The day started out warm and sunny, a typical August day. Three of us loaded our iron ponies, mounted up, and headed north toward Rapid City, South Dakota.
The ride was uneventful until the weather near Torrington, Wyoming, turned to rain. The cold, wet conditions tracked us until we turned off US Hwy 85 toward Hot Springs, at the south edge of the Black Hills. That’s when the wind, which had been at our backs, hit us broadside. When that happens, it’s best to find the rhythm of the wind and stay alert.
The journey to the Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally™ is one we have taken many times in the past. What made this trip different was that First Reader and I were to continue west after leaving the Hills, our Best Riding Friend was to head back home.
I was finally able to take the much-coveted Sabbatical that was offered as a reward for ten years of hard work. Best Riding Friend, First Reader, and I had talked about riding US Hwy 1 for a few years, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. The original plan was to spend a few days in the Black Hills, then head west to Seattle, Washington.
We added our vacations to the company calendars, arranged for pet and house sitters. We made plans for what we would do after the rally. As Ride Day approached, Best Riding Friend was informed that her vacation was being limited to a week. We were disappointed but not too surprised by the announcement. First Reader and I continued with the original plan, head to the coast when the rally was over.
Although our original plan changed, we made the most of the time spent in Rapid City and the surrounding area. Spending time with Rally friends, getting new tires for the upcoming miles, and riding the Black Hills are frequent activities. We usually spend a few hours in the town of Sturgis, itself, but not much more than that. It’s a great experience—once during the event. I’m not much for crowds, so we go to register, people watch, and shop for whatever motorcycle-related needs we might have for the year. One day of that insanity is enough for me.
We take at least a day to rest and recover from the craziness of the previous days of travel and friends, and prepare for the miles ahead. This day was required after getting caught in a downpour the night before. Riding to breakfast was a chilly affair because my chaps were still wet from the ride through the rain. Sometimes you kick yourself in the keester for not paying attention outside your own desires. That was one of those days.
The Sturgis Rally happens every year in the first week or two of August. South Dakota is in the path of the annual “monsoonal” moisture flow that’s drawn up from the Gulf every year. Some years we get lucky, and our ride home is beautiful. Some years we aren’t so fortunate. Over the last couple of decades, we’ve ridden home in the rain a lot. We’ve even dodged a tornado or two over the years.
That year was one of those that our luck was mixed. We had some dry riding days, some not so much. The day we left for the coast, the sky opened up. But that’s a story for another day.