Sturgis’ 70th

August 15, 2010


Wisconsin Minnesota then south Dakota went by as as innumerable “passings of trucks and cars” on a long flat freeway. The target was Sturgis in South Dakota, close to the Wyoming border. As I progress we go from big trees and lushness to small trees, grasslands, hills then flats with the added bonus of the smells of industrial farming.

The skies grew larger and larger, the horizon deeper and deeper.

At twilight a gauze of fog would embrace some of the low lands, the skies would put on an incomparable, ever changing light show and my heart soared each time, each moment. Deep breath, and that certain sort of calm would fill me, my contentment absolutely total.

One of the sights were the “windmills” they are so big, the size boggles the mind. From afar, no big whoppee. it’s when I saw one of the blades on a semi truck that was at least twice and a half the length of a regular semi truck trailer that I got a sense of how big.

On night number two, I got to Jackson, about 80 miles outside of Sioux Falls the darkness had already fallen. I had decided to forge on, pile up the miles, to be sure, once again, that I would see Alice In Chains on Friday the 13th. When I got to Jackson I checked three motels and they were all full.

I then pulled at the Econo Lodge and Lounge. I walked to the front door and there was no vacancies there too. I decided to get coffee at the lounge and to keep pushing towards Sioux Falls.

I walk in, it took a few seconds and then the guys all realize that I am a woman, a roar of comments burst out.

Whoa! Where ‘you from? What’s your name, where are you going, where are you staying…

I burst out laughing as this explosion of voices, light, music and humanity just shocks me. After the dark, the engine sound, the white line going by and the quiet, lone space of the inside of my helmet for the last 10 – 11 hours this seems like a carnival.

I asked for coffee.

Hey! You wanna beer?

No, thanks, never when I ride.

Where are you staying?

Well not here, everything is sold out. They have no rooms.

I’ll share my room with you! Said a large unappealing truck driver.

Hmm, hmm… I said

I’ll give you my room! Said another

and from the corner where 3 bikers were sipping beers : We got two beds, we could share!

And so it went. Loud, uncensored and raucous. The one trucker said : I can sleep in my truck, I’ll give you my key, you can have my room.

You don’t have to do that, I said. I just wasn’t sure what this was all about and did not want to get into it. I did not really trust either of those truckers. But the guy still wanted to do it. Yeah, I’ll get my bag… you can have the room… Another series of bawdy comments immediately poured out. He went out came back with his bag in one hand and a room key in the other. It was at the same time that I had started to talk to the three bikers. They were just coming back from Sturgis. The trucker with the bag got into a conversation with to the other trucker who seemed to me like a nasty character. The trucker with the bag left after a while, not saying anymore to me. I figured either he changed his mind or I did not pay him enough attention.

I kept talking to the bikers. They were heading home in La Crosse. We talked bikes, travel, music and all sorts of things. One of them keep saying that my real story was that I had run away from jail or a convent, that my face would appear on America’s most wanted! We laughed had a good time. But the minutes kept advancing and I started to feel the fatigue. I had to decide what I do for the night.

Well, my angels helped again and I was offered a bed a shower for the night and I said yes.

My three angels. (they probably don’t view themselves as such but I do!)

In the morning we had free “continental breakfast” at the Motel. More bikers came out of their rooms and my story was making the rounds. These are big men. Tough. There are virtually no women around and they are really impressed by the fact that I am doing this trip.. a woman…

As I was packing the bike and getting ready to go Curly, one of the bikers (he was a sniper in Vietnam, he now is a family man, a hard worker and a man with strong opinions.) He offered me his tent because I had mentioned that mine was not waterproof… He had to unpack his whole bike to find the thing, handed it to me and I was on my way.

Curly on left and Kyle on the right

The next twelve hours are spent riding. Sioux Falls and then a slow process across an overheated black top that reverberated heat like an oven. I had left with my coat & leathers on. At noon I slapped the 30 sunscreen and took the coat off.

I have to stop often. This weather wears you right out. Thirst, heat that gets you to the bones. The winds that day beat me relentlessly. I would go for about 50, 75 miles then stop for gas or water, or ice cream.

