I realized quite quickly as I was making my plans that I needed a long trip to see if my set up would work and if I would be able to handle the bike and trailer, setting up the tent and all that stuff. It would also allow me to decide if I had everything I would need or I had too much. What better way to find out than a trip to Sturgis. I had never been there and the bike rally would be a great place to test everything out.
It was a good thing I did this trip. It showed me several things. First of all was the need to get a trike so I couldn't drop my bike every time I got tired and/or had to stop. The tent wasn't hard to set up and would hold up in the 50 mph winds we would get one night. I discovered several things I would need and several I didn't. It was a great proving ground.
Getting there was a four day journey from south Florida. It takes a day to get out of Florida, so the first day was just getting to west of Pensacola. The second day was into Missouri. We were coming out of the mountains went we stopped for gas and I took the picture of the rain east of us.
The third day got us to just south of Sioux City. A group of bikers on their way to Sturgis invited us to join them in this motel they used where we could get a room as it was off the beaten path. It was clean but old. The beds were decent and food was only a short walk away. They were a fun group and we met up with them again in Sturgis.
The forth day had us on I-80 to Sturgis. We ran into a large back up and went off to go around it. I was a detour of fifty miles through the rolling hills of ranches and farms with the occasions farmhouse and nothing else other than cattle. I would say that we may have passed three cars on those back roads and only a handful of bikers.
Sturgis is this small town which swells to the total population of S. Dakota for two weeks a year. I had made reservations at the Shady Grove campgrounds. (Hint: forget the name. There is no shade) It was on nice flat grassy ground with facilities which were well maintained. Most of those there were older and didn't party like those at many of the other campgrounds. That I could appreciate as I'm not a big drinker (unless you call a six pack of beer a year a big drinker). We got there in the late afternoon and decided to wait to go into town until the next morning, hoping to miss a lot of the traffic getting there as we were 10 miles out of Sturgis, which ended up being a good thing.
The small picture in the top right hand corner is what the downtown area looked like. There was no place to park the next morning by 9 am. We had parked in the city lot and walked downtown. The trip to the parking lot took over a half hour. I opted to ride behind one of the guys since I hate riding in crowded places. I was in search of a shirt. I found one and got a discount as it had a faded area on the shoulder. That made it a reasonable price. The food was totally outrageous. I had never eaten a $10 hotdog before and don't plan on repeating it again. We spent the day wandering around. It was early evening when we returned to the campground to enjoy their free concert for the evening.
The next day we did the loop going to Spearfish and back around, stopping to see what they called falls. The second stop, I dropped my bike when I had to stop fast to avoid hitting a guy who pealed out of the parking area. We stopped for lunch at this place in the hills. I dropped my bike trying to park it when an idiot pulled in behind me as I was backing it up. He didn't even offer to help me get it up off the ground. (Jerk). My next drop was when we returned to the campground. It was then I requested to go to the Rapid City Harley dealer. Not only had I dropped my lovely red Harley Road Glide Ultra three times, but I had ended up with burns on the inside of my legs from the engine while going through Sturgis that morning. (Major blisters)
The next day was taken up with my trading my customized bike for a basic trike. I had to get used to it quickly as I wanted to see the Black Hills and the Badlands. It took me that evening and until ten the next morning to get used to driving the trike. We took off with another couple and went to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse museum and site before going over the Needles.
The Needles is this road which makes the Tail of the Dragon look like child's play. The switchbacks are 180 degrees on inclines. The needles are these places where they carved out arches in the rocks for the road. The are only one way, so needless to say, it took forever to get through them. The road is worth taking as it is beautiful but dangerous, so don't hurry when you take it.
The next day we went to the Badlands. I had never seen anything like then before. The picture of them is one of contrasts. You find very little vegetation in the area. The hardy daisies were in such a contrast to the formations, I had to get the picture. There were also some wildlife in the area. It was funny as I was the only one to see the mountain goat by the side of the road. All the bikes and cars in front of us missed him.
With the rally winding down, we left late Friday, hoping to miss the rush out of Sturgis. We ended up going to Minnesota to get a room for the night as everything was booked. I lucked out and was able to get my bike's first 1000 mile service done before we headed back to Florida.
Because we were so far east, we ended up going south through Atlanta. I told everyone I would lead as I knew my way through. Well, they did a quick turn off the bypass and I lost them as I was pulling the trailer and couldn't follow them due to a car being beside me. With all the construction, I ended up going to the rest area south to wait on the rest of the group. After several phone calls, we found each other. When the macho guys started to berate me, I calmly told them, "I told you to follow me. I know my way around Atlanta interstates. Maybe the next time you'll stay with me when I tell you I know where I'm going."
With that said, I got back on my bike and kept going until I was just north of the Florida state line. We stayed in a small motel and made it home without incident the next day. Of course, I didn't hear the end of my leaving them behind in Atlanta. Men. They aren't willing to trust someone who has been through there multiple times and knew exactly where they were going.
With all the information I had garnered from the trip to Sturgis, I now knew what I needed and didn't need for my trip. I had made a great decision to get the Trike as I could take it places I'd never take a two wheeler and I didn't have to worry about dropping it. All I needed to to now was to get all the things handled for being gone for a year. I was ready...more than ready to travel It was going to be my Dream Trip.
B.A Mealer is an author and a traveler. This is a person who refuses to grow up and get old.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and New Bern, North Carolina