to by some as the 66th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Compared to last year, Sturgis–a small town of 6,500 quaintly nestled in the scenic Black Hills of western South Dakota–did not seem to have changed much. But STURGIS–the world’s largest motorcycle rally and biker event–was not the same. Yes, upon arrival I parked at the same Sturgis H-D to buy and ship the same expensive souvenir shirts, and had the same lady at the same vendor booth on Main Street sew on my “I RODE MINE” patch. And yes, I then walked the same two blocks to the Broken Spoke Saloon to enjoy the first of many hot bands and cold brews, just as I did in 2005. In fact, about the only big difference between my first day in Sturgis this year versus last is that last year’s ended with one too many beers in my belly, while this year’s ended with one too many nails in my rear tire. But a quick shot of ThreeBond Seal’n’Air and a quick stop at Moon’s Cycle Repair took care of that.
No, the difference I allude to was not so notable in Sturgis itself as it was on the way there and back. The difference was in the number of bikes being rode versus the number of bikes being towed: Last year, I remember the I-90 stretch from Sioux Falls to Rapid City as a thundering stampede of Sturgis-bound cyclists. This year, I’d almost swear I saw as many trailers as I did two-wheelers.
Motorcycle riding is more about the journey than the destination, and that goes double for Sturgis. Sharing the ride, the risks and the waves with thousands of fellow bikers over hundreds of miles of highway, swapping stories and smiles at stops along the way, is an integral part of the “Sturgis experience” for me. I do not understand why any true rider would want to pass that up.
Sure, the professional racing and commercial show bikes have to be trailered. And it would not make much sense to try to ride one of those 60K+ chrome penis extensions cobbled together by Billy [poor guy], Paulie or Russell across country to Sturgis, when you can barely wobble it across town to Hooter’s. But if you have a well-maintained bike, a good back, a comfortable seat, riding gear, and saddlebags or luggage, why have it towed when you could’ve rode?!?
You are not doing it to save money. What you paid for your trailer is probably more than what it would cost to make a touring-capable motorcycle road-ready. And mile-for-mile, it almost certainly takes less gas, oil and maintenance to keep two wheels rolling than to have four or more towing. And you’re not doing it to save time, either. I’ve ridden over 1,500 miles in under 24 hours more than once, and I seriously doubt you’ll make better time pulling a trailered bike. And no, you don’t have to ride anywhere near that far or that fast to get to Sturgis…
From anywhere in the lower 48 United States, the distance to Sturgis is no more than 2,412 miles. For most riders, the actual distance will of course be much less. Compute what the distance is for you, and then divide that number by four. You’ll probably end up with a mileage figure that is within your daily riding range. Ride that many miles for four days … and you’re in Sturgis! Party hardy, cruise the Blacks Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming and sightsee for six days, then enjoy your four-day ride back home. Four plus six plus four equals fourteen days … and one Hell of a great two-week vacation for any motorcyclist who truly lives to ride.
One final tip: If you’re not a camper and willing to ride a few extra miles, you can save big bucks by booking your motel room in Gillette Wyoming. Consider the National 9 Inn, which offers clean rooms, free 24-hour coffee, on-site cafe and lounge, free cafe breakfasts, room service, Internet access and terminal, and next-door laundry service … all for a rate that is 75% less than what I’ve paid for inferior accommodations in Rapid City. You can reserve online, or call 307-682-5111 and tell the manager Deb that Bruce sent you. And after you check in, cruise over to Jakes Tavern for a cold one!
Live to TOW? I say NO!
Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!