The road is filled with bikes, bikes on trailers, on the back of pick up trucks. Big fifth wheel rigs, small U-Hauls. Harleys with pan heads, shovel heads, choppers, roadsters, hand made creations, over the top painted machines. Everything. They are loud, brash and full of attitude. They own the place.

I finally reached the Badlands. Wow…

my first sight of the Badlands

this picture is for Jim!

my baby in the Badlands

racing storm clouds again

I ended back on the 90 West. Major storm clouds were forming. I raced them… only got a few sprinkles. I hear one of the bands that played on the 13th show got caught in major storms that day…

Yours truly, disheveled, hot but amazed as I was standing up on one of the rock formations

the grasses and the rocks go hand in hand

I made it to Rapid City. I had to eat. right away. It was about 8 PM and the last meal I had was… Way back by 11 am in Sioux Falls.

By the time I was done it was dark. I decided to high tail it to Sturgis, about 30 miles North.

Rapid City is overrun by bikes… Sturgis was completely overpowered. Never seen anything like this.

On the Freeway I had followed three bikers figuring that they will guide me to the right place and since I have no idea where this all takes place, I let them light the way. They led me to the heart of the Rally.

Bikes, bikes, bikes… I pull on Main Street and park. I just stood there taking it all in… the roar. Like a pulse going through veins, coming, going, loud, every tone possible is reverberating in the air.

I walked around, there is everything from the family guy-week-end warriors, to Hells Angels, Women with pasties on their nipples, fishnet and not much else to war veterans, tough guys, meek guys and geeks… I did not see another bike like mine. There were a few sportbikes and BMW but few and far between. Someone told me that not so long ago, if you showed up with a bike like mine, they would come in the night, take it away and burn them or simply push them over a cliff. Reassuring…

I ended up in a Karaoke bar. It seemed the friendliest place, it was packed and bustling. There I met Ed who offered me to camp in town at Bonnie’s house. Bonnie’s mom had hosted rally bikers for the last 30 years. You put up your tent in the yard, have shower access and kitchen access and the best part, you have the company of all sorts of bikers and characters. All this for a very minimal fee.

custom guitar case + bike

street life

band, one of many

all sorts of nasty things were going on in there. I felt like a choir girl

biker dog.

biker baritone saxophonist. Have bike and sax, will travel

Breakfast with the Hells Angels.

At Bonnie\’s, Doug our host.

Gigi, came from Romania, used to work with the circus, he now is a mechanic and rides his bike.

Tammy and her ride

Sorry! Now I can\’t remember his name but he was a sweet soul,

Brian and his Harley

Sunshine and his grey machine

where we camped

All & all, This place is kinda nuts. Bikes everywhere, constant roar. Rudeness is cool, Yes I do feel a bit of a choir girl. There is a heavy underlying current of wildness and raunch. You could think that many are wild characters living on the skids but a Harley costs a lot of dough and a great number of these guys have day gigs and come here to let loose, they come here where the girls can run around with bare breasts, leather thongs & chaps and fondle their breasts in public. A fantasy camp for rowdy dreamers. But those day job dudes make this world go round. Nothing is cheap. Some of them have major investments in trailers, trucks, HD gear out the ying yang. Harley Davidson are brilliant marketers…

There is some hard core strains , Hells angels and dudes and girls that I would not, definitely not mess with. Violence is palpable a whisper away. I saw it in action at the concert, but that is for the next blog. So it is a strange osmosis where everyone goes on side by side for a few days, plays hard, goes wild, has sex all over and feels like the “real life” is nowhere near for a short while.

Friday Morning… Alice in Chains. Can’t wait…


4 Responses to “Sturgis’ 70th”

  1. Alan Says:

    HaHar….yeah….good luck with that….

    “Someone told me that not so long ago, if you showed up with a bike like mine, they would come in the night, take it away and burn them or simply push them over a cliff. Reassuring…”

  2. linda kingston Says:

    whoa! you made it. I was getting worried, haven’t heard from you on the blog for a few days. It looks amazing there. Jim loved the pic “BEWARE RATTLE SNAKES” haha.

    have a great time,miss you and love ya!

  3. Éva Böröcz Says:

    Salut, grande voyageuse
    Je te suis et des fois j’ai la chair de poule
    Fais attention à toi !!
    Bon voyage de retour
    Je t’aime

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