When Sturgis, South Dakota gets mentioned, my mind immediately shifts to the legendary motorcycle rally featuring a plethora of loud motorcycles, concerts, a week-and-a-half long party and other "things" that you could go a lifetime without seeing. The town of Sturgis is seated amongst the iconic region known as the Black Hills that is not only home to Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park, the Black Hills are filled with a spaghetti bowl of epic off-road trails for 4x4 and 2-wheeled machines.
In 2021, RevZilla and REVER hosted the inaugural Get On! ADV Fest just outside of Sturgis at the legendary Buffalo Chip campground. With the first year proving to be a success, RevZilla and REVER brought back the Get On! ADV Fest in two locations: the Mojave Desert in California and the Black Hills in South Dakota. Get On! ADV Fest in the Mojave was a booming success with our partners at Rawhyde Adventures. For year two in the Black Hills, the RevZilla and REVER team knew that the event needed to be even more kick-ass!
A week ahead of the event, the first members of the RevZilla and REVER teams touched down to scout routes and refine the trails to deliver the best possible riding experience. In this time, individual members of the team put in close to one thousand miles of off-road behind the bars. We settled on three adventure rides in the REVER Community for each day: Easy, Moderate, and Difficult. In addition, we had a Paved route for Friday and a shared Paved route for Saturday and Sunday.
Thursday - Day 1
The Get On! ADV Fest officially kicked off on Thursday with check-in starting at noon. Through the afternoon, riders settled into camp, signed up for clinics and demo rides and planned out their weekend of riding. In the afternoon, RPM Members were able to take advantage of a FREE ADV clinic from the team at Rawhyde Adventures. As the evening settled in, attendees were greeted by the Fasthouse and 805 Beer Welcome Reception. During the reception, Spurgeon Dunbar delivered the riders meeting to set riding expectations, hype up the trails and discuss safety. Bill Hearne from South Dakota Trails Association closed out the riders' meeting by discussing how to be good trail steward in the Black Hills.
Friday - Day 2
Riders were up-and-at-’em on Friday morning ready for free coffee provided by Pure Bean from 6:30-8:30 before hitting a hot day of ADV trail riding, training or demo rides. The Buffalo Chip supplied breakfast for the campers while I provided REVER training and Spurgeon addressed the important riding notes for the day. The four routes for Friday were a great way to kick off the weekend of riding.
This route features some of the top rated roads just outside of Sturgis linked together for a fun and scenic ride to kick off the first day.
Rochford Loop starts off with 40 miles of pavement and winds through the historic town of Deadwood. This route allowed riders to get their boots under them before touching down on mellow gravel and dirt roads back to camp. One section featured larger gravel near Dalton Lake challenged newer riders to hone their off-road skills to navigate across.
This ride was built and scouted by the legendary, Patrick Garvin, of the Common Tread team. This route hosted a sample of everything the Black Hills had to offer with rocky climbs, fun and flowy double-track, mud puddles, scenic viewpoints and thrilling pavement.
Blackhawk Down was a notch up from The Sampler and pushed riders through tighter trees with some roots and rocks, off-camber sections, and some of the most flowtential forest roads before dropping into Blackhawk.
Back at camp, riders took advantage of the RawHyde Adventures Training Courses for beginner riders that introduced them to skills that were vital for heading out to the trails. In addition to the beginner ADV training, attendees got the opportunity to demo some of the newest and greatest ADV bikes. The demo fleet included: Harley-Davidson Pan-America, Triumph Tigers, Aprillia Tuareg 660, Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure E5, and BMW GS models.
At one intersection on three of the four routes, BMW Motorrad and the Go Fast Dont Die fellas set up for a Surpise and Delight. These trail angels handed out cold Liquid Death water, large muffins, packaged snacks and more special treats to give riders repreive and a chance to chat.
While the Get On! ADV Fest is centered around the passion of motorcycles and adventure riding, the fun did not stop when the engines did. With the venue located at Adventure Beach (appropriately named), there was a clean-ish pond that had a rope swing and slip-n-slide to cool off after riding. The party really got started when the Adventure Beach bar opened up and food was served by the Buffalo Chip. Groups of riders were pumped up after their first day of riding and eager to share the good, the bad, and the ugly stories from their day on the trails, with a drink in hand. As the day wound down, storms rolled in just in time to put a damper on the evening’s party plans, but the band Camp Comfort Music kept the vibe high with some top-notch live music. As night rolled in, riders retreated to camp to get a full night of rest before an epic day of riding on Saturday.
Saturday - Day 3
As the sun rose on Saturday morning, riders meandered their way over to the Adventure Beach for free Pure Bean to kick off the third day of the Get On! ADV Fest. Similar to the day before, breakfast took place at Adventure Beach and we educated riders on the trails and how to navigate using REVER. The previous night's rain may have hindered the Buffalo Chip's party scene, but the promise of hero dirt out in the hills seemed like a solid trade off.
REVER had four routes that ranged from legendary pavement to stellar singletrack for the big bikes.
This is a bucket list ride for anyone in the area. Iron Mountain Road is full of corkscrews, twisties and sections where the road splits that makes you feel like you are on a road from the video game, Mario Kart.
