Great Rallies and Rides: Dead Presidents, Close Encounters, and Sturgis Week





           Around the first week every August, there is a gathering of motorcycle riders from all over the world. It is called Sturgis Week.  Sturgis Week originally started as a race called “ The Black Hills Classic”. Hosted by the  “Jackpine Gypsies”, and their founder Pappy Hoel, who opened an Indian Motorcycle franchise in Sturgis in 1936. Both have been inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame. Needless to say, the event has grown over the years, stopping only once in 1942, due to fuel rationing during WW II.

  Sturgis Week, being held in the scenic Black Hills of South Dakota, offers some the best motorcycle riding you will experience anywhere. Having attended Sturgis Week many times, I had a chance to ride all over the Black Hills. Below are my favorites.    


Spearfish Canyon Ride  

       This is an excellent ride, surrounded by steep canyon walls, dotted with waterfalls, caves and walking trails. Start off by taking 14A out of Spearfish and wind your way between 1,000 ft canyon walls. Bridal Veil Falls will come up on your left, make sure to stop for this really cool waterfall. Continue up the canyon to Savoy, stop here to visit Roughlock Falls, so scenic that the final scenes of Dancing with Wolves was filmed there. The Roughlock Falls Rd. becomes gravel so be careful ! The Canyon winds up to Cheyenne Crossing at 85 Hwy. The Cheyenne Crossing Store is a great place to stop for lunch. It is the site of a stagecoach stop dating back to 1878. At this point you can go east on 85 back to Deadwood and Sturgis. However, I prefer going west on 85, part of the Can-am Highway that connects Mexico with Canada. It travels 1,478 miles from El Paso to the Canadian border. It threads through the Black Hills and down into Wyoming where, at Four Corners, you take 585N to Sundance. From there take old Hwy 14 back to Spearfish.     


  • Directions – Take 14a south out of Spearfish, 85 w to Four Corners, 585 n to Sundance, Old Hwy 14 back to Spearfish.
  • Do not miss –  Bridal Veil Falls, Roughlock Falls, and Cheyenne Crossing Store.


Needles Highway – Iron Mountain Ride  

      A Beautiful ride highlighting some of the best riding in the Black Hills. Dead Presidents, Crazy Chiefs, Amazing scenery, Wildlife, and Wild

Mt Rushmore


roads will make this a ride to remember. To get started, take 385S out of Deadwood, you will cruising past some great scenery and many small towns. During Sturgis week, they all have something going on, make sure you stop and soak it all in. 385 will take you past  Pactula Reservoir, a beautiful lake and great place for a pit stop. Continue on 385 past 244 to 87 south, you are now on Needles Highway. So far a great ride, but the real fun is just beginning. The road twists and climbs as you pass beautiful Sylvan Lake. Up ahead lies the granite cathedral spires of the Needles, nature’s art gallery. Take your time here the road is narrow as you pass through the Eye of the Needle, make sure to stop for some great views and photo ops. Continue on 87 as it descends down towards Custer. Turn on Playhouse road, stay on till you hit 16A and turn left. You are now on Iron Mtn road, a beautiful test of your riding skills, as you face hundreds of curves, switchbacks, pigtails, and one lane tunnels, all while rising and descending 2,000 ft. The tunnels are positioned in a way that they frame Mt Rushmore, for an unforgettable view of the monument. Make your way down Iron Mtn and go left on 244, this will lead you to Mt Rushmore. There are numerous places to stop for great views and pictures. Many riders stop there and get all the pictures they need. However, you can still go into the park for a closer look. After soaking in the dead presidents, you stay on 244 till it runs back into 385. Go south on 385 for a look at another monument in the making, The Crazy Horse Memorial. Work started in 1948 by  Korczak Ziolkowski, and is continuing to this day. When it is finished it will be the largest stone carving in the world, and will depict Chief Crazy Horse on his steed pointing into the distance. Again, you can drive up the entrance to get some good pictures, before you have to enter the site itself. After you are finished go north on 385 back to Deadwood.


  • Directions – Take 385 s out of Deadwood, take 87 to Playhouse Rd and turn left, turn left on 16A, go left on 244, turn left on 385 to Crazy Horse, go north on 385 back to Deadwood.
  • Do not miss –  Mt Rushmore, Chief Crazy Horse Monument, Pactola Lake, Sylvan Lake, Needles, Iron Mountain Rd.


Devils Tower Ride  

     Have a close encounter with a really cool ride, as you cruise from South Dakota and into Wyoming, passing wide open spaces dotted with small historic towns, rolling hills, and grand rock formations. After you enter Wyoming, look for the Stone House Saloon, this old rock building is only open during Sturgis week. A great place to stop and grab a drink and listen to some good live music. As you continue west you will pass several small towns, make sure to stop in Huett for No Panties Wednesday. Next stop Devils Tower National Monument. This is america’s first national monument and is featured in sci-fi movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. At 1,265 ft high, it attracts many visitors and rock climbers. Take one of the trails to the base to watch these guys defy gravity. On your way back make sure to stop in Sundance, Wyoming. It’s jail once held the Sundance Kid, one half of the notorious outlaw duo depicted in the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It is also known for Burn Out Wednesday, one of the best burnout shows you’ll see, and it only happens during Sturgis week.   


  • Directions – Take 85n out of Spearfish to 34w ( Changes to 24w at state line). Take 14s to Sundance. Stay on old 14e back to Spearfish.


  • Do Not Miss – Stone House Saloon, Huett and No Pantie Wednesday, Devils Tower, Sundance and Burnout Wednesday


The Badlands

       This ride will take you through a landscape that is truly out of this world. If you did not know any better, you might think you were riding on the face of the moon. To get there, start at the Black Hills Harley Davidson in Rapid City. A great place to visit during Sturgis week. Take 44 east towards the town of Scenic, make sure to drive through and check out the jail and saloon ( Closed ) that date back to 1906. Get back on 44 and head east to the Badlands. As you pass through Interior get on 377, which will lead you to the entrance of Badlands National Park, run into 244 and go left. This will lead you through some of the strangest terrain you will ever ride. The barren peaks seem to appear out of the nowhere and offer some great riding and unforgettable scenery. The road will lead you out of the park and into the town of Wall. Make sure you drive through Main Street and stop in at Wall Drug, it’s been there since 1934, and became popular by offering free Ice water to travelers who were passing by. After checking out Wall, jump onto I-90 for your return to Rapid City or continue on to Sturgis.


         Sturgis week is not just for Sturgis, just about every town within 100 miles is joining the annual motorcycle celebration. The roads will be filled with riders ready to soak in the sights and sounds of the rally . So jump on your bike, throttle down, and follow in the footsteps of General Custer and Crazy Horse through the Black Hills  and have your own close encounter with the Sturgis Experience.

Great Rallies Sun Sand Bikes and Beaches Daytona Bike Week



 Beautiful beaches, warm weather, 500,000 bikers looking to party are just a few of the reasons that the Daytona Bike week has grown to one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the country.

     It all started in 1937 as the Daytona 200 Motorcycle race. The first one was a 3.2 mile beach and pavement course and the winner was Ed “Iron Horse” Kretz. A Californian, and founder of the 13 Rebels Motorcycle Club, who rode a Indian Sport Scout at an average speed of 73 Mph.

    Although World War II put a stop to the race for a few years, the tradition continued. The races started back up in 1947 and quickly started to gain in popularity. Promoted by the founder of Nascar, Big Bill France Sr,  it is now a Rally that rivals Sturgis, drawing 500,000 plus bikers from around the world.

    Bike Week is centered in Daytona, but the festivities are scattered around the entire county. Main Street in Daytona is the center of activities. However, The Daytona Speedway hosts a series of races during Bike Week and caps off the week with the running of the Daytona 200. For an unique experience look into the camping options on the speedway infield, and enjoy a week of exceptional racing with some of the best seats in the house outside your tent ! In between races you can enjoy the large midway filled with vendors offering just about anything a motorcycle enthusiast could imagine.

