The Sturgis Motorcycle Journey Is Eternal
When planning a cross-country trip a few months ago, I didn’t consider passing through Sturgis, South Dakota. Sharing space with 500,000-plus motorcyclists in a town designed for 6,627 wasn’t appealing in the least. When our plans crystallized, however, the idea of watching American Flat Track’s Buffalo Chip TT with industry friends become more compelling.
Two brothers-in-law on both sides recommended stopping to visit Doc’s Harley-Davidson in Bonduel, Wisconsin. And Doc’s did not disappoint: in addition to Milwaukee iron, the property hosts motorcycles museums, a zoo, and a restaurant.
A 1931 Harley Flathead engine, anyone?
Pointing our Harley’s south, we spliced the Badger State in half, heading down WI 22 to visit my sister and her family in Monona near the state’s Capitol of Madison. We rolled through farm country, even sharing a wave with a young Amish man commandeering a buggy south of Pardeeville.
The Badlands reminded us of youthful days filling mason jars with different-colored sand.
Our excitement built after we stopped for breakfast at Ditty’s Diner in Kimball, realizing we were about two hours east of the Badlands. It started feeling like our adventure was really taking hold. Once there, we purchased an annual pass for $80, which is good for two riders on two separate bikes through all national parks.
Wall Drug Store
This beautiful 1982 FLH Shovelhead was bought 22 years ago by an old Deadwood codger we met outside Pump House Coffee.
Feeling wonderfully transported back in time, we rode north on US 385 through Deadwood, stopping for a light breakfast before arriving at the hallowed Sturgis for the first time.
By this time it was 3:30 p.m., and after cruising through downtown and parking on the Buffalo Chip grounds, we ran into actor and rider Zahn McClarnon (Longmire, Fargo, Westworld), who rode in from Los Angeles with friends.
These were the people in our Sturgis neighborhood: Cameron Brewer (Roland Sands Design), Ola Stenegärd (Indian Motorcycle), and Henri.
After a one-hour rain delay, the final races commenced, after which Henri and I grabbed our Harleys and rode a careful 55 miles west in the cold darkness to Sundance, Wyoming, where warm pillows and dry sheets awaited. Several friends told tales of errant elk and deer all along I-90, so I texted my co-worker Morgan Gales to let him know we arrived safe (and cold) and sound around midnight.
To capture a bit of the country we were experiencing, we both bought American-made cowboy boots in downtown Billings, Montana. We’ve traveled well so far together, getting into a groove with stopping for gas and checking into our hotels. The reception we’ve been getting every time we stop at a café or restaurant is constant: questions about our bikes, where we’ve come from, and where we’re heading, and a heartfelt “Be safe out there!” Sheridan musician Rod Jost was especially jubilant about our bikes, telling me he struggled with reading in high school 40-plus years ago before discovering Cycle World.