A solo 24 year old experiences on Sturgis Bike Rally for the first time and racks up 1,400 miles of epic riding through Colorado, Wyoming, and the Black Hills of South Dakota.
“Get on your chaps, you’re heading to Sturgis!” This trip marked many firsts for me: my first time to the Sturgis Bike Rally, my first time riding out of the state, and my first time traveling by motorcycle alone. Nerves aside, it was an amazing experience and a cool opportunity!
My ride started early to beat the heat and I traveled through parts of the Colorado mountains that this Colorado native has never seen before. With the early departure, I was challenged by some low hanging clouds that kept fogging up my helmet visor which kept me on my toes early. As I navigated through Colorado and into Wyoming, I began to see and meet other Sturgis go-ers making their way to the annual event. They were excited to share how many times they have been, their advice and insight on the rally, and their favorite rides in the area.
Upon arrival to the Black Hills, I immediately began planning out my rides for the next couple days on the REVER planning site. The first ride on deck was through the Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, Needles Highway, Mount Rushmore, and Iron Mountain Road. This route links together some of the most epic scenery and the twistiest roads in the Black Hills. Following the fellow bikers’ advice, I chose to ride it as the sun came up to avoid traffic during the day. Make sure you watch for deer, buffaloes, and turkeys!
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With an incredible ride to start the day, I polished off the morning with some brekky and rolled up to the AirBNB that I stayed in for the following two nights. I took most of the day to catch up on work and have a look around Rapid City. A trip to the Que Pasa mexican restaurant is worth your time! The food was delicious and the place had a cool ambiance.
My third day of the trip started off with some awesome riding on Nemo Road and through Vanocker Canyon up to Carey Hart’s Good Ride where we (REVER) helped riders load up the route on their phones to navigate the charity ride... With over 140 bikes signed up for the event, there was a strong amount of support for the veterans. There were many people from across the world with diverse background here to support this ride. Each with their own story and experience to share while the route was loaded up on their app. This ride navigated through Deadwood, Spearfish Canyon, and up to Bella Fourche, then into the Buffalo Chip. I followed the group shortly after to ride the same route to the Buffalo Chip.
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The Buffalo Chip is an iconic part of the Sturgis Bike Rally. This is where some of the action and camping goes down. The day I spent there, several events were going on. The Bell Brawl at the Buffalo Stunt Competition was earlier in the day. Riders brawled in their two minute stunt run filled with wheelies, burnouts, and other technical stunts.
The smell of burnt rubber and gas did not stop there, later in the day was the AMA Flat Track Buffalo TT at the Chip. One of the most unique courses for flattrack with a sender ski jump and a few extra corners made racing interesting. The racing was fierce and ultimately under the lights, the reigning champ, Ryan Sipes took the win on the night for the singles class and JD Beach took the win in the twins class.
The Flat Track was the end of my Sturgis experience and it was time to make the trek back to Colorado. I started the ride off as the sun was rising again and took some of the epic roads I rode two days prior as my morning pick-me-up. After passing nearly 100 deer, the throttle was toned back a bit and I enjoyed my last chance at the Black Hills before the long journey carried on into Wyoming and Colorado.
Rolling through Wyoming about 200 miles into the journey, a little bird popped up off the road and went kamikaze flying into my knuckle and exploded like a small water balloon on my glove and right grip after it narrowly missed the hand guard. At a strong pace, it was insane how soft this bird felt as it disintegrated against my hand and made a bland section of my ride more interesting and memorable.
My quick weekend trip came to a close after four awesome days of riding through Colorado, Wyoming, and the Black Hills of South Dakota. I definitely enjoyed the ride and the experience of being solo. Here are a few takeaways that I personally had from this trip and traveling solo: