Week 5 is Sturgis week!
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was one of the many highlights of the trip last time – 600,000 bikers apparently when Doreen and I were there in 2011, and there may be even more this time since it’s Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary – so I’m coming back, but solo this time, as Doreen won’t be joining me until a few days after Sturgis.
Last time we were here, Doreen had just flown in from Scotland and we did the whole thing quite gently, one night in a “quiet” campsite (Lamphere Ranch Campsite, Sturgis, SD – highly recommended if you want a campsite with good facilities to get a reasonable night’s sleep, but not too far from the action), then alternating with the next night in a hotel in places like Deadwood and Custer City.
This time around, I’m planning on basing myself in Sturgis and camping for the whole week. As I’ll be based in one place there is no route, per se, for this week, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any riding. The Black Hills around Sturgis have some splendid rides and sights to see, such as Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood, Custer State Park, Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse memorial, etc. I’ve done many of these rides, but it will be no hardship to do some of them again.
One ride I do want to do this time is to go out to the Wounded Knee battlefield and memorial for the many Lakota men, women and children who were massacred by the US 7th Cavalry in December 1890. The US Army awarded 20 Medals of Honour for the slaughter. I missed the opportunity to visit the site when we were here last, but since I found the many historic sites in and around the Black Hills very moving, this is a site I hope to visit this time.
Being somewhat of a metalhead, one of the major appeals of Sturgis for me, aside from the bikes and the riding, is the live music. Many of the bars and campgrounds put on big name acts during the rally, and the daddy of them all is the Buffalo Chip. The line-up I’ve spotted so far looks like this (which kind of acts in lieu of a route for this week):
Day 30 – Fri 02 Aug – Queensryche @ Buffalo Chip
– Brian Howe (from Bad Company) @ Glencoe
Day 31 – Sat 03 Aug – Black Label Society @ Full Throttle
– The Cult / Buck Cherry / Pop Evil @ Buffalo Chip
– Candlebox @ Glencoe
Day 32 – Sun 04 Aug – ZZ Top / Halestorm @ Buffalo Chip
– Warrant / Quiet Riot @ Glencoe
– Black Crowes @ Broken Spoke
– Bret Michaels @ Full Throttle
Day 33 – Mon 05 Aug – Skid Row / LA Guns / Saliva @ Glencoe
– Queens Of The Stone Age @ Broken Spoke
– Kid Rock / Doobie Brothers @ Buffalo Chip
– Gretchen Wilson @ Full Throttle
Day 34 – Tue 06 Aug – Scott Weiland @ Full Throttle
– Molly Hatchet / Lita Ford @ Glencoe
– Korn @ Broken Spoke
– Toby Keith @ Buffalo Chip
Day 35 – Wed 07 Aug – Rob Zombie / Mastodon / Machine Head @ Buffalo Chip
– Vince Neil (from Motley Crue) @ Full Throttle
– Jerrod Niemann / Lee Rocker @ Glencoe
Day 36 – Thu 08 Aug – Lynyrd Skynyrd / Brantley Gilbert / Sweet Cyanide @ Buffalo Chip
– Great White / Bullet Boys @ Glencoe
– Get Big & Rich! @ Full Throttle
This gives me a bit of a problem deciding where to stay. 3 of the 4 venues are campsites (Buffalo Chip, Glencoe, Broken Spoke), whilst Full Throttle is a huge bar. The problem is that the campsites charge for camping, but the bands are free. However, they charge a lot when compared to somewhere, like the Lamphere, that doesn’t have its own entertainment; I could stay there for $20 a night. This is all fine, but if the bands don’t show up for whatever reason, you don’t get a refund, as Doreen and I found out when Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t show up in 2011 when their lead singer Johnny Van Zant came down with a throat infection. Since most of the bands I really want to see, especially Rob Zombie, are playing at the Buffalo Chip, I opted to stay there and have booked my $380 early bird ticket. The Chip is known for being party central at Sturgis, so I’m doubtful about getting a whole lot of sleep for that week.