To build on the prior day’s route, What’s Up, Wyoming hops on and off some of the dirt roads in the Black Hills before touching down in Wyoming. The Wyoming portion featured this incredibly scenic gravel road for about 60-70 miles that navigates through a canyon before looping back to Spearfish and Sturgis. This was a favorite for many of the RevZilla riders for an enjoyable, scenic route!
Stevan's Revenge was a full day ADV ride with varied terrain, wide open views and a good mix of pavement and off-road throughout to keep riders excited/ provide some rest. The first off-road section was the most technical riding of the day as soon as riders turn off Peace Pines Rd. It mellowed out back onto the highway until Pactola Lake. Victoria Lake Road winds through the woods and Taylor Ranch Road provides gorgeous views in the rolling hills. Sheridan Lake Road provides another chance to give legs a rest and then it's back on with the Flume Trail and Beretta Rd. Riders rode through Rockerville and crossed over Hwy 16 for the last leg of the off-road section.
Through cool forest roads to rocky climbs, this route cruises up to Custer Peak for an epic 360 viewpoint at the tower. As the route dropped back in, riders circumnavigate the peak and then back down to US Highway 385. On the next turn off of Highway 385, the riders got the opportunity for fun and flowy big bike singletrack. This route continues on through double track roads before a nice lunch stop at the Sugar Shack in Merritt. After that, it was go-time in Pilot Knob with some more technical ascents and descents with rocks. Riders were also greeted by BMW Motorrad for the Surprise and Delight at the Pilot Knob trailhead. After riders navigated through Pilot Knob, they touched down in Nemo. The route finishes out on mellow gravel roads before the rocky descent into Piedmont.
If riders elected to hang at basecamp, they were able to take advantage of more novice and intermediate clinics from RawHyde Adventures, demo the new bikes from MotoGuzzi, Aprilia, BMW Motorrad, Harley-Davidson and Triumph, and cool off in the Adventure Beach pond.
With Friday's rain putting a damper on plans, Saturday night became a jam-packed evening of entertainment. The Taste of GS Trophy kicked off the evening activities at 4:00pm where riders competed in a skills course for the grand prize of one day at The BMW Performance Center. After a fierce competition, Andy Janik, with Heavy Enduro, became the champion of the Taste of GS Trophy.
The evening activities continued on with Forma discussing their adventure boots and dinner from the team at the Buffalo Chip. Then it was time for the raffle from RevZilla and partners. There was an ample amount of gear to giveaway for any rider. During this, a group of riders were brought up to the stage to explain why they had matching shirts. As it turns out, their crew attended the 2021 Get On! ADV Fest and had so much fun with their newly made friends, they decided to create their own homeowners association for camp with rules that emphasized fun and good times. Good times were had indeed as the drinks were poured, stories were told, and new friends were made!
The live music for the evening was, Tie-Dye Volcano, a highly favored local band in the Black Hills. Up next, there was premiere of the new Common Tread exclusive film, Where The Road Ends where a group of veterans travel from Alaska to Argentina through the Darien Gap. After the initial film, the Wyoming Backcountry Discovery Route capped off the night of entertainment which was thoroughly enjoyed by adventure riding enthusiasts.
Sunday - Day 4
The final day of Get On! ADV Fest was more mellow as some riders had long journeys back home. Those who stayed, indulged in free coffee again before hitting another day of trails in the Black Hills or testing out the demo fleet of bikes. Sunday was also locals' day which allowed locals to Sturgis to come check out the event and enjoy what Get On! ADV Fest had to offer.
Sunday’s routes leaned on the shorter side to allow riders one last mini-serving of dirt therapy before hitting the road home.
This was also the paved route for Saturday as we figured most riders would head to the dirt rather than pavement. Regardless, this route is a bucket-list ride if you are in this area!
After dropping in on Vanocker Canyon, riders duck down on a smooth dirt road that rolls through the small town of Galena and carries on to Nemo Road. After a short jaunt of pavement, this route hops back onto dirt on Benchmark Road over to Merritt. Riders can stop for ice cream or food here before heading back on Merritt Road to Nemo on a maintained dirt road in a scenic canyon. Once past Nemo, riders head for the hills to Dalton Lake and the pesky large gravel is back for a short challenge before riding the pavement back to camp.
Back for round 2 after being a crowd favorite in 2021, this route features the same challenging hill climb from The Sampler Loop and some of the most fun pavement riding in the area. One portion features a high-paced uphill roller section just after Steamboat Rocks area before looping back on the chunky ending to Piedmont.
The most challenging part of this route is the initial climb. The first ascent goes for about fifteen miles and is an assortment of large, loose rocks that toss the bike around while climbing up Bulldog Gulch. After a spirited warm up, you’ll get onto Vanocker Canyon Rd. Wind south through Nemo before hitting Pactola Lake Rd.” - After a spirited warm up, riders wind their way south on Vanocker Canyon Rd through Nemo before hitting Pactola Lake Rd. Then head back toward Sturgis and finish off with a loop around Bear Butte Reservoir North of town.
For the second iteration of the Get On! ADV Fest in the Black Hills, the event doubled in size and proved that the Sturgis region is an epic off-road riding destination. As we head into the third year of Get On! ADV Fest, we could not be more excited to have even more fun with riders, make the event even more kick-ass, and explore new areas. Here is to Get On! ADV Fest 2023!