     The local motorcycle dealers all have events scheduled during the week. The largest being Bruce Rossmeyers Daytona Harley, located where I-95 and Hwy 1 cross north of Daytona Beach. Entertainment, food and a multitude of vendors are set up for the entire week. As you are riding up to Daytona Harley, make sure to stop at a couple of spots along Hwy1. Broken Spoke Saloon and Iron Horse Saloon, both offer camping, cold drinks, and Live music.

   With all the partying, racing and vendors it is possible to forget that you are surrounded by miles of unforgettable riding. The rolling hills and horse farms of central Florida offer a excellent contrast to the beautiful beaches that are right off Hwy 1A. There are also many cool towns and attractions to visit only about an hour away from Daytona.

   Full of history and eclectic shopping, St Augustine, the oldest city in the nation, is just a short ride north along the beach. Go south four an hour and visit the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Also, don’t forget to visit the great theme parks in Orlando !!

Tips for First Timers

  •            It goes without saying that you will need to get your lodging secured at least 6 months early. In fact you should be looking as early as a year before !

  •            Even though Bike Week is held in the spring, make sure to bring and apply sunscreen. The Sun is really intense in Florida !

  •            If you can’t make it in March, there is another rally in October. The Biketoberfest is held annually every year in Daytona.

Great Rides California Dreaming The Pacific Coast Highway

          From beautiful beaches and palm trees to sheer cliffs and tall redwoods, this scenic diversity marks one of the most iconic roads in this country and must for any motorcycle riders Bucket List.

The “ One “ originally started out as part of the Roosevelt Highway. Opening in late 1929, and named after Teddy Roosevelt, it was part of the first roadway to link Mexico and Canada. It went through many name changes and was not designated Hwy 1 until 1964.
Officially starting in the south at Dana’s point, by San Juan Capistrano, you will be riding past some very affluent beach communities as you pass through Los Angeles . Newport Beach, Venice Beach, Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, and Malibu to name a few.
Once you have passed the Big City and Malibu you will start getting into the kind of road that makes this route so beautiful, winding along the California coast with hills on one side, the Pacific ocean on the other.
After you cruise past Mogu State Park, you will be approaching Oxnard, it is here where the The One takes you away from the coast and joins up with 101 for a short time. You will be traveling on the Ventura Freeway, which was the inspiration for the hit song by America called “Ventura Highway”.
Between Ventura and Santa Barbara, 101 and 1 are combined most of the time. As you ride through Santa Barbara, there is a really cool alternate route inland.
Jump on Ca 154 north, San Marcos Pass Rd., this will take you up into the hills above Santa Barbara, make sure to stop at the top of the pass and soak in the excellent views of the city and the ocean.
* Take Ca 154 north out of Santa Barbara go south on 101 to 246 go west towards Vanderbilt AF base, where you will rejoin the ONE !

* 246 will take you through Solvang and Buellton. These towns and the surrounding vineyards were the setting for the movie “ Sideways “, and a great place to stop for a few days.
* Vanderbilt AFB will have rocket launches from time to time !
As you ride north on 1 you will be cruising by some beautiful farmland, join 101 and ride to Pismo Beach where you will finally get to see the Pacific again. But do not get used to it as you will ride back inland. Stay on 101 till San luis Obispo. Get back on the One and ride to Morro Bay and finally back to the beautiful Pacific.
Cruise north up the coast towards San Simeon, as you pass through the area make sure to stop and tour the Hearst Castle. Don’t be fooled, it isn’t a castle but a group of mansions, built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

