It’s that time of year when half a million motorcycle riders head to the grand daddy of them all bike rallies- Sturgis! You know it’s big time when you only have to name the city or rally by one word for everyone to know what you are talking about. However, with that many people on the road, there are a few things to watch out for.
When I was researching visiting Sturgis for my first time, if I went anywhere and saw a stranger wearing a Sturgis T-Shirt, I would ask questions. Undoubtedly, they replied with one question- are you going to ride or party?
Fact is, I went to ride. I can party in Miami if I wanted to, or even better, party in my backyard with my girlfriend, Anny, and our dog Bella that likes the pool more than Michael Phelps. A couple of steaks on the grill, a few beers while we relax, a cigar and Bella jumping on the raft is a party to me. That’s how I roll!
But, these helpful strangers brought up a good point. South Dakota and the Black Hills is arguably some of the best motorcycle riding roads in the country, so enjoy the roads and skip the drunkfest.
Sure, you can ride today, party at the Buffalo Chip tomorrow and stumble to your tent, but why would you? To be exhausted the next day? Work is supposed to be exhausting, not vacation.
What You Need to Know
On the first day of Sturgis 2017, the first fatality occurred; a twenty-four year old while riding his Harley Davidson Dyna could not navigate a turn, lost control and crashed. He was not wearing a helmet. Even though you don’t have to wear a helmet in South Dakota, you should. Here is a blog on the motorcycle helmet laws of each individual state for those riding through multiple states.
The rider lost control on Highway 14A, just south of Spearfish. I have ridden that road many times. It’s awesome, but I have witnessed seen some crazy things on that road.
In 2012, a car passed us up even though we were riding five miles per hour over the speed limit. Since it’s a two-lane road, we were passed up on the opposite lane but with double-blind curve up ahead! The driver would have killed himself and anyone coming from the opposite side! Hence, why I tend to slow down now on blind curves. For one, in case that ass**** does it again, or for those that take the turn too fast.
Be Wary of What’s New
If you are in a long term relationship like me, you know everything about your partner. Anny freaks out when I finish her sentence or thought before she does, but when you are with someone long enough, you know just about them by then. Take for example golf.
I love golf and I’m a decent golfer. I play mostly at one course near the office and I can play as aggressive as I wish because I know that course like the back of my hand. However, playing a new course, I have to let off the throttle a bit. I can’t cut corners and go for it every time because I’m not familiar with that course. The same goes for when you trade in your motorcycle after ten years and ride the new one off the showroom floor. You have to get to know your motorcycle. And, that applies to riding in a new area as well.
Whether it is an animal just around the bend or anything else, you are not familiar with those roads. So, slow down. Don’t be as aggressive as you normally are. You are looking for thrills? Then join the drag races at the Buffalo Chip.
They are everywhere! It’s that simple. For a city boy, that caught me off-guard. Around ten p.m., heading back from Sturgis to Spearfish, SD, we rode I-90. I had no idea that deer would be grazing on the side of the road as I ride at 65 mph. Deer have these beautiful forests to hang out at and they decide instead to have dinner next to a major highway? We slowed down drastically and made it back safe.
For your own safety, just assume no one knows how to ride. The fatalities during Sturgis every year between South Dakota and Wyoming is in the dozens. In 2015, a full week before the rally, I saw multiple accidents daily while riding. Just passing the scene of the accident was enough to reconstruct in my mind what happened.
There are an endless amount of riders that haven’t ridden in twenty years, but they plop down their credit card at Eagle Rider, rent their motorcycle, and off they go! Or, they ride two hundred miles a year, if that, tow their motorcycle three hundred miles, and with visions of Easy Rider in their mind, they are ready to ride.
Do your best to spot these people, it’s not that difficult. If they are around you while riding, get away as fast as you can!
Really? How old are you that I have to mention this? Come on, it’s simple. No drinking and riding! Want a beer? Fine. Want two? You better eat something! And drink water! When you get pack to your rental, drink! But keep in mind, you have riding to do tomorrow!