* Back in the 1920’s, the Castle, was the place to be seen. Visited with by the likes of everyone from the Marx Bros to Winston Churchill !
* Further up the coast make sure not to pass Elephant Seal Vista Point, stop and check out the hundreds of Elephant Seals on the beach !
So far the ride has been fantastic, but hold onto your bars, the best is yet to come. The next 85 miles to Carmel is a stretch of road called Big Sur, some of the most scenic riding you will ever experience. The road twists and turns while literally hanging off the rugged coastline. Take your time, there are many spots to stop and soak in the fantastic scenery
Don’t Miss !!
* Bixby Bridge
* Point Sur Lighthouse
* McWay Falls
* Also, even in the summer it can get chilly along the coast, make sure you have packed some cold weather gear.
After leaving Big Sur, you will drive through Carmel by the Sea. If you have time you should stop and spend a little time in this quirky and artistic city. Where there are no street addresses and Dirty Harry was once the mayor.
* Stop and play a round of golf at famed Pebble Beach golf course !
Next stop Monterey, a cool scenic town on Monterey Bay. Be sure to take 68 off of 1 to take a great ride around the Bay !
* Take 68 off of 1, take Sunset drive, which turns into Ocean View Blvd. Take this all the way around the Bay. Go left on Lighthouse Ave, jump on Del Monte and that runs back into the One.
The road flattens out as you continue north on The One past Fort Ord Dunes State Park. You will again veer away from the coast and pass through some fertile farmland. From Castroville, artichoke capitol of the world, to Watsonville, home to some of the sweetest strawberries you ever tasted.
As you rise back up into the hills, you will pass through the beautiful city of Santa Cruz. Make sure that you check out the Santa Cruz beach Boardwalk and Pier. Also, if you have time try to visit Henry Cowell Redwoods State park. Majestic redwoods and the Narrow Gauge Roaring Camp Railroad are a must to experience.
* Take Hwy 9 north to Henry Cowell State Park
As you cruise north out of Santa Cruz, you will again drive thru some more fertile farmland. Rising back along the One, make sure to stop at Pigeon Point Light Station. Once you leave Pigeon Point ride north towards Half Moon Bay. Home of a famous surf break, Mavericks, and the start of the Devil’s Slide Coast.

So named because of the many mudslides that haunted the roadway. They became so frequent that built a tunnel to bypass the worst part of the of the route. Make sure that you make time to stop and check out some excellent views along the Devil’s Slide Trail. The parking is located just left off the highway before you enter the new tunnel.
* Don’t miss the old Bunker located on a bluff south of the trail parking lot !
Up the road, you will encounter Pacifica, on your way to San Francisco.
You could spend weeks in San Francisco but you are riding “ The One “. So, stay on your bike and ride over the Golden Gate bridge.
* Make sure to stop at Vista point for some great pics of the bridge, Alcatraz, and downtown San Fran.
* Also, take the first exit off the bridge, Alexander Ave. ( 422) go left on Bunker Rd down to Ft Baker, for some excellent shots of Big 3 mentioned above.
After getting some great pictures, drive through Sausalito, a really cool little town on San Francisco bay. Jump on 101 for one exit where 1 swerves back towards the Pacific.
* As you wind your way west, take Panoramic Hwy north and visit Muir Woods National Monument. Home to some of the oldest and most beautiful giant redwood trees.
After leaving Muir Woods, stay on Panoramic Hwy until it meets up with 1. Criuse north through the Point Reyes National Seashore.
* Try to stop and hike to Alamere Falls. A beautiful and unique tidal Fall, one that falls directly into the ocean
The road veers on and off the coast till you pass Bodega Bay, then you will be back to the ocean for the remainder of the One. The Northern California coast is rugged and beautiful with a really cool rocky beaches. As you wind along the coast there will be many scenic places to stop.
* Rocky Point Beach.
* Sonoma Coast State Park / Russian River
* Glass Beach
After you pass Hardy creek The One veers inland to Leggett, where your journey ends as it terminates into 101 for the last time.

The One is 600+ miles of rugged beauty that hangs over the pacific while winding past sweeping ocean scapes. Cruising through forests of giant redwood trees and city skyscrapers. A true california dream and an absolute “ Must Checkoff “ Bucket List Adventure.